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Who Can Be an Apostle #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
March 13, 2024 12:00 am

Who Can Be an Apostle #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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March 13, 2024 12:00 am

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Welcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. It is our joy to continue our commitment to teaching God's people God's Word. Today Don is continuing with the second part of a message we started last time.

So let's get right to it. Open your Bible as we join Don now in The Truth Pulpit. Now, what were the qualifications? Well, there were certain experiential qualifications needed to be an apostle. A man had to have certain life experience that qualified him to be an apostle. If you did not have this life experience, you could not be an apostle.

What was that life experience? Look at Acts chapter 1, verse 18. Luke, as he is recording the history of the early church, is speaking about Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ. And in chapter 1, verse 18, just to set the context, you remember Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve as they walked with Christ, but he betrayed him. He abandoned Christ.

He pursued his own lusts. He sold Christ out to the Roman authorities for 30 pieces of silver. And in verse 18, we know that Judas died soon thereafter. Verse 18, he acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness.

And falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. Now, the early church had to find someone to replace, put a replacement man in the office that Judas had previously held. How are they going to find a man who is qualified to take the office of one of the twelve? Well, look at verse 21 with me.

Peter here is talking. Actually, go to verse 20. He says, It is written in the book of Psalms, May his camp become desolate and let there be no one to dwell in it, and let another take his office. So he looks to the Old Testament. He says we need to find someone to fill the office of Judas.

And then he says this in verse 21, So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us, one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection. He says there, we can't just choose anyone here. There's a limited labor pool from which we can draw.

To use modern terms, there's a limited labor pool from which we can hire a man for this responsibility. And the labor pool is defined by the experience of having been with Christ throughout his earthly ministry, from his public baptism by John until the day of his resurrection. In order for someone to fill that office, he had to share those life experiences. He had to share that exposure to the Lord Jesus Christ. Judas is dead.

Now we need someone who can speak from the direct human personal experience. They had to walk with Christ. They had to have been with him during his earthly ministry. They had to be an eyewitness, beloved. They had to have seen the resurrected Christ with their own eyes.

And so what happened? They prayed. Two men were put forward who met those qualifications, verse 23.

One man was Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justice and Matthias. And they prayed, they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias, verse 26. They cast lots between the two men. And whatever the mechanism of the lots were, there was an element of random, almost like throwing dice.

I don't like putting it that way, but just to give you a sense. There was something that was random beyond the control of the people who were casting the lots. And the understanding and the practice at that time before the completion of the canon was that God would guide the lot in order to bring about what he desired.

And you can read about that. There's Proverbs that speak about the lot is cast by man, but its answer comes from the Lord. So in verse 26, they cast lots for them. The lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the 11 apostles. Beloved, our concern is less about the process today and more about the qualifications that Matthias had to meet in order to be an apostle. Two things had to be true before a man could be an apostle. He saw Jesus' public ministry from the start, and he was an eyewitness to the resurrection. So that he had this ongoing, long-term experience under the three years of Jesus' ministry, and he saw the resurrected Christ with his own eyes. The apostle Paul appealed to the fact that he had seen the resurrected Christ. In 1 Corinthians 9, verse 1, Christ appointed Paul uniquely. Paul saw him resurrected. Paul was instructed directly by Christ, and so he qualified even though he was not with the Lord on earth. But what I want you to see is this, is that an apostle of Jesus Christ had to have seen the resurrected Christ while he was still on earth.

That was a non-negotiable requirement. Now, beloved, step back and consider today. No one on earth today has seen the real resurrected Christ. Christ is in heaven. He is beyond the power, the physical realm of men to see and observe. We cannot get to him to see him. He is in heaven. No man on earth can go and see him.

No man has gone and really seen him. As a result of that, beloved, as a result of that, there are no more apostles today, period. The witnesses of the resurrection perished with the generation that walked with Christ. No one can meet the apostolic qualifications today because no one has seen the resurrected Christ. And, beloved, the apostolic office cannot be transmitted from one generation to the next because the apostolic qualifications cannot be transmitted from one generation to the next. I can't make you an eyewitness of the things that I have seen in my life.

I can't pass that on to you. The experience of having seen the resurrected Christ cannot be given to someone else. It's unique to the men who were with Christ at the time. And so it's impossible to meet the qualifications to be an apostle today. Who can be an apostle?

Only those who saw Christ in the first century during his earthly ministry. Who can be an apostle? No one today.

No one today. Don't be intimidated by smooth-talking men who come and say, I'm an apostle. Don't be intimidated by the august pictures of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church and their fancy suits and their humanly speaking, distinguished appearance.

Don't be intimidated by any of that. Just look at that and say, you're not an apostle. You haven't seen Christ. It doesn't matter how smooth you talk.

It doesn't matter how sharp you look. It doesn't matter how long you have held some kind of religious office. You haven't seen Christ.

You're not an apostle. Get out of here. Beat it. Honestly, you know, I mean, this is the severity with which you need to have this settled in your mind.

If there was a stray dog that came onto your property and that was digging around or causing problems or rabid, you'd go out to that dog and say, beat it. Get out of here. You have no place here. Beloved, that's what you do today with people who claim apostolic authority in whatever manner they claim it. Whether you say it to them personally or not or if it's just a matter of making a clear distinction in your mind of who has authority to speak on behalf of Christ. Look, Paul said in Philippians 3, he said, beware of the dogs. Beware of the dogs. I'm not speaking beyond scripture when I speak in this kind of language.

You look at it in your heart and you say, beat it. Get out of here. You have no right to be on my spiritual property. You have no right speaking into my soul.

And you must be firm on this. This is not a place for a false sense of kindness, generosity. It's false grace that would welcome people and give people an opportunity to speak into your life from that perspective. Read the letters of 2 John and 3 John where it says you're not to even give them a greeting. We are to build a wall around our spiritual well-being. We are to build a wall around the people of God. We are to build a wall around the local church and to exclude and keep out those false influences. And you're to do it in your own spiritual life.

And beloved, it's spiritual adultery if you don't. Scripture does not record any kind of succession to the apostolic office. Paul didn't make Timothy an apostle before he departed. Timothy would have been a prime candidate.

There's nothing like that. The letters to Paul say, Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ and Timothy, our brother. Paul, I'm an apostle. I'm called by Christ. Timothy, good man, helpful in ministry.

He's a brother. He's not an apostle and never would be. Scripture gives no direction to make a new generation of apostles.

Why is that so important? It means that Scripture has fixed the body of men who could qualify as apostles. The apostles had qualifications that could not be given to men after the first century. And therefore, beloved, no one has authority to rule to speak like an apostle today. No one has authority to give new revelation.

No one has seen the resurrected Lord to qualify to do that. If you understand that, you have laid a solid foundation for discernment. Now we can just go, with that established, you can just go and say, okay, well, what does the Bible say? Let's read Scripture.

Let's compare Scripture with Scripture. Let's be like the Bereans who were more noble minded, and they examined the Scriptures daily to see whether the teaching was so. They went back to the Word of God.

They didn't look for other apostles. They looked to the Scripture as Paul taught them in the way of God. Well, how much more 2,000 years later, when there are no apostles, how much more do we come back and dive into this Word to find what the truth is? Secondly, we've seen the apostles' qualification.

We can go through this rather quickly. I think the apostles' responsibility. The apostles' responsibility.

If you just remember the end of Matthew 28, we've referred to it often enough. Go, make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to observe all I commanded you, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The apostles were responsible to go throughout the world to proclaim Christ, to establish baptism, and to teach all that Christ had commanded.

