Some Changes in Approach For the Church Today – #1

The first shift we are experiencing right now in the Church that Jesus is building is “From Reaching to Making.” Nothing startling here. For years with the Gospel of salvation we have been geared to seek and save the lost asking people to accept and acknowledge Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. So, we have seen reaching the lost with the Gospel.

The shift is a major one but one that is already ongoing for anyone in touch with the season we are now in and The Lord Jesus who is building His Church. We are not longer ‘just’ reaching the lost; we are fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-29) and “going…making disciples.” This the shift “From Reaching to Making.”

This means that there is a needed foundational shift in all aspects of the life of the Church. No longer can we simply get people saved and drop them into a short new believers class and think we have done our job. No longer can we focus on evangelism and seeing the lost come to Jesus. Discipleship is the key and really the cornerstone of all that we do in the Church that Jesus is building. It is not a program; it is not an add-on; it is not something just for new believers.

We must recognize that every human being is on a journey and that this discipleship journey is a process of becoming more like Jesus in character and nature and means being equipped to do what Jesus did in the same way that He did it – supernaturally. So, even before someone is born again they are on this journey and so they can be discipled as they seek to find what they are looking for – Jesus and a relationship with the living God through Him.

Discipleship must be the emphasis of everything the local church does – it must be n integral part of every aspect of the life of the church.

We must continue to “seek and save the lost” as Jesus did. But, we must recognize that He has called us to make disciples in every nation and so sharing the Gospel is must more involved than saying a sinner’s prayer after giving mental ascent to the facts of the Gospel. It involves a radical life change as a result of experiencing conviction and godly sorrow leading to repentance, forgiveness and salvation.

So, reaching is the gospel of salvation – making disciples is the gospel of the Kingdom. This is the only true gospel and must be the first major shift that we recognize is currently happening today in the Church that Jesus is building.

Some Changes in Approach For the Church Today – Intro

The world is changing! As people connect through social media and “people movements” bring political unrest and change we are seeing major unrest and often substantial change in many nations today. It is very difficult to remain disconnected and hidden behind man-made political borders because of such entities as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Truly we are beginning to see a “global village” which, in the 1960’s was simply a theory taught in Sociology classes in university.

The Church must also change if she is hoping to touch this new world reality. I believe there are significant changes that are already beginning to happen with many more approaching rapidly right behind these five basic shifts in the Church world today. Change will be constant and consistent, not limited to any one nation, will arise rapidly and be established quickly, and will result in a more effective and efficient fulfillment of the Great Commission – the marching orders for every believer and every local church no matter where they are located.

Let me list the five changes or shifts that are currently in process and then we can discuss each one in the next few days…

These are the crucial shifts (changes) that I believe need to be made in our thinking and practices as Christian disciples. They are essential for the Church to be healthy and to enable us as a movement to plant and grow churches that make and deploy (release) biblical disciples…

Shift #1 – From reaching to making
Shift #2 – From teaching to modelling
Shift #3
– From attending to participating
Shift #4 – From connecting to transforming
Shift #5 – From attracting to deploying

Let’s enjoy the discussion… see you Monday!

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Forty-six

The Bible states that we are to test and try those that say they are apostles for many false apostles will arise in these end times. Revelation 2:2 states, in part, “…(you) have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.”

The Church at Ephesus was commended by the Lord for testing those who claimed to be apostles. The Berkeley translation says, “How you have put to the test those who call themselves apostles though they are NOT, and you have found them to be impostors.”

Jesus warned us during His three years of ministry that false prophets would arise (Matthew 24:24); Paul speaks of false apostles and super apostles warning us about them (2 Corinthians 11:5 and 13)

We are to prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It is important to know the characteristics and character of true apostles, so we can approve and be blessed by their ministries. There are many who claim apostleship but do not have the grace to walk in this office and so many can be deceived if not careful and if they do not test those who claim to be apostolic in nature.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Forty-five

Biblically, apostles are defenders of the faith. They not only teach doctrine (Acts 2:42) they also “earnestly contend for the faith…” (Jude 3). Paul writes in Philippians 1:17 (KJV) “..knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.” The Conybeare translation says, “am appointed to defend the Glad Tidings.”

