~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, Valuing what God Values (Part 5: Abortion from an Apostolic Perspective) by clicking here.
Matthew 6:10 says “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Surely apostles would pray other prayers as well, but Matthew 6:10 is THE apostolic prayer.
Matt Dunn, who is associate pastor at a strongly apostolic church called HRock or Harvest Rock, wrote this about apostles: “The word apostle is borrowed from the vocabulary of the Roman Empire … an apostle was like an ambassador sent by the Emperor to represent and cultivate the culture of the Empire within the newly conquered province over which he presided. The word literally means “sent one,” from the Greek word apostolos.” The Roman empire would send a Roman ambassador who carried “the DNA” of the Emperor into that newly conquered Roman territory in order to Romanize the territory. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” The apostolic prayer!
The title of this message is “abortion from an apostolic perspective.” So, let’s learn some more about apostles. In Matthew 10:1-2 and 5-8 we see the apostles were (1) given authority, (2) sent out, and (3) commanded concerning the specific territory / people group they were to go to. With those people, they were called to (A) preach that ‘the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ and (B) to demonstrate the kingdom of heaven by healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, and casting out demons. This is analogous to the Roman apostles going to Spain and saying “hello Spanish people, behold the Roman kingdom is at hand and I will now demonstrate the Roman customs.”
The idea of apostleship is key to God’s design of the church. Let’s look at Mark 3:14 “Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach …” What does an apostle do? They (1) spend time with Jesus and then (2) they go share about Jesus. Said differently, they are seeing the culture of heaven and then they are bringing the culture of heaven. In Romans 1:5, Paul makes a telling commentary on his apostleship. “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,” Here Paul says that he has received an apostleship for all nations to be obedient to the faith of Christ! Apostles are charged by God to make earth look like heaven! “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” That’s the apostolic prayer.
Now let’s look at Ephesians 2:19-20. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone…” Why had the Ephesians been effectively heaven-ized in their culture? Because they have been built on the “the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” Jesus is the chief cornerstone and the foundation of the church is the apostles and the prophets. Remember that He has given some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4) for the equipping of the saints for the works of service, but the church is actually founded on the apostles and the prophets. The teachers are needed for the equipping of the saints for the works of service, but the church is not founded on teachers. The pastors are needed for the equipping of the saints as it relates to caring for the body, but the church is not founded on pastors. The evangelists are needed for the equipping of the saints to reach out and share the gospel – but the evangelists are not the foundation of the church. The apostles and the prophets are the foundation of the church. That means that the “generic” apostolic prayer – “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” – is at the foundation of what the church is!
1 Corinthians 12:28 says “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.” The poor evangelists and pastors didn’t even make this list! Note who’s first … apostles! And it is meant that way. Remember that both Ephesians 2 and Ephesians 4 lists apostles and prophets first. Those two roles (apostles, prophets) are meant to be the foundation of the church. The pastor is supporting. The teacher is supporting. The evangelist is playing a role. The apostles and prophets are meant to be driving the church and when there is deference needed it defers to them.
The apostle is commissioned with knowing heaven so that he can bring heaven to earth. Those who then receive from that apostolic ministry join in that ministry and do the exact same thing in their sphere of influence. This is our call as believers, so we pray “God help me to partner with you to function apostolically!” Again, you don’t have to be an apostle to function apostolically just as you don’t have to be a prophet to hear the Lord. Those gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers) are for the equipping of the saints for the works of service! A teacher is not a 5-fold teacher unless you are equipping believers that would then teach. You are not a 5-fold evangelist unless you are equipping those that would then evangelize – because it it is for the equipping of the saints, not just for doing it yourself. Surely an apostle would be impacting culture for Christ and heaven-izing earth, but you are not an apostle unless the people around you start to heaven-ize their sphere of influence because of your ministry to them. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” is the apostolic prayer.
This message is about an apostolic perspective on abortion. Should we as believers be actively impacting the abortion culture? The answer is yes. The apostolic call is clear. We are supposed to heaven-ize earth. Therefore, consider this question … are babies being killed in Heaven? Therefore, they should not be being killed on earth. That’s the call. The apostolic foundation says “what does heaven look like?” and if earth doesn’t look like heaven, it is my job to make earth look like heaven – to bring heaven to earth.
Mark Crawford says “the surest way for good to prevail on earth is for good people to do something good.” Remember salt is a preservative that flavors all it touches.“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” (Mt. 5:13) We are supposed to be seasoning the world – preserving the world. If we become neutral and equal to the flavoring of the world, what good are we as a preservative / flavoring agent? Matthew 5:13 is sounding very apostolic here! God doesn’t have for us to blend in; He has for us to season! We are not supposed to blend in with darkness but to expose it and bring light to it so there can be healing brought into that situation. Our light is not a light of condemnation but of liberation! In other words, we’re not supposed to look like we are Spanish when we’ve been sent by the Roman Emperor to Roman-ize Spain! God is saying “you have the heavenly DNA; go out and heaven-ize earth!”
In Matthew 28:18-20 we read: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you …” Jesus said “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” This means that earth is a heaven-conquered territory. Remember that “an apostle was like an ambassador sent by the Emperor to represent and cultivate the culture of the Empire within the newly conquered province over which he presided.” All authority has been given to Jesus in heaven and on earth. Earth IS a heaven-conquered territory. Now Jesus tells His disciples “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations …” All the nations are now a heaven-conquered territory – not under the dominion of the devil, but under the dominion of heaven and we all as ambassadors who know the culture of the kingdom of heaven, pray this prayer “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
There are only two philosophies in the world. First, there is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The second option is the Word of God! Notice that Jesus’ philosophy is perfectly the second one! He only did what He saw the Father doing. He only said what He heard the Father saying it was enough for Him to be “like His teacher.” So, Jesus’ operating system was the Word of God; it wasn’t any more complicated than that to Him.
The first part of this series was about us having that mind (to operate by the Word of God) personally. The second part of the series is going to build on that more broadly. God wants His Word to be the operating system of our city and nation. He does not want His Word, His church, to be just one of the programs running amidst a worldly operating system. Earth is already a heaven-conquered territory. The church is built on the foundation of the apostles. The apostles have been called to heaven-ize earth and everyone that comes into that teaching in that church is now called to heaven-ize earth.
Speaking prophetically, Abraham was looking for a city who’s architect and builder was God! “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” The separation of church and state means that the State is NOT to run the church. It does NOT mean that the people of the church should not be running the state! The people of the church should be running the state! We can see what heaven looks like and experience what heaven feels like – and then bring that into every sphere of our country! That’s the apostolic perspective! “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Our job is to be with Jesus, know what Heaven looks like – know what Jesus is like. “Wait a second, there is not baby killing in heaven! Babies are not to be killed on earth. Wait a second, there is not murder in heaven! Gang killing needs to stop in this city because it doesn’t exist in heaven and my job is to heaven-ize this city.” This is the apostolic call and the church is built on this foundation. Earth is a heaven-conquered territory. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations!