JESUS IS COMING AGAIN

Jesus is coming again.
 
The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. was NOT the return of Christ (his second coming) which is witnessed to throughout the New Testament.
 
In 70 A.D., Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, enforced the promised judgment against the temple in Jerusalem and nation of Israel for their apostasy. In one sense of the word, it is correct to say that Jesus came in judgment. However, this was not his second coming or glorious appearing promised in the New Testament.
 
When Jesus returns, there will be the bodily resurrection of those who look to him for salvation.
 
With that said, to many Christian ministers completely ignore the events that unfolded at the end of the Jewish temple era. Yet it is a big theme in the New Testament. The destruction of Jerusalem was prophesied by Jesus and the apostles warned their fellow Jews of the impending judgment which was quickly approaching.
 
Some of the texts that are interpreted as unfulfilled prophecy actually apply to the (then) coming destruction of Jerusalem which happened in the first century. Yet this does not mean that all warnings of judgment in the New Testament apply to that time period, and that is where some make a terrible mistake in interpreting scripture.
 
Those who make the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple the center of their Biblical hermeneutic often go into error regarding other very important biblical doctrines.Those who go into such error claim that Christ has already come and everything is fulfilled.
 
On the contrary, Jesus hasn’t come yet. The resurrection of the just and unjust hasn’t happened yet. The final judgment of the entire world hasn’t happened yet.
 
Here is one thing that can help you understand scripture better, and better interpret prophecy.
 
Know that what God has done with Israel serves as a microcosm of his dealings with the nations. In Romans 3, Paul says, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” v. 19
 
The law was given to Israel, yet it was given so that “all the world” may become guilty. Many have a view Israel as a witness of God’s favor. Yet in the New Testament, it is Israel’s judgment from God that serves as a witness to the nations.
 
Every soul of man will answer to God and this is witnessed of in God’s dealing with the people of Israel. The salvation of the Jews wasn’t national. It was individual. Only those who repented and believed that Jesus is the Messiah would be saved from God’s judgment which was hanging over the nation.
 
In much the same way, Jesus is going to judge the nations. Only those who repent and believe in Christ will be saved in the day of his wrath.
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LET NO MAN DESPISE YOUR YOUTH

Let no one despise you for your youth but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. ~ 1 Timothy 4:12
 
There are two ways that a young person could read Paul’s words to Timothy.
 
First, it could be read, “don’t let anyone despise you because you are young, you are equal with your elders in spiritual matters”.
 
Secondly, It could be read as Paul intended it, “don’t let anyone despise your youth, and this is the way to accomplish that: be an example of true Christianity in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
 
There is a vast difference in these two approaches.
 
Being an example to the believers of true Christianity includes obeying everything which Paul told Timothy in this epistle. Not long after Paul tells Timothy to be an example, Paul says the following:
 
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. ~ 1 Timothy 5:1
 
If young people in their late teens and early to mid 20’s want to be respected as mature believers, they must learn how to relate with respect to their elders in the faith, and how to conduct themselves with all purity towards their their contemporaries.
 
When you are 18, 21, 25 years old, etc., you can have a lot of zeal, but no matter how much zeal you have, you still lack the life experience of those who have been walking with Christ for 25, 30, 40 years or more.
 
Many of those who are you elders have lived through the “zeal” you experience in your youth, and while zeal is a good thing to have, it won’t carry you for the long haul. When you are young, there are simply some things you do not know because you have not lived it yet. There is absolutely no substitute for life experience.
 
Next April, I will mark 40 years as a Christian in my life. I don’t have all wisdom or knowledge, but I have stumbled over a few things in those 40 years.
 
When I see a young Christian person who is respectful towards their elders, I see maturity and a young person who is on the right path.
 
If you are a young Christian and you do not properly respect your elders, you are going to struggle in your Christian faith.
 
You are not required to agree with everything an older Christian believes (being an elder does not mean they’ve got it all right) but you do need to have a respectful disposition towards those who have been in the faith much longer than you.
 
Paul did not instruct Timothy to not allow anyone to despise his youth by taking charge even over the old folks. Instead, Paul instructed Timothy to show the proper respect towards his elders as part of his being an example of the believers.
 
Not allowing anyone to despise your youth is not a stand alone statement. It is a statement that is qualified by how you live as an example, and one of the components of being a godly example is how you treat your elders, and conduct yourself towards your peers.

ISRAEL WITHIN ISRAEL

In John 8 Jesus informed the religious Jewish leaders opposing him that they were not Abraham’s children (v.39-40). Jesus also told them that they were the children of the devil (v.44). In Acts 13, Paul rebuked a Jewish false prophet who was a sorcerer, calling him a child of the devil and an enemy of all righteousness (v.10).
 
The words of Jesus, and the words of Paul would be condemned as anti-semetic by some of today’s Christian leaders, who are hush-hush about the atheism, sodomy, pedophilia, state funded abortions, etc., within the modern society of Israel.
 
Many of the things that modern Israel promotes were the very things which angered God towards Israel in scripture, and for which they were repeatedly judged. It’s quite interesting that America is often viewed as being under the condemnation of God’s judgement for these very things, while many Christians give Israel a pass because of their end time theology.
 
In scripture, being of Jewish descent does not profit the Jew if his heart is not right with God. Paul says, “He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”. ~ Romans 2:28-29
 
In Romans 9 Paul says, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” (v.6-8)
 
Paul makes this statement in context to the promises of God which were given to the true Israel (the remnant of true Israelites from the heart) within Israel.
 
Jesus did not come to save national Israel from the Romans. Jesus came to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Not everyone within national Israel was God’s sheep. We know this because of Jesus’s own words to the Jews in John 10.
 
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. ~ John 10:14-16
 
Later in chapter 10 we read the following:
 
Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not my sheep, as I said unto you. ~ John 10:24-26
 
Jesus plainly tells these Jews that they are not his sheep. The “lost sheep of Israel” does not refer to all Jews or all Israelites. It refers to those within Israel, whose hearts were towards God in truth – the Israel within Israel.
 
When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”(John 14:6). He did not say this within the context of pagan religions (though applicable there). Jesus was not speaking to outsiders regarding their pagan religions. Instead, he was speaking to his Jewish disciples within the context of Israel’s covenants.
 
Though the words of Jesus are true in view of other religions, that which he says in John 14:6 was contextually stated within the Jewish narrative.
 
Many believe Jesus is the only way to the Father in contrast to other religions like Hinduism, Islam, Mormonism, etc. However, when it comes to modern day Israel, many Western Christians have adopted a belief that modern day Israel has a relational covenant with God exclusive of Christ. This is prevalent within the “end time” teachings of many but it is error being inconsistent with the Biblical narrative.

APOSTLES

WHAT IS AN APOSTLE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE (Part One)

Do modern day apostles hold an authoritative spiritual position over other christians within the church? Is the growth and effectiveness of the body of Christ dependant on the church’s alignment under their teachings? Is the position of “authority” of which they claim to have over other believers ordained by God? Are they the foundation of the church?

There is no shortage of those who claim to be apostles and if the truth be told, many who who claim to be apostles want to have the preeminence. If those who claim to be apostles really knew what being a true apostle was all about, very few of them would embrace it.

True Biblical apostleship is not about having the preeminence. It is about servanthood. In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul describes  how he viewed the ministry of an apostle.

For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. ~ 1 Corinthians 4:9-13

This should be the “life verse” if there is any such thing, for all who think they are called to be apostles. While today’s “so-called apostles” seek to be first, Paul felt that the apostles of his day were last because of the call to servanthood and the sacrificial life to which they were called.

Within the pages of scripture, the ministry of an apostle was never about establishing governmental authority and leadership within the collective body of Christ. Those who think it is have misunderstood the teachings of scripture.

In scripture, the ministry of an apostle was never about having a position of power and wealth within the church. It wasn’t having the authoritative daily word to guide the church, rebuking Jezebel, declarations of shifts in the atmosphere, etc.

Instead, it was about preaching the gospel with authentic miracles and signs following. It was about establishing believers in the person of Jesus Christ with wholesome and sound doctrine which glorified God among unbelievers.  It was never about having an authoritative position within the ranks of ministry to which others in the collective body of Christ should submit themselves unto. 

Paul never attempted to exert authority over believers he had not established in the Lord.

For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:14-18

Paul and his co-laborers in the Lord had reached the Corinthians with the gospel and had established sound doctrine concerning how they should live as ambassadors for Christ. Paul had no desire to rule over the spiritual lives of the Corinthians: Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:24

Paul’s view of his apostleship to the Corinthians was that he had preached the gospel to them and had established them in Christ with sound doctrine. Paul held the Corinthians accountable to Christ in these matters and that is how Paul demonstrated his apostolic authority among them. The spread of the gospel among the Corinthians was the result of Paul’s labor in the ministry and rightfully, Paul cultivated the work he had invested in the Corinthians.

Paul did not seek their money nor their homage. Instead, Paul sought their growth in the faith and in Christ-like character, so that the gospel he had delivered to them would flourish among them and spread through them to others. Paul was not seeking his own kingdom of rank and file.

Unlike many of today’s “so-called apostles” who think they are called to be in authority while others serve them, Paul took the position of a servant and set the example of godly living by working and paying his own way – that’s a far cry from the modern day, self proclaimed apostles. 

Contrary to their claims, modern day apostles do not hold a place of spiritual authority over the collective body of Christ, and the growth and effectiveness of Christ’s body is not dependant on them. They are not the foundation of the church. Jesus is!

But doesn’t the Bible teach that apostles are the foundation of the church and therefore the church is to come into alignment with their apostolic authority? No, it does not! 

In Ephesians 2, Paul declares that the union of Jews and Gentiles into one body in Christ and is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. ~ v. 20

Paul is not establishing an hierarchical governmental structure for the collective body of Christ in the text above. Paul is contextually referring to the revelation of the gospel which was given to the apostles and prophets who were called by God to preach the gospel during the inception of the New Testament.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. FOR THIS CAUSE I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is NOW revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ… ~ Ephesians 2:19-3:8

The foundation of which Paul is referring is not that of governmental structure within the collective body of Christ. It is the establishment of the truth of the gospel among the Gentiles. Before Christ, the Gentiles were outside the covenants given to Israel, but now in Christ Jesus have been made fellow heirs with believing Jews and are members of the same covenantal family, for there is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. ~ Ephesians 4:4-6

This is a far cry from the message of many who call themselves apostles. 

While many who claim to be apostles seek to have the preeminence because they want to be in authority, Paul saw himself as the least of all saints, who was given grace to minister Christ.

The foundation has been laid by those who were called by God in the inception of the New Testament Church. Their testimony and teachings became the scriptures we call the New Testament.

The true ministry of the apostle continues, not in those who think they are the  foundation of the church with divinely authoritative revelation, touting their dominion as anointed leaders in the body of Christ. Instead, the true ministry of apostleship continues as humble servants of God sacrifice their lives (often as missionaries) to bring the truth of the gospel to a lost and dying world.

WHAT IS AN APOSTLE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE (Part Two)

The word apostle comes from the Greek word “apostolos” and means, “a delegate, messenger, a sent one”. In the New Testament it specifically applies to those who were commissioned and empowered by Christ to give witness to his resurrection and Kingdom.

It does not mean “top of the pecking order in the Kingdom of God”. It does not mean “in charge”. It does not mean “leader in governmental structure”. It does not mean “you are the spiritual boss”.

There are many people who claim to be apostles, and simply put – they are not. They may be apostles in their world, but not in Christ’s Kingdom. A true Biblical apostle is consumed with the testimony of Jesus Christ and has no desire to be exalted because his mission is to glorify Christ and make men followers of Jesus and not followers of himself.

False apostles are the easiest to identity, because they claim God speaks to them about everything from Jezebel to fulfilling your destiny. They rarely testify of Jesus Christ because he’s not their message. They cannot say as Paul said, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…” ~ Romans 1:1

Their apostleship is not of Jesus Christ, therefore their message is not saturated with the truth in Jesus.

If any claiming to be an apostle has a problem with their apostleship being judged by the standard of the testimony of Jesus, they prove by this that they are not true apostles.

The apostles who were personally ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ are the New Testament models for understanding what a true apostle is. The New Testament often refers to them as “the apostles”, even though there were other apostles after the inception of the New Testament Church, such as the apostle Paul.

They had a unique calling that no other ministers have ever had, not even the prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah. Their unique calling was that of being personally selected by Jesus, the Son of God (who was God in the flesh,) and they were personally trained by him.

No other ministers have ever had such honor.

Jesus did not train them to be CEOs with Church government structure. There is not a single text in the New Testament where Jesus ever taught them to take a place of authority over other believers because of their apostleship. Jesus taught them the exact opposite.

Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. ~ Matthew 20:20-28

The very thing that many who claim to be apostles boast in (preeminence) is the very thing that Jesus was purging his true apostles of. Jesus trained his apostles to serve and to minister and not to exalt themselves, for there is only “one Lord”.

Those whom Jesus trained in the flesh have a uniqueness to their calling because their apostleship was first to the people of Israel to give witness that Jesus is the Messiah testified of in the scriptures. This witness is authoritatively ordained by God and stands forever as a witness to the world that Jesus is Lord.

Their calling and ministry for Christ should serve as the standard by which we understand the meaning of apostleship.

Paul, who was ordained as an apostle to the Gentiles testified of the same gospel. In fact, Paul went to the apostles who were commissioned by Jesus and shared with them the gospel he preached among the Gentiles to affirm that he was indeed preaching according the gospel given to them by Jesus.

When Paul went to the original apostles, it had nothing to do with “rank and file”. It was all about the message.

That is precisely what is wrong with the modern day apostolic movement – it is their message! Their message about Jesus is not the message preached by the apostles in scripture, and their message about the Kingdom is not the one taught by the apostles in scripture.

Many “apostles” within the apostolic movement think God has given them an “authoritative” position within the Church which rivals that of the original apostles. One of their founding leaders made this claim: “The second apostolic age began in 2001.”

No it did not!

There is no such thing as a second apostolic age.

This same “apostle” claims that you will not fulfill all the destiny that God has for you if you are not submitted to the apostolic alignment they claim to have from God.

That my friends is not the truth. Rather, it is manipulation, or witchcraft, and if you subject your soul to such spiritual deception, you will become a captive to real religious bondage rather than being a truly free person in Jesus Christ. You will be blind to what the scriptures really teach.

Do not submit your soul to such deception. Follow Jesus, and abide in him. Build your walk with God on the testimony and witness of his true apostles who gave us the New Testament, and submit to the humble who serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

A true leader in God’s Kingdom has no desire to have dominion over your spiritual life. His desire is that you become rooted and grounded in Christ. His joy is that YOU stand in Christ.

Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:24

TRUE APOSTOLIC ALIGNMENT 

In John 15, Jesus said the following to his disciples whom he called to be apostles:

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. ~ John 15:26-27

Jesus told these men (the apostles,) that they would bear witness of him because they had been with him from the beginning. He says this in view of the coming of the Holy Spirit who would testify of him.

Jesus links the ministry of the apostles to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would testify of Jesus and they too would testify of him.

In Acts 1 we read the following:

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosenTo whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. ~ Acts 1:1-8

Many Christians with Charismatic and Pentecostal backgrounds are familiar with these words from Acts 1, which have often been cited and applied to all believers. There is nothing wrong with this understanding because we are all called to share in the furtherance of the gospel and we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to do so.

However, we miss out on the Biblical narrative of the calling of the original apostles when we do not allow this portion of scripture to be understood within its contextual setting. Failing to understand the Biblical narrative regarding the calling of the original apostles has contributed to an abuse by some who overemphasize the ministry of apostleship.

