Once upon a time, almost all conservative evangelicals assumed that God had stopped distributing the extraordinary revelatory gifts of his Spirit to his people in the first century of the New Testament church. It was taken for granted for almost 2,000 years. In the last 100 years, however, the scale has tipped the other way. Those of us who still believe what our spiritual forefathers once believed are seen as holding on to strange doctrines or being heretical and spiritually dead. How has that change of mind happened?

Well, it is no secret that the Pentecostal movement as we know it today had its roots in the religious revival that took place on Asuza Street in California, in the USA, towards the end of the 19th century. The signs and wonders of the book of Acts in the Bible seem to have been restored upon the church “in the last days”. People were speaking in tongues, and claims to miraculous healings and other miracles were not unusual. From Asuza Street, this fire has spread all over the world.

The zeal and joy of those who are identified with the Pentecostal movement has made it impossible to ignore what has happened. Working backwards from experience to the Scriptures, the church has been forced to review its historic position. The question has been, “Have we been wrong all along to think that God had withdrawn the extraordinary revelatory gifts? Could it be that, perhaps, the church had been quenching the Spirit all along?”

Closely connected with this movement has been the resurfacing of titles like “apostle” and “prophet”, which the church previously consigned to the early church. It only makes sense. If all the gifts of the Holy Spirit never really ceased but were merely suppressed, why should we shun away from the titles that were being used in Bible times? Similarly, the term “pastor” has remained in use since the days of the apostles, and every so often we have heard of evangelists like Billy Sunday, so why should the other titles that are found on the same list in Ephesians 4 not also be in regular usage?

These are the questions that this issue of Reformation Zambia seeks to address. Should we have apostles and prophets today? One reason why this question has become pertinent is that there have been far too many scandals associated with men going by these titles. Many such individuals are guilty of financial and sexual scandals in the church. This has forced even those who are sincere Pentecostal believers to start asking very unsettling questions.

Pastor Manasseh Kaonga of Grace Baptist Church of Kapiri Mposhi in Central Province deals with the offices of apostle and prophet as they are found in the Bible. What role did they play and what was the purpose of their existence? He deals with the original meaning of the words in the Bible and shows how they were used in various ways. He ends by answering the question, “How should Christians understand apostles and prophets today?”

Pastor Sydney Kombe of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Mpika in Muchinga Province deals with what he calls “The historicity of prophets and apostles.” He gives an overview of prophets in the Old Testament and then tells us of the distinguishing marks of prophets in the Bible. He does the same for apostles. Like Pastor Manasseh he also tells us of various ways the Bible uses the word “apostle” but he goes one step further to tell us the necessity of this office at the foundational stage of the church.

Then we have an article written by Pastor Simon Mwango of Central Baptist Church in Mansa in Luapula Province. Pastor Mwango builds on the previous two articles to assert that, “today’s apostles and prophets are false teachers”. He says that the Bible warns us to expect what we are experiencing today. He calls it an “influx of false teachers”. With passion, he not only denies the presence of apostles and prophets in the biblical sense of the word but in a very practical way he also gives us ways to identify false teachers.

Finally, we have a succinct article from Pastor Choolwe Mwetwa of the Central Baptist Church of Chingola in the Copperbelt Province. He holds the bull by the horns in addressing the ceasing of the extraordinary revelatory gifts such as prophecy in the years of infancy of the New Testament church. He does this by a careful, honest, and simple exposition of 2Peter 2:1. Pastor Mwetwa has the knack of making complex things simple!