The Apostles Who Don’t Do Anything

by Cameron Buettel and Jeremiah Johnson (original source here)

It is not new, and it is not a reformation. – John MacArthur on the New Apostolic Reformation

What should we think of self-styled apostles who meet none of the biblical standards for apostleship? They make much of the gift of prophecy but lack the prophetic ability to identify charlatans and phonies in their own midst. They can’t perform apostolic-quality miracles and healings, and their message sounds nothing like what the original apostles preached. The truth is that they don’t do anything that would qualify as “apostolic” by any biblical standard.

Who are these apostles?

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a movement pioneered by C. Peter Wagner. This is what charismatic and continuationist doctrine looks like when taken to its logical conclusion. The NAR claims that not only the gifts, but also the office of apostleship still continues today. And as apostles, they pretend to speak for God and wield His divine authority—but it is all merely a pretense.

What is the rationale behind this movement? According to Wagner, God’s people can only ever return to pure Christianity, as seen in the early church, if they “recognize, accept, receive, and minister in all the spiritual gifts, including the gift of apostle.” [1]
Why do we suggest their apostleship is a sham? According to the New Testament, an apostle had to be:

* A physical eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:7–8).

* Appointed by the Lord (Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2; 10:41; Galatians 1:1).

* Able to authenticate his apostleship with miraculous signs (Matthew 10:1; Acts 2:43; 5:12; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3–4).

Undaunted by those biblical requirements, Wagner’s own apostleship was confirmed under somewhat different circumstances. In 1995 two women prophesied that he had received an apostolic anointing. A second prophecy was given in Dallas in 1998 during a bizarre ceremony that Wagner now considers his ordination. [2]

But the “proof” of Wagner’s apostleship came in 2001, in the form of an apostolic decree that God supposedly gave him to pronounce the end of mad cow disease in Europe. [3] Never mind that nearly ten years later, doctors and veterinarians were still diagnosing the disease in people and animals throughout Europe.

Wagner is unperturbed by those failures and shortcomings. Instead, he sees his ordination as the dawning of a new apostolic age. In the foreword of Ted Haggard’s The Life-Giving Church, Wagner wrote:

The New Apostolic Reformation is an extraordinary work of God that began at the close of the twentieth century and continues on. It is, to a significant extent, changing the shape of the Protestant world. [4]

Wagner even goes so far as to describe this era as “The Second Apostolic Age.” His “studies indicate that it began around the year 2001,” although he doesn’t bother to explain or define what those studies were. [5]

In this new age of apostles, several apostolic networks have been established. Wagner’s is called the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA). Its website contains a global map to help locate the apostles in your part of the world. According to the network, there are more than 150 apostles in the U.S. alone.

ICA claims the NAR is “heralding the most radical change in the way church is done since the Protestant Reformation.” On the same webpage Wagner defines an apostle as a

Christian leader who is gifted, taught, and commissioned by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the Church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

But who determines when God has commissioned someone? How does one become an apostle?

Actually, it’s not too different from joining a country club. According to the ICA website, the aspiring apostle must be nominated by two existing apostles who can show that he meets the ICA’s criteria. There are some fees, too.

The pricing table for apostleship is curious. The ICA charges an annual $450 fee to be an apostle. However, Native Americans receive a $100 discount. There’s also a couple’s rate of $650, just in case your wife also happens to be an apostle. And you want to stay on top of your dues, because failure to renew your membership on time results in a “deactivated” apostleship—it’s not clear if that includes the deactivation of any spiritual gifts as well. All is not lost, however—a deactivated apostle can be reactivated for an extra $50.

Put simply, becoming an apostle with the ICA is only slightly more difficult (and expensive) than purchasing a season pass to Disneyland.

That’s a staggeringly low bar for apostolic authority—particularly when that authority includes speaking on behalf of Almighty God. People believe in Wagner’s apostleship simply because he had the temerity to claim it. But you won’t find delusions of grandeur and audacious whimsy in the list of biblical requirements for apostles.

What is truly frightening is that Wagner is not an anomaly. The charismatic movement is overrun with modern apostles like Wagner. Some of its most influential leaders have claimed similar apostolic authority for themselves, dismissing the biblical standards and usurping authority the Lord exclusively bestowed on the founders of the church. Just a simple reading of the book of Acts is enough to illustrate how impotent and unfit these modern apostles are, and how their fanciful assertions have perverted and distorted the office of apostle beyond recognition.

