Dr. Stephen Crosby

B. Childress
Jul 08 2012

It is a mistake to begin an unfamiliar journey without a map, even though males may be genetically predisposed to try
anyway!  In this book we will be sailing the swells and troughs of the technical language details concerning authority,
submission, obedience, headship, covering, rulership, leadership, the set man, etc.  Old maps are not sufficient to sail
in these shifting definitional shoals.  Footing may be precarious.  It may be a challenging ride.  The security and
familiarity of shore can be very appealing when I sense my long-held personal convictions being lost into the rough sea
of unfamiliar terms.  The trip’s necessity and belief in a safe route must reside in us, or the first time we feel our
theological lunch shifting in our stomachs, we will chart a course for home –lickety-split.

In the pre-politically-correct era, before self-esteem became a national obsession, there used to be a dog food
manufacturer whose commercial jingle went: “My dog’s bigger than your dog, my dog’s bigger than yours.  My dog’s
bigger, ‘cuz he eats__________, my dog’s bigger than yours.”  If we approach this topic on who has the biggest
concordance, we are not going to get too far, and the politically-correct thought police will rap our spiritual knuckles.  
Our view must be larger than the columns of a concordance alone.  It must be more than what dueling definitions can
provide.  Before we sail the seas of easily misnavigated doctrinal waters concerning authority in the church, a global
framework is required.

Believers with extensive local church background tend to process though through the grid of previous experience
(especially sensitive or painful) and training.  This is essentially neither good nor bad, but it can limit what the Spirit is
able to reach us with.  There is a Spirit dynamic of s-t-r-e-t-c-h that is not always welcome in the community of faith.  A
friend of mine likes to ask Christians this question: “
If what you believe to be true today would turn out to be wrong
tomorrow, would you want to know today so you could change your thinking?
”  Unfortunately, a high percentage of
responders reply in the negative.  We will usually choose the security of familiar error over the uncertain implications of
new perspectives.  This happens when a Christian’s trust is in his/her understanding of the Scripture rather than the
person of Christ.

Change is threatening.  Because Christianity at its core deals with ultimate and absolute issues, processing change is
difficult.  Changing one’s view becomes the abandonment of perceived absolute principles (that we taught and
endorsed in the past) rather than ongoing development of understanding into a Person – necessary for spiritual
maturity and growth in Christ.  Change is intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, and organizationally
unnerving.  It requires we admit we may have been wrong.  Teachers may have to repent for what was taught
yesterday.  Learners may have to forgive.  Organizations and administrations whose existence requires the
maintenance of historical positions and views will fight for their life when presented with understanding that may call their
legitimacy into question.  Change is not easy for any of us.

With these introductory guidelines in mind, let’s chart a course through some of the shoals and reefs underlying much
of what is taught in the church concerning authority and submission, particularly as it relates to, in at least some
charismatic circles, the emergent apostolic movement and the doctrine of spiritual covering.

Mapping God’s Governmental Order

It is often taught that one function of an apostle, if not the primary function (we will deal with Titus 1:5 later in this text), is
to establish God’s governmental order in the church.  It is assumed that if God’s order of things is discovered,
recovered, and implemented God will release His otherwise withheld blessings.  Failure to come into divine order and
“governmental alignment” allegedly withholds God’s full order of blessing on the individual believer and in the church
and puts the believer in grave spiritual jeopardy.  A related teaching states that part of the necessary governmental
restoration is the recovery of apostles to their place of appropriate honor, authority, function, and office.  The full
blessing of God and spiritual protection is believed to be literally brokered to individuals and the church through the
restored “covering” of the apostolic office (and variations of this theme).  It is also alleged that the apostle is the chief of
the Ephesians 4:11-13 ministries, if not in a formal hierarchical and governmental way, at least in an informal and
relational way.

A common anecdotal teaching used to explain this alleged divine order is that of the hand/fingers/thumbs.  The Thumb
is said to represent the apostle, and the other Ephesians 4:11 ministries are the fingers.  Since the thumb can readily
touch each of the other four fingers, but not vice versa, so supposedly the office of apostle is superior (in some way –
rank, function, authority) to the other ministries.  The other ministries are to assume a subordinate or submissive
posture toward the apostle.  Now this analogy may be clever, but it is completely without biblical exegetical support.  
Many things that may charmingly float homiletically will not withstand close biblical scrutiny.  The problem is self-inflicted
by prejudicially defining the apostolic in terms of government and ruling rather than love and service.

What exactly
is God’s governmental order?  What is it characterized by?  How is it implemented?  What is its
expression?  These questions and more need to be examined from a New Covenant perspective.

True North

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it
    bringeth forth much fruit.  (John 12:24)

God’s kingdom does not experience increase as the result of a recovered order of things. It does not grow by the
careful management and placement of subordinate theological pieces – whatever they may be.  The fundamental
premise that a recovered apostolic order is necessary for full kingdom life runs afoul of the most basic premise of New
Covenant life: the kingdom grows, and blessing is released, through death and resurrection.  Where the spirit of
resurrection life is manifest, it is annoyingly surprising how much blessing flows among disorder!

Corinth was not only in disorder, but also in moral and doctrinal chaos.  Yet blessing was flowing.  Galatia was in
extreme disorder, on the verge of apostasy, and blessing was flowing.  Thessalonica was in doctrinal disorder and
blessing was flowing.  Colossae was in doctrinal disorder and blessing was flowing.  The point is not “do apostles bring
order?”  Of course they do.  The apostolic-prophetic heart is ever-increasing movement toward conformity to the image
of Christ individually and conformity to the divine plumb line corporately.  The issue is making God’s blessing
on maintaining relationship to an individual apostle as a covering or the achievement of divine order as the
for blessing.  That is error.  Imperfection and movement toward order simultaneously coexist.  They always have and
they always will.  The wheat and the tares will exist until the end of the age.  God’s blessing is not withheld because of a
lack of order.  He is not after our perfected operational systems and organizational charts.  He is after our hearts.  He
will work with, and bless, the most imperfect presentation offered to Him.  The pure in heart, not the most perfectly
ordered, will see (understand, get insight, etc.) God.

If in the Old Covenant dispensation God used the chaotic lives of individuals with glaring deficiencies in morals, thought,
and action, how much more so should it be in the New Covenant based on better promises and the shed blood of the
Lamb of God?  The New Covenant is not a covenant of systemic perfections and order.  
It is about the perfections
of the resurrected life of the Son of God, manifested in mortal flesh

Inherent in the contingent blessing and recovered order mindset is a legal spirit of perfectionism and qualified grace: “If
we just get things right enough, God will come through in greater measure than we have known.”  In this premise,
humanity’s obedience conditions God’s initiation.   A dubious proposition, if true, that at best begs this question:
much obedience must we produce in order to release the blessing
?  How much has to be “in order” and aligned
governmentally to qualify for the supposed release of the Spirit?  If the blessing follows the alleged alignment, then we
have merited it by our correctness of form.  This thinking is idealism and perfectionism contrary to the spirit of gospel
grace.  The truth is, none of us will ever be “right enough” in motive, spirit, expression, or form to merit God’s blessing.  
Our obedience is the fruit of God’s blessing, not the root of His blessing.  Of course, we need to pursue order and bring
our churches in to order.  We need His blessing in order to do so.  We do not earn His blessing because we have
accomplished it.

Christ’s government increases and expands because it is eternal in nature through death and resurrection life.  
Resurrection is the quality of eternality introduced into space and time.  Life, by definition, is expansive – it grows and
spreads.  The Spirit at Pentecost “impregnated” the cosmos, the earth, with resurrection-life Seed.  His government
increases wherever the Seed springs up into expression, regardless of our order, structure, and forms.  To teach,
emphasize, or build governmental authority structures apart from a thorough understanding, and practical expression
of, death and resurrection is like putting a magnet next to a compass.  It becomes a false center and will lead you
astray.  There is only one lodestar of the kingdom: Christ and Him crucified.

Working on the Apostolic Plantation

Scripture (and much pulpit preaching) refers to the ministry of an apostle metaphorically as a “father” (I Corinthians 4:
15).  Some assert that a father-son relationship is part of God’s universal governmental order.  Without relationship to a
covering apostle/father (or other minister), the individual believer (or local church) is out of God’s order – out from
under covering and in a state of often ill-defined spiritual jeopardy.  In chapters 5 and 6 of this book, we examine the
legitimacy of this concept in more depth.  For now, our concern is the essence of what a spiritual father is.

Paul planted the church in Corinth.  The Corinthians were actively rejecting him at all levels: relationally, personally,
theologically, and ministerally.  His response was not to assert his apostolic right, nor require their submission, nor to
appeal to his office, nor require their ongoing support.  Rather, though loved the less for it, he was willing to spend
himself, and be spent, for their sakes (II Corinthians 12:15).  His motives and actions were not to burden them,
specifically financially.  He was concerned for them – corporately and individually – not the resources they represented
to support his apostolic ministry.  It is significant that the dysfunctional Corinthian church, rejecting Paul, was the place
he chose to use the father-son metaphor to describe their relationship.  In doing so, he was giving them the opportunity
to treat him honorably but not demanding or requiring it was the basis of ongoing relationship.  As a father, Paul was a
giver, not a taker.

Now, I know the organizational and relationship between a dysfunctional church and its founding apostle is not the
universal standard of kingdom operations!  However, the spirit, tone, and ethos that Paul manifests is the universal
standard.  He is demonstrating the qualities of genuine spiritual fatherhood.

    Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours
    [finances, property, wealth], but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the
    children.   (II Corinthians 12:14)

This fatherly apostolic quality is absent in much writing and expression in the apostolic movement as it currently stands.  
If we embrace the father-son metaphor of ministry, it is not the moral obligation of the children to “sustain” the fathers.  
That is an American, mid-twentieth-century, welfare-state entitlement spirit:  “I have done my bit for you, and I have put
in my time, now you take care of me; you owe me.”  The Scriptures are so clearly opposite in tone:

    Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities and to them that were with me.  I
    have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of
    the Lord Jesus, how he said it is more blessed to give than to receive.  (Acts 20:34-35 – emphasis this author’s)

    Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain
    dwelling place; and, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:                
    (I Corinthians 4:11-12 – emphasis this author’s)

Paul makes it clear he worked with his own hands, likely for at least eighteen months in Corinth, and for three years in
Ephesus to support himself, but through his labors, to
support others who were with him on this team in Ephesus!

I have heard “apostolic” teaching on financial responsibility for over thirty years: not muzzling the ox, a laborer is worthy
of his hire, those that preach the gospel should live by the gospel, sow sparingly – reap sparingly, sow spiritual things –
reap natural things, all of which are true.  The issue is not the legitimacy of these principles.  It is Paul’s
deference to
enforce them and his
refusal to make them mandatory and conditional upon his involvement with people, lest the gospel

In my experience I have never heard an apostle teach that not only do the “troops” have no mandatory moral obligation
to support the apostle, but that the apostle should work with his hands to support the troops!  If there is an obligation of
support, it is not just to the apostles, but to the weak!  The offering Paul was taking up in Second Corinthians 9 was not
for himself, but for the poor!

I am not denying the admonitions to support ministry (apostolic and otherwise).  I am asking why
no one mentions – will
not even consider
– the biblical alternatives!  The silence is deafening.  The difference between a genuine fathering
spirit and what is masquerading on the current apostolic stage is staggering.

Genuine apostolic fathers give their lives away for the children and ask nothing in return.  Where a healthy atmosphere
of mutuality exists, if they receive something in return, they accept it gladly and with thanks.  However, true apostolic
fathers do not use emotional IOUs, or spiritual manipulation on their children to psychologically extort financial support
as if the children were morally obligated to do so.

In some networks and apostolic associations, the operational ethos is the exact opposite of genuine apostolic fathering.  
Membership in the association is sometimes contingent upon agreement and the duty of mandatory financial support to
the overseeing apostle.  The plans vary from dues of some sort to a mandatory tithe of ten or sometimes twenty percent
of a senior pastor’s income going to the covering apostle.  The issue is not presented in terms of mutuality of voluntary
relationship, but as allegedly obligatory divine order, along with the associated inferred spiritual risks and judgments
should someone fail to comply with “God’s standard.”  This is a Christian pyramid scheme.

The emphasis in these environments tends to be skewed toward the responsibilities of the subordinates to the apostolic
head/father: the duties and obligations of acknowledging position, rank, loyalty, honor, authority, submission, headship,
and support. The responsibility of the father to the subordinates is often ill-defined, unquantifiable, and impractical other
than the alleged privilege of being under the individual’s nebulous spiritual covering.

