These days, many claim to be apostles of Jesus Christ. It might just be that they have confused the word “disciple” with “apostle”. I hope that is the case because God frowns upon anyone claiming to be representing Christ – but without His authority.
We could start with Revelation 21:14 -"The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." That verse alone should tell any reasonable person that the Lamb (Christ) chose twelve men to be His apostles. The names of those twelve are writtin into the twelve foundations holding the walls to the New Jerusalem up. This is fouund in Revelation 21...along with the fact that the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel have their names etched into the twelge gates along the wall atop this twelve-layer foundation. Revelation 21:12-14.
When we all get to heaven, we will notice the names of the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus - the Lamb of God. He did not choose 11 or 13 or a thousand apostles...only twelve. If you belive you are an apostle, do you also believe that your name will be embedded in one of the twelve foundations? The names of twelve elders of the tribes of Israel shall be written on the twelve gates surrouding the New Jerusalem.
To discover whether there are any more than twelve apostles, we must go to God’s Word – the Holy Scriptures – The Bible…so let’s go and let’s learn.
There are no mysteries in the Bible that cannot be solved. God did not write His Words in some sort of “CODE”, and then instruct us to live by them.
Some people will not be able to understand God’s Word at all. Others will read God’s Word, and partly understand them. Here’s why:
Matthew 13: 10 and 11 –“And the disciples (His twelve apostles) came, and said unto Jesus, Why do you speak to the people in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is for YOU to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not for them to know."
That said, God wants every born-again believer to know and understand His Word. However, Matthew 13 suggests that there are certain mysteries of the kingdom of heaven that ONLY the hand picked apostles of Jesus would know, and that is borne out in the Books of the New Testament.
For example: During the first meeting in the “upper room”, when Jesus was resurrected, John, the apostle wrote this in John 20:30-31 –“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these (other things) are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
So, clearly, there were some things divulged only to the apostles, and they were not written in the Bible, but the rest of the Bible is written so those who read it will believe in the Gospel of Christ, and they will have eternal life as a result of that belief.
Let’s look next into the Book of Acts. We call it ACTS, but it is formerly known as “The Acts of The Apostles”….written by Luke.
Acts 1:1-4 –NIV Luke says, “In my former book, (The Book of Luke), I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles HE HAD CHOSEN.”
After his suffering on the cross, and His death, and subsequent resurrection, Jesus showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke to them about “THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”
Luke, one of the twelve apostles who physically walked upon the earth with Jesus during His 3.5 year ministry, wanted us to know that Jesus HAD hand picked His apostles - including the Son of Perdition – Judas. Judas was condemned for his sins, and sent to his eternal reward in hell.
Jesus spent forty days (a time of completion) with the eleven remaining apostles and SPOKE to them ABOUT THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
This reflects back to the words we just read in Matthew 13 – “It is given unto YOU to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to the people it is NOT given.”
Jesus told all about the kingdom of heaven so that some of them would write them down, and form the basis of what would become The New Testament. Another apostle (Paul), would be chosen by Jesus Himself, and Jesus would reveal these same mysteries of the kingdom of heaven to him, and He would write many Books of the New Testament.
In Matthew 13:16 – Jesus also told His hand picked apostles, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17-For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”
As we know, Jesus even allowed John, the beloved apostle, to somehow transcend into heaven to catch a glimpse of what is there. John reported his findings in the Book of Revelation. I have captured his visions in my book – Heaven – How Do I Get There…available in the Faithwriter’s online e-book store in downloadable form, and in the full-color edition for only $9.95. Free 60-page samples are available at www.RelationshipBooks.com
These apostles were very special to Jesus and they were hand picked by Jesus for a very special purpose. That special purpose would be to preach the Gospel of Christ to the people of the world AFTER Jesus died on the cross, was buried in a rich man’s tomb for two nights, and then He rose from the dead. Forty days later, Jesus ascended into heaven.
Nobody on the face of the earth would believe the story of Jesus being crucified, buried, then resurrected unless certain “signs, wonders and miracles” followed the preaching of this Gospel of Christ. Would you?
You believe the Gospel of Christ, as do I, but that is because we have now got the entire Bible…the Old Testament…and the New Testament available to us.
The New Testament was finished around 70 A.D. coincidentally, at the same time, the Temple at Jerusalem was destroyed on August 4th in 70 A.D..
So, Jesus had to empower His apostles with the ability to powerfully deliver the Gospel of Christ.
Jesus gave them His authority to follow their message with “signs, wonders and miracles”. The Gospel of Christ is that Jesus came to the earth to establish His kingdom…to die on a cross for the sins of mankind, to be buried, and then raised from the dead. In so doing, Jesus now has the authority to forgive sins, and to grant eternal life in heaven to those who believe that Gospel.
You will have to read my article – “BIG INCONSISTENCY in the Bible?” to fully understand all that went on during this time of the crucifixion and the resurrection. There were many so-called “inconsistencies” in the accounts given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
For now, I will relate to you what Jesus said to His eleven apostles during His first meeting with them in the “upper room” in Jerusalem AFTER His resurrection.
Mark 16:14 –“Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.”
I shall stop here to digress.
Read John 20:24-25 – and you will get this story: “Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was NOT with the disciples when Jesus came. 25-So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he (Thomas) said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it. 26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.”
This implies that Thomas was NOT with the other apostles when Jesus came….he showed up in the upper room eight days later. Then, he saw Jesus…for the first time.
If Thomas was NOT with the eleven, then the other three apostles lied …or John was lying.
Read my Article - “INCONSISTENCIES” to find the truth.
There were twelve apostles before the crucifixion: Here they are by name: PETER (the fisherman), His brother, ANDREW, JAMES, the son of Zebedee and also of Mary – mother of James, his brother, JOHN – also called “the beloved”, and PHILIP, BARTHOLOMEW, THOMAS aka “doubting Thomas”, MATTHEW, the tax collector, JAMES…son of Alphaes, THADDEUS, which was his last name…first name was Lebbaeus, SIMON, the Canaanite. The twelfth apostle was Judas Iscariot…the one who betrayed Christ, and who would have “no part in the kingdom of God”, had gone out and hanged himself before the crucifixion.
Some think Luke or Mark were apostles. They were evngelists. They were writers of the New Testament. They were "disciples" of Christ...as are we, but nowhere does Jesus refer to them as an apostle.
If Thomas was not there, and Judas was dead….there were only TEN APOSTLES at the meeting – “when Jesus came”.
Ask most Christians about this mystery and they cannot answer correctly. Why should Christians be ignorant of Bible truths? They shouldn’t.
Some preachers won’t have a clue how to answer your question about John 20, so this is why YOU are responsible for learning…to make sure that what you are being told is the truth.
Further PROOF that Jesus was only speaking of His apostles is found in His prayer to His heavenly Father...ABOUT THE APOSTLES SPECIFICALLY. John 17 reveals the entire picture of who these men were, and what their job would be.
Jesus had set aside some men to help Him during His ministry on earth, but more importantly, these men – called “apostles” (meaning Messengers), would be set apart…holy…sanctified, and dedicated to continue the work of Jesus – which was to do the will of His Father.
The will of the Father was outlined by Jesus Himself. John 6:40 –“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
I think it appropriate for me to read to you the words that Jesus spoke in a prayer to His heavenly Father.
John 17-1-2 -These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour is come; glorify (give honor to) me, that I also may glorify you: 2 -As you have given me power over all flesh, that I should give eternal life to as many as you have given me.”
Jesus asked God, the Father to bring honor to Him because it was time for Him to bring honor to God and His ministry on earth was finished. He reminded God that His death on the cross would now enable Him to give eternal life to all who choose to believe in His death, burial and resurrection, and to all who would ask Him to give them eternal life resulting from that belief.
Jesus continued His prayer- 3- “And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and that they might know me, whom you have sent. 4-I have glorified (honored) you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do. 5And now, O Father, honor me by ushering me into your presence which I had with you before the world was.”
Jesus, in His prayer, is looking forward to rejoining His Father in heaven after His work on earth is totally finished. It would turn out that His work would be complete forty-three days after His crucifixion.
Next, Jesus will speak about HIS APOSTLES who have spent their time with Him during His ministry. I have capitalized HIS APOSTLES because many people think that Jesus was talking about BELIEVERS in general. We must always get to know with whom Jesus (or God) was speaking before we make assumptions or jump to conclusions.
For example, If we were to simply read Matthew 23:33, we would hope that Jesus was not speaking to US! “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees of His day who were leading people to hell, and who would outright reject Him as the Messiah.
