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Christ, the Apostle in Us

Jesus is the Apostle. It is He who does the work in the worker. This is what Paul was saying when he told the Corinthian church, "Who then is Apollos, and who Paul? Ministering servants, through whom ye have believed, and as the Lord has given to each. I have planted; Apollos watered; but God has given the increase. So that neither the planter is anything, nor the waterer; but God the giver of the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:5-7 Darby).

This is why signs follow those who believe. It does not say, "These who believe will follow after these signs," as is practiced so often today. The word apostle in the Greek means "one sent" or "envoy." An envoy is a messenger from His government. He does not speak from himself, but for the ones who sent him. Most of us have at one time or another been sent by God to bless another in the body of Christ and most of us came back marveling over the power and authority that rested upon us as we went fourth in His name.

This same word appears in one of Jesus' teaching at the last supper:

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. (John 13:14-16 KJ2000)

Can you spot it? It is translated "he that is sent."

In the New Testament the twelve were call disciples until they were sent out and after that they were called apostles. The twelve who saw Christ and sat at his feet were not the only ones that are called apostles in the New Testament, either. The term apostolos is used to describe numerous other sent ones as well like Matthias, Paul, Barnabus, Andronicus and Junia and others. Look it up.

Jesus is the One sent from God, the Apostle and High Priest of our profession (Hebrews 3:1), who yet comes to us by the Spirit that takes what belongs to Him and imparts it to us (see John 16:14). We may all have a part in this as the Spirit wills (see 1 Corinthians 12:11).

Some will say, "Well, how about Paul calling himself an Apostle?" Let's look at Romans 1:1:

Paul [3972], a servant [1401] of Jesus [2424] Christ [5547], called [2822] to be an apostle [652], separated [873] unto [1519] the gospel [2098] of God [2316] (Romans 1:1 KJV+)

The phrase "to be" was added by the translators. The Greek here in reality reads, "Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, invited, sent out [652], limited to the good message of God." Yes, Paul was sent and that was attested to by signs following, or Christ working through him. As we said earlier, apostolo is not a title, but in this instance, describes the grace given to Paul. Paul had grace to go. He was a sent one. He was sent in the exact same way that the Father sent Jesus. Remember Jesus' words to the twelve, "Peace be unto you: as my Father has sent [apostello] me, even so send I you" (John 20:21 KJ2000). Just as Jesus proved himself to be sent by the presence of the Father working through him, these sent ones proved that they were sent by the same criterion. They were not called to fill ecclesiastical offices but to go and cooperate with Christ, Him working through them. The Father working through Jesus proved that He was sent by the Father. Jesus working through John, Peter, Paul, and others proved that they were sent by Him.

Some get into the argument that there are "Apostles" (the original twelve) and then there are "apostles" (with a small a), yet the Greek does not support this either. If you are sent, you are sent.

Many had been sent out into all the earth preaching the gospel (see Matthew 28:19-20, John 20:24, Acts 6:2 and 1 Corinthians 15:5). The Greek words translated apostle (apostolos), evangelist (euaggelistes) and deacon (diakaneo) have simple meanings pointing to the grace of God at work in the saints. Down through the years they have been, by the aid of a little ecclesiastical magic such as leaving the original Greek words untranslated and then anglicizing them into nouns, miraculously transforming them into enviable titles of distinction.

It is interesting that Saul and Barnabas were listed among certain "prophets and teachers" by the Holy Spirit while they ministered to the Lord with the church at Antioch (See Acts 13:1-3). Why doesn't Luke's record say, "There were certain apostles, prophets and teachers"? None of these had been sent out up until that time. Saul had been in preparation and on hold for about twenty-one years after Jesus had appeared to him on the Damascus road and told him about his calling, but was never apostolos, sent out until that day when the Holy Spirit said to them all, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" (Acts 13:2 RSV). These men were not sent out by an ecclesiastical order, any more than Jesus was, but were, "sent out by the Holy Spirit" (Acts 13:4).

Paul made this very clear in his introduction of his letter to the Galatian believers.

"Paul, an apostle--sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead" (Galatians 1:1 NIV).

Saul, who was called by Jesus on the road to Damascus twenty-one years earlier, was finally separated unto the gospel of God and sent forth by the Spirit (Romans 1:1). Saul knew the difference between being called and being sent. He might have gone out before that (as is so common today), but he would have done it without the power of God. It was after this sending that Saul's name was changed to Paul and the signs of one who is sent ("signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds," 2 Corinthians 12:12 KJV) that are proof of the presence of the living Lord working in and through him, began to accompany every venture the Holy Spirit led him into. We know few if any who call themselves apostles today who God marks with this distinction as being His sent ones. For the most part there are no signs following, no marks of Christ in their bodies, just a lot of talk and posturing. Even if God has wanted to send out these men, they have greedily "grabbed the gold ring" and gone forth on their own without Him. They have been untrue and speak of themselves without His authority and manifest power.

Christ continued His ministry through Paul, "yet not I but Christ lives in me." No man could have walked all those miles and suffered all those hardships unless Christ was working mightily in and through him. Christ the Apostle of our faith was working through this mere lump of clay. Paul lived the very mystery that he declared to the Gentiles without posturing himself, but rather walking in the humility of the One who sent him.

Christ, the Prophet in Us

Jesus spoke and speaks forth (prophecies) as the Oracle of God, for He is the Prophet.

Then He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you, whom Heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you." (Acts 3:20-22 KJ21)
The word translated prophet in Ephesians 4 is prophetes. It means one who speaks under inspiration, as an oracle of God. Jesus is the One who gives us that inspiration to speak by the working of His Spirit, "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10). As He was seen walking among the seven churches of Asia and speaking to them in Revelation, He still desires to speak to those who are His today. Yes, "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

Didn't Paul say that all may prophesy or speak under the direct inspiration of God? Yes, and in case we think this applies only to a few, Peter gives the general application. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God . . . that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 4:11)

Yet what do we see today? Do we see a prophetic community, or men and women running around the church claiming to possess a "prophetic office" and selling their "prophetic gift" as if they have a corner on the prophetic market? Some of these individuals have become virtual superstars, holding great conferences that we may attend for the low, low price of $100 (often more). People who hunger for a touch from God and want to hear a comforting word from Him may, for an additional "donation," purchase a personal word of prophesy from these Balaams who prostitute their gifts like a cheap whore standing on a street corner. If it were not for the idolatry in the hearts of today's Christians and the lust to have kings over them, these men would never get away with this. In the mid nineteenth century, Soren Kierkegaard saw this and wrote, "Those who speak to the crowd, coveting its approval, those who deferentially bow and scrape before it must be regarded as being worse than prostitutes. They are instruments of untruth." What a contrast to the One who so often sent the crowds away and refused to be their king or take anything from them.

The spirit of prophesy has been poured out (Joel 2:27-29) on all God's people who walk in His Spirit! Peter saw this on the day of Pentecost and referred to Joel's prophesy to explain what was going on among those newly filled with the Sprit as they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

Christ, the Evangelist in Us

The Greek word euangelistes means a preacher of good news. Jesus went into a synagogue and read these words from Isaiah that prophesied His coming ministry:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me. He has anointed me to tell the good news to poor people. He has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners. He has sent me so that the blind will see again. He wants me to free those who are beaten down. And he has sent me to announce the year when he will set his people free" [Isaiah 61:1,2]. Then Jesus rolled up the scroll. He gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were staring at him. He began by saying to them, "Today this passage of Scripture is coming true as you listen." (Luke 4:18-21 NIRV)

This is Christ's anointing and work in and through us. Each of us has had times when the Spirit has spoken through us in power to bring the unsaved the message of the good news of Jesus Christ. But we have also met some who seem to be more gifted in doing so than others. Just the same, the emphasis is not on an "office" but rather an endowment of God's grace like Philip experienced with the eunuch on the road back to Ethiopia.

As it was with the word apostolos, euagneltistes has seen some tampering down through the years in an effort to make offices out of them. Kittel writes, "euangelistes originally denotes a function, not an office." Paul told Timothy to do the work of an evangelist, but it should read, "labor to preach the good news." All who have Christ abiding in them have this admonition as the Spirit leads.

We see a clear demonstration of this in the design of God when Saul persecuted the church in Jerusalem and scattered them. What did this dispersed body of believers do? "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word" (Acts 8:4 KJV). At last the "great commission" was about to take place.

Christ, the Shepherd both In and Over Us

[The Shepherd, the Stone of Israel - Genesis 49:24]

Everywhere in the New Testament the Greek word poimen is translated shepherd or shepherds except one and that is Ephesians 4:11, where it is translated pastors. Doesn't it strike you odd that this one poorly translated verse and word is the very foundation of almost all of the Protestant hierarchal system? A building placed on a faulty foundation cannot last. No wonder we are seeing such a great exodus from Christendom today.

Poimen literally means "a feeder." The Great Shepherd provides the feed and the feeder merely directs Christ's sheep to the Source of all Spiritual food. David knew where to go.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not lack. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (Psalms 23:1-3 KJ2000)

Our answer to those who want to exercise reverendly lordship over us is this, "The Lord is our Pastor and He does not leave us wanting." We lack for nothing. We do not lack oversight because He watches over us to nurture us. We do not lack guidance because He leads us into all truth by His Spirit. We do not lack spiritual food, because He is both our Food and our Feeder.

