I was inspired to write this, partially in response to a personal blog post, Give your pastor a break. Pastors indeed suffer from burnout, but lack of vacation time isn’t the reason why. Though everyone needs to rest—even the Lord rested on the seventh day—it won’t solve the problems pastors face in the Body of Christ. The problem goes much deeper—to the very structure of leadership within the Church. It’s rigid and top-heavy. Many in the Local Church movement, which began in China, call this the “clerical system” and refused to have anything to do with it.
The Church Is Upside-down
God is about to completely change the way we do Church. It’s not that He’ll turn the Church on her “head”. The Church has been standing on her head for more than a millennium-and-a-half. He’s going to turn the Church right-side-up, placing us back on our feet.
Our upside-down framework began when Rome appointed “clergy”, from the pagan religions of old, to give so-called “spiritual guidance”—both individually and corporately. The clergy interpreted Scripture “for” us, claiming that the laity wasn’t educated and responsible enough to read the Bible. Tyndale disagreed, saying that, “even the plow boys,” should be able to read the Bible… and the clergy burned him alive.
Actually, spiritual guidance comes only from the Lord Himself, through prayer, His Word, and, in fellowship with those given by the Lord Himself. Some more respected types of Christian ministry are described in Ephesians 4:11—that passage makes it clear that those positions are given and ordained by God, it does not state they are given by the Church.
Rome took one of those positions, pastor, and added the pre-Christian occupation of clergy to it. The result? While the clergy of Rome burned heretics, the pastors of today burnout themselves. The solution isn’t longer vacation time—the solution is permanent vacation from the clerical system and embracing what God originally called pastors to be. A Biblical Pastor is more like the wise masters of discipleship, who are each reputed and often inquired of in the local Body. God gave pastors to His Church and that is what a pastor was always meant to be.
(For more study, get with a friend who knows Greek and review Kittle on the Greek word for shepherd. Ephesians 4:11 lists four ministries, not five. The last two nouns, shepherd-and-teacher, is Paul’s attempt to describe the reputed friends who are somehow able to teach individual Christians much like a shepherd—a clear reference to the unique teaching manner of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.)
If pastors return to being what God initially intended, what would Church leadership look like?
Primarily, it would be organic. But before I describe that, however, note the following very closely and remember it. Anyone who is a big fan of the clerical system’s status quo, and wants it to remain unchanged, will have difficulty understanding the following statement because it’s contraire to the contrived, chrome-plated, sugar-coated methodology of the research-training obsessed leaders in the Body of Christ today.
I am not suggesting any action steps for implementing this to happen. In fact, there are no action steps that could be taken to implement these ideas, to follow. Only the Lord Himself can make them happen. Likewise, we can only prepare ourselves in prayer. Nothing I’m suggesting could possibly be faked, contrived, or sold. It will be a mere reality that everyone will just have to deal with and accept—everyone. It also relates specifically to the Church, not natural governments. The true leaders whom God is raising up will not be an affront to governments, though these leaders may be able to help governments provide justice and protect their people from what is coming.
The future leadership of the Body of Christ will be overseen, before Christ returns, by End Times Apostles.
Why We Need a Judge
Remember, much of this will occur in the context of global famine, war, and difficulty. Just keep that picture in your mind. In times such as those, leadership in any organization tends to break down. Drastic changes, such as I’m about to describe, will not happen apart from equally catastrophic events in the earth. Everything will begin to shift as the Great Commission advances and Christ’s return draws near.
Where there are no laws and no leaders, throughout history, the people have looked to “judges” to settle their disputes. This was the motive in authoring the Declaration of Independence—where Britain was, among a laundry list of other grievances, not providing necessary governance for a stable society. In the modern world, we seek a “mediator” when two business partners need to settle a disagreement.
A judiciary is often first on the list of priorities in establishing any government, when anarchy is the last remaining tyrant. This is why one third of the American Federal government is comprised of only nine judges. Raising up judges happened in Arabian history. Kings of Europe often served as the supreme judge. Moses was a judge who gave justice to Israel. Gideon and Deborah and others were such judges when Israel had no king, though the Lord raised them up for specific purposes. This is why that book of the Bible is called Judges. It’s a type of era in history—when people are without necessary leadership, in one or many aspects of society.
