And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 18, Number
In this issue:
When we think of the apostles, we usually think of the number “twelve.” “And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:13). Yet, we also refer to Paul as an apostle, even though he was not one of the twelve. Was Paul an apostle? Did he have the same authority that Jesus gave to the twelve?
Paul claimed to be an apostle. In many of his letters, he referred to himself as an apostle of the Lord. In fact, he claimed to be an equal with the other apostles: “For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5). Although he was not made an apostle at the same time that the twelve were, Paul makes it clear that he was made an apostle by the Lord, and not by man. “Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)” (Gal. 1:1).
The legitimacy of Paul’s apostleship is an easy matter for us to settle. Paul found it necessary, on a number of occasions, to defend his apostleship. From these passages we can clearly see that Paul possessed the qualifications and characteristics (and thus the authority) of an apostle.
1. He saw the resurrected Lord. The apostles were, first and foremost, eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. This qualification is set forth when Judas is being replaced. “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22). Paul fulfilled this qualification. He saw the resurrected Christ. “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” (1 Cor. 9:1, see also 15:8)
2. He was sent by Christ to be a witness of His resurrection to the Gentiles. The word apostle literally means “one sent.” Paul was commissioned and sent by the Lord Himself. “But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you” (Acts 26:16-17).
3. He had the power to convey spiritual gifts. The Bible makes it clear that only the apostles had the power to give spiritual gifts to other men. In Acts 8, Philip preached in the city of Samaria and converted many people to the Lord. When the apostles heard about it, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they laid their hands on them and the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit. Why didn’t Philip do this himself? He couldn’t. He wasn’t an apostle. Also, notice what is said next: “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 8:18-19). Only the apostles had the power to give men spiritual gifts. Paul claimed to have this power. “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established” (Rom. 1:11). Thus, Paul was an apostle.
4. He publicly rebuked another apostle. One of the proofs that Paul gave of his apostleship was the fact that he rebuked the apostle Peter. “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed” (Gal. 2:11). Who, other than another apostle, would dare to challenge and rebuke an apostle of the Lord?
The Bible clearly shows that, although “born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:8), Paul was an apostle. He was equal in authority with the twelve. The writings of Paul are to be accepted as the authoritative commands of an inspired apostle, not dismissed as “love letters” to the churches (1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Pet. 3:15-16).
We sing a hymn titled, “This World is Not My Home,” and each time we sing it, I rejoice greatly. This hymn always reminds me through the hard times in this life, through the small persecutions I may go through at school, and through all of the unsteady stages wherever I may be, that this world is not my home and I am ever looking upward to the hope of my calling, that is heaven.
It is inevitable that we will face tough times, rocky roads, and tears as we go through life. James 1:2-3 reads, “My Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” As we read this, we come to the understanding that trials will come, no matter who we are. Thus, when they do occur, it is immensely important to look upward toward heaven to help get us out of the trying time. This world is not our home, we are just passing through for a short time, and when trials occur, it is important to remember that earth is not our home. It is a wicked place, much unlike heaven.
This hymn also tells us that this world isn’t our home because we have a citizenship in heaven that is everlasting. Philippians 3:20 reads, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Luke 10:20 also reminds us of to rejoice because our names are written in heaven. Our heavenly citizenship is the greatest value we may possess while on earth, and it is simply irreplaceable. If our citizenship isn’t in heaven, we have missed what truly living a Christian life is all about. If heaven is not your home, what are you going to do?
This hymn continuously makes me look forward to heaven, while better understanding that this world is a wicked place, full of sin, self-seeking pleasure, ultimately resulting in an everlasting death of pain and immense heat. This hymn truly helps me see the differences between heaven and this earth. There will be no tears in Heaven; there are many tears shed while living on earth. Earth is a place filled with sin; there will be no sin or sinning in Heaven. Earthly people live for today while devoted Christians strive to live for God and His eternal Kingdom.
I encourage all, the next time the hymn is sung, to rejoice in its words and meaning. There is no greater satisfaction than to come to the understanding that this world truly is not our home, for our citizenship is in an eternal realm, where neither moth nor dust destroy. Let us all strive to praise God more for His abundant love for us, that we may live with Him one day on high.
Hear Tanner's sermon, "Cost of Discipleship" from Sunday night, July 24, 2016.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Psalm 96:1-9
is an action of faith toward God, Gen. 22:5; Heb. 11:17.
I. THE SAVED ARE APPROVED TO WORSHIP GOD, Jno. 4:22-24.
A. True Worship
is the Province of the Church (Christians), Phil. 3:3; Mk. 7:6-9; 1 Pet.
II. GOD REGULATES HIS OWN WORSHIP.
A. God Alone
Appoints Acceptable Worship, Gen. 4:3-5; Heb. 11:4 (Rom. 10:17); Exo.
20:4-6; Deut. 12:29-32; Lev.10:1-3.
Earlier this month a young mother was arrested near St. Augustine, FL for abandoning her child. The local police had received complaints about Jennifer Belk, 26, and when they arrested her she admitted to leaving her child near a local seawall. When deputies asked why she had left her child there, they report she said, “It’s legal for me to kill him when he is inside me, but not when he is out?” Florida Department of Children and Families took custody of the child, who was not injured, and the woman was charged with child neglect. (Mom accused of leaving child at Bridge of Lions in St. Johns County, Kristen Dressel, actionnewsjax.com)
There is no justification for this woman’s treatment of her child. Yet, her question is logical. Only those who refuse to see the unborn child as a distinct human being (a unique, living person, possessing the same right to life as you and me) will deny this logic. The truth is, the mother has no right to take the life of her child, whether inside or outside of her body (Rom. 13:9).
Pro-abortionists justify the taking of new life on the false premise that the fetus (their sterile word for baby) is the woman’s body, and she may do with her body as she pleases. The truth is, the unborn child is not the woman’s body. The unborn child has its own body that is attached to, being fed, nurtured and sustained by the mother’s body. Two different people; two different bodies; two different lives.
All human life matters, including the life of the unborn. “For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psa. 139:13-14).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/27/2016
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA