Testing apostles is Biblical. The Ephesus Church was commended for that (Revelation 2:2): "You have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false".
Today, we should still be concerned about this. There are at least three categories: The Real, the Unreal, and the Surreal.
Before we discuss this further, let me underscore that there are several different criteria that need to be used in assessing apostles, and it is not my goal in this blog to clarify more than certain aspects.
Let me remind us that apostles operate in different spheres, like in New Testament times: Paul went to the Gentiles, Peter to the Jews (Galatians 2:8). Paul maintains that there are different spheres of authority (1Corinthians 9:1-2; 2Corinthians 10:12-15).
Let me also remind us of the maturation and developing of the apostolic ministry. Just because you are called and anointed for apostolic ministry, does not mean that you have automatically become an apostle. We are works in progress, and other apostles and elders have great influence over our development and recognition (1Timothy 4:14; 2Timothy 1:6).
A meaningful way today of looking at the office and ministry of an apostle, is through the lense of REALITY. This does not negate nor diminish the calling and anointing of an apostle, by faith, but it helps us to develop Christ´s giftings in a developing, amerging apostolic leader.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that REAL means: "actually existing or happening : not imaginary. : not fake, false, or artificial. : important and deserving to be regarded or treated in a serious way".
So a REAL apostle is not an imaginary figure. It is a person of flesh and blood with a home, a family, an income, a mission etc. In other words, an apostle can be communicated with and has a REAL life.
A REAL apostle will actually relate to REAL people, not to just a media personality afar - and only through their newsletter and tape-of-the-month, nor an organization without a REAL presence in his life. The relationship will always be in the world, in a church, in a network/ministry/organization/denomination, represented by tangible people of flesh and blood thst periodically will meet him eyeball to eyeball.
A REAL apostle will even be accountable to a REAL apostolic covering. It will be possible to communicate with that covering, whether it is a person or a group of persons. A REAL apostle will be able to refer you to a REAL APOSTOLIC covering that has insight into his REAL life.
Now, what is the difference between SURREAL and UNREAL?
Basically they are synonymous, however SUR as a prefix indicates "on top of", while UN negates. So surreal is something above real, more than real, and therefore unreal.
Webster says about surreal: "marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream".
An UNREAL apostle, then, simply doesn´t exist! A fake. A lie. No life. No address. No family. No covering.
Do such "apostles" exist? Probably, yes... They might have a businesscard, a postbox, an email, a webpage - and definitely a bankaccount! And perhaps a marketing firm. But in the true sense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - there is nothing! They are frantically trying to hide the reality. Secrecy is a must! Not the kind of secrecy and discretion because of death threats, sinister infiltration, and filthy lies. But to hide inside the cloud of lies....
What then is a SURREAL apostle?
Even here, there is almost total secrecy. Not appropriate discretion, but secret mysticism. The kind that eventually will develop into heresies and immorality. A sense of superiority soon becomes evident. They are implicitly "the only real apostle" in their world. Often they will question the validity of most other apostolic leaders who don´t fit into their SURREAL ways.
Apostle John P. Kelly talks sometimes about "the mystical apostles" that operate in a phantasy world, abusing prophetic lingo and hype. Gathering around them people who do not intend to work, sweat and serve, but are perfectly happy with a dream world of futuristic scenarios.
A SURREAL apostle counters the essence of REAL apostleship, which Jesus Christ exemplified (Philippians 2:5-11; John 13:14-17).
A SURREAL apostle doesn´t follow the command of Jesus to GO, MAKE, BAPTIZE, TEACH. That requires work and service and footwashing of dirty and tired feet. In all nations.