SEND OUT THE S.O.S.

 

What is our responsibility as Believers to each other?  How involved should we be in people’s lives?  Let us reverse these questions and ask ourselves how willing are we to open our lives to others?  How much of our life are we willing to share?  What about confessing our faults to each other?  What about sharing our hurts and disappointments?  What about asking for help?  I know we all have a tendency to wear different masks when it comes to interacting with others.  Some of us masquerade as spiritually mature individuals that have everything under control, when, in reality, we are anything but.  The Laodiceans claimed they had it all together, when, in reality, they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)  If God knows the truth about us, why keep up the charade?  We may think we are fooling others, when, in reality, they see right through us; so why keep up the charade?  We even have a hard time fooling ourselves, for the Holy Spirit within us has already revealed who we are; so why keep up the charade?  When we try to hide our true condition we have fooled no one, so instead of walking wounded, let us face up to our true condition and seek the help of our Lord and His servants.

One of the hardest things for some Christians to do is ask for help.  When are we going to understand that if playing the role of the”lone ranger” is not working, we need to try something else!  Someone said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  When are we going to understand that we have been placed in the Body of Christ to compliment each other?  When we only function as a part of a whole, we need to learn to open ourselves to others.  I am not talking about complete transparency, for there are areas of our lives that should be only between ourselves and God.  But when it comes to achieving what God has for us, we must we willing to ask for help when the need arises.  We may be willing to assist others, but we also need to be willing to accept help.

How many of us have felt disappointment and discouragement in our Christian walk? How many of us have given ourselves a self pity party where “me, myself and I” dwell on the negatives in life?  How many of us wonder why nobody has called us during our times of crisis?  How many of us have been tempted to curtail our Bible reading or prayer time because God doesn’t seem to be interested in us?  Maybe the answer to so many of these questions is that we have not told anybody what we are going through.  Maybe God is waiting for us to implement our “escape clause” or “get out of jail” card.  God has made provisions for us to rise above our problems; all we have to do is open the Word and follow the directions.

Let us remember that our negative situations in life are not unique.  There are others that have gone through the same trials we are experiencing.  If we find ourselves in a self imposed exile, let us hoist our distress flag so others will see our need and rush to help.  Don’t be afraid to send out the SOS, for there is an army of Kingdom people that are willing to help!!

One more thing: the Bible teaches us that as we are comforted in our times of trouble, we are then to look for those who are going through similar problems and comfort them!! (II Corinthians 1:4)

 

DEAD AND WOUNDED MEN WALKING

 

Spiritual growth is directly correlated to the degree of outreach we exhibit toward others.  The more we show concern for others, the greater the opportunity we have to grow in the knowledge of His Word.  It is exciting to see people hungry for the benefits that the Kingdom of God offers, but it is equally discouraging to see a faith so limited to a consumer mentality.  When the Christian community becomes near sighted, it is hard to focus on the “lost.” (Dead man walking)  The danger then becomes, “out of sight, out of mind.”  If our vision for the “lost” has faded away by amnesia, our spiritual life will malfunction into Christian peer groups specializing in different interpretations of the Scripture.  The Bible makes it clear that without a vision people will perish. (Proverbs 29:18)  I see this verse with a slightly different emphasis than traditional interpretations.  If Believers fail to have a vision for the unsaved, the unsaved will pass on into an eternity separated from God.

There is another aspect of spiritual growth that has been neglected by so many Christians: the lack of concern for the spiritual well being of their brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Over the years, I have seen so many Christians struggling with their spiritual walk.  They put on their Sunday masks and display an attitude that everything is all right, and to evidence the reality of their statement, they use their best rehearsed Christian phrases to make their point: “Great, Hallelujah!,”  “I’m fine, praise the Lord!”  I have seen Believers that were hurting and struggling with their faith, yet they are too ashamed to admit it.  Sadly, many Christians don’t recognize the “wounded man walking.”  The next time you say to some Believer, “How are you doing?” be ready to answer their rehearsed rhetoric with, “Are you really?”  You may be surprised at how it might just open the door to the real truth.