And they are impotent. As we’ll see next time, these modern apostles fall far short of the ministries of the New Testament apostles. Forget signs and wonders—these guys aren’t even capable of basic discernment.

For a fuller treatment of the subject, here’s an article by Bob DeWaay http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue103.htm

Have the Apostolic Gifts Ceased? A Biblical Appraisal

Phil Johnson: Have the Apostolic Gifts Ceased? A Biblical Appraisal

Related Teachings:

Phil Johnson: Is There a Baby in the Charismatic Bathwater?

Phil Johnson: Providence Is Remarkable

The Deaths of the Twelve Apostles

Sorting through the conflicting legends on this theme is a difficult task but there are many things we know for sure as this article by C Michael Patton explains.

Apostles Today?

Nathan Busenitz serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles. In he writes:

Benny_Rod_Joel_2Are there apostles in the church today?

Just ask your average fan of TBN, many of whom consider popular televangelists like Benny Hinn, Rod Parsley, and Joel Osteen to be apostles. (Here’s one such example [see page 22].)

Or, you could ask folks like Ron, Dennis, Gerald, Arsenio, Oscar, or Joanne. They not only believe in modern-day apostleship, they assert themselves to be apostles.

A quick Google search reveals that self-proclaimed apostles abound online. Armed with a charismatic pneumatology and often an air of spiritual ambition, they put themselves on par with the earliest leaders of the church.

So what are Bible-believing Christians to think about all of this?

Well, that brings us back to the title of our post:

Are there still apostles in the church today?

At the outset, we should note that by “apostles” we do not simply mean “sent ones” in the general sense. Rather, we are speaking of those select individuals directly appointed and authorized by Jesus Christ to be His immediate representatives on earth. In this sense, we are speaking of “capital A” apostles – such as the Twelve and the apostle Paul.

It is these type of “apostles” that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2:20; 3:5); 4:11 and in 1 Corinthians 12:29–30. This is important because, especially in Ephesians 4 and in 1 Corinthians 12–14, Paul references apostleship within the context of the charismatic gifts. If “apostleship” has ceased, it gives us grounds to consider the possibility that other offices/gifts have ceased as well. If the apostles were unique, and the period in which they ministered was unique, then it follows that the gifts that characterized the apostolic age were also unique.

The question then is an important one, underscoring the basic principle of the cessationist paradigm – namely, the uniqueness of the apostolic age and the subsequent cessation of certain aspects of that age.

There are at least five reasons why we believe there are no longer any apostles in the church today (and in fact have not been since the death of the apostle John).

1. The Qualifications Necessary for Apostleship

First, and perhaps most basically, the qualifications necessary for apostleship preclude contemporary Christians from filling the apostolic office.

In order to be an apostle, one had to meet at least three necessary qualifications: (1) an apostle had to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22; 10:39–41; 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:7–8); (2) an apostle had to be directly appointed by Jesus Christ (Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2, 24; 10:41; Gal. 1:1); and (3) an apostle had to be able to confirm his mission and message with miraculous signs (Matt. 10:1–2; Acts 1:5–8; 2:43; 4:33; 5:12; 8:14; 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3–4). We might also note that, in choosing Matthias as a replacement for Judas, the eleven also looked for someone who had accompanied Jesus throughout His entire earthly ministry (Acts 1:21–22; 10:39–41).

Based on these qualifications alone, many continuationists agree that there are no apostles in the church today. Thus, Wayne Grudem (a continuationist) notes in his Systematic Theology, “It seems that no apostles were appointed after Paul, and certainly, since no one today can meet the qualification of having seen the risen Christ with his own eyes, there are no apostles today” (p. 911).

2. The Uniqueness of Paul’s Apostleship

But what about the apostle Paul?

Some have contended that, in the same way that Paul was an apostle, there might still be apostles in the church today. But this ignores the uniqueness with which Paul viewed his own apostleship. Paul’s situation was not the norm, as he himself explains in 1 Corinthians 15:8-9. He saw himself as a one-of-a-kind anomaly, openly calling himself “the last” and “the least” of the apostles. To cite from Grudem again: Continue reading

Does my Church need to be under an Apostle?

