Sunday, November 24, 2013

Apostles and Prophets

Below is a letter I wrote to the pastor of Hillcrest Church in Dallas which I attended for about a year in 2006. Although some of it relates to a few of my experiences, it is really not about me but about the offices of apostle and prophet in the churches today. Unfortunately, few churches listen and therefore they do not have the spiritual authority they could have nor are they operating according to the Lord's order of authority.

Dear Mark,

Over the past several weeks you have taught one of the best and most balanced series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.that I've ever heard. Most of what you've said I agree with you on. However, two weeks ago you taught on prophecy and also mentioned that prophets are not the same today as they were in Old Testament times. That is something that I disagree with you on and will explain why to you in this letter. Prophets are no different today than they were in past days.

When God first told me He was calling me to be a prophet back in early 1983, the first thing He told me I had to do was tell the pastor of Christian Life Fellowship in Plano - a man whom I loved, respected and thought highly of - that he was proud and materialistic. I was greatly troubled by this and spoke to both of the church elders, about this. One agreed with what I believed the Lord had shown me, the other didn't. A few days later I happened to mention this to another guy in the church who apparently mentioned it to his wife, who told it to others. By the time I called the pastor a few days later to tell him what the Lord had shown me, he had already heard what I was going to tell him. Before I could tell him what the Lord had instructed me to tell him, he said "I know what you're going to tell me and I refuse to accept it and I take full responsibility for not receiving it". This was a very hard thing for me because it split the relationship between he and I, but I knew what God had called me to do. Within a few weeks he resigned as pastor. The church no longer exists.

Several months after that God gave me my commission as a prophet: "I have set you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to tear down, to overthrow and destroy, to build and to plant", the same as He gave to Jeremiah. He called me to be a prophet to the nations, to the churches, to the ministries, to kingdoms that men set up for themselves either in the church realm or the business world. Even my name, Clifford, was chosen by the Lord before I was born - I am a watchman who stands on the edge of the CLIFF, watching the FORDing place in the river so that I can warn the people when I see the enemy coming. My ministry is no different than Jeremiah's, I even spent seven weeks in a cistern filled with mud when Sojourn Church threw me out on the streets and I ended up at the Salvation Army for seven weeks, something for which Sojourn is paying a heavy price for.

Although God puts His prophets through hell, He is very hard on those who mistreat them. In 1984 I was living with an elderly woman, Jeannie, in Richardson. Jeannie had a son Earl, whom I was friends with, and a daughter Paula, both of them in their early 40s. After a few months Paula began treating me very contemptuously, with scorn and ridicule. She was afraid that her mother might put me in her will and give me some of "Paula's" money. I moved out of there in a few months and lost contact with the family. in 1988 I called up Carole, Earl's wife, and she mentioned that Paula was in the hospital with cancer. I told Carole that if Paula apologized to me that the Lord might heal her of cancer, but that if she didn't then she would surely die of cancer. Earl called me up the next day and asked me not to tell Paula that because he was her spiritual counselor and didn't believe that it was from the Lord. I haven't spoken to anyone in the family since then. About a year later I saw Paula's obituary in the newspaper. About two years after that I saw Earl's obituary in the paper.

In 1983 and 1984 I attended Central Park Church in Richardson, a charasmatic church of about 700-1000 members. The pastor had been warned by the other prophets in the church about his controlling spirit and how he quenched the work of the Holy Spirit. He wouldn't listen. When it came time for me to warn him, he came against me very strongly and wouldn't listen. I shook the dust off my sandals at him and left the church. Central Park Church no longer exists. That man now pastors a church of about 40 members and is more arrogant, controlling and prouder then ever.

In 1986 I was living in Phoenix and attended Foundation Fellowship Church, a church of about 1500 members. Ron was the apostle/pastor of the church, a guy in his mid 30s and a man who had a heart like King David's. This was a church that I loved, it was my family, my brothers and sisters whom I felt very close to. In May, 1986 the Lord moved me back to Dallas. Several months later I called a friend of mine at the church and learned that the church had recently split, with half of the people and leaders forming another church under People Of Destiny's banner. Ron stayed with Foundation Fellowship. The Lord had me write a number of encouraging, comforting and uplifting letters to Ron over the next few months, with one of them containing a word of caution about how to take care of sojourners whom the Lord would send their way.

