Thursday, 9 July 2009

TOAM Main Session 6: Terry Virgo: THE APOSTOLIC GIFT

This talk was intended to be Terry’s response to the challenge brought by Mark Driscoll last year. I am splitting it into two so the actual response does not get lost in the text.

It started with an explanation of what we mean when we say "apostolic" gift

How did Churches relate to each other in the bible?

There was no sign of denominations: rather was relational, geographical

Denominations” tends to have negative connotations

  • HQ mentality
  • Big machine
  • Impersonal
  • Rules & regulations
  • Centrally controlled
  • "One size fits all" kind of approach

What are we then?


  1. Being apostolic is to do with the "apostolic" gift of Ephesians 4
  2. It is to do with relationships around that gift
  3. An apostolic sphere is the relationship interacting with an apostolic gift

It is a biblical concept: you can see it new testament several times.

Where do we get our definition?

Apostle comes from Apostolos, to send. There is a sense of authority and commissioning. It is almost ambassadorial, being a representative.


  1. Jesus was an "apostle": Heb 3
  2. The twelve: Jesus gathered and commissioned them. God established something unique, special, one off, the Apostles with a capital A.
  3. Then in Ephesians 4 we see apostolic category in the life of the Church which was a gifting. "Apostles of the ascended Christ" is a useful definition: Paul (although He is set apart), and Barnabas, James etc

Jesus: the twelve: the Church - all three displayed "apostolic" gift int he sense we understand. Only the twelve were THE Apostles


They provided the foundation of the Church. 3,000 were added in Acts 2: they were added to a community being founded by the Apostles. Those Apostles had lived with Jesus, known Him, learned from Him.

Ephesians 3: the mystery of Church to be revealed through apostles & prophets.

  1. TEACHING: Acts 2 onwards: day by day listening to the Apostles teaching.
  2. IDENTITY: Gave identity to the Church. Not just identity of teaching but relationship with person.

What about those who say apostles were just those who wrote the bible? This is a commonly held the belief. Now the canon is complete we do not need apostles.

Only 3 of the 12 wrote the bible. Luke was not one of 12. Paul was not one of 12. Jesus did not write scripture and He was the great apostle. SO "Apostle" and certainly "apostolic" cannot only be restricted to bible writers.

Apostolic ministry is a dynamic driver of world evangelisation. The canon is complete, what we are talking about now is not the Apostles (noun), but people working with an apostolic gift (adjective).


They lay foundations for the Church: 1 Corinthians 3: see the narrative in Acts, read the letters. A dynamic practical gift. Like an evangelist may preach the gospel and pray for healing an apostle would help start, build and shape Churches.

They have clear relationships: There is a public link, a named partnership. Ongoing, dynamic, personal relationship. The "sphere" is the group of Churches relating to someone with an apostolic gift.

2 Corinthians 10:13 - NIV says "field", NASB uses "Sphere" There are often some geographical elements to the relationship.

We gave an apostolic sphere a name, newfrontiers. The name is not important, the relationships are. We have reached a very important phase of our development.

International apostolically driven world evangelism comes from the local Church and forms new local churches and is a partnership of faith and growth interlocked by living fellowship.

Apostolic ministry is not a “model” of Church organisation, it is a biblical value of relationships.

But as we get larger do we lose our edge? Do we just "belong" to something? Do we get the "badge" without entering a relationship?

And how can we stop this happening?


Gifts are "given" by God not "appointed" by the Church. I could say “I give you this evangelist.” But if they can’t do it, they are not and evangelist, no matter how much we say they are.

That is why it is up to the local Church to recognise the gift and accept it

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