There is simply no way an overseeing apostle can functionally “father” hundreds or thousands of individuals.  Even
Jesus Christ limited His immediate circle to twelve!  Impartation (preaching, teaching, inspiration, download, etc.) and
spiritual blessing can occur for non-local hundreds and thousands.  This is because the ability to receive impartation
derives from a correct heart joining and the correct inner value systems of the individual being imparted to.  The heart
alignment and inner values systems allow for life transference beyond time and space.

Impartation is not defined by geographic proximity.  Judas was geographically close to Jesus and heard teaching, as did
all the other disciples, but he was not imparted to.  Also, the age in which we live is characterized by facilitating media
and communication technology we could not have dreamed of a generation ago.  Even old technology can be
impartational!    The dead author of a book from fifty years ago can “impart” to you from beyond the grave, but he
cannot father you!  Impartation and relational fathering are not the same.  The latter is not possible by remote signal
feed.  You can oversee and administrate a network from a distance, but you cannot father.  It requires intimacy.  
Fathering takes place at an intimate and individual level rather than a corporate level; it is the dimension of mentoring.

The themes of honor and submission to authority are, of course, legitimate.  They are in God’s Word.  However, they
are subordinate themes.  When presented in a priority and hierarchal way of obligation, rather than the mutuality found
in the “one-to-anothers” of Scripture, and if void of a death and resurrection spirit, empty of love and service, they
become hopelessly contaminated and betray the Spirit of Christ.  It is not sound gospel ground.

When these subthemes are emphasized, a church environment can become like a spiritual plantation where the apostle
is the master and production overseer of the plantation and subordinates are the slaves, not sons.  The subordinates
provide the resources (human, spiritual, and financial) to “fulfill the vision of the house.”  If after ten to fifteen years of
proven “loyalty” and “sonship” and “serving another man’s vision,” you
may be invited to move up from being a field
slave to a house slave under the guise of opportunity for intimacy with the leader and sanctioned release into your own
ministry as reward for loyalty.  The problem is a change in geographic proximity does not undo a fundamentally flawed
system and ethos.  You are still a slave working for the master.  You just get to bring him his slippers in the cool of the
night instead of pick his cotton during the heat of the day.

It is one thing to spend one’s self for someone.  Specifics and degree of service are self-determined.  It is all together
another matter to be spent.  That is not self-determined.  It means someone else is using me up.  And to experience
both at a level that Paul describes as “most gladly” is beyond our reach naturally.

For example, when I go to the store and shop, I open my wallet and pay for what I want.  That is spending.  Going to the
store, opening my wallet and saying, “Take what you want,” is being spent!  Genuine apostolic fathers will manifest this
quality of being spent.  They will give, give, and give again.  In the face of misunderstanding, they will give.  In the face
of rejection, they will give.  Why?  Because, if genuine in fatherhood, they have touched a quality and depth of
revelation of the heart of the Father that cannot help but manifest.  It is their new nature to do so.

An apostolic father is not someone who requires loyalty and submission to his governmental covering as the
determinative quality of his father status.  The essence of a genuine apostolic father is one who gives his life away for
those who may not appreciate it.  If emphasis is on the obligations of the children to the father over the manifestation of
the spirit of Christ in the fathers to the children, it is opposite of a Pauline spirit and method and is not on Calvary
ground.  The kingdom of God operates on relationship and mutuality, not obligation, one way or the other (more on this
later).  This is especially true in circumstances where intimate relationship is not functionally genuine.  A legitimate
method with a bad spirit, or bad theology, underlying it becomes an illegitimate method.  When requirement replaces
love and relationship, gospel ground is lost.

I am certainly not opposed to supporting apostolic ministers and
doing so well!  Being generous is a reflection of the
nature of our heavenly Father.  If someone sows spiritual things, it is entirely legitimate to expect that material things
would be sown back in return.  I am opposed to: a) codified tithe schemes of at best
dubious, and more likely, non-
exegetical based being presented as moral mandates b) The unwillingness to acknowledge other biblically-
endorsed means of self-support, and c) the lack of creative financial endeavors even being considered as valid
alternatives to the tithe.  
Tithe schemes do not create inter-generational wealth.  They are merely the transfer of wealth
between individuals within a generation
: each generation’s ministers become dependent on the current generation’s
tithes and offerings.  There is no wealth-building future in it.  Increase is only possible by adding more people: a
situation begging for manipulation (conscious or otherwise).  It is a maintenance model of finance.  It was designed to
meet the needs (maintenance) of the Levites in the Old Covenant, not as a method of generating working capital.

