Prophetic Self-Talk

Internal Prophetic Communication

Every believer has a conversation going on inside, talking to and with themselves as the mind carries on internal dialogue. The conversation is often composed of positives and negatives, or comparisons and contrasts, as the mind analyzes thoughts, combines them into concepts, make decisions, reaches conclusions.

Believers argue with themselves a way of determining what they hold onto or disregard as true, valuable, and consistent. The process is complex but part of the constant and consistent internal discussion through which the spiritual mind solves problems and makes decisions. Once a  believer has a set of values and beliefs that demand application and implementation in real life with voices in the mind takes sides about simple and complex things, listening to sources of input and information.

For the believer in tune with his own spirit, receiving constant and consistent input from Holy Spirit, a complete paradigm shift of how to think arrives that includes revelation of things unavailable to the human mind through any other source but the spirit.

I call this “prophetic self-talk” when the mind is working with information communicated by spiritual means or the mind assumes that the information comes from a spiritual source. While this is a norm for all believers because they have Holy Spirit in their lives, the maturing of this kind of internal mental processing may hit some bumps in the road, and the possibility of deception is real. Deception can become delusion when the mind jumps to conclusions.

Prophetic self-talk, like all other forms of internal communication, can be key to living in boldness, confidence, faith in the form of trust and faith in the form of action, as well as, a basic way that believers take every thought captive to obedience to Christ.

However, prophetic self-talk must recognize the sources properly, engage in prophetic process faithfully, and resist the work of hell to capture the mind with evil imaginations. The enemy will plant a thought and work to convince the believer he thought it, that it was a revelation from God, or that what the believer lusts after is a legitimate part of the process of deterring what God wants.

In this way, prophetic self-talk can be deceptive and sometimes lead to delusional conclusions about the direction and directives of God. Some believers reach a level of pride in which they assume that every thought they have is from God, that their prophetic processing is perfect, and that their motivations are so pure that no accountability is needed.

God Speaks Today!

Prophetic self-talk occurs within the prophetic person who has prophetic operations and functions, who carries on the same prophetic practices within themselves without the proper protocols to process what they see as revelatory information.

  1. It is obvious that God speaks today, that He is involved with His people individually and corporately, and part of His involvement is teaching, leading, revealing, correcting, reproving, disciplining, and communicating as part of His passionate love for His people and purposes.
  2. It is obvious God communicates in the several methods the Bible reveals He uses to reveal what is hidden, or what cannot be known properly unless God reveals it.
  3. It is obvious that this means every believer learns to recognize the communication of God in order to receive what God communicates in contrast to what the believer thinks or what other sources communicate, both natural and spiritual. The believers make choices about what is God and not, and this process is imperfect even though God’s communications are.
  4. It is obvious that any believer can talk himself or herself into believing that God communicated something, giving it the same high level of authority in making decisions and solving problems that God deserves when God was not the source of the communication or the conclusion reached by that believer.

So, I conclude that many people who have been trained or learned prophetic operations and even prophetic function prophesy to themselves. They engage in self-talk that is self-prophetic. They come to consider that self-prophetic process exempt from the prophetic process applied to all prophecy because they come to assume that this prophetic self-talk is the same thing as God speaking. There is a marked difference in the method God uses to communicate internally within believers and the way prophecy communicates revelation.

God is talking all the time to His people through impressions, dreams, visualizations, and language-based insights that arrive through the spirit of a believer. While these are all a way of communicating, they are not all prophetic or a form of prophecy in the technical or functional sense. Many times a dream simply reveals what’s going on in a believer’s own heart, the outflow of internal dialogue, the imagery of personal emotions, or the imagining of one’s self in interacting internally with respect to conflict and comprehension. In that sense, no direction or directive is given or intended no matter at what level God is involved.

Prophets, Prophecy, and Prophetic Process

The very reason God has prophets and prophecy that comes through all the believers who operate in this important grace capacity,  the reason they have prophetic dreams other than those that provide simply understanding of internal feelings and imaginations, is that God designed and defined prophecy to be something uniquely different from that spiritual life communion. God knows full well the prophetic capacities of believers, wants them to receive revelation, but never intended that this aspect of His relationship with them would short-circuit the leaders He created, designed, defined, and assigned them.

God wants every believer to enjoy the fullness of kingdom leadership, and prophecy needs leadership, order, accountability, principles and protocols just like any other aspect of kingdom to avoid the pitfalls possible to human imperfection.

Although God’s part of the process is always perfect, God makes no guarantee that believers become perfect because they become spiritual. In fact, God makes Himself clear in design, definition, and directives concerning revelation by providing both people and process leadership principles and protocols to safeguard revelation.

When we fail to properly distinguish between prophetic self-talk and prophecy, we fail to apply needed caution, accountability, and wisdom that comes from outside ourselves. Sometimes assuming we are having more communication with or from God than we actually are, we are falling into a form of pride that assumes every thought that enters the mind is from God.

I have observed this phenomenon in prophets and prophetic people for some time. I have certainly observed myself falling prey to the temptation. I want to hear God. I also want to think that I hear Him a lot. I want to think that God is so involved that He makes me as wise as He is.

I fell into the trap through spiritual pride in the early days of prophetic experience. I felt so close to God and was experiencing spiritual things so intensely that I came to the conclusion that I was spiritual in an exaggerated sense. I was certain I was correct in every assumption I made or that my assumptions were actually conclusions reached by revelation. Boy! I learned some hard lessons.

Having leaders to call you on it is step one! Submitting to those leaders is the safest way to overcome the deep desire to be something you are not or cannot be. Learning to say, “I have no idea!” when people expect you to discern it all is vital!

Dangers of Exempting Self-Talk from Leadership

When prophetic self-talk reaches conclusions, these conclusions seem exempt from prophetic process, and people are even willing to name drop “God” as a means of exempting themselves from the prophetic security that comes from leadership. They are willing to dismiss all discussion, merely announce their internals findings, and make horrendously inappropriate, even sinful, decisions, while blaming God for them.

I’ve seen some of my precious spiritual children quit jobs, make moves, jump ship, start ministries, spend or invest money, and even marry someone based upon prophetic self-talk. I weep at the messes they made they continue to attribute to God, and traps they fell into, some of which continue to imprison them to this day. I saw them exempt their prophetic self-talk from the prophetic process because they wished to do what they wanted to do, believe what they wanted to believe, and think what they wanted to think.

In other words, they wished to say this with a loud voice, “God told me to.”

Here some things that happen when you exempt prophetic self-talk from prophet process:

  1. You jump to conclusions about people you see as a threat, dislike personally, or hope to diminish in order to make more room for yourself in the kingdom, assuming that God is showing their weakness or sin as justification for your otherwise bad attitude toward them; you justify rivalry and contest with pseudo spiritual input;
  2. You settle upon something you want and project your demanding desire upon God as a revelation of what He wants justifying your delusions, investing spiritual functions in strengthening your “confirmations” of your misguided imaginations of the will of God;
  3. You dream a fleshly dream in your imagination and interpret it as a God-given passion, building a defense around it because of its value to your heart, and attribute experiences, thoughts, further imaginations, and air castle ideas to revelation when they are simply human imagination; while human imagination is awesome and healthy, it cannot stand the process prophetic revelation must endure;
  4. You find listening ears for your self-talk, some relational association that allows your self-talk celebration; finding this kind of friend is never difficult and often leads to mutual self-talk delusions as one parries the other into deeper “confirmations,” even leading to pseudo prophetic words between you;
  5. You begin to move more of authentic prophetic revelation into this faulty process, drawing back from sharing with leaders and other prophetic people, isolating at a greater pace until you find that you need no leadership, no sharing, no accountability, convincing yourself that what you think, judge, decide, want, and determine is sufficient because God is the One revealing things to you: of course, the prophetic process always assumes that God is the One revealing things, so you have excluded yourself from what He designed and defined to protect you from the very error that has overcome you!

Appropriate Prophetic Self-Talk

When revelation comes, tested, judged, confirmed, and approved, that revelation becomes part of the redeemed mindset of a transformed believer! His self-talk is certainly full of prophetic revelation, but it does not become part of his prophetic self-talk until after it has been processed properly.

The mind of Christ receives revelation readily. The mind of Christ assimilates revelation and gives it priority for determining a proper grasp of reality. Prophetic revelation changes the process by which believers live their lives. The mind of Christ begins with the spirit to process information, think, judge, reach conclusions, and make decisions, and solve problems.

The mind of Christ is spiritual and feeds into the mind of the believer. The mind of the believer has capacities for perception, memory, ideation, reasoning, intention, decision, combining feelings and emotions as input to the processing of information, all of these answering to belief. And, the mind of the believer is controlled by obedience to Christ.

We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient. Look at the obvious facts. Or you look at things only on the basis of appearance. Those who say they belong to Christ must recognize that we belong to Christ as much as they do. I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority.  (2 Corinthians 10:4-8)
Notice that Paul recognizes that believers have a battle in the mind, yet believers have the mind of Christ, open to revelation. Paul makes it clear that the process of setting believers free is one a leader does. Paul isn’t saying that believers need to use these weapons, in this instance, but that he uses them as a leader to bring thoughts into captivity to Christ.
My point is that God assumes that believers need leaders in their lives to do some serious warfare with regards to how those believers think.
We can apply this to the prophetic self-talk discussion.

Blueprint Leadership: Executing God’s Strategies

The Blueprint Room

I once visited a construction company’s offices to review blueprints, and the company had an entire room dedicated to blueprint storage. Large-drawered cabinets dominated the room, clearly marked, collecting a vast museum of proposed and previously constructed building projects.

The person I was with went to a drawer and lifted a set of blueprints from a stack stored in one drawer, throwing them out like a sheet on a bed upon a large table so we could review one section of the prints that were pertinent to my responsibilities.

Considering this situation today, I was struck with the analogy: perhaps we have such a room filled with revelations of God’s construction assignments as well, properly catalogue and often mentioned in terms of “we received a prophetic word.” Yet, the room is filled with God’s projects as if the blueprints He has revealed await God’s implementation. They do not. God has representatives on earth to build what He designs in heaven; waiting on God to do what God is waiting on us to do might be considered the greatest rebellion of kingdom history because it is a massive collection of disobedience!

Voicing Vision without Implementation

Beware the tendency to shout loud about a prophetic revelation and to do nothing about it, anticipating the God will enforce His judgments when the reason for the revelation has more to do with how His representative people will enforce them. Beware the immaturity of apostolic and prophetic leadership that hears and sees but fails to prepare and position.

The operative word for kingdom leadership says, “Prepare and position the saints.” To apply the physical body meaning of the word for “perfect” implies both preparation and positioning. A prepared body part must be put into place for the operation it was prepared to do, in concert with other body parts. This is the metaphor of Ephesians 4.

The operative word for kingdom leadership says, “Apostles and prophets lay foundations that align with the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. The master builders have blueprints for the entire building from site preparation to finish work.” The metaphor of building implies that the revelation is the approval for the plans and the authorization for the construction. Blueprints leaders have a much greater assignment than merely voicing a revelation or calling people to a vision. They must do something to implement the revelation!

Right now, kingdom blueprints remain in storage racks as accumulations of Divine assignments await apostolic and prophetic maturity. The point is that until we have an apostolic and prophetic people prepared and positioned to implement, the beauty of artist conceptions for kingdom construction become a gallery show of conceptualizations for us to ooh and aah over instead of a working blueprint calling every believer in a region or nation to their destinies.

“Accurately Anticipating” Applied to Alignment and Assignment

We are still making prophetic announcements of revival and Awakening now as if these are new and novel insights to be celebrated or general invitations to anyone and everyone to parade and party. They are a call to identify the authentic apostolic and prophetic leaders who can found things, kingdom representatives who can tell people what to be and do so that what they are and do builds a body and building.

After spending (almost wasting) time identifying bricks and piling them in neat stacks, we have yet to complete foundations for revival and Awakening, hoping that God will do it for us. He will not. After spending inordinate amounts of emotional energy identifying vision that paints the artist conceptions of the edifices, we have yet to identify the subcontractors or even properly assign the site preparation work that matches the finished product.

We revel in our vision and neglect our assignments. We are like Noah preaching a flood while staring at the timbers that he must assemble to save his family! We assume declaring something obligates God to build something when God reveals so we can do the work!

We may also assume that praying and worshipping will make things magically appear that only the grander kingdom leadership functions can bring to pass. That is, prayer and worship do not form physical things or transform people without the complete functional leadership of the kingdom in full implementation. Praying without preaching or worshipping without discipling won’t produce a mature body. Praying won’t lay bricks or install windows. Without prayer it won’t be right, and we know that. But, the idea that we wait on God to do what God waits upon us to do fills the blueprint with uncompleted assignments.

King Saul discovered quickly that God wasn’t interested in a leader who could offer a sacrifice but fail to obey. King Saul lost what prayer and worship provides because he thought 99% obedience would be enough. King Saul was replaced with David because God found in David someone with His heart, and God defines “has My heart” as “he will finish what I assign him to do.”

Reconciliation and Restoration

You know you have kingdom cultural problem when the basis for relationship reconciliation and restoration has no basis in principle, procedure, or protocol.
Reading the analysis of commentators and pundits on the breach between Barnabas and Paul over John Mark, one would think their relationship met a suddenly when it would be more consistent to the story and human experience in general to assume the conflict was a final step in its deterioration.

Paul and Barnabas had failures on reconciliation leading up to the John Mark crisis.

Analysis of many relationship breaches reveal:

  1. People tend to overlook little breaches and misunderstanding when they fail to discern that the pile of unresolved things is growing. When the pile finally reaches a proportion that blocks passageways, they then deal with the final breach without reference to the previous pile.
  2. People tend to assume that reconciliation and restoration should be based upon “whatever it takes” instead of principle, procedure, and protocol. The definition of “good relationship based upon love” that assumes a mature believer will go along to get along is so obviously erroneous as to be unworthy of consideration.
  3. As with Barnabas and Paul, the irreconcilables may expose fatal flaws in submission to assignment. It appears that Barnabas walks away from the assignment to which Holy Spirit him in order to devote himself to a personal project with John Mark. That might be the best analysis of the Scripture, certainly best presentation of the facts given us in Acts and other Scriptures. Otherwise, we are projecting presuppositions on the passages without applying kingdom cultural principles.
  4. When God defines a relationship and the roles and responsibilities of the relationship, reconciliation and restoration must continue to respond His definition. If you breach a marriage relationship, for example, God’s definition of marriage, roles, relationship, responsibilities, must be the foundation for restoration. You cannot assume that a man can reconcile with his wife and maintain a relationship with his mistress, right?
  5. In the same way, those that rebel against assigned authority, breach their submission to alignments, cannot be reconciled and restored to a different relationship with those leaders. The rebel can’t write the reconciliation package as if a negotiation is in order when God is the One who makes the leadership assignment in the first place. If the change of relationship is defined by God, there is a procedure and protocol for that redefinition, and the leader is the leader in that procedure.
  6. With regards to friendships, the procedures and protocols of the kingdom continue to apply. If the friendship is between married people, ignoring marriage relationships isn’t possible. If the friendship is between leaders, ignoring leadership relationships isn’t possible. If the friendship is between leader and follower, ignoring leadership protocols isn’t possible.

In other words, people in rebellion wish to redefine relationships to accommodate their demands, subvert their submission, and rewrite history to fit their justifications for having a problem with authority. Often, kingdom leaders as well as rebels ignore these kingdom culture dynamics in order to appear heroic or humble, and they allow or even celebrate the destruction of kingdom culture in so doing!

Kingdom has a culture, and that culture has principles, procedures, and protocols that help us define relationships, roles, and responsibilities. We cannot breach culture to mend fences. We cannot ignore God’s assignments because they make us uncomfortable. We cannot justify rebellion using cultural norms from the world or any other subculture without damaging kingdom culture.

The most obvious way we have failed to maintain kingdom culture: relationships.

Jesus Speaks

At first, we wonder why Jesus addresses relationship breach with such a lengthy treatment, as if this discussion is so important that He could leave out the big ticket items of modern churchanity to spend time discussing personal and corporate responses to relationship health. And, sad as it may be, the treatment of Matthew 18 in modern christianism is an insult and blasphemy to Jesus.

The reason Jesus focuses upon relationship for the Ecclesia answers to the discussion we are having about kingdom culture. Again, “the most obvious way we have failed to maintain kingdom culture: relationships.” We have sacrificed the principles, procedures, and protocols of the kingdom to “let’s find a way to get along.” That substitution of humanism and human cultural values for kingdom culture and kingdom values has so diminished kingdom culture that we have only some film and surface slush left!
Jesus speaks to the most basic because He speaks to the most general. If we get this right, we restore kingdom culture in fundamental ways! If we continue with our humanistic mores, the kingdom culture remains distant.

Kingdom has a culture. Relationships are fundamental to that culture. Marriage and family foundations come first. Government and social relationships come from those within the kingdom. Healthy Ecclesia relationships are as necessary to body health as the very systems of the physical body to its health.

Presuppositions

What fails us most often in reading Scripture is an insufficient mindset, a context of presuppositions into which the words of Jesus say what they mean coming out of His mouth.

Of course, there is a whole body of christianism that never even tries to do this, subverting the Bible and Jesus to a different context and creating a false impression about the mind of Christ. We are not those people, right?

The presuppositions upon which Jesus speaks do not damage any other Scripture, and any other Scripture, properly applied, does no damage to the words of Jesus. So, the presuppositions of Jesus about kingdom culture serve in applying and implementing relationship reconciliation and restoration.

“Gained a brother” is a powerful phrase. But the discussion begins with “if your brother sins (that sin directed toward or against or involving) you.” So, Jesus begins the discussion with a breach of relationship, and that starting point is of vital importance to the rest of the discussion. How do we determine what “sin” means? And, the presupposition of Jesus in this entire scenario, serious as it is, speaks to that breach of relationship, because that relationship is defined by kingdom culture.

False Expectations and Sins

Most of the relationship breaches in which I have been involved, whether between me and someone else in the kingdom, between people I lead in the kingdom, or between kingdom leaders, are not “sin” based breaches at all. They seldom involve sin; they are usually and predominately breaches of false expectations, selfish and childish, stubborn and silly, personal stuff that adults should be able to talk out.

I don’t think we do great disservice to kingdom culture when someone fails to offer us the response we imagine we deserve in our delusions, in other words. “They failed to greet me properly. They ignored me. I should be receiving greater honor around from them.” That isn’t “sin involving you from your brother.” That is dysfunction in relationship that mature people work out through dialogue because of love.

Sinning is a breach of kingdom culture in terms of principle, procedure, and protocol. When that occurs, damage done to the entire culture must be addressed, else continued disregard for these sins destroys culture altogether.

Determining what Jesus means by “your brother sins” is of paramount importance here.
In most situations then, the “your brother sins” part of the relationship breach cannot be reconciled simply because the real issue isn’t an actual “sin involving you.” It is a matter of interpersonal maturity that needs long suffering, love, and honor.

Begin with the kingdom relationship definitions to determine “your brother sins involving you.” Then, address the breach of culture that answer to “sin” in order to repair the breach. For the most part, Jesus isn’t talking about friendship or people living up to your expectations of relationship, people treating you as you imagine, demand, prescribe, or expect, in other words. Those aren’t sins at all! Those are symptoms of your pride and immaturity.

Honor and Inheritance

Honor releases anointing. Dishonor always limits us from receiving what Jesus has sent us.

Honor releases what Jesus sends through leaders. Dishonor limits what He sends us. We often demand Jesus give us directly what He has designed for us to receive through leaders.

We dishonor His leadership when we dishonor His strategy for leadership. We dishonor Jesus when we demand that He do things the way we design.

I have noticed a dishonor displayed by people wishing to be able to claim that everything in their lives and ministries comes “directly from God” without any human leadership involved. They will sometimes allow for a really famous international leader’s touch, but they do so when that international leader has no direct responsibility in their lives and ministry, to avoid direct accountability.

Jesus sends something to us through leaders because we need accountability for what He sends us from the leaders through whom He makes this available. They are sent to release an anointing and are the very ones to whom we need to make ourselves accountable for that anointing. In other words, Jesus knows that putting that anointing upon us directly – “I got this from Jesus so I’m only accountable to Him” – leaves us without the accountability absolutely necessary for having that anointing. In reality, they don’t have the anointing they think they have.

I remember one particular leader who would always avoid receiving ministry when I was laying hands upon people so that she could continue to characterize her anointing as coming directly from Jesus. In that way, she hoped to avoid accountability. She, in fact, avoided receiving fresh anointing and new anointing.

She proved to be a dismal failure at leadership simply because she failed this important leadership test; because of dishonor and a lack of honor, she lacked the very anointing she wished to claim. Because she refused accountability to the ones who would release it, she attempted to show that she had an anointing she didn’t have. Everybody but her could see that she lacked this anointing, so they didn’t honor her at that level – failure to honor results in a failure to be honored.

She demanded a level of honor she wasn’t due because she refused to give a level of honor Jesus asked her to give. She was demanding honor while refusing to give honor.

Life emptied out right in front of her, and all the honor she demanded escaped her because she was never positioned to function and receive it.

Spiritual Sources for Natural Inheritances

Honor begins with sources and originations. Honoring parents because they give you life brings a promise of long life. Honoring parents through whom you receive inheritance brings a promise that the inheritance will produce for you.

In the kingdom, honor begins with sources and originations. Honoring spiritual fathers because they give you what Jesus sent them to impart brings a promise that your spiritual life will expand in your generation. Honoring spiritual fathers through whom you receive ministry and spiritual inheritance brings a promise that the ministry you have will have life and your natural inheritance will expand in your generation. Yes, spiritual inheritance anoints you for natural inheritance.

If you insist upon receiving something without inheriting it, you will short circuit the relationship needed to prepare and position you for inheritance. And, the spiritual relationships that would cause what you carry to produce its highest are necessary to you functioning at the highest.

I have had spiritual inheritance for which spiritual fathers have prepared and positioned me who were not the sources of the inheritance, per se. That is, I carry unfulfilled purposes inherited naturally for which Jesus gave me spiritual fathering; the inheritance came naturally but the fathering came spiritually.

In this way, natural limits are removed from the possibility that I am prepared and positioned to bring those inheritances to fullness in my generation. If I refuse to honor, the natural and spiritual inheritance may only function with limitation: the limits of my success can be measured in the limits of my honor.

 

Apostles

Comparable words, apostello and pempein, “to send,” reveal two fundamentals concepts: “being sent to originate and being sent to finish what was started.” Especially for John, the idea of being sent links Jesus to the Father as His Representative. The words are common in natural life, of course, but take on a special meaning when applied to the spiritual and kingdom context of being sent.

From that idea of representation, the word, apostolos, “apostle,” became a specific descriptor of a person sent by the king, usually on board a ship, with ambassadorial authority, the original meaning of “admiral” carrying more than messenger or emissary, with messages written by or signed by the king’s own hand and sealed with the king’s own seal.

Originally, the word described a naval expedition through which a group of men, sent with specific intention, not merely to establish settlement, but more to represent the king at a distance. The word immediately means that those who went never did so on their own accord or decision. They were sent on this journey with specific intention, purpose, strategy, and objective.

The Hebrew word, shalach, is closest to apostle, “to send,” but technically applied to those that represent by commission. We see this, for example, in 2 Chronicles 17:7-9. The person sent is always under orders, makes decisions upon the basis of those orders, even to the death.

When the word, “apostle,” comes from the mouth of Jesus, we have these several flavors of historic and cultural use, but we must place the meaning of the word into the context in which Jesus uses it. Jesus is speaking first of Himself as the Father’s Representative, then of the representatives He prepares and positions. He originates and finishes His assignment; but, that assignment resets the kingdom for new apostles, apostles representing Jesus as Jesus represented the Father once Jesus receives the kingdom on earth that He represented from heaven.

Because the bulk of the uses of this word comes in Luke and Paul, we tend to link the greatest meaning and model of “apostle” to what they have to say, Luke spending a great deal of time with Paul writing the book of Acts, and greater emphasis is given to Paul’s apostolic life and ministry for this reason. However, we do err to assume that Paul is the only, highest, last, or dominate apostolic voice or model. Jesus is. We learn a great deal from Paul’s experiences about “apostle in kingdom expansion and Ecclesia,” but we do not read that, “Paul is the only model for apostles” nor do we ever read, “Paul is the last apostle.” The idea that Paul was the real replacement for Judas, thus completely the one and only “twelve” is spurious conjecture without Biblical authority.

Understand that centuries of man fitting the Bible to their own designs for the institutions of church-anity instead of establishing kingdom and the design of its King has led to odd applications of many Bible ideas and the meaning of many Bible terms. With that, we have the added confusion of perverse piling on of meaning to bolster dysfunction and malpractice, so we have “super, elect, arch, primary, first, macro, special apostle of the first order, “cardinalized” and canonized by succession from the most holy, reverend, and right reverend bishop of Mesopotamia.” Usually, this means something really odd sitting in a big chair, wearing a big hat. In other words, it is a substitute for the real thing that lacks real power and authority, to be ignored until “quite dead and plucked up by the roots. “We just need all of this stuff to go away as quickly as possible!

The Meaning of Apostle

“Apostle” in the mouth of Jesus, like “ecclesia” and “kingdom” in the mouth of Jesus, is special in meaning. It applies to a spiritual kingdom, a legal authorization to represent, speak for, take action, command, correct, judge, enforce, announce, and ordain. While Jesus had many disciples, He had fewer apostles, in particular, the twelve.

In particular, John records this from Jesus:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is an apostle greater than the one who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” [See John 13.]

Here we have the sense of sending and receiving the one sent, the scope of the one sent cannot be greater than the scope assigned by the One who sent him: that is, in sending someone to represent him, the king delegates something less than the total scope of the king’s authority. The apostle cannot have a greater scope of authority than the one who sent him. The apostle receives specific scope of authority, sphere of influence, and a definite assignment.

Although Paul has a commission to the non-Jews, Paul is not sent to all the non-Jews; and when Paul seeks to go somewhere outside his scope of assignment, Holy Spirit stops him. Also, when the Ecclesia in Antioch send Paul and Barnabas on a mission, to represent the greater company of apostles, this isn’t the same scope of authority as Paul and Barnabas each receive from Holy Spirit to represent Jesus for “the work I have called them to do.” In one case, they are apostles sent to represent the company of apostolic leaders. In the other, they are sent by God to represent God on special assignment. We tend to mix these “sendings” in our discussions when they are not the same at all; the special meaning of “apostle” in Ephesians 4:11, bestowed upon the Ecclesia to prepare and position the saints, cannot be the same meaning as “messenger” or “representative of man or a group of human leaders.”

For example, as an apostle, I can send representatives from this kingdom center to do the work of this assignment. In this way, you would be representing me and my assignment, as assignment we all share together as shareholders, international in scope and authority. On the other hand, an apostle sent by Jesus to represent Him would maintain relational covenant with us because we are the ones recognizing and validating that God indeed sent them, but they directly represent Jesus in their mission as apostles.

Timothy was sent by Paul to represent Paul in places Paul established ministry. In this way, Paul says, “No one has my heart like Timothy.” However, Timothy had his own kingdom commission after Paul’s death, or even during Paul’s life, that was Timothy, the representative of Jesus Christ. Because Holy Spirit directs all these sendings and representations, no conflict arises between or among them: Timothy can represent Paul because Paul represents Christ; Timothy can directly represent Christ without Paul sending him because Timothy is recognized and validated by Paul and other kingdom leaders.

The meaning of the word “apostle” comes from the words that mean, “to send,” but the meaning in the mouth of Jesus is much more, and that meaning must include the sense of “kingdom representative.” The apostolic commission can be for a specific time with expansion, change, or reset, but the basic understanding is that an apostle represents Jesus who Represents the Father, and can also represent someone Jesus sent. In this way, we see the only sense of “apostolic succession.” (A false doctrine of Roman Catholic sourcing that says the pope traces his authority back to Simon Peter who got all the authority of the universal church from Jesus.)

So, the “apostle” always receives a commission directly from Jesus if he or she is “apostle” in the sense of Ephesians 4:11 and the apostolic function that partners with prophets as blueprint, foundational, construction managing, judgment declaring, fathering and originating.

Hebrews 3:1 says, “Brothers and sisters who share the heavenly calling, discern and understand Jesus, The Apostle and High Priest of our complete consensus about what God loves and hates.” Jesus being both the Son Representing the Father and the Priest dealing with our sins forever, giving us a body of complete understanding for what the Father wants and doesn’t want.

Jesus so represented Father that He could redeem All. We never have that scope of representation, of course, but we do have some scope of representation of what Jesus does representing the Father now because of the finished work of His Cross, Resurrection, Ascension, and Intercession. We are representing Him from where He is seated at the right of the Father, representing what Father wants with the power and authority to establish what Father wants in the earth, here and now! That is apostolic!

Although “apostle” means “one sent” in the simplest meaning, it means much more than that in the mouth of Jesus, and we see that the simplest meaning and the kingdom function are both shown in the Bible, clarifying that “apostle of Jesus Christ” means something that “apostle” does not mean in any other context. Just as Jesus being “Apostle of the Father” means something no one else in all history could be, an “apostle of Jesus Christ” also carries a special meaning because of Who sends that person and what that person is authorized to be, do, and say as the special representative of Jesus Christ.

So, by definition, an “apostle” is a kingdom leader personally called by God, sent to represent Jesus, prepared and positioned by Divine process involving other kingdom leaders, given authority to use God’s power to produce God’s purposes with blueprints for the finished building, alignments for the mature Body, and beautification of the mature Bride, originating kingdom within a scope of assignment, fathering leaders to inherit unfulfilled purposes, working with prophets to clarify what Holy Spirit communicates to the Ecclesiae, and bringing governmental order to the kingdom through personal and corporate relationships.

In this definition we have meaning, method, message, means, management, manifestation, ministry, and mission, as well as the basis for a host of other particulars as the apostolic is applied to every arena of spirit as kingdom leadership influence.

Ministry of the Apostle

Jesus brings some of His disciples into kingdom representation, moving their discipling preparation into a ministry positioning. He did not do so with all His disciples in the same sense. At one point, He expands this representation to 70, sent out in twos to announce that Messiah will be coming to their cities, sent to prepare those cities with demonstrations of kingdom authority and power.

However, “disciple” and “apostle” are not equal terms. Jesus disciples individuals and cultures to produce their destinies and purposes. In this case, He disciples apostles because they were called to represent Jesus. In other words, discipling prepares every kingdom leader for his or her calling, and some of those are “called apostles” and discipled as preparation and positioning for that personal purpose. You can be discipled to be a teacher if you are called to be a teacher. You can be discipled to be serving leader if you are called to be a serving leader (what people call a “deacon.”) You can be discipled as a sheep if you incapable of maturity because of infirmity.

Jesus, who is Apostle, disciples those called to be apostles. While the term, “apostle,” retains its meaning as “messenger and representative” in some instances, the function of “apostle” as a kingdom leadership dynamic takes on the meaning only Jesus can invest into it through discipling. Jesus has this intention from the beginning of His ministry. He is developing kingdom leaders so when the kingdom resets after He finishes His assignment, the kingdom will have the leadership infrastructure to mature even further through direct representation.

We recognize this sending in the original twelve and the seventy because they return to give report to Him of what they were sent to do. The accounting of their mission speaks directly back to the sending itself. Jesus receives a report because He is the One who sends them. They represent Him as He represents the Father. They do not directly represent the Father, cannot directly represent the Father, but represent the Son because the Son establishes the kingdom on earth for the Father in heaven.

In some ways, Jesus bridges the Jewish tradition of shalach with the kingdom reality of apostolos. To test this concept, we hear John complain that someone is casting out demons who is not being discipled as they are by Jesus. John thus recognizes that they are authorized to use power by Jesus, and others doing something like what they are doing in a different way are not so prepared to represent Jesus.

Then, Jesus shares that the shalach or apostolic representative, in any case and by definition, when representing the one who sends him or her, will share the response of that representation: if they accept Jesus through your representation, they accept you as His representative; if they reject Jesus through your representation, they reject you. With the representation comes the response, and sharing the representation causes you to share the response. If they persecute you, it is because they are persecuting the One who sent you. If they embrace you as His representative, they receive all He sends to them through you.

The ministry or serving of an apostle positions him or her to serve Jesus, then to serve other people as Jesus would serve them if He was the one present. Jesus gives them this example in His own life and ministry, serving the Father by serving people as the Father would if He were the One present. Note that the serving doesn’t diminish the Divinity of Father or Jesus but releases the authority and power of heaven to people on earth. Note that this serving doesn’t demote the servant to be a rug for scrapping off mud, but positions the servant for the response: if they accept you…if they reject you…if they persecute you…if they follow you…if they kill you…if they submit to you…all that means they are responding to the One who sent you. The apostolic package carries both rejection and acceptance.

Understand that some of the response you see to apostolic leadership are people manifesting their rebellion or submission with God. The imperfections of human leadership never justify this response because the imperfections of those sent are not the issue: the issue remains whether or not they were sent. So, we say, “I know God called you and you are obviously anointed, but I disagree with you and will not follow anymore.” So we say, “I know you are imperfect, but I recognize that God sent you and will submit to your assignment by aligning as a shareholder of that assignment to establish and expand what the One Who sent you wants.”

The apostle makes it real and personal that Jesus is establishing and expanding kingdom on earth through specific assignments His representatives are authorized and empowered to reveal, build, appropriate resources to, share strategies about, and prepare and position God’s people so they can fulfill their own personal assignments within that kingdom assignment. We can submit to God by submitting to His representatives, building a kingdom building, functioning as a kingdom Body, beautifying a kingdom Bride, or we can insist upon directly representing God in some way we devise and build outhouses, leave roadkill, and develop the allure of a whore in our own authority.

“Ministry” means “serving.” As representatives, we are serving the One who sent us, but His sending carries “serving instead of being served” within it because that is what He would do. We do not seek a throne when we already represent His! We do not use power and authority to pad our pockets even though we may certainly become wealthy as the representatives of the King. (The difference should be obvious: we don’t grow rich on the backs of the people we serve; but we may certainly enjoy blessings as the representatives of the One who owns it all.)

The ministry of the apostle represents the ministry of Jesus, what He is doing right now within a context of what He did while on earth. Both the ministry of what He does now and the ministry He finished while on earth feed into the ministry model of apostles. Of course, no one apostle completely represents the fullness of the Apostle, Jesus Christ; so, what we observe in real life, in each apostle, is some aspect of that full scope of apostolic leadership. No one apostle is “Jesus on earth.” To see “Jesus on Earth” we have to observe the whole enterprise of kingdom on earth, best seen in the operation of His Ecclesiae.

Do not attempt to be Jesus when you are sent to represent one aspect of Jesus. Do not attempt to produce the entire ministry of Jesus when you are sent to produce a defined, assigned, and measured aspect of the ministry of Jesus. Do not arrogantly assume that you can be all things apostolic to any scope, region, sphere, measure, people, place, or generation. You are not Jesus, nor can any one apostle or apostolic ministry hope to represent the King Eternal when assigned one aspect of His eternal kingdom.

The greatest enemy of truth is exaggeration, and we see more dysfunction and malpractice in attempts to be all that Apostle Jesus is in kingdom leaders seeking to the end all of apostolic leadership. No matter what level of leadership the scope of your assignment might reach, it will never legitimately be “all that Jesus is.” It will always be one aspect of Apostle Jesus just as apostle, teacher, shepherd, prophet, evangel each represent one aspect of His ministry. (The order of apostle first, prophet second, teacher third is not followed in this statement on purpose because I am pointing out that the fivefold ministry reveals kingdom leadership dynamics only completely available in One Person, Jesus Christ.)

So, the ministry of the apostle begins with sacrificial surrender of total obedience and submission to the One who sends the apostle as His special representative. The maturity of the apostle always answers to that sending and is measured by the finished product his or her mission asks him or her to complete. (More than one mission may be specified, and a total “this is my life’s work” answers to completing the work you are assigned.)

The idea that authority and power produce increased arrogance, pride, showmanship, personal fame and celebration of the personality of the apostle to the point of requiring that the apostle be cloned as a matter of course strikes directly to the heart of false apostle definitions. In other words, these characteristics help us identify the pseudo, not the authentic.

Serve! Sacrifice! Surrender! The apostle will be given much because the apostle must give much. The apostle does not gather in order to hoard – anointing, power, authority, provision, revelation, scope of leadership, influence, and accumulations of people – the apostle immediately distributes to those building upon the foundation laid, continuing the subcontractor building that will complete the entire edifice.

The apostle works with the prophet foundationally, but with the teacher, evangel, and shepherd just as well and consistently, because he or she has a more complete set of blueprints, greater and more defined scope of representative authority, and expanded perspective for establishing and enforcing kingdom order through kingdom principles and protocols.

On the other hand, we learn from the storied lives of apostles in Scripture that the variations on the theme, “apostle,” can be great. Comparing Paul with Simon Peter, or any of the apostles with John and James the brother of Jesus, for example, reveal the broadest possibilities of apostolic disposition, assignment, success, authority and power, function, and faithfulness. John lives a long time. Paul dies rather quickly after he commences his full apostolic endeavors. Simon Peter has a very different disposition from any of the others. Some are married, and rightly so. Some are single for strategic reasons that answer to their assignments, exceptions to the rule, so to speak because marriage is a kingdom norm. Some seem to blow up a storm and blow out of town on the next wind while others seem to settle in for a longer stay.

Beware the tendency to create a checklist for “marks of an apostle” when no such list exists in the Bible and merely collecting the several sayings of apostles about themselves fails to provide the last word on apostolic descriptions. The collected sayings of Paul about himself do not serve to describe every apostle, nor does the apology of Paul to defend his own authorization to “apostle” the Corinthians provide exhaustive last words on what an apostle is or does. All the saying about “apostle” in the Bible completely agree, but the Bible is not an exhaustive book on any subject. (I do not mean by that statement that we now know more about apostles. We do not. The Bible is the Authority on all but it doesn’t exhaust any subject.)

Most of the literature treating this subject tends toward a generalization, a “one size fits all”, an “every apostle looks like this”, or a “Paul is all” approach to everything New Testament. This brings lasting false impressions about apostles to the kingdom, lays groundwork for apostolic competition so some can prove themselves superior, more mature, or even contend for greater scope of leadership authority to boss everyone else around. This treatment also warps the preparation matrix of apostles toward cloning: “we learn how to be apostles by being just like this apostle or Apostle Paul.” (In reality, we can learn a lot about function when we find an apostle somewhat like us, knowing none may be available to model our assignment perfectly.)

The ministry of the apostle speaks to him or her serving the One who sent them. No apostle can rightly alter his or her assignment to suit the people demanding to change their job descriptions. Impossible! People recognize the apostle is sent, recognize their assignment to assist in the assignment by accepting their share as shareholders, answering their assignment to Ecclesia, submitting to their preparation and positioning to function personally in the kingdom Ecclesia, and receive what Jesus makes available through the apostle and the apostolic team Jesus assigns to complete the mission the apostle leads. The apostle is serving the Sender, the mission, the people who share the assignment, and the scope of his or her apostolic authority.

Mantle of Apostle

Mantling for the apostolic always answers to the assignment: the apostle has the authority of his or her assignment. Those who come into alignment with the assignment share in the authority by submitting to the strategy to prepare and position them to function within that assignment.

First, we must define “mantle.” We use this term, rightly so, in a prophetic sense, remembering Elijah casting a mantle upon Elisha, the preparing and positioning Elisha to receive that mantle when Elijah releases it from the whirlwind. We use this term prophetically to speak a spiritual capacity identified with a certain calling, leadership function, or ministry. So, the “apostolic mantle” simply means, “the authority and power that comes with this kingdom leadership dynamic.”

When Jesus made representatives of some of His disciples, He gave them authority. The authority He gave them released spiritual power. The spiritual power was resident in Jesus, authorized by the Father to represent Him. So, the disciples received some mantling to represent Jesus by demonstrating His kingship as they announced His kingdom.

That same authority and power remains available in the earth today, and to the extent that it does, a particular mantle comes with the apostolic assignment. Again, an apostle has the authority of his or her assignment, and those who come into alignment with that assignment have access to that mantling to some measure, a measure equal to how their personal and particular assignment fits and functions within the apostolic assignment.

While that sounds like some kind of multi-leveled machinery, it is decidedly not! I like to refer to this as a spiritual matrix that births, supports, and sustains what it births in a systematic way. We have come to use the word “network” for this spiritual reality, but I prefer “matrix” because it speaks more to a life-giving, and life-operating system. While the “networking” of which we often speak in apostolic terms speaks to relationships, the matrix speaks to the character of the connections that allow for relational covenants that operate on a spiritual basis even more than they operate on a personal basis. Networks tend to allow personalities to interfere and natural relationships to define spiritual operations. I tend to see a matrix more capable of explaining how SpiritFirst relationships define personal and natural relationships, rather than the reverse.

Mantling represents the spiritual authority and power the special representative receives from the One sending them, authority and power equal to and appropriate for the assignment in scope, function, grace flow and capacity.

Message of the Apostle

In a non-kingdom sense, “apostle” can sometimes be translated “messenger” because the apostle may carry a message or be the announcer of a message. The apostle may also arrive to call together an Ecclesia from the region to which he or she is sent so those authorized to represent that region hear the announcement, judgment, decree, decision, or orders of the King who rules that region.

When Jesus says, “Apostle,” He certainly has much more in mind than “a sent mouthpiece”. While apostles were some of those who wrote Scripture, they were certainly the ones who heard the instruction, commands, training, revelation, and strategies of Jesus and were authorized to be witnesses of His Resurrection, Gospel, and kingdom culture. That is, the apostles were immediately concerned with preaching, teaching, discipling, and ordering the kingdom as a basis for calling together into assembly a kingdom Ecclesia.

While the Gospel of salvation cannot be separated from the apostolic message, the apostolic message is an announcement of “Kingdom Come”, kingdom culture, and kingdom conquest. The apostle has a message to preach, but the message also contains a body of information that brings governmental order to the kingdom and function to the Ecclesia. The apostle has revelation blueprints, the “Word of the Lord” for people, regions, and nations in the same sense of the phrase is used in Acts 19:20:

“In this manner, the word of the Lord gained momentum through overcoming spiritual might, and dominated.”

The “Word of the Lord” was not the Bible but the apostolic announcement of kingdom purpose for the city-states of Asia Minor, as well as the entire region. This is apostolic preaching, teaching, discipling, and kingdom ordering with a sense of kingdom government. The apostle represents the King in a particular way – not that other leaders do not or individual believers do not represent Jesus individually – apostle represent Jesus apostolically while others represent Jesus on the basis of their unique and differing callings and assignments.

When the apostle preaches the Gospel of the kingdom, he or she is calling people to obedience to the entire process required to produce the kingdom assignment. People must receive personal redemption and restoration in the process of discipling that matures them personally to fulfill their kingdom assignments, to prepare and position them for ministry work, so they can operate within the building, body, and bride systems and relationships that mature the Ecclesia. The apostle is preaching kingdom come and kingdom culture.

The kingdom culture orders the kingdom by the principles and protocols set by the King, and the apostles in particular join in with other leaders to reset kingdom where it lags behind in kingdom order, correct what gets out of alignment, enforce Divine decisions (judgments) and make judgment decisions about broken or dysfunctional kingdom relationships and behaviors contrary to kingdom culture, and identify false teaching and leadership to protect the kingdom from intrusions and infiltrations.

While this certainly includes repentance, a staple response for the entire kingdom for needed change, the Gospel is more than “get your sins forgiven and be baptized.” The order of the culture of the kingdom blends spiritual authority and power into the personal lives of every kingdom citizen to prepare and position them to function in the kingdom Ecclesia.

Very often, the preparation and positioning of other preaching and teaching leaders begins with those leader preaching and teaching the message the apostle preach and teach. The point being that apostles and prophets help originate messaging in terms of timing, emphasis, spiritual architecture, DNA, and beautification (building, body, bride). As the apostle matures other voices, they become more specific to their calling in message, increasingly more specialized in message as they mature. A consistent and constant apostolic message matures the ministry as momentum in spiritual authority and power expands the conquest of kingdom come.
Manifestations of the Apostle

Without doubt, the apostle who preaches the Gospel of the Kingdom will particularly represent the ministry of Jesus in miracles, signs, and wonders, as power demonstrates the authenticity of the Message. As well, the spiritual authority and power Jesus authorizes in those who represent Him represent the authority and power of Jesus, so what He did and does will manifest in what they do.

We know that miracles, signs, and wonders can be released in ways other than through an apostle, of course, but we should come to expect a particular demonstration of authority and power in and through apostles. We should not, however, create another checklist of miracles, necessarily, or demand that all apostles perform the same demonstrations. We should not make a check list of miracles the qualification section of any resume for apostolic validation. We cannot say, “Until we see the raising of the dead, you just aren’t there yet” or, “You’ve done a couple of blind eyes open miracles but we haven’t seen any lepers cleansed, so keep at it until you finally get to the ‘apostolic level.’” We don’t say, “Well, when you get bit by the poisonous snake and live, people marveling at the fact you didn’t drop dead, then we’ll all be assured that you are sent by Jesus.”

“Manifestations” is another way of saying, “revealing.” So, the revealing of an apostolic authority and power in ministry occurs over a period of time, accumulations of manifestations may fill a list experiences while apostolic authenticity operates during the entire timeframe in which those manifestations happen. Perhaps the apostolic should fill us with anticipation of what will be demonstrated more than a demand that an apostolic assignment be proven. And, the thing that most points to a “false positive” on the apostolic may not be miracles at all.

On the other hand, we may anticipate that apostles will have access to greater spiritual authority and power because they represent Jesus in way other believers do not. Nothing about this statement or reality should concern our sense of God’s embrace of love for every believer, every person. We simply recognize that Jesus chooses “some apostles,” bestows “some apostles,” anoints and authorizes “some apostles.” We are not all going to be apostles when we grow up, in other words, because we can only become apostles in function when we are called apostles by Jesus.

A listing of possible manifestations is distraction, I suppose. Of course, some give time to this consideration. Some discussion could be made about the miracles of Jesus matching up to a list of expected Messianic miracles, including the miracles recorded by John – a man blind from birth, raise the dead, a Moses’ manna like miracle, etc. – as if apostles should be able to duplicate the list we could assemble for the life and ministry of Jesus. I think most people would agree this to be a distraction, that the manifestations of an apostle need not be exactly like the experiences of Jesus, mostly because the manifestations of the apostles He sent initially were not carbon copies or check lists of spiritual manifestations. The earliest apostles healed, set free, commanded nature, and manifested power (as Simon’s overshadowing shadow) in ways that Jesus did not, or ways not recorded in the Gospels of Jesus’ life and ministry.

We should expect that what Jesus did, apostles can do greater. Jesus promised this to the initial group as a standard of apostolic discipling, preparation and positioning, to say that representatives of the kingdom would represent Him in ways that expanded and exceeded what He did in a relatively short period of time. We also understand that Jesus did what He did in the power of Holy Spirit, and all apostles receive the same Holy Spirit! So, whatever Holy Spirit can manifest through a representative of Jesus is totally possible right here, right now!

Maturity of Apostles

Apostle mature. They do not appear like Adam, fully formed at their highest and most developed. They experience greater tests of obedience and submission. They submit at deeper levels to Father’s discipline. They gather expertise and experience. They live lessons learned where the greater fulfillment of assignment surrounds them with mature people, intercession, prophecy, order, character, meekness, and spiritual fruit. Apostles mature because they are like Jesus.

“Though He was a son yet learned He obedience [by submitting to the process of] passionate suffering; becoming mature, He became the Source of eternal salvation for all those that obey Him.”

Jesus learned obedience through lessons learned without any failing grades; apostles endure lessons learned through endurance as well, since their lessons learned include some failures. Apostle never become the source of eternal salvation, but they certainly represent that eternal salvation to all those who respond to their lives and ministries. And, in a sense different from obeying Jesus, obeying and submitting to apostles releases what Jesus provides in His sent ones.

Apostles are leaders, so their leadership must mature. Apostles are worshippers, so their worship must mature. Apostles should mature in worship and leadership at a somewhat equal rate so that these aspects of the eternal representation produce maturity in those that follow their leadership. Apostles measure the maturity of their leadership by the fulfillment of their assignments, the maturity of those that follow them, and the preparation and positioning of kingdom inheritors. If apostles personally mature without maturing their worship and leadership, their assignments diminish in fullness and fall short of fulfillment simply because apostles are sent to represent Jesus to the kingdom Ecclesia. Simply achieving great things, great messaging, great miracles, great ministry, great methods, but not achieving great leadership by maturing others, means the apostle fails to represent Jesus in making others greater than themselves and leaving prepared and positioned inheritors of kingdom purpose for the next generation.

Maturing the apostolic means we have fewer obvious kingdom dysfunctions, false apostles and pseudo prophets, greater blueprint expertise, stronger regional expressions of kingdom as centers for kingdom conquest originate and mature. Maturing apostolic leadership means our grasp of Bible revelation enhances in each generation with greater clarity of what Jesus established as kingdom culture. Maturing the apostolic means we have increased understanding of kingdom principles and protocols so we achieve greater oneness in building, body, and bride. Maturing the apostolic means we become much more efficient in preparing and positioning every believer for ministry work within the intricate building, body, and bride systems of the kingdom. Maturing the apostolic means kingdom Ecclesia gains greater oneness in achieving the assignments of the King in every region and nation.

Maturing the apostolic means we deal with the infiltrations of the way of Cain, the error of Balaam, and the rebellion of Korah. Maturing the apostolic means we maintain our primary passion and do what we did at the first when that primary passion released greater power. Maturing the apostolic means that prophets are more mature in function, teachers are more authoritative in training, evangels are bold in preaching and demonstration, and shepherds are more aware of the needs for provision and protection for those most vulnerable in the kingdom of God.

“Until we all arrive together, building ourselves up in love, representing Jesus as mature and complete, as big as a full-grown man.” The words of Paul remain important: “Apostles first.” Not exclusively. Not overwhelmingly. Not eclipsing any other sent representation. But, “primary, fundamental, first order, special, unique, and distinct,” apostles representing Jesus in our generation.

Kingdom Ecclesia

[Following up on previous posts concerning Jesus’ use of the word, ekklesia, in reference to His kingdom, and how what Jesus says and what modern churchanity assumes varies in massive ways, I wish to consider how to define Ecclesia in terms of assignment, location, coverage of a region, and kingdom legislative function.]

We know that Ecclesia has definable application to the entirety of the kingdom, as it is in any given moment internationally, a reference to kingdom citizens en mass as it were, as the dwelling place of Holy Spirit wherever they assemble in ways identifiable from a kingdom perspective. We also know that Ecclesia can meet in a house, a plurality of Ecclesia in a city, region, or nation identifiable by its kingdom makeup and assignment.

We see Jesus bringing accountability to seven city-states, or regional jurisdictions in the Revelation, the stars He holds in His hands in the vision He shares with Apostle John. We have learned from Scripture that Jesus builds His Ecclesia, that He has one. We learn that we can gain understanding of its spiritual function from metaphors like building, body, and bride. We also learn that internal protocols within the Ecclesia may rise to the place of legislative and governmental consideration from two or three witnesses to “the entire Ecclesia,” presumably an Ecclesia definable as “the whole one” in some specific measurement as opposed to the idea that the “entire Ecclesia” worldwide wouldn’t deal with a one-on-one reconciliation even if the communication of that judgment decision was more universal.

So, we can set some parameters for Ecclesia as “more than two or three or small group” and “less than worldwide” when we discuss Ecclesia in a functional sense. As a building, body, or bride metaphorically, we understand Ecclesia to have internal systems, structure or order, shared passion, focus, role, relationship, and covenantal bond with Jesus in ways that cannot be functional as a worldwide Ecclesia nor a two or three or small group without the essentials of kingdom leadership.

“We Are the Church”

We cannot be so hasty in our generalizations that we include “whatever and whenever” in our design and definition of Ecclesia. We have allowed for error in this regard for some time by allowing for the two or three of Matthew 18 to be “church” when Jesus makes this impossible by His own words; so, we cannot fall into the trap that an Ecclesia can be two or three people simply because what two or three are doing is kingdom business: the opposite would be Jesus’ point, in fact, that He is involved in kingdom business involving two or three even when it is not “the entire Ecclesia.”

On the other hand, we cannot be so hasty in our generalizations that we assume “everybody born again” in any geographical or cultural sense all belongs in or to a particular Ecclesia. We cannot design and define “ekklesia” based upon statements often made that use the boundaries of man to set the boundaries of kingdom. To claim, for example, the Ecclesia in a state, city, or neighborhood is the only way Jesus sees His Ecclesia – “there is only one Church in the city” or “you cannot have an Ecclesia here because there already is one” – ascribes expressions of Ecclesia to a category that lacks legitimate Biblical authority. Jesus speaks to Ecclesia only from a kingdom perspective with geographic identifiers secondary to cultural assignments.

That is, Jesus assigns us to disciple “ethnos,” and kingdom is itself a spiritual culture, so we need to understand His design and definition of “ekklesia” in the context of kingdom culture confronting natural culture with an aim to disciple cultures by spiritual influence to better represent the culture of His kingdom.

We have reacted to the idea of “going to church” in ways that move us into dangerous territory. We overreacted to the idea that “church” is a weekly event so dramatically that we are willing to assume that “being the church” can mean anything we personally wish “church” to be. That would be, and is, a grave error!

Church is not your family. Church is not you and yourself. Church is not two or three. Church is not small group gathered for any form of “doing this for Jesus” motif. Church is “ekklesia.” [We previously discussed how the word changed dramatically to mean “building” because of religious and political considerations, and how these considerations make “church” something foreign the word “ekklesia” in the mouth of Jesus.]

We should say, “We are part of the Ecclesia, and part of an assembly of kingdom ekklesia by assignment of the King.” Remember, “ekklesia” does not mean “called out of the world.” Ecclesia means “called together into assembly from within the kingdom.” So, technically, the Ecclesia can be called together in conference with some type of universal assignment as it was in Acts 15, kingdom leaders making judgment decisions from Scripture, experience, and revelation that expands the scope of implementation of a kingdom establishing blueprint. Generally speaking, however, Ecclesia is more commonly definable by cultural assignment and represented by a geographic location in which that culture exists.

“The Ephesian Ecclesia” would refer to a city-state region in which kingdom of God citizens were called into assembly to represent kingdom culture, follow the apostolic and prophetic blueprints to construct a spiritual building, be prepared and positioned as in a body to function in a body system, enter into spiritual covenant with the King as His bride as the representation of the image of God on earth in a kingdom sense. This identity would include the entirety of Ephesian culture, the surrounding region supported by and part of the bounded city, commerce, culture, and politic that Jesus wishes to confront with kingdom and kingdom culture through the powerful spiritual influences that displace rulers, authorities, and cosmic dominators – the strategically positioned authorities of Hades that currently have the greater influence over the people of that identifiable culture and region.

Acts 19 helps us see this blueprinting more clearly, and how in a rather short time, through the leadership of Paul and many leaders he was training, Ephesus and the entire region of Asia Minor were so influenced by kingdom purpose that they became kingdom centers for more than two hundred years!

So, we can’t say, “We are the Church” when we are not accomplishing these goals at some level of cultural influence and impact. We cannot say, “We are the Church” by designing and defining a subculture to avoid confrontation and lessen the discomfort of opposing forces (avoiding the riot that Ecclesia produced in Ephesus recorder in Acts 19, for example). We cannot say, “We are the Church,” when we accumulate believers without influencing the arena of spirit that prevails over the region in which Ecclesia functions.

Elements of Ecclesia

Ecclesia calls together into assembly the kingdom citizens who share assignments given by the King that represent portions of His blueprint designs for building, systems of operation for His body, or covenantal roles and relationships of His bride. We could say we have done well in representing Him when marriage has kingdom meaning in a culture. We could say we have done well representing Him when have revelation sight, power of miracles, signs, and wonders touch the culture through our hands, when the nervous system of the kingdom body assimilates information and communicates it clearly to every body part and extremity and produces coordinated movement, exercise, work force, and mobility. We could say that we have done well representing Him when the land itself has site preparation that provides for building kingdom culture in a place with a people so that a generation in that geographic location produces more and more cultural likeness to the culture of heaven.

We should expect kingdom leadership dynamics to be present and functional: apostles, prophets, teachers, evangels, and shepherds. We should expect these functional leadership dynamics as kingdom leadership for the Ecclesia so that all the leadership dynamics of Jesus, the King, are represented in the Ecclesia. In this way, His representative leaders make Jesus more involved with and within His building, body, and bride than could be possible in any other way! He is Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Evangel, and Shepherd, so all these leadership dynamics of the King must be present for a kingdom Ecclesia to learn obedience and submission to the King. We should expect this to be very much like the discipling and fathering leadership provided by Jesus as a basis for resetting God’s kingdom on earth so that His finished work on the Cross, overcoming victory in the Resurrection, all-inclusive authority in heaven and earth in the Ascension, and ever-present positioned Intercession with the Father becomes a reality in every kingdom citizen’s life.

We should expect that any and every citizen who refuses to become such a representative faces the process of personal transformation that identifies clearly their hearts so that no misrepresentation of the kingdom culture or misrepresentation of the King becomes a new cultural norm for the Ecclesia. We should expect a clear identification of wolves, bitter rooted people, frauds, perverts, addicts, and rebels as Jude, Paul, Jesus, and John clearly demand. Kingdom leaders should exercise their responsibility and authority to protect the sheep, train each citizen in calling, gifting, and assignment, hold ever citizen accountable through personal relational integrity, and rid the Ecclesia of schism, faction, division, and corrupting leaven by the means Jesus describes.

We should expect that the kingdom expansion comes when born anew individuals begin the process of life change, breaking away from the natural culture to live in kingdom culture (behaviors based upon His righteousness), and taking on a gradually increased responsibility equal to the King’s assignments for their lives.

Alignment, Alliance, Agreement, and Authority

[While to some extent we seem unable to clarify what should be obvious in modern churchanity, remaining in infantile pouts, saying, “Mine, mine!” about toys that represent real trucks and babies while missing the larger kingdom building leadership dynamics that would do more than placate our personal penchant to be someone when we grow up, the kingdom dynamics Jesus uses to build His Ecclesia remain just as real today as they ever have! We can get this right!]

Alignment means that all expressions of Ecclesia, and functional units of Ecclesia, align with the kingdom movement through leadership alliances to forge agreements on strategy so that greater authority becomes available regionally and nationally to gain greater spiritual influence. Knowing that no legitimate conflict could occur between what Jesus assigns one kingdom leader and what Jesus assigns another kingdom leader, we recognize that all conflicts come from human inadequacy, works of flesh dynamics, misrepresentations of the King, and usurpations of territorial integrity such as those to which Paul refers in terms of “going beyond the boundaries of my apostolic assignment.”

Every legitimate expression of Ecclesia best functions in kingdom and kingdom culture when properly aligned with the regional Ecclesia as it aligns with the national Ecclesia so that every expression of Ecclesia, called together into assembly to fulfill a kingdom purpose, has and exercises kingdom authority.

However, do not fall prey to the prevailing distraction and substitute for kingdom alignment best understood by the phrase, “the accumulation of believers.” Do not assume that the number of the crowd gathered, when increased to larger numbers, equates to greater authority, power, influence, or impact. Do not fall prey to the idea that bigger in terms of natural methods, machinery, men, or marketing means bigger spiritual influence when it does not.

Alignment, alliance, and agreement release greater authority, not greater accumulation.

 

Enforcing God’s Decisions

Jude says God has already long ago passed judgment. The term in verse 4 is “krima,” the Greek term for judgment decision with emphasis upon the verdict: “A long time ago God recorded His judgment decision about people like this.”

God made a decision about people operating in these spiritual conditions, a judgment verdict handed down in writing. We should be able uncover these spiritual conditions because of the influence and impact they have upon the internals Remnant, Kingdom, Ecclesia, and because this influence limits revival moving into awakening.

Now the reason for Jude writing this letter is not to announce that someday God will do something but to warn the kingdom leaders that God already decided what to do with people who function in these spiritual conditions so they can enforce, apply, implement, and lead.

The idea of this written Scripture isn’t “do nothing because God will take care of them.” Just the opposite! This Scriptures says, “God already decided that people like this shouldn’t be allowed to infiltrate His kingdom assembly without an application of God’s verdict being communicate to them so that they can no longer function in hiding.”

Here’s the “do not judge” scenario completely disassembled. The reason we do not judge is because God already did. The “judge not that you be not judged” scenario isn’t that God doesn’t want any judging! We know that isn’t true because Jesus says, “Judge righteous judgment.” The judgment we don’t need is decision making based upon anything other than God’s principles and protocols.

We need God’s judgment decisions: communicated, understood, applied, implemented. Kingdom leaders should be able to identify by discernment people who operate in the way of Cain, the error of Balaam, and the rebellion of Korah, to bring personal deliverance to them or to quarantine the Ecclesia of their internal influences when they refuse to change.