Somewhere along our generational lines we have lost the understanding of the word COMPASSION.  Compassion is an action that motivates one from observing to participating.  It is seeing a negative situation as an opportunity to exhibit God’s delivering power.  It is moving from sympathy to action.  The Bible calls us not only to bear one another’s burdens, (Galatians 6:2) but also to put the needs of others before our own needs. (I Corinthians 10:24)  Romans 15:1 tells us to assist those who are struggling by helping them overcome their doubts and weaknesses.  We need to help each other by building up one another’s faith.  We need to learn that a life spent on others is a life well spent.

Instead of just fellowshipping with Christians that are on the same spiritual level we are; let us look for those who are falling behind because of lack of Biblical understanding.  It is one thing to hear about outstanding feats of faith from Bible personalities, but it is another thing to experience the reality of those truths in our everyday lives.  There are a growing number of Believers that are falling into lukewarmness due to failing to understand how the Word can work in their lives.  Those that are growing into spiritual maturity need to look over their shoulders and see if anyone is falling behind.  Upon seeing a struggling brother or sister, they need to “fall” back and, with a loving hand. encourage them in their walk.

We have two hands, two eyes, two ears, and two feet, which should be evenly divided between  those who do not know our Lord and those who are struggling with their faith.  We need to hold out our hand to the lost, while holding up a wavering Saint.  We need to look for those who need the Lord, while looking for the Believer that needs help.  We need to hear the call of the seeker, while hearing the distress call of the Believer.  We need to travel to both the non-Christian and the Christian, for they both need our help.  Let us become more aware of the needs of others, and in so doing fulfill the “Golden Rule.” (Luke 6:31)

 

RE-INTRODUCING LOVE

 

The word love is used so generally that it is hard to define its original meaning and intent.  People use the word so loosely that it is hard to establish its relevance in a meaningful conversation. We use the word love to express feelings of acceptance toward both inanimate things and humans.  If we like to do something, or express the worth of a material possession, we are quick to use the “L” word.  “I would love to go shopping.”  “I love my car.”  “I love it when…”  The epitome of the misuse of the word is when the world talks about “making love.”

There are some Christians that use the word as a substitute for action.  They profess how much they love and care for one another, but many times there is no evidence of that love.  Words express intent, while actions or lack of actions witness to the validly of its worth.  Some of the actions I have seen from Christians have caused me to go to the Word to see if I have misunderstood what love really is.

The Bible says that GOD IS LOVE.  God is the foundation of relationships.  To love someone is to express God and His ways to all those with whom we come into contact.  When God created man, He made him into His image, which is to be His representative figure.  Wherever man goes he is displaying God, which is love!  If only we could understand this foundational Truth.  If we could show God/Love instead of human/self, the Lord would have returned long ago to gather His people for the Homecoming celebration.  I believe the greatest hindrance to the Church’s mission is not Satan and his army of terrorists, but God’s people who don’t understand God/Love.

God came to earth as His Son (don’t try to understand this, just take it by faith) to show us His true nature, which is love.  Going to the Cross, He showed us His human nature, which displayed His love in giving His life for a ransom for mankind’s past, present, and future sins.  By rising from the dead, He showed us His Divine nature, which displayed His continuing love.  Ascending into Heaven to rule forever, He demonstrated His eternal love for us.

Every Believer is to be a walking, living, and sharing example of God.  When people see us, they should see the definition of love.  It all begins when we reciprocate God’s love.  It is loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  When we fulfill that desire, we are ready to reach out to our neighbors and the whosoevers of this life with the love that God showed us.

So many Christians are walking to the beat of a different drummer.  We have learned the Christian vocabulary and walked according to traditions, but we fail to exhibit Divine love.  We see the mistakes in others, and in so doing we judge ourselves.  We are quick to quote Scripture, but slow to live Biblically.  We need to tithe our time and reread the Word that we claim to know so well, for somewhere we have lost the true meaning and implication of Love.

I stand amazed at how many Christians flood the air waves with rhetoric that exposes their counterfeit love.  The verbal attacks on President Obama continue to exhibit their lack of understanding of Biblical Love.  God holds our future, not the politician.  Instead of exposing the flaws in others, let us cover them with Love.  Let a “Love Tsunami” sweep across our land, washing away our prejudices and sins.  John the Baptist’s words could also have been prophetic when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)  Let us come to the point that the only thing people see in us is the Love of God!

RE-INTRODUCING SIN

 

The Neo-Christian church seems to be a place where Believers gather to shop for blessings.  If we can’t find something that will push our happiness button, we will try another “spiritual store” where we can purchase, by way of our financial giving, the secret to materialistic satisfaction.  For some reason, the Christian has become a consumer.  The dollar sign has become the evidence of God’s love for the searching masses.

What I have seen in my generation is the grand reopening of churches that stress receiving instead of giving.  It has become what I can get from God, instead of what I can give to Him.  It is more a question of being served, than serving.  The Church is being pictured as a resort, fully furnished with entertainment and positive messages.  People are invited to check their sins at the welcoming center, for it has no place in the feel good atmosphere of communal worship.  As they enter the “sanctuary” with their religious shopping list, they can hardly wait for the ‘blue light” specials that are offered for those willing to sow monetarily.  Many of the messages are sugar coated with worldly relevance, instead of Godly reverence.  Leaving their “holy site,” they make their way to their cars with smiles on their faces, for once again, their failures and sins have not been addressed.

Many years ago, a man by the name of Karl Menninger wrote a book entitled, Whatever Became of Sin?  Little did he realize he was writing prophetically.  Today, it would take a spiritual Geiger counter to find the word SIN in the vocabulary of the Christian.  When it comes to the subject of sin, so much of Christianity seems to follow the pattern of “out of sight, out of mind.”  When sin is not addressed from the pulpit, sin will address the people.  Many Pastors are afraid to preach about sin for fear that it will drive people from the church.  That theory is flawed; for when sin is exposed, it will draw people to the church, not away from it.

The Apostle Paul was so concerned about sin that he urged those in ministerial positions to take actions against those who were living a sinful life.  Again and again, Paul urges those in leadership to reprove and rebuke those who were involved in habitual sin. (Ephesians 5:11; II Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15)  He even urged them to publicly rebuke those that were missing the mark (sin.) (I Timothy 5:20)  What has happened to sin?  Why has it disappeared from the pastor’s vocabulary?  Has the word SIN lost its significance and implication?  Today, man is being taught that he is not responsible for the missteps in his life.  His behavior is determined by his environment and heredity.  I see the promoting of a response that I call the “Eve Syndrome.”  It is basically when people blame everyone but themselves for their mistakes.  When are we going to “own up” and realize that no one caused us to sin, we simply chose to do so!  Many people are praying for a revival.  They call for a rejuvenating of emotions that will bring them out of their lukewarmness.  What I would like to see is a reviving of the word SIN.  The cause of lukewarmness is simply sin.  Until we take that word seriously, it will continue to keep us from the life which God has called us to experience.

 

 

THE PLAIN AND SIMPLE TRUTH

 

Biblical expansion is becoming an epidemic.  There is an abundance of publications that take on the task of explaining and expanding Biblical truths.  John tells us there were so many things Jesus did that, if recorded, the world could not contain the volumes. (John 21:25)  In view of that, there has been an effort to elaborate on what has already been established.  Practically every verse and Biblical experience has been analyzed and scrutinized.  The concern I have is that the Bible has been overworked to such a degree it has given birth to revised truths that have shrouded the true intent of the Word.  Instead of accepting what God has said, man has attempted to interpret what He said.  One of the reasons there are so many Christian affiliations is man’s relentless effort to explain God’s Word.  Trying to arrange Scripture to fit into our comfort zones has given rise to false doctrines.  As these efforts are pursued, the Church becomes more and more divided.

How can we simplify the Biblical message?  God said what He meant, and meant what He said.  Why than do we tamper with His Word?  The reason so many are failing to grasp God’s Word is because they are confused by the different interpretations.  It does not matter what the subject is, there will always be a difference of opinion.  When we open the Word, we must stop trying to shape the Word around us; rather, we should shape ourselves around the Scripture.  Instead of looking for ways to achieve financial security, let us look for ways to give away what we have.  Instead of pursuing things for our earthly kingdom, let us pursue His Kingdom.  Instead of being temporarily satisfied by being spoon fed the Word by others, let our plates overflow as we sit at the banquet table of His Word.

For many years, I have witnessed the overabundance of Christian teaching.  The problem has been that so much of what I have read has misrepresented the intent of the Word.  I am persuaded that people do not understand what it is to be still and quiet before the Lord.  We make so much noise that God has to interrupt us to get His message across.  If we knew how to be quiet we would experience the revealing of God’s heart.  We don’t need human editorials, but the revealing of Divine truth through the Holy Spirit.

I challenge Believers to simply open the Word of God with a sense of expectancy.  Instead of looking for hidden treasure, we need to realize His riches are not hidden, but have been within easy reach all this time. The problem is that we have tried to go too deep.  We have analyzed the Word so much that we have diluted It.  Let us simply open our spiritual eyes and discover the obvious.  It is time to get back to the simple and plain Truth.

 

DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE HOLDING?

 

The Word of God is unparalleled when it comes to the written word.  There have been many gifted writers throughout the ages, but there has never been a writer who can compare with the inspired Biblical scribes.  The Bible is not a collection of editorials but a recording of facts from the One who created all things.  Writing under divine inspiration, men recorded the Words of life that would be read from generation to generation.  The value of these collections of Divine writings is impossible to determine.  First Edition secular writings can bring astronomical numbers from collectors who desire their ownership.  The more popular the personality, the greater the price tags.  The Word of God…. priceless!

I wonder if we really understand what we are holding when we pick up the Holy Book.  To have the Word of God in our hands should bring us to our knees in humble adoration.  To let our fingers thumb through the pages should release all our emotions in praise and worship.  To read the words of the living God should bring rivers of water flowing from our eyes.  To experience the Bible as the personal Word of God should cause us to fall prone before Him in eternal gratitude.  To have the Word revealed to us through the Holy Spirit should lift us to heights unimaginable.

I am convinced that we know about the Bible, but many of us don’t know the Bible.  We seem to treat the Word of God as any other book.  Many Believers have several Bibles around the house, but very few open them on a daily basis.  Bibles become dust catchers, or have been shelved along with other books.  When the Bible is opened, it usually is a pew Bible during our Saturday/Sunday weekly obligation.  If we truly understood what the Bible is, we would have a hard time closing it.  As blood is important to our bodies, so is the Word of God to our spirits and minds.  Many of the problems we face in life are a result of “Biblical Anemia.”  Jesus came that we “might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  It would have been so exciting to have been alive during Jesus’ earthly ministry, but we have the next best thing – His autobiography!  After reading about His ministry, we are captivated by seeing how the Church had its beginning.  We open the letters from the Apostles which show us how to apply Jesus’ teachings.  Twenty-seven “little books” captivate our interests.  If we can tear ourselves away from the New Testament, there are thirty- nine more volumes that pertain to the history of God’s chosen people.  The Old Testament takes us on journeys that can only be expressed with wonderment.

We cannot run our car without fuel.  We cannot have lights without electricity.  We cannot be the people God wants us to be without His Word.  It is great to hear sermons and teachings by God’s messengers.  It is wonderful to read books that attempt to explain the Bible.  It is exciting to see spiritual filling stations scattered throughout the world.  It is thrilling to have the Internet carry all aspects of the Christian message. But nothing can compare with opening the Word of God ourselves and letting the Holy Spirit lead us through the pages of God’s revealed Truth.

After the two men encountered the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus, they would say, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)  As we hold our Bibles in our hands, can we also say that our hearts are burning within us?

 

SET UP THOSE GARRISONS

 

One of the joys in my life is seeing a Believer achieve spiritual victory.  The exuberance and excitement of overcoming trials and temptations has no equal in the worldly arena.  I have seen battle scarred Christians holding up their hands in adoration as they celebrate the results of their spiritual conquest. The tears of joy flow down their face, as a witness to others, that God will not allow you to be tempted over and above what you can bear.  We have God’s Word that He will “make a way” for us to escape those temptations and enticements. (I Corinthians 10:13)  So many Believers take it upon themselves to answer the challenge in their own way.  That is not how the victory is achieved; in fact, the odds of overcoming the challenge are severely limited.  When we go into battle, we must always remember that God is our Commander and Chief and it is His plan, not ours, that must be followed if we are going to overcome.

One of the sad times in my life is seeing Believers suffer spiritual defeat.  The sadness and despair in their face is heart wrenching.  To see Christians wring their hands and question God’s Word grieves my spirit.  I have seen some Believers even fall away from the faith, due to their failure to understand and practice God’s Word.  I have also witnessed those who have experienced a positive outcome from a battle only to see that victory forfeited by the resurgence of the same temptations.  How can we guard against setbacks on the battlefields of life?  God’s Word has the answer.

When David was King, he faced many challenges from foreign powers.  But when David entered the battlefield, he knew God was overseeing the battle. The Bible says that David smote the Philistines and took Methegammah, as well as Moab and Zobah.  He took Syria of Damascus and Edom. (II Samuel 8:6a,14a)  With the victories secured, David made a brilliant move to set up “garrisons” throughout the conquered lands.  The purpose for these military outposts was to make sure there were no opportunities for the conquered to rise up in rebellion against David’s Kingdom.  If there was any hint of an uprising, the soldiers would quickly put out the spark before it could become a blaze of opposition.  When David set up the garrisons, the Bible says that “the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went.” (II Samuel 8:6b,14b)

What a lesson for the Believer!  Whenever a victory is achieved, we can celebrate, but we must also be cognizant that Satan may temp us in the same area in which we achieved the victory.   Let us put up garrisons after each victory, so if there is a repeat temptation, we will be able to deal with it before it deals with us.  Setting up a garrison is basically being aware of anything the enemy might do to disrupt our relationship with God.  We must identify our weaknesses, knowing that Satan will use them to gain future victories.  The weapons in our garrisons are the Word of God.  Let’s say that lust has been a problem.  Through the Living and Written Word victory was achieved.  Thinking we have overcome the temptation, we are confronted by a very sensual situation.  Tempting thoughts attempt to reestablish in our mind.  Immediately, our garrison recognizes this uprising and counters with the Word of God. (Galatians 5:16)  When you know that lust has been a problem in the past, you avoid anything that would be conducive to its rebirth.  Guard your flood gates (eyes and ears).  Be careful what you watch on TV or what you read.    Know your weaknesses and be prepared for Satan to resurrect them.  Know your strengths and be prepared with your garrisons to cast down the thoughts that are trying to get you to dwell on areas which you have already conquered. (II Corinthians 10:5)

 

It Is Easy To Slip Back

 

As I read Scripture, I try to put myself in each situation; it is though I am there living that very moment.  What this does is give me a greater appreciation of the written experience. For example, I try to imagine what Peter went through during that storm on the Sea of Galilee.  I can see him moving from practical concern to fear and then to panic.  I see the urgency in his face as he awoke Jesus, who was sleeping in the back of the boat, and proclaimed, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”  I even try to guess what I would have done in that situation.  I see Scripture, not as an historical conglomeration of words, but living, breathing, expressions of God’s message to me. I take it personal; it is like God dictated His Word through human instrumentality and had It printed up so I could have It at my disposal 24/7.

After Jesus rose from the dead, the Bible says He presented Himself alive for over forty days.  He appeared a number of times to His Apostles and to over 500 men at one time.  There were individual contacts with Peter and James.  During these days of exposure, He continually spoke about the things of the Kingdom of God. (Acts 1: 2, 3; I Corinthians 15: 5-7)  Now, if I had been Peter, I would never have let Jesus out of my sight!  Those forty days would have been filled with emotions that would defy reasoning.  Jesus whom I had followed for three years, who died on Calvary and then rose from the dead, is now alive and reinforcing what He had taught and illustrated.  Peter and the others must have been beside themselves with excitement and anticipation of what Jesus had in store for them….

At the Sea of Galilee, seven of His men were fellowshipping and discussing, who knows what, when Peter spoke up and said that he was going fishing (John 21: 3)  The others thought it was a good idea and into the boats they went for a night of fishing.  I wondered where the other four Disciples were.  Maybe they were accompanying Jesus as He presented Himself alive to select groups. What could have gotten into Peter that he would separate himself from the risen Savior and go fishing?  After the night of fishing and having caught nothing, they start making their way back to the docks.  About 200 cubits (350 feet) from land they hear someone shout out, “Children, have you caught anything?”  When they yell back that they have caught nothing, Jesus tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat and they will have success.  Throwing the net back into the water, they encompass such a school of fish that they can hardly pull in the net. It is then that John recognizes Jesus and tells the others.  Peter jumps into the water and swims to shore to meet Him. (John 21: 1- 7)  This must have been an embarrassing moment for Peter.  Jesus had called him to be a fisher of men and here he was back to the old way of life and the smelly fish.  Jesus had called them children, which was ironic for truly they were behaving as such.  God’s calling is without repentance.  Instead of drawing fish into their net, they should have been drawing people into the Kingdom of God.

It is so easy to fall back into old interests and desires.  It is so easy to lose track of why we are here on this earth.  It is so easy to neglect our Bible reading and prayer time. It is so easy to slow down our spiritual quests.  After the encounter on the beach, Jesus had a one on one conversation with Peter.  He simply asked Peter if he loved Him; in fact, He would ask him three times if he really loves Him.  This was a legitimate question, for if Peter truly loved Him, he would follow what the Lord wanted him to do.  The next time we slip back a little, let us hear Jesus asking if we truly love Him.  Peter responded affirmatively each time and Jesus said to feed His lambs and sheep.  He was not to catch fish, but catch and feed those whom God so loved.  It is so easy to slip back, but always remember that if we do, Jesus is there at the shore waiting for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t See It That Way!

Why is it that there are more disagreements with Scriptural interpretations than harmonies of acceptance?  The Bible seems to be a source of division, rather than a unifier of Believers.  Those who experience a fulfillment of Biblical Truths are left to defend their actions against those who would challenge them due to conflicting understanding.  If one has not experienced what someone else has, there is a hesitation to accept the validity of the other’s actions.  Rejecting another’s interpretation of Scripture has the potential to strain relationships.  Whenever divisions are promoted because of differences of understanding, Satan has gained a strategic foothold.  It is important to point out that we are not talking about issues that would approach Biblical heresy.  Whenever there is a direct attack upon the Truth of God’s Word, the proponents must be vigorously challenged.  But, issues like dreams and visions, gifts of the Holy Spirit, tithing, healing, and foot washing should not be issues of division.  Why did Jesus weep at Lazarus tomb?  Did John the Baptizer really doubt his faith while in prison?  What is the day Christians should set aside for communal worship?  These types of issues should not be points of conflict.  If someone believes John the Baptizer, of whom Jesus said, “…there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist…” (Matthew 11:11), doubted his faith at the eleventh hour, it should not be made into a point of contention.  If someone believes that Jesus wept tears of compassion at the funeral of Lazarus, instead of tears of disappointment with His followers, it should not be made a point of division.  If a fellow Christian believes the Law of Tithing should be incorporated into Grace, it should not be an issue.  If your brother desires to worship on Saturday instead of Sunday, it should not be a point of argument.  To draw lines between followers over similar issues is to display the characteristic of a Pharisee rather than a Disciple.

When it comes to relationships between fellow Believers, the goal should be to promote and sustain unity.  One of the reasons the Church is not more effective is because of the division that exists between individuals.  Just hours before His Crucifixion, Jesus prayed that His disciples would become one so that the world would know the purpose of His coming. (John 17:21)  Believers must stop haggling amongst ourselves.  We must stop making mountains out of mole hills.  Paul says that the only thing he wanted was to preach Christ and Him crucified. (I Corinthians 2:2)  The Church is so much like the children in the market place that complained that others were not responding to their expectations. (Luke 7:32)  If some do not like the way others are “playing church,” they take their flute and find a place where they can feel important.  Jesus stressed unity, and we stress over things that produce disharmony.  Instead of promoting our oneness in Christ, we display our differences.  When are we going to realize that the world is watching us?  If we are acting like children, the world will laugh at our adolescent behavior.  The unsaved will never take us seriously when we try to promote the message we have been asked to give.

