"Just What IS an APOSTLE?"

Chapter 4

Removing Blindness – For The First Time

When a new building is constructed, the first thing laid is the foundation. Before those foundations go down, no building exists. So it is with the Church of God, and the spiritual Temple to which Christ is to return.

Not Where Christ Was Named:

Paul writes in Romans: “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation” (Rom 15:18-20).

Paul, as the apostle sent to the Gentiles, very deliberately avoided preaching where any of the other apostles had already been. As Paul then continues, “But as it is written, to whom he wasnot spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand” (Rom 15:21). Being an apostle, sent to lay foundations specifically for the Gentiles, Paul was required to lay such foundations only in virgin territory.

We Must Remain Alert!

If we are to correctly locate where God is working today we also must understand this vital point. Malachi predicts that there would be a single individual – a true apostle – sent by God at the end-time.Through this individual God will lay foundations for the end-time spiritual Temple to which Christ is destined to return (Mal 3:1). Romans the 15th chapter helps us understand that, as a true apostle, this individual would be the only one used by God to lay the foundations of this part of His Temple. God will restore, through him, the bedrock truth required by the people destined to comprise the end-time portion of His Temple – illuminating their minds for the first time.

Those coming after a true apostle are duty bound to align their teaching with the foundation Christ revealed through him. True apostles are sent by God to lay foundations. They do not re-lay foundations, changing doctrines where other true apostles have already been sent by Christ. We must be aware that Paul describes anyone who does otherwise as, false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (II Cor 11:13).

The context of the above scathing scripture tells us a great deal. Notice how just a few verses before this passage, Paul explains how important it was that the Corinthian Church cast down “imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor 10:5). Paul was reminding them that it was Christ – not him – who had originally laid the foundation of faith in their lives. That is why they were to guard this faith jealously within their mind.

He then goes on to explain that he taught them “according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us” (II Cor 10:13) and how that “measure” or boundary of his Christ-given apostolic authority, included the Corinthian Church. He then talked of going north of Corinth into new areas – but never those of someone else – when he said he wanted to “preach the gospel in the [regions] beyond you, [and] not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand” (II Cor 10:16).

False Apostles Operate in Existing Churches:

Then, picturing the Corinthian Church as a virgin bride, he warns how the first woman – Eve – was beguiled by Satan, and shows how this could happen again to them spiritually, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him].(II Cor 11:4). The problem was that there were men teaching things at odds with the revelation originally given by God through the apostle Paul, who was specifically sent to illuminate the Corinthian Church.

God must choose an apostle. God must send him. God must reveal His Truth to him. It is for this reason Paul describes such people as “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (II Cor 11:13-15).

God’s people need to be acutely aware of this! We are warned repeatedly by Christ to be on our guard at the end-time, to “hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev 3:11) and that “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt 24:24). False apostles certainly fall into this category (cf Rev 2:2). The problem of spiritual deception does not decline, but seems destined to become progressively worse and even more difficult to discern (II Tim 3:13). If we are not close to God, and firmly rooted to the foundation God originally laid in our lives, we will not be able to survive what is prophesied. It is impossible to do this on our own strength.

Paul Kept From Gallic, Israelite Areas:

We can actually see how, although Paul was clearly the apostle sent to the Gentiles, God deliberately kept him away from certain other areas. In Acts 16 we see how “After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered [or allowed] them not” (Acts 16:7). Bithynia was an area on the southern shore of the Black Sea, to the north of Asia. That area and the northern area of Galatia were mountainous regions where the people were mainly of Gallic extraction. Paul was clearly not the apostle sent to these people. There are a number of records that imply that it was primarily inhabited by Israelites (see article “Where did the 12 Apostles Go” by H. L. Hoeh).

Even I Peter 1:1 indicates this to be the case. Here Peter was writing to the Diaspora – Jews who had fled from Jerusalem – and addresses the letter specifically to this area on the southern shore of the Black Sea. Northern Galatia, Pontus, Bithynia, Northern Cappadocia and Northern Asia were all primarily Gallic areas, and thus very different from the totally Gentile southern region where Paul operated, which stretched down to the Mediterranean Sea.

Instead of journeying into this northern region, Paul was instructed to go to Macedonia, and from there, journey south toward the Gentile cities of Athens and Corinth (Acts 16:9). These were the people to whom he was primarily sent (grk: apostello) in order to enlighten them for the first time – not work in an area assigned to someone else. Although it is possible that he wrote a letter to these non-Gentile people – in total agreement with the apostle Peter who seemed to be working with them (II Pet 3:15) and was even the author of the book of Hebrews (as he had specific knowledge of the Temple practices) – Paul was not regarded as the primary apostle in these areas, as he was not the one God sent initially to enlighten them.

God Even Restricted Christ’s Area:

Even in the case of Jesus Christ, we can see this same principle at work. Even though Christ was sent into the world (John 17:18), during His time on earth He had a particular area in which to specifically operate as The Apostle sent by the Father. For this reason His attention was focused primarily on that area.

When a woman from Canaan asked Him to heal her demon-possessed daughter, He initially totally ignored her. And the reason he gave his disciples was,“I am not sent [grk: apostello] but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24). Although His compassion finally caused Him to grant her request – which He was perfectly entitled to do (John 17:18) – His initial reluctance when He says, “It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast [it] to dogs” (Matt 15:26) can be properly comprehended only when we understand this principle: that when God sends an Apostle, He sends him somewhere specific and for a specific purpose. This is something all those around him also need to recognise.

Removing Spiritual Blindness:

As we have seen in Chapter 1, an apostle is given the same purpose as Christ who works through him – namely, he is sent to “heal the brokenhearted … and recovering of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18-19). The blindness that grips the world at large is removed when the Father leads someone to the apostle He has sent, who has the revealed Truth they need for their enlightening.

This can be seen in what was written to the Corinthian Church by the apostle Paul. The very fact that the people there understood the things they did, proved his apostleship: “If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord” (I Cor 9:2). He explains that the understanding and change within their lives was in effect a letter, or recommendation, of his position and authority, proving that he was the one who administered that initial enlightenment to their minds: “need we, as some [others], epistles of commendation to you, or [letters] of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (II Cor 3:1-3).

Paul then goes on to explain the process itself. He likens it to a veil that is lifted by Christ, allowing someone to understand the Old Testament Scriptures for the first time – when their heart turns to where Christ is working: “for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which [vail] is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away” (II Cor 3:14-16). As the preceding verses clearly show, Paul himself was the one who administered this enlightenment – as their apostle – the apostle sent to the Corinthian Church.

The Pool of Siloam:

Christ graphically illustrates this process of enlightenment through one of His most spectacular miracles.In doing so, He also clearly indicated how the way someone was to be initially enlightened was through those God sends (grk: apostello). The incident is where a man who was born blind is allowed to see for the very first time by being totally healed. Notice what Christ did: “he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent [grk: apostello]). He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing” (John 9:6-7).

The Hebrew word “Adam” for man, comes from the Hebrew “adama” which means ground or earth “And the LORD God formed man [adam] [of] the dust of the ground [adama]” (Gen 2:7). What Christ did symbolically through this miracle, was to illustrate how humans – under the sway of Satan – are blinded by their humanity from birth. For us to see, God’s Spirit must wash off this “human clay” that is covering our eyes.

The interesting thing is from where the water must come. Only one source of water is suitable – the waters of Siloam (which means sent – or apostle). This is the source God has decreed for removal of human blindness for all of us. Apostles are the human vehicles sent to us, empowered by the living waters of The Holy Spirit. Through His Holy Spirit God works this incredible miracle of removing human, spiritual blindness for the very first time in our life. For the man born blind, it was Christ Himself. For all of us, it is the human apostle sent by Christ with Spiritual revelation specifically for us.

In Summary:

God uses apostles whom He sends to remove spiritual blindness. By very definition, the foundation of this process can only be done once. This initial enlightenment is done through an apostle sent by God specifically to a particular group of people, and this apostle remains their apostle.

Should other “apostles” appear, overturning the foundations laid by the original apostle, such individuals in scripture are described as false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (II Cor 11:13) and the people of God must be alert to reject such individuals. As the people of God, it was Christ, through the original apostle sent to us, who lifted the veil from our eyes. We must therefore remain firmly centred on that clear foundation that was laid by Christ, looking past the human instrument to its true source.