We often hear the assertion that only TPM has apostolic doctrines. This term gets thrown around so often that the very meaning of the word is lost. In the minds of TPM believers, the ministers are “apostles” and what they preach automatically becomes “apostolic doctrine”. Therefore TPM doctrines of Zion and New Jerusalem, New Heaven, New Earth, Celibacy, divine healing, sinless perfectionism, speaking in tongues etc., becomes “apostolic doctrine” by default. It’s almost as if, after 1900 years God said “Scratch that, let’s try this whole church thing again. Back to the drawing board!” and decided to create “The Pentecostal Mission”.
There are many churches that claim to be apostolic. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, claims to be the one true apostolic church since they alone have a lineage of popes that can be traced back to Peter. Does that make a church apostolic? Not in the slightest.
The Test For Apostolicity
The only test for apostolicity of a church is the doctrines preached in the church. It doesn’t matter what the ministers decide to call themselves or what long list of successors you have, the only way for a church to be apostolic is by demonstrating from the word of God that beliefs you currently hold are the same ones held by the early church where Christ’ apostles taught.
We read in scripture that the early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). Shouldn’t we, therefore, imitate the early church in devoting ourselves to the same teaching if we claim to be apostolic? It must not be forgotten that when Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to the apostles, he said: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13). It goes without saying that the truth known to the apostles was complete. This dismisses the idea that Christendom had more doctrines to be revealed at a later time or some “deeper truths” hidden from sight to the early apostles. We hear the NT say in unison that God revealed his truth in the 1st century and those following afterward are to earnestly contend for that truth which was once for all revealed.
Jude 1:3 says “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”.
The Greek word used in Jude 3 for “once for all” is “hapax”. It is the same word used in 1 Peter 3:18 when referring to the once for all sacrifice of Jesus.
“For Christ also suffered once (hapax) for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but mad alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18)
Was the sacrifice of Christ intermittent? No. It happened at a particular time in history and it happened all at once. In the same way, the doctrines necessary for Christian faith and practice was once for all delivered to the apostles in the 1st century. There is absolutely no basis for any church to claim they have found some “deep truths” that wasn’t in existence at any time in church history.
The Measuring Scale For Apostolicity
The next question we must ask is this, what objective source we can use to measure the doctrines that we hear and conclude that the doctrines are apostolic in origin?
The only objective source is scripture. Paul writing to Timothy describes the characteristics of scripture. Of course, there was scripture written after Paul wrote to Timothy (like the book of Revelation), but what we see here are the inherent traits that holds true for all scripture.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
All scripture is breathed out by God (theopneustos). This word indicates the intimacy with which God inspired scripture. It speaks of a face-to-face intimacy. There is nothing in existence in this world that is comparable to it. Since the writing of scripture is the work of God and contains the very words of God, it is the only objective source that is infallible and inerrant. Scripture is also able to make a man of God complete and equipped for every good work, so every truth needed for Christian living is found in it.
Any church that comes along claiming apostolicity must be ready to measure its doctrines against scripture and show us from the word of God that the early church believed their doctrines.
- Can TPM do that? Can it, for instance, show us from scripture that those taking medicine are not Christ’s bride? (Since they preach those taking medicine will not be seen at the rapture).
- Can TPM show us from scripture that the early church refused communion to those taking medicine?
- Can TPM show us from scripture that the early church believed the “saved go to New Earth” and the “OT saints go to New Heaven”?
- Can TPM show us from scripture in the early church unmarried men and women lived together in their churches?
Take any exclusive TPM doctrine, you will not be able to prove that the early Christians held those doctrines. The very claims to apostolicity by TPM is based on these exclusive TPM doctrines. How then can TPM be apostolic in regards to the exclusive doctrines?
TPM isn’t apostolic in the same sense that scripture calls a church “apostolic”. In order to do that, TPM has reinvented the word and replaced the early apostles with men in the 20th and 21st century who calls themselves “apostles”. So TPM doesn’t have true apostolicity but a faux apostolicity.
What Must a Church That Claims To Be Apostolic Do?
“If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
Greek term for pillar and ground are “stylos” and “hedraioma”. These are architectural terms used for supports and pillars. These are the things that hold something up. Pillars and support hold up the building. In the same way, a true apostolic church must hold up the truth, the truth of God’s word. Pillars and supports don’t get to add to the truth, they merely hold up what was given to them.
Dear TPM believers, does your church’s claim to be apostolic stand the test of scripture? Take every TPM specific doctrine and see if you can prove to yourself if the early church held those doctrines. Don’t go by what your pastor claims. Test everything in the light of God’s word. For example, how much of the epistles of Paul is filled with references to “New Jerusalem” and “Zion” and how much of TPM publications are? Let us throw away every strange doctrine, and be grounded in scripture. Let us take the advice that Paul gave to the Corinthians and not go beyond what is written.
1 Corinthians 4:6 “Brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written. Then you will not take pride in one man over another.”
What are we supposed to do?
Dear Reader, we as God’s children, have a responsibility to steady ourselves in the revealed truth.
Ephesians 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
It is our responsibility to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). In the process of testing, we are also expected to know who are genuine apostles and who are false apostles. We are also expected to expose these false apostles and their false teachings.
“……that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.” Revelation 2:2
It’s high time you realized that you are duped if you still think of TPM Doctrines as Apostolic.