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The Radical Revolution in the Church
The Radical Revolution in the Church
The Apostolic Church
Once upon a time, when I was a solid 140 lbs, devoid of belly fat, I worked part-time as a packer at a moving company. It was a hard and dangerous occupation full of many hazards; one of which was dying from icineration. I remember an incident where I almost lost my life because someone forgot to put the gas cap back on our moving truck. It was pretty harrowing. It was pretty stupid.
The fuel sloshed around at the mouth of the open gas tank, spilling over at times, so one of the workers had the bright idea to place a cloth over the hole. The only problem was now we became a moving Molotov cocktail because the cloth had soaked up some of the gasoline, becoming a fuse in the process.
The driver began to laugh out loud and said, “We are all going to die today!!!!” His helper also nervously laughed and kept a wary eye out for drivers sticking their cigarettes out the window. I started to pray.
In the midst of all the tough guy banter, perverse laughter, and last-rite confessions, we suddenly looked up at this sign and saw the words, “Jesus Coming Soon.” The laughter then became uncontrollable because the driver started to cry out, “We are going to see Jesus soon. We are going to see Jesus soon.” I had to laugh at this one. The timing was impeccable.
The name of the church with the sign was The Apostolic Faith Church. Whether they were a true apostolic church or not, I do not know? It was one of the first times I saw this word and it would not be the last.
Honestly, The word apostle and apostolic have been bandied around too loosely and cheapened. Money, fame, and just plain selfishness have defiled the position from its pure and simple start. Many of the self-proclaimed apostles of today do not resemble the self-sacrificing pioneers of the past. Yes, they are anointed leaders. I have been blessed by many of them, but they are not apostles, only very gifted leaders.
What is an apostle? The word apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos, which means ‘messenger or one sent on a mission’. In ancient times, they carried the full powers of the one who sent them. In popular Stoic philosophy the word was also used to denote divine authorization, even from Zeus himself (Colin Brown The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol 1. [Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986.] 127.).
The modern day apostle also carries divine authority vested in him by Jesus (Matt 28:18-20, Romans 1:1, Ephesians 1:1). They may not carry the authority to write new Scripture (only the first apostles had that authority), but they carry authority to lead the church with the blueprint of heaven. Revelations 22:18-19, the last book of the Bible, also prohibits the adding or subtracting of Scripture.
Yes, the gift of apostle is still with us today. The hand cannot say to the feet I do not need you. The pastor cannot say to the apostle I do not need you. If the argument in 1 Corinthians 12 is true, then it is true for the gift of apostle. This gift is vital for the healthy functioning of Christ’s church.
From my experience, study of Scripture, and reading of other literature, it seems very clear that the gift of apostle is primarily a leadership gift, with a healthy dose of other gifts from the Holy Spirit. There is the ability to teach ( 2 Cor 11:6), perform signs and wonders (Acts 2:43), and utilize other gifts when the need arises. However, their primary role is to lead.
They carry authority vested in them by Christ, himself (2 Cor 12:1), and they use their anointing to gather, lead, and get other people, especially leaders, to fulfill the mandate of heaven. A true apostle has divine favor with people to lead them. It’s not something they can work for or even earn with degrees or titles, it is a gift from God. It is a gift, however, that needs to be faithfully stewarded. As the Spiderman movie stated, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
They are also called to go out. They are not called to be stationary. They plant new churches or works; they oversee; they discipline; they instruct; they send out; they provide the big picture. They are always moving like the river in Ezekiel 47. Stagnancy is abhorrent to them.
However, the thing that makes the true apostle different from all the corrupted versions of today is this: character. They resemble the Apostle Paul. They truly care for the welfare of the church (2 Cor 11:1-6); they carry a true knowledge of Jesus and his gospel plan (11:1-6); they are courageous (Acts 5:29); they are self-supporting (2 Cor 11:7-11); they do not take advantage of the church; they endure great hardship (11:23-28); they have also encountered Jesus in a supernatural way (12:1-6).
What drives them is this: love for God, love for people, and an intense dedication to make the blueprint of God’s Will a reality on earth. Nothing will deter the true apostle from this goal. They will lead unto this end.
As one can see, this office is truly a gift to the body of Christ. What then are the characteristics of the apostolic church?
Before I begin, I need to make some important qualifications. As a human being, I am finite in my understanding of the things of God. This is just my limited perspective on a very vast subject matter – extremely vast subject matter. It is constantly evolving and morphing from God’s mysterious plans into divine reality. This article is just my take on what God has already revealed, and I, like you, am waiting with baited breath for the next episode. It is never boring with God. There is always a different facet of his glory to explore.
The apostolic church values empowerment over entitlement. We find in Acts 2:42-47 a healthy church that values personal responsibility over selfish living. It’s not what the church can do for them, but what they can contribute to the church. Yes, they received great blessings from the apostolic leadership team, but they responded by taking responsibility to care for one another. The apostolic church does not promote the consumer mentality, but Christ-likeness; it doesn’t promote victimization, but victorious living; it doesn’t promote selfishness, but selflessness for the Kingdom of God. Parenting, tithing, and serving take on a whole new, healthy perspective. It’s a clarion call to personal empowerment and responsibility for the greater good of the whole body of Christ.
The apostolic church values heavenly identities over holy titles. John 13:3-4 states, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that He had come forth from the God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded himself.” Jesus, knowing where he came from, what he possessed, and where he was going, began to serve his disciples. Our security cannot be in our holy titles, sanctified responsibilities, or our glorified accomplishments, but in our heavenly identities. No one can steal eternal life, God’s love, God’s choice, or God’s anything. If God has given them to us, he has given them to us.
