Apostolic: Denomination or Movement? Cult or Christian?

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The devil takes the things of God and counterfeits them or perverts them. One of the ways Satan tries to destroy a culture is by destroying the language. He has caused the word "apostolic" to have a variety of connotations.

This topic is too large and diverse for one short essay. The reader should seek out more sources until satisfied. Many people call themselves Christian but are not. Many churches say they are apostolic but are not. It all depends on the meanings of words. What is apostolic to you? Or what should it be? It comes down to the inerrancy of Scripture and the willingness to do and teach whatever Jesus and the disciples did without excuse. We should be a First Century Church in the 21st century.

  • All churches claim to follow the teachings of Jesus and the apostles
  • Some churches believe in just the twelve apostles
  • Some believe in many apostles, but only apostles of their denomination
  • Some believe that an apostle cannot be in any denomination, because an apostle is by definition non-denominational
  • Some people believe the apostles are inumerable, a great army


1. Apostolic Succession

a. Roman Catholic
b. Anglican
c. Orthodox
d. Moravian
e. others not limited to above

2. Denomination specifically named Apostolic Church

3. Cults that have caused reproach to be associated with the word "apostolic"

4. Non-denominational churches structured like 1st Century churches, also known as apostolic/prophetic or apostolic-prophetic, as compared to simply 'apostolic'


  • The belief that apostleship is handed down from father to son, or uncle to nephew
  • This belief is held especially by certain denominations
  • As a result, persons outside the denomination are not acknowledged as apostles by the denomination


  • Flesh begets flesh; spirit begets spirit; spirituality is not inherited. We inherit sin from Adam. We must be adopted by God and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
  • God has no grandsons. Each generation must have a personal salvation experience with the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 'Apostolic succession' duplicates the inadequacies of the Levitical priesthood. Jesus came from another tribe and another priesthood because of the faults in the previous system.
  • Apostles are called and appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ, not man.

ORIGIN OF THE DENOMINATIONAL SYSTEM: If the root is bad, the tree is bad!

1. Roman Catholicism: the first denomination


~ Believe Jesus is God.
~ Preserved the Scriptures.


~ Started by men, not God.
~ Claims first pope was descended from Apostle Peter.
~ Peter was married, but popes aren't. Their claim is inconsistent logic.
~ Early popes committed bribery, murder, and fought wars to take the position.
~ The Catholic Church once taught salvation by official church membership and sacraments. They still imply this.
~ Belief in purgatory: where men are purified after death in a place other than heaven. The Bible says to true Christians they will: "be absent from the body, and ... present with the Lord" at death [2 Corinthians 5:8]."
~ Catholics teach that Mary was sinless, but in Luke 1:47, Mary proclaims: "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."
~ Catholic leaders greatly resisted the translation of the Bible into the languages of the common people even to the point of assassinations of translators.
~ Mandatory celibacy of leaders has led to homosexuality and secret fornication. This law for leaders is contrary to the Bible [1 Timothy 4:3].

2. Lutheran Church [and others]: Second Generation of Denominations


~ Believe in salvation by faith alone. Excellent!
~ Nothing ever changes.


~ Nothing ever changes.
~ Believe in infant baptism. Terrible!
~ Believe in baptism by sprinkling. Terrible!
~ No altar calls. Might offend visitors. Terrible!
~ Believe in remission of sins by ordained ministers. Terrible!
~ Forbid speaking in tongues and other spiritual gifts by refusing to preach about or acknowledge them. Terrible!
~ Where did they get the above practices? -- Catholicism!

3. Anabaptists [and others]: the Third Generation of Denominations


~ Believe in baptism by immersion. Excellent!
~ Nothing ever changes.


~ Nothing ever changes.
~ These branched off into Amish, Mennonites, and others.
~ Legalism: emphasizing the Law over Grace.
~ Many are Pacifists: refuse to fight in the armed forces.
~ a. - Their policy of "isolationism" stifles evangelism. Christians are called to go ye into all the world; we are in the world, but not OF the world.
~ b. - This 'Great Commission' to "Go ye ..." means we have social responsibility towards the lost.

4. Southern Baptists [and others]: the Fourth Generation of Denominations


~ Believe in baptism by immersion. Excellent!
~ Great evangelists and soul-winners.
~ Nothing ever changes.


~ Nothing ever changes.
~ Doctrine of Eternal Security. This is a bad doctrine unless you KNOW to whom you're talking. It assumes the hearer is saved because he/she is a Baptist.
~ Southern Baptists are perhaps the biggest purveyors of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory, a false teaching with no foundation, not taught by the original apostles or modern apostles.
~ Southern Baptist churches, Bible colleges, and seminaries are especially known for their stance against the gifts of the Holy Spirit and against present-day apostles and prophets. Some go as far as to say that all speaking-in-tongues is of the devil. At best, they consider tongues of no or little value.
  • Denominations value Legalism over Liberty of the Lord.
  • Denominations are hosted by men, and God is the guest.
  • The church of God's choice is hosted by God, and men are guests.

A great tragedy in denominations is that ... as leaders mature in the Word and begin to see errors in the dogmas of the denomination, they have been in the system of man so long that they fear losing present financial support and future retirement pensions if they follow their convictions by leaving the organization.

Denominations are impossible to be changed from within, because God NEVER intended His Church to be denominational. The only way to change the denomination is to start a brand new one. Then the error simply repeats itself, because the structural premise of any denomination violates the Bible: CHURCHES MUST BE AUTONOMOUS UNDER GOD.

The pastor is the head of the local church under the Lord Jesus Christ. Visiting ministers such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers provide wise counsel to the pastor. The local pastor himself may be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. He is answerable to Jesus directly, and not to a local board or non-local governing body. Pastors are appointed by God, not elected. The Church-at-large, that is, the universal Church, is led [not controlled] by apostles and prophets. Prophets are visionary messengers; apostles are messengers that implement the vision.

One More DENOMINATION: The Apostolic Church


~ Believe in baptism by immersion.
~ Believe in the nine Spiritual gifts such as tongues.
~ Believe in modern day apostles and prophets.


~ H e l l o ! - - I t ' s __ a __ d e n o m i n a t i o n !

~ Seriously, a great weakness of the Apostolic Denomination is that under its banner is a sect of Apostolics called "Jesus Only" or "Oneness".


~ Other than some non-denominational churches, the 'Jesus Only' folks are the ONLY ones who baptize correctly according to the Book of Acts.


~ Their false doctrines have caused a stigma to be attached to the word, "apostolic" and also to the word, "pentecostal"
~ They teach salvation by water baptism. Heresy!
~ They teach salvation by speaking in tongues. Heresy!
~ In other words, if you aren't water baptized, or don't speak in tongues, you're not saved, they say.
~ They are anti-triunitarian. They say, "Jesus is all we'll ever see of God". Revelation 5:6,7 says otherwise.
~ The 'Oneness' sect causes contention. They imply you don't believe Jesus is Truly God unless you are one of their members. This is that great recurrent sin of denominational pride!

Folks, the test and seal of Christianity is the belief that the Lord Jesus Christ is God and worthy of worship and service. Catholics, Lutherans, Amish, Baptists, Apostolics, and non-denominational Christians ALL belief this! His Church is built on the freewill confession that our God and Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins and is risen from the dead.


  • These churches are both denominational and non-denominational
  • Therefore, the locale(s) and year(s) of its origin(s) are manifold, contradictory, and open to research.
  • The main heresy of the N.A.Church is the belief that salvation is through the laying on of hands of the apostle.
  • Note: Salvation in any Christian church can and may coincide with the touch of hands, but such is not required for salvation.
  • This heresy has given the apostolic-prophetic churches an undeserved bad rep, causing some people to avoid anything apostolic in name.


