HOW TO BE APOSTOLIC WITHOUT APOSTLES By Bernie L. Wade
Imagine you meet someone and in the 3course of the conversation they tell you that they are Apostolic. When you ask “What is Apostolic?” They probably don’t give you a very good answer but they may be able to give you the general idea that it has something to do with the Apostles. A natural follow-up question would be, “So, how many Apostles do you have in your church? They answer, “We don’t have Apostles.” Or “We don’t believe in Apostles.” This may leave you confused. You might brave the question, “How can you be Apostolic without any Apostles?” One of the buzz words of the Church today is the word Apostolic. Words like Apostles, Apostolic Reformation, Apostolic succession, etc. are common. Coalitions of Apostles have become common. Churches with the words Apostolic in their name are in every city. Denominations with the word Apostolic in them are equally as common. With all this attention to the Apostolic one would think that the mantle of those New Testament leaders was active in our modern Church. While we have this words Apostolic and groups ignore the doctrine New Testament Church. BEWARE sign on most of Apostolic groups.
abundance of the use of the Apostle, most of these of the Apostles and of the One should see a BUYER these self appointed
The word Apostolic is used to give the impression that the group or church is somehow connected to the Apostles of Jesus Christ. While their title says Apostolic, what is actually being offered seldom represents the New Testament Church or the Apostles of Jesus Christ. If these groups or churches faced litigation for false advertizing they would be in real trouble. What is advertized is not “in the jar”.
The title of this treatise may seem strange. You may realize that the concept of being Apostolic without Apostles is like an apple without a core or a car without an engine. Yet, that is exactly what we see repetitively. Apostolic has become a word almost without meaning joining advertizing slogans like NEW, NEW & IMPROVED, BIGGER, BETTER, etc.
FALSE APOSTLES Inside most of these various Apostolic groups or churches one generally finds a variety of things. Few, if any, of these actually recognize Apostles. Some have not considered their position on Apostles others teach that there are no longer Apostles. For some the obvious lack of Apostolic anointing was addressed by titling some of their pastors as Apostles. Among these the word Apostle is more of a manmade title than an actual representation of the imprimatur of the Holy Spirit resting the mantle of an Apostle on that person. Most of these groups continue to use the Roman system. A system that was adapted from Nimrod and is patterned on Babylon and Egypt – not on the New Testament Church of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. You might ask, “Why all the fuss?” The idea of false Apostles is not new. In his 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians Apostle Paul wrote this chilling rebuke, “But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” It is evident that these modern pretenders have similar motives. The purpose of the true Apostle is to release Apostolic anointing. The anointing of the Apostles was the power to break every chain. When the Holy Spirit was yet to manifest in Acts Chapter 8, it would take Apostolic anointing for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and to rebuke the evil plan of Simon the Sorcerer.
In Acts 19, Apostle Paul found some disciples of John but they were not aware that the Holy Spirit was available to them. After their encounter with Apostle Paul they received the Holy Spirit! This is the kind of anointing that the Apostles of the New Testament Church brought to impact those around them. The vision of Charles Parham and other like minded people of God was to see restoration of the power and anointing of the Apostles of the New Testament Church. Much of the modern word usage related to the Apostolic comes to us from Charles Fox Parham (the father of the modern Apostolic [Apostolic Faith] and Pentecostal movements) who in the early 1900’s started the Apostolic Faith movement. From this powerful man, filled with the Holy Spirit, came a global group of followers of Jesus Christ who were focused on seeing Apostolic Reformation; meaning the New Testament Church and the Apostles doctrine restored. Those who continue to use the Apostolic Faith name seldom resemble these Apostolic Faith forefathers. Like an Old Testament passage these wear the title of their forefathers but “none of them is able to speak the language of Judah, but the language of his own people” (Nehemiah 13:23). These modern pretenders of the Apostolic seldom realize that even these forefathers were not satisfied with what they had accomplished. Rather, they saw their efforts as only a beginning and hoped for the day when the restoration or Apostolic Reformation would come to fruition.
In 1901, Charles Parham and his Apostolic Faith band marched through the streets of Houston, Texas proclaiming that God was restoring the Apostles doctrine. These had recently understood that the Holy Spirit was still available (like it was in the New Testament) with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Parham was committed to breaking down the racial, gender and other barriers, while standing up to the religious systems of his day. He envisioned a restoration of the Apostles and the New Testament Church – an Apostolic Reformation. However, men with less vision and much more ambition hijacked the Apostolic Faith movement creating a plethora of denominations, groups, churches, etc. These were generally interested in speaking in tongues but didn’t embrace Apostolic reformation. Millions would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (evidenced by speaking in other tongues), but most would not look beyond this introductory phase to know more about God, His will and the mandate he left for His Church and those original Apostles. Sadly, when we polled people to ask them what Apostolic meant; even those who are part of groups that claimed to be “Apostolic”, we found none of them could even tell us what the word meant, let alone explain the purpose, mandate or imprimatur of the Holy Spirit connected with its rightful implementation. In 1927, John G. Lake vocalized the realization that the Apostolic Faith movement had never reached the potential of the divine mandate that had been given to restore the New Testament Church. Among other things, John G. Lake: called Azusa Street an “advertizing stunt”1 said that the world does not know true Christianity, 2 In spite of its popular impact, Pentecostals (a detour from the original vision of the Apostolic Faith) failed to exemplify true Christianity John G. Lake made it very clear that this movement was NOT “comparable with the apostles, or the leaders of Christianity in the first centuries.” He said, “We have rather been an order of cheap evangelism, with a rather cheap evangelistic message that is not worthy in the high sense of being called Pentecostal (and certainly not Apostolic).” Thus, this Pentecostal movement became a cheap replica of what God had envisioned in the mantle and mandate of the Apostolic. Lake lamented this, “Jesus Christ is not a church any more--just a mob.” 1 2