During that last evening of fellowship with His disciples, Jesus took a basin of water and washed their feet. (John 13:1-17)  He was showing them that their life was to be a life of servitude and humility.  We must stop looking at lines of division, and see the circle of unity.

WHAT ABOUT APOSTLES?

 

In the last few years I have seen a resurgence of the title of the Apostle.  Dispensationalist would argue that when the last Biblical Apostle died, so ended the ministry of the Apostle. Answering those skeptics are those who believe that the Biblical blueprint of the Church is as valid today as yesteryear.  Whatever position one takes has little bearing on the promoting of the Apostolic position that is displayed today.  One of the questions  I have is how does one becomes an Apostle?  Is this office conferred upon someone through appointed authority or can one simply claim that God anointed him to that position.  Does one simply promote himself from a Pastor to an Apostle?  Does one become an Apostle by election?  What qualifies a person to be an Apostle?

The five fold ministry that is expressed in Ephesians 4 is to serve a specific purpose.  As I study the objectives of these ministries I do not see the completion of their purpose.  I do not believe God would terminate a directive until the objective has been accomplished.  The purpose of these ministry gifts was to bring the Believers into the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God which, in turn, would bring about spiritual perfection through Christ. (Ephesians 4:13). Maybe one of the reasons there is such a fragmentation of the Church today is because we have taken our spiritual erasers and removed Apostles and Prophets from our Bibles.  These ministries were to help the Believer grow up.  Instead of being children and susceptible to deception, they would be able to discern wrong teaching. (Eph. 4:14)  Today, there are so many incorrect doctrines being expressed that Believers are having a hard time discerning what is Truth.

Let us look at what an Apostle is and how he is called and placed into the Body of Christ.  On the road to Damascus, Saul met Jesus and his life was dramatically changed.  Jesus commissioned him to go and minister to the Gentiles. (Acts 22:21)  This was the preauthorization of Saul’s calling as an Apostle.  For the next three years, Saul attending the University of the Holy Spirit with classes both in Arabia, Damascus, and Jerusalem.  Due to threats on his life in the cities, Saul returned to Tarsus, the place of his birth, and for the next few years continued his preparation.  When a spiritual awakening happened in Antioch, a man named Barnabas went to Tarsus and persuaded Saul to join him in teaching the new converts at Antioch.  It was there at Antioch, during a time of fasting and worship, that the Holy Spirit confirmed the Apostleship upon Saul.  The four Prophets/Teachers that were present laid hands on Saul and Barnabas and the commission of an Apostle was bestowed upon them. (Acts 13:1-3)  I believe it was here that Saul’s name was changed to Paul. (v.9)  The word Apostle means “a delegate, an ambassador of the Gospel, he that is sent.” (Strong’s Concordance)  Jesus called Paul, and taught him through the Holy Spirit, and after years of preparation he was finally commissioned as an Apostle by the laying on of hands.  Timothy was commissioned as a Pastor in the same way. (I Timothy 4:14)  Notice that it was the “presbytery” that confirmed the calling.

Today it seems that anyone who wants to be an Apostle can self appoint himself.  If that is too bold, he might solicit a vote from his local congregation.  If that is not feasible, there is always a mail order organization that would gladly send a Certificate of Apostleship to the requester.  As one studies the Scripture, there will be an obvious realization that an Apostle does not permanently reside in a locality, but is continually reaching out to communities that need the Gospel.  He then establishes local bodies of believers and appoints leadership to guide and instruct them.

I believe we need the five fold ministry, but not the way it is presented today.  Instead of dismissing what we don’t understand, let us through the Holy Spirit seek to understand what God intended.