Acts of the Apostles
"Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ". (Acts 15:26)
The early church was marked by two distinct attributes, power and boldness. They were men and women that hazarded life, wealth, and future for the gospel's sake. They were friends of the cross. The measuring stick of passion went deep into their hearts as they lived out this life of danger every waking hour. See, this was not a church that awoke to the Dow Jones and a cup of coffee! They turned their sheets down to the possibility of death and murder every sunrise! One step from their chambers held the chance of a roman sword, or worse, a cross... Before someone can understand the power and the grace that this era of church breathed, one must first comprehend the state of existence that they dwelled in. THE CIRCUMSTANCES DEMANDED THE MIRACLES! They had a miracle or they died. Signs and wonders were not just a trademark or title to a best-selling book, IT MEANT THEIR SURVIVAL... Unless God showed up they were dead. In Acts 4:21 the religious leaders were forced to free them '...because of the people, for all men glorified God for that which was done.' Miracles were not just a glitzy afterglow of their meetings it was the very thing that meant life or death for the Apostles and the early church.
It was no wonder then that in verse 29 of the same chapter, we find this early church in solemn prayer: 'And now Lord, behold their threatening, and grant unto thy servants, that with all BOLDNESS they may speak thy word. BY STRETCHING FORTH THY HAND TO HEAL; AND THAT SIGNS AND WONDERS MAY BE DONE BY THE NAME OF THY HOLY CHILD JESUS...' Miracles were not just an after thought, they were unavoidable landmarks for the continued existence of these radical Christians on planet earth. It was the salt that preserved them, it was the light that led them, and it was the very Hand of God that defended them. One leader of the Jews put it this way, 'And now I say to you, refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel be of men it will come to nothing...' (Acts 5:38) 2000 years later it still shines.
We SEE so few miracles today because we NEED so few miracles. We have options they did not. We have a way out they did not. We have credit cards and debit cards they certainly did not. When we come to a place that we NEED a miracle, we will HAVE a miracle. Nevertheless, must I then exhort you! In this hour of unprecedented violence and chaos, drugs and religion, darkness and depravity, WE NEED MIRACLES! More than that, we need MIRACLE WORKERS! Those that walk in the same abandonment to Heavenly things. Those that have 'hazarded' everything for the sake of Christ. A church more concerned with the state of its city streets than it is of its offering size or building plans. More broken for the lives of its children that stand outside its gates and mock and jeer at the hypocrisy and inability to change even one heart, or heal one limb, or open one prison cell. You see, WHEN WE TRULY NEED MIRACLES, WE WILL HAVE MIRACLES! This generation is longing for the demonstration not just the imitation of His divine power and love. When we will initiate not just imitate His love, we will SEE creative miracles to rescue this shipwrecked generation from the shores of religion and powerlessness.
If it was only one attribute that marked the early church and Her Apostolic heart, compassion. She loved! She loved God! She loved Her own! She loved a lost and dying world Her Master had suffered in agony for. See, She had witnessed that agony, it was not just a story, She had SEEN the tears, the blood, the wounds. It was not just an image on a canvas it was reality. They had smelled the blood, tasted the salt in His tears, and touched His side. They KNEW He was alive. In this state of mind, miracles were a common thing; they were as natural as breathing, eating, and sleeping. It was the life of a Church marked by compassion.
If there is anything that obstructs the free flow of miracles, signs, and wonders in this present day church, it is the lack of genuine compassion for the ones that NEED the miracles! How many times in scripture did it state, 'Jesus was moved by compassion and healed the leper,' or 'He was moved with compassion for the multitudes for they were as sheep with no shepherd,' or ' He was moved with compassion and healed the blind man.' It was the compassion of Jesus that instigated the miracles! He was not moved by necessity, He was moved by compassion. (Matt.9:36, Mark 1:40-41) Matthew 14:14 defined the avenue of healing power and the miraculous. 'And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion towards them, and HE HEALED THEIR SICK...' The Acts of the Apostles were marked by a divine love for God that moved them with divine compassion into the market places where even shadows had the capacity to heal. Not ALL shadows could impart the virtue to heal, only those that could answer the question, "Simon, do you love Me?"
If one other attribute marked the early church, it was boldness. They were not afraid. They had nothing to be afraid of. For them 'to live was Christ and to die was gain.' They had faced their most terrible fears at Golgotha and they had died there. In the upper- room, they were endued with fearlessness, and they had an innate understanding of the grace of God to enable them to stand in front of the Jewish council and plead the gospel's case. Today it is overwhelming for most to stand in the local check out stand at the grocery store and share a simple prayer or word of encouragement to some desperate mother. Or come to the aid of a laid off fellow worker at the factory who will have to stand in the soup line this week to feed his family. Or visit a widow at the age of 98 that lays in her hospital bed and breaths her last. MIRACLES WILL OCCUR WHEN THE CHURCH MOVES FROM A PLACE OF FEAR TO BOLDNESS. FROM THE CONFINES OF CHURCH TO THE STREETS. IT IS IN THESE PLACES YOU WILL SEE THE VIRTUE LEAVE THE BODY OF CHRIST INTO THE DISEASED AND MAIMED. THEY ARE STILL REACHING OUT, NOW IT IS UP TO US TO BOLDLY FEARLESSLY, IMPART.
