Apostolic Foundation
Truths that shaped the ministry and direction of Gospel Outreach






The main purpose of man is to bring glory to, lift up, extol and magnify God in and through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God's dealings with mankind throughout the ages have been with the intention of His making Himself known to us, sharing in our daily lives, renewing our minds and purifying our motives to the point "that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ." (Ephesians 1:12). His design is that we, his sons and daughters, might live in such a way as to "glorify God" and inspire those around us to do likewise. His desire is that all men might be drawn to Himself and so receive eternal life rather than perishing in darkness and sinfulness.

To achieve this purpose, our vision focuses on three main areas:

1. To become more like Jesus through personal discipleship. This includes building a vital relationship with the Lord through prayer and worship, through study of the scriptures, and a wholesome relationship to a part of His church. "For who he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29).

2. To preach the Gospel throughout the earth by whatever means that lie within our reach, including personal outreach in our workplace and communities, following God's call into other nations as missionaries, and investing of our time and material resources in helping to fulfill the Great Commission. "Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the Ages. Amen." (Mathew 28:19-20).

3. To promote unity among the Body of Christ, recognizing that He has placed each believer in the body with great diversity of abilities, gifts, strengths and weaknesses, and perspectives and understandings of the scriptures themselves. The context of our relationship with other Christians should be one of "endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:3-6). "That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:21).

1. Introduction: Distinctives Are Important

2. What is "Apostolic Foundation" ?

  • Practice the Word: Believing is Not Enough
  • Discipleship: Obedience and Accountability
  • Equipping the Saints: Building on the Foundation
3. Purpose and Vision: "What Should I Do With My Life?"
  • Discipleship: Deciding What to Do With My Life
  • Covenant: How I Relate to My Brothers and Sisters
  • Spiritual Authority: Principles That Produce God's Order
4. Spiritual Identity: What Do I Believe About Myself?
  • Training Your Soul: Bring Your Untrained Soul in Line
  • Believe, Confess and Act: What To Do With God's Word







1. Introduction: Distinctives Are Important

Distinctives have to do with the way we, as a family of churches, approach God's Word and how we apply that Word to our lives and ministry. This then defines us and determines the direction and shape of our work. Another term for distinctives: core values. 1 Cor 14:8; 2 Cor 13:5

Some of the words and phrases used to communicate our core values: Practice the Word; Discipleship; Equipping the Saints; Purpose and Vision; Covenant; Spiritual Authority; Spiritual Identity; Training Your Soul; Believe, Confess and Act.

Some of what our distinctives have produced or are capable of producing:

  •  Men of covenant.
  •  Constancy, steadiness, stability.
  •  An emphasis on character.
  •  Men who walk in submission to authority.
  •  A non-professional view of ministry.
  •  Concern for the greater body.
  •  An unwillingness to say "We've gone far enough."
  •  Willingness to be conformed to Christ.
  •  Vision for the work of God in a broad base of people.

2. What is "Apostolic Foundation" ?

Jesus is the foundation. 1 Cor 3:10; Mt 16:18 Jesus is the foundation when His word is obeyed and practiced. Mt 7:24 Believing is not enough.

Some important premises:

  1.  The promises of the Bible, of an abundant, victorious, overcoming life are meant for every believer.
  2.  These promises are fulfilled only as we live God's way, that is, we obey and practice the Word.
  3.  Practicing the Word, or applying God's truth to every area of life, is a living relationship with Jesus and a deep trust in God.

The concept of "practice the Word" builds in us a deep knowledge of our personal responsibility in life and confronts the destructive and all-too-common tendency to blame-shift.

Out of "practice the Word" came an introduction to discipleship. Lk 6:40; 14:26,27,33 Some of the implications of discipleship: Jesus as Lord, not just Savior. Putting God's will first. Obedience to God's Word. Accountability. Jesus is the Master. We are all His disciples. There is no hierarchy. We are all brothers. Mt 23:8

The foundation of Jesus Christ -- and His Word obeyed -- is laid by the apostolic-prophetic ministry. This introduced the concept of the equipping ministries and the equipping mandate. Just being good and going to church was not enough. The believer must be a vital, living and giving member of the body of Christ. This means becoming equipped. Eph 2:20; Eph 4:12

Some implications, on the individual level, of equipping:

  1.  Everyone is called to minister, versus a few trained professionals.
  2.  Each believer discovers his gifts and uses them, versus mere attendance
  3. and entertainment.
  4.  The goal is saints who bring the kingdom of God into every sphere of ife, versus a spiritual-secular dichotomy, and only serving God within church activities.
  5.  The body builds itself up in love, versus the clergy, church staff and a gifted few meeting the needs of the body.
  6.  Quality, committed relationships, versus shallow social relationships.
  7.  Results of equipping: see "Indicators of an equipped Christian."
Some implications, for the church, of equipping:
  1.  We raise up ministers. We do not "hire talent" -- all the gifts resided within our reach.
  2.  A multiplicity of gifts is needed, because no two equipping ministers are alike, and each has a distinct contribution.
  3.  We must regularly call upon outside ministry, because there is only one body meant to be interdependent, and no one local church, even if it had each of the five gifts, is complete.
  4.  The apostolic ministries, being representative of the ministry of Jesus, implies teamwork in ministry. No one equipping minister is complete.

