From the desk of Steve Shultz:
This is a potent word about the journey of a true apostle...it's not all that we think it is. Many walk through trials and suffering as Kari Browning shares in her article. It's a great word to learn from past to present-day apostles and what they've walked through to get to where they're at.
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The Marks of An Apostle
Does it seem to you, too, that everyone wants to be called an apostle these days? My hope and prayer is the Church will learn to discern true apostles. There are some specific characteristics that clearly mark an apostle in Scripture: Signs, wonders and miracles, and suffering.
Signs, Wonders and Miracles
The things that mark an apostle – signs, wonders and miracles – were done among you with great perseverance. 2 Corinthians 12:12
The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people... Acts 5:12a
Bob Jones, who is considered by many to be a modern day prophet, had an encounter with the Lord on July 3, 1984, where he saw the "apostolic coming forth." Bob saw a group of 35 young people carrying the Ark of the Covenant to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. They were leading a great procession of people who'd been healed due to their ministry. The Lord said to Bob: "These young ones are those who will keep Me high and lifted up all the days of their lives! I'll prepare them to bring the glory of God in. They'll bring it in through Isaiah 35, the Highway of Holiness. They'll serve the Lord all the days of their lives and be faithful to the end." I am longing for that day, and I believe it is near!
The desert and the parched land will be glad...they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God... Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy... And a highway will be there; it will be called the Highway of Holiness. Isaiah 35:1, 5-6 & 8
"The government in the future will be decided on the indisputable fact of signs and wonders." Noel Alexander made that statement at the Revelation Glory conference our ministry hosted in 2003 and I've never forgotten it. Noel Alexander is originally from South Africa and now resides in Kansas City. Years before meeting Noel, Bob Jones prophesied, "When Major General Alexander comes, it will be the beginning of the government of the movement." He was referring to the prophetic, prayer and youth movement that began in Kansas City.
I was invited to speak at a conference in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in April 2000, entitled "Moving into the Apostolic." Before leaving for South Africa, I insisted that Noel pray for me – and I was sure glad I did! He prayed that signs and wonders would manifest from the moment I stepped onto the soil of his beloved homeland. What a prayer! And, his prayer was answered on that trip and eight other subsequent trips I've made to South Africa.
Prior to my first trip to South Africa, Bob Jones had a word on the Elijah List, stating that he'd seen a vision of a South African Violet. He interpreted the vision to mean the gifts of the Holy Spirit that were present in South Africa were going to be transferred to the American Church. Wow! Before going to South Africa, I heard amazing reports of "feathers" appearing in meetings in the United States. Bob Jones said "the appearance of feathers were parabolic and God was using them to make a feather pillow – because God was looking for a resting place." What a unique and fun picture!
This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where is the house you will build for Me? Where will My resting place be?" Isaiah 66:1
After preaching my first message in South Africa at a conference entitled "Moving into the Apostolic," I felt impressed to read Isaiah 60 out loud concerning glory. I then asked a psalmist to sing it prophetically over the congregation. To our amazement and awe, lots of feathers began to fall! What a sacred, precious display from Heaven that was! I believe the message conveyed through that particular sign and wonder was that there is rest for each of us in the glory realm. I believe the restoration of the apostolic ministry will usher in such rest and glory.
In 2002, I returned to South Africa and witnessed more glory manifestations after I was instructed in a dream to teach on the heavenly realm. We experienced gemstones manifesting in the church building, gold dust appearing on people, plus angels appearing and feeding the young adults hot bread from Heaven, people smelling fragrances, drunkenness in the Holy Spirit, and many reports of people being healed. Sincerely, I was ruined for anything less. I continued to contend for the glory realm that I had so powerfully witnessed in South Africa to come to the United States. We experienced an outpouring of the glory realm in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, four years later in 2006.
If you didn't know, South Africa is a nation that is leading in the restoration of the apostolic ministry with signs, wonders, and miracles. My last trip to South Africa was to Durban in October 2009. The glory realm manifested on the last night of the conference while Randy DeMain, who functions in an apostolic role, ministered. Here are some outstanding examples: a glory cloud entered the room, it rained inside the building, and two of the worship leaders received dental miracles of gold and silver crowns, and several were healed. What a meeting! I believe there was a message in the signs:
"'The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,' declares the Lord Almighty. 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the Lord Almighty..." (Haggai 2:8-9).
Modern Day Apostles
Many years ago, when I was a new Christian, I asked my pastor if there were "apostles today." Maybe you've asked similar questions. He wasn't sure, and said he'd get back to me with an answer. But then I found a book in the church library entitled, "Andrew Murray, Apostle of Abiding Love." Andrew Murray was an apostle who championed revival in South Africa in 1860. I was hooked, and bought all of his books that I could get my hands on.
John G. Lake, who was also a true modern apostle, went to South Africa in 1908 and in his ministry saw many notable signs, wonders and miracles. He was the founder of the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa and birthed over 600 Apostolic Faith churches there. After ministering five years in South Africa, he came to the area where I live and started the Spokane Healing Rooms where there were 100,000 documented healings in five years time.
