Sermon given 13 April 2002

What is an Apostle?

by Jon Bowles

(PLAY FROM START)

Now when Mr Tkach was made Pastor General by the mouth of two witnesses, one was Mr David Hulme and the other is an article that I saw, or a letter, I saw, coming from Mr Aaron Dean, so those are the two witnesses that I heard.

Now Mr Tkach asked Mr Armstrong - and you'd think, well, that's a reasonable request, because he was in fact becoming the head of the Church in that regard; and therefore he should be elevated above the evangelists. But Mr Armstrong refused. In fact, Mr Aaron Dean writes; "Mr Armstrong would not ordain Mr Tkach an apostle because he said it was not his title to give. If after some years the fruits show that God is using him in that manner, God would give it to him."

Now that is an interesting concept, and yet I wonder whether you fully understand why Mr Armstrong would actually say something like that. I hope by the end of this sermon today, you will understand why Mr Armstrong would say something like that, because I want to show you why. I want to show you what an apostle is, and it's very, very important.

Now I mentioned in the sermonette that it is important as far as the temple that is going to be built, the unity in that temple. This all comes into it. It's a vital aspect that we need to understand - particularly because of the times that are prophesied. There are times prophesied ahead of us, and they are not going to be that far ahead, we certainly hope and pray. Matthew 24:24 says:

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall...insomuch that, if ... possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (Matthew 24:24) {1}

This subject about what is an apostle, counters a lot of that deception, it allows us to counter that. It allows us to see clearly the way forward, how we are actually to walk, and the way in which we are to go. I have actually eight points that I have divided the sermon up into. I certainly hope I can get through them all in the time available.

1. What the word 'apostle' means. You might think; "Oh, it means one who is sent." Yes, but there are implications from that.

2. There were more than just the twelve apostles being mentioned in scripture. It does not stop at the twelve. There are others as well specifically mentioned.

3. The primary job of an apostle is to lay foundations. Now that obviously gives an idea of why, if we cling onto the foundations properly, we can survive through deception.

4. How having that foundation gives a unity within the people of God, a unity within the Church. It's actually mentioned within scripture that, that's where it's coming from.

5. That those foundations are not laid where they are already laid. That is an important point. They have got to be laid in virgin territory.

6. That laying a foundation involves removing spiritual blindness. That's what the foundation is. It's as if a veil is lifted off people's eyes so that they can see for the first time

7. How Paul illustrates that people only have one apostle. People have one apostle; they don't have a whole multitude of them, there is one that is sent to them.

8. What happens when that one apostle dies? Obviously, you can see within the points I've got here how this applies to our current situation, and applies to our current situation as we move from where we are into the future, knowing full well that there are going to be deceptive times; "...if...possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (Matthew 24:24). I would hope that is what we are here, the very elect will be deceived, if possible to deceive the very elect. If the very elect are on their knees, in contact with God, and understand what an apostle is, and how God works in the world; then there isn't going to be that deception.

What the Word 'Apostle' Means (PLAY FROM 04:25)

Now I mentioned that the word 'apostle' means; one who is sent. And I said that implies something. It certainly does; because if one is sent, he is sent by somebody. The question is, who is he sent by? Also, if he is sent, what is he sent for? So, the very word itself; 'apostle' tells us something that we need to know.

It is interesting - I am going to be giving various scriptures. By the way, this was given as a Bible Study originally. It took me an hour and a half to get through that, I've got an hour and five minutes left so we will all have to hang onto our seats to try and get through the material. {2} Hebrews 3:1 mentions about Christ:

"...consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;" (Hebrews 3:1)

It links the two together. Now if we want to find out what Christ was sent for, turn over to Luke 4:17. We find here that defines why He was sent, why He was the Apostle. It talks about Him being the Apostle of our souls, it says:

"And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet [Isaiah]. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the [Eternal] is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent [apostlized me; Strong's G649, which is what the Greek would say] me [here is why He was made an apostle] to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book..." (Luke 4:17-20)

So what Christ was sent for was that great list of things. To heal the brokenhearted, now if you are brokenhearted the chances are you haven't yet been converted. If you are captive by sin, you haven't yet been converted, you need that initial conversion. So Christ was sent, if you like, to lift the veil, that initial lifting of the veil. That is the essence of what is bound up in this particular section; and He was sent, He was 'apostolized' for these purposes. They are actually listed. In John 20:19 you find here how Christ, after He had been resurrected, appeared to the disciples, He appeared to the twelve apostles, and He said to them, notice:

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, [Shalom]. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, [Shalom] Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me [apostlized Me], even so [apostlize] I you. [The Greek word is apostle, that is what is being used] And when he had said this, he breathed on them [ it's interesting, the word for 'breath' and the word for 'Spirit' are the same - Strong's G4151 - pneuma], and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit [He then talks about how the sins will be remitted]: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." (John 20:19-23)

Showing the authority that was in the Church. But He was saying; "...as my Father hath sent me [we just read in Luke 4:18-20 what He sent Him to do], even so send I you." (John 20:21). Again you see how this chain of authority was coming down. In John 17:18, it says:

"As [My Father] hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." (John 17:18)

Not into a pre-formed Church, but into the world at large. To do what? To heal the brokenhearted, preach deliverance to the captives, and so on and so forth. He is sending them into the world to do these things.

So when we say; "What does the word 'apostle' mean?" There is an enormous amount within the very word itself. The one who is sent has got to be sent from somebody. It has to be sent to somebody and it has got to be sent to do something. So we see the very word itself carries a great deal of meaning. If you turn with me to Galatians 1:1, and it would be worth a study on the beginning of many of these epistles of Paul; you will find the word 'apostle' being mentioned. But I want you to notice here what Paul says of himself as an apostle:

"Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man..." (Galatians 1:1)

So it is not a role that can be given by man. Now do you see why Mr Armstrong said to Mr Tkach; "I can't make you an apostle? God will do that and it will be evident by the fruit." Mr Armstrong didn't want to refer to himself as an apostle, even though he was ordained in the Church of God, Seventh Day, as an apostle, he wasn't referring to himself as an apostle, it wasn't until, I believe the sixties, I think that was the first time, when he started to see that he was sent for a real purpose by God. Galatians 1:1:

"Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father [showing the authority that is coming down from the Father], who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:" (Galatians 1:1-2)

You can see in Romans 1:5, that the apostleship was for the obedience to the faith among the nations. That was the purpose of Paul's apostleship:

"By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:" (Romans 1:5)

You can read in many of the others; I Corinthians 1:1, II Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1. They almost say the same thing. They say something along the lines of the apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God. Now that again tells us why Mr Armstrong could not make Mr Tkach an apostle, or anybody else. It's the fruit. It has got to be shown.

It is God who makes the apostle. Why? Because God sends. The word apostle means, one who is sent; and it is God and Christ who send and send for a purpose. As He said; "...as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (John 21:21). Christ was sent to do that list of things we discussed earlier.

More Than Twelve Apostles (PLAY FROM 11:35)

Now there were more than just the twelve. If you notice over in Matthew 9:36 you find the twelve mentioned here, or at least the introduction into it:

"But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd [now it's interesting that I look at the Church of God, and I certainly come across some Churches of God which are sheep without shepherds, the shepherds are missing, the true shepherds, they are just not there; here, Christ saw a group of people as sheep without shepherds]. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." (Matthew 9:36-38)

Then Matthew 10:1 continues:

"And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples [so they were disciples at that point], he gave them power [certain powers]... Now the names of the twelve apostles [the twelve sent] are these;..and he lists them (v5) These twelve [those that are sent] Jesus sent forth [He apostolized], and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach....." (Matthew 10:1-7)

So He defined actually, the area, the geographic area, that these twelve were to go to. He gave them an area, and it was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. You will find in other scriptures if you want to do a Bible Study on the subject; Luke 6:12-13 Christ spent all night prior to doing this, praying:

"And it came to pass in those days, that he 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;" (Luke 6:12-13)

In Matthew 19:27-28 you'll find that their job in the future is to rule over those twelve tribes that they were sent to:

"Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matthew 19:27-28)

And Revelation 21:14 is another scripture that talks about the New Jerusalem and twelve foundations which are the twelve apostles:

"And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:14)

If you go and read Acts 1, you will find that it was absolutely imperative that after Judas Iscariot dismissed himself by being a traitor, he had to be replaced. In that replacement, there were certain criteria that had to be met. The criteria were that whoever replaced him had to have been with Christ from the beginning, right the way forward. Two people fell within that category, and it was God, not the people who selected who to actually replace Judas Iscariot, so that there remained twelve apostles.

