THE APOSTOLIC MINISTRY

Around the world God is making major changes in the Church

The way we view the Church

The way the Church functions

The work that the Church is involved in

The way that this work is carried out

These changes will not always be welcomed by everyone nor will everyone accept them as something God is doing

 

The changes, if embraced, will take the Church from being very pastoral and inwardly focused to being apostolic and prophetic and thus outward focused

 

Focused on winning the lost and not simply on caring for and ministering to the saved

 

These foundational changes in the way we see the Church and think about the work of the Church (ministry) will move us from maintenance to true ministry

 

From a Church viewpoint to a Kingdom viewpoint

 

We are in a season when the Holy Spirit is bringing changes that are of seismic proportions that will bring the Church back into line with the biblical model of the Church as seen throughout the New Testament

 

We will see the Church that Jesus is building as contrasted to the Church that man has built

 

Matthew 16:18 “…I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against                it”

 

This apostolic model of the Church is founded upon a solid biblical base…

 

1 Corinthians 12:28 “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second                        prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating,                and various kinds of tongues.”

 

This is how God planned churches to be planted – and how they are to function

 

Starting the work with an apostle and with an apostle as the key leader

 

An apostle is the one who first comes into an area to plant the Gospel of the Kingdom

 

Apostles don’t plant church – they plant the Gospel like seeds in good soil

 

That apostle or other apostles will water the seed

 

God brings the increase

 

1 Corinthians 3:6 “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”

 

This church then carries the DNA of an apostle and is a living organism …

 

Jesus’ DNA as He is “…the apostle and high priest” Hebrews 3:1

 

And the DNA of the founding ‘minister’ who is an apostle

 

This church becomes apostolic in nature and in its life together

 

We have seen…pastors come in to an area and plant a church…

 

These churches then carries the DNA of a pastor and functions pastorally

 

Usually very inwardly focused and members take care of each other

 

Not focused outwardly on the lost and expanding the Kingdom

 

A pastoral church can adapt and change and become an apostolic church

 

A pastoral church can grab hold of the current move of the Holy Spirit and enter into the fullness that God has planned for it

 

It must be done intentionally – does not just happen

 

It means major changes in all aspects of the life of that local church

 

It will release dynamic “life” within the congregation as the members fulfill God’s call on               His Church

 

We become the Church – no longer go to church

 

No longer come to an assembly to be taught – come to be equipped for ministry

 

November – Church in Ivanovo – apostle from Africa

schedule: teach / practice….

 

Not interested in information for information’s sake

 

Now wanting to see transformation – life change

 

After all, Jesus said:

 

John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The                                           words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

 

The changes are massive and dramatic – but exciting and dynamic

 

Matthew 19:26b “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are                          possible.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, 1 Corinthians 12:28 “…first apostles…”

 

This is where Jesus started

 

Acts 1:2 “Jesus ascended into Heaven after giving instructions to the apostles he had                chosen…”

 

There were many other believers / disciples following Jesus at this time – but He                          chose to give instructions to His apostles … “first apostles…”

 

When Jesus wanted to start a Church, He began with apostles

 

These first apostles established the first church

 

Acts 2:42 “They were devoting themselves to the apostles teaching”

 

Acts 2:43 “Miraculous signs were done by the apostles”

 

Acts 4:2 “The apostles were teaching the people”

 

Acts 4:33 “The apostles were continuing to testify”

 

The apostles in the New Testament were not limited to the twelve Jesus first chose as leaders

 

The original twelve apostles formed the prototype of this gift, but as the Church                           expanded, more apostles were added

 

Jesus called others to this role in the Church He was building

 

The New Testament identifies a number of additional apostles

 

Acts 1:26 Matthias is added to replace Judas

 

Acts 14:14 Paul and Barnabas are both identified as apostles

 

Apollos – 1 Corinthians 4:6, 9

Andronicus and Junia – Romans 16:7 // Junia was a woman

James – the half brother of Jesus – Galatians 1:19

Silvanus and Timothy – 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2:6

Epaphroditus – Philippians 2:25

 

The gift of apostle was not intended to die out with the passing of the original twelve

 

God was continually adding new apostles

 

God is continuing to add apostles to His Church in every nation today

 

As you come to understand the function of an apostle, you will see that apostles are always needed of the Church is to operate as God intended

 

 

 

Personal comment and observation:

 

Something people have noted recently is that my preaching / teaching has changed

 

Not the content as that has always been seriously biblical

 

But the way I am preaching

 

Tom noticed this when he travelled with me to Manitoba

 

Other team members have commented – overseas trips

 

Certain churches have commented that there has been a major change

 

