The kind of Gospel that has been preached is what has produced the kind of believers we are today. Someone has said “you are what you eat”. We can see where we are in the scheme of things, by examining the extent that our vision, thoughts and even our expectations are fashioned by the Gospel we have been listening to. Whenever there is a 'movement', it has always produced a type of people. The preaching of the Gospel has been influenced by prevailing situations in different parts of the world today. In many parts of the world we see a mixture of the real Gospel and the prevalent circumstances in the region. The real intention of God in those regions is almost completely lost.
What was the apostolic mindset that the first century church had towards the Gospel? The goal of the Gospel was to restore mankind to becoming the dwelling place of God. God made man in His image and likeness and designed us to function within the context of fellowship with Him. All of this was lost as a result of the fall. Thank God for Jesus our Saviour and Lord, whose sacrifice on the Cross has been sufficient to restore us to the place of sonship with the Father. There has been a subtle, but profound perversion of the Gospel in modern times. The message has been changed from Jesus having come to save us from our sins, to Him having come to save us from our problems. This is not to imply that the Lord does not save us from our troubles, but that it is a very shallow foundation upon which someone is converted to the Lord, and could be the reason for impure motives and inconsistencies in many lives. Our desperation to come to the Lord should be because of the conviction of sin and not because of our problems. Some people may not relate the problems they encounter, to the wrong foundation in their lives. The Gospel we received the day we became born again, determines the disciple we become. Many preach and try to impart the hope and the benefits of the resurrection, without dying to our self-life on the Cross. This is a delusion of high proportions. Many are made to feel better about themselves, but their spiritual condition is still questionable. Reading through the Bible we see that Jesus demanded total commitment from His disciples. They had to be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus. This is true discipleship.
A series of lessons on the “Basics of the Faith” is all that is called discipleship in the church today. Once again this defines what we see today. Many parts of the world like Africa and Latin America are experiencing some form of revival as new churches are springing up everywhere, but individual lives are not necessarily reflecting Christ in character and power. In other parts of the world, such as the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, we have what is called the post-Christian era. The Gospel is so lacking in its power to change lives or produce disciples of any real impact. At the end of some 'christian' meetings, it is normal to see the leaders in the pub having a pint or two of beer. What is wrong? What are the demands of Jesus Christ on His disciples?
Three requirements stand out in the demands of Christ. If any will follow, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24). In many parts of Scripture Jesus made it clear that following Him demands total commitment to Him, His ways and His Kingdom (Luke 14:26-33).We do not see Jesus beg His followers to follow Him or entice them with many blessings to obey Him, the way many present-day preachers do. Preaching the cross has always been offensive and preparing disciples for hardness is not popular. Strong disciples are raised when they are told the truth about entering the Kingdom through much tribulation. The persecution and perseverance of the saints of old needs to be brought back to our thoughts so that we will be prepared for any unfavourable conditions that may come our way. It is interesting to note that the heroes in the Bible, like Moses, Daniel and Joseph, all went through trying times to fulfill their destinies. If the present-day disciples are not properly equipped, their destinies remain as dreams that will never be fulfilled. The apostle Peter advised us to arm ourselves with the mind to suffer, just as Jesus gave us an example in His suffering (1 Peter 4:1). The secret of dealing a death blow to the sins of the flesh, is to die to the flesh, which spells out 'suffering in the flesh'. We read things like “endure hardness”, “put to death the deeds of the flesh” and "he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin".
The Simon the sorcerer type of disciples are flourishing in many churches. Apostolic ministry is designed to do an effective follow-up for the evangelistic efforts of Philip in Samaria. The apostolic ministry is equipped with prophetic insight and foresight coupled with the ability to build upon Kingdom principles rightly. It can be confrontational when dealing with the works of the enemy, even if the work is found in believers. Peter confronted Simon and exposed the contents of his heart that Philip had no knowledge of. The Evangelists are not concerned with heart contents and as long as there is a response to receive salvation and we have signs and wonders, their job is done. The Apostles’ work starts after that, to lay the proper foundation in the life of that believer. Foundations are not laid overnight. The process involves removing stones and debris and digging deep to find the Rock. It implies confronting what needs confronting in our hearts and not attempting to cover that which will eventually destroy our faith in God. Many have majored on the anointing and allowed themselves to be raised in pride only to find themselves having to come up with gimmicks to sustain their work for God. The real issues of the heart were never dealt with. May we learn some lessons from Simon the sorcerer’s case. The bitterness, iniquity and wickedness in his heart were exposed to bring about his deliverance and spiritual health. Do we need such in churches today?