Christ appointed the apostles alone for, listen, this is so important to understand, that revelatory task. The apostles had a unique responsibility to give revelation from God that would interpret the ministry of the Christ who had just been ascended into heaven. The apostles were to reveal, to speak the Word of God, to make known His Word in a way that is not given to us today. They were revealing things, making known that which was previously unknown.

We do not reveal things that are previously unknown. We simply teach what the apostles taught, what was revealed through the apostles, we take and teach and expound that. It's a complete distinction of giving something new and explaining that which has been given.

You must make that distinction in your mind. The apostles had a spiritual mission. They were not political reformers.

They were not social reformers. They proclaimed salvation as the exclusive agents of the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at Galatians chapter 1 just real quickly here.

Galatians chapter 1 after 1 and 2 Corinthians. The apostles received revelation from Christ and delivered it to men. We take the teaching of the apostles and expound it to men, but there is a qualitative difference. There is an infinite gap between receiving reliable revelation from God and being an agent through which the Holy Spirit declares the Word of God.

There's an infinite chasm between being a revelatory agent and being a teacher of what's been completed and revealed. Paul says in Galatians chapter 1 verse 11, I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. A revelation was given to him.

You don't need to turn to this next passage. Paul says in Ephesians chapter 3, the mystery was made known to me by revelation as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ.

Oh, now watch this, beloved, and understand how it helps us understand the whole centrality of the apostolic office. Verse 5, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. They were the unique receptors of this revelation in the transition period between the resurrection of Christ and the completion of the canon. God gave his revelation to the apostles, and they taught it through their oral teaching at the time and the writing of Scripture. He revealed it through the apostles, and there were New Testament prophets and local congregations again before the completion of the canon. But the centrality of the apostles. Now, beloved, the teaching authority in the church, in the true church today, it is entirely derivative. We teach what the apostles revealed, and there is no authority to our teaching beyond the four corners of Scripture and the necessary implications of what is revealed therein. I can't come and give you a new word from God. Revelation ceased. That's sola scriptura.

We're going to look at that soon also in future messages. Now, here's the consequence of this, beloved. Men who go beyond the apostles saying, this is from God, you must obey what I say. You must believe what I say when it goes beyond Scripture. Think the Book of Mormon, think Joseph Smith, think LNG White, think others who claim to have been agents of the revelation of God. When they do that, they forfeit all spiritual authority to call upon men to believe and obey. When a charismatic claims to be an apostle, he is embezzling apostolic authority.

And you know that embezzlement is subject to imprisonment. When Catholics claim apostolic succession, they are embezzling apostolic authority, which is not rightly theirs. They claim what they do not have. And that distinction means that you are safe and you are right and indeed you are required to reject their whole unbiblical system of salvation and know that you are safe and secure as you do. That's how much discernment we get from understanding the apostolic office. Now, third and finally, thirdly, the apostles' verification. The apostles' verification. How was it that a man demonstrated in the first century that he really had authority from Christ? How did God verify, authenticate the ministries of these men? Well, he granted power for them to perform miraculous signs and wonders that were not humanly possible. And here we're just going to go through some scriptures really, really quickly. But understand that God authenticated the apostles. He verified their ministry by giving them unique power to do miracles that no one else could do, which signified by their power in the physical realm their authority and exclusive, their exclusive claim to authority in the spiritual realm. Acts chapter 2, verse 42.

You see this emphasized over and over again and be prepared to turn your pages quickly, okay? Acts chapter 2, verses 42 and 43. Speaking of the early church, they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. The apostles were doing signs and wonders which showed that there was an advance in the revelatory program of God taking place before their very eyes. Of course they were filled with awe.

They were seeing physical miracles that verified spiritual instruction to the salvation of their souls. Chapter 4, verse 29. Here Peter is speaking.

He's under threat from the authorities. Acts chapter 4, verse 29. He prays, Now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant, Jesus. Peter, speaking, praying as an apostle, says, Grant strength to us and exercise power through us in order to vindicate the message that we proclaim. Acts chapter 14. Acts chapter 14, verse 3. Paul and Barnabas are ministering. Now we're looking at the apostle Paul.