A Judge is not necessarily a big, angry person. Having a judge is a gift to the people, and Christ, among other things, is our Judge. It’s good when we have the confidence of knowing that a judge cares about his fellow man. Such is the government of the Kingdom of Heaven and it is coming to Christ’s Church before He returns to the earth.
In the days ahead, we will see unprecedented growth in the Body of Christ—too much to keep up with. And we’ll see global problems on a scale that cannot be addressed by our current infrastructure. Leaders will have their hands full. Evil men will grab for power—rich and poor men alike, both famous and unknown, both formerly-honest and those with criminal backgrounds. Many will repent and seek the Lord in it all. God already has leaders planned, whom He is raising up right now, who will provide what both the Church and society will need in order to survive and for the Church to fulfill the Great Commission, leading to the return of Christ.
Most of these coming leaders are not yet leading anywhere in the Church. This is largely because they only engage in methods that are effective—and most everything the Church is doing is quite ineffective… for now. But God’s about to change all of that.
Miracles, Signs, Wonders, and End Times Apostles
Watch that you are not deceived: Apostles sent by God will not have “magic shows” to demonstrate their power, “predict the future” as a sign in an of itself, nor will they then use the logical argument, “See, I know what I’m saying. Therefore do everything else I tell you.” Only impostors will do this.
God’s End Times Apostles will have the power to throw mountains into the sea, rescue cities from both tsunamis and armies, and they will help people with no strings attached. They will lead the people to rebuild faster than Nehemiah led Jerusalem to rebuild its wall. They will have unprecedented streaks of “luck”—or favor to be Biblical. Opposing them will be both painful and impossible. This isn’t an idea, an opinion, or propaganda—it will be a reality, like physics. Arguing with ET Apostles will be like trying to hold a debate against gravity.
End Times Apostles are different from New Testament Apostles. NT Apostles authored Scripture; ET Apostles won’t even touch Scripture nor recommend any modifications to it, whatsoever! NT Apostles led the Church in starting the Great Commission. ET Apostles will lead the Church to finish it. NT Apostles drew the road map for Church leadership. ET Apostles will get the Church back on the right path.
That’s not to say that God will be angry at those who try to fight the ET Apostles, but those opponents will probably regret it. The ET Apostles won’t be offended at their enemies any more than a rock is angry with an egg that smashes against it.
ET Apostles will always defend the Scriptures rather than themselves. This is why the Lord will choose them, in that hour, to begin to assert His plan for the Church.
Signs and Wonders have a Purpose, they don’t just dazzle
Miracles of ET Apostles will provide deliverance, protection, and healing to the Body of Christ. Individual healings will become common place, though still not “normative”. Miracles will always be miraculous. That’s why they are miracles. ET Apostles will not have “healing services” where a few people are healed of broken bones and disease—and then tell the Church to give them a lot of money. Only “Christ mongers” will do such things and those should not be trusted. ET Apostles will not merely “predict” supernatural events, as a means of notoriety, but they may warn of them in advance, just as Prophets and others may.
Remember, predicting the future is not a source of notoriety for a Prophet or an Apostle. But it can help Christians verify the Lord’s leading in their own personal walks with Him, for those who foresee future events in, say, a dream or vision. Just because someone says, “I had a dream this would happen,” does not mean that person is claiming anything more than a simple, “Praise Jesus!” If Christians listen carefully to each other, motives in telling about such dreams should be easy to discern. Many Christians will have such dreams and visions. And many will be impostors. Search diligently and always seek to discern the difference.
Do not trust any minister of the gospel merely because he can predict the future. Likewise, never ever think that an Apostle or Prophet or other minister of the gospel is claiming notoriety merely because he tells future events. Warning and telling of the future to help the Body of Christ is very different from predicting the future as a kind of “magic trick” to prove that one has God’s power. Some do the former, others attempt the latter. Miracles, signs, and wonders will serve a practical purpose for the sake of the Gospel, not merely dazzle people into believing leaders. Carefully examine the difference. In time, you will easily know which type of person you’re dealing with—only asking questions to the Lord Himself. He is the Lord of us all.
So, it will be rare that an ET Apostle will perform healing miracles in public because there will be so many other Christians who are capable. These Apostles will put their time to larger tasks, like removing nuclear waste, walking into biological warfare zones to heal people, praying and fasting for God to send rain on farms and to prevent rain where construction projects remain unfinished, helping leaders navigate their way through difficult decisions, etc. If an ET Apostle does ever heal someone publicly it probably won’t be through alter calls and laying on of hands, but by pointing… Lightning! And the person is healed from 100 yards away. ET Apostles will not be easily impersonated.
