There are many ministries that claim to be apostolic, but in reality, they claim that name falsely. At this time we are aware of 3 types of false apostolic ministries. I do want to mention here that there are authentic apostolic ministries, which we will differentiate as we go along. Paul said in 2 Cor. 11:13 that there are false apostles, who are deceiful, and in these last days we must learn how to identify and distinguish true apostles from false apostles.
The first of the false apostolic ministries is the majority of ministries that have "apostolic" as part of their name. Typically these ministries designate "apostolic" as a way of dressing and a holiness standard that is more pharisaical than legit. *Typically these churches are judgmental regarding the way people dress (strictly prohibited in the book of James), and cause division over the doctrine of the oneness of God (a ministry causing division in the Body of Christ is not good). Let's contrast this with true apostolic characteristics.
*By "typically" I mean that not all churches and ministries with "apostolic" in their name are like this, but a vast majority are like this.
The office of an apostle is one of humility. Titles are not just flashed around, but are rather used only to indicate a calling and authority when needed. True apostles are not flashy, and I would dare say that few [if any] are wealthy; and if any are endowed with wealth, you probably wouldn't know it because they use it for ministry. True apostles strive to live as Jesus did. They are often rejected of men, looked down upon, and outcast.
The second kind of false apostolic ministries is more subtle in that they don't have "apostolic" in the name of their church, but they still wear the title and relish the glory and attention they receive. The primary characteristic of their ministries is boasting. They boast in their "revelations" and "right teaching," while living deceitfully. They boast about being victims in the call for the glory of the gospel, but they live lavishly. They proclaim grandiose ideals and set up massive cruises in the name of the gospel. These are warning signs and indications (just because a ministry has a cruise doesn't mean it is false...but it could indicate falseness).
As we said earlier, true apostles strive to be humble and live lowly. If they boast, it will only be in how great Jesus is! They don't want glory for themselves. For a true apostle, preparing the bride of Christ is the primary focus. After all, Paul said, "For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain." His life was absolutely consumed with continuing the mission of Christ.
Note: False apostles will also often perform false miracles and wonders or fabricate false testimonies of miracles and wonders.
The third type of false apostolic ministry is even more subtle than the second. Whenever five-fold ministry is mentioned, these pastors will call themselves apostles based on a false notion that an apostle is merely a missionary. They reject the idea of an apostolic role or office in the church, thus in effect, watering down the term "apostle."
At this point, I believe it is prudent to discuss what a true apostle really is (referring to a role or office).
The term "apostle" literally means "one who is sent with authority from God;" however, everyone would agree there was something different about Paul, Peter, James, John, and the others. In all actuality anyone can be an apostle (in the ordinary sense), but not just anyone can walk in the office of an apostle. You see, the Biblical apostles were the architects of the church, but they functioned in different capacities. Paul (along with Barnabas and Silas) was an apostle, evangelist and writer; Peter and James were on the apostolic council and wrote to the dispersion of Jews; John,Timothy, and Titus were apostles and pastors (with periods of evangelism) and both John and Timothy wrote (Timothy helped in writing some of Paul's letters); Philip was an apostle and evangelist, but was not called to write; and many of the other apostles were simply called to lead within their communities and occupations. Each one had a role in building up the church. Today it is much the same. Apostles are basically the church architects, though functioning in different capacities.
Apostles strive to be humble, and if they are not functioning as a pastor, they will probably be serving the church in some supportive capacity, and not be very noticed as an apostle, except when performing apostolic duties. Apostles will have a notable passion for the Kingdom of God, and will generally be employed in a career that relates to his function as an apostle (Peter, Andrew, James and John - fishermen [evangelists]; Paul - tent builder [church builder]; Luke was a doctor and detailed the life of Christ and Acts of the apostles with surgical accuracy, etc.). Apostles will at different times be walking in the prophetic, the miraculous or some other gift that is needed at the time.
Although there are women who claim to be apostles, I see no evidence in scripture for such; and the fact that Paul said that women are not to take authority over a man leads me to believe that all women who claim to be apostes are either false apostles [in the corrupt sense] or may simply be mistaken about their true calling.
False Teaching Ministries
We have already talked about false apostles and false apostolic ministries, but false teachers are a bit different, and we don't want to leave them out. There are two general types of false teaching ministries we are currently aware of: intentional and unintentional. Intentional false teachers are similar to false apostles in that they do what they do for glory, prestige, and/or fame. They don't truly care about people (although they make a great pretense of caring); they care only about what they can get out of the ministry. We will have nothing to do with these charlitains because they have no regard for people whatsoever. They are con artists and often sociopaths.
