The Sign of a True Apostle Print E-mail
THE SIGN OF a TRUE APOSTLE (Itīs Not What You Think)
by J. Lee Grady

What are the characteristics of a true apostle?

A few years ago I heard a preacher tell a room full of ministers that they
couldnīt work miracles or exercise apostolic authority unless they used the
word apostle as a title. So some of them ran out and printed new business
cards-as if putting the word in front of their names was the magic ticket to
reclaiming New Testament power.

That was a bad idea. For the past 15 years or more, thousands of people have
been wounded and countless churches have nosedived because immature leaders
thought they could gain apostolic status the easy way. We are so eager to
qualify ourselves that we forget God alone calls, prepares and sends true

The late Arthur Katz, who was a prophetic voice to our movement for many
years, wrote in his 1999 book Apostolic Foundations that nobody should be
eager to step into an apostolic assignment or to treat such a task
flippantly. "God is jealous over the word apostolic,"
Katz wrote. "It is a word that has fallen into disuse and needs to be
restored, and that restoration is not going to be cheap."

We are so carnal, so power hungry and so enamored with status and position
that we donīt have a clue what apostolic ministry really is. Most
charismatics think it is about authority, and many men who claim to be
apostles build top-down pyramid structures that abuse people. Others think
apostolic leaders are marked primarily by sensational miracles. Yet I see
something we have entirely missed when I look at the life of the apostle

Paul told the Thessalonians that love is the true hallmark of any person who
is sent on an apostolic mission. Therefore, if we want apostolic power or
authority (which we should), it must flow through apostolic love or it is a
counterfeit. This apostolic love can be described in four ways:

1. It is incarnational. Paul brought the gospel to the Thessalonians and
lived among them. He did not just drop in, preach a good sermon and leave.
He said, "We were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God
but also our own lives" (1 Thess. 2:8, NASB, emphasis added). Just as Jesus
came to this earth, lived among us and died for us, true apostles give it
all. If all an "apostle"
does is preach a good message, he is a poor substitute for the real thing.
(And if he also spends more time taking up offerings for himself, he is a
hireling or a con artist.)

2. It is sacrificial. Paul risked his neck in Thessalonica, and then he told
his followers that he would "suffer affliction" from his persecutors (1
Thess. 3:4). But he loved them so much that he prayed for them continually,
and he longed to visit them again even though he knew it would be risky. He
never mentions money.
In fact, when he was with the Thessalonian church, he worked night and day
"so as not to be a burden to any of [them]" (1 Thess.
2:9). That flies in the face of modern apostles who charge $1,000 an hour
for their consulting fees.

3. It is relational. The word brethren appears in 1 Thessalonians
17 times. Thatīs because Paul viewed the church as the family of God. He saw
himself in the role of a gentle, nursing mother
(1 Thess. 2:7) as well as a strong father (v. 11). Paulīs affection is so
thick and so slobbery that it drips off the page of his letter.
He says the members of the church "have become very dear" to them (v. 8) and
that they "also long to see [them]" (3:6). Itīs no surprise that he ends the
epistle by exhorting the people to greet one another with "a holy kiss"

What has happened to this kind of holy affection in todayīs church?
Why are we so disconnected? We have replaced deep relationships with cold
professionalism. Many pastors have not been properly fathered, so they donīt
know how to love-nor do they have close friends. So we cover our dysfunction
with busyness. We work, work, work-while sterile, loveless congregations
struggle to grow.
We use gimmicks and programs to get people in seats because our love is not
warm enough to attract people to Jesus.

4. It is confrontational. Paul was not seeker-sensitive. He did not hesitate
to confront sin. He gave the Thessalonians one of the most frank, forthright
sermons on sexual sin ever written (1 Thess.
4:1-8). But he confronted them as a loving father by emploring them to stay
within their God-given boundaries. He didnīt use anger, manipulation,
domination or threats. He led with strong, apostolic love.

I believe God wants to pour out a new wave of apostolic power on our
generation. But we canīt be trusted with this anointing if we refuse to grow
up. We will have the maturity to use the word apostolic when we learn to
walk in the love that was modeled by the first apostles.

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