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…