If the truth be told, few who know this text have taken the time to think through it within its proper context. Jesus was specifically speaking to the apostles who he had chosen regarding their ministry.

Since we so often read the Bible as if everything is speaking directly to us, we often miss out on what it is actually saying in context and consequently we make a mess of things such as the ministry of apostleship.

The apostles who were chosen by Jesus and given commandments by him have an authoritative testimony about Jesus which is the foundation on which the Christian faith stands. Yet many of today’s so called apostles rarely teach, preach, or minister in accordance to testimony of Jesus give to us by the original apostles.

When God sent Peter to the house of Cornelius, Peter said the following:

And we (the apostles) are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.~ Acts 10:39-43

True apostolic alignment is alignment with the things which the apostles who were ordained by Jesus, preached and taught. It is not this new message being preached by many “so-called apostles” whose message sounds nothing like that which the first apostles testified about Jesus.

AUTHENTIC APOSTLESHIP 

Many who call themselves apostles are doing things and preaching things that have nothing to do with the gospel. I am certain that many “so-called apostles” have never even considered if their claim to apostleship even resembles that of the original apostles whom Jesus called.

The men whom Jesus ordained as apostles, along with Matthias, who replaced Judas, were gifted by God with an apostleship which wasn’t for the early church only. The scope of their ministry continues today as true Christians contiune to labor in the Kingdom of Christ building up the body us Christ upon the foundation of Jesus and their testimony about Jesus.

Many who claim the title “apostle” are building on some other foundation than the one established by the apostles who were ordained by Jesus. A true apostle will contiune to spread the the gospel in accordance to the testimony of Jesus given to us by the first apostles.

Just prior to the destruction of the temple, the writer of Hebrews said the following:

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? ~ Hebrews 2:1-4

Those who heard the Lord, to whom he bore witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, should be correctly understood as the apostles who were ordained by Jesus.

The authentic ministry of the apostles who gave us the Word of God (the New Testament) is being undermined by so much of what goes on in the name of “the apostolic”. Many of them wouldn’t even qualify as “knock offs” because there is no resemblance to the ministry of the original apostles. They have completely perverted the ministry of apostleship.

The ministry of the original apostles has not ended. It continues through the preaching of the gospel that they gave us. In John 17 Jesus prayed the following on behalf of the original apostles.

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word ~ John 17:6-20

Jesus ordained these men as apostles and their ministry did not end when they died. Their ministry continues as the truth about Jesus, which they gave us, is preached and taught to all nations.

In 2 Peter, Peter (who was one of the apostles) says the following:

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: ~ 2 Peter 3:1-2

Notice that Peter makes mention of the holy prophets and the apostles. This is a reference to the Old Testament prophets and the apostles who were commissioned by Jesus. It is also who Paul is referring to in Ephesians 2 when he says that the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.

The church is not built on the foundation of modern day apostles and prophets. The church is built on the testimony of Jesus which the Biblical prophets declared and the apostles chosen by Jesus affirmed!

Jude also makes reference to the authoritative calling of apostles chosen by Jesus when he says, “But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. ~ Jude 1:17-18

Ironically, the original apostles warned against the very things that some modern day apostles are preaching and doing.

The ministry of apostleship is alive and well, but not in many who call themselves apostles. It is alive and well in those who through the Holy Spirit obey the gospel which was given to us by the men Jesus ordained to establish his Kingdom.

Today’s “so-called apostles” who are constantly preaching about Jezebel, new levels, shifts in the atmosphere, portals, etc. are at best, frauds! They are not authentic apostles. Their message about Jesus and his Kingdom is apostate and not of the truth in Jesus.

AUTHENTIC APOSTLESHIP

Many who call themselves apostles are doing things and preaching things that have nothing to do with the gospel. I am certain that many “so-called apostles” have never even considered if their claim to apostleship even resembles that of the original apostles whom Jesus called.
 
The men whom Jesus ordained as apostles, along with Matthias, who replaced Judas, were gifted by God with an apostleship which wasn’t for the early church only. The scope of their ministry continues today as true Christians contiune to labor in the Kingdom of Christ building up the body us Christ upon the foundation of Jesus and their testimony about Jesus.
 
Many who claim the title “apostle” are building on some other foundation than the one established by the apostles who were ordained by Jesus. A true apostle will contiune to spread the the gospel in accordance to the testimony of Jesus given to us by the first apostles.
 
Just prior to the destruction of the temple, the writer of Hebrews said the following:
 
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us BY THEM THAT HEARD HIM; God also bearing THEM witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? ~ Hebrews 2:1-4
 
Those who heard the Lord, to whom he bore witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, should be correctly understood as the apostles who were ordained by Jesus.
 
The authentic ministry of the apostles who gave us the Word of God (the New Testament) is being undermined by so much of what goes on in the name of “the apostolic”. Many of them wouldn’t even qualify as “knock offs” because there is no resemblance to the ministry of the original apostles. They have completely perverted the ministry of apostleship.
 
The ministry of the original apostles has not ended. It continues through the preaching of the gospel that they gave us. In John 17 Jesus prayed the following on behalf of the original apostles.
 

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word ~ John 17:6-20

 
Jesus ordained these men as apostles and their ministry did not end when they died. Their ministry continues as the truth about Jesus, which they gave us, is preached and taught to all nations.
 