  • New Apostolic = "new" cult, same old lie of the devil, salvation of man by man


  • Modern apostles = restored truths, God rescues what the enemy has stolen; The Lord brings to light the hidden things that the devil has obscured.
  • **Note: It is vital to recognize that many godly, genuine, bonafide, apostolic-prophetic ministries are still using the term "new apostolic" and will continue to do so. Therefore it is necessary that the reader examines the statements-of-faith of these organizations, and also uses the gift of "discerning of spirits" [1Cor.12:10] while testing their words, deportment, and fruits [Rev.2:2].



1. Teachableness, open to the fresh light of Scripture; open to correction, adaptable to God's plans and purposes.

2. Believe in modern day apostles and prophets appointed by God, not man.

3. Believe in and practice the nine spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 as defined by the Holy Spirit, not the dictionary. Tongues are a sign of submitting to the Father's command to receive the "upon" baptism with the Holy Spirit after salvation; This 'sign' gift is available to ALL Christians and need not be interpreted. Tongues are not necessary for salvation.

4. Believe apostles and prophets give wise counsel to daughter churches in an advisory capacity, not a dictatorial capacity.

5. True churches are alive and should therefore sustain life and reproduce. They are witnesses for the life of Christ and are messengers of the Gospel that: (a) Jesus is the visible manifestation of God and dwelt on earth born of a virgin, (b) all men are sinners, (c) The only begotten Son of God died bodily and rose to save us, (d) salvation is by grace through faith alone without works, (e) but faith without works is dead, (f) we were created to glorify God by doing good works and proclaiming His Truth, (g) signs such as casting out of demons, unknown tongues, and healing etc. follow those that believe the Gospel, (h) Jesus will return as Judge and King at Armageddon.

6. Modern apostolic/prophetic churches send out presbyteries of five-fold ministers.

7. Churches patterned after the First Century Church are not denominational in nature.

8. Excommunication takes place at the local/individual church, not at a regional or national level. Eventual restoration is the intended goal.

9. Worship is free and spontaneous welcoming all musical instruments and forms of expression such as dancing, drama, and pageantry. Worshippers may sit still, be silent, or shout, whistle, sing, dance, run, clap, wave, kneel, or fall prostate. Let all things be done decently and in order. The spirits of the prophets are subject unto the prophets. Let the prophets judge one another, judge yourselves, and God shall bring all things into judgment.

10. Believe the Bible is inerrant in its original languages, and many believe this is most faithfully adhered to in the Textus Receptus.

11. Apostolic/prophetic churches are always striving to achieve that perfect balance between Grace and the Law, and between the Word and the Spirit

~ too much grace becomes sloppy agape; too much law and you can be right, but dead right.
~ too much Word and you'll dry up; too much Spirit and you'll blow up.

12. Apostolic/prophetic churches welcome and embrace the times of Elijah prophesied in Malachi 4:5,6; which is before the Day of the Lord [Mat.3:11,12]. The Days of Elijah are an outpouring of the Spirit of:

~ conviction, enlightenment, repentance, refreshing, renewal, revival, reformation, restoration, restitution, reunion; signs, wonders, and miracles
~ turning the heart of the fathers unto the sons, and the heart of the sons unto the fathers; a time of mentors and mentorees
~ It will be a time of persecution: the fire that purifies gold; the pressure that turns coal to diamond, grapes to wine, olives to oil.


  • It is better for true apostolic churches to call themselves "apostolic/prophetic" or "apostolic-prophetic" rather than simply 'apostolic'.
  • Any church believing in the triune nature of God ought to instead adopt the term, "triUnity of God", rather than 'the trinity'. "Triunity" communicates more effectively that the Lord is One God and One Spirit, manifested at sundry times as three persons, not three gods, though no Christian church believes in three gods.
  • The organization "New Apostolic Church" is a cult and in NO way associated with true modern apostles and prophets.
  • Modern apostolic/prophetic churches water baptize in the name, the Lord Jesus Christ, not "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," but do indeed believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; hence apostolic-prophetic churches do NOT believe in "Oneness" or "Jesus Only".

"What Is Apostolic Ministry?"

Prophecy regarding tongues

Tongues Unifying the Church

4 Works to Get to Heaven

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