APOSTLES AND TRUTH
By Ellery Burgess
Why did God create the office of apostle? What does that office have to do, with truth in the true Church of God? What does that have to do, with you personally? The answer to these questions concerns your eternal salvation.
Until Jesus Christ came and paid the ransom price for humanity and until the birth of the New Testament Church of God on Pentecost in 31 AD, the office of apostle did not exist. When God brought the spirit begotten Church of God into existence, He created the office of apostle in it, but why? Exactly what is the office of apostle, in the Church and within the government of God? Does this office have anything to do, with the truth that is placed in God’s own Church?
THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH
Apostles are foundational. They, along with the prophets, form the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:19-21). The prophets mentioned here are the prophets of the Old Testament. The one who became Jesus Christ, revealed the word to the prophets through the Holy Spirit and they delivered those words to the people. In like manner, Jesus Christ reveals His word to the apostles of the New testament Church and they reveal them to the people today. Together they, both the prophets of the Old Testament Church in the wilderness (Act 7:38) and the apostles of the now spirit begotten Church of the New Testament, form the foundation of the Church, with Jesus Christ being the Chief Corner Stone.
WHAT DOES “APOSTLE” MEAN?
The word apostle comes from the Greek word apostelos. Vines Greek-English Dictionary says “Apostelos = apostle, one sent with a special message (truth) or commission”. Apostles are sent to reveal the truth FOR THE FIRST TIME, to those whom God chooses to call. Many may hear the apostle’s message, but only those whom God chooses to open their eyes (mind), can see the truth when they hear it. It is like a person being in a dark room and God turns on the light switch. Suddenly they can see, they could not see before, but now they can see. Read Rom. 15:21, then read verses 18 through 20, then read verse 21 again. The apostle Paul was sent to bring the truth, to those who had not heard it before. He understood, that he was not supposed to go in and lay a foundation where another apostle had already laid the foundation.
Apostles (sent), are given the commission from Jesus Christ, to reveal God’s own words, to those whom God the Father chooses. He does not bring his own words, but reveals the words that God has revealed to him. Jesus Christ gave the commission to the apostles, to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and also “all things”, that He had given them (Matt. 28: 16-20). This was before the New Testament Church of God even came into existence. The commission was given to apostles. If Christ had wanted to give the commission to the entire Church, He would have given it ten days later, when the spirit begotten Church was born. Instead, He gave the commission to those that He sent (apostelos) with the message.
Does the whole Church have a part in the spreading of this great commission? Yes, it surely does , the part of the Church is to back up and support the apostle (one sent) in doing this job. Not to take the job of God’s chosen apostle upon themselves, but to stand behind and in full support of him, as he does the job that God assigned to him. If the leaders of the various groups that are calling themselves the Church of God, would only understand this one paragraph, it would go a long way in helping to remove much of the confusion that we see today.
HOW DOES GOD REMOVE SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS?
There is an account in the 9th chapter of John, that has been mostly overlooked. Let’s look at it in some detail. Christ and His disciples saw a man who was blind from birth (v.1). The disciples asked Christ, whose sin caused the man to be born blind, his or his parents (v.2)? In answer to their question, Jesus makes an amazing statement. “Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (v.3). Now, get this, Jesus said that this man was born blind, for the express purpose, of revealing (made manifest) how God works. “I must work the works of Him that sent (apostelos) me while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (vs. 4 – 5). As long as he, Jesus Christ , was in the world, he personally, brought light to those that the Father chooses to call. But now, in the remainder of this account, he reveals (makes manifest) how the light would be brought, once He was no longer physically in the world. Here, Jesus explains how God brings light (reveals truth), once Jesus Christ returns to heaven to be with the Father. Now, according to Jesus’ own account, here is how He does it. Remember, this man was born blind; he had always been blind, even as all humans are born blind to the spiritual things of God.
In verse 6, Jesus spat on the ground and made clay and put it on the man’s eyes. Jesus did not go to a source of water to make the clay, He was the source that made the clay. Now the blind man’s eyes were covered with the physical mud, that he was composed of, even as our eyes were blinded before being called, by the physical matter, mud , that we are all composed of.
Now in verse 7, Jesus reveals the whole matter of, why this man was born blind and what its significance is to us today. “ And he ( Jesus ) said unto him, go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is by interpretation, sent ) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing”. The word “sent”, is from the Greek word apostelos, meaning apostle! So what Jesus Christ told the blind man, was for him to go to apostle to receive his sight. Remember, Jesus said this man was born blind, to reveal how God would work after Jesus was no longer on this earth in the flesh. This whole account was to show that after Jesus returned to heaven, He would reveal truth to His apostles and they would give that revealed word, to those whom the Father calls to Christ. If one will read John 9: 1 – 7 , that is clearly what Christ is saying there. The blind man had to go exactly to where Christ told him to go. Not to just any pool that he might select, but only to Siloam (or apostle). The message is unmistakable; we must go to God’s apostle, to remove our blindness so we can see God’s truth.
APOSTLES LAY FOUNDATIONS
II Cor. 10: 13 – 16 in the NKJV says, that Paul understood, that he was not to try to lay foundations where others had already laid them. Connect that with Acts 16: 6 – 12. Here we see, that Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit, from going into part of Asia and Bithynia. That area was where many of the “lost tribes” were and Andrew, the brother of Peter, was already working there ( Where did the 12 Apostles Go ? H.L. Hoeh – Plain Truth- May, 1964). This clearly shows, that Christ does not have an apostle go in and lay a foundation, where another apostle has already laid the foundation. A building only needs one foundation, it cannot have two.
Read I Cor. 4:14–16. Here, the apostle Paul is telling the converts at Corinth, that they were begotten (converted), by the gospel (truth) brought through him. They were not converted by him, but through his preaching. They were called by God and received their understanding of the truth from Jesus Christ. It came through Paul, but not from him. He faithfully taught them as he had been taught by Christ. Paul told them to be followers of him, “ Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: The seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord”. (I Cor. 9:1-2 ). The very fact that Paul had been the one whom Christ used, to lay the foundation (reveal the truth for the first time) to this Church at Corinth, was the proof of his apostleship to them. Paul was their apostle, through whom they first heard the word of truth.
Herbert W. Armstrong was the apostle, through whom all of us, either directly or indirectly, first heard the truth. God opened our minds to the very truths, that He had revealed to and restored through his end-time apostle, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. He is our apostle. The very fact that we are in the body of Christ, is the proof of his apostleship. The very same thing, that was the proof of Paul’s apostleship. If I Cor 9:1-2 is the proof for Paul, it is also the proof for Mr. Armstrong.
We may have many teachers, but Mr. Armstrong is our father in the gospel, just as Paul was to the Church at Corinth. Any who try to lay another foundation where the true foundation has already been laid, is off track. The fact that Mr. Armstrong is dead, has no bearing on the foundation and government of God, that Christ set through him. In II Peter 1:13–15, Peter tells us what we are to do after an apostle dies. Peter said, “to have these things always in remembrance”. But, it seems today, that almost everyone has forgotten!
THE WORK IN THE 1ST AND 20TH CENTURY
We know, that Christ sent the original apostles to the lost sheep, of the house of Israel ((Matthew 10: 5 – 6). Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. The only way they had to travel was by horseback, boat, or walking. These apostles were limited on how much territory they could reach. That is why it took so many of them to do the job, that Christ had given them. They were each assigned a certain area and they faithfully went to their assigned area and preached the gospel in that area. They then fed those whom God called and brought to conversion.
