The Cost of Going All the Way With God
Apostolic Foundations and Apostolic Patterns - Part 8
Normal, Everyday Apostolic Fears
In this chapter, I’d like to suggest some of the fears that might come up in an apostolic walk.
Lack of Security
In today’s age of the all-American career, IRA’s, and retirement plans, a man may fear a lack of security in providing for his wife and children. Going to a new city could threaten that comfort zone. Of course, he always has the option to go back to the career world and make a secure salary, but he would sell his calling in the process. It takes a man of integrity to stand firm on his conviction that “it would not be right that we should leave the service with the Word in order to wait on tables” (Acts 6:2).
But then there’s the risk that the people of God in other cities will forget about his material needs because, like Paul, he’s out of sight, out of mind. That’s not an irrational fear; it was reality for the men who traveled from city to city in the first century!
“Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only” (Philippians 4:15).
It’s comfortable in a city where things have started to grow and prosper. There’s a cost involved when you go into a new place and do a new thing, where you’re not respected or loved or appreciated. Starting all over with carnal people in a new place is like going back to ground zero. And, before you know it, you’re out of sight, out of mind from the people you just left.
That was the first century pattern. That was Paul’s experience when it came to support. The people didn’t see clearly what was of Christ, so they fought against it, rather than supporting it and running with it. Because it wasn’t entirely their vision, the people didn’t participate with Paul’s work in other cities. So the fear of material uncertainty in moving on to another city is one of the things that could quench the apostolic gift. Dragging your family around from place to place is not too attractive.
Obvious ramifications of moving to a new city include starting at the beginning of a new work God is doing. With that comes the need to pay the price all over again. Paul put it this way: “We work hard with our own hands; when we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world” (1Cor.4:12-13). And no one seems to appreciate it!
“For it seems to me that God has put us on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9).
The fear of paying that price all over again can be terrifying. The persecution, the insults, the reproach and all the fussing, carnality, and backbiting can be overwhelming. If the price seems too high, a man could squelch his calling by not taking the risks to do what God has called him to do.
Running Ahead of God
Another fear that might, if carried to an extreme, cause an apostolic man to bury his Gift is the fear of running ahead before his time. The proper response, however, would be to proceed with caution and in faith.
For example, Moses blew it by slaying the Egyptian and then had to flee to the desert. But forty years later, he was ready for the real thing. Perhaps he sensed the calling of God on his life, but he ran ahead of God’s timing.
Then there’s Joseph, who was given a prophetic dream, which he enthusiastically shared with his brothers. Yet it was another twenty-five years before the vision was fulfilled. And Samuel, set apart for God’s work while he was still in his mother’s womb, had to grow up before he was “released” by God. Then God “let none of his words fall to the ground.”
The word of God came to John the Baptizer in his 30th year, even though he had been trained by a priest (his father) and was a devoted, fasting Nazarite long before that time. God has His own timing that cannot be rushed. Even Jesus, who was sinless and who astounded the scholars by the time He was 12, did not receive utterance until His 30th year.
“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to declare deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:18-21).
Finally, Paul was raised a Pharisee of Pharisees and was extremely zealous for God. He was “set apart from birth” (Gal.1:15), yet he was a grown man before he was called. Then, after having seen the Righteous One and receiving his commission in Acts 9, it was several more years before he was actually sent in Acts 13.
Clearly, to go before your time is to invite disaster. But, lack of faith in God’s timing can tempt men to bury their gift for fear that maybe they’re not ready for this, and maybe they just need to rest and be secure in their situation.
Leaving Too Soon
Another fear that would paralyze a man, if he walked by sight and not by faith, is the possibility that the Church he was about to leave might not prosper, or even survive. Paul was able to go on, knowing that Thessalonica might fail (or that Colosse might not make it if he didn’t visit them sometime). That didn’t hinder him from going on, but surely it had to enter his mind. What faith it takes to entrust men to God and the Word of His grace! He poured out his life and heart for people, and then he had to leave them behind, knowing full well how much work was left to be done in their hearts. How could he leave when he saw so much more that needed to happen, let alone what God saw? What if it all just fell apart? What an embarrassment that would be to him, and what an embarrassment to God!
