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-- © GodSpeak International 2002 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.net> --

Author: Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net http://www.godspeak.net
Editor: Bob Hawley

Finding Your Place In God's Kingdom Order

Lesson 3
So You Want To Be An Apostle?

By Teresa Seputis

In our last lesson, we saw that apostles get to do some really neat things. They get to be leaders, establish doctrine, perform signs and wonders, teach and equip believers, impart spiritual anointings into others, preach, prophesy, etc. So it is not surprising that a lot of believers wish the Lord would appoint them as apostles. After all, we are all hungry for God, hungry to be close to Him, to hear His voice clearly, to move in His power and anointing. We desire to "be all that we can be" in Christ. So it is natural that many desire the "apostle" job description.

At least, it is natural for many to desire the "up side" of being an apostle. But did you know that there is a hefty down side as well? Someone once explained it to me this way: "You have to 'pay a price' to be anything significant in the Body of Christ." God is looking for those who are willing to count the cost and then pay the price. He can't use us until He refines us, and there is always a big price tag in being refined. The greater the call of God you desire on your life, the bigger the 'price tag' for it will be.

This lesson will look at some of the "costs" of being an apostle. There are many costs that we will not cover, but here are five worth noting:

  1. Many Apostles Work Hard And Are Never Recognized By Church At Large
  2. Some Apostles Are Called To Be Self-Supporting Instead Of Being Supported Financially By The Church
  3. Some Apostles Are Given "Obscure" Kingdom Work
  4. Most Apostles Are Persecuted Or Suffer For Their Faith
  5. Most Apostles Are Called To Become Martyrs

We will cover the first three costs in this lesson, and look at the remaining two in our next lesson.

Many Apostles Work Hard And Are Never Recognized By Church At Large

The first thing most people think of when they hear the word apostle is "spiritual leader" or governing authority. But most of what the apostles in the Bible did was hard work. And, similar to the prophet who is not appreciated or honored in his home town, many apostles do not get respect and honor from those they serve. In fact, a lot of apostles are taken for granted.

Paul was one of the "greatest" apostles in the book of Acts. He probably accomplished more than any of the original "12" (really 11 because Judas killed himself and Mathias was elected as his replacement). Paul planted more churches, personally lead more people to Christ, wrote more scripture and established more doctrine than any of the others. God anointed him and used him very powerfully. Yet Paul was not recognized as one of "God's greats" in his day. In fact, he was seen by many as lower than the original 12. He was not widely respected. There were times when he had to spend time justifying the fact that he called himself an apostle.

Paul wrote 1 Cor. 9:1-27 to defend his Kingdom works because they were not very appreciated. He uses a bit of sarcasm in the first half of this chapter to make the point that people look down on him and his work. He went on to share that he humbled himself voluntarily to be able to preach the gospel, that people may be saved. The reason Paul wrote this section is because he did not have the recognition and respect that should accompany his God-appointed position. Paul was taken for granted, he was not appreciated, even though he may have very well been the most powerful and effective apostle who ever lived.

Again in 2 Cor. 12 we see Paul defending his ministry, giving his spiritual qualifications and also his demonstrations of God's authority. For instance, Paul reminded the church at Corinth of the signs, wonders and miracles he did among them in verse 12. He shared how he poured himself out for them, but they didn't seem to appreciate it. In verse 15, he cried out, "So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?" In other words, he was saying that all of his self-sacrifice and hard work was not appreciated.

In Gal. 2:8 we see Paul had to define himself as an apostle, because he was not automatically recognized as one, "For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles."

Some Apostles Are Called To Be Financially Self-Supporting

There were times where Paul worked a full-time secular job and then would spend his off hours preaching and evangelizing. He did this in Corinth. Acts 18:2-4 says, "And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them. So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks."

Technically, Paul should have been supported by the church because of the important Kingdom work he was doing. He even argued that point in 1 Cor. 9:6-12. But, for the sake of the gospel, Paul humbled himself and took a secular job so he might support his "real" job of doing Kingdom work.

Today, we find that God gives apostolic calls and mandates to some people. Once they have received this call, they do not let anything stop them from achieving it. If the funding (the finances) is not there, they go out and work a secular job to finance the ministry. Ideally they should be supported for the Kingdom work they do (see 1 Cor. 9:6-12). But if the support is not there -- and often it is not there -- they do not let that stop them. They go out and work a secular job to "pay the bills" and they also work a full-time ministry job to do what God has called them to do. In other words, they work hard to be able to do Kingdom work.

Some Apostles Are Given "Obscure" Kingdom Work

Jesus appointed 12 disciples, 11 of whom became apostles. Luke 3:13-16 records it as, "When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose 12 of them, whom He also designated apostles: Simon (whom He named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor."

The book of Acts talks a lot about Peter and even more about Paul (who was not one of the original 12). But it does not talk much about the other 10 disciples.

John does get mentioned in Acts 3 where the lame beggar is healed, he is arrested with Peter in Acts 4, and ministers impartation with Peter in Acts 8. Philip is mentioned multiple times, but we are not sure which Philip is being talked about. There is Philip the apostle and one of the original seven deacons was also named Philip. For the sake of this discussion, let's assume that it is the apostle Philip who is mentioned here preaching in Samaria (Acts 8:5-12), converting and baptizing the Ethiopian (Acts 8), and on a missionary preaching journey from Azotus to Caesarea (Acts 8:40). Judas, not Judas Iscariot but the other disciple named Judas, is mentioned only twice. The book of Acts briefly mentions the two James (one is martyred in Acts 12:2, and the other James receives a message in Acts 12:17, speaks in an assembly in Acts 15:13 and is visited by Paul and Luke in Acts 46:18).

Five (half) of the apostles are mentioned only in Acts 1:13 as being present at the day of Pentecost when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit: Andrew, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas and Simon.

Do you realize that the Bible gives more "press" to Stephen, one of the original deacons and first martyr, than it does to most of the apostles combined? Stephen first shows up in Acts 6 as one of the original deacons. A large portion of Acts chapter 6 (verses 8-15) and all of Acts chapter 7 are devoted to Stephen. His burial is mentioned in Acts 8:2. Did Stephen have more important work than 10 of the apostles? This is just speculation on my part, but I don't believe that he did. I believe these apostles probably each had as powerful and amazing stories as Stephan did, but God choose not to make the details of their lives public to us.

Jesus spent three years personally training these 10 men. He commissioned them as apostles. It follows that God had real and significant Kingdom work for them to do. Yet the Bible is strangely silent on what that work was. I am sure it was important and foundational for God's Kingdom. But their apostolic work was obscure in the eyes of the church. It will become known and rewarded at the time when we all stand before God's throne. The point is that not all apostolic work is visible to the church at large; much of it is done obscurely, away from the "public eye."

-- © GodSpeak International 2002 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.net> --

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