Jesus now prays for His apostles in verse 6 –“I have made your name known to the men which you gave me in this world: Yours they were, and you gave them to me; and they have kept your word. 7-Now they have known that all things whatsoever that you have given me are from you. 8-For I have given unto them the words which you gave me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from you, and they have believed that you did send me.”
Jesus acknowledged that it was God who directed His Son to the men whom He chose to be His apostles (“Messengers”) to the world after He would return back to His Father in heaven.
These men accepted that the Word of God (The Old Testament) was true, and they accepted that God had sent His Son to the earth to teach others of Him. They also believed that this Messiah would train them to deliver the message of the Gospel of Christ – after His death, burial and resurrection.
Jesus prayed for HIS APOSTLES, and NOT for the rest of the world. He made that very clear in the next few verses. 9 –“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which you have given me; for they are yours. 10-And all of my apostles are also your apostles; and I am glorified (honored) in them.”
Jesus then tells His heavenly Father that He will shortly NOT be in this world any longer, and He asks God to watch over and protect His apostles until their job is also complete.
11-“And now I am no more in the world, but these apostles are in the world, and I will be coming to be with you shortly.
”Holy Father, keep them safe through the power of your name that they may be one, as we are. 12-While I was with my apostles in the world, I kept them safe by the power of your name and none of them is lost, except the son of perdition (Judas Iscariot); that the scripture might be fulfilled.”
Jesus thanked God for protecting His apostles…except for Judas. It was prophesied, in the Old Testament, that “one would betray the Messiah, and it would be better for that one to never have been born."
The Old Testament prophecy is found in Psalm 41:9 – "Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me."
13-“And now come I to you, my heavenly Father; and these things I speak in the world, that my apostles might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 -I have given my apostles your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15-I pray not that you should take the apostles out of the world, but that you will keep them from the evil.”
Jesus did not ask that God keep them from EVIL. He asked Him to keep the apostles from THE evil. The evil one…Satan. Guard my apostles against Satan who will try to destroy my ministry, and they are only men. I am leaving…they will be empowered to finish the job as “Messengers” to deliver the Gospel of Christ to every living creature on the earth – before I return.
16-“My apostles are not of the world, even as I am not of the world”. (Their home is in heaven with you and me. They have been given eternal life because of their belief in you and me).
17-“Make them holy…consecrated and devoted through your truth: Your word is truth. 18-As you have sent me into the world, even so have I also sent these apostles into the world. 19-And for their sakes I set myself apart as holy, righteous and dedicated to the truth of your word, and I do this so that my apostles will also be set apart…holy…and dedicated…through the truth of your word.”
Jesus ends His prayer to now include all who will believe on Him through the preaching of the Message from the apostles. Their message is the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel of Christ is His death, burial and resurrection. It is His ability to forgive the sins of mankind if they choose to believe. The Message delivered by the “Messengers” (apostles) of Christ is also that He can promise all who believe eternal life.
20-“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.”
God wrote us all a LOVE LETTER - called The Bible. Jesus wrote His love letter and “Last Will and Testament” for OUR BENEFIT. He wrote it because He wants us to have a close relationship with Him.
If someone does not want to take lots of time…hours each week perhaps, to read God’s Love Letter, then how can they expect to know the Writer of the love letter?
Back to Mark 16: Jesus said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
He also gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit. They had not needed The Holy Spirit before the ascension into heaven by Jesus because Jesus was there with them – physically.
In the upper room, Jesus breathed on His ELEVEN apostles and said, in John 20:21 –“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22-And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23-If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
The reason that the Apostles would need the Holy Spirit was because Jesus was now leaving them.
The reason we are given the gift of the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit is exactly for the same reason: Jesus promised to leave part of Himself with us…to be our comforter…our guide through life…our guide through the Holy Scriptures.
Now, there was also the necessity to receive the POWER of the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit POWER is given to us for ONE REASON, and one reason only, and this is critical for you to understand. The POWER of the Holy Spirit is given for us to be a POWERFUL WITNESS to others for the Gospel of Christ.
If people hear the Gospel message, and are given the opportunity to trust Christ as Lord and Savior, they will inherit the kingdom of heaven, and God’s will would be honored.
God’s will, according to Jesus, is found in John 6:40 –“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
Jesus, when He personally healed a lame man, said, “I want everyone in this crowd watching me as I am about to heal this sick, bedridden man, to KNOW that I have the POWER on earth to forgive sins also.
Then Jesus told the man, “Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto your house. – Matthew 9:6.
Jesus wanted mankind to know that He had the POWER on earth to forgive sins. He would be our blood sacrifice for sin, and therefore, He was the only one who could forgive us of our sins.
Jesus would not preach a message of the hope of eternal life and then walk away without also demonstrating His authority from God that He could cause this lame man to walk. He would also heal lepers, raise the dead, including Lazarus who was four days dead….so Jesus had “street cred” with all the people because He also performed miracles, signs and wonders after He spoke. Jesus had all authority from heaven to do anything…move mountains…raise the dead…anything.
After His crucifixion, burial in a tomb, and subsequent resurrection, Jesus told His apostles that they would now have to carry on the work, and they would have to preach the Gospel of Christ throughout the world.
To do that, Jesus promised them the POWER of the Holy Spirit, and He promised that they would have His authority to follow their preaching with the same “miracles, signs and wonders” that Jesus did.
Jesus had “disciples”, which simply means “followers of Christ”…aka “Christians”…aka “born-again believers”.
Jesus also had appointed twelve “apostles”. Apostles and disciples are not interchangeable words.
All apostles were “followers of Christ”…so they were also “disciples”, but no disciples other than twelve were apostles.
Right now, you should be saying, ”prove it”.
Okay, let’s go to Luke 6:12-16 –“And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his DISCIPLES: and OF THEM he CHOSE TWELVE, whom also he named APOSTLES.”
So, of the multitude of “disciples”, Jesus hand-picked twelve of them whom He called “Apostles”. Then He picked these twelve men: “Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.”
And, after Jesus hand picked His twelve APOSTLES, including the one who would betray Him, He instructed this band of twelve men to “go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Notice Jesus told them to preach that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. This meant the kingdom of heaven, embodied in Jesus, was already here on the earth with them….preach it.
But, because nobody would believe these twelve, Jesus gave them specific authority…His authority, to preach heaven…and repentance, and He gave them His authority to “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils…” They could do what He could do to prove they had HIS AUTHORITY.
After the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, and because He was going to be ascending back into heaven, He said He would again give THEM this same renewed authority IF THEY BELIEVED THAT HE WAS REALLY RESURRECTED.
In Mark 16:14, Jesus SCOLDED the eleven because THEY DID NOT BELIEVE HE WAS RESURRECTED. They all thought He was a ghost.
Please read my article –“BIG INCONSISTENCIES in the Bible?” to get the whole story. It is lengthy, but once you “get it”, nobody can ever tell you that the Bible is inconsistent concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
These ELEVEN APOSTLES, including Thomas, DID NOT BELIEVE, and thought Jesus was a ghost until eight days later when Jesus forced Thomas to physically put his finger into the nail holes in His hands and the spear hole in His side. THEN THEY BELIEVED. Read “INCONSISTENCIES”…please!
Now, we can go back to Mark 16:17 – “These signs will accompany THOSE WHO BELIEVE…meaning THE ELEVEN APOSTLES who STILL DID NOT BELIEVE HE WAS RESURRECTED:
In my name they THOSE OF YOU WHO BELIEVE will drive out demons; they (THOSE WHO BELIEVE) will speak in new tongues; 18they (THOSE OF YOU WHO BELIEVE) will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they (THOSE OF YOU WHO BELIEVE) drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them (THOSE FO YOU WHO BELIEVE) at all; they (THOSE OF YOU WHO BELIEVE) will place their hands on sick people, and they WILL get well."
Many, including entire denominations (religious belief systems) believe that any “saved” person who believes can be an apostle. This is FALSE teaching.
If they condemn me for saying that, I am forgiven, but NOBODY can raise the dead, heal the sick and WHOMEVER THEY PRAY OVER SHALL RECOVER, hold poisonous snakes and not die, drink poison and not die. My open challenge to those who CLAIM to possess this POWER is to come with me to the graveyard of their choice, pray over the dead in a particular casket of their choice, and I will tape it on my cell phone and boy, will we have a best-seller video. I mean no disrespect.
I invite anyone who claims to be an apostle of Jesus Christ and a HEALER to come with me to The Perkins School for the blind in Boston, and pray over anyone they choose. If that person has their sight restored, I will be a believer in their claims. The apostles could do this to any whom they chose to heal.
I invite any who claims to be an apostle of Jesus Christ to handle a deadly viper of my choosing for a few minutes…without taking an antidote for the poisonous venom (some fakes do that).
Finally, I challenge anyone claiming to be an apostle of Jesus Christ to drink antifreeze that I shall give them…in great quantities and not die from it.
There are many “charlatans” who claim to be apostles or “faith healers”, but who are just that – charlatans – swindlers- people out for the money.
Acts 8:9 –“But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: Simon also wanted to possess the powers given to the apostles by Jesus Christ Himself. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost’. But Peter said unto him, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.”
Jesus had the POWER to do anything, including casting out devils when His ministry was in full force and effect.
One instance in Capernaum, where he lived after He left Nazareth in Galilee, is recorded in Luke 4:31- “And Jesus came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath days. 32-And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was WITH POWER. 33-And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, 34-Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. 35-And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. 36-And they were all amazed, and spoke among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with AUTORITY AND POWER he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. 37-And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.”
Luke 9:1-2 –“1-Then Jesus called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2-And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.”
Notice how Luke refers to the twelve as “disciples” here?
People needed “signs, wonders and miracles” in those early days before and during the time of Jesus. So, Jesus used “signs, miracles and wonders” to signal that He had the authority of God, the Father in heaven to preach and to do whatever He wished to demonstrate that authority.
Jesus would also grant that authority to His apostles and to some seventy “disciples” just before His crucifixion would take place. He would limit their authority to healing the sick and casting out demons.
In Luke 9:49, Luke records a conversation between John the beloved apostle and Jesus. “John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. 50-And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. 51-And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up (His time for crucifixion, death, burial and subsequent ascension to heaven), he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.”
Luke 10:1 - “After these things (when John asked about casting out devils in the name of Jesus) the LORD appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.”
Jesus knew His time was short before His crucifixion, and the “harvest was huge”, so he commissioned seventy of His followers (disciples) to go before Him…all the way to Jerusalem…where He would be crucified, to announce His coming, and to perform the “signs” of casting out demons and healing the sick.
Jesus told these seventy followers with limited power, “ Luke 10:9 –“And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you..” - “Jesus is coming.”
Later, when the Seventy returned, they came back with overwhelming joy over their limited powers…”Luke 10:17 –““And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
Jesus made a remarkable comment that also proves He was in heaven with God at the very beginning…before Adam was made out of dust. He was there forever, but recalled when God, the Father tossed wicked Satan out of heaven…along with a third of the angels who would now be called devils or demons. Verse 18 –“And Jesus said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”
Jesus added the gift of the POWER of the Holy Spirit to the “signs, wonders and miracles” that He would transfer to His apostles. Luke 24:49 – 49-"And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with POWER from on high.”
Jesus told His apostles, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” Acts 1:8 –“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and YE SHALL BE WITNESSES UNTO ME IN JERUSALEM, AND THEN IN ALL OF JUDEA, AND THEN IN SAMARIA, AND INTO THE UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE EARTH.”
In that upper room meeting, Jesus did, indeed, breathe upon the eleven, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now that they had the Holy Spirit, they needed the POWER of the Holy Spirit so they could be effective WITNESSES OF JESUS to Jerusalem first, then into a wider area, then into the farthest reaches of the earth.
Remember, the earth back then was not that big. America, Mexico, Canada weren’t even heard of yet!
After Jesus left, Peter used his gift of healing given to him by Jesus. It was in the Temple at Jerusalem. The apostles preached to the Jews only, and not to the Gentiles at first.
Peter spotted a lame beggar who asked him for some money, but Peter decided to demonstrate his gift of healing as a sign to onlookers at the Temple. Acts 3-6: Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 9And all the people saw him walking and praising God.”
See, how once people SAW SIGNS AND WONDERS, they would respond?
Back then, they needed these “signs” as proof that these preachers had the same authority as Jesus, and they had seen that Jesus had the authority of God upon Himself. They had seen with their own eyes…mighty miracles of Jesus….but now they knew that Jesus was crucified. These people did not know He was risen. The apostles were empowered to tell the world that Jesus has risen, and that He can forgive their sins and save them form having to go to hell.
