Wednesday, April 7, 2010

APOSTLES AS GUARDIANS OF TRUTH

So what do apostles do? One of the great tragedies of the church age has been the mismanagement, neglect or excessive emphasis on the role and functions of apostles. The purpose of this blog is not to present a case for apostles today. Rather, my desire is to hone in on one of the major responsibilities that apostles play today and have throughout the ages.

Having said that, I do believe in the weight and wonder of apostles today [and yesterday and tomorrow]. There simply is no biblical evidence that apostles were to cease existing when the first wave of apos died out. Not only did the Holy Spirit appoint many more that simply the twelve who walked with Jesus, but the Ephesians 4 text clearly indicates the church needs all of these gifts until the bride reaches maturity-something we are still journeying through. Furthermore, to say we no longer have apostles, then on what basis do we still have prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers? I do understand the nervousness that we somehow become captive to the human propensity to hierachicalism and make these men demi-gods. But let us not throw the baby out with the bath water. Actually there are more apostles listed in the text than any other gift. We should be stunned by their ordinariness not by some mystical super-human ingredient to this office.

I am often in discussion as to the true weighty job description of apostles. To some it is their anointing to operate in signs and wonders. To others, it is their propensity to plant churches or raise up leaders. To others again it is their ability to administrate large organizations and movements. Yet is this the evidence of the scriptures?

May I suggest the most important role of the modern apostles is to be 'the guardian of true doctrine'. When we look at the body of Pauline writing, there is a passionate commitment to doctrinal correctness even if he offended...

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul stands with all humility on his true message - " For I have resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Christ and him crucified..." 1 Cor 2:2

Acts 20 sees Paul speak to the elders at Miletus with great affection. Included in this great teaching is his affirmation that"I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you... I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God... even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth... " Paul could not help himself. At every level he is defending doctrine and requiring the elders to do the same.

Galatians lets us see his drive for a doctrine true and steadfast. He is not unhappy to declare it unswervingly nor to challenge Peter around it unapologetically. Gal 1: "I am astonished that you are l so quickly deserting m him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to n a different gospel— 7 o not that there is another one, but p there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or q an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, r let him be accursed.9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, r let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying s to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a t servant [2]of Christ.

11 For u I would have you know, brothers, that v the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. [3] 12 w For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it x through a revelation of Jesus Christ.


When we silence the apostles, or make them the heads of organizations or pressurize them to become Christian 'celebrities', we weaken the church drastically. We need them to guard the doctrine of the church in all its purity. If not, every form of heresy, false teaching or excess will once again flood the church with chaos and confusion. The apostles seemed to have partnered together. There was little room for a one man show. There was a wonderful divinely inspired togetherness that kept any one man from drifting into excess. However in a world driven by the therapeutic quest of self actualization, so many today are a law unto themselves. Rather than seeing the wonder of togetherness they are mesmerized by their own 'new revelation' or doctrine. Rather than journeying with others, the ego of rightness, has opened the door for falseness that will again weaken a fragile church as we enter the last of the last days.

Can we let the apostles stand at the city gate and ensure the wonder of heathy doctrine? Our future depends upon it.

4 comments:

  1. Christian Friend.April 7, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    Very nice points chris, all the points you made where backed by scripture.. a job well done my friend, keep up the amazing work as pastor of southlands... God has his hand upon this church and will continue to bless those tht attend and serve in it. !

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  2. Chris
    One of the "mistakes" of recent years has been the reluctance of the apostles to be proactive in guarding true doctrine - always waiting to be "invited in", when, out of true apostolic relationship, there should have been an active concern. The true doctrine of the Church (i.e the full counsel of God, not the revelations of men) should not be bound by "invited authority". Paul wrote often that "this is how it is; we have no other rule; it is God's word; this is how it will be". Even Deacons were supposed to handle the deep truths of true doctrine - how much more should those who are "apostolic"! Could it be that many who would claim, or allow the claim to be put on them, to be apostolic don't have a sufficient grasp on true doctrine?! Heaven forbid!!

    With regard to the 12 - I read that the initial mark of an apostle was that they had to have been witnesses of Jesus' resurrection; well, what happened to Simon and Cleopas, the Emmaus-road-boys? Or the 500 others in Jerusalem? To suddenly edit them out for the sake of the "only 12" doctrine seems a bit narrow!

    Keep it up - glad you've got the time to think through and write up on these issues.

    Colin

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  3. Recently we studied the books of 1 & 2 Timothy as a church and I was struck by Paul's emphasis on doctrine as he coached this young emerging apostle. It seems as if we have our eyes on the wrong gauges. We look at the rev. counter and the speedometer, of church growth and success, but Paul calls our attention to the little oil gauge of doctrine, which ultimately will determine everything.

    Love it Chris
    North Carolina follower

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  4. how do you choose who to invite in to help and relate?

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