3. Purpose and Vision: "What Should I Do With My Life?"

"Practice the Word" naturally leads to "purpose and vision" because it causes us to say not only: "How am I to handle each and every situation in life God's way?" but: "What am I to do with my whole life?"

What is purpose and vision?

Purpose is simply the conclusion that we exist to glorify God, to exalt Jesus in this life, and to enjoy His presence forever. Rom 15:6; 11:36; Ps 145:11,12; 105:1; 113:3,4; 1 Cor 6:20; 10:31; Phil 3:12; 1 Thess 4:1; 2 Thess 1:12; Col 1:17,18; 3:17;

This purpose finds immediate direction in what we call God's vision, which has three primary aspects:

  1. Be conformed to Christ. Rom 8:29; Phil 3:10; Gal 2:20; Col 3:1-3
  2. Maintain the unity of the body of Christ. Jn 17:21; Eccl 4:9,12; Rom 12:5; Eph 4:1-4; Jn 13;34,35; Rom 12:10; Gal 6:2
  3. Preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations. Mt 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; Rom 10:14,15; Mt 10:8

Out of purpose and vision comes:

  1. A deeper understanding of discipleship
  2. An emphasis on covenant
  3. An understanding of spiritual authority.

Discipleship:

Living to accomplish what God wants. Purpose and vision gives a framework within which to make decisions about the direction of our lives. Discipleship implies wholeheartedness and dedication. Purpose and vision directs the dedication.

Covenant:

The basic concept flowed from the second aspect of the vision, the unity of the body of Christ. God is a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God. Made in His image, we are designed to be a covenant-making, covenant-keeping people, and thus glorify His name. 1 Cor 12-14; Eph 4:1-6; Eph 4:25-5:2; 5:21; Col 3:12-14

Spiritual Authority:

Acts 14:23; 15; 16:4,5; 20:25-31; 1 Cor 16:16; 1 Ti 5:17; Tit 1:5-9; Heb 13:7,17; 1 Pe 5:1 The New Testament model for church government and authority incluses an eldership, with a presiding elder, governing the local church. Apostolic authority oversees the eldership of the churches. We also recognize that within a sphere of ministry (2 Cor 10:13) there is one apostle in general oversight, with apostolic authority delegated as needed. Equipping ministers operate under apostolic direction to equip the saints in all the churches. Eph 4:1-16

Our understanding of spiritual authority yielded some important principles:

  • The strength of authority is in serving. 1 Pe 5:1-5; Mt 20:25-27
  • Submission to authority is always to God.
  • In counsel we may disagree. In final decision and direction we agree.
  • Your authority is always upheld to the extent that you uphold the authority of the one God has placed over you.
  • The more you use your authority, the less of it you will have.

4. Spiritual Identity: What Do I Believe About Myself?

Purpose and vision provokes a crisis. It challenges personal priorities by bringing them into a bigger framework than just: "What fulfills me personally?" It causes us to give our gifts to God's work. Ultimately, it causes us to "go" and do something, thus exposing us to the unknown and the risk of failure. This forces upon us the question: "Who am I?" This, I would say, is the single greatest battleground of ministry: spiritual identity.

We believe that God's gifts and grace are in every saint. This yielded our understanding of "dreams and visions". Whatever apparent problems, failures, sin, weakness or lack, God, through your obedience to His Word, is able to transform you into a mighty man of God. Equipping is designed to bring out in each saint the fullest understanding of their identity in Christ."

The teaching of identity in Christ brought out the importance of the principles of faith or what we often called "believe, confess and act".

Believe: Implies knowing God's Word and being saturated with it. Also, meditating on the Word. Josh 1:6-9; Ps 1; 119; Mk 11:24; Phil 4:8

Confess: Don't speak your fears and your feelings. Speak the Word. This led to "Training Your Soul", with the basic concept that I am spirit, with a soul and body; that I can speak to my soul, train it and expect it to comply. Ps 118:24; Pr 15:28; 16:23; 18:21; Mt 10:32; Rom 4:17; 10:10

Act: Faith requires action. Step out in faith. Do the Word. Show your faith by your deeds. Mt 7:21-27; Jas 2:17

CONCLUSION

Each of these teachings had a strong emphasis among us, and helped to shape the core values that are now embedded in the "culture" of Gospel Outreach. It is critical to our future, if we are to fulfill the work for which God has designed us, that we understand, strengthen and pass on to faithful men these distinctives. Ps 78:1-7; 2 Tim 2:2






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