How would someone, called to be an apostle, prepare for that ministry? Is there training for apostolic ministry? Where would you go? What might that training or preparation include? Most of those who have that calling, assignment, office, have had to receive their preparation by means other than traditional schooling or ministries.
Please understand, it is difficult to speak of the things that follow. I feel like Paul when he said you’ve forced me to talk like a fool. No one desires to put oneself forward, yet in order to be a blessing to others, we must share what God is doing in our lives. We overcome the enemy by the word of our testimony. I cannot speak for all apostles, so I will testify to my own preparation in a sincere desire to assist someone who may be as baffled as I was.
First, apostolic ministry is not our choice but Christ’s. He sends. No one can choose to be an apostle. Jesus calls and sends. We either go or we don’t. From my conversion experience through my most recent ministry, all has been initiated by Jesus. My role is to respond to his calling and sending. From the time He spoke my name on Christmas day, 1976, He has been revealing His purposes and shaping my character–purging what is in me that hinders his honor. As I’ve responded in obedience (and that has never been perfect), I have been entrusted with more. And often I have not deserved to be sent by Him or to have seen the marvelous things I’ve witnessed. I can truly say it is all of Him. I would not have chosen this path. But I would not want to be on any other. He must become more and more . . . And we must go where He leads. Of course, others must confirm that call. Others will recognize, probably before you will, that you are called to the greater body of Christ. And your going and serving will have results. People will know that you have authority to bless and encourage, to comfort and challenge. Sometimes displays of gifts accompany assignments. These also “testify” to your assignment or ministry in any given place, at His appointed time.
Second, apostles share a deep passion for the Father, and the Kingdom. The apostle Paul said, “The love of God constrains me.” He was pushed, pulled , drawn on, and compelled by love of the Father and Jesus. And for love of those who are loved by God–his people. More about this apostolic passion in my next book.
Third, God has prepared us:
REJECTION. We have known rejection. We have had to fight through feelings of inadequacy and abandonment. My life before Christ has been one of rejection and continues to be in some sense even today; I experience rejection but from a different angle than when I was a child. The Lord has taught me not to take ministry rejection personally. Don’t get me wrong–it’s still difficult. But it’s not about me. I need only to be obedient and speak what I’m given. Faithfulness is all that’s required of me once I’ve heard and understood.
IDENTITY. We know who God says we really are. We are sons. We have found our identity in Him. Though I am the least among his many living apostles, I know that I am a son and have His authority on my life. I don’t always know how to walk in that and am learning more daily, but Jesus continually presents his own calling–his death and resurrection–in my life. I know that I am walking into His plan and purpose. I also know that difficulty awaits. But so does unimaginable blessing and fruit. I have many promises of God that I am waiting to see unfold. And they will.
KNOWLEDGE. We are learning and are living out what the Father is teaching. We are no longer on milk, laying over and over the same foundations; we have learned the teaching about righteousness (Heb 5.13-6.1). Now we are called to go from sincere love to deep love (1 Pt. 1.22 NIV). We have also prepared ourselves with study of the Word of God. Some of us have studied formally and others informally. Some have done both. But God has taught us. And we know that what makes us most effective is hearing first for ourselves. Being not only hearers, but doers of the Word. Then hearing what “the Spirit is ‘saying’ to the church.”
CHARACTER. We are being shaped by His hands. He is forming vessels of honor (to give honor and bring honor to Him). But the job description is not one that flocks sign up for. When I sought the Lord, asking Him how I could prepare, the Holy Spirit took me to meditate on and abide in 1 Cor. 4.9-21. Take time to immerse yourself in this text before you glamorize apostolic ministry. That said, there is nothing I know as thrilling as being sent on assignment. Whether that be to the local store or to a church gathering several states away or to the Republic of Georgia (I was sent there immediately following the Russian incursion into Georgia with a specific assignment to a specific man, with specific words. When I arrived, he was an atheist, today he is a precious brother in Christ. Dearer to me than flesh and blood brother. His conversion, while I stayed at his home, transformed not only his life and his family, but mine as well. His church and the market where he works was also impacted for Christ). God has a special call and assignment on his life too. Just as he has in yours.
These are some of the preparations I have experienced. I share more about the authority of apostles in my book, We’re the “sons of God” . . . So What?–available at Amazon.com.
Why not participate in a discussion. Leave a comment. Let us know if this post helps you or if you have something that can help someone prepare for apostolic ministry.
©2011, Dr. David C Alves
Trust me, if you wait too long to start your sabbatical, then you may just hear one (or more) of these twenty ways of saying a churchy goodbye. Instead, why not be proactive and read A Sabbatical Primer for Pastors: How to Initiate and Navigate a Spiritual Renewal Leave.
YouTube video by Johnbcrist.
This video trailer of Europe’s Last Stand: America’s Final Warning, summarizes how Islam’s strategy will dominate your country. Like it or not, you will be affected, your children will be affected, your grandchildren will be affected–husbands and wives, sons and daughters, no one will be unaffected.
I was affected over a decade ago, since my step-brother flew into the North Tower of the world-trade center on American, Flight 11. My mom said to him that morning, “Do you have to go? Couldn’t you stay one more day?” He said “No Betty. I really have business I need to take care of.” Several hours later . . . his business was left undone. That was many years ago. Then we had little idea of what Islam was capable of. Ask anyone who lives near a “no-go zone” in UK if YOU and your family will remain unaffected by Islam or ISIS because you live “safely” in the U.S.
Only the uninformed or the most spiritually and intellectually obtuse do not recognize the truth and the danger. We are almost at the point of no return. I spent all day Saturday with Walid Shoebat. We invited him to inform us. He knows from the inside what Islam’s agenda is. And they are not shy about announcing it. Watch this video. Study on your own to see what’s ahead.
For more on the agenda and strategy of Apocalyptic Islam, find my search field on the right and search for more on “Islam”
Yes, I know it’s not Christmas yet. But I want to get you thinking about its non-religious meaning before all the commercial and religious huppla makes you numb to the topic. And I want you to have a whole new experience this year. So forget everything you’ve ever heard “Christians” and atheists say regarding Jesus and read to the end.
Etymology of “Holiday”
The word “Holiday” came from the phrase “Holy Day.” (Ought Oh . . . you ARE talking religion. NO I’m NOT! Keep reading!) “Holy Day” meant “a day set aside” for a special purpose or remembrance. It was a day set aside specifically to think about and commemorate a theme which or person who impacted history. And to enjoy related discussions and remembrances with friends and family. On Memorial Day, we not only have the day off, but we have it off because brave men and women died to preserve our freedom and liberty. Martin Luther King Day commemorates the ministry and life of Dr. King and his valiant stand for civil rights against bigotry and oppression.
So why is Christmas a “Holy day”?
The One whose birthday we celebrate every December 25–though that was not the actual date when he was born–has so impacted the world you and I live in, that time itself is classified as A.D. “Anno Dei”–“the year of our Lord.” The celebration of that birth–the birth of God’s Messiah (or “anointed One”) divides old history (B.C.) from new history (A.D). The coming or “advent” of the Messiah not only did that, but it ushered in a new Kingdom. A Kingdom far different from the Kingdoms of men. It divided of an Old Covenant with God and ushered in a New Covenant (that’s where believers get the tern “New Testament” even though it’s origin is thousands of years old). When Messiah Jesus came, He inaugurated the prophesied “Kingdom of God.” What’s more, He claimed that Kingship. And God backed Him up, proving His claims by raising Him from the dead. NO OTHER HISTORIC WORLDVIEW CLAIMS A RESURRECTED SAVIOR AS ITS LIVING LEADER. Yes, Jesus is Alive! This is not religion. This is HISTORY.
The Supernatural Kingdom of God
People have always mistaken that Kingdom God for a human, political/religious Kingdom. Yet, that Kingdom has been expanding and growing quietly, secretly just as Jesus said it would. Most often, the Royal Reign of God is totally missed . . . even by so-called “Christians.” But those who are truly included in that Kingdom understand and expand it joyfully. We recognize its supernatural origins and ultimate natural manifestation.
“he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” (Luke 8:10)
“Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born from above, he is not able to see the kingdom of God.”” (John 3:3)
“for through him [Jesus] God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)
The Shepherd-King Knows Us
We aren’t necessarily recognized by the world or even by the church, but we know that we know the King and–more importantly–He knows us personally. He communicates with us and we with Him (Gospel of John 10:14, 23). Those who say that they are followers of Christ or know Him are quite mistaken if they have never heard Him call them by name. Hear what Jesus himself says regarding this:
“To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” (John 10:3–4)
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14–15)(emphasis mine)
Jesus–the Shepherd King–is the reason for the season. He is the center-point of human history. It is from His life that both western and eastern Christianity were birthed. Granted, Christian orthodoxy has swung wide from it’s original intent and founder, but that does not mean that His was a life to be ashamed of or relegated to “religion.” Jesus is King of the Royal Reign of God–the Kingdom of God. He is God’s best and final WORD to hurting, distressed, and broken world.
Here and Coming Kingdom
The horrors converging upon this world in the forms of Ebola, ISIS, weather anomalies, kingdom rising up against kingdom, decadence and dissolution are evidences of the second-coming of the King:
“Then he [Jesus] gave them this illustration: “Notice the fig tree, or any other tree. When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”” (Luke 21:29–36)
You are Invited IF you Hear His Voice
This Christmas, perhaps you might think about topics worthy of the season, you will give and receive gifts, but if you don’t know the Shepherd-King’s voice or have fellowship and great joy from knowing Him (especially if He doesn’t know you), you have a hopeful word from Him. He said:
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)(emphasis mine)
If you don’t know Him. If you’ve never asked Him to call you by name . . . Don’t waste a moment. Get alone and in all seriousness call upon Him with a sincere heart and watch the miracle unfold over the next few hours, days or weeks. He has another promise:
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)(emphasis mine)
Celebrate a Messiah-centered Christmas this year as a follower of the Shepherd-King whose Kingdom is Just, good, compassionate, supernatural, and everlasting!
DISCLAIMER: We don’t behead those who don’t want the Royal Reign of our God. We grieve that they have missed out on the Kingdom and our most wonderful Shepherd and have never heard His voice.
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“ . . . For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,”
–Ephesians 2:14 NIV
With the increase of immigrants–legal and illegal–into our nation, with the spread of Neo-Nazism, vigilantism, and the rise of separatist churches, the body of Christ needs to address racism. Not that there is anything wrong with having national borders. God himself established nations and borders.
“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” (Deuteronomy 32:8, ESV)
But the discerning see Satan moving–in the upswing of Neo-Nazis and skinhead racist activities and in the south in black churches where white people are not welcome and in white churches where black believers are unwelcome. We see him at work spitting in the face of a Mexican migrant in Texas. As a result, we must be thoughtful about how WE–the Family of God–will respond, when Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Mexicans, Liberians, or African-Americans begin to attend our lifegroups, worship, and Celebrations.
Have you come to realize that, as believers, we no longer are to consider Hispanic, Latino, African-American, or Caucasian blood? Instead, we see only the blood of Jesus that has reconciled our lives through His blood shed for us and has joined us to one another through salvation, symbolized as we partake together at the Lord’s Table. So that we are of one blood in the body of Christ. The wall of partition has been broken down. What a profound thought.
The text above tells us that Christ has “destroyed the barrier.” That is, the barrier in our hearts against others.
When we of many colors and backgrounds gather around the cup of the Lord, we proclaim His death for us all and “drink His blood” (symbolically). In that blood, the nations have been reconciled into ONE family, ONE nation, ONE household in Christ Jesus. You and I are no longer separated by blood. We belong to Him and to one another. Here is no room for prejudice or retribution, anger or vengeance, only thanks-giving.
Zero Toleration In the Churches
In the churches, Father-God wants to bring people from all the Nations into our midst. We must not tolerate racism or regionalism in ourselves. Your growth in spiritual life requires that you begin to see from God’s perspective (2 Cor. 5:15-16). You are not your own, you’ve been joined to a new community, a new family (Eph. 2:19-22), a family of the nations.
God wants you to see other born-again Christians as a part of your very own body (1 Cor. 12), no matter what their color or national origin. As for our enemies, we are to learn to love those who oppose us. As a matter of fact, who do you have more in common with: your white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant neighbor, who bullies his wife and kids, drinks until drunk, and shouts profanities out his window until 2am, or a born-again, Spirit-filled Iraqi or Iranian? In Christ, there is no room for racism.
Are You Connected to Him?
Let’s remember that the precious shedding of Jesus’ blood, connected you to God and to His children . . . ALL His children. Your future is a life in community, not as white or black or yellow, but as an obedient disciple and a child of a multicultural Family. Blood counts, but only the Blood of Jesus. Join me in creating a welcoming, Kingdom-fellowship, the Oikos (household) of God to the Nations (Eph.2:19).