If the Church that he was leaving didn’t prosper, wouldn’t it be a heartbreaking thing for the precious brothers and sisters involved? While confident that their salvation was secure, the apostolic man of God couldn’t help but weep over the wasted potential in Christ as they slumped into nominal existence.
But that scenario can never happen—not in the Kingdom of God! The Kingdom is neither here nor there. Either it’s within them now, or it was nothing but an illusion all along. This is for real! Though the particular local Church might not stand as it once did, you can’t destroy it by cutting it up. It’s like an earthworm. Since the worm has five sets of hearts, when you cut it up you don’t get one dead worm in five pieces—you get five new worms. And so it is with the Church. The Foundation is laid in men’s lives, and you can’t kill it by cutting it up! IF it is something that Father has orchestrated (rather than more of man’s divisiveness and ambition), such as the “persecution” of Acts 7-8 which resulted in the Spread of God’s Work, then even the difficult things will “work together for the Good” as they are born out of our Love for Him and responsiveness to His Purposes.
Granted, there might possibly be, if the church ceased to exist, a tremendous loss of the demonstration of the Truths of the Kingdom that can best be Seen. “You became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1Thes.1:7). It is true that “for lack of vision the people cast off restraint”—they don’t want to hear about it! But when a Church is visibly “a city set on a hill” that “cannot be hidden” (Mt.5:14-16), and the nations praise God for this City, there’s no denying that God is alive.
When the expression of “on earth as it is in Heaven” is currently in practice, no one can argue that the selflessness and Christ-centeredness of the New Testament Church was just a “cultural” thing that doesn’t apply to us. You can argue until you’re blue in the face that the first century way of life would never work in our day, but you can’t dispute something that’s happening in the here and now!
You can’t argue with the facts—what your eyes have seen, what your ears have heard, what your hands have touched. You can’t argue with that. So God does want a demonstration, a model, of what He can do in people so that nobody can argue anymore. It’s not just theories and ideas. There had to be in Paul’s heart a fear that maybe the testimony would be lost.
Maybe that fear haunted Paul as he left the Ephesians, but he entrusted them to God even though he knew wolves were coming in from among their own number. Even though he knew there would be challenges, he entrusted them to a Sovereign God without doubting that He who began a good work in them would complete that work. The gates of hell cannot prevail against anything that God is doing.
Violently Pursue Equipping!
How do you “get in on” the glorious life of mega dunamis (great power) in an apostolically founded and equipped Body? Do you search out these apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, and shepherds to be “equipped for works of service”? It is clear in Acts 2 that men from all over the earth STAYED in Jerusalem and didn’t just wander off back to their hometowns to have a nice little fellowship in their living rooms with a few family members. “All the Believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2). The men from “every nation” who had come to Jerusalem for the Jewish Pentecost stayed in Jerusalem rather than going home to their jobs and families. The people saw the testimony and the Glory of God’s presence in that place, so they stayed and all the believers were together and had everything in common. Nothing on this earth could take them from it. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, prayer, breaking of bread, and fellowship. They were devoted to the apostles’ teaching.
Paul spoke of the equipping of the saints for the works of service and the fruitful results that follow. Consider that list of incredible riches that have such magnitude of depth and far-reaching ramifications: the unity of the faith, the full knowledge of the Son of God, the full stature of Christ. Words can’t express it all! Yet all of these things will happen through the Gifts that Jesus gave to the Church when He ascended on high. If you’re one who is seeking first the Kingdom of God with your life, then that tangible equipping is worth your most earnest pursuit.
It will alter your life immensely to be in relationship with the Gifted men of God who are anointed to do the “equipping of the saints” in a unique and life-changing way. If they have the grace of God expressed in their lives in the form of special giftedness, I should do everything I can to position my life to be in relationship with them. If you really want to be useful to God, then it only makes sense that you would pursue those things.
This blows away the lone ranger approach to things. God’s way is to form and shape through the giftedness and the community of the Body of Christ. So it’s worth going after. If you’re seeking first the Kingdom, then you will go after it. It will be that important to you. If you want those attributes as part of your life, you will seek hands-on, tangible equipping from legitimately gifted, vulnerable, accessible, and cross-bearing men.
