Romans 9

On my theological journey from Arminianism to embracing the Reformed faith, what became increasingly convincing to me was not the logical arguments I heard (as good as they were); nor was it the fact that a great majority of the Church’s great Bible scholars through the centuries believed and propagated it (as impressive as that is). What convinced me was the clear teaching of Holy Scripture.

Having read many counter positions on passages such as John 6, Ephesians 1, and Romans 8 and 9, I was amazed at what people needed to do to try to avoid the clear teaching of the passages. They could not just stay in the same passage and work through the verses one by one, allowing the writer to flow from one thought to the next. Instead, they had to argue that the writers were at one point talking about one thing and then in the next verse or even in the middle of the same verse, were speaking about something completely different. It was hard to follow, but not because of what the text said, but, as I came to understand it, because of the elaborate methodology being implemented to avoid what the text was actually saying. They (“they” being those who opposed reformed theology) would say that in one phrase he is referring to “nations” while in another he is referring to specific individuals, and then in the very next verse it referred to something else. Even if this was the case, what are “nations” but a large group of individual people? The “problem” they had of a Sovereign God choosing people for salvation does not go away. God still does this if he chooses one nation and not another. If God chose one nation, he is choosing individual people who make up that nation, and is therefore by this act, also not choosing other people. As I say, the “problem” does not go away.

In contrast to this, when the Scripture writer is allowed to “speak for himself” as to what he means, by simply taking his words, in context, allowing the words to flow from one statement to the next in the passage as he addresses his overall theme, a consistent correct interpretation emerges. This became so very clear to me. I am reformed in soteriology (the study of salvation) because bottom line, this is what I believe Scripture teaches.

On these issues, I used to have my feet firmly planted in mid air. What I mean by that is that I just didn’t know where I stood on these things. Not only did I not know, I thought it was a display of humility to say so. Now, it would be humble if the Scripture was vague, elusive and impossible to understand on these things. Some things are clearer than others in holy Scripture. But when God has made His truth clear, it is actually the height of arrogance to say otherwise. Because there is a God and because He has revealed His existence to every man (as Romans 1 teaches) it is arrogance to be agnostic on the question of God’s existence. It would be like standing in God’s face and saying “You did not make this clear at all.” In the same way, I believe God has addressed the issue of His Sovereignty in the matter of salvation in passages such as Romans 9 and that His truth is clearly revealed here.

One of the men of God who helped me (under God) to see this, is a man who became my friend in this whole process, the man in this youtube video, Dr. James White. How thankful I am now to be able to see (although much mystery remains) something of the stunning and majestic glory of God in the Sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners. Here (below) is Dr. James White speaking for approximately 55 minutes in Great Falls, Montana, on the Romans 9 passage. I recommend it highly.

The Boat Journey

The story is told of a man in England whose lifetime ambition was to take a trip to the United States of America. One day, and overwhelmed by the generosity of his friend, the man realised his dream was soon to come true.

On boarding the ship, the man’s joy could be seen by all. Yet one thing differentiated him from the others on board. During meal times, the rest of the passengers went into the dinner lounge to enjoy sumptuous gourmet meals. Instead, this man went back to his cabin and opened the little bag he carried with him on board containing crackers and cheese, and day by day, he consumed the contents, alone.

Undetered, the man, if it was possible, was only growing in excitement. He knew that in a short time, he would see America for the first time. In fact, he understood that there would be relatives waiting to meet him at New York harbor. The long sea crossing from England seemed a short one to him, because of the wonders he knew were awaiting him at the journey’s end.

The day finally came when the ship reached New York. The man could hardly contain himself. Here he was, fulfilling his dream.

When it came time to disembark, the Captain of the ship made it his duty to shake hands personally with each of the passengers. One by one, the people came and expressed their thanks to the captain for the good job he had done in bringing them safely to the harbor.

But when the man in our story came, the Captain looked at him and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t remember seeing you before. I don’t recall seeing you in the dinner lounge. Was something wrong? Was the service satisfactory?”

