One of the major technological themes of our time is the rollout of the 5G network. This technology will speed up data transmission by over 20x. Most of us like to think of the convenience of downloading a DVD in seconds rather than minutes. The real purpose of 5G however, is to allow for high technology such as self-driving vehicles and web-connected devices, the “internet of things.” Currently, self-driving vehicles are limited in function since there is a huge amount of information that must be continuously transferred from all the vehicle’s sensors and analyzed. The current infrastructure is too slow to be able to handle all of this information, which of part of the reason 5G is being pushed forward.
There is plenty of symbolism will can find within this trend.
Prophetically interpreted, 5G stands for “5 Gifts”
What are the five gifts?
Ephesians 4:11-12, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,”
Apostle, prophet, pastor, evangelist, and teacher are the five gifts.
In the New Testament church, all of the five gifts can be seen plainly in action. The apostles were well-known and their authority acknowledged by all. Prophecy flowed freely in the churches. Pastor, evangelist and teacher worked together to promote the gospel message. Yet for almost 1800 years since, the gifts seemed to disappear. In place of the five gifts, the church was led by a single “priest” under the Roman Catholic model. Several hundred years ago at the reformation led by Martin Luther, Christianity began to free itself from the Catholic system. Yet many old patterns and traditions remain to this day. For example, it is common for a modern day church to put all of the teaching and ministry leadership functions on a pastor. This is basically the same as the Catholic model, except that the world “priest” has been changed to “pastor.” Going through the New Testament, the word “pastor” as a title is only used once, and the verb “to shepherd” in two places. The more common words are “elder” and “overseer” to describe church leadership. This begs the question of whether we can automatically assume that an elder is the same as a pastor? Elder refers to wise and mature members and there is no indication that an elder always has to be a pastor. Anyone who is wise, mature, and experienced in the faith fits the definition of elder, regardless of which gifting they may have. In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 Paul lays out the qualifications for bishops (overseers). Among these it is stated an overseer must be “apt to teach,” but there is no mention or inference that this person must necessarily be a pastor.
The problem that happens when we get too focused on one gift, is that it results in a lack of balance in ministry and teaching. Pastors are gifted at comforting and creating unity. Prophets are the opposite, their gift is to expose the weakness and sin being overlooked, which of course results in discomfort and can sometimes result in disunity (although it shouldn’t). When you have a pastoral-only leadership and exclude the prophetic or put it on a leash, this results in an overly soft church with not any real fire. Too much soothing and not enough calls to repentance and to get right with God. No wonder we are so far from the early church in power and miracles. We are trying to clutch on to the Roman Catholic model of having one shepherd in charge of everything to do with a church, and excluding four other gifts from participating. Its time we get back to the New Testament model and begin to incorporate participation from all five giftings in leadership and ministry decision-making.
Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
In the days of the Judges, Israel was in a chaotic state, being constantly defeated by enemies and then rescued by a strong leader (“judge”). One of the characteristics of this time was that there was no king in the land, and everyone did whatever he pleased. We can compare this to the state of the church without the apostolic. Lacking connection to trustworthy apostles results in a state of chaos where every congregation does its own thing and there is no overall focused direction. Each church becomes its own walled-in “city-state.” God is building a KINGDOM, not a bunch of disconnected city-states. Only by connecting to apostles can we transform from “church” to “kingdom” mindset.
Looking to the world, we can see that the most powerful corporations operate on a model where their individual branches have to listen to direction from a central office. Overall, the small businesses with less direction and efficiency tend to get crushed by these orderly, efficient giants. The main fear of centralized apostolic control is the destruction this model caused under the Catholic church. Many churches demand complete independence out of fear of a repeat of this scenario. This fear is not justified however. The early church listened to and submitted to the early apostles, but these apostles did not directly “control” what was going on in each church. The Roman Catholic “popes” acting as apostles, tried to directly control everything that went on in their territory and acted as bullies, demanding total submission. On the other hand, the New Testament apostles were operating in continuous miracles, signs and wonders and they did not need to coerce local churches into following their direction. Their authority was undeniable.
Sometimes “apostle” or “bishop” is used as a fancy title to give to a senior member of a denomination. We have to be careful and remember this is an actual spiritual calling given by God himself and cannot just be a favour placed on a favorite minister. A real apostle is in constant communication with God, receiving instructions for how to press the kingdom forward in his region and there are always signs and wonders following.
John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
In John, Christ speaks of the kingdom as a connected vine. A branch separated from the vine is guaranteed to wither. Without the apostolic, each church is like a branch hoping to bear fruit on its own. Its just not going to work. God wants to bring about apostolic leaders and it will be crucial for each church to make a connection to them. It should be a top-priority prayer item in each church, which apostles to connect the church with. As God moves to restore the apostolic you will begin to see a greater unity among the Spirit-filled churches within a city. This is the “network” symbolism of 5G. It provides greater interconnectedness. Not everyone operating independently, using different strategies, and teaching different doctrines. The message of 5G is God’s restoration of kingdom unity, the fivefold ministry (not onefold), and apostolic leadership. Just as many are afraid of 5G technology, spreading conspiracies and blaming it for causing sickness, there will also be many who oppose the fivefold kingdom pattern, preferring to cling to the traditional way of doing "church." In the end however, the better way of doing things always wins.