In 2 Peter, Peter (who was one of the apostles) says the following:
 
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: ~ 2 Peter 3:1-2
 
Notice that Peter makes mention of the holy prophets and the apostles. This is a reference to the Old Testament prophets and the apostles who were commissioned by Jesus. It is also who Paul is referring to in Ephesians 2 when he says that the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.
 
The church is not built on the foundation of modern day apostles and prophets. The church is built on the testimony of Jesus which the Biblical prophets declared and the apostles chosen by Jesus affirmed!
 
Jude also makes reference to the authoritative calling of apostles when he says, “But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. ~ Jude 1:17-18
 
Ironically, the original apostles warned against the very things that some modern day apostles are preaching and doing.
 
The ministry of apostleship is alive and well, but not in many who call themselves apostles. It is alive and well in those who through the Holy Spirit obey the gospel which was given to us by the men Jesus ordained to establish his Kingdom.
 
Today’s “so-called apostles” who are constantly preaching about Jezebel, new levels, shifts in the atmosphere, portals, etc. are at best, frauds! They are not authentic apostles. Their message about Jesus and his Kingdom is apostate and not the truth.

TRUE APOSTOLIC ALIGNMENT

In John 15, Jesus said the following to his disciples whom he called to be apostles:

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. ~ John 15:26-27

Jesus told these men (the apostles,) that they would bear witness of him because they had been with him from the beginning. He says this in view of the coming of the Holy Spirit who would testify of him.

Jesus links the ministry of the apostles to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would testify of Jesus and they too would testify of him.

In Acts 1 we read the following:

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosenTo whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. ~ Acts 1:1-8

Many Christians with Charismatic and Pentecostal backgrounds are familiar with these words from Acts 1, which have often been cited and applied to all believers. There is nothing wrong with this understanding because we are all called to share in the furtherance of the gospel and we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to do so.

However, we miss out on the Biblical narrative of the calling of the original apostles when we do not allow this portion of scripture to be understood within its contextual setting. Failing to understand the Biblical narrative regarding the calling of the original apostles has contributed to an abuse by some who overemphasize the ministry of apostleship

If the truth be told, few who know this text have taken the time to think through it within its proper context. Jesus was specifically speaking to the apostles who he had chosen regarding their ministry.

Since we so often read the Bible as if everything is speaking directly to us, we often miss out on what it is actually saying in context and consequently we make a mess of things such as the ministry of apostleship.

The apostles who were chosen by Jesus and given commandments by him have an authoritative testimony about Jesus which is the foundation on which the Christian faith stands. Yet many of today’s so called apostles rarely teach, preach, or minister in accordance to testimony of Jesus give to us by the original apostles.

When God sent Peter to the house of Cornelius, Peter said the following:

And we (the apostles) are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.~ Acts 10:39-43

True apostolic alignment is alignment with the things which the apostles who were ordained by Jesus, preached and taught. It is not this new message being preached by many “so-called apostles” whose message sounds nothing like that which the first apostles testified about Jesus.

DID JESUS LAY ASIDE HIS DEITY?

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:5-11

When I was much younger in my Christian faith my understanding of the nature of Christ was influenced by the teachings of those within the Word of Faith, not the current Word of Faith teachers, but those who were at the forefront in the 1980’s and 90’s.

Many of today’s Word of Faith followers and some Charismatics who aren’t necessarily Word of Faith, embrace the same idea that I learned years ago, and that is the belief that when Jesus took on flesh and blood he laid aside his divine nature and lived in this world as a man only.

I cannot stress strongly enough how wrong this belief about Christ is, for it completely misses the point being made by Paul in Philippians 2 (cited above). Those who teach that Jesus laid aside his deity appeal to Paul’s words in Philippians 2: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

The text does not say Jesus laid aside his deity, yet it has often been interpreted this way by the Word of Faith leaders and the affect that it has on some can lead into serious error doctrinally.

A friend from Bible College whose understanding has been influenced by this interpretation of scripture once said to me that he “operated on a higher level than the Lord Jesus Christ.”

After I confronted him, he said the following: “I do operate on a different level than Christ did in his earthly ministry, I am new creation he was not until his resurrection.

According to my friend’s comment (hopefully he has changed his views), being born again means being on a greater spiritual level than Jesus was before he died on the cross. This is not only an insult to the sinless perfection of Christ’s humanity, it is an outright denial of his deity in the flesh.

Jesus is not a born again man. Jesus is the divine Son of God who took on humanity to redeem us to God. Jesus’s spirit is not a “human spirit” as I heard one Word of Faith teacher repeatedly say in his version of Jesus suffering in Hell.

Jesus’s Spirit is the Spirit of the One True God. Christ is the Living Word. He was God manifested in the flesh, and still is!

Jesus did not lay aside his deity when he came into this world. Jesus, being deity, was clothed with humanity and took the form or position of a servant though he was Lord of all. The King of glory came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. He did not come to be served though he was worthy of this privilege.

WHY WAS JESUS ANOINTED?

One popular argument made by those who claim that Jesus laid aside his deity is that Jesus had to be anointed. They claim that if Jesus had been God, he would not have needed to be anointed. Yet Hebrews 1 clearly refutes the notion that Jesus can’t be God and anointed at the same time.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. ~ Hebrews 1:8-9

This text is cited in context of the exaltation of Jesus at the right hand of God. Jesus is referred to by God the Father as both “God” and “anointed”! Christ, being fully God in nature was not outwardly revealed as God to everyone. While his identity was hidden from those who opposed the truth he proclaimed, others who received him saw by the Holy Ghost that he was more than a mere man.

