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What does “Apostolic” mean?

Apostolic – what does it really mean?

The definition in the dictionary:

Apostolic – adjective

  1. Of or pertaining to an apostle.
  2. Of, relating to, or contemporaneous with the 12 apostles.
  3. Of, relating to, or derived from the teaching or practice of the 12 apostles.
  • Apostolic” – comes from the word “apostle”.
  • “Apostle” – A commissioner, especially an ambassador of the gospel. Officially, an agent of Christ with miracle-working powers.  A messenger or emissary, i.e., one sent out with a special mission; one sent out with orders.

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Acts 1:1-2: Jesus gave commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen.

Luke 24:13-32: On the way to Emmaus, a village about 7 miles from Jerusalem, Jesus was walking with two disciples. We don’t know who Cleopas was, only that he was a disciple.  Verse 27 – “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. “

Verses 31-32 – “And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said among themselves, Did not our heart burn within us, when he spake with us in the way, and when he opened unto us the scriptures?”

The two disciples took this message to the apostles.  They found the eleven in a room.  While they were there, Jesus appeared.  The fact that he walked 7 miles and had dinner with 2 virtually unknown disciples lets us know that Jesus wanted this message and ministry to work through more than 11 men.

Luke 24:36-49: He imparted to them that day an understanding that would be the necessary catalyst for an apostolic ministry.

Remember, they were already casting out devils, healing the sick, and seeing miracles, but the necessary understanding was revealed to them before they were sent out into the world.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was to be their signal.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the activation of their mission in the world.

What Jesus instilled in them that day in terms of understanding was the true foundation for apostolic ministry.  Therefore, you cannot move away from the apostles’ teaching and the apostles’ doctrine and remain in the apostolic ministry.  The moment you separate from the apostolic message and apostolic understanding, you have no apostolic ministry, no matter how many devils you cast out.

If you follow the ministry of the apostolic church of the first century, you will find that it was their doctrine and authority that distinguished them from all other religious sects and groups.

Doctrine and spiritual authority are Siamese twins of the Word of God: they will never be separated.

Acts 2:41-42 must remain the apostolic pattern for apostolic ministry.

  • They remained steadfast” – firmly anchored in the “apostles’ doctrine,” fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.
  • Verse 43 shows the results: Godliness, many signs and wonders were done by the apostles.

This is the apostolic order:

  1. Doctrine (Teaching)
  2. Miracles (Authority)

And why?  Miracles alone will not save people.  It is obedience to doctrine that saves us.  Apostolic ministry is for the purpose of winning the lost, not for the display of spiritual power!

“The apostolic ministry is the perfect balance of doctrinal truth as handed down by Jesus to His apostles, and is exercised with the same authority and power as displayed in the lives of the apostles, the Lord confirming His word by signs” – F. Joe Ellis

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In Acts 2 we find the following essential characteristics of the New Testament church that we need today if we are to be apostolic:

Apostolic Experience: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit inspired them. . . . And they that gladly received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them that day about three thousand souls” (verses 4, 41).

Apostolic teaching: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (verse 42). The apostolic message included the true humanity of Jesus Christ (verses 22, 30); the true deity of Jesus Christ (verse 36); the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our salvation (verses 22-36); personal response to the gospel through repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (verses 37-39); and the life of holiness (verse 40).

Apostolic Unity and Fellowship: “When the day of Pentecost was completed, they were all with one accord in one place . . . . And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread . . . . Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their goods, and divided them among all, as much as any man had need of. So they remained daily with one accord in the temple, breaking bread from house to house, and eating with gladness and singleness of heart” (verses 1, 42, 44-46).  The pooling of all resources was a temporary practice of the thousands of new believers from many cities and countries who had traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost and remained there after receiving the Holy Spirit, probably in anticipation of Jesus’ soon return. In the course of time, the believers scattered, established churches in many places, and introduced a different financial system (1 Corinthians 9:3-14; 16:2). Nevertheless, the principle remained the same: to give with one accord and generously, as God enables, to meet the needs of the body (II Corinthians 8-9).

Apostolic Prayer and Worship: “And they continued steadfastly in prayer…. . . . And they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and broke bread from house to house, and did eat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having pleasure in all the people” (verses 42, 46-47).

Apostolic Miracles: “Then fear came upon all souls, and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (verse 43). The result was consistent church growth: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). If we follow these principles, we can expect the same results. If we do not implement these principles, we may still get some results, perhaps even spectacular results, but we will not have true church growth. Our goal must be to see both quantitative growth – souls saved according to the apostolic pattern – and qualitative growth – individual and community development according to the apostolic pattern.

Therefore, we must carefully examine the growth principles and methods we obtain from non-apostolic sources and modify or discard those that do not serve apostolic goals.

Also, other Spirit-filled churches may not always have the same goals as we do, and therefore their methods may not be entirely suitable for us.

It is also a mistake to focus on unbiblical strategies to find the key to church growth. While it may be tempting to look for a new method or even a new doctrine as the key to instant revival or dramatic growth, if we are to be truly apostolic, we must seek to grow according to the principles of the first century church. The methods may vary according to culture, place, time, and other factors, but the biblical principles remain the same.

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The apostolic church was born in prayer. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell upon 120 disciples who persevered in corporate prayer for ten days (Acts 1:14; 2:1). The early church maintained the habit of prayer (Acts 2:42). The first miraculous healing of the New Testament church occurred when Peter and John went to the temple for their daily prayer time (Acts 3:1). When faced with opposition and persecution, the believers prayed for courage to witness and witnessed miracles occur by the power of God (Acts 4:24-31). The result of the prayer, witness, and miracles was spectacular church growth (Acts 4:4; 5:14).

The goal of preaching is to lead people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, to confirm them in that relationship, and to motivate them to live according to the new way of life.

To remain true to the apostolic pattern, our preaching should focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, cover the main themes of Scripture, and offer salvation, deliverance, and healing. To ensure a balanced feeding of the congregation with the Word of God, it is important that the preacher pray for the thoughts of God, study the Bible diligently, and plan carefully. Prayer is important because we need a word from the Lord for the people and the occasion. God gives pastors insight into the specific needs of their congregation at a particular time. Only God knows who will be present at a particular service and what their needs are. God uses a message to bless an entire congregation, but often uses it to speak to specific people and situations that the preacher does not know. Bible study is vital because our preaching must come from the Word of God, not from our own philosophy. Every message should have a solid biblical foundation. It is a good practice to read a text publicly and base the sermon on it, because this conveys to the listeners that the preacher is interpreting the Word of God and not representing his personal agenda. Of course, the sermon should actually reflect the main idea of the text, rather than the text becoming just a pretext for the preacher’s own ideas.

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If we follow seven apostolic principles in our ministry –

    1. Prayer
    2. Planning
    3. Perseverance
    4. Preaching and teaching
    5. Power of the Spirit
    6. Body of Christ
    7. personal commitment

-we can successfully fulfill our stewardship. In doing so, our church will grow “with the growth that comes from God” (Colossians 2:19).

We are more than “believers” … more than just members of the broader “Christian Community” … more than “Pentecostals” … we are APOSTOLIC!

  1. … It is impossible to be an apostolic preacher if you do not preach apostolic doctrine!
  2. … It is impossible to build an apostolic church if you do not build on the apostles’ teaching!
  3. … It is impossible to have an apostolic ministry without accepting the apostolic teaching!

The foundation … the cornerstone … of apostolic teaching is ONE GOD!

Apostolics believe and preach the revelation of the mighty God in Christ.

  • Deut 6:4 Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord.
  • Deut 32:39 (EN-AMP>DE) I am the Lord, and there is no God beside me.
  • Isaiah 44:8 Is there a God beside me? Yes, there is no God; I do not know one.
  • Isaiah 44:24 I am the Lord who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens alone, who spreads out the earth.
  • Ephesians 4:6, there is “one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all.”

Apostolic Christians believe in old-fashioned REPENTANCE, which is defined as “turning away from sin”!

Apostolic Christians believe in and practice water baptism … by immersion … In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ … For the forgiveness of sins.

Apostolic Christians believe in the life-changing power of the HOLY SPIRIT.

The apostles taught that the Holy Spirit is essential for salvation.

The apostles taught that the Holy Spirit is promised to all believers.  Acts 2:17 In the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.

Apostolics believe in HOLINESS BEFORE THE LORD and separation from the world.   For the record … Holiness from the world is MORE than “organizational culture” …   Be holy as I am holy, says the Lord.  (omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient).

Separation from the world is as essential to apostolic teaching as Acts 2:38 …   Corinthians 6:17 Go out from among them, separate yourselves, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean, and I will receive you.

It takes BOTH apostolic teaching and apostolic demonstration to be AUTHENTICALLY APOSTOLISH!

Either one or the other does not make a minister or a church apostolic!

I have three more statements for you to consider ….

    1. … It is impossible to be an apostolic preacher if you do not preach Apostolic DEMONSTRATION!
    2. … It is impossible to build an apostolic church if you do not make room for Apostolic DEMONSTRATION!
    3. … It is impossible to have an apostolic ministry without apostolic DEMONSTRATION experiences!

Jesus said in Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (18) they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

– If you walk in the power of the Holy Spirit … God will confirm His word with the following signs!

– If you pray the prayer of faith for every person and every situation … God will confirm his word with the following signs!

Let nothing and no one stop you from advancing into a greater dimension of apostolic authority …

– Do not let doubts stop you.

– Don’t let fear stop you.

– Don’t let your ego stop you. (Enemy #1)

Accept your end-time destiny and anointing!

We believe what the apostles preached … Let’s start DOING what the apostles did!

If you would like to know more about this, we are happy to offer Bible studies – either in a group or individually.  These are free of charge and can be requested through our contact form.  We would be glad to hear from you!