DO We NEED APOSTLES?? -by Andrew Strom. We are all aware of how the word "apostle" has been cheapened and mis-applied so widely in recent years. It seems it is no longer good enough in some quarters to be merely "Senior Pastor so- and-so". You have to be "Apostle" - and furthermore to carry business-cards telling everybody so. But underneath all this posturing lies a very important question - one that we need to place near the very top of our list of "vital questions for today's church". The question is simply this- "Do we need true New Testament APOSTLES to have a true New Testament CHURCH?" Some will scoff and say, "Of course not! We have their writings and that is enough." But my reply would be- "Yes, we have now had their writings restored for 500 years, and yet we have never seen a return to full apostolic Christianity as it was in the beginning. The purity, the power, the miracles, the anointing and even the GOSPEL of the early Christians seem to elude us still." -WHY IS THAT?? The closest we have ever come to full NT Christianity was during times of Revival and Great Awakening. And during those times there is no doubt that there were preachers of almost "apostolic" stature - Wesley, Fox, Edwards, Tennant, Finney, Sung, etc. (-Especially Wesley, I feel). But why is it that - even then - we never quite attained to the original faith with the original power? Could it be that we really do need APOSTLES? I am particularly struck by one verse of Scripture right near the start of Acts. -This is the first time that the early church is being described. And the description begins with this verse- "They gave themselves to the APOSTLES' TEACHING, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." (Acts 2:42). How important was this continuing "apostles' teaching" to the early church? Well, the believers in Jerusalem gathered in "Solomon's Portico" to hear the apostles preach EVERY DAY. -That's how important it was. I believe it is fair to say that without this - without the fact that "they gave themselves to the apostles teaching" - there would have been NO EARLY CHURCH AT ALL. Who had the ANOINTING to preach a 'life-transforming' gospel? -It was the apostles. Who had the AUTHORITY to explain and teach the words of Christ? -It was the apostles. Who were the ones working miracles and seeing the sick healed every day? -It was the apostles. Or, to be more correct - it was JESUS WORKING THROUGH the apostles. But the men themselves were still necessary. In fact, they were utterly essential. People will argue and argue about this, and say that we don't need this approach any more. I beg to differ. Let us take a look at what the job of the '5-fold' ministry is- "It was He [God] who gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.... attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ." (Eph 4:11-13). Notice that all five of these main ministries are needed to bring the body of Christ into real "fulness" of stature. That means we need proper New Testament apostles and prophets - as well as the others. And isn't this task just as vital now as it was then? The fact is, according to this Scripture, if we do not have ALL these ministries then surely this task cannot be fully accomplished at all? But even in some Spirit-filled circles today (especially in the house- church movement, of which I am a part) the need for "5-fold" leaders of this kind is often down-played or ignored. We are desperate to get away from the "one man show" of the institutional churches, and so we often go to the other extreme - totally downplaying the need for strong leaders and preachers. We have "escaped" from all that - so we think. But in doing so, isn't it possible that we are throwing away the very thing that God has always used to bring Revival? The fact is, the Book of Acts was a "5-fold ministry" Revival. It was strongly led by 5-fold type ministries from beginning to end. And without them, there would have been no Revival at all. If no apostles - then plainly no Early Church and no Book of Acts either. Even the title - "The Acts of the Apostles" says it all. If the apostles had not 'acted', what would have happened? -Probably almost nothing. Now, I am a strong proponent of "relational" church myself - and a strong believer in the "whole body ministering". I have even run seminars that were called "EVERYONE IS A MINISTER". But if that concept means leaving behind the desperate need for strong "5-fold" leaders as well, then I want no part of it. -We have got to have BOTH! I cannot believe in a "leaderless" Revival. Such a thing has never been and never will be - especially if we want to get back to the Book of Acts. We need apostles and anointed preachers now more than ever! God spoke to me many years ago that- "When the new APOSTLES arise, Revival will begin." -I totally believe that - and it is a thoroughly scriptural statement. If we want 'Book of Acts' Christianity, then we must again have 'Book of Acts'-type leaders. So how can we tell real apostles when we see them? Well, I believe there are 4 things that signify a full New Testament apostle (-there are many more aspects, but I believe these four things are most crucial)- (1) They must have the ANOINTING to preach an utterly TRANSFORMING gospel. (-Sin convicting and Christ-centered). The results will be revolutionary in peoples' lives. (2) They must be making DISCIPLES - Baptizing them and teaching them CHRIST's COMMANDMENTS. (-True "disciples" are a lot different from mere 'converts' or church-goers). (3) They must have OUTSTANDING HEALINGS and MIRACLES accompanying their ministry. (-If not, they cannot be walking in full New Testament apostleship). (4) Their own lifestyle must match up with Christ's teachings. (-ie. No mansions or jet-planes! - In fact - quite the opposite). A lot of people today have the impression that someone who has planted a few churches (-especially in the West) is an "apostle". Church-planting is indeed an important aspect of apostleship, but to call everyone who has planted a church an "apostle" is going well beyond Scripture and even common sense. -There is far more to it than that, as the Bible clearly shows. In conclusion, all I can do is cry out- "God, send us APOSTLES! Men who burn with holy fire and who carry a heavy 'Revival' anointing. Bring us back to full New Testament Chrstianity, oh God! How we need you to move in this generation." God bless you, my friends! Andrew Strom.