Several times, I’ve had ministers give me business cards that stated, “Apostle (their name)”. I’ve also been asked to speak at churches where the senior leader is titled “Apostle (their name). The title someone carries should FOLLOW the fruit of their life and ministry/work. I’ve known too many friends who served in the military, especially in theaters of war, who have been on the field of battle with recently commissioned, but green and untested officers, given charge of their platoons or squads. Their horror stories of theirs, and everyone else lives put in grave jeopardy because of these untested, though titled officers were all too often a correlation to what we’ve seen emerge in the body of Christ over the last two decades.
There are some who claim to be apostles, and I’m not saying that they aren’t latent apostles, or “apostles in training”, but I know of none I’ve met in the U.S. I’ve met a lot of people. I do know that there are apostles on the earth now and they are mostly in foreign countries. The Lord is sending many of them here to bring reformation and restoration. I’ve met and worked with some of them. They are marked by a depth of selflessness that only the dealing of the Lord in their lives, and cooperating with Him by embracing the way of the cross can produce. The discipline of the inwrought cross is how He prepares spiritual mothers and fathers – the true “apostolic”. This is how He prepares a people to emerge that they can carry an apostolic anointing and an apostolic authority.
The church in the west, especially the United States has not listened, and we continually turn away from Abba’s training method. We have kept trying to confess things away that Abba has allowed into our lives for training, instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to train us through these testings. It’s only through passing these tests and this training that He can bring us into a place that we can carry an apostolic authority and an apostolic anointing. To be able to carry the fullness of the King’s presence and the King’s authority, takes a surrendered, disciplined people. Very few people in westernized Christianity have cooperated and allowed this training to be implemented. The stark reason is that those who are their leaders have never been “fathered”, so they, in turn, cannot father (train) an apostolic people who can carry the Lord’s authority and see successful spiritual warfare advance. The “church model” is not the model of the body of Christ (which is His image and likeness). To implement true, New Testament discipleship would mean the loss of money, attendance, accolades, ad infinitum, that adds up to what the scripture calls “selfish ambition”.
What’s coming in this new season, the restoration of the true apostolic, is going to be traumatic because it’s completely outside of the paradigm of the modern organized church. We have entered the final season of restoration that will lead up to His return (Acts 3:19-21). We’re shifting into that “new land” – that new season, and, I believe, it’s going to cause civil war. But we’ve got to move into it.
What is “Apostolic Ministry”?
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. (1 Thess. 1:5-7)
I want to see what real apostolic ministry is, or better yet, what real ministry is, period. The apostle states here that the Holy Spirit bore witness to the message, with conviction and signs and wonders, but he makes one last addendum. He says, “You know what we were like. There was nothing in our lives hidden from you – good, bad, indifferent – you know what we were like. We didn’t come to just bring a word to you, to bring signs and wonders to you, but we came and put our life on display before you.” The character of Christ in them was put on display.
This passage of scripture ties me in knots especially in relation to that which I have had to “unlearn” from the organized church system. Have you ever really read that statement? He didn’t say, “And you became followers of the Lord.” He said you became followers of US AND of the Lord. What in the world does he mean? I believe he means this – we have allowed the Holy Spirit to so deal with us, that when you came in contact with us you were coming in contact with Him. And so by becoming followers of us, you became followers of the Lord. Where is that in the modern organized church? Today, it seems to be about the word, or about the preaching, or about the gifts, or about worship, or it’s (fill in the blank). Where is this apostolic ministry being modeled, much less being taught? Why? Because there are few or no true spiritual fathers.
A spiritual father is a one that has embraced the way of the cross to so allow the cross to deal with them, that they share not only the gospel and signs and wonders, etc. but their life is put on display to the degree that Christ Jesus is experienced in and through them. They have allowed the power of the cross (denial of self, living only for the purpose of glorifying God) to so penetrate their life that when you come in contact with them, like the apostle Paul – a spiritual father – spiritual sons and daughters are made into the same image. That image is the image of Christ. One has come into contact with the Lord Jesus Christ because they have come into contact with them. You have a physical representation of who He is, living it out in front of you.
The main teaching of the cross today is “let’s go to the gospels and look at Christ in the gospels”. This is good, but I’m tired of that. It’s ok but where is the physical, in the flesh, expression of the gospels as we read it? Where are the examples of Him? This is the difference between what we call ministry in the organized church and what the New Testament calls true ministry. The apostle Paul said in Galatians 1, “When it pleased the Father to reveal His Son in me, He put me in ministry” (Gal. 1:15-16). “Ministry” is not just coming to bring a word. That’s important but if coming to bring a word is not backed up with at least in partial representation in the life of the Son in the one that’s bringing it, no ministry happened – according to the New Testament. Several weeks ago, Dr. Richard Mays, a member of our fellowship, was sharing his teaching on healing. The teaching is the best I’ve ever heard on the subject as is available from our website, lionheartministries.org. He not only shared his teaching, but he opened up and shared his life experiences as a part of it. It deeply touched all of us in a way that just sharing the teaching would not. Something eternal happens to people when you share not only good revelation or teaching, but when you share life – His life in you. This is my experience. When you begin to see Christ manifest in the flesh, and what people have walked through, scars and all, something is imparted to you that is eternal. The Spirit in them touches your spirit. And if that does not take place, “ministry” has not happened! I don’t care if there were signs and wonders and a hundred people got healed. True New Testament ministry has not taken place, because the people who were healed can get sick again. If they have encountered Christ, they are eternally changed. Paul says, “You became followers of us and of the Lord. By becoming followers of us, you became followers of the Lord because you were seeing Him in us.” You saw God Himself put on display in and through us and it transferred to you, to where everybody can look at you in these provinces and see Him. This is apostolic, New Testament ministry.
It’s not just preaching to or at somebody. It’s Abba being experienced through you to them. Our training happens only when we set ourselves to embrace this denial-of-self lifestyle (the cross) when the enemy begins his harassment and testing. It further only happens in the context of community – living it out in covenant relationship with others of the body of Christ. When you deny self (embrace the cross), you give the spirit of God opportunity to come to the forefront. This lifestyle breeds and forms in us spiritual maturity. We go from children and young men who can preach the gospel in signs and wonders to fathers who have known Him who is from the beginning (1 John 2:12-14). When people come in contact with these mature fathers and mothers, they experience the eternal omnipotent God and not just a word or a sign. This is what we are shifting into. I can’t tell you how I’ve longed to see this day.
(Continued in the next article)
About 8 years ago, I had to close the church I pastored. God was revealing to me about the apostolic and apostle. I had made the shift but it has not been the same. It has been difficult to find my place and have not ministered much. There is not anyone that actually holds the title of apostle in our small town. Any advice?
I don’t know where you are located, but I wouldn’t say that there is a clear “apostle” in our area either. With all due respect to those who claim the title, I just don’t see the same authority and fruit (in most of them) that followed the apostles we see in scripture. Your frustration is understandable, there are many where you are. All we can do is bind together in our Spirit-led discontentment and build covenant on the Lord’s terms. There are a few “apostolic works” out there, and immature apostles in training, perhaps. The Lord will lead you to them. HE is building up HIS Body on HIS terms. I know He has a place for you in it. Don’t give up. -Pastor David