If our security is placed in titles, roles, and accomplishments, we place ourselves on a very unstable foundation, one easily toppled, one easily stolen. Our heavenly identity is untouchable by the enemy and by the world. Many in the body of Christ are being displaced or are voluntarily moving themselves into other positions to move into their new heavenly identity. They see the inferiority of the old, the promise of the new. One dies out on earth, the other echoes on into eternity.
Like the ministers of the first century, the litmus test of authority is the presence of God’s hand on our lives, not titles, positions, or roles. Phds, MAs, M-Divs, MThs, and other academic glitter mean nothing apart from the anointing and calling of God. Heavenly identity means everything. This identity will allow us to gird ourselves and wash many feet in complete security and love.
The apostolic church values the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean over the limited scope of the Pool of Bethesda (Ezekiel 47:1-12). One is broad and the other is narrow. One increases in anointing and effectiveness as they travel farther from home base, the other receives sporadic flows of God’s presence as they minister within the confines of a building. One expands and the other stagnates. One touches many lives and the other only a few. One impacts culture and the other immunizes themselves from the culture. One is controlled by God and the other is controlled by man.
Yes, there was a season where we cultivated and protected the flame like the Irish monks during the Dark Ages. Without their tireless work, we would not have the Holy Scriptures for today. They, the monks, were the keepers of the Scripture flame. We also had a season where we taught the truth, protected the truth, practiced within the four walls of a sanctuary, and built each other up. However, it’s launching time now. God is sending us out.
Community is good, but commissioning is better. We get to use the stuff now to impact cities and nations. We don’t learn how to dance to stay at home. We learn how to dance to attend the ball. It’s time to party! It’s time to jump into the water!
The apostolic church values the miraculous over the mundane. The Christian church was birthed out of the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s steeped in the miraculous. The apostles healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, prophesied over disconsolate lives, confirmed the Word of the Lord by many supernatural feats, and commanded us to do the same. Why the disparity when we look at the book of Acts and at the mundane church of today? We possess the same Holy Spirit that the power packed disciples possessed.
First, It’s not a time for guilt and condemnation, but a time to unleash the untapped power of the Holy Spirit on all the spiritually thirsty around us. We are a supernatural people imbued with supernatural power.
Yes, we need to step out in faith, practice what we preach, grow in love, and get outside the walls of our sanctuaries. This was and is always needed.
However, I believe the timing is perfect now. Yes, the timing is perfect. If God’s hand is not on something, then no matter what we do, it will not fly. God’s Spirit is presently expanding our minds and creating a holy frustration in all of us for more. I personally have experienced more effectiveness in prophetic ministry in this season than in the last. Others can say the same thing for the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. It’s the season for greater miracles. It’s a season to move in apostolic power.
The apostolic church values the Divine over doctrine. The Pharisees taught doctrine. Jesus even said follow their teaching, but not their lives. What were they missing? God (kind of important if you ask me). They taught truth without the Spirit of God. This is kind of tricky because the Bible is God’s word, but apart from the anointing of the Spirit, it is dead; hence, the ineffectiveness of the Pharisees' teaching.
The ability to understand and properly teach the Scriptures lies with the Holy Spirit. In the past, we relied heavily on our theological training to bring forth a sermon. Today, dependence on God and His Spirit must be at the foundation of any exposition of God’s Word. It’s the only way to bear good and lasting fruit (John 15). Most theological training is very helpful when wielded by the masterful hand of the Holy Spirit, not the other way around. It’s a reestablishment of the right priorities again: Spirit first, and then the Word.
The apostolic church values team ministry over the one-man show. This is a simple one. The church was always called to be led by the apostle, prophet, pastor, evangelist and teacher. They call them the five-fold ministry of the Gospel (Ephesians 4:11). It was a team approach. It was a sharing the load approach. It was the most effective approach. Logically speaking, more hands make the work easier, more powerful, and more complete. God is bringing the fullness of this model back into the church. How He configures it all will vary from place to place. One thing for sure, the one-man or one-woman show has and will end.
The apostolic church values humility over pride. In this season, many churches will band together because they realize they cannot do it on their own. Leaders will gather and humbly submit themselves to one another and step into their rightful positions. Some will be apostles; some will be pastors; some will be evangelists; some will be teachers; some will be prophets. This will take humility. There will be mutual submission, but it may mean coming under the leadership of another leader (a recognized apostle) from another church. Like I said, it will take humility.
In this model, churches may maintain their geographical locations, but now be under the covering of the five-fold ministry of various leaders from various churches. The blessing is this: they will now have a pool of resources, both financially and gift wise, to fulfill the Great Commission. They will not have to do it alone. This is John 17:20-21 in its fullness. God will hasten this move. Only pride stands in the way, but our God is a specialist in dealing with this common human dysfunctionality.
The apostolic church values Maker-centeredness versus man-centeredness. The question asked on Sunday morning will not be how can we minister to those coming through the doors, but how can we honor God. What does God want? What does he desire? Ministries will not center themselves on a few needs, but on God’s bigger agenda of reaching the whole world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This will require a more comprehensive strategy, a heavenly blueprint, a plan steeped in faith, a focus centered on true worship. The fear of man will find no place in the apostolic church, only the fear of God.
I applaud you for reading through this whole article. This is just a snapshot of what I sense God is doing; more will be revealed in the days to come. A revolution is occurring in the political and economic systems of this world. Some say a financial crash is imminent. Whether this is true or not, it really doesn’t matter. The angel of the Lord said the Kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdoms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Revelations 11:15). The apostolic church is a precursor to the rule and reign of the greatest Apostle, Jesus Christ. Man is coming to the end of his rope. Great upheaval is par for the course before the great and awesome day of the Lord. Be encouraged church. Jesus is coming soon (Revelations 22:20).