Grace and Apostleship
Saul of Tarsus, of the stock and tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, A pharisee, A zealot and persecutor of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, converted on the road to Damascus, is called. In his own words, ” But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus”.
Conventional wisdom would seem to recommend that a man, schooled by the premier governors and tutors of one religion, in making conversion to another, might seek out, the seeming pillars of his new found faith. And this might seem reasonable, were it not for one small detail. Saul was not a religious convert. He was a man called out of religion by the living and resurrected son of God, who is no religion. He was called out of death, and that which he called “dung and loss”, into life and gain. And the manner of his calling absolutely destroys one of the fallacious tenants and underpinnings of the thing which Paul would later, by the Holy Ghost, warn everywhere he would speak and preach for a space of three years, speaking and warning with tears. He called the thing, “another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel”. And the false tenant upon which it is built is called the doctrine of apostolic succession. When you sit on a Sunday morning and hear someone encourage a multitude to mindlessly repeat the “Nicene Creed”, and the part in which they say “we believe in one holy apostolic church….”, They are asking you to believe in a mind numbed fashion, that what you are participating in is something that took root in a region of the Middle East over two thousand years ago, and has spread through time like a mushroom and it’s unseen tentacles , as a recently uncovered natural phenomenon testifies ( http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=strange-but-true-largest-organism-is-fungus ). As the entire organism recently discovered in Eastern Oregon came from a single deposited spore, so the Conqueror’s Creed would have you believe that today’s “church” can be traced through a succession of apostles, in baton passing fashion, all the way back to Peter and Christ. The foundation upon which the Lord’s church is built is not Peter. It is the revelation from the Father, in the individual, of who Christ is. Read Paul’s words again:
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus”.
As flesh and blood could not reveal Christ to Peter, but the Father in heaven only, neither could flesh and blood reveal Christ to Paul, but only the Father. And neither can flesh and blood reveal Him to you. Paul received nothing by way of revelation of Christ from “them that were apostles before him”, no, not one scrap. So, from whence have we grace and apostleship? As Paul demonstrated on the road to Damascus, grace and apostleship, along with every other thing we have of God, we each have from the resurrected and eternal abiding Son of the Living God. When years after his conversion, Paul went to Jerusalem to converse with them at Jerusalem, Paul is careful, with an oath, to tell you that not one iota of what they said added anything to him.
That which we preach among the ethnos…them that are without…is that which God reveals in the called, from within. Our testimony is that which is God given, not man given.
When God spoke to Moses, He commanded Moses, that Moses speak to Israel, that they give an offering, of that which every man gives willingly, and of this willing offering, they should build a sanctuary, “…that I may dwell among them”. Consider two points. Firstly, everything they all had came from God. Secondly, they were not shaken down, and called robbers of God, in order to employ guilt and fear as a collection device. This was to be done WILLINGLY. It is the WILLING among whom the Lord sought a dwelling, not the coerced. The first item which Moses was instructed to make, was an ark of wood. And it was in that ark that Moses was told, “you will place the testimony I GIVE YOU”. A quick bit of etymology…”ARK” is a chest, and it’s root is from a word that means to “pluck” or to “gather”, as one would pluck grapes and gather them into a basket. Remember…all were to be built from that which was WILLINGLY gathered, of which an abiding place of God might be made among the people.
I would like to mention another place, or rather places, where the Lord actively seeks that He might dwell among a people. It too involves the testimony in the individual, that God gives:
Psa 68:18 “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them”.
Eph 4:4 “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men”.
Paul, in writing Ephesians 4 , is expounding from Psalm 68, and teaching how that Christ, in resurrection , is the way into the Holiest. He is the Testimony of God in you. He is the Father’s house and abode, He and the children the Father has given Him. None of these things come to you via a long, circuitous historical route of “apostles” holding hands through the corridor of history going back 2000+ years in human history. In a place, Jesus commended them who test them who say they are
apostles, and prove them to be liars. Paul, in his day, and among his people, had to admonish them, to comprehend that THEY were the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in His temple. This is understandable, because they grew up in a time and nation, in which “temple” meant a building Solomon built with taxes and forced labor, and not understanding what Jesus meant, standing next to Solomon’s edifice, and saying “Destroy this temple and I will build it in three days”. What Jesus was saying, had nothing whatever to do with the stock and stone building, but of a Spiritual house built in His resurrection. A house of many houses. A son paving the way for many sons. And the building of what Jesus spoke, involved the free employment of everything He, Christ, received of God in resurrection, of the fullness of the Eternal Godhead, and in His resurrection, gave to each and every of us.
Today, sadly, many professing Christ, need to be admonished again, “Know ye not that ye are the temple….?”
The foundation of the holy apostles and prophets, is not the holy apostles and prophets. The resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation, the foundation that is already laid, and which no man lays. Apostleship does not lay the foundation, it reveals it to be the Chief Corner Stone, laid in you, by the revelation of the Father, and it is this Chief Corner Stone, upon which all are built.
Read again in Ephesians 4:
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”
One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in in whom among them in His body? IN ALL.
And to which select few are given a measure? TO EVERY ONE OF US.
Consider the resurrected branch of Aaron’s Almond staff. In it’s resurrection, it bore a crop, an entire generation of Almonds. In each and every Almond was written the complete likeness of the tree the rod of Aaron came from, in a genetic measure. In each and every Almond, the power to become everything written in it, in resurrection. And so, by the faith of Him in you, is the power to become sons, a gift in you, by which the Lord has placed in you, the ability to fulfill His desire, that He might dwell among a people. This is fulfilled, not in a people coerced, fleeced and shaken down. It is fulfilled in a people who are willing. The economy of the Kingdom is not gold and silver and a tithe of your goods in this life. The economy of the Kingdom is the eternal endowment received for you, and given you, in His resurrection. The gifts and callings of God are without repentance. No one can take them from you, and no one can employ them for you.
The churches will receive a lesson in economy.
Exd 25:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
Exd 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
Psa 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.
Exd 25:10 And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
ARK is “a chest” from אָרָה “‘arah ” : to pluck, gather (Qal) to pluck (grapes)
Exd 25:16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
(Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon , testimony is: 1.A PRECEPT (OF GOD) 2. LAW 3. REVELATION )
YOUR testimony is what God reveals in you.