X0626.........."Apostles"---How God gets people saved
Tradition mis-defines "ministry" as authority over other believers.
This is one of the big reasons why we Christians today do not understand what ministry is.
Jesus said quite clearly that ministry is not authority one over another among ourselves.....
"But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10: 42-45)
Ministry is service toward others and not authority over others.
Ministry is function--it is a function of service toward others.
This is one of the big reasons why we do not understand what "apostles" are.
Tradition has mis-defined "apostles" as the authoritarian leaders of the church in the Bible.
What is the apostolic function?
Sounds complicated, and traditional teaching on apostles has made it incredibly complex. Many say that they "establish" the church. But again here we run into a mis-defintion of what the "church" is. The church is people, not an authoritarian rulership as is presupposed by traditional teaching. In essence it is a correct statement, that "apostles establish the church"--if--the church is people who are saved.
The Greek word "apostellos" simply means "one who is sent".
If we could attempt to define apostles, without the authoritarian concept the church carries, we might say this:
Apostles are groups of believers that are sent by God to carry the Gospel to the lost.
This is the way that God operated in the new testament Bible. It is the way Jesus operated in the Bible. It is the way the church in the Bible operated.
So we could say that "apostles" are the functional method that God uses to save people. It is the method that God uses to build His kingdom in the earth--the church.
Does scripture say this?
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:" (Ephesians 4:11-12)
In fact, all the gifts of ministry, operating together, are said here to do the job of "edifying the body"--building the church--adding souls to Gods' kingdom. As is always the case, in the Bible, apostles come first...
"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers......." (1Corinthians 12: 27-28)
Because God's first concern is the lost. It was Jesus' first concern, and the church in the Bible sets this as the example to follow. What other example should we therefore follow?
Jesus taught often on the process of salvation. He often compared it to a process of seed-time and harvest.....
"The sower soweth the word." (Mark 4:14)
"Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2)
The seed sown is the Word of God and the harvest is salvation. This is a description of the process of salvation.
Now, think about your salvation.
Did someone sow seed in you? Did you hear the Gospel, and perhaps set it aside? Were you witnessed to by 2 or 3 or perhaps many more people over the years, before the day came when you finally accepted Christ as Lord? Perhaps there were many who simply showed you a scripture, or witnessed with their lifestyle or their Christian love.
Think of all those people, who in some way sowed seed in you, and think of the person or people who brought in the harvest of your soul.
Wouldn't you say they were "sent" by God, to carry the Gospel to you?
Would you say they were apostles?
Now, if we could truly understand that God operates in this way, and Jesus operated this way, and the church in the Bible operated this way, we ought to understand that we ought to operate this way.
We ought to come together , in small groups, often, and pray in the Spirit and ask the Lord where and how and to whom we ought to carry the Gospel.
This should be the central and first function of the gathering of Christians.
Anything short of this is a compromise.