But there were more. Again, I'm not going to read all the scriptures, but you can put down in your notes Acts 14:14 that talks about Barnabas and Paul. Both Barnabas and Paul are described as apostles:

"Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul..." (Acts 14:14)

Galatians 1:19 is another scripture you can put down:

"But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." (Galatians 1:19)

James, now this is the brother of Christ - not James the apostle, but another James is also described as an apostle there.

It also describes in II Corinthians 11:13 about false apostles, pseudo-apostles. So obviously, if there were only the twelve, there would be no way that anybody would be able to be a false apostle. But, there were false apostles, so there were more.

But there is one individual that I wonder whether you have ever realized, had that same title, and you can see that he had that same title and he was a very special individual that carried that title of one who was sent. Sent by God for a purpose, because that's what the word apostle means. That man, was John the Baptist. If you go back to Matthew 11:9 it says:

"But what went ye out for to see? A prophet [is that what you went to see when you went to see John the Baptist, a prophet]? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet." (Matthew 11:9)

Now if you go into Ephesians 4:11 and read the list of titles within the Church, the only other thing that is more than a prophet is an apostle. That is above a prophet. Matthew 11:10:

"For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I [apostolize, or I] send my messenger [John the Baptist was one who was sent. Now he wasn't part of the Church in that regard in the same way as the twelve apostles were, but he was sent and he was sent by God, and he was sent to do something specific] before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." (Matthew 11:10)

Now John the Baptist, we understand from Matthew 17:12-13 was a type. He was a type of one that was to be sent in the future, to prepare a people, a temple, to which the very Christ would return. We read Mr Armstrong's discussion of that from 'Mystery of the Ages' on the slides earlier on. But if you go back to Malachi 3:1 where it's quoted from it says:

"Behold, I will send [Strong's H7971, 'shalach'; the same word that we get Siloam from, the Waters of Siloam] my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple..." (Malachi 3:1)

So what is he preparing? He is preparing that temple before Christ returns. He is the one that is being used, instrumental in preparing the way before Christ returns. And the tie up between that temple and the preparation is very pertinent.

Laying the Foundation (PLAY FROM 18:14)

It mentions here what the foundations of the Church actually are. In Ephesians 2:18 it says:

"For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." (Ephesians 2:18)

A people being prepared in a very different environment from you or me. Here Paul is also talking to Gentiles. He was talking about how this middle wall of partition was being demolished. He was talking about how, from these two groups both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:19

"Now therefore ye [that's you Gentiles] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;" (Ephesians 2:19)

As are other people that God is dealing with, working with in other areas of the world. People of different backgrounds, different cultures, wherever God is working.

Incidently, I was talking to a Nigerian gentleman, and I said; "How did he get into the Church?" He said; "Oh, it was somebody in his village." It was so different; his journey from where he was, with animism, into the Church. He was receiving 'The Plain Truth' as a news magazine. He said the one thing that made the difference, was a man who used to be in the Nigerian Navy, and let's face it, to get a good job like that was very valuable and yet he gave it all up. He just gave it all up because of the Sabbath, because he shouldn't have been in the Navy. He got thrown in prison, and the Nigerian prison isn't somewhere you really want to go. He actually came from the same village that this gentleman was in.

I said to him; "Well where is this man?" I'd never heard about this man. He says; "Oh, he's in the North somewhere." I said, "Well does he attend with anybody?" He said, "No. He doesn't attend with anybody," but as far as he understands he keeps the Sabbath, he keeps the Holy Days. He still believes exactly as he did before. It was him and that man's example that actually caused him to become part of the Church. Yet he is, as far as I can tell, again, I haven't met the man. He hasn't had any contact with any of the Church groups. but he's still there, still keeping the Sabbath, still keeping the Holy Days and doing what he knows to be right. Having left Worldwide and having nothing to do with Worldwide. Yet, he's still there.

There are stones around this world which we do not know anything about. There really are. He says here in Ephesians 2:19:

"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone [the one to which the apostles and prophets are aligned, Christ Himself, the very Word of God]; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:19-22)

So we see this building, this temple, this Spiritual temple - to which Christ is going to return - apostles are a crucial ingredient, they are involved with the very foundations. As we will go on and see in the sermon, it's not just the writings of the apostles that we find in this Book, it's the fact that the apostle that was sent to a particular group of people, needs to be listened to. It was God, actually working through that particular man that was sent to those particular people that God expects to be the one that lays the foundations, that cause the foundations to be built. If you go on a little bit into Ephesians 3:1 notice it says:

"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to [for your benefit]: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;" (Ephesians 3:1-5)

So, it was a revelation, and again you go back to Mr Armstrong's 'Mystery of the Ages', and he talks about how these things were revealed. It has got to be revealed, and He chooses apostles and prophets. Prophets, you will find in Romans 1:1:

"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)" (Romans 1:1-2)

You will find the prophets, can be talking about the Old Testament prophets in many cases. But when you come to New Testament prophets I Corinthians 14:4 and also verse 22 says:

"...but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. [Verse 22]...prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe." (I Corinthians 14:4,22)

When you get prophets within the Church, they were for the Church's benefit, they were not sent to the world. And yet, remember we just read that; "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world." (John 17:18). Apostles, are sent to the world. Prophets within the Church, in the New Testament Church, were sent to the Church primarily, so that certain words of God could be revealed to the Church. It says here in Ephesians 3:5 these things:

"Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister..." (Ephesians 3:5-7)

He then goes on developing this subject matter, talking about the foundations that were there, talking about how this was by revelation.

Unity Within God's Church (PLAY FROM 24:15)

If you go into the next chapter, Ephesians 4:11 he then starts talking about the different roles within the Church, it says:

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting [or maturing] of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:" (Ephesians 4:11-13)

This is in a context - which I mentioned before; "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism," (Ephesians 4:4-5). Here is the unity, one foundation. If we are going to have unity within the Church you have got to have a single foundation.

Do you remember the video that we saw? There was a Feast video that was shown about a demolition. Remember the demolition, where this grab, this arm moved around and started pulling things off and the voice-over was saying something along the lines of; "Either you can blow something up, or you can demolish it piece by piece, by taking a piece at a time away from the building."

It is interesting, that what exactly is happening when a building is demolished? What goes on? Well, you are actually taking a piece away. Where are you taking it away from? You are taking it away from a line that goes down vertically. If you put a foundation here, and you start building a wall at an angle and going up sideways, you are not going to have that wall stand for very long at all. It's going to fall down. Inevitably it's going to fall down. For a wall to stand, the first thing you have to do is make sure your foundations are in a location that the rest of the building is going to go vertically up from. If you want to demolish something, you remove the bits off the top, away from that vertical line onto that foundation. That's how you demolish something. Whether you blow the building up, or whether you piecemeal take bits off, one by one.

We saw this crane or whatever it was, taking bits away from that foundation that was underneath. We have seen that spiritually. Bits have been removed away from the foundation, and what happens is that the building falls apart. The whole building comes apart. In this section in Ephesians 4:7, I want you to notice that it says:

"But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ [every one of us, both you and me]. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. [Then the rest of it is in brackets until verse 11, here are the gifts] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;" (Ephesians 4:7-8,11)

Here are the roles within the Church, where the gifts go along with them. For the laying of those initial foundations, the gift is given to apostles and prophets, not to the rest of us within the ministry.

So that single Godly foundation provides unity within the Church, and when it is not there, when you start demolishing the building, the building will fall. Again, that's not something that's just arbitrary, it is something that God has given us to illustrate.

Foundations Laid On Virgin Territory (PLAY FROM 28:18)

And in Romans 15, notice in verse 15:

"Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to ME of God [remember the gifts we just read about in Ephesians, here are some of the gifts that are given to Paul, the things that were specifically given to Paul, the things that Paul was sent to do], That I should be the minister [the servant] of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit [that was what the ministry of Paul was all about; verse 18] 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 [this was the thing that Paul was sent to do, to make the Gentiles obedient to God in word and in deed], Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God [people read this particular verse and they immediately jump to the idea that; "Oh, it's all kinds of miracles and all this kind of thing." But, you read on]; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum [the whole area, from Jerusalem out into the Gentile areas], I have fully preached the [good news] of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the [good news], not where Christ was named..." (Romans 15:15-16,18-20)

Now notice that! The laying of foundations - if you are building a building, you build the building. If you are going to go and lay a foundation, do you lay a foundation where there is a foundation already there? I remember building an outside wall at one time on this particular building. I worked as a builder for a little while some years ago, and I built this outside wall, and I dug down, and somebody had already put a foundation there, and the foundation was good. Do you think I was going to dig it all up and put a new foundation there if the foundation was good and right? Of course I wasn't. It's so much more money. I built on that foundation that was there. Romans 15:20:

"Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand." (Romans 15:20-21)