Pastor John, “is the Church in which you are a member under an Apostle?” He said that if it was not, it was not a legitimate Church and he would strongly urge me to leave my present Church and instead find one that looks to a present day Apostle as its head. What should I do with all this?

Thanks for your question. It sounds very much as if you are dealing with a teaching that was promoted some decades ago (the 70’s and early 80’s) in the USA by what was called the Shepherding Movement. There were five main men at the helm, Charles Simpson, Bob Mumford, Don Basham, Derek Prince and Ern Baxter. Judging by the question posed to you, this false teaching seems to be re-emerging here. It is also worth noting that this line of thought concerning present day Apostles is also propagated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) and is central to their faith.

The passage usually quoted to support the concept of each local Church being under an apostle is Ephesians 2:19-21. Here we read, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” (ESV)

Here we see that the household of God (the Church) is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. That much is clear. But what exactly does this mean?

To answer that question we need to engage in sound exegesis, drawing out of the text what is actually taught by the text. Failure to do this results in just the kind of false teaching that your questioner is espousing. It is a doctrine that puts people (and Churches) in religious bondage.

So what does the text actually teach? The first thing we should do is look at the context. We should note that the key phrase “built on the foundation of apostles and prophets” is immediately followed by words that shed light on its meaning. Here’s what I mean.

The church is built on a foundation. The word “built” is a translation of the Greek participle epoikodomethentes, which, properly syntaxed should be translated “having been built.” In koine Greek (the language of the New Testament), this is what is known as an aorist passive participle. It refers to an action in the past; something that has already taken place, or completed. Understanding this is vital if we are to interpret the text correctly. To teach the doctrine that we must continue to build the foundation of apostles and prophets in our day is to misunderstand and misinterpret the text.

I once heard a Bible teacher suggest that God’s primary means of communicating His message were the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New. He made the application that the text in Ephesians 2 was a reference to this – that the apostles in the New as well as the prophets in the Old, laid the foundation for the people of God (the household of God) pointing to Jesus Christ as the ultimate foundation of all. This interpretation certainly does make a great deal of sense.

Looking further, when we check the greater context (the rest of the New Testament), we see that it is Jesus Christ Himself who is identified as the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). The Church is built upon this foundation (Jesus Himself) and is continually growing into an “holy temple in the Lord” (v. 21).

This is what is clear. The foundation has already been laid. Think about that and then ask the question, “how many times does a foundation need to be laid?” I think the answer is quite obvious. Just once! In this passage Paul is referring to something other than a continuing office of apostles and prophets.

One more look at the original text. When we examine the phrase “of the apostles and prophets” we find that it is a genitive construction that can easily give the sense that the foundation of the apostles and prophets is Jesus Christ Himself. This idea would certainly be consistent with Paul’s use of the word foundation (the Greek word themelios) in his other writings.

The Ephesians 2:19-21 in no way teaches that each local assembly of Christians needs to have a living Apostle over it in order to be a legitimate Church. That is not something taught by the text in any way at all.

You ask me what I should do with all this? My answer would be, have nothing to do with it. Continue on your Christian life as if this question was never asked of you. Forget it… and continue to be a faithful member of your local gospel preaching Bible Church, pray for your local elders, and get behind the vision with your time, talents and treasure (finances).

The Apostolic Preaching of the Gospel

God’s love for the world was demonstrated by the giving of His Son so that all who believe in Him will in no way perish, but instead, have everlasting life.

The majority of American evangelism is reduced to “God Loves You and has a wonderful plan for your life.” But was the love of God even part of the Gospel that the Apostles preached in the Book of Acts?

What was the emphasis in the evangelistic preaching of the Apostles as recorded in the book of Acts? Does the record of Acts support the notion that the central focus of Christianity is one’s love relationship with God and personal life enhancement? Or did these disciples of Christ focus on something else?

The list below includes every instance of evangelistic preaching in the book of Acts, a summary of content, and an analysis of emphasis (©1999 Gregory Koukl. Reproduction permitted for non-commercial use only. For more information, contact Stand to Reason at 1438 East 33rd St., Signal Hill, CA 90755
(800) 2-REASON (562) 595-7333).

1. Pentecost, Acts 2:14-39
Peter notes the manifestations of the Holy Spirit that all had been witnessing, then ties them to the fulfillment of prophecy of Joel about the last days. He then preaches Jesus as the Messiah–attested to by miracles and by the resurrection which was prophesied by David–and the guilt of the crowd for the crucifixion.

