ACCEPTING THE CALL
While ministering at a recent conference, I was asked the age old question: “How do you respond to the statement that you cannot be an apostle unless you have been with the original apostles and have witnessed Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1:21)?” This is the scripture that is used by those who believe that there were only twelve apostles, so there cannot be any apostles today. I am afraid that I may not have passed that test because I had never really studied it, so my answer was not very comprehensive. I have known deep in my spirit that the experience I had with Jesus when He called me to this ministry was genuine and always thought that was enough.
For the past two months, I have been meditating on this and speaking with the Lord about it. And then the Lord spoke to me about this all through the night and I now believe I have the answer from the throne of God.
First of all, when reading through the New Testament, I can count at least twenty-seven apostles, so there had to be more than twelve. Secondly, I have no doubt that Paul was an apostle and he was not even a believer when Jesus was crucified. I don’t know if anyone else has written on this because I don’t read many books (Ecclesiastes 12:12). There must be a clear and simple answer that would clear up this constant argument about apostles today.
Here is what the Lord showed me: If you study the first chapter of Acts, you will see an example of the world’s first unsuccessful business meeting. A replacement for Judas was selected (Matthias) and you never hear of this man again.
The original apostles had been rebuked many times by Jesus because they did not understand much of His teaching. Jesus taught them spiritual things and they kept trying to understand by using their carnal minds. Jesus had to keep explaining the meaning of His teaching. Here, in the first chapter of Acts, we see them using their former way of religious thinking when choosing a replacement for Judas. They assumed that there would always be only twelve and used the traditional Jewish method of finding the mind and will of God...by the drawing of lots. They still didn’t get it!
Their entire way of choosing another apostle was not according to the will of God! Jesus intended the apostolic ministry to continue forever and this is why we find so many apostles in the bible. In fact, Jesus intended Judas’ replacement to be Paul!
Jesus chose Paul and it was not by the casting of lots, but by the power of Holy Spirit. We see in the 9th chapter of Acts, that Paul was very powerfully called by Jesus Himself.
All we have to do now is look at scripture to see that they finally got it right. Acts 13:1-3 says, “Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” This is the method by which apostles were chosen and this is the way that continues today. Holy Spirit speaks first to the individual (Acts 9), then it is confirmed by the prophets (Acts 13).
After discovering this simple truth, I asked the Lord, “Why was I not knocked down and blinded as was Paul?” His answer was, “Paul was persecuting christians, and you were already saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.”
I know that Jesus called me to be an apostle, and I know it deep in my spirit and no man can take that from me. My apostolic ministry began in the wilderness, as should every ministry (this is where Jesus’ ministry began). My calling has been tested many times by the Lord Himself. It has also been tried by Satan and the religious community.
Am I perfect? NO. Do I ever make mistakes? YES. Am I an apostle? YES, because I know that I know that I know the voice of the Lord. The Lord has not only tested me but He has confirmed my calling many times. Many may question and doubt the fact that there can be apostles today, but I don’t. Again, I know this in my spirit and I know this is truth.
Were there false apostles in Paul’s day? YES, as there are today, and even those who do not believe there are apostles today believe there are false apostles!
The bottom line of belief is this: You must be born again and filled with the Spirit of God (all seven of them) or you will question and even argue about not only apostles, but prophets as well (even the unbelievers believe there are pastors).
I realize that by writing this letter that some may think that I am just trying to justify my calling as an apostle. In reality, I am justifying the call of all apostles.