A Special Messenger Sent by God
God personally called and sent many messengers through the years. Angels, prophets in both testaments, the apostles (defined as “ones sent”), and Jesus.
Of John the baptizer, scripture says, “Behold, I am sending My messenger, and he will clear a way before Me.” (Mal. 3:1a; in Matt. 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27). He was God’s special messenger preparing the way for the coming of Jesus!
Of Paul (general statement applying to all apostles), Jesus said, “he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles …” (Acts 9:15). Jesus chose the original 12 apostles (Matt. 10:1-4): “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them…” (Matt. 10:5). Then He chose Judas’s replacement (Acts 1:24,25): “And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord…show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship….” Then He chose Paul: “last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:8,9).
That is elite company. These special messengers sent by God — angels, prophets, apostles, Jesus — were foundational in God’s work of redemption. As the church, we “are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19,20). Their work undergirds our faith and hope: “the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to mankind,” “has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit” (Eph. 3:4,5). They “wrote” so that “when you read you can understand…” (Eph. 3:3,4).
To men such as these, Jesus promised inspiration. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth…” (John 16:13). This equipped them to speak and write God’s word completely and accurately. Inspiration also equipped them when they were put on trial.
“But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who are speaking, but it is the Spirit of your Father who is speaking in you.” (Matt. 10:19,20)
Those were special times where God equipped select men with special powers for special purposes.
“God directly called and sent me as His special messenger,” someone exclaims. While God providentially blesses all disciples with abilities and responsibilities, none us are special messengers like the apostles or prophets, for none of us are either inspired or miraculously led by the Holy Spirit.
Note differences between apostles and prophets — and us today:
- God commissioned a limited number of them for a limited time. There were few apostles in the sense of the 12: the original twelve, plus Matthias, plus Paul, but this special call was for a limited number of men. God only “gave some to be apostles…prophets…”, etc. (Eph. 4:11), but all disciples are to be souls-winners (Matt. 28:18-20).
- God granted special powers for a limited period of time, lasting until the inspired word was completely made known (1 Cor. 13:5-13). Apostles and prophets ceased toward the end of the first century. No disciples today possess such powers.
- God spoke directly to them through the Holy Spirit (Acts, etc.). God speaks to us through the written word (see Eph. 3:3-5; 2 Tim. 3:16,17; 1 Cor. 4:6; Heb. 10:15-17; Rev. 2 & 3).
- God empowered them to teach and preach without studying (Matt. 10:19,20, etc.). Disciples today must study the first century writings of the apostles and prophets to know what to say and how to say it: “Be diligent …as a worker…accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15). As H. B. Charles, Jr. said, “A passion to preach without a burden to study is a desire to perform.”
All disciples are commissioned to preach Jesus, win souls (Acts 8:4), and edify fellow disciples (Eph. 4:15,16). The writings of the apostles and prophets equip us unto this work.
Arrogant pride concludes, “God knew that no one could do this like me.” Misguided priorities like this must give way to a spirit of humility (Phil. 1:15-18).
Everyone desires being a difference-maker, but remember that the one-talent man fell short, not because he lacked ability. Lacking the skill to manage 2 or 5 talents made him no less important. The problem? He did not work what ability he had (Matt. 25:14-30). Whatever abilities we posses, use them as good stewards in God’s kingdom — and grow in the use of those talents. Let’s make what difference we can, whether publicly known or acting privately (Acts 20:20).