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
The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break Camp and advance into the hill country . . . go to all the neighboring peoples . . . ‘
–from Deut. 1:6-7 (NIV)
God’s people had camped with Him at the mountain where the law was given. This is also where Elijah came in a time of particular discouragement and depression. Desert mountain symbolized to early Christians a place of bondage to law and slavery (Gal. 4:24ff). At last, God would take them into the rich, green land He had promised them, the “hill country” of freedom and abundance. They would be a people, holy unto Him, a light to the peoples around them. Israel was a testimony to the One true God. They were waiting for a word from Him. They wanted guidance. They anticipated that God would answer them, but they needed to hear His command—GO—advance.
Like them, a second time in Israel’s history, God’s people waited to hear from Him. Four hundred years of silence finally broke as Messiah Jesus came into the world. At the right time, He appeared publicly to Israel and said to those who would follow Him, “Go into all the world.”(Matt. 28:18-20). This was God coming to His people to heal, deliver, forgive, restore for a reason . . . so that they could break camp and “GO.” These new followers of Messiah would be a holy people, washed clean, created to be a light on a hill, a pure people for fellowship with God and for reconciling the nations and multitudes to God.
God has been preparing a people here at New Life for the past seven years. Noteworthy that the number seven is the number of completion, the biblical number of perfection. Not that we are perfect in and of ourselves, but we have a God who is at work in our midst and He is perfecting us to be a holy people to be used of Him to minister to “all the neighboring peoples” (Titus 2:11-14).
God’s heart for us is to forget the past and move confidently ahead with Him. Some of us have been hurt or wounded in the process of becoming a people and tracking with the Lord into house-church, but now it is time to be healed and set our hearts on advancing with our Savior. For He has called us to “Follow” that He might make us fishers of men and women, boys and girls who need a Savior.
God is calling us to a deeper love, to bear with one another in love, to move on from here and to “break camp.” Now, in His Spirit and grace, He commands us to GO. Go to all the peoples in this region who need Him. Go to those who need freedom and salvation. “Forget the former things.” He is doing a NEW WORK. Do you perceive it?
We are breaking camp. We have pulled up stakes and are following our God. Don’t be left behind. He has important life-saving work for you to join Him in. But it’s in hill country of relationship, not the desert of religion.
The End of all things is at hand!
Try a little experiment here. Before reading this post, ask the Holy Spirit to take the veil off your heart and mind. Ask him to grant you revelation or illumination, that you might be able to see spiritual truth through spiritual eyes. Why is this important? Because according to the following Scripture text, unless God gives you his Spirit while you read, you will not understand. The result will be that you will consider all that follows “foolishness.” On the other hand, if God grants you the grace to read with understanding, it could transform your entire life in a moment of time:
1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
We are drawing closer to the end than most people imagine. God is reaching out to those who will humble themselves to seek him with a genuine heart. He is hardening those whose hearts and consciences are cold and seared.
Matthew 24:3–14 (ESV)*
Signs of the End of the Age
3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Think about this. God gives EVERYONE an invitation and opportunity to receive and accept the “Good News.” If Jesus is not more important to you than this world system, if he is not at the center of your life, if you are not “born-from-above,” (John 3) then Jesus will deny you before His Father in heaven. You will lose not only your life, but will forfeit your eternal destiny in his Kingdom. What in you would want to embrace an empty future instead of the future you could have as a beloved son or daughter of the Father?
It’s time to wake up from the Matrix.
Matthew 10:32–39 (ESV)
32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Not Peace, but a Sword
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Intensity of relationship here is what Jesus is referring to. Having a nominal I-go-to-church mentality is a denial of Christ. When the hard times come, you will fall away if you are not a diligent follower of Jesus BEFORE hard times come. Those whom He will “acknowledge” before his Father are those who seriously love and follow Him . . . today. Once he re-invades his realm to set up his government, it will be too late to declare your loyalty. He given everyone an opportunity to recognize his reign on this side of His second coming. He is right at the door and is sending people to warn and call you.
Be careful before you reject someone who tries to reach out to you in the name of the Lord. Seek to understand that the reason the person is reaching out to you is because someone reached out to him or her, or because that person knows and loves you. God’s desire is for you to know him. Those who are his love what he loves and care about the people and values HE cares about.
The spiritual veil that covers our eyes can only be removed by the grace of Christ through someone who cares enough to bring the truth of the Good News, despite what it may cost them. Receive that person as an honored envoy of the “King of Kings.” In the following text, the King—Jesus—speaks to the crowd:
Matthew 10:40–42 (ESV)
40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
If you treat God’s royal envoy with honor and dignity, rather than disdain, then Christ guarantees your reward. Even if you give someone who comes in the name of the Lord a drink of water–because he or she represents Jesus–you will not lose your reward. How much greater reward if you give Jesus your heart and life.
If you have not chosen to follow with all your heart yet, I implore you to invite him to be your King today.
QUESTION: Are you prepared for the end? Are you Christ’s disciple or the world’s?
©2012, David C Alves
*All Scripture unless otherwise stated is from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible published by Crossway.