Jesus was spent and asked nothing for it.  It was up to God the Father to decide what the Son was entitled to because
of His service.  In resurrection, and through the indwelling Spirit, the Son’s reward is the nations.  A restored apostolic
governmental order is not the necessary means of winning the nations.  They will be won to Christ the same way as
Christ received them in promise: by individual believers embracing and expressing death and resurrection life for
others.  This has always been, and will always be, the spirit and essence of God’s governmental order.

The Old Covenant: Cinderella’s Slipper

The Old Testament Scriptures frequently serve as the theological base for a good deal of teaching concerning
leadership, government, and authority in the church.  Many view Moses, Joshua, David, Elijah, and Elisha (and others)
as leadership and governmental models for the believer and the church.  There is a
significant and fatal flaw in this line
of thinking, and the flaw produces tragic results in the church.  When reading the Old Testament, the interpretive
challenge is to know what to apply and what not from these stories.  In terms of the inner life of a leader, there are
valuable and applicable issues to learn from these stories.  However, as models for systems of government and
relationship between leader and those led, they are inadequate and unsuitable for the New Covenant Age.  Like
Cinderella’s slipper and the stepsister’s feet, they simply do not fit.  The first-century recipients of the letter to the
Hebrews did not grasp the significance of the change from the Old to the New Covenant order.  It is also lost on many
today.  Arguing for the continuation of Old Covenant structure, Carlton Kenney says, speaking of New Testament
“silence” regarding the legitimacy of a single authoritative leader in New Testament churches:

    On the other hand, if co-equality was not the way of things in the Old Testament economy, we should construe
    the “silence” to mean that nothing changes and the principle is so obvious that the New Testament need not be
    explicit.  Indeed, if co-equality was not the way of Israel’s economy, it is incumbent upon those who espouse this
    concept to bring forth plausible reasons for the change in the New Testament.

I will accept that challenge, uh, I mean invitation.  First, I would reverse the argument and say the New Testament is
silent because the change was so
self-evidentiary that it didn’t need to be stated!  The reality of Spirit-filled, kingdom-life
believers were living did not need an apostolic instruction manual about who was the boss!  Anyway, an argument from
silence is next to meaningless, as it can be argued either way.  Besides, the New Testament is not silent as Brother
Kenney claims but rather quite explicit on the Old-New Covenant transition.

The Scriptures profoundly teach that when the New Covenant came into effect it was
entirely and qualitatively new.  It is
the new covenant.  It was not “
according to” the Old Covenant (Hebrews 8:9).  This means “a complete and full
, absolutely, intensely, objectively, deriving nothing from, downloading nothing from, or in opposition to.” A lack
of understanding of the change in order that took place as a result of the Calvary act characterizes the church at large
and the emerging authority structures in the apostolic movement.  It is a serious weakness in the Bible school training
received by most pastors in non-denominational and apostolic churches.

I teach a course concerning the New Covenant for a Bible school.  I recently taught the course in a class with four
pastors of visiting churches present.  In the class I have an activity where I present different propositions dealing with
fundamental differences between rabbinical theology and foundational New Covenant doctrine to the class, but I do not
tell them my source!  (What a sneak!)  I then ask the class to privately write down, as a Christian, from a Christian
doctrinal perspective, whether they agree or disagree with the premises.  
Without exception, everyone in the class
agreed with the premises, including the four pastors, one in particular being rather strong in his agreement.  
Everywhere I go this is the normal and common response.  Uh, Houston…we have a problem.  The level of saturation of
Old Covenant methods, thinking, and theology
is epidemic in the church.  The gospel of grace is not well understood,
and believers live and operate in a mixture of therapeutic, deistic, moral, conservatism and the Bible and think they are
believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The apostolic/prophetic movement is no exception (as evidenced by the above
quote).  Our ignorance shows in our theology concerning church authority structures.

