Apostolic Foundations and Apostolic Patterns
Video Taped in 1987, Transcribed in 2002
The nature of the apostolic is, without question, one of the most treasured and important topics on the heart of God. But before we even begin to delve into the Apostolic of God, one thing must be clear in your mind. If you don’t know anything else, know this:
Everything in the Father’s heart is summed up in His firstborn Son, Jesus Christ.
The Father has chosen to express His nature, all that He is, through the Son. And today, on earth, He is building His Church that will possess all the divine qualities and character of Christ Himself. The Church, the Body of Christ, is just exactly that: Christ Himself manifested through His People joined together. Just as Jesus is the exact representation of God Himself, so the Church will be HIS BODY, His representation on the earth today!
While some have neglected this teaching about the Apostolic of God, others have turned it into a doctrine or theology that elevates a “thing” rather than the person of Jesus. In offering the following thoughts, I intend strictly to elevate the Christ (Anointed One) of God and to clarify exactly who Jesus is, expressed in His Church, His present-day Body. “Lampstands” and “Foundations” are nothing more than the nature and substance of the Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.” What is heaven but a shadow of the Christ of God…
“But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22).
The temple of God is in God Himself. “Heaven” itself is the substance of Christ and is manifested or explained to us in expressions we can understand. Such as we are “seated with Christ in heavenly realms,” and I am “in Christ” if I am truly His disciple. All of heaven itself is the essence of the heart of Jesus. So the things we’ll talk about are not “things.” They’re not just ideas, doctrines and concepts to run after. They are the very heart of Christ Himself. And if this is the Word of God, rest assured that His desire is for the Word to become “flesh and dwell among us.” Let the Word become flesh in you, not just an exciting new teaching to impress others. As Christ the Word is manifested, He tabernacles in our midst; the tabernacle of God is among His people. As the Word becomes flesh, we’re being built together to become a “Habitation of God by the Spirit.”
As we go on into this, please realize that anything that is not “in Christ” is only a gimmick, a form of godliness that denies its power. Accurate, biblical “patterns” can easily become substitutes for a relationship with, and abiding in, Christ. Even with the best of intentions, you’ll never be able to find what you’re looking for—the Christ of God manifest in your midst—by using intellectually modeled forms of “the church of the Bible.” You will not be able to grab onto a form because it “looks that way in the Bible” and ever find satisfaction for your hungry spirit. This satisfaction is found IN CHRIST—our abiding in Him and us as His Habitation. That is what the Kingdom, the Church, is all about.
The following thoughts are far from the last word on this vast subject, just as they are certainly not the first words written. Nevertheless, I offer no apologies for suggesting that the Church of Jesus Christ has suffered tragic loss at the hands of those who have abused the Biblical teaching on apostolic principles—some to attain power, some for financial gain, and others simply desiring respect for themselves.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, though equally as dangerous, some have created a “post-apostolic” third covenant in which “God doesn’t work that way anymore.” They have denied the existence of obvious truths in the Word of God regarding apostles and prophets, lampstands, and other critical issues. They plant “church” after “church,” and denomination after denomination, out of presumption, ambition, or division rather than on the basis of Apostolic Authority (which is the Biblical pattern). The result has been a religious world marked by 2000 years of decline. Many, unfortunately, know little of the spiritual Power and Substance of our Lord’s Church, the Church we read about in the Bible.
Here’s something to think about: You can study what other people have done for years, but that doesn’t make you who they are. Painting the picture of some city or country far away from here doesn’t put us in that country. To be able to paint a portrait in the minutest detail of what the city of Jerusalem or the landscape of Galilee or any other place looks like doesn’t mean that we’re there.
This is the dilemma we face as we pursue the nature of the Church. To study in great detail all that they were, to know what they knew, even to believe in what they believed in, does not make us the people that they were. The people of God’s Church have substance, integrity, and a pure attitude of the heart. They are characterized by a unique perspective and priority system. Our lives are either hidden in Christ—or we just “know about” being hidden in Christ. We are either full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, or we simply study people who were.
What a massive difference between those two things! Hanging around people who truly are birthed in Heaven and breathing Heaven’s air (pneuma) every moment of their lives doesn’t mean that we have that same life. Even if we were right in the middle of those people, literally 2000 years back in time, it wouldn’t help us a bit unless we were living in the same life and power that they were. Even if you lived in the first century and called yourself a Christian, that would not make you a part of the “first century church.” Why? Because you’re only part of the Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven” in as much as your life is truly “in Christ” and as your substance, your genetic structure, is newly created of uncreated Life (Heb. 12:27). Only if you are truly Born of the Spirit, and Born of water, and Living in the Life of Jesus Christ—penetrating into Deity—will you partake of a Supernatural Life.
Merely mimicking behavior and words that you read in the Bible doesn’t make you part of the Church. Neither does a philosophical system of morals, behavior, and culture. That’s not it. Either Christ is real in you, or He’s not. “The Kingdom of God is not scientifically observed and studied, but it is within you.” You can hang around the Life of God Almighty in His People your whole life, but never actually be a part of it yourself. You need to know that.