In the 20th century, God raised up just one apostle, to go to his assigned area. His job was to “restore” the same foundation, that had been laid by the original apostles. Over the course of 18 centuries, after years of persecution, the true Church of God had lost most of the great truths, that made up the foundation of the Church. Some truths remained, but much had been lost. This lone apostle was used by Christ, to restore all of the foundation on which God’s Church is founded. Just like all of the apostles before him, he faithfully performed the job given to him. This apostle faithfully went to his assigned area. But, as Christ had to use many apostles in the 1st century to do the job, now in the 20th century, Christ could get the job done, by using just one apostle. That apostle was Herbert W. Armstrong and his assigned area, was the whole world ! Mr. Armstrong had many things available to him, that those before him did not have. He had the printing press, radio, television, computers, automobiles, trains and airplanes, with which he was able to reach the whole world. And he did reach the whole world, regardless of what some might say.
For a period of two 19 year time cycles, he preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God, to Manasseh and Ephraim and the rest of the “lost tribes” of Israel. Then Christ sent him personally to the gentile countries of the world. Jesus Christ opened doors and gave him special favor with Rulers, Kings, Emperors, Princes, Prime Ministers around the whole world. That was an unprecedented act, that was never done before and many who are reading this article now, saw it happening right before their eyes. I wonder how many can remember what they did see? Mr. Armstrong clearly understood what his job was . I will include here, just one quote by Mr. Armstrong, but there are many more, “God has called me to do a job, to do a commission. I think when God lets me die, the thing He has called me for, will have been completed, preparing the way for the second coming of Christ, carrying the gospel of the Kingdom of God, to the world for a witness to all nations and if I have been someone in the power and spirit of Elijah, remember, there is no prophecy that God will have an Elisha following Elijah. But the job that God has called me to do is a prophesied job”. That from The Worldwide News, March 6, 1981.
Mr. Armstrong, as Christ’s apostle, was the one who was to come in the spirit and power of Elijah, to lift away the blindness and restore the “all things”, that had been lost. He faithfully did the job set before him. He understood that he had fulfilled the prophecy of Matt. 24:14. With the use of the printing press, radio, television, computers, modern transportation and the open door to take the gospel to the gentile world, he was able to reach the whole world. He carried the gospel around the whole world and there was a time that the entire Church understood that fact. In Mystery of the Ages, chapter titled, “Mystery of the Church”, page 291 hardback, he wrote, “These prophecies (Matt. 24:14 and others) HAVE NOW DEFINITELY BEEN FULFILLED. The true gospel has been restored and has now gone in power into every nation on the face of the earth” (emphasis mine).
Now, consider, Jesus Christ uses apostles, to lay the foundation of the truth, for the first time to those in the specific area where He sends that apostle. Because of distance and means of travel, Christ used many apostles, to reach the areas where He wanted it done in the first century. But in this end time, because of the modern means of communication and travel, specifically air travel, the specific area that He sent this end time apostle to, was the whole world. Jesus Christ used Mr. Armstrong to restore the foundation of the Church of God and to preach the true gospel to the whole world, fulfilling Matt.24:14, at which time we completed entering the time of the end. Then Christ let that apostle die, but the foundation that Christ had laid through him, still exists today. We still have all of it with us. His audio sermons, videos, all of his books, booklets, articles and magazines are available today. And the gospel has been preached into all of the world. All of the leaders today, who have taken it to their own selves to complete that commission, are sorely mistaken! They are trying to set in the seat of an apostle, if they have claimed that title or not. That is an office and commission that Christ has not given to them. Jesus Christ has already done that job and He did it through His apostle, just as Jesus said he would. The people of God, are now in the time described in Rev.3: 20 – 22 and Rev. 11:1 – 2. , measured in “holding fast”, to what was restored through that end time apostle and practicing and living by it.
The end can and will come, when Jesus Christ completes getting His people ready, to meet Him and meet Him, we will!
The ministry of the churches of God, have become delinquent in their duty toward God's heritage. Their responsibility as instructed by Christ, to never LORD it over God's heritage, His Church.
Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD (Jer 23:1).