The Biblical Signs of an Apostle – Part Seven

Another sign of a genuine apostle is that he is a Master Builder of the Kingdom of God. Paul writes: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation and another builds upon it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.” (1 Corinthians 3:10)

A master builder is one who is who is well trained, experienced, capable, and equipped in a science or an art; he designs the plans for buildings to be constructed. In the Kingdom of God, apostles are the designers or architects. They are passionate when it comes to building powerful ministries, churches, and networks (unions) according to biblical standards. Apostles are not satisfied with simply building a church or ministry; their greatest satisfaction comes when they build and extend the Kingdom of God and the Church. They know how to do it because God shows them the master plan and equips them in special ways to carry it out.

The Lord uses apostolic ministry to lay foundations and help govern the proper construction of His building — the Church. The Builder is the Lord, and the apostles are the architects He uses to construct the building. He reveals the plans for the local church to the master builder / apostle and so builds His Church upon revelation (Matthew 16:18) Wise master builders have the wisdom to lay a proper foundation and build upon it correctly. They have supernatural wisdom through the anointing to know when a house is constructed correctly or incorrectly. This ability is by grace.

They have grace from the Lord to be wise master builders. This is the apostles area of grace. How desperately the churches need this grace! The wise master builder knows the importance of the FOUNDATION. They know the strength of the house is determined by the foundation of the home.They minister foundational truths concerning salvation,holiness, deliverance, prayer, the Holy Spirit and many other foundational or basic apostolic truths and doctrines. They are the spiritual father (see the blog before this one) of the work and of many of those on the team helping him to build the Church in that location.

Paul writes: (Ephesians 2:20) “…[the Church is] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.” He writes as well, “I have laid the foundation, and another builds upon it“. (1 Corinthians 3:10) The “foundation” is a basis (as a tenet, principle, or axiom) upon which something stands or is supported. Apostolic ministry is first (1 Corinthians 12:28) because it lays foundation. You cannot build a building without first laying the foundation.

The Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20). The correct foundation will determine whether the building will stand over a period of time. Attacks from the enemy, represented by rains, winds and floods (Matthew 7:27) will beat upon every house.The house without a proper foundation will not be able to stand. A house is a type of the church. A church without apostolic ministry as a part of its foundation will not stand under the attacks of the enemy. This is why there are so many weak, tottering churches that are coming apart at the seams; churches that are simply another form of religion. They are not founded upon the rock of revelation and are not blessed with an apostolic foundation and apostolic oversight.

Biblical Signs of an Apostle – Part Six

We are looking at the biblical signs of a true and authentic apostle. One of the major signs of a true apostle is that he has the heart of a father. Apostles are spiritual fathers. This is true on two levels – corporate and individually.

Apostles become the founding fathers of churches and also have many spiritual children. As well, they also adopt churches, ministries, and children who are without a true spiritual father. This is an important sign of an apostle because their greatest passion should always be to raise natural and spiritual children and help them both to recognize their calling in God as well as disciple, train, equip and mentor them – eventually releasing them into full-time ministry. The greatest gift of an apostle is the ability to impart and teach other leaders the revelation regarding the church and the five-fold ministry that he has received and do so through a paternal relationship. As well, along with this, to impart his teaching method and style through discipleship.

Paul was a spiritual father not only to Timothy and Titus, but also to churches as well. Paul sometimes referred to himself in a fathering-type of role, and he articulated certain characteristics he exhibited toward those to whom he ministered. What do we see in these passages about the heart of a spiritual father?

1> He did not flatter them (1 Thessalonians 2:5). He wasn’t buttering them up just so they’d like him or so that he could get something out of them.

2> He was not covetous toward them (1 Thessalonians 2:5). He didn’t see having a relationship with them as a means of getting their goods.

3> He did not seek glory of men – he wasn’t seeking to be exalted (1 Thessalonians 2:6). This wasn’t about Paul gathering sons around him to feed his own ego.

4> He was not demanding of them. He wasn’t controlling, manipulative, or dictatorial (1 Thessalonians 2:6).

5> He exhibited a heart-felt, compassionate concern for their well-being.

6> He was gentle toward them (1 Thessalonians 2:7).

7> He cherished them (1 Thessalonians 2:7).

8> He longed for them affectionately (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

9> He not only gave them the gospel, but he gave his own life to them (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

10> They were dear and important to him (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

11> He exhorted, comforted, and charged every one of them, as a father does his children (1 Thessalonians 2:11).

12> His energies and efforts went toward their spiritual development (Galatians 4:19).

13> He was not interested in shaming them, but did feel obligated to warn them. He wasn’t putting them on a guilt trip or making them feel intimidated (1 Corinthians 4:14).

14> He was different than a mere teacher – he wasn’t just passing information on to them, but he had “begotten them” through the Gospel and was setting an example they could follow in their spiritual development (1 Corinthians 4:15-16).

15> He wasn’t seeking what was theirs (their money), but he was seeking them (2 Corinthians 12:14).

16> He was willing to spend and be spent for them – in other words, he was willing to live and give sacrificially for them – for their advancement and their development (2 Corinthians 12:15).

If you are a mature leader, I pray that these are the traits you will exhibit toward those you have the privilege of influencing. If you are in search of a father-figure, a mentor, or a role model in ministry, I trust you will keep these traits in mind as you look for someone who can be a good influence and example for you.

Biblical Signs of an Apostle – Part Five

The signs that can be seen in the life of a true apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ include “patience” and “perseverance” as we have seen in this series so far. Today, let’s look at another sign of an apostle – ” The grace to suffer for His Name’s sake and for the Kingdom”

The nature of the apostolic ministry requires the grace to suffer because the apostle is the individual who paves the way for others. He is the pioneer and the trailblazer. Because of the revelation he receives, the apostle is the first to go forward, and this fuels the enemy’s anger against him; hence the reason why Jesus declared the following: “Therefore the wisdom of Gof also said, ‘I will send them apostles and prophets, and some of them they will kill and persecute.'” Luke 11:49

When The Lord called Paul to be an apostle, He spoke about the suffering he would have to endure for His Name sake. “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.” Acts 9:16 The word came to pass in the life of Paul. As a matter of fact, years later, we read a list of some of the afflictions he had to endure when the believers in Corinth rejected him as one called to be an apostle.

Are they Christ’s servants? I sound like a madman—but I am a better servant than they are! I have worked much harder, I have been in prison more times, I have been whipped much more, and I have been near death more often. Five times I was given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews; three times I was whipped by the Romans; and once I was stoned. I have been in three shipwrecks, and once I spent twenty-four hours in the water. In my many travels I have been in danger from floods and from robbers, in danger from my own people and from Gentiles; there have been dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilds, dangers on the high seas, and dangers from false friends. There has been work and toil; often I have gone without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty; I have often been without enough food, shelter, or clothing.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27 GNT)

However, as bad as these afflictions were, they were not the worse to endure. If you continue to read, we find that the betrayal and abandonment of his spiritual children and some of the members of his apostolic team was the hardest and most painful to endure. in 2 Timothy 4:16 he writes, “At my first defence no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.”

The apostle who wrote 14 books of the New Testament was alone – everyone abandoned him. Who would ever imagine such a thing could be possible? In 2 timothy 4:9-10 he states, “Do your best to come to me soon. Demas fell in love with this present world and has deserted me, going off to Thessalonica. Crescens went to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.” Demas was one of Paul’s disciples who betrayed and abandoned him when he disagreed with paul; this caused great pain in Paul who was only able to overcome by the grace given to him by God.

Biblical Signs of an Apostle – Part Four

Last time we looked at the “patience” of an apostle. This character trait or “sign” of an apostle can be seen in the man called to be apostolic right from the initial call through to the commissioning and release of his ministry as an apostle by the local church. Another sign of a genuine, true apostle is “perseverance”; perseverance to build for future generations still to come.

Once the apostle sees something, he is like a pit bull that seizes his target and does not let go until something happens. Apostles have the grace to hold on to a project or a vision until it is carried through to completion regardless of the length of time it takes or the cost to him personally. They see the future and persevere in what they see until it is completed.

The Bible states:And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42 Often we focus on the four daily activities of the early church; however, it also means that daily the apostles were there to teach and train – persevering and moving forward regardless of the obstacles and persecution.

You do not take new territory for the Lord or establish churches overnight. Often it takes many years to establish a healthy local church that is reproducing itself as it plants other churches in the area and even in other nations. So, an apostle, who is key to the beginning of any work for the Lord, will persevere, persist, and work hard so as to reach the goal the Lord has set for his ministry.

The apostle’s perseverance is so strong that if he is unable to reach his goals, he will train and equip (even mentor) others to accomplish it in the future. You will find that everything an apostle begins he finishes and does it well because God has given him the grace to persevere in everything He calls him to do and shows His support by giving him of His power and provision.

An apostle then is walking in the grace of his calling from the Lord and works with great patience and tremendous perseverance. Next time we will look at another “sign” of an apostle – the grace to suffer…

Biblical Signs of an Apostle – Part Three

We are looking at the biblical signs of an apostle. These signs, when seen in the life and ministry of an apostle, indicate a man who has allowed the Lord to mould him and train him over a period of years and who is a true apostle ministering within the calling God has placed on his life. We often think of the signs of an apostle as “miracles, signs and wonders” and these truly should follow someone called to be an apostle. However, there are more basic character qualities that are signs of a valid apostolic calling and ministry.

An apostle called by the Lord will have the divine grace to patiently endure and persevere to build. 2 Corinthians 12:12 states, “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds...” Patience (including patience to endure) is a very important sign in the character of an apostle. Paul mentions it several times throughout his writings. Apostolic “patience” works specifically in three areas. Let’s look at the first one…

1> Patience to hang-in for the long haul…

In Greek, the word for “patience” is ‘hupomone”; it refers to the ability to endure trails and tribulations for long periods of time; to be encouraged and not lose one’s peace even when undergoing intense pressure; a long-lasting and joyful resistance.

It is not enough to endure persecution if the expression on our faces is one of misery which seeks the compassion of others. Patience means to endure the test joyfully, and this joy should be obvious in our facial expression because persecution should never lead us to a state of desperation. The apostle has that grace which comes from God; that is why he is able to build, though it might take long periods of time, without feeling desperate or discouraged.

Paul wrote: “...and not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4

What Paul said was that he had the grace to glory in tribulation, which produced or exercised his patience to persevere, which in turn built his character that led to hope.

In the previous verse, it says that perseverance produces character; in actuality, it means that the person’s character is tested by undergoing great pressure, persecution, and crisis for long periods of time. Without this virtue (and sign), the apostle is unable to continue or persevere in his calling because the difficulties he will encounter in life will be many and constant.

Apostles are characterized by the grace they have to build, with patience, in future generations and for long periods of time. They do not look for short cuts or easy methods when dealing with the unexpected conveniences. Rather, they build with care and dedication because their mind-set is multi-generational. For instance, prophets have the ability to see something in the spirit but not the patience to build it. Apostles, on the other hand, have the grace to build and persevere to the end even if the circumstances are less than optimal, full of pressure, and persecution. The apostle can build in prayer, doctrine, grace, and in the calling; he can build in faith, in the training of leaders, and in establishing divine plans on earth. He can endure persecution and trials without feeling discouraged and without losing his hope and his drive or motivation.

Next time – 2nd reason “patience”is a sign of a true apostle….

Biblical Signs of An Apostle – Part Two

To recognize a true apostle one needs to realize that there is a training and equipping period between a person being called by the Lord to be an apostle and actually becoming one – and being commissioned to function in that role within the Kingdom.

The early disciples who became apostles were called and then trained and equipped for three years by the Lord Himself. Then after a further period of waiting they received the power to fulfill their calling and were released to minister and the Church began to expand into the known world at that time. For David this process took 17 years; 15 years for Paul; and, in my own life that training time was a 17 year period between being called and then released and commissioned.

In the Church world today we see two extremes…

1> Men being called and beginning to serve without undergoing the process. This extreme causes many people to fail in their ministry because they are not ready in character not in their skills and abilities to minister effectively in the Kingdom.

2> The other extreme – is to be called and never sent. This is very prevalent in the Church world in every nation today. These men were called to serve but never prepared for it; they disobeyed the Lord, got involved in life and pursuing their own dreams, plans, and desires and simply never moved forward in their calling and thus were never commissioned and sent.

The method God uses is: first, He calls; second, one goes through a season of training, equipping, and mentoring; and, third, one is commissioned and sent out. Jesus calls and commissions an apostle. He gives the apostle a specific mission, a set vision, a sphere of influence, purpose, the authority to govern, and the power that will back him up. Often, the apostle-to-be or apostle-in-training does not start ministering in the role of an apostle but ministers in another five-fold ministry as part of his on-going training. He will often serve for a number of years as a pastor, evangelist, prophet, or teacher or a combination of the four.

As a result, God’s grace is poured out on the man being called to be an apostle and that grace is to help him patiently endure and persevere the training so that he is ready, in time, to be released to build. Patience is a very important sign in the character of an apostle. Paul mentions it several times throughout his writings.

Next time we will look at where this patience and grace must be applied…

Biblical Signs of An Apostle – Part One

There is much confusion about the apostolic ministry because the Church does not recognize the signs that follow this type of ministry. These signs prove the authenticity of the apostle and his apostolic ministry. They reveal his integrity and inner as well as exterior nature as a man. Therefore, these signs are not the functions he carries out but the revelation of what the man really is: his fruit, character, attitude, heart and wisdom; his relationship with God, authority in the Spirit, his works, and his deeds.

This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You did unless God is with him.'” John 3:2

Signs and wonders cannot be fabricated, produced, or invented with human strength; they are the result of the power and approval that God gives to a man. Biblical signs are the evidence – the seal of authenticity and the guarantee of quality of an apostle.

In Greek, the word for ‘sign’ is “semeion”; it means sign. miracle, wonder, of token; that which distinguishes one person from the next.

Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.” 2 Corinthians 12:12

Paul mentioned a few of the signs that are, in truth, the most important in the life of a genuine apostle. However, we find in the Word of God more signs which describe who and what an apostle is – and which validate his apostolic ministry. These signs make up the pattern of the life of all apostles because they are common to each and very one of them.

So, what are the important biblical signs that follow a genuine apostle? The best way to find out about a person, gift, or ministry is to create a profile or picture of it. So, let’s do that… There are many signs, but I want to look at just the important ones in the next few days…

The first sign of a genuine apostle is that they have a call to this ministry and that this call has been received directly from God and confirmed numerous times through other more mature and seasons apostles and prophets. The apostle can only be appointed by our Lord Jesus Christ and so this is the first sign. Ephesians 4:11 “And He gave same to be apostle…” God calls the man and places in him the desires of an apostle, the apostolic drive, the vision and dreams of an apostle. Then others will come along and recognize that grace on his life and speak a Word of the Lord confirming what the young apostle-in-training already knows deep in his heart and soul.

The calling of an apostle is the end result of a supernatural revelation received while in intimacy with Jesus – in a direct encounter with Him in the Spirit. It is an assignment personally given by the Lord directly into the one being called. This revelation can come through dreams, visions, the Word, a personal visitation from Jesus, the still small voice of the Spirit, or in many other ways God might choose. However, it will come in such a way that the man of God receiving this call will know deep in his heart that he has heard from God – there will be no doubts or hesitation. This personal and direct revelation is later confirmed by other reputable apostles and prophets within the Body of Christ. They will make that calling official before the people and the Church.

Apostles cannot be called and commissioned by councils or committees, only by Jesus. After the calling is received, the only task for man to do is to disciple, train, equip and mentor the young apostle-to-be … and then publicly release the man to begin to minister in His calling. To be separated, chosen, commissioned, and sent as an apostle directly by God, helps an apostle to stand firm and steady through even the worse opposition and persecution. In the world today there are many who were not sent out by the Lord and the local church – they just went on their own. They were not called by the Lord – they simply recognized what the Spirit of God was doing today in the Kingdom, jumped on the bandwagon, and declared themselves to be an apostle. This means there are many false apostles working in the Kingdom and we need to be seriously discerning before receiving the ministry of anyone who happens to call himself an apostle. Wait for the genuine article – it is worth the wait.

THE Prophet’s Reward – Part Two

So, what is the reward that a church receives when they welcome an apostle and his apostolic ministry? What benefit or reward does a leader receive when he or she decides to ask an apostle to speak into their life and ministry?

The grace, favor, and anointing that operate in and through the apostle will be imparted on the one who welcomes the apostle, his calling, his gifts, and the One who sent him. In my personal experience some ministries welcome the gift of teaching, or preaching, and often look to me as someone who can prophesy accurately and often (and so refer to me as a ‘prophet’) – this limits what I can accomplish to the area of my ministry that they are welcoming. If they see me as a teacher – they receive a teacher’s anointing and reward; as a prophet – a prophet’s anointing and reward… and so only see, experience, and receive a part of what is truly available within and through an apostle’s anointing and ministry. I cannot fully operate as an apostle in a church that welcomes me as something or someone else.

To receive the full benefits of the apostolic ministry, you have to willingly recognize him, give him the authority and honor in the church, and welcome him, as Jesus said. If not, you will not be able to see the powerful manifestations of the apostolic ministry. If you welcome a teacher, you will have the reward of a teacher; if you welcome and receive a prophet, you will have the reward of a prophet; if you welcome a pastor, you will have the reward of a pastor, and so on.

A good example of this: The apostle Paul spent three years in the church in Corinth, but the believers never recognized him as an apostle; quite the opposite – they accused him of not being one. That is why, in my opinion, the church of Corinth never became powerful. However, the same apostle spent three years in Thessalonica where he was welcomed as an apostle; that church became very powerful and with less members than the church at Corinth; they preached the gospel they heard from Paul and impacted thousands of people in the area with the power of God. This was made possible because Paul was able to influence them with his apostolic ministry; they accepted and welcomed him as an apostle; they respected and honored him, and in return, they received their reward.

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13