The man responded, “Well Captain, there’s no need to be concerned. I did see the dinner lounge and the wonderful food laid out. But sir, I am a poor man, and am only here because someone gave me a ticket. There was no way I could afford those luxurious meals, and I knew it. So what I did was pack some crackers and cheese with me in my suitcase, and each day, I went back to my cabin at meal times, and enjoyed the food I brought… and Captain, this is the best day of my life! Hey, I think I can even recognize some folk that are waiting for me on the harbor. Thank you so much Captain. I am extremely grateful for all you have done.”

The Captain looked very perturbed, and said, “Sir, its been our pleasure to have you on board, yet I am deeply saddened to hear your story. You tell me you didn’t come in for the meals because you could not afford them. Sir, I am so sorry. Did you not read the ticket? If you had read the back of your ticket, you would have known that all your meals were included.”

This story illustrates how many Christians live far below their privileges in Christ. There are many things that wait for us in heaven – things that will make all of life’s trials worth it all. The sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared to the joy that awaits us there in heaven. But Christianity is more than simply pie in the sky when we die. It is also steak on the plate while we wait!

We as Christians, saved by grace alone, through faith alone because of Christ alone, need to stop and read our tickets (so to speak). We have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

We may not have been born equal. Some have more privileges in life than others. However, we were all born again equal. Every Christian has received the exact same inheritance in Christ. Each of us are declared justified by faith (Romans 5:1); have received the complete righteousness of God as a gift (Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21); are more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37); and we stand complete in Him (Col. 3:10). Each of us have access by faith into this grace in which we stand (Romans 5:2); and this amazing privilege allows us to gain deep intimacy with the Lord Himself.

Are we taking advantage of this wonderful inheritance?

Are we seeing answered prayer (Mark 11:24)?

Are we praying with expectancy (John 14:13, 14)?

Are we accessing His peace, even in the midst of life’s storms (Phil. 4:6, 7), and casting all our care on to the Lord (1 Peter 5:7)?

The man who lived on crackers and cheese did not lose His inheritance because of his lack of knowledge of what a gift of grace had provided; but he did live far below his privileges. Let not that be true of us. Let us enjoy all that Christ has provided for us, His children here, by His amazing grace that comes through the cross of Christ. The joys of intimacy with Christ are ours now, and yet will be fully realised when we see Him face to face. Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

“And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” – Acts 20:32

The Most Helpful Thing I Ever Learned As A Christian

I was in fact His – His for all eternity. As I read the Scriptures, the wonders of this great salvation become clear – God had saved me, I was His, and Christ did indeed love me and had given me eternal life. Heaven sent joy and peace flooded my soul.

But then, somewhere along the way this settled peace was disturbed. The wonders of His grace, wrought through Christ and His atoning work became obscured… not because I read some book countering Christianity and was swayed by the arguments, but because I came across Scriptures that at least at first glance, seemed to show that my salvation was a lot more flimsy and shaky than I first imagined. Perhaps you can identify with this.

Here’s what I mean: I read Scriptures such as “nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Rom 8: 39) but then read “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt 24:13)

I read, “…whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16) and then read “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” (1 Cor 15:1,2)

I thought, “which is it God? If someone believes, You say that they have eternal life, but here it says that someone can “believe in vain.” How could both statements be true?” Continue reading

Miscellaneous Quotes (11)

“One proof of the inspiration of the Bible is that it has withstood such poor preaching.” – A.T. Robertson

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie ten Boom

Luther, to Erasmus, in Bondage of the Will: “For even I, by the grace of God, am not such a fool or so mad as to have been willing to maintain and defend this cause for so long, with so much zeal and constancy (which you call obstinacy) amid so many dangers to life, so much hatred, so many treacheries, in short, amid the fury of men and demons, simply for the sake of money (which I neither possess nor desire), or popularity (which I could not obtain if I wished, in a world so incensed against me), or physical safety (of which I cannot for a moment be certain)… When nothing else can be done, we prefer to be battered by temporal tumult, rejoicing in the grace of God, for the sake of the Word of God, which must be asserted with an invincible and incorruptible mind, rather than to be shattered by eternal tumult under the wrath of God, with intolerable torment.” – Luther’s Works

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein

“The devil has more knowledge than any of us, and yet is no better for it.” – J.C. Ryle

Tim Keller pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church explains the difference between all world religions and Christianity: “At the end of The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis demonstrates how the major religions agree on certain moral absolutes. Christians find that in today’s culture wars, they often are on the same side with believing Jews, Muslims, and Hindus. The Christian preacher seems to be saying, “Be moral,” along with exponents of other philosophies.
But when we ask, “Why be moral?” the other systems say, “In order to find God,” while Christianity says, “Because God has found you.” The Christian gospel is that we are not saved by moral living, we are saved for it. We are saved by grace alone, but that grace will inevitably issue a moral life.”

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. . . . It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, chapter 10).

“The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” – The Autobiography, vol. 16 of The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988), 212.

“Since God has a Son of his own, and such a Son, how wonderful God’s love in adopting us! We needed a Father, but he did not need sons.” – Thomas Watson

“God has this funny idea about church… He thinks it’s about HIM.” – Max Lucado

“No verse of Scripture yields its meaning to lazy people.” – A.W. Pink

“You can’t open your eyes in this universe without seeing a theater of divine revelation.” – R.C. Sproul

“One of the first ways you can tell that you are moving beyond temptation into a pattern of sin is if you find yourself in a time of prayerlessness. That isn’t just a “spiritual maturity issue”—it’s a gospel issue. You are recreated through the gospel with a nature that longs for communion with God. The Spirit within you cries out, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). Prayer is exactly how you experience the sympathy of your high priest who has triumphed over your temptation. After all, you are not the only one praying when you pray. The Spirit himself prays through you, and as he does so, he works to align your will and desires with those of Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:26–27). If you are reluctant to pray, it just might be that you, like Adam and Israel before you, are hiding in the vegetation, ashamed to hear the rustling of the leaves that signals he is here.” – Russell Moore, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ, p. 171.

“Too many are willing to sit at God’s table, but not work in his field.” – Vance Havner

“Morality may damn as well as vice. A vessel may be sunk with gold as well as with dung.” – Thomas Watson

“You are required to believe, to preach, and to teach what the Bible says is true, not what you want the Bible to say is true.” – R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God, p. 12.

“Grace is not a reward for faith; faith is the inevitable result of grace.” Unknown

“Man fell by a desire to be independent of God, and now man wishes to be equally independent of God in returning to him.” – T.C. Hammond

Free Will

An outline of the chapter on free will in Robert Peterson’s Election and Free Will: God’s Gracious Choice and Our Responsibility.

Free Will and the Bible’s Story

1.Human beings as created had true freedom and freedom of choice.
2.Human being as fallen lost true freedom and retained freedom of choice.
3.Human beings as redeemed have regained a measure of true freedom and retained freedom of choice.
4.Human beings as glorified will be perfected in true freedom and will retain freedom of choice.
True freedom = “the ability to love and serve God unhindered by sin” (p. 131).

Freedom of choice or spontaneity = “the ability of human beings to do as they wish” (p. 126)

Free Will and Reasons Why People Are Saved and Condemned

1. Reasons why people are saved

a. People are saved because they trust Christ as Lord and Savior.
b. People are saved because the Holy Spirit opens their hearts to the Gospel.
c. People are saved because Christ died and rose to save them.
d. People are saved because the Father chose them for salvation before creation.

2. Reasons why people are condemned

a. People are condemned because of their actual sin.
b. People are condemned because of Adam’s original sin.
c. People are condemned because God passed over them (reprobation).

Free Will and Its Relation to God’s Sovereignty

1. The Bible affirms both divine sovereignty and genuine human responsibility.

a. The Bible affirms divine sovereignty.
b. The Bible affirms genuine human responsibility.
c. The Bible affirms divine sovereignty and human responsibility together.

2. Parameters for sovereignty and responsibility.

a. Fatalism must be rejected as an error.
b. Absolute power to the contrary must be rejected as an error.

3. To emphasize either sovereignty or responsibility at the expense of the other is to fall into the error of rationalism.

a. Hyper-Calvinism is an error.
b. Arminianism is an error.

HT: Justin Taylor

Ignatius of Antioch in Context

Back in the year 2004, I attended a seminary class taught by Dr. James White on the Early Church Fathers (also known as Patristics). It was fascinating to read the writings of precious men of God from the first few centuries who hold to the same faith as I do. Yet it has to be said, the Early Church Fathers were indeed a mixed bag.

Just as if you or I would go to a Christian bookstore today, we would find good books, scholarly books, and books that propagate shoddy scholarship and even false doctrine; so it was in the Early Church. Yet in studying their writings we learn a great deal about how the early Christians worshipped, what was important to them, what the issues were that were causing controversy and of course, what they believed about a whole host of issues.

I have a Roman Catholic friend named Steve. He told me some years back that he was considering quitting his full time job to seek training so that he might one day enter the Roman Catholic priesthood. As you might imagine, he and I have often had lively debate with each other, centering mostly on the subject of justification by faith alone, but on other issues too.

Just today Steve wrote to me challenging me to deal with the subject of Ignatius, an Early Church Father, who was discipled by the Apostle John. Because of his direct link to John, Ignatius is one of the most important Church Fathers.

The apologists of Rome often make the claim that Ignatius taught the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist (the term “eucharist” simply means “the giving of thanks”) and of transubstantiation (that when the priest consecrates the bread and wine, it becomes the literal blood, body and divinity of Jesus Christ). But is this true? Did Ignatius actually teach this? Or have Ignatius’ words been taken out of context?

Because the issue of Ignatius is an oft repeated claim of Rome, Dr. White put some of his class (dealing with Ignatius specifically) onto youtube videos. Because of time restraints (each video lasts only a few minutes) there are five videos. They are well worth the effort to watch them. I recommend them very highly.

Continue reading

Can a true Christian lose salvation?

Years ago I read this article below by Greg Johnson (original source) and found it very helpful. When people have questions along this line (which they often do) I usually start by pointing them here. I like the article for its great simplicity and depths of insight. – John

One major debate within Christian circles is the question of whether or not a Christian can lose his or her salvation. Arminians argue that true believers can sin so much that they lose their faith and perish. Some Christians respond by arguing that once a person professes faith in Jesus, he is eternally secure in his salvation and—even if he commits complete apostasy (“falls away”) and vocally rejects Jesus Christ—will still go to heaven, for “once saved, always saved.” In light of the biblical doctrine of predestination, how should we understand the security we have under God’s care? There have been three main approaches to the question:

1. Classic Arminianism
• One must persevere in faith to be saved.
• True believers can lose their faith.
• Those dying without faith in Christ are condemned.
“The believer who loses his faith is damned.”

2. Antinomianism
• One need not persevere in faith to be saved.
• True believers can lose their faith.
• Those who lose their faith are saved, since they once believed.
“The believer who loses his faith is saved.”

3. Classic Calvinism
• One must persevere in faith to be saved.
• True believers cannot lose their faith, since it’s God’s gift.
• Those dying without faith in Christ are condemned.
• Those who “lose” their faith never had it to begin with.
• God will preserve true believers and they will be saved.
“The ‘believer’ who loses his faith never really had it—or at least it wasn’t in Jesus.”

Proponents of the first two approaches quote biblical references, but each must strain to explain away the other group’s biblical data. How can an Arminian read Romans 8, then tell true believers that they may screw up and go to hell??? Then again, how can Charles Stanley read Hebrews 6 and 10 and tell unbelievers who once professed faith not to worry, that they will be saved??? Any true biblical teaching must “fit” with ALL the biblical data, without pitting one text against another and without having to explain away a single “jot or tittle” of God’s inerrant Word. I believe that only the classical Calvinist model takes into account all of the biblical data.

Arminians are right when they say the Bible teaches that only those who persevere will be saved, and they’re right in accusing Antinomians of easy-believism and cheap grace. Antinomians (they wouldn’t use the term) are right in telling committed believers that they are secure in Christ and “once saved, always saved.” But both of these views are wrong is assuming that a true believer can lose his faith and fall away from Christ. Faith is “a gift of God—not by works, lest any man boast.” Paul was confident that, since Christ had begun a good work in believers, He would continue that work until completion (Phil. 1). John said that those who fell away were never really true Christians, since true believers don’t leave the faith (1 John 2:19).

