Apostles

(1 Corinthians 4:8-13)

In this section we see Paul talking about the roles of the apostles.

Apostles
Apostles

To be an apostle is to be greatly blessed by the Lord for it is an important work that the apostles did and do. But as we see in this scripture the work of the apostles is sometimes a hard and thankless task. They are at the vanguard of the Christian Faith and it is the apostles who lead the charge in the spreading of the word and the teaching of the new converts to Christianity.

The apostles suffer much to fulfill their mission to the Lord and they are much maligned. Aside from the opposition they get from their obvious visibility to the opponents of Christ, they also have the worries and concerns of ensuring the young Christians do not fall back into old ways as they have barely escaped the ways of the world.

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Sharing the Load

(Acts 6:1-7)

sharing the load
sharing the load

You don’t have to do everything you know! In fact if you try to do everything you are more likely to do everything mediocre and nothing well. I mean, how many balls can you juggle in the air before you start dropping them?

Well, the rapid expansion and growth in the early church as the Apostles preached the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ brought them to the place where they realised they could not do everything too. We see this in the first of these verses as it says in verse 1,

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

The Apostles clearly started to drop the ball. There were grumblings occurring because they could not serve tables, do admin work, chase after people as well as preaching, teaching, evangelism, healing and so on. They couldn’t do it all and they knew it. So what to do? Continue reading “Sharing the Load”

Replacing Judas

(Acts 1:15-26)

Judas betrayed Jesus. He was selected by The Lord as one of the twelve knowing full well that he would betray Jesus. That was why he was chosen for it was necessary to fulfil the scriptures and prophecy concerning the betrayal.

The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles

But in spite of this betrayal, the position Judas held as one of the twelve was an important role. The twelve did not simply become the eleven when Judas went out and killed himself. There were twelve positions appointed by The Lord and they needed to be filled for the purpose of the ongoing ministry that would soon follow.

To that end all of the disciples with the eleven met as a group, about 120 in all at that time, and they elected a replacement for Judas, a man by the name of Matthias. And as it says in these scriptures, Matthias was enrolled with the eleven to take his place as an apostle in the ministry.

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The Other Disciples

(John 1:43-51)

We hear a lot about some of the disciples and early apostles. Some are held in high esteem by many in the churches. And yet we know there were twelve who were called to do the early work of the church. We know a little about Peter, James, John and some of the others, but what about the rest? Most of them are unknown apart from a mention of their names. Yet they, like the more well known apostles, we’re charged by Jesus to do the work as much as the others. So what should we think about them? What do you think about them? Let us have a look at a couple of these men and try to understand some lessons from them.

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Jesus Sends Out The Twelve

(Mark 6:7-13)

As Jesus went among the villages teaching he began to give more ministry responsibility to the twelve disciples. When Jesus sends out the twelve he gives them some quite specific instructions. They were to have the authority to cast out demons and to anoint the sick with oil for healing.

twelve-disciplesThese signs were given for the purpose of confirmation of the words they were to speak as they spread the gospel among the people. They began their preaching here in the same way that John the Baptist and Jesus Christ began their respective ministeries. They preached repentance.

Repentance is one of the key foundations of Christianity. Under repentance cChristians are to turn from their sinful ways, renounce evil in this world and seek to make themselves right with God. Repentance is a preparatory process as people come to God. It prepares a person to receive the gifts and the call of God and is a first step in turning around a life.

Repentance as a first step requires a person to recognise they have sinned and are in need of a saviour. The only one capable of saving man from sin is Jesus Christ, for that authority has been given to him alone. (Luke 5:24) Repentance also acts as a first step of obedience. When we repent and come to the Lord confessing our sin, we recognise the power of God through Jesus Christ to grant us release from sin. This is a first mark of the obedience we are to show in our new life in Christ.

When Jesus sends out the twelve he tells them not to take money, food or a bag (eg. luggage) but to accept the hospitality of whomever offers it. Nor were they to go from house to house when they entered a town. Whoever opened their home to the disciples would be the one with whom they were to stay while in that town or place. This is a blessing to the person with whom they were staying for the way that we all can serve the Lord is to serve his people.

They were not to take anything with them for the Lord would provide through his people. It was both a test and a blessing when they did receive what was needed as they travelled and preached the gospel.

But they would also receive opposition as some towns would not receive them. Jesus instructed them to leave, and on leaving to even shake off the dust from their feet as testimony against that place. In essence Jesus said not to bang your head against a brick wall. If the people didn’t want to hear the word, don’t try to shove it down their throat. Instead go somewhere else where the people would be more receptive. There are many towns and cities in the world who needed the word, so why struggle where the word is unwanted.

This is still a good lesson for us today. Offer the word to those around you as the opportunity arises, but if they reject it, don’t push it any further, just move on. Who knows, perhaps the seed you planted will come to fruit at a later time and the Lord will have his servant in the right place for that person when his time is right, as he said, “If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:26)

(Picture sourced from Malaysia Bible Seminary site: http://mbsalumni.blogspot.com/)

Call of the Twelve

(Mark 3:7-19)

Jesus fame had spread to all corners of the land. The people from many regions followed him for they had heard and seen the many things he did. He healed many people and cast out many demons all of which cried out recognising him as being the Son of God. He strictly ordered them not to make him known. How different this is from the way man operates. I tis commonly taught amongst men that you need to self-promote and you need to sing your praises so that people will listen. But we see in Jesus case he did the opposite. However it was impossible for him to be hidden, just as he taught, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:14) Likewise Jesus was the light of the world and he could not be hidden for his light illuminated the world and showed us a better way.

Jesus needed helpers. The sheer volume of people was swamping him. His purpose too was not just to bring a message, but also to appoint messengers to take this message to others and to the ends of the earth. The beginning of this process was the call of the twelve. Twelve of his closest disciples were appointed to preach the message and to have power and authority to cast out demons. Their role was to commence the work of spreading the gospel and they became his apprentices in the work Jesus was performing.

The call of the twelve and the work they carried out was incredibly important. Their work was to set the foundations of the holy city of Jerusalem in the spiritual realm. We see this mentioned in Revelation as the angel shows John the bride of the Lamb and the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. This heavenly Jerusalem was established by God and we see that, “…the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14) So we see that the work and the call of the twelve was so important that it formed the foundations of the wall of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Part of the work of the apostles was to establish the fledgling church after the death of Jesus. They were the ones who had to carry the New Covenant to the world. It was their teachings, which they learned from Jesus that established the church and enabled Christians to grow and mature. The Lord recognised the enormity of the work they were to do by showing that the very foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is comes from God, was founded upon the teachings of these men. Such was the importance of their work.

We do not know much about most of these apostles and the work they did. We know some of the works of Peter, James and John, we know a little about Thomas and we know what happened to Judas Iscariot. But as for the rest of the apostles their work has not been recorded and yet they had very specific and foundational roles to fill in the fledgling church. Their work was of equal importance to the works of those we do know something about. Even Paul who is considered by most people as one of the greatest of the apostles was not recognised as one of the foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Paul will have his reward, and we should not consider him any better or worse than the rest. The truth is that all who are in Christ are equal. We cannot compare Paul to the apostles in the same way that we cannot and should not compare ourself to anyone else, including the apostles. We are all different and at different places in our walks with the Lord. He is dealing with us as individuals and working on what each of us needs as individuals, thus we cannot compare. Paul made this point saying, “Not that we venture to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12) The only point I am making here is that the work and the teachings of the twelve apostles, not the apostles themselves, is the foundation of the heavenly Jerusalem. It is the message not the messengers that are important.