APOSTLES TODAY – True, False, & Immature (Part 1)

Much needs to be said today about apostles and apostleship. Whenever God moves, Satan countermoves and his greatest countermove is the counterfeit. The resurgence of genuine apostolic leadership in recent decades has been challenged by dangerous look-alikes. It seems everywhere I go some power-hungry egotist is flaunting that million dollar title, “Apostle Such-n-Such”.

To further sell himself (or herself)...
• a classy business card,
• a shiny suit,
• a few Scripture verses,
• a good stage presence,
• a regurgitated sermon, and voila!, you have a modern-day super-apostle

Paul’s sarcastic term for Satan’s apostolic counterfeits (2Co 11:5,13-15, 12:11).
2Co 11:5 Yet I consider myself as in no way inferior to these [precious] extra-super [false] apostles.

2Co 11:13 For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah).2Co 11:14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light;2Co 11:15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds.

2Co 12:11 Now I have been [speaking like] a fool! But you forced me to it, for I ought to have been [saved the necessity and] commended by you. For I have not fallen short one bit or proved myself at all inferior to those superlative [false] apostles [of yours], even if I am nothing (a nobody).

-But not every sour-tasting or slick-looking “apostle” is false.
-Some are simply immature in the Lord and in their calling.
-No, it does not matter if they have a massive following.
-This does not equal maturity.

Remember, an entire “civilized” nation followed Adolf Hitler into attempted genocide, so please, don’t be hypnotized by large crowds, big buildings, pretty websites, or great social media presence. Popularity is judged only by Heaven’s assessment, and that court evaluates by spiritual maturity and Christlikeness.

Christian con artists will always be around, but they would be continually exposed if we demanded spiritual excellence from true, but adolescent, apostles.

Why are we so spellbound by apostolic anointing, but indifferent towards apostolic immaturity? Because the church has gone through many centuries without widespread, quality apostolic leadership, therefore, she is spiritually dehydrated for this expression of the risen Christ

8 Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men. 9 [But He ascended?] Now what can this, He ascended, mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth? 10 He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest). 11 And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. 12 His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), 13 [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [ full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. Eph 4:8-13 (AMP)

Now that these waters are flowing freely once again, many Christians are drinking ravenously without looking, without even taking a breath–a prayer breath.

Friends and brethren, slow down! Back up, breathe, and study the quality of apostolic waters you are drinking from. Not every stream flows from the true River of God. And of those that do, unresolved emotional, behavioral, and relational sins can pollute what should be pure waters.

True apostles

Canonical versus Functional
The greatest demarcation line that needs to be drawn within apostleship is the one that distinguishes canonical apostles from functional ones. False and immature apostles both blur this line and cross this line repeatedly. However, if we understand and uphold this plumb line well, we outwit the super-apostles and we force the immature ones to wise up and grow up.

Canonical apostles
The term canon refers to the collection of writings recognized as divinely-inspired Scripture by the Jewish and Christian community. The Holy Spirit breathed thirty-nine books for the Old Testament canon and twenty-seven books for the New Testament canon.

The OT canon was absorbed and recorded by the prophets or their personal associates (Mt 22:40, Ro 1:2, 16:26, 1Pet 1:10-12, 2Pet 1:19-21)

Mat 22:40 These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Rom 1:2 Which He promised in advance [long ago] through His prophets in the sacred Scriptures–

Rom 16:26 But is now disclosed and through the prophetic Scriptures is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, [to win them] to obedience to the faith,

1Pe 1:10 The prophets, who prophesied of the grace (divine blessing) which was intended for you, searched and inquired earnestly about this salvation.1Pe 1:11 They sought [to find out] to whom or when this was to come which the Spirit of Christ working within them was indicating when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow [them].1Pe 1:12 It was then disclosed to them that the services they were rendering were not meant for themselves and their period of time, but for you. [It is these very] things which have now already been made known plainly to you by those who preached the good news (the Gospel) to you by the [same] Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Into these things [the very] angels long to look!

2Pe 1:19 And we have the prophetic word [made] firmer still. You will do well to pay close attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises (comes into being) in your hearts.2Pe 1:20 [Yet] first [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving).2Pe 1:21 For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so–it never came by human impulse], but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit.

The NT by the first-century apostles or their personal associates (1Co 2:13, 14:37,38, 1Th 5:27, 2Th 3:14, 2Pet 3:16, Rev 22:18,19).

