Gifted with Gifts, What is an Apostle? Ephesians 4:7-12, Enjoy God 24

GIFTED WITH GIFTS H

WHAT IS AN APOSTLE?

Ephesians 4:7-12

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

When children are deprived the ministry of a father’s impartation and love, they are denied the ability to grow up knowing who they are, why they are here and where they are going in life.  They grow up living in the shadow of fearing risk, become insecure, lacking discipline and motivation, living without a sense of personal and corporate destiny.  This is the curse of the one person home or the rotating father figure.  This is why the words Father God spoke over Jesus were so important when He said, this is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).   This was a word of affirmation, identity, love, acceptance, blessing, honor, and permission to succeed.

This fathering anointing is relational and powerful.  It encompasses numerous areas of expression in Scripture,

Qualifications of an Apostle:

  • Apostles have to have the spiritual gift of apostleship. The gift was provided by Jesus Christ after His ascension into Heaven, Eph. 4:8-11. This gift was first imparted by Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, 1 Cor. 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills; Acts 2.
  • Apostles receive their gift and office by the sovereign decision of God the Father, 1 Cor. 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother; 12:18; Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus Eph. 1:1; Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother Col. 1:1.
  • Apostles had an eyewitness vision of the resurrected Lord and they have to replicate their work, Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 1 Cor. 9:1.

Credentials of an Apostle:

  • Apostles are endowed with miraculous powers for miracles, and are to minister supernaturally and patiently Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds 2 Cor. 12:12.
  • Apostles should be successful in evangelism, Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord; 1 Cor. 9:2; But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised Gal. 2:7-9.

Most people in church history who have claimed to be new apostles have been branded as heretics and excommunicated from the church (Vinson Synan).  This unfortunate truth is troubling when we think about what an Apostle is or could be.  So why the confusion and reluctance to accept Apostles?  One main reason is that satan the deceiver stands against the apostolic mission.  According to Scripture, when apostolic ministry begins to be seen, a spirit of confusion normally rises to oppose and neutralize  it.  Acts 17:5 states that when Paul ministered in a Synagogue with converts being produced, But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people .  In Acts 19:29 we read that when Paul ministered apostolically, producing miracles, deliverances and conversions in Ephesus, “the whole city was filled with confusion.”

The enemy hates Apostles, and he fears apostolic restoration.  In order to combat this, there are foundational considerations we need to examine.  First, Apostles are durative.  In other words, Apostles are for today.  When people discount the present day ministry of Apostles and relegate them to the first century, they miss the key difference between the original Apostles and perennial apostolic ministers.  Paul was one of these.  Mathias (Acts 1:26), James (Galatians 1:19), Barnabas (Acts 14:3,4,14), Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:6-9), Timothy (Acts 19:22, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:6), Titus (2 Corinthians 8:23 where messenger is apostolos) , Silas or Silvanus  (Acts 15:22, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:6), Tychicus (2 Timothy 4:12), Judas (Acts 15:22), Andronicus (Romans 16:7), Junia (Romans 16:7), Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25), Erastus (Acts 19:22), and two unnamed Apostles (2 Corinthians 8:23).  When you add the original 12 to the list, it totals at with 32 people as Apostles.

How do Apostles look?  Some people expect Apostles to be fully mature, seasoned ministers from whom wisdom flows and who are  really experienced.  This isn’t a biblical depiction.  Jesus called His followers Apostles when they were immature and unproven (Luke 6:12).  Peter went from immaturity to maturity over many years.   Maturity is a process, not an impartation.  Jesus calls and sets apart people long before maturity is realized.  Jesus builds on the foundation of our potential, not our final state.

This aspect of maturity is why we are supposed to test Apostles in order to determine their validity.  This is really important, as there are flakes who call themselves Apostles and denigrate the ministry.  2 Corinthians 11:13 actually warns us that their false Apostles who are “deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.”  Revelation 2:2 addresses the false apostles when it says, I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.  The way we determine real, authentic apostolic ministers is through 2 Corinthians 12:12, The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works (ESV).

Paul tells us three things mark apostles: signs and wonders, mighty deeds, which are points we usually assume.  But Paul begins with another point, patience.  Character always is more important than gifting to God, as God views character qualities first in all ministry.  Way before we look at charisma, we need to examine character.   After all, God looks on the heart, not the outer appearances, But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;[a] for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).  Even though we usually associate apostles with raising the dead, healing the sick, planting churches or other ministries, Paul begins with the less than spectacular but extremely important character quality of patience.

Patience in the Greek is the word is hupomonē.  Chrysostom called hupomonē “The Queen of the Virtues.”  In the Authorized Version it is usually translated patience; but patience is too passive a word.  Hupomonē has always a background of courage.  Cicero defines patientia, its Latin equivalent, as: “The voluntary and daily suffering of hard and difficult things, for the sake of honor and usefulness.”

When we think of patience, we usually think about waiting for something we want, but don’t want to wait for.  Important meetings, interviews, birthdays, traffic lights: all take patience.  That isn’t biblical patience, however.  Scripture identifies patience as persistence in the face of opposition.  It’s like a soldier standing in a battle and not fleeing or going AWOL.  Patience is staying anchored when everything is drifting around you.  It’s manning a post and not quitting, regardless of what comes against you.  Paul uses it with the meaning of cheerful endurance, with a reason: apostles generally suffer a lot of loss and hardship in their ministry.

Jesus spelled this out in Matthew 10: 5-22, These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. 11 “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! Persecutions Are Coming 16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.  21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.  24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! 26 Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.

Patience is important, as apostolic calling means exposure to hardship and suffering are ever present threats.  In Acts, we read that apostles were threatened, accused falsely, , imprisoned, stoned and beheaded.  When these things happened to them, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy.  When they weren’t facing death, they faced hostile authorities, jealous behavior, battled demonic forces, etc.  The apostles mostly died martyrs.  Matthew in Ethiopia by sword, Mark dragged through the streets of Alexandria, Luke hanged, Peter crucified upside down, James the Greater beheaded, James the lesser thrown from a Pinnacle of the temple and beaten, Bartholomew was skinned alive, Andrew crucified, Thomas impaled, Jude shot with arrows, Barnabas and Jude stoned.  Paul was beheaded b Nero.  Only John escaped martyrdom.

 

 

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