Apostles are appointed by God to defend the truth of the Gospel. Contrary to what some say, the truth must be defended. Apostolic ministry is anointed to defend the Church against heresy and false doctrine. Apostles will often teach or preach POLEMICALLY.

Polemic means an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another; the art of practice of disputation or controversy. It is from the Greek polemikos meaning war-like or hostile. So, apostles will “pick a fight” and stand strong for the truth not allowing falsehood to have any place in the life of the Church and the life of believers. So, they often appear aggressive, harsh, and uncooperative. Yet, they are simply defending the faith.

The reformers of the sixteenth century (i.e., Martin Luther) aggressively attacked the error and hypocrisy of the established Church. They also defended the truth of the gospel against those who attacked their teachings. Their major concern was that the truth be preached and taught at any cost. They would die for the truth. To them, the only thing that mattered was the truth.

Apostles recognize that the truth must not only be preached, but defended. If men don’t defend the truth, lies will prevail. If lies prevail, people will walk in bondage and deception. This is why the Church needs the ministry of the apostle. Apostles have an anointing to defend and confirm the truth. They walk in boldness and proclaim the truth in spite of persecution and opposition.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Forty-four

True apostles are hated and even feared by religion and religious systems

Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelations 18:20)

This is a reference to the judgment of God upon Babylon.

Babylon represents the false religious systems of men – man’s attempt to reach and please God. Apostles cannot tolerate the false religious systems of men knowing that the Christian faith is about a relationship with God and His family, the Church through Jesus Christ.

The preaching and teaching of true apostles disturbs and bothers these religious systems. Apostles are feared, hated and persecuted by these antichrist systems. Religious systems of men hate reformation (see yesterday’s blog). Spirits of idolatry, pride, tradition, legalism, control and perversion fight apostolic ministry and resist reformation. The preaching of apostles is often “polemic” – polemic means a controversial argument, as one against some opinion or doctrine.

Doctrines that are unscriptural are attacked by apostolic preaching. Apostles set themselves against false doctrine, false teachers, and false apostles and prophets. Apostles attack religious teaching and the spirit of religion through polemic preaching. It is no wonder that they are hated and feared by religious systems as a result.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Forty-Three

The Bible states and shows us that apostles are reformers. The writer to the Hebrews states: “…but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.” (Hebrews 9:10)

The transition from the Old to the New Testament was a time of reformation. The Lord used apostles to bring about this reformation. This has also been the case throughout Church history. Whenever where is a need for reformation, the Lord sends forth apostolic ministry. Apostles have the ability to pull down the strongholds of tradition (2 Corinthians 10:5) and bring forth new revelation. This revelation is meant to reform the Church and prepare her for the next step in the building of the Bride of Christ, the Church (Ephesians 5:25-27) – the Church that will attack and defeat the “gates of hell” (Matthew 16:18).

There are times of reformation when the apostolic anointing will be strong. Apostles operate and minister in a reforming anointing. When the Church is out of order and not in proper form, there will be a need to RE-FORM it. Reformation is unpleasant at times but absolutely necessary. This reforming deals with life from the very foundational issues that often cannot be seen to the very public life of the local church.

Apostles have the discerning to know when the Church is not in its proper form. Form is the shape of a thing or person, a particular condition, character, or mode in which something appears (Webster). When the shape, condition or character of the Church is not according to Scripture, apostles are sent to bring REFORM. So, apostles are seen as reformers.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Forty-Two

The Bible states that apostles are first in order … “First apostles, then prophets…” (1 Corinthians 12:28). However, the Bible also states that apostles are last… “For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.” (1 Corinthians 4:9)

So, ask yourself, why us a ministry that the Word says is “first,” often treated as “last?” And what does it really mean that apostles are treated as last?

We know that apostles are forerunners and pioneers in the Spirit. This means they are “first” in revelatory ministry; first to plant the Gospel in areas where the Gospel has never been heard; first in order when involved in the Church that Jesus is building; and leader of the five-fold ministry team of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher (Ephesians 4:11).

As a forerunner and pioneer in ministry and the spreading of the Kingdom they are often misunderstood and mistreated because any ministry that does so much damage to Satan’s kingdom is sure to be misaligned and
attacked. This is what it means to be “last.”

