Summary: Paul’s Apostolic Principles and Practices - He gave some as apostles...
Paul’s Apostolic Principles and Practices
Illustration:A one-legged school teacher from Scotland came to J. Hudson Taylor to offer himself for service in China. "With only one leg, why do you think of going as a missionary?" Asked Taylor.
"I do not see those with two legs going," replied George Scott. He was accepted.
Pillar of Fire, January First, 1983.
Introduction: You are fellow citizens with God’s people and member of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets." (Eph. 2:20) Paul formed apostolic bands in the same way Jesus founded the church upon the apostles. One cannot help but be struck by Jesus’ loyalty to the church, which he entrusted to an unlikely band of apostles, whom he defended, prayed for, and prepared to spread the gospel. To outsiders they (and we) must seem like incapable blunderers. But Jesus, the architect of the church, knows this structure is destined for greatness. Let us look at the some of the principles and practices of Paul’s apostolic model for our benefit.
1. Paul saw himself principally as an apostle (missionary).
He expected the Lord to help him reproduce himself through bands of apostlic people. Orange trees produce more oranges and apostles tend to produce more apostles. An apostle is one who is sent out by Christ to preach the gospel. God only had one Son and he sent Him as a missionary. The man who God has used more than any other as a missionary was the apostle Paul. Paul writes, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” (I Cor. 4:16) Paul’s ministry was more pro-active than reactive. “It was he who gave some to be apostles (gift of being sent out with Christ’s message), some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers.” (Eph. 4:11)
Why is there less than .01% of Americans who are involved as missionaries as it would seem obvious that God has gifted more people?
Illustration:Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), the world-famous violinist, earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he wasn’t able to buy it. Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase that beautiful instrument. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector. Kreisler made his way to the new owner’s home and offered to buy the violin. The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it. Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea. "Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?" he asked. Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector’s emotions were deeply stirred. "I have no right to keep that to myself," he exclaimed. "It’s yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it."
Our Daily Bread, February 4, 1994.
2. Paul preached a gospel of power unashamedly. (Rom. 1:16) The gospel of God was a message that contrasted with the wisdom of men that the Gentiles admired and the political-religious-social power that the Jews sought after. His was the dunamos of God that liberated, delivered and set the captives free from the chains of their fears, sin and eternal judgment.
Illustration:A missionary in Africa was once asked if he really liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. "Do I like this work?" he said. "No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonably refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse...But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to ’Go," and we go. Love constrains us."
3. Paul put the planting and the growing of churches as his ministry priority. "I planted and Apollos watered but God made it grow." (I Cor. 3:6) Do not think that we are doing God’s will unless we are contributing to the planting and the growing of His church in communities that are still yet to have a healthy body of Christ. Paul planted and helped grow churches in Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica and other important urban centers.
4. Paul worked through apostolic bands of men as we have seen God use this strategy through church history. Acts 2:41-47 – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe and the apostles did many wonders and miraculous signs. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. And they broke bread in their homes. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” That was Paul’s pattern for multiplying seed family fellowships.