276. Grace for apostleship.
'Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle ... received grace and Apostleship to call people ... to the obedience that comes from faith.'* ( Romans 1:1-5) We live in a time when false apostles and prophets abound as predicted by Jesus ( Matthew 24:24) but God wants us to discern the false from the true! Jesus commended the Church in Ephesus, saying, *"I know you cannot tolerate wicked men , that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and found them false."* ( Revelation 2:2) Many Pentecostal ministers claim to be apostles just because they have planted a church while some Episcopal Churches consider their bishops as apostles just because they have not married!
*But who is truly an Apostle?*
The three requirements of an Apostle as stated in Scriptures, are as follows :-
*1. SHOULD HAVE MET JESUS.*
Paul, while making his defence to those who sat in judgement of him, said, *"Am I not an Apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?"* ( 1 Corinthians 9:1-3) All twelve Apostles of Jesus and the one who replaced Judas, had met with Jesus. This was the requirement put forward by Peter while choosing Matthias. *"Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us ... For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection."* (Acts 1:21-22) Although, Paul did not meet Jesus the way the other Apostles did, he too got to meet the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus! ( Acts 9:3-5) This condition for Apostleship can also be understood from the biographies of servants of God who also happened to meet with the resurrected Jesus and were appointed by him to be Apostles, just as we read: *'Jesus ... called those he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve - designating them Apostles '* ( Mark 3:13-14) *'and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and heal every disease and sickness.'* ( Matthew 10:1)
*2. SHOULD IMPART THE SPIRIT*
*'When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word, they sent Peter and John. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit had not come upon any of them ... Then Peter and John placed their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.'* ( Acts 8:14-17) Interestingly, *'Philip the evangelist, one of the seven'* ( Acts 21:8) who proclaimed Christ in Samaria and did miraculous signs ( Acts 8:5-6), did not try to impart the Holy Spirit by laying his hands because it was not his *mandate* (commission to do something) but that of the Apostles! Only those who have been Anointed in power can impart the Spirit. Many who presume to be apostles in this age, try all gimmicks to get people to be filled but they have no part in this ministry, just as Peter said to Simon the Sorcerer, *"You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before a God ... Repent ...for I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."* (vs 21-23) However, *'Simon himself believed and was baptized'* ( vs 13) but obviously he didn't repent of his sins, because he resorted to *falsehood* (state of being untrue), just like before! *'When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the Apostles' hand, he offered them money'* because he thought he could buy the gift of God with money. ( Vs 18-20)
*3. SHOULD OPERATE IN ALL NINE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.*
*'The things that mark an Apostle - signs, wonders and miracles - were done among you with great perseverance.'* ( 2 Corinthians 12:12) Jesus, our *Apostle* ( Greek *Apóstolos* meaning *'one who is sent'* ; emissary) operated in all nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. So did the Apostles! Paul openly challenged the false apostles in Corinth to demonstrate the power of the Spirit instead of just talking! *'I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.'* ( 1 Corinthians 4:19-20) *'For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.'* ( 2 Corinthians 11:13-15) The Apostles have authority over all other offices because *'in the Church God has appointed first of all Apostles, second prophets, third teachers...'* ( 1 Corinthians 12:28) and the Church is being *'built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the Chief cornerstone ...* ( Ephesians 2:20-22) And *'to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it'* in keeping with our calling, for *'it was he who gave some to be Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to prepare God's people for works of service ...'* ( Ephesians 4:7-13) Amen.