Having been a passionate follower of Christ since I was a teenager, I have a lifetime in ministry, and I am still not old. Even though I have experienced difficult things, I am enjoying life and ministry. But a question that I have made my own, is the question below that Pat Robertson asked Bob Mumford in an open letter of June 27th, 1975:
"Bob, why do charismatics always have to take simple Bible truths and push them to such ridiculous extremes that they become unbalanced and heretical? Why is it that these teachings invariably exalt man and his activities and powers above Jesus and His powers?"
I wrote an article in 2014 called "Apostles learn Balance", and it is getting more and more relevant.
"Extremes are easy. Strive for Balance."I love the plaque that I found on the internet: "Extremes are easy. Strive for Balance." That sounds Biblical, actually.
Pat Robertson asked Bob Mumford about simple Bible truths, and that´s what they are. But a genuine truth may become un-truth when it is the ONLY truth and the EXTREME truth.
Let us learn balance.
Here are some examples:
1) "Spiritual warfare": In my opinion, this is a missing ingredient in the European Church. But if we make it the ONLY ingredient in prayer, then we will totally miss out. As I wrote in an article on "Prayer":
"Prayer is a beautiful array of communicative ways with God: Worship, praise, loving, thanking, repenting, listening, speaking, knocking, meditating, conversing, seeking, groaning… All of this is foundational, valuable and necessary. A prerequisite for maturing in prayer!"
2) "Courts of heaven": This is another aspect of prayer that I believe is important for apostolic leaders in Europe to embrace. Our friend and brother, Robert Henderson, will focus on this dimension at our 3rd European Annual Fellowship & Vision Gathering in Oslo, Norway next year. However, that does not make it the only aspect of authority in prayer, but it will certainly help us as we learn to be more effective and wholesome in our mandate to pray.
3) "Spiriual fathers": This is a vital aspect of the apostolic environment that we encourage, and which there is ample Biblical models of. At our 2nd European Gathering in Lisbon this year, our Serbian brother Viktor Sabo made a beautiful presentation about this. Viktor models it admirably in the Balkans, but as I underscored in my article on "Spiritual Fathers": "there is no "office" or "ministry" or "Christ gift" that in any way or fashion implies that someone should call themselves "a spiritual father". But it is a dimension that we need to embrace. That´s it. Balance, folks!
4) "Submission": In my harmonious life with Aina since we married on December 18th, 2010, we have emphasized together our mutual submission to each other, in accordance with Ephesians 5:21: "submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ". That does not negate that there are aspects of our life together where one of us might have the lead, but that happens in an environment of love, honor, respect and communication. It is even logical! My missionary parents, Aage (1924-1983) & Anne (1922-2007) Torp were married for 30 years (1953-1983), and modelled this for us at home, so I know it is possible. The same is also true in ministry: One inidividual should never have powers to dominate and "lord it over" others!
5) "Apostolic covering": This is another "extra-Biblical" truth that is a positive, but it becomes a negative when over-emphasized and pushed to the extreme: When we demand absolute compliance instead of encouraging and modelling mature discussion and reflection. Apostle Paul never made such claims viz-a-viz the Timothy´s, the Titus´, and the churches that he "covered". Why then should we do that in 2015-2016? Is it our desire for control?
6) "Anoint apostles over nations and continents": As I wrote in 2013: "Sometimes I hear that somebody is considered THE apostle over a city, a nation - or even a continent. Let me say immediately: That is RUBBISH!" This is another extreme that actually can be perceived and done correctly. Undoubtedly, Christ anoints 5-fold ministers today (Ephesians 4:11). When He does that, God backs up the calling and ministry, even when opposed by man. But why should this be exaggerated by man - and even declared in the public arena as a POSITION of authority? In 2000, a high-level and recognized US apostle came to Norway as my guest and literally threw his jacket over five Norwegian leaders and declared that we are apostles. He left some days later and I had to clean up his mess, even being brought before the top ecclesiastical leaders of the nation, and it was on the cover pages of Christian newspapers. He never even bothered to help. In 2004, a high-level Mexican apostle came to Oslo and - again it happened! She wanted to anoint me with oil in front of 200 leaders and declare me as the apostle of Norway. I stopped her! But she created lots of problems. Extremes!!!!
7) "Tithing": Tithing is God´s ingeneous plan to finance the ministry of the Church, both locally and globally. The Old Testament admonition in Malachi 3:8-10 applies to the New Testament Church as well, and the principles were clearly affirmed by Jesus. But nowhere does the New Testament show specifically HOW it is to be done. I do not believe in "personal tihing upwards to your covering" as the one and only way for apostolic leaders, but I believe it is an acceptable practice that works when it is handled lovingly and transparently. Let us give room for variations and not push to extremes.
8) Israel: I love the Jews, I even believe they are the chosen people of God. I am against Replacement Theology. However, that does not imply that I cannot acknowledge as genuine Christians those who believe that the Jews have been replaced by the Church. I understand, acknowledge and respect their rationale, and I will gladly work with them in a multitude of areas. We can agree to disagree.
9) "Seven Mountain Mandate": This powerful visionary grid was formulated by Loren Cunningham and Bill Bright in 1975, and is a helpful tool in our modern age. However, it is not the only helpful language that we can use. Equally helpful, and perhaps even more so, are the concepts of "the Creation Mandate" and "the Great Commission". There is no problem with using these grids interchangably. Let us avoid the extremes of exclusivity.
10) "Apostolic centers": One of the Holy Spirit-led focuses of the 21st Century seems to be "apostolic centers". Dr. C. Peter Wagner introduced me to this 3 years ago, and in our Oslo base, we have embraced this. It is a cutting-edge strategy that is applicable whether large or small, Anglican or Pentecostal. Brother Ioan Ceuta of Bucharest will make a presentation of this at our Annual Gathering in Oslo in March 2016. However, if this should lead to a dichotomy between "apostolic centers" and the Church, then something would be seriously wrong. "Apostolic centers" are simply an effective way to organize and communicate important aspects of the Church in the 21st Century. Nothing more, nothing less. It is not a new doctrine!
In the 1990´s in Norway, I led a fine prophetic movement that was genuinely involved in the lives of people. But we lacked balance. I led a church, which was more like a prophetic community, that was genuinely involved in the lives of people: For the unborn child, for unmarried mothers, for the gender-confused, for families in disarray, for holiness, for truth, for prayer, for world missions +++ The list was long.
A prophetic movement attracts prophetic people. And prophetic people are seldom balanced. The only time a prophetic person is balanced, is crossing over from one assignment to the next!
However, God never intended that prophetic people should be on their own. Prophets and prophetic people are meant to be included in the community of love and wisdom - the Church!
Even today, we will find that the true apostles have been through many things that God has permitted for the longterm soundness and blessing of God´s Kingdom. We should thank God for every trial and persecution.
Remember that apostles are called by God at an early stage, but that does not make them automatic apostles. Without God´s supernatural training and maturation, many of us would just have been "potential apostles". Some are too eager to call themselves "apostle" too soon, only based on some prophetic word.
All apostles go through many necessary stages, most often taking them through the various offices that Christ has given to the Church: Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher. If we have been faithful in all of this, then the time may come for God to promote us. In His time. In His way. Don´t decide for God. Let HIM do it!