I make these observations in the hope of better things for the future! Jesus is building for Himself “a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish”—a Church that “the gates of hell cannot prevail against” and of which the principalities and powers are in awe! As always, we must build “according to the pattern,” “on earth as it is in Heaven,” in order to see His Glory fill the earth!
Notice the sequence of verses in Exodus 40 which state, “As the Lord commanded, Moses did,” “as the Lord commanded, Moses did,” “as the Lord commanded, Moses did,” and finally, in verse 34, “and the Glory of God filled the temple.” That’s the kind of life that we lead—the Glory of God filling His dwelling place “on earth as it is in heaven” because we “do as the Lord commanded.” Because we go right into the Pattern of God, right into the Life of God, right into the Most Holy Place with nothing stopping us, we will understand what the Glory of God is. We discover His ways as we go into His Presence individually, and the same holds true corporately. The Glory of God is found in walking as the Lord commanded. If you don’t do “as the Lord commanded” (out of ignorance or fear) you might still be His child, but you’ll die in the wilderness, pathetically impoverished. It doesn’t have to be that way. There have been too many generations like that. The understanding of Apostolic Foundations and Apostolic Patterns is not a salvation issue. It is a Glory issue.
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets” (Acts 3:19-21).
Apparently, there is a restoration of things that God (according to Acts 3; 2Pet.3:12; Rev.19:7 and other passages) is waiting for. There’s a part that we play in speudo—“speeding His coming,” “hastening the return of the Lord.” There’s an active part that we play, mysterious as that may sound. Somehow, in some way, we hasten His return. It’s not that we can make God do anything. He’s not a genie in a bottle with our wish being His command. Absolutely Not! But there is a cooperation in which both “the Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come.’” Just as every safe deposit box requires two keys to open (the bank teller’s key and the depositor’s key), so we both—Jesus and His Bride, the Church—put our keys in the lock-box and together we turn the keys…and the vault opens.
That’s not to our credit in any way. Only by His grace, by His divine wisdom, has he designed the universe in such a way that, by learning to do His Work by the Spirit, we are being trained, built together, and raised up as a Bride that is an equal yoke for the Son of God. There’s a partnership in the Gospel. We are partakers of the Divine Nature. God’s desire is that we have “fellowship,” all things in common, with the Holy Spirit (Php.2:1; 2Cor.13:14). And that’s just Biblical Christianity. We’re participating somehow in the events of God and the future of this world that we are living in. “The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come.’” Praise God for that privilege!
Though generations of religion have passed by, people have not been crying out “these men who have turned the world upside down have come to our city also,” or, “See how they love one another!” Nevertheless, the day is coming when people will cry out once again and the Bride will be ready as an observable equal yoke for her Groom, the Son of God.
You may already be dealing with these issues, yet it seems important to mention them as a backdrop. It’s a pitiful joke to think that the sum total of what God has in mind for His People is to just “go to church” on Sunday. It’s a crime to go on as if the only thing God had in mind when He allowed His Son to be butchered in order to buy the Church was a bunch of people dressing up and attending services on Sunday and Wednesday nights. That’s terrible! I want to say that as clearly as I can with no apologies. The Kingdom of God does not consist of mere words, mere speeches, and mere meetings, but of dunamis—POWER (1Cor.4:20). And that’s a fact.
If it’s God’s Kingdom, then there’s a supernatural, divine Essence that men cannot mimic. They can’t duplicate God’s manifested Reality. It can’t be done. You can’t do what only God can do. Suppose a group of atheists got together and went through the motions of “singing praises to our God,” “waiting on the Lord’s Table,” “hearing another wonderful lesson from the Word,” and “praying for the sick and afflicted the world over.” Would anyone on the outside be able to differentiate the atheists from those who were truly born from above? If no one could spot the atheists from the Christians, then there’s an element of reality that’s missing. Heed the apostle Paul’s warning: Watch out for counterfeits from satan that look like Christianity! (2Cor.11:14-15). The heart of God longs for so much more than the superficial, shallow norm of Christianity that we’ve settled for all these years.
“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him Glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then He said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ And He said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God’” (Revelation 19:6-9).
The following thoughts were originally shared with a living room full of ordinary people who simply want to be that Bride. This is the testimony of my heart and theirs that Jesus has, in fact, still “KEPT THE BEST WINE FOR LAST”! There are still some very special things ahead of us, and I’m looking forward to that.
Again, please don’t make a doctrine out of what follows. Nor should you disregard it lightly because it doesn’t fit the norms of twenty-first century American religion. Nor would it be wise to allow it to fan ambition or wander-lust, or allow a movement-centered mentality to creep into your heart. Turn to the Word of God with honesty and turn to the God of the Word with reverence and awe. Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus!
1Eph.3:10; Mt.16:18; Eph.5:27. Back
2Ex.40:16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 32, 33, 34. Back