Quite simply, since the day of Pentecost we are not dealing with the same kind of humanity as in the Old Covenant era.  
On the Day of Pentecost, for the first time in history, the divine Spirit united and resided in humanity; believing humanity
became the temple of the spirit of resurrected God-Man.  John 14:17 was realized on the Day of Pentecost.  At a
genuine conversion, the believer literally becomes a qualitatively new creature.  A spirit-indwelt human simply did not
exist in the Old Covenant era.  A universal priesthood did not exist.  A nation of priests and kings did not exist.  Since
the Day of Pentecost, both do.  Therefore, the orders of government designed for the Old Covenant era are not
suitable for the New.  Philosophies, systems, mindsets, and structures derived from the Old Covenant era simply do not
apply to the church.  We need to limit, or at least interpret through New Covenant lenses, those leadership principles
from the Old Covenant that might give us insight.  Let me try a computer geek analogy.  Carrying over Old Covenant
principles into the New Covenant era is like trying to run Windows XP on a Windows 3.1 platform!  It is all code from the
same manufacturer, but your system is going to crash!  The code has been upgraded!  The New Covenant life is a
kingdom software upgrade!  It will not run on the Old code!

Some might say, “But does not the apostle teach that all Scripture is profitable for instruction and that the Old Covenant
stories are there for our example?” (I Corinthians 10:11).  Indeed.  I am not endorsing some Marcionite theory of
negation of the Old Covenant.  However, the Calvary act is the great interpretive grid for the Scriptures.  The
interpretive question concerning the Old Covenant is not:”Is it applicable?”  Rather, it is: “How is it applicable through
Calvary’s grid and as an example
of what?”

When it comes to character stories, insights into human psychology, the relationship between man and God, typology,
prophecy, the nature of God, etc., the Old Covenant is a legitimate source of insight.  When it comes to institutions,
orders, and structures, the Old Covenant is not applicable.  The Old Covenant stories illuminate understanding.  They
do not determine practice.  For the New Covenant believer, the over-arching lesson gathered from the Old Testament
record is:
it did not work!  In spite of all the principles, precepts, “order,” structure, and teaching contained in the Old
Covenant, those instructed by them, and who lived by them, were
unable to recognize either John the Baptist or our

Here is an example of how we can gain limited insight from the Old Covenant stories but should not base our systems
and structures upon them.  Exodus 18:21-26 recounts the story of Moses taking Jethro’s advice to delegate his
leadership responsibilities, to break down management into smaller groups.  Jethro exhorts Moses to pick capable, God-
fearing men of truth, hating covetousness, to lead and rule God’s people.  Aren’t these great leadership qualities?  
Shouldn’t leaders in our age be like this?  Isn’t Exodus 18 a “guideline” for leadership in the church?  The answers to
these questions are:  
No, no, and no.

In spite of all these wonderful “character qualities” and the great “principle” of delegation, how many of these principled
and God-fearing individuals, hand-picked by Moses, were in a correct relationship to God in Exodus, chapters 19-20?  
None.  They all missed an opportunity for a personal divine encounter at Mt. Sinai.  How many of these “fine individuals”
fulfilled their divine mandates and realized their inheritance?  
None.  They all died in the wilderness.

The legitimate Old Covenant insight from this story is that delegation is not a bad idea.  However, the Old Covenant
limitation is that order, structure, character qualities, and principles
will never be enough to take a people into an
!  The essentials of the New Covenant are life, relationship, and above all, faith.  The quality God is looking
for is faith, not our moral and governmental perfections.  Where He finds faith, He can bring forth moral perfections and
order.  He can take a faithful, weak, and disordered people who are in intimate relationship with Himself into divine
destiny.  But He can do nothing with non-relational, faithless people of impeccable character.

These things being indisputably true, why base our theology and teaching on issues of government, authority, and
submission on patterns from an era and order that
failed?  All the leadership principles displayed in the Old Testament
failed.  The people of God under their influence did not enter into spiritual inheritance.  They did not find God’s rest.  
Why carry them over?  My premise is that Old Covenant leadership practices belong in the same category as Levitical
priesthood practices: interesting insights, but
in application, not appropriate for the present age.  Having begun in the
Spirit, are we now made perfect by the flesh?  An Old Covenant map cannot lead us in the New Covenant journey.

The Man on a Throne

If we cannot look to the Old Covenant for specifics of form regarding leadership and government, is there anything the
Old Covenant can teach us on the “spirit” of the subject?  Yes, there is.