Something has changed in these specific places and yet apparently not in other                                     churches or locations

 

I have also noticed that in these specific places I sense and experience a freedom that               is not there in many other locations where I minister regularly

 

Yet, the content of the teaching is the same

It is the delivery and the results that are different

The moving of the Spirit is very different and more powerful

The anointing on the words is more powerful

The way people are changing is amazing

 

I have also discovered that the places where this is happening are the places I am                     drawn to and where I seriously enjoy ministering

 

I leave these places enriched, more alive, full … not drained and empty

 

I sense more life and enthusiasm within myself as a result of having ministered

 

I am experiencing “spirit and life” (John 6:63) and come away from them more                            alive and “full”

 

Kazakhstan – Manitoba – Ohio

 

It has taken me six months to figure out why this has happened and continues to                         happen

 

These places see me as an apostle and accept me as one – thus they allow the                           apostolic call and anointing to be released

 

Other places simply see me as a ‘pastor’ or ‘teacher’ or as “Ralph’ and thus                               release what they receive…

 

Matthew 10:41 “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet                                   will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous                                               person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous                                                  person’s reward.”

 

They receive me as an apostle to their work and ministry, their church and region                        (area) and thus receive an apostle’s anointing

 

And this frees me to be me … an apostle

 

I am, of course, drawn to give more time and effort to where my gifts and                                     calling are welcomed, received, and released

 

PAUSE

 

In the Bible there are numerous mentions of true apostles, false apostles and super-apostles…

 

>>> 2 Corinthians 11:5; 11:13; 12:11; 12:12

 

However, the Bible gives very clear specifics by which we can know the true from the false

 

Those who simply call themselves apostles and those who really are called as apostles

 

If someone is called and gifted as an apostle – God does not want them to hesitate to say they are apostles

 

So, God set out some “specific marks” of a true apostle

 

1> Apostles have an immediately recognizable intimate relationship with Jesus

 

The first mark of an apostle – a very close relationship with Jesus

 

The life of an apostle shows that they spend time with Jesus daily and know Him well

 

Standing before the religious rulers who could put them to death should they decide to               do so … Peter speaks to explain the situation.

 

As he is speaking the religious leaders note that they are close companions of Jesus

 

Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived                          that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they                                recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

 

This was the first priority of Jesus when He chose His first apostles…

 

Mark 3:13-14 “And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he                        desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named                                     apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.”

 

Many followed Jesus but He wanted these 12 apostles to have a special closeness to Him

 

To be “with Him” in a different way than the crowds and multitudes

 

He established a different kind of relationship with them so they could represent                          His heart and His plans as they went

 

 

 

2> Apostles operate continually in a supernatural realm

 

A true apostle exercises supernatural power on a different level than believers do

 

They work in the local church seeing what is happening in the spirit realm

 

They work regionally and see the bigger picture of what is taking place

 

They understand the plans and purpose of God for each church and each area in                      which the church is located

 

They see what is but also see and know what God wants to establish – thus the                           changes needed

 

They exercise authority over the works of the domaine of darkness

 

They see miracles happening in their ministry (2 Corinthians 12:12)

 

Acts 2:43 says that the apostles worked great signs and wonders….

 

 

3> Apostles are able to interpret what God is doing

 

An apostle receives revelation about what God is doing and has authority to interpret new things that are being seen and experienced

 

They are able to place the new things into the current life of the Church

 

In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was poured out and the gifts began to operate

 

The first day of the Church … and no one had ever seen anything like this before

 

The disciples began to speak in tongues and nobody knew what was happening –                     everyone, I am sure, had an opinion

 

There is total confusion until Peter stands up and says, “This is what the prophet Joel                 had spoken about…”

 

This had a ring of authority

It bore witness

The crowd knew it was true

The issue was settled

We never see further discussion about this in the days that follow

 

In Acts 15 – a new phenomenal was taking place – non-Jews (Gentiles) were getting                    saved / born again

 

They were getting saved without first converting to Judaism

 

Up to this time – if you wanted to know the God of Israel, you converted to the Jewish                  faith

 

But while Peter was sharing with some non-Jewish people in Acts 10 (Cornelius) the                    Holy Spirit came and they were saved, baptized in the Holy Spirit, and baptized in water

 

So, a church council was called to discuss what was happening – never happened                     before…

 

They needed God’s point of view – a Kingdom perspective

 

Everyone had their say regarding the matter – thoughts, opinions, interpretations

 

Then James – the apostle in charge of the church in Jerusalem – and says, “This is what             was written by the prophet…”

 

Amos 9:11-12 “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen,                               and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it                                   as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all                              the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that does this.”

