The Door-Step Evangel

Is the Apostolic Function Dead?
Dr. Ronald L. Tottingham

It has been kind of ironic to listen to discussions surrounding the issue of current offices within this New Testament time.

First - to mention that most, from Fundamentalist to Historic Baptist, agree that the two offices in the New Testament church is the pastor and deacon.

Second - there is wondering about how to deal with the evangelist and missionary in these discussions.

First Again - if there are only two offices of this distinction in the New Testament church, pastor and deacon, where does the evangelist and missionary stand? Are they not to be in a New Testament church? Further, if they are (and they most certainly are) are they a biblical "office", or do they hold another designation?

Personally I believe there is no saint, or child of God who should be outside of church membership. By that I mean, a properly baptized member of a sound Baptist church. Then the question remains, are the evangelist and missionary offices, functions, or what? Where are they to be properly placed in this frame?

Second Again - it is a wonder to me that we have not thought of it sooner, but we use the term missionary so generally and run from the term apostle as if it was plagued. Why? Because the "gifts" of apostleship did pass away when the First Century Apostles died, or because we hold that the apostles of the Book of Acts were required to have seen Christ and have "companied with" the Twelve and Christ? Well, I can certainly agree thus far. However, why use the Latin term for "apostle" (missionary) if we hold this so firmly. Could it be that the apostle function is upon our "missionaries?" Could it also be that the "evangelist" is (as pictured in the New Testament) a preacher with a special fervent calling to evangelize, who is the member of a church, under his pastor? And further, could be a lay-preacher as well as one living off the rewards of his labor.

Personally, I believe there is a difference between any of these functions and pastoring. And I believe pastoring is above them all as he is the shepherd of one flock and all these other functions are to be a part of the ministry of a flock. I cannot see itinerate, non-churched pastor -equals anywhere in the New Testament. That would include missionaries (the function), evangelists, apostles, college presidents, mission board directors (oh, wow!), Christian newspaper editors (oh, moan), etc.

Only among a "universal church" group would such legs, arms, toes doctrine be agreed upon - certainly not among those who hold to the biblical doctrine of the local New Testament church.

So, back to our question - is the "apostolic function" dead in the New Testament? I do not believe so. I would wonder why the Lord allowed the apostolic term ³missionary² to become our term if so. Why not stir our hearts to use "evangelist" if that were proper? If it is not proper, and it does not seem to be, then evangelists are not church planters (see Acts 8:5, 14-16) but the apostolic function was to plant churches. So who is charged with planting churches today out of our churches? This should be accomplished under a sole church authority, but with joint support (financial, morale, prayer, etc.) of all churches who are led to "communicate as concerning giving and receiving" with any particular "missionary." I believe the "Apostle function" is clearly still in today. Just thought I'd ask.

The Door-Step Evangel is published in the interests of Evangelism and information as a Church paper, sincerely devoted to the cause of Jesus Christ. We are in favor of everything that is right and opposed to everything that is wrong.

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