Unintentional false teachers comprise a vast majority of clergy. We can be assured of this because Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." The number of ministries offering unconditional entrance into Heaven is alarming (by unconditional entry I mean "just raise your hand to accept Jesus"), and the number of ministries teaching a false gospel is also alarming (such as the prosperity gospel of Joel Osteen's ministry). Look at what Jesus said: "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life." Many ministries teach that the "hard" refers to persecution, but how many of the congregants really get persecuted? In general, people don't like "hard" and people don't flock to "hard." Only the people who realize that most things that are worthwhile are hard will actually flock to "hard." (But even still, some ministries are pharisaical and make a relationship with God too hard, such as law-based ministries).
There are many false teachings out in the church, and many are held close to the heart of a mjority of denominations - many of which have to do with salvation. Many of those same false teachings have crept their way into non-denominational ministries by the well-meaning pastors who defected from a denomination that instilled those false teachings. So now we have an abundance of denominational and non-denominational churches teaching false doctrine.
Now you may be sitting there thinking, "well how arrogant to think that you know better than these other denominations." It is not arrogant to know where many denominations get their beliefs (politics and beaurocracies) and to know the truth from the unpolluted scriptures. We do not claim to know it all or to have all the answers; on the other hand, having studied with many of the major denominations, the Lord has shown us where some of the teaching came from and how they negatively impact the church.
More often than not, if the ministry engages in false teaching there will be "power" problems (see the Ministry Consultation section for more detail on "power" problems). In the ones where power problems may not be visible, it just hasn't manifested yet (just like a loose wire connection isn't visible until it starts a fire). And sometimes people are so used to a lack of power in their ministry that they don't even notice the problem.
One of our major goals in ministry is helping other ministries discover those false teachings and discuss them and their impact. But ministries that are intentionally teaching falsely, we will have nothing to do with.
One area of false teaching that must be addressed is the topic of Salvation. Please click here for a full discussion on that.
One of the single most deceptive false teachings in the Body of Christ today is Law-Based Ministry. And it is just as deceptive and powerful as it was nearly 2000 years ago in the early church. In fact, it was so much of an issue that Paul wrote 2 whole books on it and made a smattering of comments about it throughout his books. There are two main types of Law-Based Ministries: Old Law-Based and New Law-Based, and both types are equally deceptive and equally powerful. So hang onto your boot-staps, because we have some ground to cover on this topic.
The first type I want to deal with is Old Law-Based Ministry. This type of ministry has primarily sprung out of Messianic Jewish groups (let me be VERY clear here: we are not against Messianic Jewish groups; however, while some of the Messianic Jewish groups teach rightly, some teach the law-based doctrines). The basic idea of the Old Law-Based teaching is that, although Christ died for us, we are still required to keep the 10 commandments (including the Sabbath), the feasts, all the moral law, and - depending on who is teaching - all but the sacrificial laws. Those who teach this are very intelligent and have studied this stuff out. I studied with one man (we'll just call him Shane) over the course of several months, reading his books, looking at how he used scriptures, etc. But no matter how much I studied, no matter how many answers I got, I never could get all the scriptures to line up. There was a reason for that: they don't line up (take note: any time you are studying something out to really uncover the truth and it doesn't line up, even after research and talking to "experts," it is probably a false doctrine). Most people would take a Law-Based person to the Book of Galatians (which I did), but Shane had explanations stemming from "the book was written to a particular group of people dealing a particular issue..." blah blah blah (another hint: be wary when someone says a particular verse or book is not valid because of the culture or context...at times thosemay be legit - such as Romans 16:16, but usually it is just an excuse not to obey the Bible).
In the case of studying with Shane, I became so confused that I asked God to show me the truth (always a good idea). God told me to go read the book of Romans, studying it very carefully. Here are some very important scriptures (in context):
Romans 7:10-11. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. (The commandment Paul was referring to was that Old Law...the Old Law promised life).
After verse 14, Paul goes into a description of every individual who tries to keep the Old Law.
Romans 8:1-2. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Now, here Shane taught that "the law of sin and death" was not the Old Law but was rather the effect of the law without Christ. But that's not what Paul had been talking about. Paul had been talking about the Old Law ["the commandment"]. Furthermore, Shane taught that the "law of the Spirit of life" was the Old Law with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Now, I am about to show you what the Law of the Spirit of life is.).
Romans 8:5-6. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Notice here what the Law of the Spirit of life is. Keeping the Old Law requires setting the mind on the flesh, because there are so many requirements in the flesh. Even though you are doing them in and for the Holy Spirit, it is still focusing on the flesh. Also, Shane tried to say that "the flesh" here was referring to Galatians 5, where Paul talks about the deeds of the flesh. Seems like a good point, but notice what Paul is talking about in that chapter. In Galatians Paul was talking about walking in the spirit and not obeying the desires of the flesh. If you think about it, the 2 principles actually complement each other. The overall point Paul is making is this: if you set your mind on the flesh rather than the Spirit [by focusing on trying to keep the law], then you will end up fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. In both books, Paul talks about the fact that we are not under the Old Law, and in both books he moves in a logical progression [check it out for yourselves]. He moves from law, to focusing on the flesh [a natural side effect of the Law], to the deeds of the flesh. Even in Romans, after he points out that living by the Old Law is focusing on the flesh, he begins to talk about the deeds of the flesh. I feel that some of you still do not believe. Read it for yourself, but I will show you some more examples.)
