Marks of an Apostle
“…the signs of the apostles were worked out among you in all patience, in miracles and in wonders, and by works of power” (2 Cor 12:12).
Here we are again - yet another Truth for the Journey! In our last article we mainly discussed the difference between two certain types of apostles; namely the ascension and the resurrection apostles. We also spoke of the basic meaning of the word apostle as used in scripture – as “sent-forth” not by man but by God. Today however we are going to progress further by discussing the major functions and characteristics of the apostle.
There are clear elements that dominate the calling and gifting of an apostle; which causes all apostles to act in similar ways. In other words, they can be very different in personality and background, but their gifting will have similar functions and boundaries. Firstly and arguable the most important is that apostles are very good at “working-together” whereas other gifts are more prone to “compete.” An apostle is not willing to lay on another’s foundations, but will allow others to build with him.
I would say that this is one of the quickest ways of seeing whether someone is an apostle or not! As all true apostles will work together. Those who are not team players, who climb over others to get “ahead” and “compete” – are behaving like ruthless businessmen but NOT as an apostle. Apostles do not compete. Instead they have a unique understanding about foundations and how “counter-productive” it is to build upon the foundation that another has laid. He will not waste his time. He will work “with” instead or go lay his own.
Also another feature or characteristic of the apostle is that of a pioneer. They go first. When scripture says, “….first apostles” in (1 Cor 12: 28) this was NOT a sentiment of “hierarchy” – rather it literally meant that the apostles would “go-first” in that they would go in front and pioneer! They break-open new ground and are not at all shy of ploughing where it has never been ploughed before. Nor do they shy away from “hard-work.” In fact you have never known real hard work until you have gotten around an apostle! Ask those who know! Their work ethic is second to none and they have durability and spiritual back bone that others (even half their age) lack!
Their ability to endure hardship is also a trait of the apostle. They are not flimsy in their approach. They are tough but fatherly. They observe and watch when others race and chase. They have wisdom and a panoramic view of how things are developing. They keep their finger on the pulse – knowing where everything is up to in its overall development. This is unique to the apostle. Who spiritual sight – is more far reaching than that of the other gifts. Even though the prophet is traditionally the “seer” it is the apostle who can over-see production and development in the Kingdom of God – with much more scope than the prophet – that’s why they need each other.
Apostles can have different gifting, such as an apostle who is a pastor or an apostle who is a teacher and so forth. Nevertheless we can see at many different intervals within scripture the “apostles” working together. In Acts 2:42 it says “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching… to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Note how it uses the plural of “apostles’” and not just the teaching of “one” apostle. We could add here that for a genuine apostle - it is not a fame-game. They don’t require all the credit, but they MUST be accomplished. They are productive wherever they are. Paul was not stifled in prison or under house arrest. Nothing deterred him from his mission. Not chains or hardship. In addition to this, apostles are not nervous about money, whether in abundance or in lack. They know how to abase and abound. They are given to seasons and are ready for anything. One major characteristic apart from being extremely hard working and focused is their drive and belief in “preparation.” They are always preparing and therefore are always ready. They live prepared!
“Sturdy” is equalled to “nerdy” in the world’s eyes, but for an apostle “spiritual-backbone” is everything. One of their greatest satisfactions is derived from seeing “spiritual-maturity” outworked in the people. In addition they help “release” the gifting’s within others, which stir up the saints for ACTION and brings an explosion of life and activity! No one can sit around an apostle and get away with it! They motivate people and therefore no one feels comfortable being “sedentary” around them! Their work ethic can make even a “work-a-holic” feel lazy! But all is taken in their stride, with an inner-drive that comes by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Each apostle has a specific “time-frame” to work to that they are completely aware of and they work ceaselessly to achieve the goal set before them. (Note: seasoned apostles don’t tire with age instead they just employ more wisdom and learn better how to delegate!)
Nothing displeases them more than to see rampant apostasy amongst God’s people and spiritual carelessness or sloppiness. Therefore its also good to point out that the apostle is not heavily prone to taking spiritual short-cuts. No architect would do it. The safety of their overall structure would be compromised and the apostle sees things much the same way!
Another characteristic is that of “order” – the apostle has an affinity with all things “order.” They bring order into chaos and restoration where there is brokenness. They are the ones trusted with God’s blue print as they are God’s builders. No one can build in chaos and just as Nehemiah had get rid of the pile of rubbish before he could continue building - so too will an apostle – deal with, delegate and organise so that “spiritual-waste” or “trash” can be aptly dealt with.
Eight points to Remember!
1). Plurality of Apostles - works as part of a Team: (1 Thess. 1:1; 2:6) Lets look a little deeper at the apostle’s ability to work alone but also as part of a team. He is not easily threatened and likes to work with others. In fact over “twenty men,” at one time or another, were associated with Paul in his apostolic travels. True apostles are not charismatic lone-rangers who lack and even despise the checks and balances of plurality. This is one reason that they like to bring on younger men in their calling in God, such as Paul did with Timothy.
2). Gifts and Anointing: (1 Thess. 1:5a) They have spiritual “power” not just ecclesiastical “status.” They enjoy the charisma of the Holy Spirit rather than their ordination papers or may not even be officially ordained by a denomination. God is rising up a new breed of apostolic ministers who will readily admit that they are embryonic and earnestly desire and covet the wonders and miracles that is one of the signs of a true apostle. “The things that mark an apostle - signs, wonders and miracles – were done among you with great perseverance” (2 Cor 12:12).
3). Has a Proven Character: (1 Thess. 1:5b) We see in scripture that the apostles were men of integrity with mastery over wrong motives. For example they were not out to deceive, flatter or make money from those they ministered to (1 Thessalonians 2:2-6); men worthy of imitating.
4). He is a Man of Patience and Gentleness: (1 Thess. 2:6-7) Because he is a man of faith he can afford to wait. Because he is a man of love he does not have to throw his weight about. Building with living bricks takes time and trouble. Taking another look at the sign of a true apostle, (2 Corinthians 12:12) we find the word perseverance, (patience...KJV). This reveals that true apostles are not mere remote office managers presiding over some new charismatic empire, which they lay claim to “covering”. True apostles are prepared to spend time with individuals and not just leaders at that. (Unless one is called to leaders specifically) They are “on-site” superintendents of the work.
5). A Bearer of God’s Word: (1 Thess. 2: 13) “And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and a apostle – I am telling the truth, I am not lying – and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles (1 Tim 2:7). No man can ultimately be recognised as an apostle, who does not have a proven ministry as a preacher and a teacher of the Word of God, for it is that which is the root of his authority, the source of his life and the dynamic of his ministry, he is a preacher and teacher of the Word before he is an apostle.
6). He Stands or Falls by The Church: (1 Thess. 1:6-7) 1) Like Peter, he should have been a fellow-elder in a local Body. There, he can be tested and checked as he learns like everybody else, what it is to submit to one another in the fear of the Lord. As a local elder, he knows the responsibility of rule and pastoral care, which leaders in the Church have, and then as an apostle, will be able to speak into other Churches with greater sensitivity. “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow-elder, a witness to Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve...” (1 Pet 5:1-2)
7). One who is “sent-out” by the Church to which he belongs, an apostle carries credibility with him. Those who receive him can expect that he will have worked out at home whatever he is laying on them as counsel; in this way Paul and Barnabas were “released” by the Church at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3). Being sent out by the Church of which they were a part - they are eager to return to give their support and report. “From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:26-27).
8). Finally and most importantly true apostles appreciate being “accountable.” This gives them a sense of security, saves them from the wrong kind of independence and reminds them they exist to serve the Body and not themselves. They desire the best for the Church (1 Thess. 2:19).
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Father thank you for the stability that the apostolic ministry brings to your Body, I crave the stability that you have provided through your apostolic ministries. We need the spiritual back bone that you have desired for us. Thank you Father that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.
CONFESSION OF THE DAY
Hebrews 3:1 says that Jesus is the apostle and high priest of my confession, who was “sent-forth” to bring salvation to the world.
THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO MAKE THIS MINISTRY POSSIBLE! WE LOVE YOU…!
Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’
Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries