Apostolic Reformation, like all historic reformations of the church, occurs when God highlights areas of belief or practices that need to be restored so the Body of Christ is more capable of fulfilling its mission on earth.
The goal of Apostolic Reformation is to return God’s people to the priorities and practices of Jesus and the Apostles. While some would argue that society and technology have changed since New Testament times, Apostolic Reformation points us to timeless Biblical truths that apply to every generation. While there are many areas where the Church needs reform, I perceive the following ten priorities are at the heart Apostolic Reformation.
1. Christ Formed In Every Believer—Ephesians 4:13
Apostolic people are committed to making disciples who are formed in the image of Christ. Mature Christians should reflect Jesus in all they think, do and say. Jesus came to reveal the Father and make disciples who embody His heart for the world. Reflecting Jesus’ character, priorities and lifestyle are goals of a true disciple. Churches have often de-emphasized godly character while promoting the virtues of gifting or service. Apostolic people w ant to reflect Christ’s heart and character by evidencing more of the fruit of the Spirit.
Action Point: To make disciples the way Jesus did
2. Covenantal Relationships—John 13:35
Apostolic people are eager to discover the covenantal nature of God’s love. Knowing and experiencing God’s love is the key to loving others. We love because He first loved us. Jesus taught we would be recognized as His disciples by the love we have for one another. Love must be the basis of truly apostolic fellowship. Consequently, we must always evaluate our motives and filter our actions through the lens of 1 Corinthians 13. Love and pursuit of covenantal relationships produce a culture of honour that is the basis of truly apostolic fellowship. Loyalty, honesty, patience, kindness and faithfulness result in long-term relationships and teams who can successfully advance God’s Kingdom.
Action Point: To build up one another in love
3. Passing on The Baton—1 Corinthians 4:15-16
The goal of apostolic people is to leave a godly legacy in the hearts of subsequent generations. Our ceiling should be the ground floor for the next generation. Malachi 4:5-6 reminds us that in any relationship someone has to take the initiative. Even as the Father has taken initiative toward us, so spiritual fathers and mothers must turn their hearts toward their children in Christ. The goal of apostolic Christianity is to release millions of spiritual fathers and mothers who, in turn, will pass the baton of faith, hope and love to subsequent generations until Jesus returns.
Action Point: To become a spiritual father or mother to younger Christians
4. Advancing God’s Kingdom on Earth—Genesis 1:28
Apostolic people want the realities of heaven to be seen on earth. In heaven there is no hunger or sickness, no corruption, no injustice, no evil, no lawlessness, and men and women live in harmony with God and each other. Apostolic people believe Jesus has given His followers authority to continue His work of advancing God’s Kingdom until He returns. We long to see a foretaste of God’s reign by bringing Biblical principles to influence and transform every realm of life and society.
Action Point: To change the spiritual environment of my family and workplace
5. Ministry of Word and Spirit—Matthew 4:23
Apostolic people continue Christ’s ministry of word and Spirit in the world. Like Jesus, we preach and teach the good news of the Kingdom and demonstrate God’s power in miraculous ways as a sign of Christ’s Lordship over all things. Like Paul, our ministry is not limited to wise and persuasive words, but is seen in demonstrations of the Spirit’s power.
Action Point: To be continually guided by the Holy Spirit in my words and ministering to others as the Father shows me
6. Refusing To Compromise God’s Word—2 Corinthians 2:15-17
Apostolic people do not compromise with worldly morality or distort God’s Word to make it palatable. Recognising the contemporary deceptions of relativism, individualism, hedonism and consumerism, we speak the entire counsel of Scripture. Apostolic people do not peddle the Word of God for profit or selfish motives.
Action Point: Be a Berean by measuring all teachings by what the Bible says
7. Five Fold Ministry—Ephesians 4:7, 11-13
The five-fold ministries in Ephesians 4 are five facets of the ministry of Jesus. Jesus was the perfect apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. If the church is to become more like Jesus, we need to be equipped to a degree in all five graces.
Apostolic people recognise how essential all five ministries are and pray for equippers to be established and empowered to function. While not all believers are equippers, we all can grow to be more like Jesus by reflecting the grace shown in each of the five areas.
Action Point: To welcome and encourage Ephesians 4 equippers and develop each of the five graces in my life
8. Safe Church Leaders—Ezekiel 34:4
Jesus challenged the religious thinking of his day and condemned the corruption and hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders. Paul warned Timothy of people who have a form of godliness but deny its power. Apostolic people hunger to see the Body of Christ as a safe place, where people are not used and abused to fulfill the whims of ego driven leaders. God wants shepherds after His heart who will strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the wounded, bring back the strays and search for the lost.
Action Point: Pray for discernment in choosing churches and leaders who are safe and not building their own empires
9. Revealing God’s Sons—Romans 8:14, 19
When Jesus came to earth, His plan was to become the firstborn of many sons. Paul refers to these men and women as the sons of God. They are led by the Spirit and courageously follow in the footsteps of Jesus in their generation. While history reveals a few great men and women who have stepped into sonship, most believers are still far from being world changers. Apostolic people are not content with this reality and work for the sons of God to be revealed.
Action Point: Don’t be content with religion and mediocrity, step into your identity as a son of God
10. Unity and Synergy—Romans 12:9-21
Jesus prayed in John 17:33 that His followers would be in unity. Psalm 133 reminds us that unity brings blessing. Apostolic people understand that unity brings synergy to the Body of Christ. The key to unity is in the hands of church leaders, but most are too busy or insecure to pursue it in earnest. Relationship is the basis of trust, and trust is the basis of unity. Until church leaders seek covenantal relationships and begin to view other leaders through the lens of Romans 12:9-21, unity will elude us. Apostolic people pray for their leaders to get the bigger picture and see the incredible power available to a united church.
Action Point: Share with other churches who have a need that you can meet
© 2016 Dr. John McElroy
Convenor of the AUSTRALIAN COALITION OF APOSTOLIC LEADERS