The emphasis is on forgiveness of sin by Jesus the Messiah. There is no mention of God’s love or a relationship with Him.

2. Peter at the Gate Beautiful, Acts 3:12-26
After Peter and John healed a man lame from birth, Peter placed the blame for Jesus’ death on the shoulders of the listeners. He then appealed to fulfilled prophecy and told them either to believe and return and thus receive forgiveness and times of refreshing, or be destroyed.

The emphasis is on forgiveness of sin by Jesus the Messiah. There is no mention of God’s love or a relationship with Him.

3. Peter before the High Priest, Acts 4:8-12
Peter attributes the healing of the man lame from birth to Jesus the Messiah, whom the Jews had crucified, but whom God had raised from the dead. He quotes prophecy and says there is no other means of salvation but through Jesus. Peter then refuses to be silent about the Gospel.

The emphasis is on forgiveness of sin by Jesus the Messiah. There is no mention of God’s love or a relationship with him.

4. Peter’s Defense a Second Time before the Council, Acts 5:29-32
Peter proclaims the resurrected Christ as Prince and Savior who brings forgiveness of sin and gives the gift of the Holy Spirit. He accuses the Council of putting Jesus to death. They are so infuriated they want to kill the Apostles. Instead, on the advice of Gamaliel, the believers are flogged and released.

There is no mention of God’s love or any kind of tender relationship with Him.

5. Stephen’s Defense before the Council, Acts 7:1-60
Stephen recounts the history of the Jews in which they constantly rebel, rejecting God’s deliverer. He accuses the Jews of being stiff-necked, resisting the Holy Spirit just as their forefathers had. He accuses them also of betraying and murdering the Righteous One, the Messiah. They are so filled with rage they murder him.

Emphasis is on the guilt of the Jews. There is no mention of God’s love.

[Note: When God speaks to Saul about his future during the events surrounding Saul’s conversion (Acts 9), there is no mention of an intimate relationship, only that Paul would suffer much for the sake of Christ.]

6. Peter’s Message to the Household of Cornelius, Acts 10:34-43
Peter talks of the ministry of Jesus, His miracles, death on the cross, and resurrection. Peter tells the Gentiles it is his job to solemnly testify that Jesus is the One appointed by God to judge the world, that Jesus’ coming was prophesied, and that belief in Him brings forgiveness of sin.

The emphasis is on Jesus, the prophesied Messiah who either brings judgment or forgives of sin. There is no mention of God’s love.

7. Paul’s Message to the Jews in the Synagogue at Pisidian Antioch, Acts 13:16-41
Paul preaches Jesus as the anticipated Savior, affirmed by John the Baptist, crucified by the Jews, who rose from the dead in fulfillment of prophesy. Paul then proclaims forgiveness of sin and freedom from the Law for all who believe.

Paul proclaims Jesus the prophesied Messiah crucified and resurrected. His emphasis is on forgiveness amidst warning.

8. Paul at the Areopagus in Athens, Acts 17:22-31
Paul discloses the nature of the “unknown God,” One who is responsible for all creation, and in whom we all depend for our very existence. He calls all men to repent, because God has appointed a judge, a man who has risen from the dead.

Emphasis is on the nature of God, and the reality of judgment. There is no mention of relationship or God’s love.

9. Paul’s Defense before the Jews in Jerusalem, Acts 22:1-21
Paul gives his testimony, detailing his persecution of Christians motivated by his zeal toward God, his conversion on the road to Damascus, and how his sins were washed away in Jesus’ name. When he mentions his mission to the Gentiles, however, the Jews protested violently.

Emphasis is on Paul’s personal encounter with Christ, his own forgiveness from sin, and his subsequent mission. There is no offer of personal relationship with God or mention of God’s love.

10. Paul’s Defense before the Sanhedrin, Acts 23:1-6
Paul says he is on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead. There is no mention of the love of God.

11. Paul’s Defense before the governor, Felix, Acts 24:10-21
Paul establishes his innocence regarding the Jews’ charges, then affirms the Law and the Prophets and the general resurrection of both righteous and wicked, a belief for which he says he is on trial.

There is no mention of God’s love or even of forgiveness.