In October 2011, I was in a meeting with Dr. James Maloney in New Mexico. He had panoramic visions where he told people their ailments and information he had no way of knowing in the natural. Many were healed. I could not help but weep as I watched Dr. Maloney minister as we'd been contending for the healing and revelatory gifts that William Branham and others operated in during the Latter Rain revival of the 1940s and '50s to be restored to the American Church. Dr. Maloney has notable creative miracles occurring in his meetings. Plus, he received a prophetic word 40 years ago that he would be given a gift that would be a catalytic spark for a new move of God. Dr. Maloney believes that this gift is for the "many" and not just the few, and there will be other catalysts as well. He is a shining example of a modern day apostle that is moving in signs, wonders and miracles. I am thankful to know him as a friend.
The apostolic ministry, with signs and wonders and miracles, is being restored to a level of what was experienced in the early Church. There's an apostolic generation arising that will be marked by signs, wonders and miracles. We are in a fullness of time moment!
Another mark of a true apostle is suffering. I wonder if those who are calling themselves "apostles" today are willing to pay the price by dying to their own ambition and agenda and willingly embrace Christ's sufferings? Apostles must be prepared to lay their lives down in sacrificial love and to suffer, as it is part of the job description.
Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. Galatians 6:17
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death... Philippians 3:10
The Apostle Paul said that he had worked much harder, been jailed more often, and beaten up more times than he could count and at death's door, time after time. He was flogged five times with the Jews' thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, and once pummeled with rocks. He was shipwrecked three times, and lost in the open sea for a night and a day. He experienced hard traveling, year-in and year-out; fording rivers, fending off robbers, struggles with friends, and struggles with foes. He was at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storms, and don't forget – betrayed by those he thought were brothers and sisters. He knew drudgery and hard labor; had many a long and lonely night without sleep, missed many a meal, and was chilled by the cold. He also had the heartfelt daily pressures of all the churches he oversaw. (See 2 Corinthians 11:23-29.)
The original 12 apostles of the Messiah knew suffering, too. Philip, Bartholomew, and Simon were crucified. Peter made an outlandish choice – being crucified upside down! Why? Because he did not consider himself worthy to be crucified like Jesus. Andrew hung alive on a cross for two days, James was beheaded, Thomas was speared to death in India, Matthew killed with a sword, Jude was beaten to death with a club, James was stoned and clubbed to death at age 90. Judas committed suicide. The only apostle who died a natural death was John. That was after he had survived being boiled in oil! He "whom Jesus loved" was exiled to the island of Patmos.
In addition to the original 12 apostles, Mark was dragged to death, Luke hung on an olive tree, and Matthias (who filled the place of Judas) was stoned to death. And the Apostle Paul? Beheaded by Nero in Rome!
I see King David as a picture and type of apostolic ministry. True apostolic ministry will be known by their mature love and their willingness to lay their lives down for the next generation. King David supplied much of the materials for his son, Solomon, to build the temple and usher in the glory of God.
A new government of love will be established in the venerable David tradition. Isaiah 16:5 (MSG)
King David was identified and anointed by the prophet Samuel. I believe that one of the functions of a prophet is to identify and anoint those in the apostolic ministry. King David knew the bitter pain of betrayal when his son Absalom won the hearts of the people to himself and led a revolt against him. Sadly, I believe those called to the apostolic ministry will be required to swallow the bitter pill of betrayal. Graham Cooke, who operates in both an apostolic and prophetic function, once said that he has been stabbed in the back so many times that his middle name should be "colander."
In addition to David's son Absalom betraying him, his trusted counselor, Ahithophel, joined in the conspiracy. Ahithophel was Bathsheba's grandfather, and it is believed that he may have been carrying an offense because of David's act of adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband. Ahithophel counseled Absalom to sleep with his father's ten concubines publicly to humiliate and dishonor David.
Not only did Ahithophel join in Absalom's revolt, but Saul's grandson Mephibosheth, to whom David had shown such kindness and mercy, was among those who joined Absalom. Sometimes it may feel like everyone has betrayed us, and that we are standing alone, but it is only teaching us to learn to seek God's approval over man's approval.
If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God... Psalm 55:12-14
As David is fleeing Absalom, he encounters Shimei who curses him and hurls false accusations at David. Shimei starts hurling rocks and dirt at David and his party. In 2 Samuel 16:14, it says that they reach their destination totally exhausted. Josephus wrote, "David went on his way without troubling himself with Shimei." David trusted God to vindicate him. That is some faith!
If you are called to be an apostle, you will suffer betrayals and false accusations. It is all part of knowing Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings and it may be the tool that God will use to forge your character. As Graham Cooke says, "Have a nice death."
"For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world."
1 Corinthians 4:9-13
God is restoring the gift of apostle to the Church in our time (see Ephesians 4), and an apostolic generation is arising that will minister in signs, wonders and miracles. We will also experience great suffering, as both are the marks of a true apostle.
New Renaissance Healing and Creativity Center
Kari Browning is the Director of New Renaissance Healing and Creativity Center. In addition to training in creativity and natural and supernatural healing, the Center hosts health retreats for anyone needing physical or emotional healing. She is the Co-Director of Imagine Creativity Center, a Reggio-inspired preschool and daycare. She is on the Board of Directors of Created to Create, a discipleship ministry for young adults that encourages those in their 20's and 30's in their creative pursuits in fashion, film, art, dance, music and other creative mediums. She has a passion to see the Church be the most creative place on the planet! She longs to see Christians come into a place of mature love and wholeness in spirit, soul, and body.