Scripture teaches that believers must persevere until the end, but also that believers will persevere until the end by God’s grace. As the Westminster Assembly concluded, Christians might temporarily yield to Satan’s temptations, even to excess, but like Peter when he denied Christ three times, God will still restore and preserve the faith of the Christian, a faith which God gave in the first place! Peter went on to be chief among the apostles! Two biblical principles must be held side-by-side:

1. You Must Persevere until the End: God’s Requirement of His People
God does not merely command us to begin to believe for a time, and then fall away. He requires us to continue to believe until the end, living lives of repentance and covenant faithfulness. Granted, He does not ask for a perfect faith, but He does ask for a real faith, one that produces real, lasting change.
• Colossians 1:21-23
• 1 John 1:5-10; 3:3-6
• Hebrews 10:26-31
• Hebrews 12:1

2. You Will Persevere Until the End: God’s Preservation of His People
We will persevere because God preserves us. God will keep us from falling—not one will be lost of all those who belong to the Son. True believers are not able to leave Christ, for Christ is at work within them.

• John 6:38-40
• John 10:28-29
• Romans 8:28-39
• Philippians 1:4-6
• Philippians 2:12-13
• 1 John 2:19

This first set of texts cannot be used to refute the second (Arminianism); nor can the second set of texts be used to refute the first (cheap grace). The point that makes the two compatible is the biblical teaching that faith (while commanded of everyone) is a gift from God to His elect. If faith is simply a human action of a free will, then it can be lost. But if saving faith is God’s gift, then it cannot be lost.

Can professing Christians fall away? Yes, and they will perish.

Can true Christians fall away? No, for they are kept by the invincible power of God in Christ.

The Bible teaches us that professing Christians who leave the faith were never truly believers (1 John 2:19; and notice the qualification even in Hebrews 10:39).

“They, whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” —Westminster Confession of Faith 17.1, drafted by the Westminster Assembly at the request of the British Parliament 1643-47

Parodios via Satiricus

A Recently Discovered Letter of Critique Written to the Apostle Paul, co-authored by Justin Taylor (pictured) and Jared Wilson

Exclusive: In an exciting example of scholarly cross-collaboration and interdisciplinary research, textual critics and archaeologists have just published a translation of a recently discovered first-century letter, apparently authentic, written to the Apostle Paul himself. Scholars believe it was likely written in the late AD 40s or early 50s. The parchment was remarkably well preserved in a jar buried in a cave on the island of Satiricus. It is surmised that the author of the letter, Parodios, was an elder who had met Paul on one of his missionary journeys. The translation, published here for the first time, reads as follows:

Parodios, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, to our brother Paulos.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our church recently received a copy of the letter that you sent to the church of Galatia. We hope you will not mind hearing our humble concerns. In the past we have noticed you are more interested in confronting people rather than conversing with them, but we hope you will receive this letter as an invitation to further dialogue.

First of all, we are uncomfortable with your tone throughout the correspondence. We know it is difficult sometimes to discern tone of voice from written communication, but you should keep this in mind as well. One could gather from your careless use of words that you are losing your temper. You certainly sound angry. This is unbecoming a spokesperson for the faith. As you say yourself, one of the manifest fruit of God’s Spirit is gentleness.

Aren’t you being a hypocrite to preach grace but not show it to our Judaizer brothers? They may not worship as you do or emphasize the same teachings you do, but our Lord has “sheep not of this fold,” and there is certainly room within the broader Way for these brothers. Their methodology may differ from yours, but certainly their hearts are in the right place.

You yourself know that our Lord required personal contact when we have a grievance against another. Have you personally contacted any of these men? Have you sat down to reason with them personally? Have you issued a personal invitation? Some of them may even reconsider their viewpoints if you had taken a different tack. We know that your position is likely that public teaching is open to public criticism, but we can do better than what is expected, can’t we?

In one portion of your letter, you indicate you don’t even know these persons! “Whoever he is,” you write. Our dear Paulos, how can you rightly criticize them when you don’t know them? It’s clear you haven’t even read their material, because you never quote them. We implore you to see that they are plainly within the tradition of Moses and of the Prophets. They understand the context of the covenant in ways you appear deaf to.

Similarly, we find your tone and resorting to harsh language not in keeping with the love of Christ. “Foolish Galatians.” “Let him be accursed.” “Emasculate themselves.” Really? Can you not hear yourself? You think this is Christlike? Does this sound like something our Lord would say? Do you think this flippant, outrageous, personal, vindictive manner of speech speaks well of God’s love or the church? It is clear you are taking this way too personally. Indeed, you ask the Galatians if you are now their enemy. Does everything have to be so black and white to you?

