In a previous post a couple of weeks ago, The Necessity of Converting Apostolic Ambitions, I declared myself as a believer in the Apostolic and Prophetic Graces of Christ being relevant and required today.
I happen to be a firm believer in the apostolic and prophetic graces functioning in the Body of Christ today. As Ascension Gifts given to us by the Head of the Body, Christ Himself, I know their value to the People of God is irreplaceable and required for maturity to be developed in the believers, both individually and corporately.
I also stated that I did not start out on my spiritual walk thinking that way regarding those specific functions but, over time, I was led by Father to change my way of thinking regarding both their current day existence and function. I have learned that Christ is faithful to what He said, “I will build MY Church (of me)” in Matthew 16.
In that statement alone, we find that Christ is the impetus and substance of what the Church is called and destined to be in Father’s mind. When you add to that the thought of Father having “predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29) and is, indeed, busy about the business of “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10), you begin to realize how futile it is for religious men to lay their hands on Father’s business and fashion systems according to worldly wisdom and means in order to accomplish FOR God what ONLY Christ’s Grace can accomplish. In essence, we continue to create something, a form, an organization, an entity called a church, and offer it up as a sacrifice in His Name attempting to get Him to accept it.
Ummmmm, yeah……ain’t gonna happen!
THE Sacrifice that has appeased and pleased Father has been made. Now, what we must do, according to THAT Sacrifice, is offer up ourselves, not something we can perform in and through ourselves, as a sacrifice to God. God wants US. We want to give Him something “other”.
You know, a brother can wear himself out, along with the people he influences, as he continually runs in religious circles trying to come up with some “thing” that can be presented to people and God as being relevant.
The words of Paul ring in my spirit,
I beg of you, please, brethren, through the mercies of God, by a once for all presentation, to place your bodies at the disposal of God, a sacrifice, a living one, a holy one, well-pleasing, your rational, sacred service. (Wuest)
Paul continues and the ring becomes louder as we continue to read,(emphasis mine)
And stop assuming an outward expression that does not come from within you and is not representative of what you are in your inner being, but is patterned after this age;
but change your outward expression to one that comes from within and is representative of your inner being, by the renewing of your mind, resulting in your putting to the test what is the will of God, the good and well-pleasing, and complete will, and having found that it meets specifications, placing your approval upon it.
The ring becomes resounding as you consider verse 3 of Romans 12. (again, emphasis mine)
For I am saying through the grace which is given to everyone who is among you, NOT TO BE THINKING MORE HIGHLY OF ONE’S SELF, beyond that which one ought necessarily to be thinking, but to be thinking with a view to a sensible appraisal (of one’s self) according as to each one God divided a measure of faith.
So, in my initial understanding of things “Apostolic”, the foundation of it all was basically, “death to self” and “Christ’s Apostolic Grace” flowing through a resurrected, yielded vessel. Contrary to the normal standard, I searched for humility and marks of death/resurrection in the life of one claiming apostolicity; not power gifts and/or a heavy dose of what one calls anointing.
Now, I’d like to share some experiences with you as I waded through things apostolic. These experiences, I suppose, would fall under the negative category. Don’t blame me. I just took them as they came. The reader must fully understand that at the point in my life where these experiences occurred, Father had made sure that I was completely dead to “ministry” or anything that resembled what I had known previously in my life. The doors that were opened up to me to enter these situations were not of my own doing. I simply was NOT interested in pursuing such matters. Yet, Father led me into situations, especially what was being purported as high level apostolic ministry, and allowed me to see the reality of such things.
I was being recruited by an apostolic network and asked to speak at one of their regional conferences. I have to admit, it was nice to be among believers who were hearing some of the same things I was hearing. After I spoke, I was well received by those in attendance and many came up to me to bless me and thank me for sharing.
Ultimately, I saw this one brother walking towards me in an aggressive fashion and he cornered me in the hallway. He introduced himself to me, (I knew who he was because he had been introduced the day before and spoke in one of the sessions) and then he said, “I am going to tell you some things about yourself so you know that God is speaking to me and through me………so you will hear the word of the Lord as I prophesy to you!”
So, I stood there, literally, with my back against the wall, with a prophet right in my face telling me some generic things about myself. Then, he transitioned into a prophecy regarding my destiny and future in the ministry, specifically within the network. Finally, the qualifying statement came.
“As you completely yield and submit without question to the apostolic covering that God has established in your life, you will rise through the ranks and find your place as a general in God’s Kingdom!” What came next was some generic speak about greatness, being sent to the nations and blah, blah, blah. As he ended, he slapped a $100 bill in my hand as “a seed sown with the word” and then, as he backed away, he gave me an eerie stare like he was saying, “Yeah! That just happened!”
As my relationship advanced with the apostle he was referencing, I discovered a few things. 1. Submission without question was definitely required. 2. The apostle and prophet had orchestrated the entire encounter at the hotel and was a common experience for desirable recruits into the network. 3. While there was apostolic terminology and revelation being used within this particular organization, the substance was not of Christ; meaning, death to self and humility were not the order of the network as it was driven by unconverted ambition and carnal means.
The ending for me in this particular apostolic thingy came quickly for me. It was messy. But, Father’s hand guided us through it all and taught us many valuable things.
Another time, I had the occasion to travel to a foreign land upon the request of the founding apostle of a global apostolic network. While there, I was able to observe a local church which served as the foundation of his network. Revelation flowed from this brother and the other brothers that flanked him. I was extremely impressed.
Afterward, as he came to the United States in order to establish his network, I was invited to attend meetings and spend more time with him. Then, the push began for me to “join” his network and serve as an ambassadorial apostle here in the U.S. (?) At this point, titles, such as apostle, prophet, bishop, etc. were beginning to bother me. Having never read or seen such a title with an adjective involved, I withstood the efforts to become involved in the network.
Communications from this apostle immediately stopped, as well as the communications with the other brothers with whom I had begin to build relationship. No matter what medium or content I used to reach out to this brother, I could not gain a response. Ultimately, my wife and I invested in time and expense to attend one of his meetings here in the U.S. so that we could see him and speak to him.
After one of the teaching sessions, I walked up to him and told him that it was good to see him and asked him to forgive me if I had offended him in any way. His response was that I had not offended him but he did not have the time to invest in any one who would not join the network and commit to help him build.
I replied, “Can’t we just recognize that we are joined in the Body of Christ and relate on that basis?”
“No! I don’t have the time for that.” he answered as he walked away. I have never seen or spoken to the brother since that last exchange. Misty and I were heartbroken because we truly loved the brother.
Lessons learned: 1. Revelation knowledge does not necessarily accompany Love.(1 Cor. 13:2) 2. Christ commanded, “Freely you have received, therefore, freely give.” 3. Spiritual elitism is not the way of the Kingdom.
On another occasion, we had seen God develop multiple house churches. We did not have a plan or strategy. There was simply Life in our midst and things were growing. In an attempt to understand and possibly guide what was happening, (my bad!) I contacted a brother who had a hot book out on the topic of house church and was being touted as a house church apostle.
In every communication, rather verbal or email, as I would relate to him what has happening and expressed interest in his coming to be with us here in Texas, his response was………..”Have you read my book? Everybody needs to buy a copy of my book and read it.”
Yeah, I had read the book. Even discussed it with elders and other believers. What was the deal with having to buy the book? Ultimately, the brother laid down the ultimatum saying that before we could talk about what it would take to get him to visit us, we had to buy a book for everybody and study our way through it.
As I submitted this to the elders in our community, they suggested we forego in bringing the brother in to visit us. I thought that was a great idea.
