David W. Dillon

Superintendent, Appalachian District

© 2011

Just what does is an apostolic rebel and what does one look like? A good question I was asked after using the title spontaneously in a discussion on God's order of authority for the church. After a good deal of reflection I think it's safe to say that an apostolic rebel is an individual who distorts the biblical office of apostle for selfish gain. In so doing, these persons rebel against the scriptural order of what God intends for those He chooses to function apostolically (and not merely by virtue of title or position).

I think it's funny and quite ironic that so many of the apostolic rebels who refuse to be under spiritual authority (“the governance of man,” they say) end up recreating the very governmental structures they rebel against, forming apostolic fellowships and ministry networks that mirror denominational agencies in many ways. And amazingly, as a friend of mine pointed out, those spiritualizing the rejection of accountability for themselves often demand more accountability from those they attempt to control than what they rejected for themselves. (Isn't what's good for the goose also supposed to be good for the gander?)

Of course, these rebels spiritualize their actions with terminology that causes the undiscerning and biblically illiterate to fail to see that more often than not the rebel's true motivation is to be an authority unto himself and to build his own kingdom under the guise of “having no authority over him but God.” Sadly, these wolves in sheep's clothing leave a wide swath of destruction in their wake. (The real proof of any ministry is the fruit that remains long after the minister is gone and the services are over.)

It is both sad and amazing that so many allow themselves to be subjugated like this. Too many are swayed by the aura and mystique of the “man or woman of God” or the “signs” accompanying his/her ministry. Never mind here that Jesus said “an evil and adulterous” generation” seeks after and demands a miraculous sign as proof of one's ministry (Matthew 12:39; 16:4). One version of Scripture speaks to this issue this way: “You're looking for proof, but you're looking for the wrong kind. All you want is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles” (The Message).

Jesus also made it unequivocally clear that signs are to FOLLOW or accompany believers (Mark 16:17). The Apostle Paul wrote that signs—manifestations of God's life-changing presence—are for unbelievers, not believers (see 1 Corinthians 12 and 14). These signs are to be evident in the lives of God's people so that an unbelieving world might see and know that there is a God who is very much alive and active in those who put their trust in Him.

As people of the revealed Truth of God through Jesus Christ and the Bible, believers should not be so gullible and naive. That isn't God's will for His people. His will is that they grow into spiritual maturity so that they won't be tossed around by every wind of teaching and doctrine. Furthermore, God says that this is the very reason that He has given and called some to places of ministry leadership within His church (Ephesians 4:11-15). God wants spiritually mature men and women, not eternally spiritual infants nor spiritual dictators. (Ministers are not called to rule over God's people, butto serve Him by serving them and being godly examples. See 1 Peter 5:2-3.)

Sadly, some things never change. The Apostle Paul had to confront the same issue in his day with the so-called “Super Apostles” who challenged his authority so that they could promote themselves (2 Corinthians 11-12). I'm amazed that their followers then and like-minded persons today don't realize this and see their subjugation for what it truly is:  a spiritualized ego trip, all in the name of kingdom building. It's building a kingdom alright, but whose? God's or the so-called man of God?

As a good friend of mine said, “Never submit to the authority of any man that will not submit himself to another.” And as said another, “Combine a willing ego with an admiring audience and you have a recipe for disaster.” Sad but true. God help us. Seriously.