Apostles and prophets are foundational leaders. They function in foundational ways. They are continuously involved in the process just as Jesus the Chief Cornerstone remains the One who sets length, breadth, and height. The marker or plumb line is always set to Jesus, but the expansion of His building strategy comes through foundational, blueprint leaders.
“If any man build upon this Foundation.” (1 Corinthians 3:12) The Foundation and the foundation are the expression of apostolic and prophetic blueprinting. While “we are all workmen together with God” in this kingdom project, the roles or subcontracted function of our ministries express differing assignments.
Apostolic and prophetic maturity expose the integrity of the whole process of building to the blueprints revealed by Jesus: the Foundation always goes back to Him and His direct and continuous involvement in history. “I will build My Ecclesia” and “See this! I remain with you all the time until the end of the age” mean something very real and practical right now!
In other words, apostles and prophets making decrees and barking orders isn’t the best expression of their maturity but their ability to mature the building process by maturing the people involved through their direct and continuous involvement. Making decrees or releasing words without maintaining the integrity of the building process reveals immaturity upon all the workers working together.
Consider the term “maturity” in reference to “finishing, completing, moving toward the higher or more nearly perfect, the application of experience to the process, and the integrity of purpose so that what starts becomes what it was designed to be.” It wouldn’t be “mature” to become something else but to become what the Creator had in mind in the first place, a fuller expression of the mature child that brings the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” to the Body.
Judging the Work
I am choosing to use the term “judge” in this context because it is controversial. Judgment speaks to the leadership dynamic of experienced leaders positioned to make decisions and solve problems that will maintain the integrity of the purpose of Jesus as He reveals it in the blueprint.
It ain’t hard! “Are we getting Jesus what He wants?” is the basis for accountability, and acceptability is judgment. Without judgment, there’s no accountability.
Jesus does not make us directly accountable to Him for the blueprint. He makes us accountable to the leaders He has set in place. They have a perspective on strategy we do not have. They have a revelation on the process we do not have. They have a scope of authority we do not have. At least, the scope is equal to our assignment: we have the authority of our assignments, but the assignments we are given by Jesus fit into a larger kingdom blueprint for which we must be accountable to foundational leaders who function at that level or scope of assignment.
They must judge our work because our work must fit the larger scope of kingdom. We can judge ourselves by the section of blueprints we have received, of course, because we have enough revelation to build with integrity. The greater kingdom benefit comes through our voluntary submission to those who have a broader kingdom blueprint.
I sign up for this! I spend thousands of dollars and invest hours of precious time bringing my kingdom work before the broader blueprints available to apostles and prophets with greater scope of assignment. We all need alignment with international leaders for this reason.
Leaders make decisions and solve problems. Both of these decision-making processes involve making judgments and carrying out the judgments. Judging assures the integrity of the building process. While we are all workers together with God, we all do not share the same scope of assignment so “master builders” hold us accountable to the greater blueprint design.
(You have to stop the tendency to equate judgment with punishment in order to grasp the proper meaning of accountability. Final judgment and punishment define accountability with finality. We aren’t experiencing final judgments right now. Praise God!)
Apostolic and prophetic maturity functions in tandem although the functions are different. Apostles tend to see what’s in the land while prophets tend to see what’s in the heart. While a prophet may discern what’s in the heart, the prophet needs the apostle’s perspective and scope to fit that heart condition into the greater purpose. While the apostle may discern what’s in the heart, the apostle needs the prophet’s perspective and scope to fit into a more personal response. They are both discerning the heart, but apostle discerns it from what this heart condition will produce if allowed to build a wall while prophet discerns what this will produce at a brick-by-brick level.
They are looking at the same wall, the same builder, the same subcontractor, and they are both discerning spiritual conditions in that person and in what they are building, but the two fit understanding into different perspectives of the building project, at different levels of the process.
Apostolic and prophetic maturity, by reason of use, bring a level of judgment to the people and the process that will ensure greater integrity to the building and guarantee Jesus gets what He wants.
Moving from the most common definition of “church” as “the accumulation of believers” to what Jesus actually says about “ekklesia,” we move toward a need for apostolic and prophetic maturity in function, leadership, and judgment. We need more leadership as we mature, not less.