Jesus said: no man knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” ~ Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22.

Peter writes of the deity of Christ saying “were were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 2 Peter 1: 16-17

Peter’s description of Jesus is not that of a mere man!

The apostle John also testified of the deity of Jesus when he wrote the following:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. ~ 1 John 1:1-3

The apostle John certainly did not believe that Jesus had laid aside his deity, for he refers to Jesus as the Word of life and the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us!

The anointing was on Jesus, not because he had ceased to be God and was only a mere man. The anointing was on Jesus because he was God in the flesh and the anointing on him revealed his true identity to those who believed, while blinding those who rejected him.

Consider John’s description of Jesus as he wrote the inspired text by the Holy Spirit:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:1-4, 14

John is heavy on the deity of Christ in both the gospel of John and in his epistles, such much so, that John declares that fellowship with God is contingent on Jesus being divine.

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ is fellowship with the Father, and the One whom John claims is eternal life. In 1 John 2, the apostle addresses fathers, young men, and little children (most likely these are references to spiritual growth). To the fathers, he says, I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning (2:13) and, I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning (2:14).

At the close of his epistle, John declares Jesus is the true God!

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. this is the true God, and eternal life. ~ 1 John 5:20

John’s statement concerning the confession that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh also has to do with his deity. Jesus was God revealed in the flesh and every spirit that does not confess that God in the person of Jesus Christ was manifested in the flesh, is anti-Christ. John is not teaching that those who deny a historical figure named Jesus Christ are anti-Christ, but rather, those who deny that the Son of God was manifested in the flesh are anti-Christ.

The Biblical record of Jesus as the Son of God is a reference to his deity. Jesus is God’s own unique Son, and while we are made sons of God through faith in him, he alone is the Son with the same divine nature and attributes of his Father, God.

The Spirit of God exalts Christ. The spirit of anti-Christ makes less of Christ. One does not have true fellowship with God if he does not have fellowship with that eternal life which was with the Father from the beginning and was manifested in the flesh.

To claim otherwise is to be deceived.

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. ~ 1 John 2:22-23

(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. ~ 1 John 1:2-3

WHAT IS AN APOSTLE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE (Part Two)

The word apostle comes from the Greek word “apostolos” and means, “a delegate, messenger, a sent one”. In the New Testament it specifically applies to those who were commissioned and empowered by Christ to give witness to his resurrection and Kingdom.

It does not mean “top of the pecking order in the Kingdom of God”. It does not mean “in charge”. It does not mean “leader in governmental structure”. It does not mean “you are the spiritual boss”.

There are many people who claim to be apostles, and simply put – they are not. They may be apostles in their world, but not in Christ’s Kingdom. A true Biblical apostle is consumed with the testimony of Jesus Christ and has no desire to be exalted because his mission is to glorify Christ and make men followers of Jesus and not followers of himself.

False apostles are the easiest to identity, because they claim God speaks to them about everything from Jezebel to fulfilling your destiny. They rarely testify of Jesus Christ because he’s not their message. They cannot say as Paul said, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…” ~ Romans 1:1

Their apostleship is not of Jesus Christ, therefore their message is not saturated with the truth in Jesus.

If any claiming to be an apostle has a problem with their apostleship being judged by the standard of the testimony of Jesus, they prove by this that they are not true apostles.

The apostles who were personally ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ are the New Testament models for understanding what a true apostle is. The New Testament often refers to them as “the apostles”, even though there were other apostles after the inception of the New Testament Church, such as the apostle Paul.

They had a unique calling that no other ministers have ever had, not even the prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah. Their unique calling was that of being personally selected by Jesus, the Son of God (who was God in the flesh,) and they were personally trained by him.

No other ministers have ever had such honor.

Jesus did not train them to be CEOs with Church government structure. There is not a single text in the New Testament where Jesus ever taught them to take a place of authority over other believers because of their apostleship. Jesus taught them the exact opposite.

Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. ~ Matthew 20:20-28

The very thing that many who claim to be apostles boast in (preeminence) is the very thing that Jesus was purging his true apostles of. Jesus trained his apostles to serve and to minister and not to exalt themselves, for there is only “one Lord”.

Those whom Jesus trained in the flesh have a uniqueness to their calling because their apostleship was first to the people of Israel to give witness that Jesus is the Messiah testified of in the scriptures. This witness is authoritatively ordained by God and stands forever as a witness to the world that Jesus is Lord.

Their calling and ministry for Christ should serve as the standard by which we understand the meaning of apostleship.

Paul, who was ordained as an apostle to the Gentiles testified of the same gospel. In fact, Paul went to the apostles who were commissioned by Jesus and shared with them the gospel he preached among the Gentiles to affirm that he was indeed preaching according the gospel given to them by Jesus.

When Paul went to the original apostles, it had nothing to do with “rank and file”. It was all about the message.

That is precisely what is wrong with the modern day apostolic movement – it is their message! Their message about Jesus is not the message preached by the apostles in scripture, and their message about the Kingdom is not the one taught by the apostles in scripture.