“Great!” you say. “Count me in, but how do I do that?” There are a couple of possibilities when it comes to positioning yourself to be equipped from on high. For one, you might just call them and see if they’ll come to your city.
“Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them…” (Acts 11:11-12).
“Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” (Acts 11:25-26).
“During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’” (Acts 16:9).
Or they might just come to your city (even your “fellowship”) uninvited. As the Spirit led, Paul and the other apostles simply went from place to place without asking any man’s permission. For example, the Macedonian call landed Paul in Philippi, where he proclaimed the good news to a group of women praying by the river, not to the man he had seen in the vision.
Join Your Heart—and Work With Them
Before we leave this idea of seeking out equipping, here’s some food for serious thought. You need to ask yourself why you would hang around these men. Is it to get help for yourself? Or is there a higher reason—to help them with the Work that God has given to them? That’s very important to consider.
If you can’t serve another man’s vision, then you’ll not be given one of your own (Lk.16:12). There’s something about working with someone else as part of a “wedge” or “plow” that is imperative to understanding God’s purposes. God honors the heart of a servant who can work within the context of what’s already happening because of another man’s vision, rather than trying to get something out of it for himself.
You need to see leadership the way God does and respond to those men accordingly with loyalty, respect, and obedience. An excellent example of loyalty and commitment to leadership is found in the account of Paul’s Macedonian dream in the middle of the night (Acts 16:7-10). It wasn’t that Paul simply decided to change course and the rest followed. Scripture reads, “we went” and “God had called us.” Luke’s record of the event includes a collective conviction about God’s calling and heart at the moment.
Since the men who traveled with Paul were loyal to him, they could join their hearts with conviction to Paul’s dream. Paul’s dream was their conviction. It was certainly not blind obedience, but they saw the Gift of God on Paul’s life and responded to it. The Life of God was more important to them than their intellectual assessment of the situation and what may have seemed logical. Because they saw the manifestation of the Life of God by the Spirit, they could say together, “We determined that God had called us.” So they got up in the middle of the night with no warning and went to a new continent, all because of the loyalty behind that wedge of leadership. They identified with the giftedness given by the Head that does not demand a “business meeting” and a “vote,” but is received as if from God Himself.
Another natural overflow of the appreciation for what God has given you through gifted men will be some kind of ongoing financial support. “Anyone who receives instruction in the Lord must share all good things with his instructor” (Gal.6:6), and even “double portion.” When done out of love and a pure heart, rather than from a sense of obligation, this is a wonderful way to participate in what God is doing through gifted men! “If just a cup of water in My Name….”
You notice that captives are being set free and the lame are walking and the poor are hearing the good news and the year of the Lord’s favor is being proclaimed. You want to help, so you provide sustenance to allow the man of God to get on with the work unhindered. In so doing, the reward of a prophet, or apostle, or shepherd, or Good News Teller becomes your reward as well.
In Paul’s day, men were sent from the various churches to see how he was doing financially. But their giving was clearly organic, not organizational! People gave to the apostolic and prophetic Work of God as their hearts prompted them. It was not an obligation or a sense of duty that moved them. They didn’t have to give. If that had been the case, their hearts could have easily been far from it. Instead, people gave out of the overflow of their lives and hearts. Paul was often in need, and for a long time, only the Church in Philippi helped him out.
Paul never organized a “missions fund” for the various churches to contribute to his needs. There were no “fund raiser” banquets, and absolutely no peddling of the Word of God in SELLING music or teaching. How appalling! Paul’s approach to life was conspicuously lacking any kind of administrative process that included a budget, percentages, and a year-end report. Paul just trusted God to supply his needs, and he knew times of plenty and times of want. Obviously, it wasn’t something Paul told everyone to do. He urged them to respond to Jesus from their hearts as the Holy Spirit prompted them. And so, churches and people gave out of the overflow of their hearts. They saw the need and Paul told them he was glad because it would be credited to their account in heaven for having done it. Not that he needed it, but for their benefit he was glad they did it (Phil.4).
