The Character of False Apostles
“˜I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; (Rev. 2:2)
For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. (2 Co. 10:12)
We live at a time when there are not only an alarmingly large number of individuals who insist on being addressed as “Apostle”, but an entire organization which claims worldwide membership of more than 500 apostles. The most visible leader of this movement is C. Peter Wagner and the activities associated with these people is often called “The New Apostolic Reformation”. In a YouTube video titled “Peter Wagner Endorses Todd Bentley“, you can see many of the more prominent “apostles” of this movement formally anointing Todd Bentley into their ranks. This is all to say that while studying 2 Corinthians recently, when I came across Paul’s description listed above about the character of false apostles, I instantly fixated not just on that video, but the whole of what I have seen in the actions of both Wagner and this movement. If you watch it again after reading 2 Corinthians 10:12, it is impossible not to see how “they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves“. One of the hallmarks of false apostles is their mutual admiration society.
We cannot overstate the importance of the fact that Jesus personally commended the church at Ephesus because they “put to the test those who call themselves apostles“. Like everything else spiritual, if it does not comply 100% with Scripture, it is either of Satan or the flesh, but certainly not from God. Satan loves to counterfeit the authentic, but in order to succeed with his deceptions he always employs great numbers to overwhelm us.
We see this in the last days of Judah when Jeremiah, the one authentic prophet of God, was numerically dwarfed by the thousands of false prophets. It is a pattern Satan has used over and over again up to this present time. Just as it was then, so it is now. Peter Wagner portraying himself as an apostle is one thing, but mutually supported by hundreds of more with similar claims at the least makes everyone take notice, and more disconcertingly has been successful in actually deceiving a great many. I wish they understood the fact that to this day we know the name and ministry of the one true prophet of God whose faithfulness and example every person who has read the Bible readily remembers; not even one of the names of the thousands of false ones can be recalled.
But no common sense argument much less scriptural exegesis is going to wake these people up from their behavior. As Paul explained to Timothy”¦
But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Ti. 3:13)
Their spiritual condition is a classic study in symbiosis, of two separate things acting together to the point they cannot be effectively separated. On the one hand they are actively engaged in “deceiving“, but on the other they are enslaved to deception themselves because they are “being deceived“. This duality also becomes clear when watching the video. They are not merely making an attempt to get us to believe what is so biblically easily proven to be a deception, they have completely bought into the deception themselves. I hold little hope that they will hear and repent, but am wholly positive we can yet reach those in their sphere of influence.
If you want to be the kind of Christian who acts in the character of the commendable Bereans and prove all things against the measure of God’s Word, I would suggest that when it comes to apostles ““ authentic or counterfeit ““ 2 Corinthians 10-12 is a great place to start. In having to defend his own apostleship and ministry, Paul provides the characteristics which must exist in a legitimate apostle. We should begin by knowing exactly what comprises the authentic by which we can eventually compare the counterfeit. To be sure, this can be applied to leaders of all spiritual titles and offices, but it specifically addresses the claims of apostleship we are encountering more frequently than ever. This little gem of Scripture I came across which so obviously exposes Wagner and his ilk is but one of many in those chapters.
Wagner and company are not false apostles because I say so; they are false apostles because of what Scripture says. On the one hand we can continue to compare and contrast everything they say and do with Scripture to refute yet again their claims, but we can also study Scripture for ourselves and confidently know that they do not even meet the minimum requirements to begin with. Or as Paul puts it”¦
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. (Eph. 6:10″“11)
In His Love,