The next year God sent me back to Phoenix for two weeks. When I returned to Dallas the Lord had me write two more letters of comfort and encouragement to Ron, along with another word of caution (a little stronger this time) about taking care of sojourners. The next year the Lord sent me back to Phoenix for another two weeks. Ron had not listened to my words of caution and refused to do so a third time. When I returned to Dallas the anger of the Lord burned within me against Ron and I sent him another letter, a very strong rebuke this time. I gave him the verses about the landowner who planted a vineyard and rented the property to some farmers. When he sent his servants to collect what was due him, the renters beat and killed his servants. What will this landowner do to these wretched people? He will kick them off the land and rent it to others! I never heard from Ron, but about a year later I called a friend from that church and she told me that the church dissolved and that the building now sits empty.

In 1988 I was living in Kemp, Texas, near Cedar Creek Lake. One day the Lord impressed upon me to go to Faith Church in Kaufman. I had never been there before, but I went there for services the next Sunday. It was a small church of perhaps 250 - 300 people meeting in an old building near downtown Kaufman. The pastor was a man named Scotty. They were talking that Sunday about the new building they were going to build on Hwy 175 in Kaufman. The Lord had me go and meet Scotty later in the week and tell him that the Lord was giving them the new building to minister to people who were traveling down the highway, and that people would come to them who were hurting and in need in various ways. If they needed gas or food, then the church was to provide that for them. If they needed a place to stay, then the church was to provide that for them. If they needed counseling or prayer, then the church was to do that for them. I moved back to Dallas shortly after that and had no more contact with Scotty. About three years later, a friend of mine who lived in Kemp told me that the church had built their new building on Hwy 175, but that it now sat empty and the church no longer existed. I never spoke to anyone from that church, but I know why it fell apart.

As the prophets of old anointed people for service, usually as kings, so also do the prophets of today anoint people for service. I have anointed a number of apostles and prophets for service (and/or told them what their calling was) and, many times, what that office entailed, the authority and responsibilities that came with it. I have anointed one man, David, as senior pastor of the remnants of Church On The Rock. I don't APPOINT them, I simply ANOINT them and/or tell them what their calling is, God is the one who appoints them.

As a watchman, God has given me special insight into the hearts and/or intentions of many people. There have been several instances where the Lord has shown me that people in leadership positions were actually spies from the camp of the antichrist. "If Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light, is it any wonder that his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness?" No one has yet believed me when I've told them that a certain elder, pastor or someone else in the church is actually a spy from the camp of the enemy, but God has proven me right in every case thus far. I've seen people who I knew were wolves in sheep's clothing and who were there to do nothing but cause trouble. My job is to warn the leaders of the church and let them handle the situation as the Lord leads them to, if they will listen to the Lord. Most don't listen, and because of that many of their sheep have been led astray or devoured by the enemy.

Matt 23:34 "Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify. Others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town." Does that sound like the prophets of today are any different from the ones of the O.T., aren't we treated the same today as back then? Didn't the people persecute and kill the prophets in the O.T.? Doesn't this verse say that the same thing will happen to us in this generation? Why do you think the prophets of today are any different than the ones of old?

This next topic is a very sensitive one in churches - the order of spiritual authority in the churches today. 1Cor 12:28 "And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers...." Eph 4:11 "It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers...." Eph 2:20 "The church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets....." Nowhere does the Bible say that God has appointed pastors as the head of the churches, in fact the Bible only mentions the term "pastors" once, that is in Eph 4:11.

In every instance the apostle is the one who is mentioned as the head of spiritual authority in the church. Paul often spoke of using his apostolic authority over the churches - 2Cor 13:10 "This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority." The apostles were also the ones who appointed the elders in the churches - Acts 14:23 "Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church", Titus 1:5 (Titus was an apostle) " The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished, and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you to".