John G Lake to Parham. Letter from John G Lake to Charles Parham MAR 24, 1927 John G Lake to Parham. Letter from John G Lake to Charles Parham MAR 24, 1927
With little regard for this, modern usurpers continue to tout the Pentecostal movement as a genuine Apostolic mandate even though nearly all groups claiming to be or using the word Apostolic are merely holdovers from the efforts of the last century. Lake described the situation this way, “a group of little men with little minds, trying to fill big men’s places in life and in the work of God. It is pitiable and laughable to watch the trick monkey stuff. NAME WITHHELD is extremely jealous, insanely so, and this causes him to stoop to such dishonorable little things as no one could believe unless you were on the ground and saw it. It always makes me think of a bantam rooster among a flock of decent sized chickens. The only thing the bantam can do is strut.” Speaking about the institutionalization of the concept of Apostolic Reformation, John G. Lake wrote this, “The spirit of denominationalism in The Assemblies of God (one of many pretenders for the Apostolic mandate) is probably narrower than even in the old churches from which Pentecostal people have been escaping for the last thirty years. So that as a power to bless mankind and put an ideal before the world such as the scriptures outline and as our soul is longing for, it does not seem to me they are worth discussing or considering.” Lake conceded that even the idea of restoring the Apostolic was dying. That was 90 years ago! Lake, Parham and their contemporaries (Garfield Thomas Haywood, Howard Goss, Maria Woodworth-Etter, and others) envisioned the restoration of the Apostolic Church that would be powerful; releasing Apostolic anointing in the earth. Lake recorded it this way, “The same Holy Ghost through Peter flashed out like a sword of glory and smote the disease from the lame man at the Beautiful Gate, was the same sword that flashed out of his spirit and sent Ananias and Sapphire to the graveyard.” 3 Lake voiced what was clearly understood among these forefathers a century ago. Holy Spirit filled leaders of the days such as W. Fay Carrothers, Seeley D. Kinne, Cannon, Dr. Kenyon, Wallace understood that the outline of the fivefold ministry in particular and the church in general outlined by Apostle Paul in I Corinthians Chapter 12 was a model that had to be implemented in the modern church if were to make any claim to mantle of being Apostolic. This was a model that was a foreign concept to those who came from a plethora of denominations to the Apostolic movement. Lake explained to Charles Parham that the Pentecostals (a schism from the Parham’s vision of Apostolic Reformation) settled for one 3
John G Lake to Parham. Letter from John G Lake to Charles Parham MAR 24, 1927
manifestation of the spirit; ‘speaking in tongues’ when Parham had envisioned the whole of Apostolic Reformation John G. Lake said, “I am rather inclined feel, brother, that we have been too small for God's uses and purposes in this matter.”
NO APOSTLE – NO APOSTOLIC So, how can you be truly Apostolic without Apostles? The answer is simple; you cannot be Apostolic without Apostles! Just like you can’t have a working car without an engine. What calls itself Apostolic today is primarily a fraud living in the shadow of a dream from the last Century. They are a car without an engine. There are as was instructed by Apostle Paul to his son Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:5, …Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For the last Century most of those claiming to be Apostolic have done so without Apostles. Like Rehoboam, who replaced the gold shields of his father’s with brass ones, the embarrassment of operating without the anointing of the Apostles has been compensated by replacing Apostolic anointing with a plethora of man-made programs, systems and ideas. This new cart uses men who their man-made system calls pastors to replace nearly every function of the five-fold ministry. Many churches have a multiplicity of pastors and no other part of the fivefold ministry is recognized. Seems like everyone is a pastor. Without Apostles there can be Apostolic Charles Parham and a Lake hoped future on their foundation to Reformation. It was their
is no Apostolic. No one without Apostles. Like host of others, John G. generations would build bring an Apostolic dream to see,
“A Holy Ghost united,
authoritive and God
controlled and Goddirected and GodThe Egyptians taking Solomon’s shields of gold. Rehoboam replaced these with empowered body, through whom God shields of brass could meet the challenge of Rome (man-made system of the church that opposed the Apostolic mandate) and hell and anti-Christ and every other institution of the devil that the latter days bring forth.”4
John G Lake to Parham. Letter from John G Lake to Charles Parham MAR 24, 1927
Efforts, movements and outpourings that might lead the adherents to become truly apostolic have been met by with great opposition by those in this myriad of religious traditions. To be Apostolic we have to return the church to being truly Apostolic; not just being Apostolic in name only. Apostolic is not a word on a sign or letterhead. We have a plethora of movements claiming to be Apostolic while operating under the same system as the Roman Church. Rome brought us a man-made system; a new cart to replace the plan of God. This man-made system has generally been the impetus for a plethora of movements, groups, denominations, etc. What we need is to see a genuine return to the New Testament Church. To really be Apostolic, the church is going to have to have Apostles just as the first Century Church. The true Church will, of necessity have to see the restoration of fivefold ministry; not only apostles but also prophets, teachers, pastors and evangelists. This will begin a restoration that will return the church to the model of the Jerusalem Church and subsequent Antioch Church; a model of Church that was abandoned in 380 AD when Theodosius of Rome claimed that all the Church had to answer to him. This edict ended 300 years of the Church operating under the imprimatur of the Holy Spirit and the direction of the five-fold ministry and ushered in a new order of man-made rulers. Apostolic means, like the Apostles. Without the Anointing of the Apostles a movement will never be Apostolic. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles outlines the exploits of men and women led by the Holy Spirit who hazarded their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to give birth to the New Testament Church. These turned their world upside down. We will have to do the same. We must be ready to sacrifice everything for the cause of Jesus Christ. Submitted respectfully and prayerfully.