True Apostolic Christianity is about a man seeing the sinfulness of his nature, reckoning with the sacrifice of Christ and dying to his self-life as a result of his surrender to Christ. The love of Christ purifies his soul as he yields to Him internally. The man commits to loving God with everything that he has. He will actually love the Lord more than he loves himself. He will lay down his own agenda for God’s and will find fulfillment in doing so. That is the foundation of Apostolic Christianity. When James said count it all joy, and the trying of your faith worketh patience or perseverance, he was giving us the keys to growth and for turning negative situations around. Much of what we desire to experience in God are the fruits of a life that has received the seed of the Word of God and where that Word has done a work inside the person. The Word of God, when allowed to work, changes us inside and then affects our motivation. God is at work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil.2:13). His operational instruments in our lives are His Word and His Spirit. Our desires are affected; He plants His desires in us. Our will is re-aligned with His. He releases His ability in us. His power finds full expression through us. Many tend to want to use God to fulfill their desires. God is birthing Apostolic Christianity again and we need to embrace His patterns for our lives. Self preservation is the root of all the evil in the world today. The 'self sins' are common. Selfish ambitions, self-indulgence, self-centered living, are all common to humanity. The reverse is needed: we empty ourselves of self-will and selfish ambitions so we can be filled with the glory of God. I believe God is restoring this to us in these end-times. In Apostolic Christianity the Church will be built on Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone. He will have free access to all in His Church. The early apostles were said to have been with Jesus. We need to spend time with Him today and be built on Him. Their boldness came as a result of the living reality of Jesus in their midst.
If we humble ourselves before Him and see how far we are from the original pattern, He will start a quick work of restoration in our lives. All the hypocrisy and pretension that pervades the Church today will be brought to an end in the face of Apostolic Christianity. Religious spirits from hell will be revealed for who they truly are. All the works of the flesh that masquerade as of the Spirit will show up for what they really are. Are we ready for this? It is coming soon!
GOING ON AFTER FOUNDATIONS ARE LAID
Apostles are master builders who know how to get people to commit to Christ, and get built up to find their place in the Body of Christ. Apostolic travails are for the purpose of seeing that the Body is built up correctly. Accurate church government is in the equipment of the apostle. Church governments are designed to carry God’s command for every generation. The church is designed to carry command from our Commander-in-Chief, Jesus. Signs and wonders are still part of the Apostolic equipment. Apostles are involved in training and raising teams to impact regions of the earth. They have their jurisdiction as the Lord enables them. Part of the Apostolic grace is the fathering grace. They nurture others into their destinies. They are not intimidated by the giftings of others, rather they want to help others to function effectively in their God-given positions in Christ's Body. Apostles understand prophetic patterns and know how to activate giftings in others. They know how to interpret times and seasons. They know that the salvation prayer is only the beginning, and that going on to be discipled, mentored and fathered should follow. They do not father everyone but provide discipleship for all. They usually see the big picture where God’s plans are concerned. They carry a peculiar grace that can accomplish much for the Kingdom of God. Others can partake of their grace and go on to do great exploits for God. Apostolic grace can interpret prophetic utterances, and thereby see the present, hence preparing the Body for the future. Apostolic grace can open up new territories for the Kingdom of God. Apostolic prayers are designed to put off the works of darkness and bring down the patterns of God into territories. They download God’s wisdom, dethrone demonic powers and position God’s army correctly for effective warfare. All who carry the grace will pass through process. There are many lessons to learn on the way. There is a price to pay and a position to take for all that God has planned to come to pass in our lives. May we be willing to pay the price to embrace the true Apostolic ministries that God is releasing in our day.
Jesus is Lord!
Rev. Kola Ewuosho