This is what the apostle Paul was sent to do; to put a foundation down where it had not been placed before. This is why you don't get apostles today within the Church of God. Whoever these leaders are, they are not apostles. The foundation has already been laid, and you don't relay another foundation unless you become some other church. This is what Paul is saying. He's saying, "Look; I went out into other areas, and I laid a foundation where it hadn't been laid before because that's what an apostle needs to do." You can go back if you would to Acts 18:9:

"Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." (Acts 18:9-11)

When Paul was at Corinth, he had a vision from God in the night. Where was no Church before, laying the foundation. Now that is an important point because of, we will come on and we will see, what Paul had to say to the Corinthian Church. He had a great deal to say to the Corinthian Church about how his apostleship affected them within the Corinthian Church. In I Peter 1:1, you will find:

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia," (I Peter 1:1)

'Diaspora', Strong's G1290, is actually being used. Peter writes, and he lists a series of areas that he is writing to. One of those areas was the area of Bithynia. Now Bithynia was on the Southern shores of the Black Sea. The Northern part of Turkey today, above Asia Minor.

We can actually see the factor that the foundations are not to be laid in areas where there are other foundations there. These apostles did not overstep. They did not go across into each others areas. They were being sent by God for specific purposes, to raise up churches within the areas they were being sent to. We can actually see this in action, because as I mentioned in I Peter 1:1, it talks about Peter writing to Bithynia; but when we come to Acts 16:7 it is talking about Paul here and Timothy:

"After they were come to Mysia, they [wanted] to go into Bithynia..." (Acts 16:7)

Now that's the area that Peter wrote to. Remember what we read about the twelve apostles? They were sent to the twelve tribes of Israel. They were sent to the Israelites, into the areas where the Israelites were. Paul was sent to the areas where the Gentiles were. Does that mean to say that there are no Gentiles in one area, or no Israelites in another? Of course there were; but they were by area, that they were being separated. Acts 16:7:

"After they were come to Mysia, they [wanted] to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit [did not allow them]. And they passing by Mysia came down to [Troy]." (Acts 16:7-8)

Troy is on the Western side of Asia Minor, they went to the seaport of Troy. They did not go North into the area of Bithynia, which is on the shores of the Black Sea. Yet you will find in Acts 14, that he actually did go to the Southern area, into that area of Asia Minor.

Josephus had something to say about the areas at the time that he was writing. He was writing round about 93 AD. He wrote 'The Antiquities of the Jews' about 93 AD from Rome. He was the historian of the Roman Legions. He was there when Jerusalem fell. He had a special favour in the eyes of Rome, because the Jews were not really regarded with favour at the time that he was writing. In fact, John was on the Island of Patmos and in prison basically, he was a prisoner on the island. Josephus, about 93 AD writes about Darius and how Ezra: {3}

"He was the principal priest of the people, and his name was [Ezra]. He was very skillful in the laws of Moses, and was well acquainted with king Xerxes. He had determined to go up to Jerusalem, and to take with him some of those Jews that were in Babylon; and he desired that the king would give him an epistle to the governors of Syria, by which they might know who he was."

So, he was wanting to go with the Jews, back to Jerusalem. He mentions, this is Josephus writing:

"When [Ezra] had received this epistle, he was very joyful, and began to worship God, and confessed that he had been the cause of the king's great favor to him, and that for the same reason he gave all the thanks to God. So he read the epistle at Babylon to those Jews that were there; but he kept the epistle itself, and sent a copy of it to all those of his own nation that were in Media. And when these Jews had understood what piety the king had towards God, and what kindness he had for [Ezra], they were all greatly pleased;"

He then mentions, he makes this comment, he says:

"...but then the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country; wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now [93AD], and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers."

They hadn't all migrated up to Britain and into Northern Europe. There were still a lot of them in that area, and one of the areas was Bithynia, the shores of the Black Sea. It's interesting that in certain Greek literature, you will find accounts that Andrew worked in that area. If you look at the way in which what actually happened to the people in that particular area, they migrated about the third century AD up into Northern Europe and across to Scotland. And who is the patron saint of Scotland? It's Andrew.

So here we see in Acts, this segregation actually working where we see that Paul was not allowed to go into Bithynia. Why? Because the other apostles sent to the Israelites were working in that area, and he wasn't to work in that area, because an apostle has a function. The function is to lay foundations where foundations are NOT laid.

This really knocks on the head the idea that you can have all the apostles you want, doing whatever they want within the Churches of God; because in the Churches of God, the foundations have actually already been laid.