Many “apostles” within the apostolic movement think God has given them an “authoritative” position within the Church which rivals that of the original apostles. One of their founding leaders made this claim: “The second apostolic age began in 2001.”

No it did not!

There is no such thing as a second apostolic age.

This same “apostle” claims that you will not fulfill all the destiny that God has for you if you are not submitted to the apostolic alignment they claim to have from God.

That my friends is not the truth. Rather, it is manipulation, or witchcraft, and if you subject your soul to such spiritual deception, you will become a captive to real religious bondage rather than being a truly free person in Jesus Christ. You will be blind to what the scriptures really teach.

Do not submit your soul to such deception. Follow Jesus, and abide in him. Build your walk with God on the testimony and witness of his true apostles who gave us the New Testament, and submit to the humble who serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

A true leader in God’s Kingdom has no desire to have dominion over your spiritual life. His desire is that you become rooted and grounded in Christ. His joy is that YOU stand in Christ.

Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:24

WHAT IS AN APOSTLE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE? (Part One)

Do modern day apostles hold an authoritative spiritual position over other christians within the church? Is the growth and effectiveness of the body of Christ dependant on the church’s alignment under their teachings? Is the position of “authority” of which they claim to have over other believers ordained by God? Are they the foundation of the church?

There is no shortage of those who claim to be apostles and if the truth be told, many who who claim to be apostles want to have the preeminence. If those who claim to be apostles really knew what being a true apostle was all about, very few of them would embrace it.

True Biblical apostleship is not about having the preeminence. It is about servanthood. In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul describes  how he viewed the ministry of an apostle.

For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. ~ 1 Corinthians 4:9-13

This should be the “life verse” if there is any such thing, for all who think they are called to be apostles. While today’s “so-called apostles” seek to be first, Paul felt that the apostles of his day were last because of the call to servanthood and the sacrificial life to which they were called.

Within the pages of scripture, the ministry of an apostle was never about establishing governmental authority and leadership within the collective body of Christ. Those who think it is have misunderstood the teachings of scripture.

In scripture, the ministry of an apostle was never about having a position of power and wealth within the church. It wasn’t having the authoritative daily word to guide the church, rebuking Jezebel, declarations of shifts in the atmosphere, etc.

Instead, it was about preaching the gospel with authentic miracles and signs following. It was about establishing believers in the person of Jesus Christ with wholesome and sound doctrine which glorified God among unbelievers.  It was never about having an authoritative position within the ranks of ministry to which others in the collective body of Christ should submit themselves unto. 

Paul never attempted to exert authority over believers he had not established in the Lord.

For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:14-18

Paul and his co-laborers in the Lord had reached the Corinthians with the gospel and had established sound doctrine concerning how they should live as ambassadors for Christ. Paul had no desire to rule over the spiritual lives of the Corinthians: Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:24

Paul’s view of his apostleship to the Corinthians was that he had preached the gospel to them and had established them in Christ with sound doctrine. Paul held the Corinthians accountable to Christ in these matters and that is how Paul demonstrated his apostolic authority among them. The spread of the gospel among the Corinthians was the result of Paul’s labor in the ministry and rightfully, Paul cultivated the work he had invested in the Corinthians.

Paul did not seek their money nor their homage. Instead, Paul sought their growth in the faith and in Christ-like character, so that the gospel he had delivered to them would flourish among them and spread through them to others. Paul was not seeking his own kingdom of rank and file.

Unlike many of today’s “so-called apostles” who think they are called to be in authority while others serve them, Paul took the position of a servant and set the example of godly living by working and paying his own way – that’s a far cry from the modern day, self proclaimed apostles. 

Contrary to their claims, modern day apostles do not hold a place of spiritual authority over the collective body of Christ, and the growth and effectiveness of Christ’s body is not dependant on them. They are not the foundation of the church. Jesus is!

But doesn’t the Bible teach that apostles are the foundation of the church and therefore the church is to come into alignment with their apostolic authority? No, it does not! 

In Ephesians 2, Paul declares that the union of Jews and Gentiles into one body in Christ and is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. ~ v. 20

Paul is not establishing an hierarchical governmental structure for the collective body of Christ in the text above. Paul is contextually referring to the revelation of the gospel which was given to the apostles and prophets who were called by God to preach the gospel during the inception of the New Testament.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstoneIn whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. FOR THIS CAUSE I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is NOW revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ… ~ Ephesians 2:19-3:8

The foundation of which Paul is referring is not that of governmental structure within the collective body of Christ. It is the establishment of the truth of the gospel among the Gentiles. Before Christ, the Gentiles were outside the covenants given to Israel, but now in Christ Jesus have been made fellow heirs with believing Jews and are members of the same covenantal family, for there is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. ~ Ephesians 4:4-6

This is a far cry from the message of many who call themselves apostles. 

While many who claim to be apostles seek to have the preeminence because they want to be in authority, Paul saw himself as the least of all saints, who was given grace to minister Christ.

The foundation has been laid by those who were called by God in the inception of the New Testament Church. Their testimony and teachings became the scriptures we call the New Testament.

The true ministry of the apostle continues, not in those who think they are the  foundation of the church with divinely authoritative revelation, touting their dominion as anointed leaders in the body of Christ. Instead, the true ministry of apostleship continues as humble servants of God sacrifice their lives (often as missionaries) to bring the truth of the gospel to a lost and dying world.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT THE RAPTURE?

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Christians who disagree about the rapture often get caught up in semantics – yes, pun is definitely intended.  Seriously though, those who opposed the rapture often make the claim that the word “rapture” isn’t in the Bible. Those who embrace the rapture claim that the word is taken from Latin, meaning caught up.

The problem with both of these arguments is that neither side actually addresses the teaching of scripture. The issue isn’t whether or not there is going to be a rapture (catching away) of the saints. The issue is the context into which we place this event, and our interpretation of what it really is.

For example, in dispensational premillennialism, the rapture is a secret escape (from tribulation) into Heaven for Christians and occurs separately from the second coming of Christ.

However, the Bible does not teach any such secret escape into Heaven for believers. The very things some Christians believe they are going to escape are the very things Christians have suffered throughout history. In fact, there are Christians living in the world today who are suffering the very things that some Christians think they are going to avoid via the rapture.

In all honesty, the rapture theology that some Christians have embraced couldn’t be preached or taught as the truth in some parts of the world, because the current suffering of the people would disprove it as false.

Furthermore, Paul says “the dead in Christ shall rise first.” This is a reference to believers whose souls are now in Heaven. Many of them have been in the presence of the Lord in Heaven for hundreds of years, and many have been there a thousand years or more. There is absolutely nothing in this world they would need to escape via a rapture.

Therefore, if the rapture is about “escaping tribulation” then it is only applicable to those who will be living on earth at the coming of the Lord. In no way does it apply to the saints who will rise from the dead – there is no tribulation they need to escape!

This is problematic from a doctronial standpoint because the very things that Christians think they are going to escape via their version of the rapture are the very things that many of the “dead in Christ” have already endured in their lifetime and suffered in their deaths.

The event described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4 (referenced above) is not a secret escape from the troubles of this world. Instead, it is the promised resurrection of the saints which occurs at the coming of Christ.

Paul is teaching that at the coming of the Lord, those who have died in Christ and are with the Lord now in Heaven, will come with him, and their dead bodies will be raised to life (even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him ~ v 14).  The promised resurrection of the saints occurs at the second coming of Christ, and that is why we who are “alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord”  will also experience the resurrection of our bodies.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:15

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

No where in any of his letters does Paul ever advocate a “secret escape” from the troubles of this world, nor does any other New Testament writer. In fact, Paul testified of his much suffering for the name of Christ, and boasted in God’s grace which enabled him to endure such persecution and suffering.

Consider Paul’s list of the things he suffered:

… in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was  I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. ~ 2 Corinthians 11:23-33

The truth is, Paul never taught those who were under his ministry to look for an escape from troubles and tribulation in this world, but rather to endure such from Christ’s sake.

Ironically, in 1 Thessalonians 3, only one chapter before chapter 4 which is interpreted as “escape tribulation” in dispensational premillennialism, Paul says the following:

Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereuntoFor verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vainBut now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. ~ 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 

Those who advocate a secret escape interpretation of Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4, will sometimes argue that at the rapture Jesus is coming for his saints, and at his second coming he is coming with his saints.

The Bible however, does not make any such distinction.

According to Paul, the second coming of Christ and our gathering to him will resemble that which occured in ancient times when a King who had journeyed to a far away land returned. The citizens under his rulership would go outside the city or country to meet him and escort him back into the country. This is what Paul is alluding to in 1 Thessalonians 4, and it is just one piece of the prophetic puzzle regarding how events will unfold at the coming of the Lord.

In 1 Thessalonians 3 (cited above) Paul encourages the believers in Thessalonica to endure tribulation and persevere in faith, while offering prayers for them. He then says, “to the end he (God) may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. ~ v. 13

This is consistent with Peter’s description of how believers should live holy and godly lives in anticipation of the second coming of Christ. Please note that there is no secret escape for believers prior to the coming of Christ in Peter’s message.

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. ~ 2 Peter 3:1-14

According to Peter, we are not to be looking for an escape route, rather we are looking for the new heavens and new earth when Christ returns. When the day of the Lord comes, the judgment of the ungodly will commence, and the new heavens and new earth will be ushered in. For this reason we are to live holy and godly lives looking for the coming of that day!

This agrees with the words of John:

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. ~ 1 John 2:28-3:3

John encourages holiness in expectation of the coming of Christ, just as Peter does. Peter also says the following in same context of the coming of the day of the Lord.

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. ~ v. 15-17

It is unfortunate that there are Christian interpretations which have turned the glorious resurrection of the saints into a secret escape from the wickedness of this world rather than victory over it at the coming of ChristWhen Christ comes, we who have believed and trusted in Jesus will experience the resurrection of our mortal bodies. There will be no need to escape the things of this world of which we will then be immune in glorified bodies!

The testimony of the scripture is that the glorious (rapturous) and triumphant resurrection of the saints will happen when the Lord comes to judge the ungodly.  The world will be judged, and Christ will be glorified in us. Consider Paul’s description of this:

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:7-2:2

Paul’s view of the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the saints is in agreement with Peter’s account of the day of the Lord. It is not in agreement with those who teach that Paul believed in a “secret escape” from tribulation.

Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4 have nothing to do with “escape tribulation.” Paul is describing the resurrection of the saints which the Bible places at the time of the second coming of Christ, at which time the ungodly will be judged and the new heavens and new earth with be ushered in.