This is very important to remember because there will be many false apostles in the days ahead. The Church must evaluate each situation against Scripture. And remember these two things: 1. Never ever trust an alleged apostle who does miracles like we’ve seen over the years, who then says, “See, trust me. Now I have some other instructions for you. The Church listened to their Apostles in the New Testament. Now, you must listen to me.” Though it’s unlikely any false apostle will use those exact words, learn to recognize that subtle logic when it is at work. False apostles will seem very convincing and they will depend on this evil logic because it seems good on the surface. And 2. Never ever accuse an Apostle of using that evil logic unless he actually is using it. Verify thine accusations!
Throughout Church history, we have frequently accused Christian leaders of making claims that they don’t actually make. Much division in the Body of Christ has come from Christians who don’t follow the basic steps, taught in Scripture, to talk to people directly—read the actual words written—get information from the horses’ mouths… We tend to learn about other streams in the Body of Christ through gossip, hearsay, and heavily-edited excerpts. That won’t work when it comes time to interpret whether End Times Apostles are legitimate. The Church will actually have to do her homework and learn the truth. This will be new for many Christians and most in the Body of Christ will discover how many friends they could have had all along.
Organic Church Structure
“Apostle” is from Greek and means “someone who is sent”. It can refer to a traveler, in simple terms, or it can refer to someone sent with great government authority. Nehemiah was like an “apostle” sent by the Persian government to refortify Jerusalem. Keep this organic picture in mind.
Jesus does not “delegate” authority to Apostles. All Christians related to the Lord directly. Rather, Apostles are given specific tasks and the necessary authority to complete those tasks. Their authority is over those tasks, not over other Christians. All of us belong to the Lord, directly. This is one significant way in which an Apostle is different from a bishop.
In Church history, an “Apostle” of the Church has “seen the Lord,” such as the first twelve disciples saw Jesus, or like Paul saw Him in his vision on the road to Damascus. This makes sense since those with authority must commune with the government ruler who “sends” them. (In this sense, we are looking at Heaven’s Kingdom, which is spiritual, being different from the kingdoms of this world.) Technically, End Times Apostles will have an encounter where they see the Lord before they are commissioned with apostolic authority. While this is necessary, it’s not the only question to answer in testing whether one is an ET Apostle.
True and authentic End Times Apostles are appointed and prepared by God alone. So, naturally, they will be patient as the Church weighs their ministries against Scripture… And they will likely continue to preform miracles to protect society while the Church takes the necessary time to search Scripture. ET Apostles will seek to uphold Scripture in the earth, above all else, after all.
ET Apostles will be the highest leaders within the local Body of Christ, under Christ, but they will only intervene in local matters when the need arises. The local Church will be overseen by Elders who appoint and hire staff (AKA ‘Deacons’) to manage the operations of the Church. Much of the Church will be run by volunteers, just as it is today. Some Elders may be on the payroll of the local Church, some may not be. Apostles will advise the Elders, but they will not dictate orders to them.
Some ET Apostles may be Elders, as Peter was, but, even then, their finances should come from a place other than the local Church treasury. Moreover, ET Apostles will not have a regular, 8-5, 40 hour per week job because they will need to have the flexible schedule to travel and intervene in the Church where necessary and to do so with little or no advanced notice. They may be financially independent. They may have a business they own which does not dictate the time they must give to it. Or they may receive financial backing from other wealthy Christians, being financially supported much like faith missionaries are today.
ET Apostles will remain largely in the background, working and teaching behind the scenes, only making public appearances and exercising authority to appoint or remove Elders when absolutely necessary, and to settle disputes which Elders are not able to settle among themselves. ET Apostles will give advice to Elders about managing the local Church, but this advice will not be an “order” or “mandate”. It’s merely advice.
The local Church will easily and comfortably function with this understanding. It’s part of organic Church. This will be one of many pieces of evidence that people are serving in the proper calling. Working with small numbers, leading one-on-one and in small groups, Apostles will be very effective. So, there will rarely be a need for Apostles to make decisions, perform miracles, and give teaching at public gatherings. Of course, ET Apostles will make public appearances, but it won’t be the norm for Christian gatherings or for an ET Apostle’s ministry. If an ET Apostle makes a public appearance to do miracles, give teaching, and command direction of the Church, it will indeed be a very rare event and the Church should take heed to examine what happens and comply if it is of the Lord, but strongly reject it if it is not.
