Two Lessons – Part 2

1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. Gal. 2:1-10

Notice, in verses 7 through 9, the two things that the apostles in Jerusalem saw in Paul: they perceived and acknowledged that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto him; and they also saw and acknowledged the grace that was given unto Paul.

This spirit of humility is very important for the church. The end goal for the church should be unity in the Spirit. Unity in the Spirit cannot be achieved where there is no humility. Had the apostles in Jerusalem not been able to see in the Spirit and had they told Paul: “You are a novice in this ministry, what can you tell us?”, the end result would have been a divided church right from the start, and there is no telling where that would have led to.

That is why we need to hail the early apostles as heroes of faith. Not only on account of the miracles that they performed, but more so for their humility. Humility always attends true faith. It is for this same reason that King David is a great man in the Bible. David did one of the most horrific sins recorded in the Bible; yet right to the end he was God’s favorite. How come? It was because David had a humble heart.

It was through this humility that the apostles could recognize Paul for who he was in the Spirit. It was also through this same humility that both Paul and these men could agree on one of the most important pillars of true Christianity: to remember the poor.

Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. (v.10)

In ministry, we must remember the poor. Remembering the poor is central to our Christian faith. We can learn from the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In John 13:29, we read:

“For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.”

This scripture clearly shows that Jesus ministered to the poor financially. (We know from other accounts that Jesus ministered physically and materially to the people He preached to.)

What about the Apostle Paul? Paul tells the Corinthians;

“I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.” (2 Cor. 11:8)

Today there are men of God who rob God’s people to enrich themselves and to live comfortable lives. There is no way you are going to convince me that a Bentley or a Hummer or a 2000-dollar suit is for ministry. Which proves that even the private jets used by modern preachers are not really for ministry.

There is no place for this kind of lifestyle in the Bible. Paul did not “rob” other churches to enrich himself. But, as we see in 2 Corithinans 8, he took the money he got from the more affluent churches to serve the less fortunate ones. This was to fulfill what th scripture says:

“… he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack” (Ex. 16:18).

As of Paul’s own life, on the contrary, we read of his and his fellow apostles’ lives thus:

“11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12 and labour, working with our own hands…” (1 Cor. 4:11-12)

True apostolic ministry will always look out for the poor. That is why the early apostles, who were true men of God, could concur and exhort each other to “remember the poor”. With these men, you would not hear such immature references to the poor as “lazy”, etc.

The long and short of it is that a gospel that does not mind the poor is a dead gospel. Whatever the Bible writes it writes to show us the heart of God. In this singular scripture, it is easy to see God’s heart for the poor and downtrodden people of this world.

Why should we “remember the poor”? It is primarily because nothing in this world is worth a person’s soul. No amount of money that you can hoard in your pocket or bank account can compare with the value of a human soul. Money – or, rather, the love of it – should not hinder us from serving the poor. In serving the poor, we serve God.

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The Ministry of the Apostle – Part 1

1Co 14:33  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

The keyword here is ‘confusion’. Let me first set a background to this. In Ephesians 3:15 Paul talks about “the whole family in heaven and earth”. He is talking about God’s family, the Church. The Church is a family. In every family, it is the ministry of the father to maintain order. In the Church the apostle is the father.

Unfortunately, not everyone who has the title ‘Apostle’ is a real apostle, or even understands the ministry of the apostle. I will go even further and say that a true apostle would most likely not put the title ‘Apostle’ before his name. The five-fold ministry is not about titles. You will notice that even though Paul introduced himself severally in his epistles as an apostle of Jesus Christ, he never once calls himself ‘Apostle Paul’. When Paul says he is an apostle of Jesus Christ he is making a spiritual statement. Titles are meaningless when it comes to the things of the Spirit. A title is important when someone has nothing of the Spirit in him. He feels he needs a bulwark of some sort and titles are powerful tools in the flesh.

In these last days when God is restoring the Church, Satan is also raising counterfeits. The ministry of the apostle is the most important ministry in the Church and Satan knows that. That is why today there is a glut of ministers carrying the title ‘Apostle’.

But we must be serious and understand why God put the ministry of the apostle in the Church. He put this ministry so there would be order in the Church. No other ministry had the spiritual authority to write what Paul wrote to these churches.

The apostle is the father of the Church. Where the ministry of the apostle is at work, there will be order in the church. There will be sound doctrine in the church. Where there is no sound doctrine there is no order; and where there is no order there is confusion.

That is why Paul, through the anointing of the ministry of the apostle that was upon him, was able to put order not only in the Corinthian church, but in all the churches that he ministered to. He says: “as in all churches of the saints”.

Paul talked about how different ministries ought to operate in Church; he taught about the place and role of a woman in Church; he talked about the relationship between husband and wife; about widows; money; he confronted sin in church and showed how to deal with it. Paul even talked about how people ought to sing and pray in church! He talked about how people ought to behave in Church and how things ought to operate in Church.

The Church needs order. The Bible says clearly that God is not the author of confusion. But today even a blind man can tell that there is so much confusion in churches. If one were to list the things that are disorderly in church, that list would be endless.

Confusion means that everyone does whatever they feel they need to do. There is no spiritual direction and no single Godly vision. Each one thinks they have the ‘Vision’ and they go ahead and do whatever they feel they are called upon to do. Everyone is doing their own thing in church “in the Name of Jesus”.

Needless to say, in that kind of atmosphere, the flesh has a field day! You will find every kind of the manifestations of the flesh in Church. And, since the flesh is the door for Satan to control people’s lives, there will be all kinds of strange doctrines in Church, even demonic ones. In one church in our city, the lead actor is a popular local TV comedian. That is the state of the Church today.

I thank God so much for the ministry of CTMI. Through this ministry I have come to understand about the apostolic ministry, the revelation of the Church, law and grace. Grace, not law, is what came through Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross. Most important of all I have come to experience the life-changing power of the gospel through the five-fold ministry, which is only found in this gospel of the revelation of the Cross. I may still be weak and struggling on the road of the Cross, but that is of little consequence compared to the fact that I am, at last on the right road. I praise my God for this grace. The revelation of the Cross and all it entails is the foundation of the Church.