Monday, August 4, 2008

Go & Tell: the Commission

In Mark 6:7 the Twelve transition from discipleship to apostleship (not that being an apostle meant they were no longer disciples). The Greek word translated “send” in verse 7 is “apostello”, from which the word “apostle” is originated. That word signifies some one who has been sent out on a mission under the authority of and with the authority of the sender. Jesus deployed His disciples with His own authority. They carried the authority of the One who sent them.

They were not preaching their own message. They were to proclaim, and restricted to proclaiming, the Good News of Jesus Christ. They had no message to preach except for the message of Christ. They also had no authority over unclean spirits or disease except for the authority given them by Jesus Christ.

These particular apostles were uniquely gifted by Christ to perform miracles just as He did. This was also true of Paul, the apostle who was “born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8), and, we have to assume, of Matthias as well (Acts 1:21-26). Besides these fourteen men (this includes Judas Iscariot) no other men have been apostles in the like manner as they; insofar as performing exorcisms, miraculous signs and wonders, and being used of God as building blocks for the early churches.

Here is the point of this little detour: there are not now, never has been since, and never will be again apostles like these men were apostles; capital “A” apostles. They held a unique and temporary office. The supernatural signs they performed was authentication that they and their message were from God. The Lord used these men to steer and strengthen the early churches, but there are no Apostles now. There haven’t been since John died.

Nevertheless, all believers are literally “sent forth to preach”, and in that sense we are all apostles of Jesus Christ. Our calling is to herald, proclaim, gossip, and otherwise make known the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ; the message of Christ crucified for our sin according to the scriptures, buried, risen from the dead, according to the scriptures, and coming again. Our commissioning was given by Christ to the institution of the church as stated in Mark 16:15, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

That commissioning is for all believers, but for these Apostles, the commissioning of Mark 6 was for a specific ministry, but the principles are lasting.

Paired Messengers
First, the men were sent forth in pairs, not as lone rangers. The Preacher wrote:
Two [are] better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him [that is] alone when he falleth; for [he hath] not another to help him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Bishop Ryle has some wisdom of his own in this regard:
Two men together will do more work than two men singly. They will help one another in judgment, and commit fewer mistakes. They will aid one another in difficulties. They will stir one another up when tempted to idleness, and less often relapse into indolence and indifference. They will comfort one another in times of trial, and be less often cast down.
Rarely in scripture do we find any of God’s people working alone, specifically in the New Testament. The one instance when Paul is alone is in Athens (Acts 17:15-34), and that was a difficult time for the Apostle. We need one another! We must work together in our own church, and we should work together with out sister churches.

Authorized Representatives
Second, as has already been stated, they went forth as the authorized representatives of Jesus Christ. The same is true of us today. The church is the New Testament vehicle ordained, authorized, and empowered by God to take the Gospel message into the world. This authority carries with it an immense responsibility. After all, it is King Jesus we represent! Our manner of life, conduct, and ministry should match such a high calling.

While it is true that those who receive and reject the representatives of Christ are actually receiving and rejecting Christ. Matthew 25:40 says, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.” It is likewise true that believers must properly represent our Lord before a watching world. As Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

As ambassadors of Christ we are both messengers and representatives of the One who has called us and sent us. As such we must faithfully proclaim His message, and righteously represent our Lord, the High King of Heaven.

No comments: