New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Wednesday, July 31 2002 Volume 02 : Number 132
RE: [NTCP] What are apostles?
Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?
Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?
RE: [NTCP] What are apostles? - What Wolfgang says
[NTCP] new and improved gospel?
Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 18:11:14 +0200
From: "Keith Smith" <castillofuerte * airtel>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Interestingly Jay, I put just the points that you made in an e.mail to one
of these "super apostles" He didn't even answer me, even though we have been
friends for over 20 years!

Keep asking the questions!

Blessings,
Keith


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Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 12:08:06 -0400
From: "Linkh * bigfoot" <Linkh * worldnet.att>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Thanks, John White, for your thought-provoking message.

> It seems to me that because Paul's epistles play such a huge role in our
> written New Testament, we almost unconsciously tend to make him the
dominant
> and solitary focus of the first 40 years of the church. Paul becomes the
> central figure from which we develop most of our theology and practice.
(Oh,
> and, by the way, there were other leaders like Peter and James but we
treat
> them as rather secondary.)

This was something that struck me when I read Watchman Nee's _The Normal
Christian Church Life_ , an influential booik among house church people who believe in
apostles. Nee pointed out that the gift of apostleship in Ephesians 4:11
was given after Christ ascended, and spoke of 'post-ascension apostles.' He
viewed Paul and his team as models of the type of apostleship available
today.

The center point of the early church was Jerusalem and James and
> Peter were at least as important as Paul. Consider how this hermeneutical
> insight might bear on our discussion of apostles.

> 1. "Apostles, by definition, plant churches only in 'new territory'."
> Certainly this would be true of Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles but
what
> about Peter (and perhaps the majority of other apostles on the earth at
that
> time) who was an apostle to the Jews (Gal. 2:8). Who were the Jews and
what
> did it mean to be "an apostle" to them?

Something I've noticed about the term 'apostle' is that, according to
Matthew 10, Jesus started calling the Twelve apostles in connection with
_sending_ them out to the various towns and villages to proclaim that the
kingdom of God was at hand. The verb form related to 'apostle' is also
found in connection with the sending out of the Seventy. I looked over an
Eastern Orthodox forum in which they said that the Seventy were also
considered to be apostles. I seem to recall reading that in some ancient
text. I thought it was Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, but was unable to
find it later in computer format using search commands.

I don't think apostles will always be itinerant, necessarily. Paul even
spent three years in Ephesus, and he may have been one of the most itinerant
apostles in the New Testament.

The Twelve were in Jerusalem, where the Jewish world 'itinerated' in and out
of the city. They could stay there and preach to masses of Jews coming in
and going out. Jews came in for feasts, migrated to Jerusalem, and probably
moved out to be near relatives abroad and/or for economic reasons.
Persecution drove existing Christians out, leaving them with a largely
unevangelized city.

I would think that James and the Twelve had a 'sphere of authority' which
would have included the Jerusalem church. On the day of Pentecost, Peter
preached the Gospel and 3000 were baptized. Later, we see the apostles
proclaimed the Gospel over and over again the temple, doing signs and
wonders, and the church grew. The apostles also delegated themselves out of
certain responsibilities, seeing their work as that of preaching and
teaching.

Maybe the Twelve at first stayed in Jerusalem, and later started travelling
more, using Jerusalem as a home base to return to after ministering to
Judea, Samaria, Antioch, and other regions. I'm partially speculating, but
we do see in the NT that Peter and John went to Samaria. Peter took a trip
to Antioch, and had people who claimed to be 'of Cephas' as far away as
Corinth. The Corinthian 'of Cephas' click might have been Jews from
Jerusalem. The readers were at least familiar enough with Peter and the
Lord's brothers for Paul to mention them in I Corinthians 9. (One tradition
says there were two Cephas'es, one of the 70, who didn't eat with the
Gentiles in Antioch, but that would seem strange if Paul were talking about
the Peter of the Twelve being a pillar verses earlier in Galatians. ) Peter
wrote one letter from 'Babylon.' Some say this was Rome, and others say it
was actually Babylon, where there were probably more Jews than in Jerusalem
at the time.

Jesus had told the apostles to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea,
Samaria, and even unto the uttermost parts of the world. Traditions about
the apostles later lives show John in Ephesus, Peter in Rome, Thomas in
India (though that may have been another Thomas who lived in the 200's) and
other apostles in other parts of the world. So it would seem that the
apostles did travel, maybe not as often as Paul. They just spent a lot of
time in Jerusalem during the period Acts was written.

> Are many of the church goers not in need of renewal? Do they not need to
> hear about genuine New Testament church life (and maybe even hear about
Jesus
> again)? Is there not a need for perhaps thousands of apostles to modern
> church goers? As in the First Century, this may be some of the most
fertile
> ground for planting house churches. Should we overlook this ground
because
> of a perhaps mistaken belief that apostles always must go to "new"
territory?

The Twelve, Paul, and Barnabas were all sent out on preaching missions.
(Well, we don't know exactly what Mattias did, since he was added after the
Twelve went out.) The Twelve in Jerusalem were bearing witness to the fact
that Jesus is the Christ.

Some people are church attenders, following a waterred down, confusing
version of Christianity, and don't know Jesus. Is there room for apostolic
ministry among such people? Maybe. I could see how some might see John
Wesley as a man in apostolic ministry, though he was ministering to a
so-called 'Christian' nation.

I also consider equipping existing saitns for the work of the ministry to be
the work of apostles as well. The twelve went down to a city in Samaria
that had been evangelized by Philip. Peter visited Antioch, and maybe even
Corinth. He didn't start the churches in these places, but he did minister
to them.

A passage that I think is relevant to this issue is the one in II
Corinthians 10 in which Paul explained that the sphere of his groups
authority extended to Corinth, because he had preached the Gospel there, and
that they could extend the sphere of their authority by preaching in the
regions beyond Corinth.

I consider an apostle ministering in an area where he did not start a work
as 'apostolic ministry.' The apostle can use his apostolic gifts to help
churches he did not start. But I don't see where an apostle has a 'sphere
of authority' that comes from being the father of the church, in an
evangelistic sense.

Maybe the principle of the metron of authority applied to Paul in a way it
did not apply to the 12. There were 12 names on the New Jerusalem in
Revelation. Jesus told the apostles that they would sit on 12 thrones
judging the 12 tribes of Israel. Maybe the 12 already had a sphere of
authority in a spiritual sense that extended to the whole church or to the
whole 12 tribes of Israel.

And to clarify, by 'authority' I'm not talking about the apostles lording
over people and making them lick their feet. The greatest is to be the
servant of all. Paul had spiritual _responsibility_ for those under the
sphere of his authority. His authority lay in the revelation that God gave,
not his own opinions. His authority was to build the body up and not to
tear it down.

As far as an apostle planting a work among unbelievers in an area that is
not 'new territory' is concerned. maybe he could have a sphere of authority
there. I just don't see a strong Biblical precedent for this like I do for
the sphere of authority reaching to new regions where the Gospel is
preached.

One of my concerns is that some of the hyped up definitions of 'apostle'
these days--especially in certain Charismatic IC's-- don't take into account
the Biblical teaching of the apostles sphere of authority. Instead of
fathering people in the Gospel, the apostle is seen to be a 'father' in the
sense only of being a mentor. Some who think of apostles as 'church
planters' don't take into consideration that a lot of 'church planting'
these days consists of church rearrangement-- drawing Christians from other
churches into their own. And some of these apostles want to gather existing
congregations underneath them into networks--an apostle over a franchise of
churches. These men expect to tell local church leadership what to do.
I've heard teachings of an 'apostolic covering.' This is one reason I often
emphasize the fact that Paul's authority directly related to his
_evangelistic_ church planting efforts which resulted in new churches in
unreached areas. The false apostles who boasted in the Corinthian church
were boasting foolishly, because they were boasting in other men's labors.
Similarly, some 'apostles' now want to claim authority over existing
congregations which they did not start. The apostles in the Bible worked to
make believers more mature and less dependant. This modern movement seems
to be doing the opposite.

Most house churches don't seem to accept this idea of apostleship. But I have run
across the idea of an 'apostle' being someonee who gathers people who want
to do house church together, and put them on the right 'foundation' with his
teachings. There may be a place for this, but I don't see the apostle as
having the same type of 'measure of rule' in a church like this as a church
planting 'missionary' apostle who brings the Gospel to a new area.

> 2. "Apostles, by definition, never stay in one place. They are always
> traveling." Now an apostle is, by the definition of the word, a "sent
one".
> But Jesus never gave further definition to the specifics of being "sent".
We
> don't know how far they were sent or how long they stayed.

The Twelve probably got their title 'apostles' the day Jesus sent them out
on a journey to teach in towns and villages. We don't know how long that
lasted. A few days, weeks or months, possibly?

But they were also travelled with Jesus, and later were told to go into all
the world.

God bless you,

Link Hudson


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Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 09:50:17 EDT
From: CWOWI * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Hi Link, John, et al,

I'm enjoying the discussion about apostles and would expand briefly on the
point Link made about apostles making believers 'more mature and less
dependent'.

I would first add that 'sent one' is perhaps first and foremost a heavenly
sending, not an earthly one. In other words, before they were sent from
Jerusalem they were sent from heaven, a heavenly commission, and so it is
today. And I might add that this heavenly sending is immediately communicated
by the Spirit to those who can 'pick up' on the anointing on these people.

This heavenly sending has little to do with earthly time or distance...as you
brought out, James went to Jerusalem and stayed...it has to do with sent from
heaven.

I have seen too many 'apostles' (using that term loosely) who wear the title
(as a badge of honor oftentimes) but were never truly sent from Jesus. Like a
man I knew who was hired as a pastor at a nearby church, but there was no
anointing on that man at all. The Lord told me he has the desire to be a
pastor, but he's called to helps. (the church failed some months later) So
too some desire to be what they think an apostle is, but aren't heaven sent.

Therefore many do what Link said...either demanding submission and/or
building a network that is the traditional pyramid (see my article about
'Pyramid Vs God moving in His Gifts' at cwowi)...and that creates people
dependent on the person at the top of the pyramid.

This attribute of a true apostle, maturing believers into disciples and
making them therefore less dependent on man for their personal growth (no
longer tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine) is the single most
important attribute we look for in leaders in CWOW. We are growing so fast
here in Tulsa because of this fact...leaders are free to mature, and
therefore my apostleship is that of a father who observes his children moving
into their purpose and call, guiding from alongside.

I think that the apostle, more than any other gift, has this, if I can call
it, a 'need', deep within to see believers become disciples, and those
disciples to reach maturity. My own measure...and I'm really opening up
here...of my success is the degree to which believers are maturing into
disciples...the discipleship process which only happens through
relationships.

It's what I see in our leaders...they have the same 'need' in their spirits
to see the same...Paul's sharing in I Cor 3 is most telling...he planted,
Apollos watered, but God gives the increase...some of us live for that
increase in the hearts of disciples and it doesn't matter who plants or
waters. (but we aren't content with believers unless they want to become
disciples of Jesus)

Anyway...some early morning thoughts along these lines...could be dangerous
to catch me first thing in the morning with an ongoing discussion along these
lines! Ha!

Blessings,
John


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Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 10:32:29 -0400
From: "Samuel Buick" <aom_canada * hotmail>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] What are apostles? - What Wolfgang says

Hi All:
Perhaps one of the most inspiring and motivating aspects about apostleship
is the refreshing and affirming view expressed by Wolfgang Simpson, who best
articulates what I have understood for a long time. I am so grateful for
Tony Dale posting this on the website at
http://www.house2house/issues/issue4/speaking_prohetic_acting_apostolic-issue4.shtml

Blessings,
Sam
=======================

Speaking Prophetically, Acting Apostolically
Wolfgang Simson

The following is from a talk that Wolfgang Simson; author of Houses That
Change The World, gave in Denver earlier this year. (It needs to be read
with a German accent!)

Thereís a team, which God puts together, which is the five-fold ministry
team. I believe the five-fold ministry of pastors, apostles, prophets,
teachers and evangelists is one of Godís ways of empowering the mass
planting of churches. I mean mass - thousands. Theyíre not supposed to be
hijacked into one single structure, because they are called not to serve one
church but to serve the country or to serve an area.

And what do I mean by apostles and prophets? Maybe with a few sentences I
can explain what I do not mean. I do not mean powerful superstars; top-down
guys who have it all and who answer the question, ìAre you an apostle?î With
the answer, ìI have 150 churches working under me. I am supervising
thousands. I am controlling and top-downing, drowning so many other
churches.î Iím not convinced that this is the way apostolic ministry works.
I really am not.

I see Paul as a weeping father, crying his heart out for Timothy to overtake
him, for Christ to take shape in the nations. I see him broken-hearted -
willing to let everybody walk over him. Thatís why in Ephesians 2:20, the
Bible speaks about these ministries - the apostolic and prophetic- as
foundations. Do like this with your feet, just for the fun of it. (Stomp,
stomp.) Just hit the foundation of this house. Everybody needs it, but
everybody tramples on it. It gives you a good idea about where apostolic and
prophetic ministries belong. This is not a joke. Because in many ways this
is exactly how they were treated and how they will be treated in the future.