Romans 14:5-6. One indeed judges a day above another day; and another one judges every day alike. Let each one be fully assured in his own mind. The one minding the day, he minds it to the Lord. And the one not minding the day, he does not mind it to the Lord. The one eating, he eats to the Lord; for he gives thanks to God. And the one not eating, he does not eat to the Lord, and gives thanks to God. (This speaks to those who mandate that we still have to keep the Shabbat [Sabbath for modern church people]. Those who keep it keep it for the Lord! Those who do not keep it do so for the Lord! This is a perfect example of what the law of the Spirit of life is: it is our heart in honoring God! There are so many scriptures that deal with the fact that we no longer have to keep the Old Law, but I am going to move on to what is [to me] the crowning verse of it all.)
Romans 15:27. "...For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings." (Note: I only listed part of the verse because it is part of a whole dialgue, but it is in context...check for yourself. Now, if there is no such thing as a Gentile Christian, this verse is meaningless. To put it another way, if Gentiles are to become Jews [including the Law] in order to take part in salvation, then this verse in meaningless. Look, if we still have to obey the Old Law, then there is nothing new!!! The Old Law had provisions for Gentiles. All you had to do to become a Jew was to be circumcised and obey the law. If the ONLY thing that Jesus did was replace the sacrificial law, then this verse makes no sense. But, because we share in the spiritual blessings of the Jews, we have a responsibility to help them in material things [you don't hear that preached very often].)
There is so much more ground to cover on this topic, but I need to move on to the other type of Law-Based ministry. But if you are still unclear on this issue, please contact us and we will be happy to help you through it.
The second type of Law-Based Ministry is a little more deceptive. It is based on the idea that we are under a new law that is like the Old Law. For these people, the whole New Testament (except Acts and Revelation) consists of a whole new law. And if you break one of those new laws, oooo buddy! You are in trouble. This is one of the polar opposites of the "Faith versus Works" debate. The Works side says that you are saved by a life of good works after salvation, while the Faith side says that you are saved apart from your works. Personally, I don't like dealing with either side, because they are both excusing away scripture. Let us look at the some primary passages of scripture in this debate. (Note: these scriptures also relate very heavily to salvation, which we will deal with in another section of this website).
Romans 3:28. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (We shouldn't have to struggle with this one too hard. Paul is talking about the Old Testament law, just as we talked about above.)
Ephesians 2:8-9. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (People who study theology have a tendency to overthink things [been there, done that myself]. In order to adequately understand the goal of Paul's preaching, you must understand a little about other religions. For most religions I can think of, your afterlife (or lack thereof) is determined by your life down here. We must remember that Paul in the Book of Ephesians, was writing to a group of people that at one point in time were pagan. It was second nature to them to think that have to do a certain number of good works to curry God's favor. That is what Paul is talking about. You don't have to climb to the topic of the highest mountain to pick the rarest blue flower on the face of this planet in order to obtain salvation [or keep it for that matter].)
James 2:14, 17. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (This is one of the main verses of the New Law group. Now, we could take this verse and run with it so far beyond what James intended for it [as the New Law group does] or we can take him for the legitimacy of his statement. One of the popular trends today is to "accept Jesus" and then you're saved, no questions asked. So, people will "believe in Jesus" and then go out and live like they did before...no change. That is what James is talking about. I like to think of faith as a car. You can have a car, but if it has no gas and doesn't start and doesn't move...it's dead! People say that all the time. What good is it to have faith (a car) that doesn't work?!? That's what James is talking about. Another good example of this principle [you don't hear this too often] is found in Matthew 21:18-19. Jesus was hungry and went to a fig tree, but it produced no fruit. So, He cursed the fig tree and it withered. Our purpose [indeed, the purpose for our salvation] is to produce fruit. So, if we get "saved" and produce no fruit, why would we expect any different? In fact, Jesus says another similar thing in John 15:2.
For me, this issue is very simple; however, many have been deceived into thinking that they have lost their salvation because they wore shorts or because they didn't wear their hair right or some other nonsense. That's not what the Christian life is about. It is not about keeping a New Law. It is about being led by the Holy Spirit. Now, the Holy Spirit will NEVER lead you into worldliness, and the Holy Spirit is not trying to lead you into all happiness (there are people who believe "God just wants me to be happy." That's a bunch of malarky. God wants you to spend eternity with Him in Heaven, which requires you being led to live His way here on earth). The Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth, and that truth will make you free from the slavery of sin.