Paulos, what will unbelievers think when they read this letter? Do you think this will commend the gospel to them? This kind of harsh language just makes us look like a bunch of angry people. They see we can’t even love each other, and over what? Circumcision? This is a terrible advertisement for God’s love to an unbelieving world. You have given plenty of people permission now to disregard Jesus, if this is what his mouthpieces sound like.

We hope you will reconsider your approach. We know that you catch much more flies with honey than with vinegar. We are concerned that your ill-worded letter signals a divisiveness that threatens to fracture the church. We beg you to reconsider how important these minor issues are, and how in the future you may speak in ways that better reflect God’s love.

The grace—and the love!—of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brother.

It is unknown whether the Apostle Paul actually received and read this letter, and history has left no record of a response.

But we think we can make at least two observations.

First, Paul’s words to the Galatians were not inappropriate. They were true words, and they were loving words. Even if it runs contrary to our presuppositions and expectations, they were an example of “speaking the truth in love.” These words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that to critique Paul and his language is ultimately to critique God himself.

Second, this language was not Paul’s default. He did not respond to every controversy in the same way. He would be appalled if people took this letter to the Galatians and made it the norm for Christian discourse. Christians should seek to guard their tongue, using gracious speech seasoned with salt, delivered in love, and designed for edification (Col. 4:6; Eph. 4:15, 25, 29). But false doctrine and false teachers can infiltrate the church, and when the gospel is at stake, the means of being loving, edifying, salt-flavored, grace-filled may require harsh words in order to protect the flock, the church for whom Christ died.

May God give us much wisdom in how to speak the truth in love, especially when we have to call a spade a spade.

Apostleship in the New Testament

What are we to do with ministers in our day who say they are apostles? Many are simply self professed men seeking to draw disciples after themselves and whose doctrine is highly problematic at best, completely heretical. These men are not merely false apostles, but perhaps even false disciples of Christ.

But what of the people who seem to be, from all outward appearances anyway, “sane” individuals – Christian ministers who have excellent and sound theology but still insist that there are apostles today and.. wait for it.. actually believe they are apostles themselves?

I am thinking of men like C.J. Mahaney (of Sovereign Grace Ministries) in the USA and of Terry Virgo (of New Frontiers Ministries) in the United Kingdom. These are highly respected men who have served the cause of Christ faithfully for decades and have established a huge network of pastors and churches under them who look to them for leadership and guidance, both locally in their home nation and overseas.

What do we do with these men? I have to admit that my initial impulse was to reject completely the idea of apostles being alive today. However, I have enough respect for these men to at least allow them to define what they mean when they use the term. Therefore, I think the first thing we need to do is take a deep breath and allow them to explain themselves.

After hearing their explanation, I have to say that I became a good deal more comfortable. I do not believe they are using the term “apostle” in the same extreme way that others do who make the claim, but are actually seeking to be biblical.

I must say right up front that I am not personally “under” either one of these men or look to either of them as “my apostle.” Though I have met both of these men, I feel fairly sure they would not remember meeting me. On both occasions, as I recall, I had only brief discussions with them. I have no cause or agenda here to seek to promote either their ministries or their idea; I simply wish to try to understand their position biblically. Here are some words from blog posts made by Terry Virgo on the subject:

I believe that when Jesus ascended he gave gifts to his church. Exalted to the right hand of God, he received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out not only the Pentecostal blessing described in Acts 2:33 but also gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11) to help equip his church and bring it to maturity.

These variously named gifts obviously differ in their function and relevance. It doesn’t say ‘he ascended and gave priests’ or ‘he ascended and gave clergymen’. He gave diverse and distinct gifts. The evangelist differs from the prophet. The apostle differs from the pastor. Otherwise these titles are redundant – a waste of space.

If the inspired Scriptures distinguish between varieties of ministries and clearly imply that we need this diversity of gifting to bring about God’s ultimate intention, why do so many Bible-believing Christians and churches ignore the obvious implications?

For instance, the apostles of the New Testament had a distinct task from the evangelists or pastors, and it wasn’t, as so many of our evangelical brothers suggest, simply to write Scriptures! The apostle Barnabas (Acts 14:14) wrote no Scripture nor did most of the Twelve, while Luke, nowhere described as an apostle, wrote much of the New Testament. Continue reading