 

 

James interpreted what God was doing and what was happening… that God was                       opening the Church to anyone who had called on the Name of the Lord and was saved

 

God was pouring out His blessing upon the Gentiles and pagans

 

His conclusion: “If God is inviting them in, we will not exclude them”

 

As new things are added to the Kingdom and the Church today – apostles are the ones who have the understanding of what God is doing, how He is doing it, and why

 

And are able to put it into the current context

 

They have a revelation of what God is doing and the authority to declare it

 

It will always agree with Scripture and time will prove it to be right

 

 

4> Apostles have authority to discipline and pronounce judgment

 

The first place we see this is with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5

 

They had lied to the Holy Spirit regarding their offering to the church

 

Peter had a responsibility to establish a standard in the church that lying to the Holy Spirit would not be tolerated

 

And that God was not in the habit of blessing those who broke the unity that He desires             to see in the local church

 

Peter than pronounces the judgment of God on them

 

If he had not done this than the church would have become defiled, and the power of                  God would have been diminished

 

1 Timothy 1:19-20 we see Paul turning Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan, so that they will learn not to blaspheme

 

1 Corinthians 5:5 a young man is turned over the Satan because of immorality in the hope that he would repent

 

2 Corinthians 2 Paul instructs the church to restore a repentant sinner to fellowship (may be same young man we saw in 1 Corinthians 5)

 

This authority to discipline and pronounce judgment is not control or legalism or abuse

 

This encourages a spiritual atmosphere where the Holy Spirit can work freely and                       unhindered

 

This task is given to the apostle

 

 

5> Apostles are “fathers and mothers” in the Church

 

Apostleship is a relational ministry motivated by love

 

They are fathers and not rulers – they lead from the front and not rule from the top down

 

1 Corinthians 4:14-15 “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

 

In 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8 Paul tells the Thessalonians that his goal was not to assert apostolic authority over them

 

But rather to tenderly care for them as a nursing mother cares for her child

 

Apostles want to see each person fulfill the call of God that is on their life

 

They pray, guide, instruct, correct, and open doors of ministry for them

 

Apostles disciple and mentor believers – – especially those with a calling to be an apostle or a prophet

 

 

6> Apostles dedicate their lives to seeing the Church established and flourishing regardless of the cost

 

One of the reasons God allows apostles to exercise disciple and correction is because they lay down their own lives for the Church

 

2 Corinthians 6:4-10 Paul describes the lifestyle that validates his apostolic ministry

 

He tells us that he lives his life, “…in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in                     distress, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in sleeplessness, in                      hunger…”

 

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 he speaks again of what he has gone through for the sake of the Church and the Kingdom

 

            “…with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often                     near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.                     Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked;                         a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger                     from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city,                    danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and                                     hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in                         cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

 

If you know a true apostle – you will see this in their lives

 

They will take the risks necessary to move the Church forward

 

It costs them emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually to fulfill the work that God has                called them to

 

They don’t count their own lives or desires as important

 

True apostles will have some battle scars

 

 

7> Apostles are anointed and called to set the Church in order

 

They set the direction and bring order to the life and ministry of the Church

 

When Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus) he instructed them to set the churches under their care in order

 

Taking the local church to the next level

 

Moving the church into it’s future

 

Bring adjustments to the foundational issues being seen in the life of the church

 

When a church is set in order – it works

 

It moves forward in unity

It’s members experience life

The members are equipped for their specific ministries

The lost are being saved

The power of God is experienced

The gifts flow and minister to believers and non-believers

 

 

 

 

 

 

1> Apostles have an immediately recognizable intimate relationship with Jesus

2> Apostles operate continually in a supernatural realm

3> Apostles are able to interpret what God is doing

4> Apostles have authority to discipline and pronounce judgment

5> Apostles are “fathers and mothers” in the Church

6> Apostles dedicate their lives to seeing the Church established and flourishing regardless of the cost

7> Apostles are anointed and called to set the Church in order

 

So, today in the Kingdom God is reestablishing the ministry of the apostle

 

As a result the true apostolic Church is arising in many places around the world

 

God is calling many young people into the ministry role of apostle

 

There is a need for much training and mentoring of these young people

 

>> Thus a need for more apostles to step up and become involved in coaching                                and mentoring

 

God is calling His Church to become more apostolic and less pastoral

 

God is speaking strongly to churches built by man and functioning in non-biblical ways to heed what the Holy Spirit is saying too the Church today – and embrace the needed adjustments and changes

 

And, as we come more in line with His original plans for His Church we too will see the Holy Spirit move in power and lives changed.