1Co 2:13 And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit].

1Co 14:37 If anyone thinks and claims that he is a prophet [filled with and governed by the Holy Spirit of God and inspired to interpret the divine will and purpose in preaching or teaching] or has any other spiritual endowment, let him understand (recognize and acknowledge) that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.1Co 14:38 But if anyone disregards or does not recognize [that it is a command of the Lord], he is disregarded and not recognized [he is one whom God knows not].

1Th 5:27 I solemnly charge you [in the name of] the Lord to have this letter read before all the brethren.

2Th 3:14 But if anyone [in the church] refuses to obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he may be ashamed.

2Pe 3:16 Speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures.

Rev 22:18 I [personally solemnly] warn everyone who listens to the statements of the prophecy [the predictions and the consolations and admonitions pertaining to them] in this book: If anyone shall add anything to them, God will add and lay upon him the plagues (the afflictions and the calamities) that are recorded and described in this book. Rev 22:19 And if anyone cancels or takes away from the statements of the book of this prophecy [these predictions relating to Christ’s kingdom and its speedy triumph, together with the consolations and admonitions or warnings pertaining to them], God will cancel and take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the city of holiness (purity and hallowedness), which are described and promised in this book.

These two orders of messengers possessed an identical authority and call (to establish the canon), and for this reason, appear side-by-side often in Scripture (Lk 11:49, 2Pet 3:2; Ro 1:2-5, 16:25,26, Mt 13:11,16,17).

Luk 11:49 For this reason also the wisdom of God said, I will send them prophets and apostles, [some] of whom they will put to death and persecute,

2Pe 3:2 That you should recall the predictions of the holy (consecrated, dedicated) prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior [given] through your apostles (His special messengers).

Rom 1:2 Which He promised in advance [long ago] through His prophets in the sacred Scriptures–Rom 1:3 [The Gospel] regarding His Son, Who as to the flesh (His human nature) was descended from David, Rom 1:4 And [as to His divine nature] according to the Spirit of holiness was openly designated the Son of God in power [in a striking, triumphant and miraculous manner] by His resurrection from the dead, even Jesus Christ our Lord (the Messiah, the Anointed One).Rom 1:5 It is through Him that we have received grace (God’s unmerited favor) and [our] apostleship to promote obedience to the faith and make disciples for His name’s sake among all the nations,

Rom 16:25 Now to Him Who is able to strengthen you in the faith which is in accordance with my Gospel and the preaching of (concerning) Jesus Christ (the Messiah), according to the revelation (the unveiling) of the mystery of the plan of redemption which was kept in silence and secret for long ages, Rom 16:26 But is now disclosed and through the prophetic Scriptures is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, [to win them] to obedience to the faith,

Mat 13:11 And He replied to them, To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

Mat 13:16 But blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear. Mat 13:17 Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous men [men who were upright and in right standing with God] yearned to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Polycarp, a disciple of John, also equated them: “So then, let us serve him with all fear and all reverence, as he himself commanded us, and as did the apostles who brought us the gospel and the prophets who foretold the coming of our Lord” (in his letter to the Philippians, 6:3).

The first-century, Scripture-writing apostles were canonical apostles.

This means three things:
1) Authority

They possessed absolute theocratic authority. When speaking/writing ministerialy, their words were indisputable divine law to be obeyed without question. Hence, their overtly authoritative language (1Co 14:37,38, 2Co 13:2,3,8,10, 2Th 3:14, Phil 8, 2Pet 3:16, 1Jn 4:6, Rev 22:18,19). Such authority licensed them to write Scripture.
1Co 14:37 If anyone thinks and claims that he is a prophet [filled with and governed by the Holy Spirit of God and inspired to interpret the divine will and purpose in preaching or teaching] or has any other spiritual endowment, let him understand (recognize and acknowledge) that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. 1Co 14:38 But if anyone disregards or does not recognize [that it is a command of the Lord], he is disregarded and not recognized [he is one whom God knows not].

2Co 13:2 I have already warned those who sinned formerly and all the rest also, and I warn them now again while I am absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come back, I will not spare [them], 2Co 13:3 Since you desire and seek [perceptible] proof of the Christ Who speaks in and through me. [For He] is not weak and feeble in dealing with you, but is a mighty power within you;

2Co 13:8 For we can do nothing against the Truth [not serve any party or personal interest], but only for the Truth [which is the Gospel]. 2Co 13:9 For we are glad when we are weak (unapproved) and you are really strong. And this we also pray for: your all-round strengthening and perfecting of soul. 2Co 13:10 So I write these things while I am absent from you, that when I come to you, I may not have to deal sharply in my use of the authority which the Lord has given me [to be employed, however] for building [you] up and not for tearing [you] down.