In the Old Testament we read of many instances where men were called "shepherds."

The Jew's religious leaders were referred to as shepherds, though they did not fare so well where this term is applied to them.

Wail, you shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, you leaders of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are come; and you shall fall like a choice vessel. And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the leaders of the flock to escape. A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and a wailing of the leaders of the flock, shall be heard: for the LORD has plundered their pasture. (Jeremiah 25:34-36 KJ2000)

Yet, God promised to give them better shepherds.

And I will give you shepherds according to my heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15 KJ2000)
And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:3-4 KJ2000)

It did not end there, because later Zechariah prophesies that God would take the flock to Himself and feed them while He cuts off the shepherds whom He abhors and under whom the flock fared so poorly. God calls them "the flock of slaughter."

And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staffs; the one I called Grace, and the other I called Unity; and I fed the flock. Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul loathed them, and their souls also abhorred me. (Zechariah 11:7-8 KJ2000)

But God had a final plan to deal with failing human shepherds once and for all. The title of Shepherd IS given to a coming prince who would rule over the Jews, the Messianic Son of David. In Ezekiel we read,

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus says the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat, and you clothe yourselves with the wool, you kill them that are fed: but you feed not the flock. The diseased have you not strengthened, neither have you healed those who were sick, neither have you bound up those who were broken, neither have you brought again those who were driven away, neither have you sought those who were lost; but with force and with cruelty have you ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became food to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them...
Thus says the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be food for them. For thus says the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search for my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a rich pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek those who were lost, and bring again those who were driven away, and will bind up those who were broken, and will strengthen those who were sick. . . And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.

Ezekiel prophesied this long after King David died. All Israel knew that the coming Messiah, the one Shepherd, would be called the Son of David. They knew the promise that Ezekiel prophesied. God's own Son would do what the human shepherds failed to do, deposing of them once and for all, yet, Christians are still running to and fro looking for men to be their shepherds. This is no different than the people of Israel in the time of Samuel rejecting God as their King and wanting a man in His place, and it's just as sad.

Finally in Ezekiel we read, "I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them." How many shepherds? One! This Shepherd is different from all the other shepherds in that He has purchased His flock with His own blood. Paul says of Him, "For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. You are bought with a price; be not the servants of men" (1 Corinthians 7:22-23 KJ2000). Yes, Lord Jesus, you have freed us from human shepherds and taken us unto yourself alone. We are the sheep of your pasture! Oh what a great salvation!

Above all, Jesus is the Shepherd of our souls. He is the Overseer. We are His sheep and no other's. Peter taught this very thing.

For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:25 NKJ)

Time is long overdue that we should "return to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls." A true feeder points all men to the Source of all Spiritual food, Jesus Christ. He then gets out of the way so the great Shepherd can be their Shepherd. So many today calling themselves "pastors" gather Jesus' flock under themselves and try to maintain control over them, thus reenacting Ezekiel's dire prophesy over and over again. Instead of striving to work themselves out of a job, they keep the flock weak and dependent on themselves.

Jesus told the disciples, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (John 10:14-16 KJ2000). The end-result of Christ's sheep hearing His voice is one fold and one Shepherd. If we are to take the words of Jesus as true and then look around Christendom today with its 200,000 denominations and sects and millions of pastors and priests, we must conclude that very few "Christians" are hearing His voice today.

His sheep know His voice and another they will not follow, yet so few today even know that they are supposed to be listening for Him to speak in their lives. They run from sea to sea seeking a man to fill the place that only Jesus can. They continue to follow after men who seek to make disciples after themselves. This is so sad, yet, Paul warned that it would become the norm (see Acts 20:29-31).

Christ, the Teacher in Us

We have watched an interesting progression (or rather digression) of men taking these titles unto themselves. The same man that started out as a pastor in the sixties became a teacher in the seventies. Then it became vogue to be known as an evangelist in the eighties and get on T.V. with your own program. Then in the nineties we saw a great push to "restore the offices of apostle and prophet." So men who had these lesser titles now were calling themselves prophets. Today we are hearing many of these same men posturing themselves as today's apostles, demanding absolute authority over the flock of Christ. With this observed trend in mind, what is next, false Christs? It is obvious to us that as men have forsaken the One who has purchased then with His blood, the way as been made ready for the Great False Prophet to rise and take Christendom by storm. Who will rise to be the greatest among us and the "Pope" over all of Christendom? It only stands to reason that for false shepherds to prosper, there must also be false sheep who do not hear the Great Shepherd's voice.

