By Editorial Staff
Published March 31, 2008
By Gene Edwards
from The Early Church
One of the biggest problems of our day, among a multitude of big problems, is the fact that no one is really qualified to be serving the Lord. The servants of God in this age universally lack experience in really deep encounter with the living Christ. They lack complete abandonment to Him. Even beyond these deficiencies and dozens more, the Christians of this age haven’t the vaguest idea of what God’s central burden is! They do not have a vision of the centrality of His church. The preparation modern ministers receive before entering the ministry is almost 100 percent ineffective, if not useless, in light of God’s purpose.
I have chosen to list here the characteristics of a true Apostle. The portrait is based on the lives of Apostles of the first century, but you can also expect, if God is merciful enough to restore this office, to see men who bear these same marks in their lives today.
When you have finished reading this list you will have, not only a good idea of what to expect in an apostle’s life, but also a idea why this breed of man vanished from the pages of history so long ago.
The standard set by those first Apostles is, at the very least, ruggedly high.
Please be clear, this is not a list of “qualifications for you to meet to become an Apostle.” You could acquire all these attributes and still not be an Apostle. But it would be very hard indeed to find an Apostle who did not exhibit all of these characteristics.
If this list serves no other purpose, dear reader, perhaps it will serve to humble your heart and to stir up a seeking spirit within you.
1. An Apostle will not be young.
He will be in his late thirties or early forties before commissionship to Apostleship is even given to him! Most of his adult life until then will have been spent in preparation.
Young men ought not to serve the Lord in this capacity. Young men ought to sit, watch, experience Christ, and enjoy the church.
2. He will have spent years in the church, having fully experienced church life.
He will have been a simple brother in the church, living a normal life; he will have had a good long period of being a nobody; he will have lived under authority in the church and learned submission … just like everyone else.
3. He will not fit anybody’s preconceived image of what an Apostle should look like.
Apostles have a disconcerting way of not looking like Apostles.
4. He will be a man totally outside of the religious system.
This is imperative.
There could be no Apostleship inside that system. The two are mutually exclusive.
Why? The reasons are endless. But here is one.
Apostleship takes nothing if it does not take courage. If a man has not found the courage to step utterly, totally and completely outside the religious system, to leave it and its ways, then he hasn’t even taken step one toward a deep knowledge and experience of Christ and the church. Along with this:
5. He will not lead some organization.
He will not be the head of some organization.
He will be utterly outside of that kind of thing. No, he will not sit behind a glass-top desk, nor head any movement.
6. He will be beyond reproach in language and conduct.
7. He will have an almost inexhaustible ability to suffer and to bear the cross.
8. He will be hated.
He will hate no one. He will be widely criticized. He will criticize no one.
And he will live constantly in the skillet of this treatment. Having been abused and betrayed throughout his whole life, he will come to the end of his life still without bitterness, criticism or hurt, filled with compassion, patience, understanding and even optimism!
9. He will know the Scripture as few men in all church history have ever known it. He will be master of that Book.
At the same time, he will not “teach the Scripture” nor tell people things like “You’ve got to know the Bible to be a victorious Christian.” It is not the scripture which will characterize his ministry. You will sense that though he uses the Scripture, it is in no way the cutting-edge of his message. Oh, you may learn the Scripture from him, like you never dreamed it could be known, but he won’t be teaching you the Scripture; if you learn the Scripture; if you learn the Scripture under him it will be a byproduct, a secondary result of the fact he is showing you Christ! Christ alone will hold pre-eminence in all he says and all that he calls men to.
10. He will know Christ.
He will know Christ well, and he will know Him supremely.
11. He will minister Christ.
When he speaks, he will minister not doctrine, not creeds, not chains of interwoven verses to prove some teaching. He will speak Christ. He will tell men, show men how to know Jesus Christ. Christ will be his sole occupation, his only topic.
12. He will pray.
13. He will raise up churches.
He won’t be coming up with visions of church substitutes. No. The church will be his only obsession. He will live only to raise up the church (locatable, visible, attainable, observable; not that ectoplastic, ethereal, universal, out in the wild blue yonder goo) and to strengthen the church. He will suffer for, live for, and probably die for her and for her alone!
14. He will not hinder another man’s work.
He will in no way interfere in the life of a church raised up by other men in another city. He will not engage in conflict with other servants of God. He will leave alone the works of all other men, and he will, for the most part, steer clear of churches not raised up by his hand.
15. He will not hinder another man’s work.
16. He will eventually release every church he raises up.
He will not hold the church in his hand nor use it for himself. He will eventually set it utterly free, free to Christ. How? He will leave. The people will be left utterly on their own.
17. He will not turn the churches he raises into some kind of a closely knit movement.
He will not father, or oversee, a movement.
18. He will be humble, hidden, gentle, and submissive to others.
He will not rule or dictate. He will not call for men to submit to him.
19. He will have been sent by the Holy Spirit.
20. Lastly, there will be but one proof of his Apostleship. He will raise up churches, and those churches will remain and they will flourish.
The church will stand … free of rules, regulations, organizations, or structure. There will be no specially trained men left behind who have to make sure she survives.
The church will survive, but only because she is the living Bride of Christ.
And the hallmark of those churches will be their love for one another! Such will be the general tenor of the life of an Apostle, for this is the way it was when such a species walked the earth before.
May God hasten the day when the world has to contend once more with such men. Not far behind that day will be another day, the day of the restoration of true church life on this earth.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Restoration
Your comments are welcome!
High Quality Paperback — 219 pages
Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy
Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.
Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.
Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?
Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!
“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l
Running Time: 40 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)