Apostolic Definition For Effective Ministry
Apostolic definition comes from Apostle Paul's teachings in Ephesians 4:11 with some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers.
These five fold gifts are all called to equip the saints for the work of ministry and for the edifying of the body of Christ. This is part of the apostolic definition. Let's review seven steps to effective apostolic ministry.
First, we must understand that man cannot save himself. We live in the world that teaches we don’t need the God of the Bible. Secular humanists, for example, have educated people to believe they are gods and capable of finding their own way through life.
The sad conclusion of this doctrine is a complete moral collapse, outright corruption, lack of identity, direction, and purpose. The only salvation for humanity is Christ. Jesus said, “Come to me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus is still looking for disciples that will take his Gospel into the harvest fields. Unfortunately, we have a problem. churches around the world have become ineffectual in reaching the lost and unchurched. Our model of ministry, "draw people to a building with every gimmick you can think of," is not working. We need a better way, a New Testament way, an apostolic definition, an apostolic way.
Christ will return for a glorious Church that has cleared away the humanistic dross and rediscovered God’s definition for effective ministry. Ministry leaders are struggling with falling church attendance, apathy, and lukewarmness in their congregations and the lack of spiritual fervor. If we want something different, then we must do something different. We need a new model of ministry. Current church models do everything they can to draw people to their buildings to attend services. That "church model" only produces a group of people shuffled from one church to the next. No new converts.
Apostolic ministry gifts bring structure, apostolic definition, and order to the Church (Titus 1:5). We cannot expect change by doing the same thing this year that did not work the year before. To reach our cities for Christ, apostolic tactics are needed. Building apostolic teams and companies of sent ones from Antioch model ministries is one of those tactics (see Acts 13).
Instead of expecting the lost to attend our churches on their own accord we must go out and get them. This is how Christ, the founder of the Church, taught his disciples. Jesus said, “Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). We must learn how to compel the unchurched to come into God’s house. This is the New Testament model for church growth, go get them.
If we are going to see the glorious church revealed, then we need to change the way we reach our cities with the Gospel (Ephesians 5:27). That's why we need to understand the apostolic definition. Apostolic churches are modeling a different pattern for ministry. Instead of doing everything possible to attract people to a church building they are training various harvest teams to invade their communities. This type of ministry requires organizing apostolic teams and companies. Forming apostolic teams and companies is one part of the new apostolic church revolution. Let’s learn how the Apostle Paul built an apostolic team.
PAUL’S APOSTOLIC TEAM
The Apostle Paul showed us how he built an apostolic company by finding disciples, laying hands on them to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, spiritual impartation, modeling boldness, forbidding prejudice and showcasing deliverance ministry. We can find his example in the following scripture.
“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus and finding certain disciples said to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said to them, To what then were ye baptized? And they said, To John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:1-5).
STEP ONE: GATHER DISCIPLES
Apostles don’t work alone. Jesus didn’t send them out alone and neither should we. He sent them out two and two (Mark 6:7). They have an anointing to gather disciples and put them to work as a team. Paul’s first step, when he entered the city of Ephesus, was gathering disciples. He didn’t have many to begin with, only twelve are mentioned. From these twelve he formed an apostolic revolutionary team that built one of the greatest churches in history, the Ephesus church.
Gathering disciples was putting “first things first.” A true disciple (Greek mathetes) of Christ is not simply a born again believer. A true disciple is a person that lives according to the Word of God to the best of their ability. Jesus described a disciple as one who “abides in His Word” (John 8:31). Disciples love the Word, are lifelong students, doers of the Word, and are spiritually hungry and remain teachable (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:22). They know the Word of God and the ways of God. There are many believers, but few disciples. Notice Paul asked these disciples if they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed in Christ. Their response was revealing. They said they had never heard of a baptism of the Holy Ghost.
At this point in Paul’s life, he is a seasoned apostle. Many years passed since being sent out of Antioch. Because of the warfare against his life and ministry, he knew that these disciples had to be filled with the Holy Ghost. When Jesus formed His revolutionary team right before His ascension into heaven, he directed them to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit. “But you will receive power after the Holy Ghost comes on you and you will be witnesses to me” (Acts 1:8). Notice Jesus said you would receive power after and not before. Apostles never ignore the spiritual condition of their team members. Team members need the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues and prophecy. “And when Paul laid his hands on them the Holy Ghost came on them and they spake with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6).
STEP TWO: BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY GHOST
Second, Paul laid his hands on these disciples and prayed that they might be baptized with the Holy Ghost. This is the New Testament biblical pattern for building apostolic teams. Apostolic team members should be filled with the Holy Ghost to be effective in ministry. Remember, we are rediscovering the Apostle Paul’s apostolic model. This is it. There is no way to handle the extreme pressure and opposition to the Gospel without Jesus’ dunamis power to witness, the Holy Spirit himself. Not only does the Holy Spirit give you power, but He is also your spiritual teacher.
There are many references to the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Word of God. After Jesus’ resurrection, he commanded his disciples not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father. Jesus had spoken of this same promise when he said, “If you love me keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter that he may remain with you forever even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it seeth him not neither knoweth him: but you know him for he dwelleth with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17).
Jesus declared, “For John truly baptized with water but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days from now.” Jesus also assured them that they would “receive power after the Holy Ghost came on them and that they would be witnesses to him” (Acts 1:4-8). John the Baptist also prophesied of this great baptism. “I indeed baptize you with water to repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I whose shoes I am not worthy to bear he will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).
Then that precious day came. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come they were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4). The Apostle Peter was also in the Upper Room that day and was filled with Holy Ghost power and spoke with other tongues.
After he had left the building people asked him the same question that is being asked today, “What meaneth this?” Responding, he preached his first Holy Ghost empowered sermon. His message pierced the hearts of the hearers, and they asked, “What must we do?” Peter, who just days before denied the Lord Jesus, answered with great boldness. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you and your children and to all that are afar off even as many as the Lord our God should call” (Acts 2:37-39).
This same baptism of the Holy Spirit is available for you right now. Let’s pray together. Jesus. You are my Lord and my Savior. Lord, I want everything that you have to give me. I want this same precious gift of the Holy Spirit that you poured out on your servants in that upper room. By faith and according to your word, baptize me and fill me right now with your Holy Spirit. I accept your promise by faith. Thank you, Lord.
STEP THREE: LAYING ON OF HANDS AND SPIRITUAL IMPARTATION
Paul modeled his apostolic ministry through the laying on of hands for impartation on those twelve disciples. “And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them and they spake with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). Paul taught his new team the doctrine of the laying on of hands and the power of apostolic impartation. This doctrine originated with Christ (Hebrews 6:2). After he had prayed, there was a release of the Holy Spirit on these believers, and they began to speak in other tongues and prophesy.
Apostolic ministry is a ministry of impartation. Paul said in Romans, “I want to come to you that I might pass on some spiritual gift to the end you may be established” (Romans 1:11). There are many examples of the ministry of the laying on of hands throughout Scripture.
STEP FOUR: MODEL BOLDNESS IN SPIRIT
The next step the Apostle Paul did was to show a bold ability to preach and teach the Gospel to a not so receptive group of religious people for three months.
“And all the men were about twelve. And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus” (Acts 19:7-9).
Grace for spiritual boldness is an apostolic trait. The Apostle Paul trained by example. Here the team gets a chance to hear Paul speaking boldly in the synagogue challenging and swaying the listeners. Apostolic boldness expresses itself during a conflict. Notice too that Paul taught about the Kingdom of God.
Indeed, Paul spoke of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and the atoning blood of Jesus. This Scripture, however, says he spoke boldly about the Kingdom of God. The message of the Kingdom of God is reestablishing the Kingdom of God on earth through Christ’ disciples. In my book Kingdom Living, you will discover what Jesus and his apostles preached. You won’t see this preaching on Christian television.
The Holy Ghost loves boldness. To be bold shows a readiness to take risks and face danger. Not boldness worked up by man’s soul but evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Apostolic grace is visible.
STEP FIVE: FREE OF RACISM AND PREJUDICE
The fifth principle the apostle models are breaking down walls of racism and discrimination. Paul left the church after three months and taught in Tyrannus’ school for two years. This was a multiethnic school with both Jews and Gentiles. Here Paul’s grace flourished and “all of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10).
Paul, taking the pattern from the Antioch church taught the gospel was not for Jews only but also Gentiles. He teaches them to breakthrough walls of cultural separation, prejudice, and racism. It’s unfortunate that people who say they love Christ refuse to worship in multiethnic settings. The apostolic team must guard themselves against partiality, favoritism, and discrimination. Racist people can never enter the new apostolic Church revolution.
STEP SIX: TRAIN IN DELIVERANCE MINISTRY
The sixth step to forming an apostolic company is training in deliverance ministry.
“And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons and the diseases departed from them and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).
Paul was given the opportunity to display the miracle-working power of God and teach the newly formed team about deliverance ministry. Apostles don’t ignore the devil. You cannot build a new apostolic church and ignore enemies in the unseen spirit world.
In the past, some untrained and overzealous people abused the merits of deliverance ministry but that doesn’t mean we should stop helping people. Some try to replace holy living and obedience with excuses for sinful behavior that can often be linked to generational curses, soul ties, and witchcraft. Our apostolic teams, therefore, must train in spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry. Jesus said that “deliverance is the children’s bread” (Matthew 15:22, 26).
Paul trained the members of his church to put on the armor of God and engage spiritual enemies. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Before Jesus sent out his apostolic teams he gave them power against spirits. “He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matthew 10:1). Again, Jesus never taught his apostles to ignore the devil. Jesus didn’t leave them alone and neither should we.
Demonic powers are still saying, “Let us alone; what have we to do with you, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know you who you are; the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Hold thy peace and come out of him” (Luke 4:34-35). A disease is often, not always, directly related to demonic activity as seen in the following Scriptures.
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
“There came also a multitude out of the cities round about to Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one” (Acts 5:16).
Understanding your authority as a disciple in spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry is important to the apostolic team. Spiritual warfare is simply binding and loosing in prayer and attacking on purpose spiritual strongholds of opposition and resistance to the advancement of the Gospel in a territory (Matthew 18:18-20). It is a taking up, in prayer, the authority of the believer that Jesus gave his disciples (Luke 10:17-20). This is all with the understanding that we are not wrestling with people, but with principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
Deliverance ministry and the casting out of demons is the first sign that should follow the believer. “And these signs will follow them that believe; In my name will they cast out devils” (Mark 16:17). An apostolic governing church never substitutes deliverance with counseling. They don’t try to talk out what can only be cast out. This is not to say that they don’t offer to counsel; they do. Apostolic ministry, however, flows in the anointing that sets captives free. There are many different types of prayer in the Word of God, all given for Spirit-life living and the advancement of the Gospel (Ephesians 6:18).
Apostolic teams must prepare to meet strong opposition from Satan and occult influences in society (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Christians cannot continue to avoid spiritual conflict while hiding behind a comfortable and often backslidden condition. To do this ignores the needs of those around them. Opposition, abuse, and resistance are all part of the package. Paul declared, “For a great door and effectual is opened to me and there are many enemies” (1 Corinthians 16:9). The effective advancement of the Gospel always causes a reaction; some are negative.
STEP SEVEN: A SERVANT'S HEART
Apostles train those with servant's hearts. Step seven for forming apostolic teams and companies is the servant’s heart.
“After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus; but he stayed in Asia for a season” (Acts 19:21-22).
Paul completes the apostolic pattern gathering, teaching, training, and sending. He chooses Timothy and Erastus, two of his spiritual sons that ministered to him and sent them on apostolic assignment. Erastus was not only a servant he was a city manager (Romans 16:23). Until you have learned to serve someone else, you can never be a sent one. Minister, from the Greek minus or minor, means one who acts as an inferior agent in obedience or subservience to another and one who serves or officiates in contrast to the master (magnus). The most familiar English word describing a servant is the deacon. Someone once asked, “How do I know if I am a servant?” The answer is, “You find out when you are being treated like one.”
The Holy Spirit is giving us apostolic definition and teaching the importance of apostolic teams and companies. Once we thought of the apostle’s Paul or Peter working alone, but now we know they never worked alone, they formed many teams.
I know that you want to do something great for God with your life. Follow the Apostle Paul’s example and get baptized in the Holy Spirit. He is your teacher who will “lead you and guide you in all truth.” Next, do everything you can to renew your mind with the Word of God. Spiritual maturity is a must and only comes through learning and applying God’s truth to your life. If you don’t think right then, you can’t believe right. As you continue to grow in the Word, learn the ways of the Holy Spirit. Watch what the Holy Spirit likes and dislikes. Then start using the spiritual authority Christ gave you by submitting yourself to God and resisting the devil. Finally, make sure you find a good Bible believing, Holy Spirit anointed church, and join the revolution of righteousness.
(c) Apostle Jonas Clark
p.s. This is a great resource for you Effective Ministries and Believers: Introducing Apostolic Ministry and what it means to you.
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