Disputes with Apostles: Not the typical conflict
When ET Apostles give direction, there will be little room for argument. There won’t be many opportunities to “take their word for it” or to “blindly believe” what they say. They may often say, “Just remember that I told you. You don’t have to believe me now.” Likewise, if they obey the Lord in giving a command to the Church, such as, “The Church must repent and be reconciled to unity in Christ,” or, “We are to build a bridge across that river,”—in those situations it will be possible for some people to disagree with the ET Apostle.
In those cases, the ET Apostle will not argue with anyone at all. He may reach out to his enemies in friendship, for a time, but he may just as likely go about his business, then, the Lord will respond to the people. The response could be war, weather, or social development. There could be a car accident that brings Christians together and they are reconciled, only later remembering that the ET Apostle told them to. The accident could have been avoided. A tornado may destroy some infrastructure making it necessary for the people to build the bridge. The tornado could have been prevented. Or a shift in the business world could change people’s buying habits, cause locals to change jobs, thus affecting social patterns, and then Christians may cross paths more frequently, resulting in Christian reconciliation. Changing jobs may not have been necessary had they listened to the ET Apostle’s word.
In other words, when an ET Apostle says something will happen… it will happen… one way or another. It’s better to listen to the Word of the Lord rather than waiting for the pain of His Rod. But He will use His Rod on those whom He loves, if they do not heed His Word. The Lord will use ET Apostles for both the Word and the Rod—and both are supernatural, not carnal or contrived in the least.
When people doubt the words of an ET Apostle, it is actually the Lord whom they are doubting. This does not mean that the Lord “rubber stamps” everything an Apostle says, nor does this claim that the Lord is impatient. Rather, it is the responsibility of the people to pray, read Scripture, and have their minds and hearts held captive to the Word of God. This way, the people can discern which Apostles are genuine and which are fake—by asking the Lord directly. Eventually, failure to discern between false and real Apostles proves that one does not know the voice of the Shepherd when He speaks. This is why the Shepherd will allow both true Apostles and false apostles, to test the people and allow them to prove, in both circumstances, that they know His voice.
The Lord could deliver such messages to the people directly. The only reason ET Apostles will need to give the messages they will give is because the people will either have been belligerent against the Lord, already, or because some things are not easy for anyone to know. All of us need each other and no one has all the answers except Christ Himself. All of us can seek Him directly. When an ET Apostle speaks, that message will affirm what many have already heard from the Lord or will hear from the Lord in the days that follow.
An ET Apostle will work calmly with those who disagree with him. If a man decides to argue with the message of a true ET Apostle, he would not be arguing with a mere man—he would be arguing with the Lord. The ET Apostle may silence the man with supernatural events, which, somehow, cannot be argued with. Or, the ET Apostle may simply forget about the incident and the man, say, having been warned to leave his home, is left to argue with a volcanic eruption atop the mountain on which he refused to leave.
Arguing with a true Apostle is more like arguing with an earthquake. Whether an Apostle is genuine or false, everyone had better be certain, either way.
Speak the Truth in Thine Heart
Discernment in the Holy Spirit and in Truth will be vital for the entire Body of Christ when the ET Apostles come forth. There will be plenty of time for Christians to review the message of an ET Apostle, weighing it against Scripture, but, in the end, there will be NO margin of error for anyone to be wrong—regardless of how well we humans are at rationalizing things in our own minds.
People who have the habit of deceiving themselves will not live long into those days, often times because they will refuse to heed the warnings of coming disasters and how to survive the aftermath. Self-deception becomes self-detriment in the days of apostolic leadership, just as it was for Ananias and Sapphira in the presence of Peter.
Do not think an ET Apostle is accusing people of disobeying him merely because he announces coming judgment in the face of belligerence. Likewise, don’t trust any alleged apostle who accuses anyone of disobeying the apostle himself.
Apostles always uphold the Word and Will of the Lord, Jesus Christ. They do not recognize whether someone obeys or disobeys the Apostles themselves because, as they see the world and eternity, it is merely the Lord’s will that they serve. If anyone disagrees with the message delivered by an Apostle, that person is disagreeing, not with the Apostle, but with the Lord who sent the message in the first place. So, the Apostle won’t get in a quarrel and might even forget the whole thing—then, the Lord Himself will respond. Technically, that’s how all Christians should operate, but with ET Apostles, the stakes will be higher, as will the level to which people could be offended when an ET Apostle delivers a message.