Thatís how you will find true apostolic people - usually you can diagnose
them - they have a broken heart. They cry more than anybody else. In their
wildest dreams, they donít think of building a big religious empire with
themselves at the top and the others being grass roots. Would you like to be
grass roots? Who wants to be grass roots? Donít raise your hand because
grass roots sounds like doormat. It is a term invented by people who will
explain laity in a new way too. I believe the apostolic ministries are
mainly the weeping fathers. The meekness of their heart allows them to
inherit the earth. Meekness you canít learn in seminary. Meekness you can
only learn at the feet of Christ. Really, you can only learn it there.

I believe that these people are very ordinary. They are approachable, no
faces, no big names. Very un-intimidating. Letís say un-impressing. The
thing that impresses me so much about Paul is that he is so unimpressive. He
says that about himself. Weak, stumbling, stuttering - writes long letters.
A man you can easily reject. And I think, ìYeah - that is so different from
the people who have it all together. Who are on the top because they deserve
it so much. You know what Iím talking about. But Iím talking about people
who have somehow caught something of the heart of God that Heís given them.
Some specific area they are to work in. I think thatís normal. Thatís what
He is doing around the world. To actually share His apostolic heart with
apostolic people like John Knox. Good man, Presbyterian man. He was a
Christian in Scotland. He prayed this prayer, ìGod, give me Scotland or I
die.î And God gave him Scotland. And then he died.
But I believe the principle here is that the spirit of John Knox is very
much an apostolic spirit. Itís still around, and God gives this passion to
people so that they somehow know what geographical area they would be
willing to die for. Paul defines his own ministry in terms of what I call
apostolic territoriality. 2 Corinthians 10:13 -15 is where Paul describes
his ministry as reaching according to the measure of God up to Corinth. Not
further. So he defines geographically. And Peter worked in Israel, Mark
worked in Egypt. Peter worked on the right hand side of the Mediterranean
area - itís the area that God gave them to lay a foundation and to say, ìI
will not work anywhere else where anybody else has laid the foundation.î

In Egypt, one of my close friends is a guy called Adol Fonsie. He is a
born-again Catholic firebrand who plants churches like nobody else I know.
He talked about all of these things and he said, ìYou know, Wolf, what God
is doing is like moving into a new apartment. The first thing you do is lay
the carpet.î ìRight,î I said. And he said, ìYou know these apostolic and
prophetic ministries are like that? They lay the carpet, and later on you
put in the chairs and all the rest of the furniture. Thatís the way it is
supposed to be. These apostolic and prophetic people are like groundcover,
and everything else kind of sprouts out of it.î Do you understand what this
guy is trying to say?
In my mind there is actually a world map with green and red spots for areas
of countries. Red means there is nobody whom I, small guy, am aware of, who
has an apostolic vision and has said so. There are many people who make bold
statements, but they may not be the apostolic people in the area at all.
They may be paid by an organization to cover the ground and yet actually are
neo imperialists trying to find a country where the organization is not yet
working. They send some worker there and think, that is missions. It is not
- - it is just plain imperialism!

I believe that there are areas of the world which are green. I believe that
what God is doing is preparing some people, men and women, who have a broken
heart - they may be totally unknown, everybody trampling on them - who
actually cry out day and night. We need to find these people and pour oil on
their fire. Then God will give birth to what He has put into them, and all
you have to do is hold their hands. These are people who cover the ground
with their vision. God has given it to them. I could give you the names of
people in these areas.
Then there are areas in the world where, at least to my knowledge, there is
nobody. There may be strong people, well-known people, but not with that
kind of spirit. There is a guy in London who says about himself, that he is
the guy to whom God is giving London. And he wrote a book about how to reach
London and how everybody should join him in reaching London and build a big
church with him at the top. He said this is the way London is going to be
reached. Sounds good! But totally wrong! The church is falling apart as I
speak.

In a way, this is a corrupted version of apostolic ministry. If I were the
devil, what I would do first if genuine apostolic and prophetic ministries
were about to appear, is to throw up a smoke screen. I would throw up false
types, or corrupted types of these ministries and call it the real thing, so
that everybody would be confused when the real thing came. Nobody would
recognize it because converts would be already fooled, the books would be
already written.

Nobody recognizes the apostles when they really walk into the room. They
just donít. Sorry, youíre not impressive. Sorry, youíre not charismatic
enough. Sorry, youíre not mega this or mega that enough. Really, many are
just this ó unassuming people! If I told you about most of these apostolic
people, you would not be impressed; you would probably not recognize them if
they were in your church. Because all they would probably do is cry when you
mention their country. And you think, ìPoor you! Whatís wrong with you?
Maybe one of our workers can come and straighten you out.î

Can I say this? I think that part of the redemptive purposes of America is
to give all that you have to people you donít control and who have a vision
that has nothing to do with you. And to serve them in a spirit of crucified
colonialism. Sell your houses, and give your money to poor people who have a
vision. Give with no strings attached, which is only possible if God does a
miracle, and the cross works in your life and mine, and Jesus gets all the
glory. You will not believe it - but God will set you free.

And by the prophet, I also donít mean the person who turns his eyes
backwards and floats above the ground and speaks in a strange voice about
the million dollars weíre going to inherit pretty soon. They are also, very
often, broken people, who spend most of their time just chasing God. And
then they speak for us not just personal prophetic words. Dare I say that?
That has been the hang-up of a lot of the Pentecostal and charismatic
scenes. They just want to hear God speak to ME, ME, ME, and the goat wants
to be tickled. Yes! God speaks to people! But prophets also, often, have a
word for the nation or the city, or whatever. Why? So that we can become
one. Godís purpose is for the area.

The significance of prophecy cannot be overestimated, because it was Godís
centralized system to speak from His headquarters in heaven a personalized
word to every house church on earth. Can you imagine? Itís great to have the
pastorís teaching notes to mull them over on Wednesday night, but itís
better if Jesus Himself speaks a personalized direct word into that house
church.

Can you imagine the Church in Denver coming together every Sunday or every
Saturday and being one church, and there is not one ìbig guyî? Rather than
ìPastor So-and-So has graciously consented to come here,î we would say, ìWe
welcome you, Jesus.î There is no platform because we donít need one. We are
one family under God, and God is going to use His apostolic and prophetic
people to speak, and to lead us in all this and clearly move the whole
church in one direction and express our oneness in Christ. Can you imagine
that? Maybe some can and some canít. But the early Church was exactly like
this, and it shook the earth. It really shook the earth!
I remember the other day there was such a meeting of the city church coming
together in Buenos Aires. It was in September of last year, and when they
came together, 400,000 people met together down on the Plaza de Repblica in
Buenos Aires. The earth shook, literally, with an earthquake at 3:59 p.m.
They measured it because, they thought, ìWhatís happening here?î And for
anybody who knows the New Testament, thatís not too surprising, because in
Acts chapter 4 when the church prayed like this, the earth shook, so donít
be too surprised.

Just imagine that God were to bring us back, NOT to the New Testament model
of church but to the New Testament DYNAMICS of church, and principles, which
need to be incorporated - the word I really love is, ìincarnated.î You know
I have an Indian wife, but this has nothing to do with reincarnation; it has
to do with the Word becoming flesh, the Spirit marrying the soil. Thatís
what I speak about. I believe whatís happening is that there is this travail
going on, that people are pregnant with these things; trying to give birth
in their village, area, town, city, state and nation. What I see happening
is the Church in its authentic expression as house churches AND as a city
church, together. For me, all this ìtogetherî I understand by the term,
ìhouse church.î Thatís how I feel, because I think thatís the way it was
before. I donít mean these little rebel groups of disgruntled believers,
unhappy with institutional churches, sitting in the middle of the ghetto
firing fiery darts at anything that moves and saying, ìWeíre right and
everybody else is wrong. Independence Day is our big day . . . ì No, no, no!
That is not apostolic, not prophetic, not profound, not God. Itís a trauma.
And we need to see it, and we need to cater for it. We need to have
hospitals for it. We need to help these friends. But they are NOT the
foundation for what God is going to do here in America. Thereís a fresh
start, a fresh breaking of ground, a fresh laying of apostolic and prophetic
foundations. Iím not saying that this meeting is part of it - maybe yes,
maybe not. But God is doing this everywhere. I see that. I believe that. I
want to stay to see this happening. It is happening. I see it wherever I go.

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Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 11:28:33 -0400
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: [NTCP] new and improved gospel?

Hi all,

Wasn't it a marvelous to see those cold and wet Pennsylvania coal miners
rescued and rejoined to their loved ones?

Salvation was once regarded as a daring rescue. Now, the aspects of God's
great displeasure with sin are given little air time. Modern media,
however, has not been silent on the matter: "Hell this, hell that, etc."

Truly, there are many reasons and inducements to make peace with God via
Jesus. Truly he daily loads us with benefits. Nevertheless, it is the New
Testament which still speaks of Him as a consuming fire. Paul wrote:
Knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men. 2 Cor 5.

David Anderson
Bristol, TN


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Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 12:57:37 EDT
From: DenverWH * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Best definition of an apostle that I've heard so far comes from Wolfgang
Simson: An apostle is a weeping father crying out for his sons to overtake
him.

John


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