The stigmata were the marks that Jesus had on His hands and feet after the resurrection. And when we see Him face to face, we are still going to see a Lamb, looking as though He’s been slain, seated on the throne. These marks, the scars on His hands, His side, and His feet were what He showed to the disciples after He was raised from the dead. Seemingly, the scars from the crown of thorns, as well as the scars from having his spinal column ripped open by the lashes, were gone. He was beaten so badly, according to Isaiah, that He was barely recognizable as a human being. Yet He came up from the dead with scars on His hands, side, and feet. Those are classically called the stigmata.
The stigmata of the apostolic is exemplified by the lives of apostolically gifted men. In Paul’s case, the first words of encouragement he got upon entering the Kingdom of God were from a man to whom God had said, “Tell him how much that is appointed for him to suffer for My name” (Acts 9:16). What a nice greeting! “I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light” (Acts 26:17-18) sounds pretty glamorous, but it was tempered by the stigmata.
Now, while the stigmata is exemplified in apostolically gifted men, the high calling of suffering for His name is by no means limited to apostles and prophets. Everyone living in an apostolically founded existence will enter the Kingdom of God “through great tribulation” (Acts 14:22) and “violently” (Mt.11:12). Jesus said the Kingdom is entered forcefully and the violent take it by force. You need to realize that there’s a cost involved in this whole business! When a Foundation has been laid and a Lampstand is in place, there’s a certain pain, a cross that you don’t find in a “nice fellowship.” There’s an element of apostolic existence that includes taking up your cross daily.
“From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17).
“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).
“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles; hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also” (2 Corinthians 6:4-13).
“For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored; we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:9-15).
“Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:6-10).
God is no respecter of persons! If you want surpassing great revelation, you also will be sent a messenger to keep you from becoming conceited. You also will be crucified in weakness, as your Lord was. You’ll bear the marks of Jesus on your own body. You too will receive buffeting in exchange for whatever blessings God bestows on you, to keep you from becoming conceited, “lest any man boast!” Will you bear the cross? Or will you scramble to avoid it?
“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour” (John 12:27).
Will we cry and scramble to get out of it? Will we whimper and complain when everyone deserts us and nobody likes us? If no one receives what we say, what will we do? Will we bear the marks of Jesus on our own body, or will we scramble to avoid the pain? Will we try to lessen the pain by accepting the vinegar mixed with myrrh? Will we try to lessen the pain by doping ourselves up with our little fellowship and our games and hobbies? Will we go on parade and go on great speaking “missions” because we don’t want to bear the brunt of the cross in day-to-day living?
It’s so much easier to be a star. It’s so much easier to say neat things in Bible class and then run off to gratify the flesh. But will you bear the daily cross of being face to face with people and wrestling for their souls? Wrestling for the life of Jesus in them and for the fullness of that life to be expressed? Will you wrestle to bind up the broken-hearted and set captives free? You know, that takes a lot of time and a lot of pain and perseverance. It doesn’t happen overnight.
There’s no magic formula. Jesus didn’t lay hands on the Twelve, and pray for them, and then walk away with those men being spiritual giants all of a sudden. He wept over them, and He talked with them, rebuked them, and loved them. He wrestled with them, kicked them in the backside, hugged them, and let them lay their heads in His lap. There was a life imparted as He came to be in their midst and serve them, giving His life as a ransom for them. None of this can be done in a vacuum—it can only take place in relationships. That’s the nature of the Kingdom of God. Will you bear that kind of pain? Will you carry the cross of Jesus?
What is the cross of Jesus? Losing your job? Not having much money? No. It’s being willing to die for others even though they are persecuting and slandering and rejecting you. Even though they’re failing again and again, and it perplexes the “dickens” out of you! And yet, if they “LOVE THE LIGHT” (this is the lone non-negotiable, not their performance…they MUST want to have their lives exposed and they must WANT to change for Jesus, John 3, 1Jn.1), we will persevere for them without “striking the rock” out of our own impatience. We will endure for them, IF they “love the Light,” as Jesus has endured for us. We accept the cross for them, willingly and honorably, without complaint and without the gall of “whine.” Then, and only then, will the unBelievers “on that day” be able to say as the centurion, “Surely these men and women were the sons of God.” They have a right to see us on that cross, and “shining like stars in the universe.” However, if we’re not willing to get on that cross of risk and suffering to draw others away from sin and “snatch them from the fire,” the cross for others where “now, through the Church” that principalities and powers are humiliated, then “the world” won’t see the Real Jesus.
As with Jesus, the Apostle, however, most will not recognize apostolic things…
“This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15).
“But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort” (2 Timothy 2:16-17).
“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words” (2 Timothy 4:14-15).
“Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he will be helpful to me” (2 Timothy 4:9-11).
“You, therefore, must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8).
“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18).
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).
The nature of the apostolic is that it has no beauty or majesty—you can only see it with the eyes of the heart. It’s never seen “after the flesh.” Remember how they responded to Jesus? They killed him! Truly apostolic things will have a Glory that cannot be recognized on an external basis by nominal “Christians.” But as the crowds are walking away and the “scholars” are jeering and asking trick questions, those who have eyes to see will say, “To whom shall we go?” and “Did not our hearts burn within us as we walked along the way?”
Don’t Miss God’s Blessing!
Be diligent not to miss the Blessing of God! The no-beauty-or-majesty apostolic of Christ may arrive in a borrowed Volkswagen that has to be push-started (just as the Master Apostle made His entry in an animal trough, and His greatest moment was riding on a borrowed donkey). The apostolic may be hidden in “contemptible speech” like Paul’s in order that God might “confound the wisdom of the wise.” Will you have eyes to see if God does send Divinely Gifted men your way? Or will you join the vast majority who keep their distance and analyze, or even stone, those who God sends?
Like Jesus, Paul was rejected and blamed. “We considered him stricken by God” (Isa.53:4). He couldn’t heal his friend, he was in chains, and even Timothy was tempted to be ashamed of him after nearly ten years by his side. Rumors that Paul might be a fraud deceived even those closest to him.
“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).
Elymas, Bar-Jesus, was an advisor to the proconsul of his day, and Paul came to town and struck him blind (Acts 13:6-12). Now if that were to happen today, if a man were to walk in with an Apostolic Calling on his life and strike someone blind, Elymas would probably go out of the room saying, “That guy splashed chemicals in my eyes!” And then everyone would have to decide whether or not Paul was a fraud! Was Paul “unloving” in his “sermon” when he called Elymas a child of satan? Were his actions too severe? They had to make the same kinds of decisions about Jesus (John 6). Now we’d be forced to decide and face the scandal of it in our own hearts—did he throw chemicals in his eyes, or did God strike him blind? Was he too harsh, or did it just seem that way because he was full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom?
There’s a scandal (“skandalon”) involved that’s invisible to the naked eye. To everyone on the outside, it’s obvious he threw chemicals in his eyes because “God doesn’t work that way anymore.” Anyway, look how unloving that action was. That proves how unlike Jesus he is. “He’s a fraud! He’s an imposter!” With the eyes of your heart, you will have to decide.
All the evidence could externally support that idea that Paul was a fraud. He was a great healer, supposedly, yet he left his dear friend sick in Miletus. He even had his own physical problems. And now he’s in chains. To be sure, Jesus was crucified in weakness. To be sure, it was a scandal to believe on the One whom the Father sent with no beauty or majesty.
Paul was winning a tough, brutal fight, 14 rounds to 0, and then got an illegal kidney punch in the 15th round and went down. Would he get back up and finish the fight? You betcha!!!
That’s the best way I know how to describe the apostolic stigmata that Paul knew. He wasn’t going to give up or give in, even though he got an illegal kidney punch toward the end of his life. Would he give in to the pressures and the messenger from satan, or to the persecutions and the jeering of the life he’d been given? Did he give up when he was persecuted in rags and counted as an imposter and a fraud? He was rejected as His Lord was. He got an illegal punch and everyone in the province of Asia deserted him. Even his best friends were wondering about him, yet Paul got back up again and he fought the good fight. He finished the race. He kept the faith, and now a crown is laid up for him.
