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False and genuine Apostles

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  • False and genuine Apostles


    by J. Lee Grady

    The Bible tells us there are both true and false apostles. Let's

    learn to discern the difference.

    For many years traditional denominations taught that the ministry

    of the apostle passed away after the New Testament era. It was

    assumed that the only people who served in apostolic roles were

    early followers of Jesus who witnessed His resurrection.

    Cessationists (those who believe that miracles stopped after the

    canon of Scripture was completed) believe that healing,

    deliverance, prophecy and all other supernatural phenomena

    ceased and that apostles are no longer necessary.

    NOTE from Lou: they had to believe this because seen no miracles

    themselves because of their unbelief.

    But as Christians in recent years began to experience the

    supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, church leaders and even some

    theologians began to teach that the gift of apostle is vital if we

    hope to advance the gospel in our generation. The logic makes

    sense: If we still need pastors, teachers and evangelists (all part

    of Jesus' five-fold ministry mentioned in Ephesians 4:11), we also

    need the apostles and prophets who are listed in the same

    passage. The Bible never says these functions were discontinued.

    During the 1990s there was a renewed interest in the ministry of

    the apostle. Many books were written on the topic, explaining that

    the Greek word apostolos refers to God's special ambassadors, or

    "sent ones," who are commissioned to contend for pure doctrine,

    preserve unity among the saints, equip leaders, model Christian

    character and help the church advance into new territory.

    But a strange thing happened on the way to recovering genuine

    apostolic anointing. In true American fashion we began to merchandise it.

    No sooner had the first book on apostles been written that some

    men began to claim the title and print it on their business cards.

    Apostleship became a fad. Before too long, some men were

    creating networks of independent churches answerable to a

    governing apostle who took ownership of their buildings and

    controlled their congregations.

    Some charismatic apostles became mini-popes who carved out

    their fiefdoms. Suddenly the independent charismatic movement

    had more invasive authoritarianism than the denominations these

    pastors abandoned 10 years earlier.

    In some circles apostles demanded total allegiance from the

    leaders who were "under" them. Some required a policy of "tithing

    up," creating a monstrous organizational structure similar to a

    spiritual Amway. So-called apostles with huge "downlines" made

    exorbitant amounts of money. One leader even offered pastors the

    opportunity to become "spiritual sons" by contributing $1,000 a

    month to his ministry.

    Apostolic covering could now be bought. And apostolic grace was

    reduced to the level of a motivational coach. May God forgive us

    for reducing the value of such a precious gift.

    I still believe we need the apostolic anointing-and I know many

    wonderful apostles who have planted churches in many parts of

    the world. As I have watched them, and studied the life of the

    apostle Paul, I've seen three key truths we must reclaim today:

    1. True apostles are servants. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:28:

    "And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second

    prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings,

    helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues" (NASB,

    emphasis added). When carnally minded people read this verse

    they assume God has set up some kind of ecclesiastical

    hierarchy, with apostles sitting on thrones at the top.

    But if we view leadership in the way Jesus taught it, we know that

    being first is not about being on top. Apostles are at the bottom of

    the pecking order. They are the servants of all. And because they

    serve a foundational role, their work will often remain hidden in

    obscurity. They are not looking for fame or celebrity, nor are they

    grasping for a title; their role is to empower everyone else.

    2. True apostles are unselfish. I know one apostle in India who

    goes by the name of Pastor Howell. He has planted 600 churches

    in the Punjab region, trained countless young church leaders in a

    makeshift Bible school and led thousands of people to Christ. He

    has also seen whole villages impacted by the gospel through one

    miracle of healing. He has never ridden in a limousine and he lives

    in a modest home with a straw roof that he shares with about 12

    Bible college students.

    The apostle Paul would have gagged if he could see how some

    modern American apostles profit from their downlines or how they

    require pampered treatment. Apostleship has nothing to do with

    privilege. In fact Paul sometimes made tents for a living in order to

    avoid the appearance of entitlement.

    3. True apostles share Christ's suffering. True apostles live on the

    edge. They push the boundaries of Christianity forward, into hostile

    territory-and as a result they encounter more than their fair share

    of persecution and spiritual warfare. They are never content to live

    in a comfort zone. Yet even in foreign prisons they find joy and fulfillment.

    One of my new heroes is a Nigerian pastor named Tunde Bolanta,

    who bases his ministry in the dangerous northern area of his

    country. I spent time with him last month when I was visiting

    England. He lives in a city where Muslims have killed pastors,

    maimed Christians with machetes and drowned their children in wells.

    For Tunde, apostleship is not about getting the best seat on a

    plane or having the largest TV audience. It is about teaching his

    congregation to remain faithful to Christ even when receiving death

    threats. And it is about sending his church members into difficult

    regions where they could face martyrdom.

    As our nation faces a turbulent economic crisis, I pray that we will

    allow the Holy Spirit to shake the greed, pride and self-centeredness

    out of our movement. False apostles prefer the primrose path over

    the Calvary road. May God grant us true apostolic anointing that is

    marked by New Testament courage, unquestionable integrity and

    Christ-like humility.

    -J. Lee Grady

    NOTE: Jesus as the first Apostle. Was he rich in material goods.

    20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

    “Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
    21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
    Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.
    22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
    when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil,
    because of the Son of Man.

    23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

    24 “But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
    25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
    Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
    26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

    WHAT IS AN APOSTLE ? Please click on this article to find out:
    Ephesians 4 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that