HOW TO RECOGNIZE A TRUE APOSTLE
I have had quite a few inquiries this past year from people asking the same questions: “How do you recognize a true apostle”, or even “how did you know you were called to be an apostle?”.
This question has actually been asked since the days of the first apostles. If you will read the entire chapter of 2 Corinthians 11, you will see Paul defending his apostleship. You will also notice he speaks of the many things he experienced (even though he was a very powerful true apostle), among them being false apostles and false brethren.
I could write this entire letter based upon this one chapter in the Bible, but you will also find in reading scripture that all through the book of Acts, he was constantly defending himself and his beliefs. In Acts 23:1-3, you can even see Paul ordered to be stricken in the mouth by the high priest Ananias.
Many in the Church today seem to think that calling yourself an apostle is a prideful thing, but as Paul said, the apostles are the least of all. The Church today has had a large dose of false ministries and as Jesus told us, the first thing we must develop in the last days is discernment. There is much deception today, not only in the Church, but in government as well and this is why God’s people must develop spiritual discernment. Quite often, I see good people throwing out a truth because of someone abusing it.
There is both good and bad material available today concerning not only apostles but all five-fold ministries. Everything must be weighed against scripture, but even scripture does not give us a set of guidelines to measure a person for their office. If you will notice Paul’s writings, the only guidelines are a person who has developed the character attributes of Jesus.
My apostleship has been attacked by many, including well-known ministries such as Jimmy Swaggart. One person even wanted me to show him a miracle to prove my apostleship.
This may come across with a wrong attitude, but I don’t really care if you believe I am an apostle or not because I know I am serving Jesus in the ministry He personally called me to. I don’t care what you call me because I am not an apostle to everyone and am secure in my knowledge of Jesus and my exact function in the Body of Christ.
Now I will begin to answer the question: “How do you know you are called to be an apostle and how do you recognize apostles”?
I had a very intimate encounter with Jesus while in prayer and received my calling. Even though it was real to me, it still took me some time to pray about it and look for confirmation because I knew what challenges it would present (and still does).
So I continued to be a pastor (which is widely accepted) while I continued to preach apostolic messages. Not long after that, some prophets I knew and one I didn’t know called me out and said I was called to be a prophet. I served the Lord as a prophet for a number of years, but continued to preach apostolic messages.
Then I began to receive words that people recognized the apostolic call on my life. While attending a prophetic conference as a prophet, I had hands laid upon me by a prophetic presbytery led by Prophet Bill Hamon and he prophesied the “apostolic father” ministry. That was confirmation to me. Then the final confirmation came through a dear minister friend who has been with me for (at that time) twenty years. He came up to me and asked if he could share something with me that the Lord had shown him and I said yes. He said, “as long as I continue to call you pastor or prophet, by my words I am binding you to something you are not”. I have been fully flowing in the ministry gift of Jesus of apostle ever since because that last confirmation set me free from the pressure of rejection by religious people.
Yes, I have seen blind eyes opened under the laying on of my hands and yes, I have seen the dead raised (which really angered a priest who had given the last rites of the Catholic church to him). But these are things that any truly Spirit-filled christian can do, so that alone does not qualify me to be an apostle. It is what the religious church seems to demand (sounds like the scribes and pharisees, doesn’t it?).
I am going to tell you how I judge a true apostolic calling on a ministry.
1. I judge him or her by their spirit. I have taken a long time and tested many spirits in order to learn to judge a person not by their flesh (by what they say they are), but by their spirit. This does not mean that I have not made any mistakes, but more often than not it gets me in trouble with other ministers when I contradict their lack of discernment (sounds prideful but isn’t if you understand walking in the Spirit).
2. I judge them by what comes out of their mouth, their message and above all, their character. The apostolic message shows deep concern for the Church, that the Church be conformed to the image of Christ and that the Church follow the biblical pattern that Jesus taught His disciples after He made the well known statement, “I will build My Church”. The apostolic message is governmental in nature and therefore speaks much about proper structure and proper relationships. Today’s true apostolic message demands that the Church follow the foundational pattern that was set by the apostles of the Lamb. I see many ministries today that do not measure up to the biblical (actually the apostolic) standard of character required for elders listed in scripture. Remember, Jesus’ pattern was to build the man before the ministry.
3. Titus 1:4-5 says, “To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.” When reading the rest of the chapter, you can see that Paul insisted the elders appointed by the apostles be judged by a standard of character. If this biblical principal was applied to ministry today, we would not see all the damage we see happening in the churches. Character is most important to me because it was and is important to Jesus and His apostles. When reading Matthew 5, 6, 7 and 8, you will see that Jesus started training His apostles in the area of their character before ever giving them any anointing to minister. He even taught His apostles how to recognize a false prophet. In Matthew 7:15, He taught them not to look at the outward appearance, but that what made the prophet false was his inward character. In other words, “judge the prophet separately from the prophecy”.
4. Lastly, the proof of any apostleship is in the lives of the people who follow the apostle. See 1 Corinthians 9:1-2, “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.”
There are many true, great ministries today and many of those are constantly defending their calling by answering religious people who do not understand spiritual things. They tend to judge the Church and ministries by fleshly knowledge and understanding. Some true ministries have even given up and laid down their callings due to the cruelty of a lot of “spirit-filled” christians who demand their way and not God’s. If you are reading this and are called of the Lord, my plea to you is to not compromise and give people what they want. Jesus never did, nor should we. The crowds left Jesus when He stopped entertaining them with His miracles and began challenging them with words like, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me (Matthew 16:24)”. Serve God in your spirit as did the apostle Paul.
Apostle Paul is my hero because of all he experienced but never gave in or gave up. Therefore I will follow my hero by never, never giving up, no matter what kind of religious spirit attacks or challenges the calling on my life. A true apostle is an overcomer and I am promised everything because I find in the book of Revelation that everything is given to “him who overcomes”.
Richard to most,
Apostle Richard to some,
Dad to a few