As the year 2012 unfolds, you can expect to hear much on the topic of the ministry of the Apostle. The next couple of posts will be centered on the year 2012 and the governmental Apostolic word that Father is breathing. Friend, we have not heard all there is to hear on the office of the Apostle or on what it means to be an apostolic people. My ear is pressed close to Father’s heart for fresh vision in these areas – as I’m sure yours is, too.
Before pressing forward, we must be certain of foundational truths concerning the office of the apostle. May this article be somewhat of a refresher on the characteristics of that office. Of late, this title has been granted all too easily. Alarmingly, “apostle” has trended more secular in application – encompassing anyone who demonstrates governmental authority in realms outside the four walls of the church. Depending on which teacher you follow in the prophetic/apostolic community, you might define an apostle in any number of ways. As will be described in the coming posts, I hold to the idea that there is a definite office of apostle as described in the New Testament. That office is demonstrated scripturally within the organized church government. An apostle will raise up apostolic people who manifest apostolic qualities in every realm of life. These apostolic people will rise in governmental authority wherever Father sends them. Whether or not they are officiating “apostles” in the true biblical sense of the word will depend on certain criteria.
The title apostle comes from the Greek word (apostolos) meaning a delegate, messenger, or one sent forth with orders. An apostle is a pioneer, one who is destined to build in terra nova, or rebuild in places of desolation and ruin. Let us rehearse what we see apostles demonstrating in scripture in the following acrostic for the word APOSTLE.
A – Affiliated.
A true apostle will affiliate with other apostles and with other ministries within the church. The first twelve apostles remained affiliated after the birth of the church. In Acts 8, Philip the deacon held a successful revival in Samaria. The apostles in Jerusalem heard about it and sent both Peter and John to look in on the move. They discovered that Philip had not been praying for the new believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. As a team, they imparted what was lacking. Apostles confer with one another, and work together for the benefit and growth of the kingdom. Those who refuse to network are not demonstrating true apostolic behavior.
P – Power.
Paul wrote in 1 Cor 2:4, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” According to Strongs, this refers to the dynamis power of the Spirit of Jesus present in Paul’s preaching style. There is something dynamic about the preaching of an apostle – which reminds the listener of the authority of Christ.
O – Order.
An apostle creates order, in a fledgling work, or in an existing work that is dealing with a spirit of chaos. Ephesians 2:20, “Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” The spirit of wisdom and counsel that operates in the apostolic mantle creates order – which is foundational to building any lasting work.
S – Signs.
2 Corinthians 12:12 “The things that mark an apostle–signs, wonders and miracles–were done among you with great perseverance.” Perhaps, the most significant mark of an apostle is the ministry of signs that corroborates his or her office and kingdom mission. Many have assumed the title of apostle, but fail to consistently demonstrate the miraculous.
T – Teaching.
2 Corinthians 12:1 “I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.” Apostles bring revelatory teaching to the body of Christ. The epistles are written chronicles of revelatory teaching which came through the first apostles. Such revelation is given to establish the Kingdom in places of darkness. The teaching of an apostle is the key to undoing specific enemy strongholds and to expand the borders of the church.
L – Leaders.
As builders and founders, apostles have an anointing to identify, mentor, and mature leaders. Acts 6:6, “They presented these men (who would become deacons) to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.” A large part of their ministry will be geared to instilling and developing leaders within the body of Christ to manage Father’s household. The true apostle will also mentor men and women leaders in the community as the Lord grants them great influence beyond the walls of the church.
E – Entrepreneurs.
The Apostle Paul was a tentmaker in Acts 18:3. He joined Acquila and Priscilla in Ephesus, and made tents alongside them for his own maintenance. (In other words, the ministry could not fully support him at that time. He had to financially rely on his secular trade.) Interestingly, this was not the only time Paul worked to support himself during his Apostolic ministry. We have record that Paul worked outside of the church to support himself and others as an apostle in Acts 20:34 and again in Thessalonica (2 Thessalonians 3:9-10). Apostles aren’t afraid of hard work, neither will they shy away from secular work, considering it “beneath them”. Because of the entrepreneurial anointing that resides in the apostolic mantle, often they will bless and mentor other businessmen and businesswomen.
We must be cautious before titling one as an apostle. A label cannot lend credence when it is cheaply given. More tragic than the misnomer, is the abuse of God’s people. Those who follow a misnomer will only become disillusioned and disheartened at the waste of their resources and time.
Although the call to the office can only come from The Apostle, and chief cornerstone – it will be easily recognized by these marks. We all, however, are called to be apostolic people – who will demonstrate great signs in the days ahead. More on that in the coming post ;)