Lessons learned: 1. Unless the brother exists as the message, the message isn’t really worth hearing because it stands only as a theory. 2. Don’t love your specific message more than you love God’s People. 3. Placing a financial demand/burden on God’s People to have you come isn’t apostolic in any way.
Got time for one more? I reckon one more will do for now.
Father began speaking to me about generations, spiritual fathers/sons, etc. I was invited to hear a brother who was coming into the DFW area to speak about such things. As I listened to him, he was confirming many of the things that I was sensing but could not put into words.
After the meeting, I simply prayed that if I was to meet this brother that I would be invited to do so. I received the invitation and a meeting was arranged about a week later in a dear brother’s home. As we spent time with this brother, we shared our history and experiences, naming names and places and frankly answering the brother’s questions.
At the end of our time together, he began ministering to us and spoke life, healing and purpose over us. It was real; authentic and meaningful. Then, he began to speak to us and declare that he was our spiritual father, that God had brought him into our life to cover us and walk with us through life in order to bring us to the place that God had for us.
Then, he began to expound who we truly were in God, how powerful our gifts were and that it was incumbent upon him to provide us opportunities to excel. He started making promises to us about opening doors, both in “ministry” and business.
We left a bit discombobulated because we had received so much as he prayed for us but the discourse at the end caused warnings to go off in our spirits. Obviously by now, this wasn’t our first rodeo and we knew something wasn’t right.
As we prayed regarding the relationship, the answer quickly came as we talked on the phone with the #2 guy in the network. He had called me to “provide steps moving forward” and “deepen” the relationship. 🙂 We were commissioned in praying for our new spiritual father and relationship was defined as submitting our marriage and finances to his oversight. Tithing directly to the spiritual father was expected and seriously considering his counsel regarding other issues was strongly recommended.
The conversation ended rather abruptly when I questioned a couple of things and asked to speak directly with my spiritual father regarding the matters. You know, I never heard anything else from him and all of those opportunities never came to fruition.
Lessons learned: 1. If there is any unconverted ambition residing within me, it will be used to gain leverage in my life. 2. Always seek to discern the true basis of what is being presented and trust the Holy Spirit’s discernment. 3. Authentic relationships are always based upon Love, are truly symbiotic and equitable for both parties.
Okay, that’s enough Apostolic shenanigans for now.
I am not saying that all who claim to be apostles are seeking to manipulate and control. There are authentic apostles in existence today. What I am saying is that it is the believer’s right AND, more importantly, responsibility to determine who to receive as an apostle. The topic is of such importance because Christ’s Apostolic Grace is required to bring the Body of Christ to maturity!
People often say to me, “You shouldn’t judge.” Or the inevitable question arises, “Who are you to judge? Jesus said we should not judge in the sense of declaring a damning sentence. He never intended to say we should not look at something and discern if it was consistent with His Nature. As a matter of fact, He said we would be able to know what type of tree exists because of the fruit produced.
Regardless of a person’s apparent “anointing”, ministry acumen or organization’s size, mature believers will look beyond what is being presented and delve deeper to discover the true nature of the declared apostle’s fruit. Check it! IF the fruit contains no seed for the eater to utilize on their own and reproduce, THEN the fruit has been genetically modified from Father’s Nature to the carnal nature of a religious man. Such fruit is designed to make you dependent on the one producing it. It is never intended to strengthen and equip you to begin to produce fruit yourself!
Press in to find out what access you have into their lives to see how they truly exist. What is the true basis of relationship? Are they truly discipling and equipping you or simply manipulating you? All such questions are valid and TRUE Apostles will never become intimidated or upset with those believers who, in the bond of Christ, seek to pursue Christ in them.
Fortunately, not only have I been led through such experiences, I have also been blessed in experiencing the authentic Apostolic Grace of Christ. Other believers with whom I have relationship have gone through very similar experiences and have come out the other side and still in pursuit of Christ. I am thankful for them because it is in them and through them that I have come to know Father and the Christ He has sent in ways I could have never considered.
Keep your peace!