"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: FREELY YOU HAVE RECEIVED, FREELY GIVE." (Matthew 10:7&8)
In this hour, we need Apostolic succession. To live as they lived. To act as they acted. To give like they gave. To be poured out like they were poured out. To take that office we must be willing to live that lifestyle. To see their success we must first be willing to walk in their steps. The resume of the Apostle was no easy one to fill. Let us walk a minute in their shoes and maybe it will help us to understand their fruit. In 2nd Corinthians chp. 6:1-10 we see the Apostles creed. Let's look at just a few of these attributes for a minute, and then let us consider our own lives and what we are willing to lose and die to see the same results.
'In stripes.' They had offered their bodies up as living sacrifices to be beaten and bruised to see others saved and healed. 'In imprisonments.' They were willing to lose freedom and liberties for what they proclaimed, counting all loss to gain the knowledge of Christ. 'In tumults.' Wherever they walked there were riots or revival, they understood nothing in-between. 'In labors.' They expended every ounce of energy and strength to see His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. 'In watchings.' They knew what it meant to have sleepless nights in prayer and fasting. 'In fastings.' They took literally the words, 'deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me...' This was the lifestyle of the Apostolic Church. This will again be her mark in the coming days. Selfless and powerful. Losing everything to gain everything. The paradox of the cross.
The greatest challenges for the leadership in the church today is to train not just entertain the people. 'For the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry...' It is not to just hold their attention, it is to teach them how to hold the tools and weapons that can win entire cities to Christ. It is not enough to tell them how to save a soul, you must SHOW them how to save a soul! The transition is from preaching to training. We need trainer's not just preachers. To speak and expound is not enough, to show them how to fight the good fight is. God is mobilizing an army. He is commissioning and appointing those that will 'go before His face into every place where He Himself is about to go.' (Luke 10:1) Commissioning means: Authority to act for another. Authorizing certain duties or powers. Appoint is to 'set into office or decree, or to furnish or equip. God is appointing us as well as equipping us to go into the very places where He Himself desires to go with revival power and glory. The proof of revival is the absolute change of the moral climate over a city. When Philip was 'appointed' and sent to Samaria, 'there was great joy in that city.' Revival shakes the very foundations of a place and cries, "LET MY PEOPLE GO!"
Apostle is more of an expression of the Father's heart than it is a person. It is the Father heart of God demonstrated in human hearts. Apostle is more of a result of His love seen and experienced than it is title or label. An Apostolic age expresses a time and a season that the Heart of the Father is expressed to the church. Does that disqualify someone with the call and office of Apostle? No. It is rather something seen instead of heard. It is a lifestyle more than it is a title. A power and a passion rather than a name or occupation. If you continue the discourse in 2nd Corinthians 6, you will find a man not seeking recognition, but rather maturation of those God had trusted him too. Like his Master, he 'made himself of no reputation.' They were 'unknown yet well known.' They sought not their own welfare but the good of others. They knew the secret of contentment, he had learned that, 'whatsoever state he was therewith to be content.' This was an Apostle. A human face that expressed the smile of God. A human hand that extended His grace and even discipline. It was an attitude more than it was a man.
My prayer is this, God give us an apostolic heart. One that is selfless and passionate for the things of God. One that has 'suffered the loss of all things and be found in Him, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but of Christ ' God give us apostolic impact. Let us 'turn the world upside down.' Because of our abandonment to you and the cross, draw all men unto Yourself. Give us apostolic economy. 'And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need Praising God, and having favor with all the people.
AND THE LORD ADDED TO THE CHURCH DAILY SUCH AS SHOULD BE SAVED. (Acts 2:44-47)
This is an apostolic age, an apostolic church. Not just an apostolic person. Men categorize, God is 'no respecter of persons.' This is an hour that we will count the cost and take up our cross and follow Him. In so doing we will walk in the steps of Christ Himself and see the fruit of His labors. We will take this message to the nations and make disciples of Christ not ourselves. As quickly as we win them we will relinquish them into His hands. Our doctrine will not be ' after man but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.' (Galatians 1:11&12) We will go in His power not our own. In so doing we will see Apostolic results. 'And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: AND GREAT GRACE WAS UPON THEM ALL.' (Acts 4:33) Apostles were called to propagate a nation not an institution. God give us apostles. God give us all an apostolic heart. Give us all the mind of Christ.
"And has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. " (Revelation 1:6)
Chad Taylor (8/23/99)
Consuming Fire Ministries
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