Removing Spiritual Blindness (PLAY FROM 37:35)

To illustrate that, let's turn over to II Corinthians 10:16 where we will find that the laying of the foundations of the Church, involves the removal of spiritual blindness. That's what's going on, that's what God is doing:

"To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you [he's talking to the Corinthian Church, and he says; I'm going to go ahead and preach the gospel to you Corinthian Church, where he had already been; but also the regions beyond you, up into Achaia, into the areas just above Corinth], and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand [he is not going to go into an area where somebody else had already been, and people already know, because an apostle lays foundations]. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." (II Corinthians 10:16-17)

And in II Corinthians 11:4 it says:

"For if he that cometh [comes to you, the Corinthian Church; remember that Paul was the one who laid the foundation in the Corinthian Church] 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. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles." (II Corinthians 11:4-5)

These super-duper apostles. They were actually having people come in and speak to them, laying different foundations down. And he was being very sarcastic in what he was saying there. Going down to II Corinthians 11:13:

"For such are false apostles [pseudo 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 [his servants] also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (II Corinthians 11:13-15)

If we go into II Corinthians 12:11, I want you to notice where it talks about the signs of an apostle. Here we start to see this removal of spiritual blindness:

"I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the [super-duper] apostles, though I be nothing [though I'm nothing, I'm still not behind these people that you had given attention to]. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience [notice what the signs of an apostle are, they are not the great and mighty works of miracles; it's all patience], in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. For what is it wherein YOU were inferior [the signs, wonders and mighty deeds were what they had, the things that were happening within them] to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong." (II Corinthians 12:11-13)

He was being very sarcastic, because he wasn't burdensome on the Corinthian Church, he didn't use their tithes, he worked as a tent maker. He didn't explain to them that, because he was gentle among them. So they, therefore, didn't have that. They didn't provide for him. He says; "...forgive me this wrong for not allowing that." He's being very sarcastic in the way he was dealing with them, but there were signs in amongst that. He says; "For what is it wherein YOU were inferior to other churches..." (II Corinthians 12:13). The signs of the apostle dealt with the people that were there, and what was happening in their lives. If we go back to I Corinthians 9:1 it says:

"Am I am not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 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 Corinthians 9:1-2)

The seal of the fact that Paul was an apostle; was the fact that they understood the things that they understood. The seal of Mr Armstrong's apostleship is the fact that; you and I understand the things that we do. Because you cannot go ahead and understand those things unless one teaches you WHO HAS BEEN SENT. That's the heart and core of the subject. If we go back to II Corinthians 3:1 now, we find again here similar sentiments. it says:

"Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you [do I need to come to you, the Corinthian Church, that I've spent one and a half years raising up, with some kind of a letter of commendation? That's what Paul is saying] 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 Corinthians 3:1-3)

The fact that they could understand the things that they understood illustrated, was an epistle, was like a letter, a document verifying the apostleship of Paul. That is what Paul is saying there. If you go to II corinthians 3:14 it illustrates the way in which the apostleship works. It says:

"But their minds were blinded [talking about the Jews]: 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 [that's when the heart] shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away." (II Corinthians 3:14-16)

It's as if people have this veil in front of their face and they cannot see. They read the Bible and they can read it until they are blue in the face, but it takes God's Spirit to illuminate the mind. But the illumination of that mind is done through one who is sent. If you want to read about that, another scripture I'll mention is Romans 10:14-15. It talks about how shall they understand unless somebody preaches, and how shall they preach unless they are sent. So again, you go back and read that sometime. Notice in II Corinthians 4:3 where it says:

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious [good news] of Christ, who is the image of God [it is the good news that's coming from Christ, it's not coming from Paul], should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." (II Corinthians 4:3-5)

In other words, it is not coming from Paul. It's coming from Christ and the illumination of their minds was not Paul. He was merely the one who was sent by Christ! It was that which was being reiterated here by Paul to the Corinthian Church. Remember what we read at the beginning where it says about Christ; "...he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to [free the] bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:18-19). It was the case that Christ was sent to people who didn't know, who hadn't had that illumination. The apostles were also sent in exactly the same way to people who did not know.