The book of Ezekiel opens with a heavenly vision that has been subject to endless interpretations throughout the
centuries.  I would like to throw my pennies into the fountain of the church’s historical interpretations.  I believe Ezekiel
chapter one and other passages have significant insights for us on the subject of God’s governmental order.  There are
a few key elements of the opening vision related to this subject:

  • The heavenly creatures

  • A wheel within a wheel, full of eyes

  • A man on a throne

I do not think it is too big a stretch to say that a vision of a man on a throne in heaven has something to do with ultimate
rulership (government and order)!  Likewise, I do not think it is too large a typological stretch to say that something full
of eyes has to do with sight!  Perhaps it would be profitable, if we want to “see” the essential qualities associated with
God’s government, to pay attention, in type and symbol.

The spirit of the creatures is in the wheels.  The spirit of something speaks of its essence, its core, that which animates,
gives life, distinguishes, identifies.  Wherever the creatures went, the wheels went.  The wheels were in harmonic motion
with the creatures.  Keil and Delitzsch say that the movement was not palpable to the senses – at one level it was
recognizable as movement but at another level a quality undiscernible to the natural senses.  (This is an important fact
for later discussion).  The point is there is something more to the “movement” than the movement itself.  The movement
was of a spiritual quality and dimension transcending naturalistic observation and understanding.  The distinguishing
characteristic of the creatures and the wheels is
motion – constant, harmonious motion.  Whatever interpretation one
gives this passage, one thing is clear: It is about a man on a throne and motion.

If we are going to correctly “see” issues concerning the Lord’s rulership and governance, we must avoid rigid systems,
interpretations, and applications of perceived “order” and embrace a fluid and imprecise understanding, annoying to
natural reason.  The essence of God’s governmental order is Spirit-wrought and not amenable to naturalistic
understanding or reduction to organizational charts.  God’s government is not about static placement and eternally
static setting of individuals in positions and offices but rather being open to the Spirit-led movements and instructions
from the Man on the throne.  David Cannistraci said:

    This type of flexibility within leadership of the apostles powerfully demonstrates that apostolic authority is neither
    successional (that is, able to be permanently imparted at the will of man) nor hierarchical (composed of numerous
    layers of authority) in its basic nature.  Instead, leadership and submission among apostles is fluid, relational and
    subject to change as the situation and the will of God may dictate.

At a practical local-church level, this could mean rather than having a “pastor” as the eternally-set executive office in a
church, seasons might exist where one of the other ministries had a predominant function and exercise.  The dominant
leadership presence in a congregation needs to be flexible enough to change with stages of growth and divine seasons
in a congregation.  This concept’s perceived impracticality has more to with issues of financial compensation, control,
and worldly management strategies than theology!

Does not this fluidity make sense from a natural parental analogy?  Does not our parenting function change as a child
matures?  One hopes it would.  Family trouble is being Fed Exed to your door if you treat an adolescent like an infant!  
The parental bond remains throughout the life of the child.   However, the
expression of the relationship must be open
to change.

How much more so in the lives of individuals and local churches?  Rigid local-church governmental structures and
relationships hold individuals in eternal spiritual infancy and passivity.  Spirit-wrought leadership must adapt and change
to seasons of individual and congregational development.  If we do our job as leaders (and people cooperate),
someone who has been a Christian for fifteen years should require far less “government” than a new convert!  The role,
expression, and nature of the relationship of prophets and apostles within and to the local assembly are not eternally
cast in theological stone.

The Scripture states that apostles and prophets are the foundational ministries of the church (Ephesians 2:20).  It helps
no one to continue to pour concrete once the foundation has set.  The concrete will just collect in an unattractive way,
making it difficult for the framers and the rest of the construction team to do their work.  Paul was mobile.  As a bona fide
“master builder,” an apostle should know the seasons of his own life.  An apostle or prophet may, or may not, retain
relational connections with the churches that they historically touch.  However, their role and presence
must change with
time.  Paul ended his ministry abandoned, alone, and in jail, not clinging to his “governmental authority” and “covering”
over his network!  After laying the foundation, a prophet or apostle needs to get out of the way…move on…


AUTHORITY, ACCOUNTABILITY and the APOSTOLIC MOVEMENT, by Dr. Stephen Crosby, Copyright 2006,
Pleasant Word (Winepress Publishing).