And all of the people (Jews in the Temple) ran toward Peter who was out on what was called the Porch of Solomon. It faced toward the road to Bethany just outside of the Temple, and Peter spotted them and said, Acts 3:12 –“ Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, AS THOUGH BY OUR OWN POWER OR HOLINESS WE MADE THIS MAN TO WALK? 15–“You people killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof WE ARE WITNESSES. 16-And his name – (THE NAME OF JESUS) THROUGH FAITH IN HIS NAME HATH MADE THIS MAN STRONG, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by JESUS hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”
Jesus established His Gospel in the hearts of His apostles, and they had the POWER and BOLDNESS to now proclaim Christ in Jerusalem.
Shortly, in Acts 8, the “Christian Church” of Jewish converts…about fifteen thousand strong, would be disbanded, and all of these Christians would be scattered out into Judea and Samaria and beyond…to also fulfill the prophetic statement that Jesus had made to them.
The POWER of the Holy Spirit is NOT to demonstrate signs and wonders any longer. It is to EMPOWER those who want to be an effective, powerful WITNESS of JESUS CHRIST to all the peoples of the earth.
The people of the earth do NOT need to hear people speaking in an unknown language….they do NOT need to see people healed….they do NOT need to see people raised from the dead, or see some “clergy” leader pick up deadly snakes…or see them drink poison. It is by FAITH that people now come to Christ…not by signs and wonders.
In John 15:26, Jesus said, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, HE SHALL TESTIFY OF ME: 27-And YE ALSO SHALL BEAR WITNESS because ye have been with me from the beginning.”
Jesus told the APOSTLES…YOU SHALL TESTIFY OF ME…as the Holy Spirit WILL TESTIFY OF ME through you.
We, having the Holy Spirit within us, are not using His POWER if we fail to do what the Holy Spirit Himself does…TESTIFY OF JESUS.
Acts 5:32 – “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”
It is the POWER of the Holy Spirit that Christians need to pray for.
We have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us at salvation. But, I am here to say that we Christians lack the POWER of The Holy Spirit. We hide our faith. We hide it at work. We hide it from our friends. We hide this one called Jesus Christ from our co-workers. This is why we need to ask…no beg, God for the POWER of His Holy Spirit to come upon us…so we can become effective witnesses for Christ to all others around us.
Let me put this another way: If we speak of GOD to anyone…it’s okay. Anybody can accept talking about GOD.
Jews know of God. Almost every “religion”, which simply means “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”, knows about or believes there is a God.
But once you utter the name of Jesus Christ…ALL MANNER OF CONTROVERSY HAPPENS IMMEDIATELY.
This is exactly why the “ACTS OF THE APOSTLES” were recorded.
Everything was going fine after Jesus’ death on the cross. Life was good in Jerusalem - until these apostles who were hiding in an upper room for FEAR OF THE JEWS met Jesus after His resurrection.
Then, once they received the Holy Ghost…then the POWER of the Holy Spirit to become effective witnesses of JESUS CHRIST….literally ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. I literally mean HELL (Satan and all his forces) broke loose.
The Jews and their priests and other leaders thought Jesus was dead….buried, and rotting in the rich man -Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb.
Now that name JESUS’ NAME was being brought up again, and formerly weak-kneed apostles were getting BOLD…they were telling people all about JESUS and how only HE can forgive their sins and save them from hell.
Acts 4:1 –“The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and PROCLAIMING IN JESUS THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD. 3They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.”
See what I mean about bringing up the name of Jesus? It sparks controversy. Later, wherver Paul the apostle went, riots broke out! Many people on the planet HATE the name of JESUS CHRIST. You have to ask yourself - "Why?"
The clear answer is that Satan HATES God, and he does not want anyone to go to the place he got kicked out of. He wants people to join his miserable self in the lowest parts of hell...forever.
Five thousand men plus their wives and children were all new “disciples of Christ”. The first and only “Christian Church” on the planet was in Jerusalem. Christ was being preached. Oh oh!
By the end of Chapter 4 of Acts, we find, “And with GREAT POWER gave the apostles WITNESS of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.”
In fact, The apostles and only the seven deacons whom they laid hands on to empower them with the ability to do "singsn, wonders and miracles" had this power.
Acts 5:12 - "And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; 13-And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them." No one dared join the twelve. 14-And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women." The signs, miracles and wonders were done to give credibility to the apostles and the seven deacons.