You would think that Jesus' words to the disciples would be enough:

And to be greeted with honor in the marketplaces and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi (teacher), for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone [in the church] on earth father, for you have one Father, Who is in heaven. And you must not be called masters (leaders), for you have one Master (Leader), the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant." (Matthew 23:7-11 AMP)
These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:25-26 KJ2000)

And how about what John told the church a few years later?

These things have I written unto you concerning them that deceive you. But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:26-28 KJ2000)

This business of not needing a man to teach us seems like such a contradiction when we read in Hebrews that we who go on to maturity in Christ are all to become teachers:

For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk [nursing infants], and not of solid food. For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14 KJ2000)

Paul prophesied that in these last days, "men will heap up to themselves teachers having itching ears." Learning from men has become almost a sport in the American church. We run to this conference and that conference and we go from this web site to that web site to find "good teachers." When will we ever grow up and start to seek out the Teacher for ourselves? How long will we be mere babes, nursing at the breasts of human teachers? How long will we stay in need of milk and unskilled in the word of righteousness? When will we get some teeth and start chewing like the Buriens who searched the scriptures daily on their own and did not depend on the teaching of Paul as their only source?

A true teacher of God "salts the oats." He makes the hearers long to hear the voice of the Teacher, Jesus Christ, for themselves and teaches them that it can be done. He strives to work himself out of a job in short order. How long do you mothers let your children nurse at your breast? There is something sick about a three or four year old who is able to run and play, still nursing on his mother's breast. If you have been a Christian for more than three years and are still not teaching others (we don't mean from some study guide or work book, either, but from what you hear The Teacher saying to the churches) you are spiritually retarded! Shame on your shepherds and teachers for keeping you on their own breasts all these years!

So many Christians on the Internet seem to be incapable of listening to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. They don't have spiritual ears to hear. It saddens us to see these babes content with forwarding or repeating the teachings of others instead of sharing what they have been hearing from God themselves. We feel robbed that so many members of the body of Christ (where our joining together should make for the supply of the Spirit) are incapable of supplying to the rest of us from God. It is like a body that has had a stroke and one whole side is paralyzed, limping along with sagging face, arm hanging down and dragging one foot. This is not the perfect bride of Christ that is without spot or wrinkle at His return, because His bride is a virgin that knows where to get her oil and knows it is not from other virgins!

Besides the list of graces in Ephesians 4, there is another list in the twelfth chapter of Romans:

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:3-8 NASB)

Why does Paul start out this list with such a sober warning? Because there are always those who think that their portion is the only portion. When they minister it becomes "Brother Love's traveling salvation show." God has allotted to each a measure of faith! Not just one or two or some. Those who prophesy or teach do not have the "office" of prophet or teacher. They just flow in the abundant supply of the Spirit with the other members of the body of Christ. What a blessing it is when we gather together in the Spirit and have this happen! But all it takes is one person who thinks more highly of themselves than they ought and everything is quenched and our gathering becomes another fleshly dog and pony show.

Every believer who is born from above, without exception, moves in one or more of these graces. Do all have the same function? No. But all have the grace of Christ. These graces are distributed among every one of us for a single purpose--to bring us collectively into a resplendent appreciation and realization of Christ's fullness, until we attain together the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). It is so sad that those things given to us of the Spirit to cause maturity and unity in Christ have been used, in the hands of carnal men, to keep God's people captive, settling for Christian mediocrity.

There is no place for fleshly dead traditions in Christ's revolutionary body. God not only gave His Son to be a propitiation for our sins, but He continues to give us His Son, as fresh, daily Bread through the manifestation of the Spirit that is given to each one. "For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3 WEB).

So where does that leave us? Right where we should be--open channels for Him to manifest Himself as He wills. Paul knew this and because of this he could say, "I can do all things through Christ (the Anointed One) who strengthens me." God gave us the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:38), not the gifts of the Spirit. The Greek word doron or gift is not in the original Greek text in 1 Corinthians! We say again, the gift of God is Christ and His Spirit. When we believe this we will be able to say with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

If Ephesians 4:11 does not mean that Christ is all in all in each of these attributes, then a great deal of the rest of the Bible contradicts itself. Jesus told us to call no man teacher. Peter told us all to speak as an oracle of God and Paul said that all may prophecy. In Christ we are all sent out (aposolos) from the throne of God with the good news. Paul served in all these ways, because He ministered Christ. He exhorted believers everywhere, "...put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, for its lusts." "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Ephesians 4:7 KJ2000). We so glibly quote John 3:16, but can we hear its words? God. . . gave His only begotten Son. . ." God gave the gift of Christ! The rest of Ephesians 4 hinges on this. All the graces, spoken of after that are nothing more than Him manifesting Himself in His body as He wills.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21 RSV)

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