A scripture that deals with this, if you turn over to John 9:1; there is a scripture here that is ironic, because people will quote it to prove the exact opposite. It is ironic that people will do this. They will try and show that Mr Armstrong was wrong in his understanding of healing, and how healing is linked to physical sin by quoting verses from this. When if they would read it properly, the way it's actually written, it does the exact opposite! it says:

"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9:1-3)

That's the verse that they go for. They say; "See, clearly neither this man sinned, nor his parents. So, nobody sinned." But if you go - and I'll give you a list of certain scriptures that you can use, you'll have to check them in your own time: John 6:27, John 11:4, II Corinthians 7:12, II Corinthians 13:7, Titus 1:9, I John 4:10. These are sentences in which the similar structure is being used as is being used here within John 9:3. To give you an idea I John 4:10 says:

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (I John 4:10)

Clearly it does not mean that you take that "...not that we loved God..." (I John 4:10) out of context. And say therefore, we shouldn't love God because it says; "...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (Matthew 22:37). What it is, is a phrase. It is a sentence structure that puts the emphasis on the second aspect. When you understand that and go through those examples there, what He is saying there is; "Look, it's not that this man has sinned nor his parents, but that the work of God should be manifest ." In other words, "Get your mind off that and concentrate on what I'm about to do." And if people understood what He was about to do, they wouldn't ask that question in the first place, because notice what John 9:4 says:

"I must work the works of him that sent me [apostolized me], while it is day [while you can see]: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world [we just read about how the veil remains in the reading of the Old Testament, but when that heart turns to the Lord, then the veil shall be removed; look at what He's saying, He's talking about the Word, Himself, being sent]. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay," (John 9:4-6)

So He took the clay, and let's face it, mankind is made of clay, and He smeared it over his eyes and said, "Look, this is what's causing the blindness." For He said; "Don't concentrate on who sinned, but what I'm about to do. That's the important thing." John 9:7:

"And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent [apostle ; it's the one God sends that removes the veil, that washes the clay away, that allows people to see].) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing." (John 9:7)

People Have One Apostle (PLAY FROM 50:05)

Now, point seven; one apostle is sent to a particular people. If you turn over to I Corinthians 1:1, and again if you want to do more study on this subject, read the first four chapters of I Corinthians. I will hit high points right now; but these four chapters talk about Paul's apostleship. He was sent to the Corinthian Church; in a period of one and a half years, he washed their eyes, removed the veil and allowed them to see the things of God, because that's what he was sent for:

"Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother," (I Corinthians 1:1)

So he starts away, but he was the one sent. Notice in I Corinthians 1:10 where it says:

"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (I Corinthians 1:10)

Or same opinion; One Lord, one faith, one baptism. We've just read in Ephesians - how does that come? By the structure within the Church, and that comes after a section that talks about the apostles and prophets being the foundation that is there. I Corinthians 1:10:

"...ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Peter; and I of Christ [I got my revelation direct; do you see what they are saying, they have all these individuals]. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (I Corinthians 1:10-13)

In other words, you don't look at Paul. Paul was the one who raised up the Corinthian Church, but it wasn't Paul, it was Christ working through Paul, because Paul was one sent. He was an apostle sent to the Corinthian Church, so that they would then have this veil lifted. So they could actually see for the first time and that foundation was being laid by Paul. He says; "Look, it's not Paul; Christ isn't divided." Going down into I Corinthians 1:17:

"For Christ sent me [Christ apostolized me; the Greek word for sent is apostolized or apostle, Strong's G649] not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." (I Corinthians 1:17)

He starts to introduce this problem which was that the Greek Church was looking at scholarship, it was looking at philosophy. These were problems within the Church. I Corinthians 2:1:

"And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God [because that testimony was coming from God; verse 4]. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are [being made] perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes [rulers] of this world, that come to nought:" (I Corinthians 2:1,4-6)

Again we see an awful lot of scholarship. We've seen it in the past, we see it today, scholarship which is the wisdom of this world. Paul said; "No, that's not where you look." He goes on. Notice in I Corinthians 2:14:

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (I Corinthians 2:14)

These things that you have heard, these things that you understand as the people of God; the veil being lifted, these are spiritual concepts. They have got to come from the Spirit of God, and they come by one that has been sent by God. Notice in I Corinthians 3:10:

"According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon [because Paul was sent as an apostle to lay the foundation, to give that initial understanding]. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ [it was Christ that laid that foundation in their lives, it was Christ, not Paul that laid that foundation; verse 16] Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you [we are all stones being prepared for that]? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (I Corinthians 3:10-11,16-17)

We are being built into that spiritual temple. I Corinthians 4:1:

"Let a man so account of us, as of the [servants] of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful [faithful to what God has been doing; verse 9]. For I think that God hath set forth us [he's being very sarcastic in this section], the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." (I Corinthians 4:1-2,9)

He is saying; "Look, you are basically taking the revelation of God through the apostles and pushing it down, not listening to it." The clincher is in I Corinthians 4:13:

"Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you [this was the apostle Paul, given a vision in Corinth, specifically because there were many people in that city, to lay the foundations, to open the eyes of the blind so they could see for the first time]. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ [there are the other various functions], yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me." (I Corinthians 4:13-16)

What Happens When an Apostle Dies? (PLAY FROM 56:45)

So final point; what happens if the apostle of an area dies? If we turn over to II Peter 3:18; it is interesting that people quote this, where it says:

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ..." (II Peter 3:18)

They quote that to undermine the words of Mr Herbert Armstrong. If you will read the context, again in your own time, read what it says in II Peter. You will find that the context - for instance, notice in II Peter 3:2 it says:

"That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:" (II Peter 3:2)

This is the context of II Peter 3:18, even verse 17 that comes just before verse 18 says:

"Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness." (II Peter 3:17)

So the context is to be holding fast as they have been taught. If you go into II Peter, I'm not going to have time to read all of the sections that I would like to read to you; but in II Peter I would like to just draw a parallel between two things. In II Peter 1:12, notice what it says:

"Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance." (II Peter 1:12-15)

So after Peter was to die. He wrote that he wanted them to remember. I want to quote a couple of sections from 'Mystery of the Ages' in the Author's Statement at the very start. It says right towards the end:

"Even in these past 58 years I had not fully and clearly realized the significance of the fact revealed in Genesis 3:22-24 - that, in fact, God had closed the Holy Spirit and eternal life to mankind in general until the removal of Satan at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ." 'Mystery of the Ages'

So people could not understand the things of God. Remember, it says "this veil..." He says:

"For some years I had come to partially realize the error of this assumption, but the full truth on this point had not come crystal clear to me until very recently." 'Mystery of the Ages'

This was written a matter of months before he died. Then he makes the astounding statement:

"It is hoped that this book, written since God's time for it has come, will open many eyes to the truth of these long-hidden mysteries." 'Mystery of the Ages'

Now he just said; "You can't understand." And he until recently didn't understand in full, and in almost the next breath he says; "Look, it's written so you can understand." He is clearly and unambiguously writing to the Church. He is writing just before he died, and he says:

"And now, in my 93rd year, I have been led to write this book before this event-packed life ends, to share with as many as care to know, the answers that the great supreme mind of God reveals in His Word - if one is only willing to understand that Word." 'Mystery of the Ages'

Do you see the parallel between what is written there by the one who illuminated our minds initially and what was written in Peter, the one who illuminated the minds of people at that time? He said, "Look, I am writing this so you can keep these things always in remembrance." We could go on and read all of II Peter, quite frankly.

Mr Armstrong could not make Mr Tkach an apostle, utterly impossible. God is the one who sends because that is what the word apostle means. It is one who is sent. He is sent to open the minds of His people. It is that initial opening of the mind. It lays the foundation of the faith of His people. That's what it's all about. It's all about the trunk of the tree. Have you ever heard that phrase before? He did nothing else but talk about the trunk of the tree. Why? Because that was his job. It was his function.

The evidence of his apostleship is right here in this room, because you can understand the words that I am talking about, and you can understand the other words that come out of this Book.

We need to make sure that we hang onto that Rock, that foundation, because that foundation was not laid by Herbert Armstrong, it was laid by Christ who is the Rock. It is the Word of God. It's coming to us, explaining that Word of God the way God wants us to understand it, and to hold onto that and give us a clear anchor.

The times ahead of us are prophesied to be quite rough. It is times of great deception. But the foundation, if we make sure that we understand this foundation, if there are people doing miracles and they are off that foundation, they are not part of the actual temple of the Living God. So we need to make sure that we do that and hang onto that Rock of the foundation laid by the apostle sent to us.


Footnotes:

{1} Where Matthew 24:24 is quoted the words 'it were' have been omitted because they are not in the original manuscripts.

{2} For further reading on this subject Mr Bowles booklet; 'Just What is an Apostle' can be read online on cogiw.org, or contact office@cogiw.org to request a copy.

{3} Quotes from Josephus' 'Antiquities of the Jews' are from Book 11 chapter 5.