Acts 15:6 "The apostles and elders met to consider the question", Acts 16:4 "As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey", Acts 15:23 " The apostles and elders, your brothers ... to the Gentiles ....." All these verses speak of the apostles’ authority in the churches and how they are set apart from the elders – for it doesn’t say “elders”, but “apostles and elders”, making them a separate entity from the elders.
Gal 1:1 "Paul, an apostle sent not from men nor by man, but by Christ Jesus and God the Father". Today's concept of an apostle is "one sent", referring to missionaries sent by churches, usually to foreign countries. This is in direct conflict with what Paul says, because he was not sent by men, but by God. Nor was he a "missionary" in the way we think of that term today. He was sent by God to found churches, appoint elders and to have spiritual oversight and authority over those churches. If he was simply a missionary he could not speak about his authority over the churches, nor would he have the authority to appoint elders.
We see a type of apostle in the O.T. in Melchizidek, he was a king and a priest. Jesus was called a high priest to the order of Melchizedek, in other words a king/priest. The apostles of today are also king/priests and are the head of spiritual authority in the churches. They are given a very special overview of God's plan for the churches, something that is given to no one else. They see God's whole plan for a church, as opposed to bits and pieces that others see. They are given God's authority to found churches and choose elders. That's quite different from the way churches operate today, isn't it? "And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets...." How far we have strayed from God's plan for the churches .

Prophets are given special abilities to see specific problem areas in churches and to point these out to the spiritual authorities in the church. We are also given the authority to anoint people for service. We work very closely with the apostles in the church.

I have never yet met a proud apostle or a proud prophet, but I have met many proud teachers, pastors and evangelists. God puts his apostles and prophets through the fires of affliction while He is raising them up. He humbles and breaks each and every one of them. A person does not mature spiritually except by suffering, and apostles and prophets suffer a lot so that they can be spiritually mature. We share in the fellowship of His sufferings, literally, so that we will be mature in Christ.

Where the churches got the idea that the pastor was the head of the church is beyond me, it is not scriptural, it is not the way God ordained for it to be. The term "pastor" is only mentioned once in the whole Bible, yet the churches today have raised up the pastors to be their kings, their idols whom they have given control over the churches. Nowhere in the Bible is this authorized, it is completely out of God's order. God's order is "first of all apostles, second prophets...." Mark 7:8 "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." the only priests that are legitimate today are those from the tribe of Levi. But since there is no temple and no burnt offerings, priests have no place today. Catholic priests are in direct disobedience to this. None of them are from the tribe of Levi and therefore they are all illegitimate. But that is another story which I won't go into at this time.

Matt 23:8 "But you are not to be called "Rabbi", for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth "father", for you only have one Father, and He is in Heaven. (Hmmm, that flies in the face of Catholicism, doesn't it?) Nor are you to be called "teacher", for you have one Teacher, the Christ". Can we not say also "you are not to be called "pastor", because you have only one Pastor, Jesus"? Mark 7:8 "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men".

Mark you are one of the finest men that I’ve known and have the true heart of a shepherd. I do not want you to take any of this as being critical of you personally, rather please look at the writings in this letter as spiritual wisdom that the Lord wants the churches as a whole to see so that the Body of Christ can be returned to its original purpose, plan and power.

Just as a side note, the letter was brought before the Board of Elders in that church and I was told that they could not argue with anything in it. But they did not change the way they did things. Several months later while I was in the prayer room in the church the Lord showed me that there was an attack coming upon the church. If I had had a trumpet I would probably blown it all over the church to warn them. He also told me that if the church rebuilt the prayer walls of the church then the attack could be diverted. (They used to have a 24/7 board in the prayer room on which people would fill in their names to pray for a certain hour or hours for the church on certain days. During the time of the previous pastor it was always filled up. But the current pastor let it go downhill). If the walls were not rebuilt then when the attack came there would be infighting within the walls, many people would be wounded and many would leave the church. I told the leadership of the church exactly this, including two elders (one of them the elder in charge of prayer), but no one listened. The attack came and exactly what I told them happened - there was infighting among the church members, many people were hurt and many people left the church. The church no longer exists, and it was a large non-denominational, charasmatic church in Dallas.