What are the necessary steps to the development of an apostolic person (one who has been sent forth by the Holy Spirit into their unique destiny)?
Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God manifests in three progressive stages. First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear (MARK 4:28).
This typifies the fully matured person who has been “born of incorruptible seed of the Word of God” (1 PETER 1:23) and progressed through babyhood, childhood and into manhood.
In parallel to a Christian, we could liken this process to include the believer…to disciple…to apostolic person.
The Apostles were first disciples. This suggests that it is not the “believer” that is sent into destiny by the Spirit, but those who have transitioned from believer to disciple.
Recently the Lord made it clear to me that the apostolic movement was held up because we have a “believers” church today. In recent years the term “believer” has been the term used to describe ministry activities such as believer conventions, etc. There is nothing wrong with this at all, we just have to take it to the necessary next step and transition people into disciples. Maybe it is time for a few Disciple Conventions!
The text that brought a prophetic urgency to my heart was JOHN 8:30-32 “As He spoke these words many believed on Him. Then said Jesus to the Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in my Word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.
Jesus immediately told believers to become disciples with no lag time as we see in so many Christian lives today. We call them carnal Christians.
Jesus told them that it was the disciples who had the promise of freedom and not the believers.
Could this be why there are so many believers living in bondage to sin, sickness, poverty, fear and all the works of the devil? Consuming thousands of hours of staff time with recurring problems and never seeming to get free? Could this be because there is a fundamental need to see the difference between a believer and a disciple in the church world today?
Many believers are trying to access destiny as five fold ministers or Kingdom business people prior to really being sent forth by the Spirit.
The only guarantee of success is by coming into the apostolic dimension as disciples who are commissioned by God’s Spirit to His purpose for their life.
We notice in this text that Jesus’ first words to them were not regarding their gifts and calling, but their life which needed to be trans- formed to represent His own life, “so shall you be My disciples”.
I suggest 3 fundamental steps in this transition from believer to disciple:
1. CONTINUAL OBEDIENCE
In JOHN 8:30-32 the Jews who heard Jesus speak became “obedient to the faith” by immediately doing what they had heard.
Jesus urged them to continue in this obedient lifestyle in order to transition into disciples who would enjoy the freedom that He Himself enjoyed.
The disciple isn’t fully trained until he becomes like his teacher and Jesus was using His life as the model of freedom they would experience if they truly followed Him.
Jesus is the example of a “man in the image of God” who lives free from Satan and all he has brought on the human race.
There are many truths released to the Body of Christ to which we must be obedient in order to be an apostolic people.
Even Mary the mother of Jesus knew the necessity of obedience when she told the servants at the wedding feast “whatever He says to you do it”. Obedience begins with doing what the written Word of God says, followed by certain directives we hear from the Spirit of God.
2. CONSECRATED LIVING
In JOHN 15:1-8 Jesus gives us another look at the 3 stage progression into maturity illustrated in the vine that bears fruit and much fruit for the glory of God.
In verse 3 He says, “Now are you clean through the Word which you have heard”. The cleansing in our lives by the Word of God is taught in numerous places including PSALM 119:9; EPHESIANS 5:26; 2 CORINTHIANS 7:1-2.
Believers may exist without living a holy life according to scripture, but a disciple cannot. Believers enjoy the liberty of God’s grace and periodically use it to indulge their flesh, but a disciple cannot.
This is the message Paul pleads with the Corinthians to observe in 1 CORINTHIANS 6:9-20. They were a group of believers experiencing all the blessings provided by Christ, but they were not disciples practicing the lifestyle of Christ.
3. CARRYING THE CROSS
In MATTHEW 16:21-25 the Lord shares one of the absolutes of the Kingdom of God. “Unless you take up your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple”.
Peter was definitely a believer up to this point, and even a follower until the price of his life was required.
The cost of discipleship has never been diminished, the believer must be willing to follow his master everywhere including to the cross of death to self.
Our self-life consists of the same components as our soul life: the mind, will and emotions. What I think, what I want and what I feel.
The believer lives by these things. But the disciple has learned to live by what God thinks, wants and feels about everything.
Jesus had demonstrated the cross principle in the garden of Gethsemane when He effectively died to what he thought, wanted and felt.
Today’s believer must learn to do the same by the power of the Spirit and application of the Word of God. The conflict is one that we face daily, as Paul said, “I die daily that the life of Christ may be manifested in my mortal body”.
When believers have transitioned to discipleship by observing these three stages of development, God will SEND THEM FORTH to establish His Kingdom in the earth.