God Himself will hold these ET Apostles accountable, just as God Himself will send them. If they disobey the Lord, the Lord will call them home because the stakes are incredibly high. But they won’t disobey the Lord in persistent rebellion. That’s why the Lord chose them. When they falter, just as any human does, they will pick themselves up and walk in righteousness, just as King David did. And the Lord Himself will defend their reputations. Paparazzi will not be able to scathe them.
Just like Billy Graham is “obviously” an evangelist, so are the prophetic, pastoral, and apostolic callings self-evident. No one commissioned Billy Graham to be an Evangelist, he merely has the clear and apparent calling. The Church has no trouble recognizing evangelists in this way, even today. We generally know who prophets tend to be, though their legitimacy is often questioned, for better or worse. Prophets can often be a bit stranger folk and not always easy to get along with. But every person is different, which is natural in the Body of Christ. These types of people are obvious, even to those outside the Church.
Just as evangelists, and occasionally prophets, are recognized as being self-evidently so, even today, so will the Church learn to recognize and examine genuine ET Apostles. Most of the local Church knows how to recognize mature, wise, and knowledgeable Christians who can be sought for regular fellowship, advice, and friendship, which helps build up the Body and provide some necessary insight in our growth in Christ. We don’t often think of these people as having been listed in Eph 4:11, but this is the original idea of a Pastor. Just as the Church learns to recognize ET Apostles without ordination, so will the Church learn to properly apply the term Pastor to these lay and educated leaders and mentors among us, whom we already acknowledge on an informal basis.
These major changes will occur in Church leadership in the End Times, probably over the next twenty years. The Church will recognize Pastors who are not clergy and End Times Apostles who are not bishops. Elders will already have general respect in the local Church, even before they are appointed, though they will be reviewed by the local Body, in an organic manner and in fellowship, seeking advice from ET Apostles where necessary.
The Work and Nature of End Times Apostles
Though they may not always be referred to as “End Times” Apostles in the days when they operate, they will be known in this way, as being given by the Lord for a specific time in history.
Always distinguish End Times Apostles from New Testament Apostles. The biggest difference is that NT Apostles authored Scripture just after Christ ascended. ET Apostles will apply that same Scripture as history leads up to His return.
False apostles will depart from this. False prophets will claim to have died and come back to life. Many will hold odd titles and claim to have spiritual power and they will instruct the people to do things differently from Scripture—and the true ET Apostles will deal with them and confront them through prayer, weather, and wonders.
As the ET Apostles deal with these larger matters of helping the Church from a distance and confronting powerful heretics, the Church will be able to go about finishing the Great Commission, without wasting their time on endless “witch trials” and petty debates in theology, which only distract people from the Truth already revealed in Scripture.
Be extremely skeptical of anyone or any organization that pretends to “commission” or “certify” apostles. The International House of Prayer in Kansas City does not commission or certify apostles. But their IHOPU does train all Students for the coming apostolic leadership. They are preparing the Body of Christ for the ET Apostles, they are not claiming to actually review applicants, teaching necessary prerequisite classes, and then certifying so-called “apostles”. That would not be proper. What IHOPKC is doing is quite different and what they are doing in this regard is okay.
There are many others doing things similar to IHOPU. And there are many who do something quite different, who attempt to “certify” and [so-called] “properly” train apostles, even within the prayer movement. Never accept any training called How to Speak in Tongues or How to Be an Apostle. But it’s certainly beneficial for the whole Body of Christ to study these matters in Scripture. Know the difference.
I’m not sharing these things to make money. This article is free to read and there’s no fee or penalty for redistributing it. You don’t need to give me any credit if you share this. There is no denomination or other organization I’m recruiting people into… There’s nothing like that here.
I’m merely informing the Church of what is coming. This way, it will be a little easier for the Body of Christ to prepare, both in mind and in spirit. At most, just tuck this away in your memory so you can recall it later. It doesn’t really matter whether you believe me anyway. In fact, it might be best if you held onto it and weighed it against Scripture… and spend a lot of time praying.
Ah, prayer… Now, that’s one place we can’t go wrong. Prayer is one thing we know we all should be doing right now. And prayer is the one thing that Christians from every denomination can do together. These certainly are times when we need to come together.