The word “last” is the Greek word ‘eschastos’ meaning the lowest; and because this ministry does so much damage to Satan’s kingdom, it is the most persecuted and attacked by the Enemy and thus seen by everyone as the ‘least’ or the ‘last’ choice for anyone who is considering entering into full-time ministry.

Paul says that this ministry is “made a spectacle”. The Greek word ‘theatron’ from which we derive our word “theater” is the translation used for the word spectacle. This means that apostolic ministry is on a stage for the world, the Church and the angels to See and what they see is not always pleasant or something we would want to have happen to us personally. Scripture is stating that apostles are often simply treated as the scum of the earth and of no value. Thus they are “last.”

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Forty-One

As mentioned earlier this week – apostles are often find them opposed and thus in need of doing spiritual warfare. As well, they must be cautious not to be drawn away from their primary tasks of prayer and the ministry of the Word by constantly defending themselves and explaining their actions. Let’‘s take that one step further and state simply that: apostles will be persecuted.

1 Corinthians 4:11-13 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

This is Paul’s description of apostolic ministry. By definition, the word “buffeted” means punched. “Reviled” means abused. “Slandered” means blasphemed. Not something to look forward to but inevitable if one is called to be an apostle.

To put it bluntly, apostles are often punched, abused and blasphemed. This is the reaction of some people to apostolic ministry. Any ministry that penetrates spiritual darkness and does so much damage to Satan’s kingdom is sure to be opposed and persecuted.

Instead of stopping apostles, persecution stirs them up and causes the anointing to be released even stronger. Persecution doesn’t stop apostles; it fuels their ministries. Apostles have the grace to not only overcome persecution, but actually use it to their advantage.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Forty

Apostles are not timid or shy. The ministry of an apostle is one of boldness and often involves confrontation and conflict. In fact, the apostolic anointing is drawn to conflict and confrontation because of the “boldness” in which they walk.

Then Paul and Barnabus spoke out boldly, saying,… Acts 13:46

In spite of opposition, apostles are bold in their message. The Phillips translation says, “did not mince their words but said”.

The spirit of boldness is a characteristic of true apostles. They have an awareness of being sent and do not fear men who oppose
them.

Sometimes boldness is misconstrued for arrogance. However, boldness is necessary to overcome spirits of intimidation that often accompany and work with religious and occult spirits.

The early Church which was very apostolic in nature was continually praying for boldness. Boldness causes apostles and apostolic churches to maintain their momentum instead of retreating in fear.

Boldness causes the Church to attack and confront error.

Boldness gives apostles the ability to break through the spiritual opposition they often encounter.

Boldness causes them to continue to deliver the message they are sent to preach, in spite of persecution.

To be bold means not hesitating or being fearful in the face of danger; courageous. Requiring courage and daring (Webster). These are all adjectives describing the ministry of an apsotle and an apostlic church.

Fresh Insights Into Apostles – Part Thirty-Nine

Because of the work they do and the call upon their lives apostles are often targets of envy and jealousy

But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy and envy,…

Acts 13:45 – Any minister that has the potential to touch multitudes with the power of the Gospel will become the target of “religious” envy and jealousy. Many leaders will oppose apostolic ministry for this reason only. Leaders who fear losing their people because their church lacks the life and power of God will attack those walking in that power. When this power and life is evident in a ministry it will always draw others who are searching for and hungry for more of God. Those who lack this aspect of ministry or who are insecure in their position will accuse and attack true apostolic ministry – and the churches where God’s life is seen and experienced.

Anyone who has power to move multitudes of people for the Kingdom of God will become a target of the enemy. This is a part of the warfare associated with apostolic ministry. But, apostles have the grace to deal with this opposition. They have a supernatural ability to overcome it and continue in spite of it.

Satan stirs up envy and jealousy against true apostles. Religious leaders are usually the greatest opponents to true apostolic ministry. Envy and jealousy can turn into cruel acts against anointed ministry. However, apostles have the ability to be successful in the midst of envy and jealousy.

One key here is to allow the Lord to fight the battle – otherwise, an apostle will get sidetracked from their work and begin to focus on the opposition thus losing the momentum they have gained and the influence they have. Like Nehemiah, apostles must stay focused on the work they have been called to do and refuse to be dragged into endless discussions defending the call and the work they are involved in. Do not go down to the Valley of Ono.