Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Living By Every Word That Proceeds From the Mouth of God - Part 9


The Promise of the Spirit to Guide into All Truth, Part 2.

(This is part nine in a series that examines the view of Justice Boshoff who advocates that God’s word comes to us personally and directly from the Holy Spirit through prayer for wisdom and that the scriptures are a hindrance to hearing the word of God. You can read a transcript of two of his You-Tube videos: According to the Scriptures, You Won't Make It and Breaking Through the Bible Barrier.)

The disciples were the main body of the apostolate. Part of Christ’s earthly ministry was to prepare them for that special office. When Christ made the promise to his disciples that the Spirit would guide them into all truth (John 16:12-15), it anticipated their role as apostle. Christ made the promise directly to the Twelve, but broadly, it included those who were not of that circle but, nevertheless, were to fill the yet-future office of apostle.

The case of Judas Iscariot. Peter broaches the issue of Judas’s demise and explains to the assembly that, as prophesied in the Old Testament, Judas fell from his office and another should replace him:

"For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ' Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it'; and, ' Let another take his office.' Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection."
And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place."
And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Acts 1:20-26

Matthias, who was not of the original twelve, was chosen to replace Judas. He was a qualified candidate because he accompanied the disciples during the whole ministry of Christ, from the baptism of John until he was taken up at the ascension. In answer to the Eleven’s prayer, the divine choice of Matthias was made through the casting of lots. The promise of the Spirit to the disciples now included Matthias.

Matthias is not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. But Peter’s salient points regarding the need for an apostolic replacement argue that the special office of apostle was peculiar and limited, and only one with special qualification (personal accompaniment of the Lord in his earthly ministry) was acceptable. Because Christ made the promise of the Spirit directly to his disciples whose later identity was that of the exclusive apostolic body, and because the nature of their apostolic ministry cohesively fulfills that promise, there is strong warrant to take that promise as limited to a few of the first century apostolic era.

That the office of apostle was not exclusive to the original Eleven is evident in Matthias, whose appointment was revealed through the casting of lots. There was another who, though not one of the original disciples, nonetheless, became an apostle by divine appointment.

Paul’s Apostleship and Its Relevance to Christ’s Promise to Guide Into All Truth. It was through the special office of apostle that Christ’s teaching, which began while on earth, was completed after his ascension. Perhaps the role of the apostle is best understood in terms of Paul’s apostleship.

Paul’s call to be an apostle is undeniable. He was an apostle on the same level as the original Eleven. The fact that he did not participate in the day-to-day instruction of Christ during his earthly ministry, as was true of Matthias, did not negate his apostleship, for Paul had personal interaction with and instruction from the risen Lord:

But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Gal 1:11,12; cf 1 Cor 9:1, ‘Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord’).
This appears to have happened shortly after his conversion, and very possibly somewhere in Arabia:

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Gal 1:15-17.
Paul’s apostleship was equal to Peter’s:

...they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles). Gal 2:7,8.

The apostolate, of whom Paul was a member, had an authority that none others shared, including the prophets. The New Testament prophets were agents of God’s word, but nowhere do we see a prophet exercising the authority of an apostle. Paul exercises his apostolic authority in the church in absolute terms: Paul ordained (cf 1 Cor 7:17) certain practices regarding a variety of matters: one’s calling as a slave or freeman, marriage and remarriage, sexual behavior between married couples, the mixed marriage of a believer and unbeliever (1 Cor 7), the question of eating meat offered to idols in a pagan ceremony (1 Cor 8-10), the administration of the Lord’s supper (1 Cor 11), the regulation and practice of tongues (1 Cor 12-14), the place of women in the Church (1 Cor 14).

As a conveyer of truth into which he was guided by the Spirit (in keeping with the promise of Christ), he explained the nature and significance of the resurrection (1 Cor 15). Paul orders the churches in Galatia to amass a collection for the saints in Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:1,2; cf Rom 15:25-27). An order requires an authority behind it, and such was Paul’s order having the authority of an apostle.

The Mode of The Spirit’s Guidance Into All Truth. The fulfillment of the promise of the Spirit to guide into all truth is not described as coming through an internal word in response to a prayer for personal wisdom; it is through the sovereign external communication of the Spirit to the apostle who in turn is to communicate that to the church:

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery... Eph 3:8, 9.

Other examples come to us.

1 Cor 7:40, when Paul expresses his authoritative judgment regarding widows and remarriage; that judgment came as a result of the Spirit of God’s guidance on the matter:

“But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment --- and I think I also have the Spirit of God.”
1 Cor 2, in which Paul repeatedly assures the Corinthians that his original preaching ministry to them was not words of man’s wisdom, but the revelation of God’s Spirit, and Paul expressed that revelation in words that the Holy Spirit taught:

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God, 1 Cor 2:4, 5.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, 1 Cor 2:12, 13.
For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ, 1 Cor 2:16.

1 John 1:1ff, where John explains that what they (the apostles of Christ) had seen and heard from Christ they declare to the saints among whom the readers of his letters were included. The whole letter, as with all other New Testament inspired writings, is the written record of the Spirit’s bringing to remembrance of not only what Jesus had taught them but also those things that he had yet to tell them but did not before his ascension.

The Spirit’s guidance into truth was promised to a few whose ministry was to make that truth known through preaching and, more permanently, through writing. In light of Paul’s remarks cited above regarding the Spirit’s instructional role, it appears that the Spirit’s guidance into truth for the apostles was akin to the way the prophetic word came to the Old Testament prophets, who spoke as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:21. That word came in the act of speaking publicly; in the case of Paul, and the other apostles, it came through public preaching. It was not a word that came inwardly and privately in response to prayer, as Mr. Boshoff teaches.

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