2Th 3:14 But if anyone [in the church] refuses to obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he may be ashamed.

Philemon 1:8 Therefore, though I have abundant boldness in Christ to charge you to do what is fitting and required and your duty to do,

2Pe 3:16 Speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures.

1Jn 4:6 We are [children] of God. Whoever is learning to know God [progressively to perceive, recognize, and understand God by observation and experience, and to get an ever-clearer knowledge of Him] listens to us; and he who is not of God does not listen or pay attention to us. By this we know (recognize) the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error.

Rev 22:18 I [personally solemnly] warn everyone who listens to the statements of the prophecy [the predictions and the consolations and admonitions pertaining to them] in this book: If anyone shall add anything to them, God will add and lay upon him the plagues (the afflictions and the calamities) that are recorded and described in this book.

2) Inauguration
They introduced and inaugurated new, epochal truths in God’s redemptive program (Eph 3:1-10, Ro 16:25,26):
-The New Covenant (Hebrews),
-Grace (Galatians, Romans),
-Gentile inclusion (Ephesians),
-The indwelling Spirit (Acts, Romans),
-Church protocol (1&2Timothy, Titus),
-A clearer eschatological picture (Matthew, Revelation).

God confirmed their heralding with convincing demonstrations of power (Mk 16:20, Heb 2:3,4, Ac 13:8-12, 14:3, 1Co 2:4). These new revelatory developments were recorded canonically as Scripture.

3) Foundation
They are the foundation of the universal church. Because of their limited and unique work, they constitute “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” written on the twelve foundations of Zion (Rev 21:14).
None of today’s apostles have written a book of the Bible, inaugurated new epochal truth from Heaven that required a canonical record (Scripture), or founded the universal church.
Are we starting to see the silliness of super-apostles and Nicolaitians? The false aside, we do have and need for functional apostles in the ongoing church of God. We need them to understand what they are and what they do, and especially the maturity required of them.

Now let’s look at Functional apostles
Functional apostles are identical to the canonical ones, minus the canonical aspect. Notice Revelation 21:14 establishes only “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” as canonical, yet the New Testament mentions around twenty apostles in total. For example, Paul refers to Timothy as an “apostle” in 1Thessalonians 2:6 (w/1:1), but only as a “brother” in 2Corinthians 1:1 (referring to only himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus”).(He does similarly with Sosthenes in 1Corinthians 1:1.) Paul was acknowledging Timothy’s functional apostleship to the Thessalonians, but excluding him from the canonical brand to the Corinthians, something he needed to do in response to the meddling super-apostles challenging his unique authority (2Co 11:5,13-15, 12:11, 13:3,10, 1Co 4:18,19).

2Co 11:5 Yet I consider myself as in no way inferior to these [precious] extra-super [false] apostles.

2Co 11:13 For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah). 2Co 11:14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light; 2Co 11:15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds.

2Co 12:11 Now I have been [speaking like] a fool! But you forced me to it, for I ought to have been [saved the necessity and] commended by you. For I have not fallen short one bit or proved myself at all inferior to those superlative [false] apostles [of yours], even if I am nothing (a nobody).

2Co 13:3 Since you desire and seek [perceptible] proof of the Christ Who speaks in and through me. [For He] is not weak and feeble in dealing with you, but is a mighty power within you;

2Co 13:10 So I write these things while I am absent from you, that when I come to you, I may not have to deal sharply in my use of the authority which the Lord has given me [to be employed, however] for building [you] up and not for tearing [you] down.

1Co 4:18 Some of you have become conceited and arrogant and pretentious, counting on my not coming to you. 1Co 4:19 But I will come to you [and] shortly, if the Lord is willing, and then I will perceive and understand not what the talk of these puffed up and arrogant spirits amount to, but their force (the moral power and excellence of soul they really possess).

These subtleties in Scripture help us perceive and distinguish canonical apostleship from functional apostleship. The canonical was the exception, the functional was the norm.

Functional apostles perpetuate basic apostolic functions, functions the church needed then, needs now, and will always need until the end.

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