The apostolic stigmata leaves no room for boasting in the flesh. If it’s “glorious and awesome,” if it flexes its muscles, it’s probably not apostolic. Impressive resumes of so-called “church plantings” or “accomplishments” deserve the same Judgment God inflicted on King David for “taking a census” in his day. Paul “boasted” in very little, and only to make a point with those he loved and had laid down his life for. And yet today, the imposters publish their “results” in their biographical sketches, embellished by photographs on the books they “sell.” They flaunt themselves rather than Jesus on their “websites” and “newsletters” and “mailings” and the back of their “books.” They publish “my itinerary” junk, sign autographs, and often allow titles or special treatment. They have NO shame for the oohing and ahhhing that is cultivated by their strut. There might be a season for riding into town with shouts of Hosanna, but for the most part it’s going to be an animal trough. And only spiritual eyes will See while everyone else is crying, “Imposter!” There isn’t anything about it externally that would cause you to say, “Wow, this is really of God; I really like this! Hip-hip-hurray!”
The True Apostolic Church and Apostolic Gift will follow the Pattern of its Lord. “No servant is greater than his Master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (Jn.15:20). If they treated Him this way, they’ll also treat you like that. And the more of Him there is in you, the more they’ll treat you like Him. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
And the slander isn’t due to jealousy. They slander because they really do believe you’re a fraud, with all their hearts. : ) Such a “report” spreads like gangrene. But you’re going to have to see with the eyes of your heart, or you’ll miss it all. That’s true for the Church as well as for men who are called by God throughout all generations. It’s always been that way. Jesus Himself was executed by capital punishment, as a base criminal, with few objections from “spiritual” and “just” men. How could the Spirit of Christ within a man or woman be treated any differently?
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
So be it.
A serious debtor to the Blood of Jesus,
-mike peters, Indianapolis, RealPeople@JesusLifeTogether.com
126Keep in mind that only Barnabas and Paul were not married. All of the others were (1Cor.9:5-6). Back
127“A man with a theory will never convince a man with an experience” as a wise man once said. True Life in Christ, TOGETHER, daily, fully intertwined “from the least to the greatest, they all know Him” Life is our Inheritance AND our experience. It is only the shallow and the compromised who will not believe the Word of God, the Teachings and experience of Jesus, and then the Apostles—and passionately live for all they lived for. This book has grown out of the experience of a people of God who have lived in the Quality of Life of Acts 2:42-47 for two decades now. Folks can give some very convincing arguments to prove why the book of Acts was cultural and could never happen in our day. But you can’t argue with reality. The Reality of God in His People will have no beauty or majesty, to be sure. But still, it will be the Glory of God in His People, daily in public and from house to house, counting none of their possessions as their own, with ever-increasing Glory. Back
128Must it take visible proof, though? After all, Jesus did say, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Lk.16:31). If they don’t believe the word of God then maybe seeing it with their own eyes isn’t going to mean beans to them either! That’s another factor to consider. Back
130Do you want these blessings or not? Show me one place in the Bible where there is a list of attributes more powerful than these! And these come, according to the word of God, from being equipped by these men. Not from personal Bible study. If your priority for living is to seek first the kingdom, then it will be a very small price to pay to live in “the exact times and places” where God wants you to live, with no regard for your preference of job or climate or proximity to pagan relatives! Back
131Acts 8:14, 11:22, et al. Back
132Heb.13:17; 1Thes.5:12-13; 2Cor.13:10. Back
133People just have a great old time “going to church,” making money, coming home, and watching TV. People all over the world live that way. Go to church, believe the right things, and be nice folks—some of us used to be like that. We were so happy, too. Happy as pigs in mud! But then, all of a sudden, something hit us and the Glory and the stigmata came together. The cross and the Pentecost came together and they were inseparable. There is a stigmata of the apostolic existence. There’s a trauma to consider. Back
134Rom.3:8; 2Pet.3:15-16; 2Cor.11:26; Gal.2:4-5; 1Cor.4:12-13. Back