How may men do you think would be "chomping at the bit" to be recognized. and addressed, as "Apostle, fill in the blank," if he had to exhibit these following characteristics? "For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate, we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now" (I Cor. 4:9-13).
“Apostle” was never intended to be used as a title for an ecclesiastical upper class. It flies in the face of the priesthood of every believer. There is not one single, solitary place in the entire New Testament where any of the apostles, at any time, either referred to themselves, or are referred or addressed by others with the title of "Apostle." Not once! You will find the term phrased within the context of their ministerial function, such as "Paul, an apostle...", but never as part of a title, which is why you never see the word capitalized immediately preceding the apostle’s name.
Furthermore, you will never, ever see in the New Testament, except for Jesus Himself, anyone address a spiritual leader of any kind by a title. I guess they must have taken Jesus seriously at His word in Matthew 23:1-12. How men can read that and justify a clergy/laity mentality is beyond comprehension. But then, that can be said of many of our practices in the church.
As represented by these conditions, who in their right mind would want to seek after a calling like that? And, that is precisely the point! No one in their right natural mind would. And though this verse is taken out of its specific context, it nevertheless, is applicable in principle to the calling of an apostle; "And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God" (Heb. 5:14). Much of what passes for "apostolic" these days, is quite frankly, a sham, or maybe, travesty, would be more accurate. This term has been misconstrued and misappropriated into a position of status, power, and authority, that is analogous to "giving what is holy to dogs!” You think merely being a charismatic leader with great organizational skills is apostolic? Think again!
Men (and women) of stature – (Isaiah 45:14; Ephesians 4:13). In whom the Cross has done a deep work as to self-interest. Who are not so concerned to preach, or to try and influence others to a doctrine or theory, but whose main influence will be one of LIFE. Who have come to know the Lord in a way of proving. Whose reaction to every situation, circumstance, and proposition is: Does it glorify God? and whose touchstone by which all things are tested and determined is: Can it work out to an increase of Christ? For such there is a pressing need, in the Church, in the Lord’s work, and in all the nations. - Enquire in The Secret Place, T. Austin-Sparks
Let the church put that in their “apostolic” pipe and smoke it!
Read more articles by Fred London or search for articles on the same topic or others.