One final note here - If you study the entire book of Acts, you will see that the first Christian church was established at Jerusalem. Nowhere will you find tithing took place. The money was raised in other ways. Please read my article on tithing.
The death, burial and resurrection of Christ IS the GOSPEL MESSAGE.
God was about to spread the Gospel of Christ throughout Judea and Samaria…as Jesus told His apostles this would happen.
And here is how ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE:
The apostles could not handle the huge numbers of converts in that first Christian Church. The Jewish clergy hated Christians because, to them, they were blaspheming God. They were teaching that this mere man…JESUS, was claiming to be the Son of God, and that He was resurrected from the dead and now sitting at the right hand of the Father. ”Pure heresy”, they said.
The apostles decided to have the congregation choose out from among them seven men who were full of the Holy Spirit because the APOSTLES could not handle all the preaching and do all the other duties around the church at Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit had come upon all of them in that church that were born-again believers in Christ.
These seven men would become the first DEACONS, but they would also have the same powers that Jesus conferred on the twelve apostles. I say twelve because Peter stood up one day, and announced to the followers that there should be a twelfth apostle. Jesus didn’t tell him to do it…he just did it. So they cast lots and two names were given. The “short straw” went to Matthias, so he became the twelfth apostle, although he was not chosen by Jesus.
Later, Jesus would choose a Jewish leader...a Pharisee by the name of Saul of Tarsus…who would become Paul, the hand-picked apostle of Jesus. Jesus had hand-picked the others. Saul was one who was dragging men and women from their homes because of their belief in Christ...and he would have them tossed into prison. Jesus had a plan for old Saul!
So these seven “DEACONS” – full of the Holy Ghost were chosen by the apostles to be their helpers, and these seven would be endued with all the powers of signs and wonders that the twelve had. The twelve would lay hands on these seven and authorize the power that Jesus bestowed upon them to the seven.
Acts 6:5 -“And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6-Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.”
Of the seven deacons, Stephen and Philip did signs and wonders, and they were recorded in the Book of the Acts of The Apostles.
Deacon Nicholas would later turn out to be a bad guy. He started a group called “Nicolaitans” God tells us how much He hated the practices of the Nicolaitans in Revelation 2:6 – And to the church at Ephesus, I write, “"But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
When Paul the apostle would later establish churches in Asia Minor, Ephesus was one of seven churches. They were being taught that they needed Christ…and the law of Moses to be saved...as was the church at Corinth.
They only needed to believe in the Gospel of Christ to be saved. God does not like churches that mix "other stuff" with Jesus to obtain salvation. Acts 4:12 -"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
God also had this to say about those at Ephesus in Revelation 2: “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who CLAIM TO BE APOSTLES - but are not, and have found them FALSE.
Jesus said there are only twelve apostles and they will be part of the “Twenty-four Elders” in heaven. The twelve (not thirteen) apostles will judge the twelve tribes of Israel. There will be a remnant of Israel at the end of days. There will be 144,000 Jews chosen and sealed on their foreheads as the twelve tribes of Israel…twelve thousand chosen Jews for each tribe. They will become WITNESSES of Jesus in the days AFTER a “Rapture” of all saved people takes place in the end of days, which I believe might be around mid-year of 2015. You would have to read my book – America’s Two Holy Wars available in the Faithwriter’s online e-book store for $9.95 in downloadable Pdf format…in color - to know all about that.
Some will disagree that Nicolas started that group, and that’s okay. It’s not provable either way.
Stephen would become a martyr for the cause of Christianity, and would be the cause of the disbanding of the first church at Jerusalem. “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. “1-And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.”
Acts 8:1 -"On THAT DAY (the day the Jews dragged Deacon Stephen out into the streets to stone him to death) a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2-Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3-But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.”
Why would God (and now Jesus sitting at His right side), arrange to have persecution of the only church full of new Christians that was on the planet?
God’s plans are always wonderful, and for a reason. Sure, it wasn’t good for men and women being dragged off to prison. No, it wasn’t nice for them to see Deacon Stephen stoned to death. God acts in the realm of heaven…and eternity. We feel and see things only in the realm of temporary things.
This persecution caused FEAR to set in with the new Christians, so they all scattered into Judea and Samaria…as Jesus wanted to happen. Only the twelve apostles stayed in Jerusalem.
Once scattered, Satan enjoyed it….until these same Christians began telling people in Judea and Samaria (where they scattered to) all about their Savior and Lord…and all about His death, burial and resurrection. They were doing what Jesus wanted them to do….BE WITNESSES OF HIM TO OTHERS. Acts 8:4 –“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”
Philip (not one of the apostles but a deacon of the first church of Christians in Jerusalem), was baptizing an Ethiopian eunuch in a body of water because the Ethipoian believed the Gospel of Christ.
An amazing thing happened to this deacon. “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again.”
Philip literally “evaporated” and was “next seen at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.” Acts 8:40…so you see, miracles – signs – and wonders like those happened all throughout the Acts of The Apostles…but you will notice something equally unique. Miracles, signs, wonders, prophets, “tongues” all ceased around that time. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, will tell us that in 1 Corinthians 13:8 -"Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away."
That is a whole other controversy better saved for later, but I am convinced that these gifts of the apostles ceased by 70 A.D.
The Ethiopian went back to Ethiopia and he spread the Gospel of Christ.
Jesus, hand-picked this SAUL, and invited Him to become His 12th apostle…one of the twelve that would be judging the twelve tribes of Israel in heaven.
I don’t make this stuff up….here is the proof: Matthew 19:28 –“Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
How many apostles will judge the twelve tribes of Israel? “You who have followed me (Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddeus, Simon the Canaanite), and Paul…all of my hand picked apostles…all twelve will sit on the twelve thrones that I have reserved in heaven.”
So, if there are twelve apostles…hand picked by Jesus…how can anyone else claim to be one?
They lie. They lie or Jesus lies. I shall believe Jesus. If there are thirteen apostles, then Jesus did not tell us the truth. He would have had to arrange for thirteen thrones.
There are a total of 24 thrones in heaven…reserved for “twenty and four elders”. Twelve apostles and twelve leaders of the tribes of Israel. Here are their names: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin (Joseph's only full brother), Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, and of course, Joseph. All sons of Jacob….the son of Isaac, who was the son of “Father Abraham”.
God spoke to the “Seven Churches” in the Book of the Revelation. He had GOOD THINGS TO SAY about some, and BAD THINGS TO SAY about others.
I have condensed the things that God loved about the church at Ephesus in particular. Then, I have grouped the things God does NOT like.
INTO WHICH GROUP DO YOU FALL?
“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you )put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false” and you have perseverance, and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. And this you also have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”- All good attributes that God wants Christians to have.
“But I have this against you, that YOU HAVE LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE”.
“Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place--unless you repent.”
The FIRST LOVE of the Christians at Ephesus (or us) is that we have abandoned the only duty that God wanted us to do…and that is to be POWERFUL WITNESSES OF HIS SON, JESUS.
We have failed to ask for the POWER of God’s Holy Spirit to enable us to go out to our relatives, friends, loved ones, co-workers…and tell them about CHRIST.
We are afraid to use His name in front of people. Why? Because we lack the POWER. God will give you the POWER of the Holy Spirit if you ask Him for it. We have lost our FIRST LOVE and we know it.
Get back to praying…reading God’s Word, begging for the Holy Spirit POWER to be effective witnesses for Christ, and stop dwelling on things that don’t matter …like tongues, or he has that gift, and I don’t have this gift. That man claims he is a healer…another claims to be a prophet…another claims this or that. CLAIM THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND GET OUT OF YOUR COMPLACENCY AND GO – BE AN EFFECTIVE WITNESS FOR JESUS CHRIST TO OTHERS WHO ARE OTHERWISE DESTINED FOR HELL.
Matthew 10:33 tells us exactly what Jesus thinks of us when we are afraid to mention HIS NAME before men.
“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
This tells me that a lot of “crowns” of reward will be lost by Christians…disciples….followers of Christ…who deny Him, and fail to mention His name and what He did for us on the cross, and how only He can forgive sins…and save the lost.
We are focused on “DISTRACTIONS”, and DISTRACTIONS are a tool of Satan. Don’t let Satan win. Every Christian on the planet should be telling everyone they know about JESUS CHRIST.
Put aside those areas of disagreement that don’t amount to a hill of beans. Baptist this…Assembly of God that…Pentecostal this….Catholic that. We have lost our FIRST LOVE, and we need to go back to it.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
John Tyler, Author
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