12. Paul before Felix and Drusilla, Acts 24:24-25
Paul speaks of righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come which frightens Felix who then sends Paul away. There is no mention of God’s love or of a personal relationship with Him.

13. Paul’s Defense before the Agrippa, Acts 26:1-29
Paul gives his testimony, noting the importance of the resurrection. He tells of the commission Jesus had given him, proclaiming the Gospel with a goal of deliverance from Satanic darkness to receiving forgiveness and an inheritance from God. Paul claims his message is the same as the prophets regarding the Messiah’s suffering and resurrection.

Emphasis is on the resurrection of Christ, prophetic fulfillment and forgiveness, and Paul’s responsibility to preach the Gospel. There is no mention of love or a relationship with God.

The love of God is never mentioned a single time in the entire book of Acts.

Concerning this, Steven Langella observed, “What we do see is God’s love continually mentioned over and over in the epistles, letters written to Christians. But we really do not see it in any of the evangelistic outreaches of the apostles. Yet most gospel messages today are nothing but “God loves you,” with no mention of judgment, repentance, the work of Christ on the cross, etc… Just do your own survey. Stand on any street corner in your city and ask 50 people what they think about God. I am sure that the majority will say “God is a loving God”. The love of God has been elevated above all the other attributes of God. People will be quick to tell you “God is love”. But the Bible also says “God is Holy”. In fact the bible never says God is “Love, Love, Love.” But it does say God is “Holy, Holy, Holy”.

So what am I saying? To not speak of God’s love? Not at all, but to ONLY Speak of God’s love is doing a great injustice to the Gospel. I believe we need to preach the love of God which is displayed through His Son Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the Cross.”

Paul and the Pagan Poets

From virginiahuguenot.blogspot.com

There are interesting passages in the New Testament that demonstrate the Apostle Paul’s willingness to employ verses from pagan poetry to speak Biblical truth. There may be others; some trace 1 Timothy 5.4 to a line from Terence (195/185–159 BC), Andria IV. Be that as it may, it is clear that Paul was learned in pagan poetry, and found good uses for it, even apart from the idolatrous intentions of the poets themselves. Without adopting the whole false system of belief represented by the sources he quoted, Paul with discernment and for godly purposes, was able, because of his familiarity with pagan poems, to find the good within and bring it to light to God’s glory.

Acts 17.28: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

This verse spoken during his famous speech at Mars Hill in Athens shows the apologetic use that such acquaintance with pagan poetry can provide. The first quote seems derived from a work on Crete by Epimenides in which he rebukes the Cretians for building a tomb to Zeus, whom he believed to be immortal.

Epimenides (6th century BC), Cretica:

They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one—
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever,
For in thee we live and move and have our being.

Paul also may have in mind Cleanthes, who said something similar.

Cleanthes (c. 330 BC – c. 230 BC), Hymn to Zeus:

Most glorious of the immortals, invoked by many names, ever all-powerful,
Zeus, the First Cause of Nature, who rules all things with Law,
Hail! It is right for mortals to call upon you,
since from you we have our being, we whose lot it is to be God’s image,
we alone of all mortal creatures that live and move upon the earth.

The latter quote seems to come from a work by Aratus again in praise of Zeus.

Aratus (c. 315 BC/310 BC – 240 BC), Phaenomena 1-5:

From Zeus let us begin; him do we mortals never leave unnamed;
full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men;
full is the sea and the havens thereof;
always we all have need of Zeus.
For we are also his offspring;

It is interesting to see how Paul borrowed expressions intended to glorify a false God, which his hearers would have recognized, and applied them to the true God. Eusebius records (Preparation for the Gospel 13.12) how Aristobulus of Paneas, a Jewish philosopher (c. 160 BC) had similarly quoted from the same beginning lines of Aratus, Phaenomena, but to demonstrate that the praise of Zeus was rightly given to God instead. Aristobulus thus: ‘It is clearly shown, I think, that all things are pervaded by the power of God: and this I have properly represented by taking away the name of Zeus which runs through the poems; for it is to God that their thought is sent up, and for that reason I have so expressed it.’ The apologetic purpose of Paul — and Aristobulus — thus finds truth in a pagan poem and employs it for godly ends.

1 Cor. 15.32-33: If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

The phrase “let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die” may be an allusion to both Isa. 22.13 and Eccl. 8.15. However, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Paul may have had in mind the philosophy of Epicurus (341 BC – 270 BC), who put forth a similar view of life.

The phrase “evil communications corrupt good manners” is apparently a direct quote from either Menander or Euripides (John Milton attributes it to Euripides in the preface to his Samson Agonistes). Paul thus bears witness to the maxim of a heathen poet.

Menander (ca. 342–291 BC), Thais: Bad company corrupts good character.

Euripides (c. 480 BC – 406 BC) (fr. 609): Evil communications corrupt good manners.

Titus 1.12-13a: One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true.

The quotation here seems to be from Epimenides, cited already above, or perhaps from Callimachus. Again, Paul shows his extensive knowledge of pagan poetry, and selectively quotes as appropriate to demonstrate a true statement found within an idolatrous poem.

Callimachus (310/305–240 BC), Hymn I. To Zeus: “Cretans are ever liars.”

The Apostle Paul by these examples shows that indeed, as I have noted before, “all truth is God’s truth,” wherever we may find it. The words of Charles Spurgeon on this point are worth heeding.

Charles Spurgeon, Exposition of 1 Corinthians 15:

“Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.” Oh! wicked Paul! to quote from a heathen poet! How disgraceful. If I were to repeat a verse, and it looked as if Shakespere or any profane author ever wrote such a thing, how criminal! say you. But I like good things wherever I find them. I have often quoted from the devil, and I dare say I shall often quote from his people. Paul quoted this from Meander, and another heathen poet, who wrote far worse things than have been written by modern poets, and if any of us who may have stored our minds with the contents of books we wish we had never read, and if there be some choice gems in them which may be used for the service of God, by his help we will so use them.

Apostleship in the New Testament

What are we to do with ministers in our day who say they are apostles? Many are simply self professed men seeking to draw disciples after themselves and whose doctrine is highly problematic at best, completely heretical. These men are not merely false apostles, but perhaps even false disciples of Christ.

But what of the people who seem to be, from all outward appearances anyway, “sane” individuals – Christian ministers who have excellent and sound theology but still insist that there are apostles today and.. wait for it.. actually believe they are apostles themselves?

I am thinking of men like C.J. Mahaney (of Sovereign Grace Ministries) in the USA and of Terry Virgo (of New Frontiers Ministries) in the United Kingdom. These are highly respected men who have served the cause of Christ faithfully for decades and have established a huge network of pastors and churches under them who look to them for leadership and guidance, both locally in their home nation and overseas.

What do we do with these men? I have to admit that my initial impulse was to reject completely the idea of apostles being alive today. However, I have enough respect for these men to at least allow them to define what they mean when they use the term. Therefore, I think the first thing we need to do is take a deep breath and allow them to explain themselves.

After hearing their explanation, I have to say that I became a good deal more comfortable. I do not believe they are using the term “apostle” in the same extreme way that others do who make the claim, but are actually seeking to be biblical.

I must say right up front that I am not personally “under” either one of these men or look to either of them as “my apostle.” Though I have met both of these men, I feel fairly sure they would not remember meeting me. On both occasions, as I recall, I had only brief discussions with them. I have no cause or agenda here to seek to promote either their ministries or their idea; I simply wish to try to understand their position biblically. Here are some words from blog posts made by Terry Virgo on the subject:

I believe that when Jesus ascended he gave gifts to his church. Exalted to the right hand of God, he received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out not only the Pentecostal blessing described in Acts 2:33 but also gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11) to help equip his church and bring it to maturity.

These variously named gifts obviously differ in their function and relevance. It doesn’t say ‘he ascended and gave priests’ or ‘he ascended and gave clergymen’. He gave diverse and distinct gifts. The evangelist differs from the prophet. The apostle differs from the pastor. Otherwise these titles are redundant – a waste of space.

If the inspired Scriptures distinguish between varieties of ministries and clearly imply that we need this diversity of gifting to bring about God’s ultimate intention, why do so many Bible-believing Christians and churches ignore the obvious implications?

For instance, the apostles of the New Testament had a distinct task from the evangelists or pastors, and it wasn’t, as so many of our evangelical brothers suggest, simply to write Scriptures! The apostle Barnabas (Acts 14:14) wrote no Scripture nor did most of the Twelve, while Luke, nowhere described as an apostle, wrote much of the New Testament. Continue reading