In an earlier article, "Why We Are Not Apostolic," we presented the definition of tradition. To summarize, it is the act of giving over, giving up or surrender. It has the same etymology as the word treason. Jesus said, "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men," (Mark 7:7-8). Jesus declares the results of these traditions in verse 13, "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition." According to Thayer's "Making of none effect" is one word meaning "deprive of force and authority."
Man's traditions affect our faith by creating predetermined paradigms that hinder our ability to walk in apostolic authority. A paradigm is: "A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them." American Heritage Dictionary (Dictionary.com). These traditional paradigms create a filter we view the Lord, His purpose and our spiritual lives through.
During my time of practice, occasionally, there would be a patient who would come in exasperated or frustrated and say,"Just do something." I would explain that to help them, we needed to undergo a diagnostic process to determine WHAT the true SOURCE of their problem was. In the church today, many pastors and leaders are like these patients. They know something is wrong and they are frustrated. They look to do something, by grasping the latest church growth program, big name evangelist or that one special conference. I know, I have been there. It is my desire to help us walk in apostolic authority. This Apostolic Notes and the next one, are a diagnostic process to assist us in determining WHAT the true source of our problem could be.
A review of the modern church reveals some of the developed characteristics of man's traditions. Along with these traditions I have also given food for thought about an apostolic approach.
A traditional church is one that preaches a "bless me" gospel
This gospel and its message is an attempt to alleviate man's discomfort and pain. The Bible is seen as a cookbook with recipes to fix our current problem. This is a "self" focused gospel.
The apostolic church is one that preaches the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven
Jesus' first message and that of the disciples was the gospel of the kingdom of heaven (Matt 4:17, 4:23, 9:35; Lk 9:60, 10:9). We are to be ambassadors of this kingdom. Our blessings are a by-product of obedience to His purpose.
The traditional church is one that has as its predominant goal for each individual, salvation or heaven
The traditional church view is a "saved" or "lost," "heaven" or "hell" mindset. Once saved, it is to stay saved, producing a life of fear. Our decisions are made based on how it could affect my eternity.
The apostolic church is one that has for it's main goal the transformation into the image of Jesus Christ
We must be concerned about our eternal future. However, the ultimate goal is the image of Jesus (Col 3:10, Rom 8:29, 1 Cor 15:49). The choices in my life are not based on "heaven" or "Hell," but does it please Him and make me more like Him.
The traditional church is one that continues a division between a professional clergy and laity resulting in a one man show
This attitude fosters a control issue, focusing power in the hands of a select few and does not promote a priesthood of believers.
The apostolic church is one that recognizes that we are all one body, with different giftings
The purpose of the ascension gift ministries is to equip or fully perfect the saints for the work of service (Ephesians 4:11 NASU). NOT to do all the work of service themselves.
The traditional church is one that does not actively seek an empowerment of the believers
Due to the division of the clergy and laity, there is minimal effort placed on developing the spiritual giftings of the believer. The average believer is seen as a labor force for the programs of the church. Little is expected from them, so little is what they give.
The apostolic church is one that empowers each believer in their spiritual gifting
The saints are to be equipped for the work of service or ministry. Each member is gifted and placed in the body as God chooses (1 Corinthians 12). The body should function effectively as each member is working in their gifting.
The traditional church is one that has most of its ministries inward focused
Due to the "bless me" gospel, most of the resources must be allocated to programs that make the individual feel good about themselves. This focus does not promote a transformation of the believer. There is a constant need to change the program to deliver the necessary stimulus to the people.
The apostolic church is one that focus on outward ministries
Our focus should not be on self, but on others. Jesus commanded His church to go and make disciples - followers. (Matthew 28:19 AMP, Darby, NKJV). The focus of the church should be outside the four walls of the building.
The traditional church is one that is built upon man's ideas, structure and programs
Therefore, the result is only what man/flesh can produce. If a program is successful in attracting a crowd, it's duplication is attempted by others hoping for the same results, producing the latest "fad" of church growth. Unfortunately, the success is not always duplicated, and frustration results.
The apostolic church is one that is built based on the spiritual gifting in the body
The church should be structured around the giftings that the Lord has placed in the body. This would be the outcome of the ascension gifts (governing gifts) identifying, instructing, empowering and supporting the individual member's gifts.
This article has been presented to challenge our paradigm of church, not to condemn. As a pastor, I am addressing these issues, seeking the Lord's direction as to how to lead this local assembly in a paradigm shift. The Lord will do this, because the church is His chosen vessel today. As we seek to align ourselves with the way He wants to build the church, we will find a flow of apostolic authority to accomplish His purpose.
Much of this has been taken from my book: Apostolic Authority, Every Believer's Privilege. It can be ordered at www.apostolicmissions.org
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