[anzac] DO WE NEED APOSTLES?? - Andrew Strom

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 12:22:27 -0500
-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).
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.