They're in a place called Iconium. They remained for a long time, verse 3, speaking boldly for the Lord who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. They were speaking and proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

And in order to vindicate the proclamation, God gave them power to do signs and wonders to authenticate the spiritual message that they were preaching. Chapter 19. Acts chapter 19. Beginning in verse 8, Paul entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly. Notice the speaking of the word of God, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. Verse 9. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, apostolic teaching is met with stubborn resistance often. When some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.

This continued for two years so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. The word of the Lord, the apostles. Verse 11.

What happened? God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul. Paul the speaker was doing miracles and the miracles enforced the teaching. I'm going to skip over a couple of passages. Let me just give you one more in Hebrews chapter 2 for the sake of time. Hebrews chapter 2, which is an important passage on this in its own right. The writer of Hebrews makes a distinction between those who heard it at the first and the next generation.

Chapter 2 verse 1. In words that apply to you and me today, therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. What a warning.

What a warning. You have, you've received the truth. You've heard it. You need to pay attention. You need to pay closer attention. You need to pay much closer attention to what you have heard, lest you drift away from it. God will keep you in the faith, yes, by the preserving power of the Holy Spirit. One of the means by which he does that is by you faithfully attending to the reading and hearing of the preaching of the word of God. And you are in danger if you drift from that. You are in danger if you stop paying attention.

And it's not unkind. It's not a false use of position for a pastor to stand behind a pulpit and say that to you and to warn you about the consequences of spiritual carelessness in your life. Jesus said, if you abide in my word, you are truly disciples of mine, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Someone who's been under the word, heard the gospel, professed faith in Christ, but walks away from that is without excuse. And, beloved, I wouldn't want any of you to be in that desperately dangerous position of spiritual apostasy. So pay attention to what the word of God says. Verse 2, he says, since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution. And, beloved, read this as though God were speaking directly to your heart through His word, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? How do we think if the word from angels could not be violated, how do we think that we're going to get away with it and be safe if we neglect the word of God and walk away from that? What are the consequences of that going to be? What's going to happen to the souls of those who abandon that which has been given to them, beloved?

What's going to happen to you if that is what you choose to do? Verse 3, it was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, the apostles. While God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, it distributed according to His will. The apostles spoke the word to us, and what they said was attested by signs and wonders.

It was verified to us. The miracles and power of the teaching were God's seal of approval. Jesus, beloved, appointed the apostles, the biblical apostles, to a unique role upon which all else is built. We neglect that to our own peril.

We add to that to our own peril. We receive those who claim to be apostles today at our own peril. Scripture has made it clear.

Scripture has warned us. And today's apostles do not have the qualifications. They do not have the responsibility.

They do not have the verification. As I've said many times, as I've said many, many times, the miracles that we find the apostles doing in Scripture are not the fake miracles that are claimed today. If those who claim to be apostles claim to be agents of God's revelation today, if they could do the miracles of the apostles, they would do them. They do not do them because they cannot do them.

If they could do them, they would do them, but they can't do them. Because they were extraordinary miracles by the power of God, not stage managed shows under the control of stage managers. What the apostles did, what Christ did was open, publicly verifiable, done instantly.

That's not what you see today. So, beloved, turn away from claims of apostolic authority today. Trust the living Word of God.

Devote your mind to it. And in messages to come, we'll show you how this strengthens your discernment and establishes you better in the faith as we go. Let's pray together. Father, would you just seal all of this to our minds? Strengthen those who waver. Instruct, Father, those maybe hearing this for the first time. Show them the truth of your Word by your Spirit. Protect us as we move forward, Father, that we would know true authority and reject the false for the sake of fidelity to our lovely Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much, friend, for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us again next time as Don begins a new message as we continue teaching God's people God's Word on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-13 04:49:06 / 2024-03-13 04:58:56 / 10

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