4. Defining the Apostolic
I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 1 Corinthians 2:1-3 The underlined words are God's definition of the apostolic.
4. Defining the Apostolic
To define is to limit, to reduce down, to separate a thing from all other things until it is nothing more than its minimal essence. We never define God; rather, we speak of Him only by those words He speaks of Himself AND we describe Him by the one picture He gave us of Himself, a Man laying down His life for His friends.
In complete contrast, we vehemently define the apostolic, reducing it down until it is little more than a pipsqueak, hardly worth mentioning. In other words, we treat with the apostolic as Paul and Jesus did.
I write out of certain assumptions that undergird everything I think and say. Yet I see others only by myself, as I described in the letter, “Church.” Thus I imagine that you also know the same assumptions out of which I share. Some do, but some do not.
I write about striding boldly into the throne room of God, sitting down upon that throne, and then going forth from that throne as the revelation of Jesus Christ. But underneath my words are two assumptions about myself, thus I simply assume that you also know these two things both of me in my sharing and of yourself in your own experience of God. Often that is true, but sometimes it is not.
Here are those two foundational assumptions out from which I write.
1. I fear God. God knows that I fear God. I know that I fear God. God knows that I know that I fear God.
2. I am a total failure in the things of God. God knows that I am a total failure. I know that I am a total failure. God knows that I know that I am a total failure in the things of God.
You see, it's a no-brainer for me. I will always prefer Christ as my only self. Always. Those who hold onto “there are two lives in me,” do so because it's what they prefer. But the worst by far are those who seize hold of “Christ as me” without ever abandoning their own pretending, using “Christ” as just one more mask.
I can't seem to leave Adam out of the picture. I have used the term, “the rebellion of Adam,” but I had not seen it as the same rebellion as Korah's, or Absalom's, for that matter. Korah wanted to use the reality and truth of Christ-as-us (everyone of us knows God, Moses) in order to win the power over the woman, Israel, for himself. He grasped for the spiritual/sexual stimulation of place and power, something he imagined Moses was all about. Korah judged all others by himself, as we all do. But neither Moses nor David derived any sense of self from their roles in life. Both were content to lose everything except their love of God.
Adam did not eat of the tree of knowledge because Eve fooled him, or because the serpent deceived him, or because he “made a mistake.” Adam ate of that fruit solely to push himself in between Jesus and Eve, so that he could enjoy the spiritual/sexual stimulation of control over the woman. He used the power of God for the titillation of his own pride and self-exaltation in the eyes of the object of his lust.
Adam despised Eve. – Jesus despised the shame.
Consider my recent article, “Salvation.” – The door is closed, children, and we are safe. –
You see, the action is out on the porch, outside the door. That's where all the vulnerable people are, the people open to abuse and manipulation, the people who will reward the pretender with acclaim and servitude. If you lay that article alongside of “The Humility of Christ,” you will see they are speaking of the same thing.
Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me.”
To lift up Christ is to share in His humility, hanging naked and exposed for all to see, yet utterly unashamed. To refuse his humility, ultimately because of “what people might think of me,” is to draw people to one's self.
You know, as I am considering this study of the Feast of Tabernacles, I do fully intend to draw in all the varying aspects of the topic. I suspect, though, that I will bounce around a fair bit. Truth is not known by systematic study, but by following the present Spirit of revelation. Readers don't always get the connections right away behind my seeming bouncing from one concept to another. But I depend on that same Spirit to make those connections in the right time and personal to you.
But as I am pondering what is Tabernacles in its most relevant essence for us right now, I find that the life and story of David is most of it. Passover and Pentecost happened first; then the people remembered those events. Tabernacles was yet to come, thus the elements of Tabernacles made little sense to them. In Passover and Pentecost we enter immediately and then continually remember what has been done for us. But Tabernacles comes after decades of preparation in the Church of Christ.
God filled Solomon's temple because of David.
He that has this hope in Him (to be like Jesus) purifies himself just as He is pure. John 3:3
My life is an open book. I have shared many of the difficulties God has taken me through with you, though certainly not all. In fact, only a small number. Yet all the other difficulties were of similar nature.
God took me through another most difficult experience this last few months. This time, however, it was at a whole different level of the building of His house. I will not share of the particulars because I will not speak against anyone. However, my whole life has changed – and that's part of why God took me through this at present. I am different inside than ever in the past. That is, I never depart from the present knowledge of God personal now in me, regardless of any human emotions.
More than that, because I have deliberately placed Christ Jesus in my seeing into every moment of my past, I find no more holes. My whole life is now, in my knowing, one seamless experience of Christ. My whole life's history has become goodness in my mind.
Someone was trying to analyse me in my origins recently in an effort to discover “what was wrong with me.” I have to laugh. It's all Jesus; what else can I say?
But in this recent difficulty, something changed dramatically in my seeing. You see, I no longer see anything as God or anyone else “doing something to me.” I see all things entirely as God and I together making all things good.
But as the horror of messing around with God's people using spiritual gifting and place while leaving Christ in Person out of the picture came into my view in the close press of personal relationships, I found something far greater, far more powerful, something beyond all treasure and value pressing into me with far greater strength and certainty and truth.
They were the worst experiences of my life. They were all the times when God took me all apart, cut me to pieces, exposed every part of my innards, and required of me my utter surrender to Him. They were every time God said, “NO!” Every time I humbled myself and returned what I had bought or apologized for my embarrassing thoughtlessness. Every humiliation, every wrenching loss of self.
Everything I had thought was hopeless loss and no “future for me,” came rushing back into that place as the MOST IMPORTANT experiences of my life.
For by them God keeps me now. And in that certainty, I walk in a strength that can be known no other way. I no longer speak of difficulties; I speak only of glories. Here is where this glory was wrought inside of me.
I understand now why God wants these two chapters here, just past the introductions, but before we dance for joy into any glory ahead. God always places a barrier, a barrier that is an open door for those who freely enter in and a closed and locked door for those who would use Christ to establish self.
Thus, the remainder of this letter is not for those dear, precious people who long to know Jesus with all their hearts and to be found in Him, His glory revealed through them. Rather, it is for those who would be a ministry of the third feast, those who would lead God's people into that glory.
Let me discourage you – and let me encourage you.
I will do both by laying before you the lowest of the low, the refuse and off-scouring of the earth, those individuals who are nothing more than a spectacle, the most useless of servants.
I am speaking of the apostolic. And yes, everything in the above sentence comes directly from God's description in the New Testament of those who lead His people into all that He is.
Let me define apostle: – The Lord Jesus Christ as He lives in you, as you, and through you, in His present ministry of causing you to know Him personally in you more deeply than you ever have, and in so doing brings you to the Father, and causes you to know the Father filling you full with all that He is. And in the middle of all of that – Blood upon the Mercy Seat, your heart.
But Jesus is not Spirit only, He is also fully Word. And Word becomes flesh; that is, Word is words, either spoken or written, coming to you from elsewhere, coming to you through other human beings.
The ministry of Christ in the church is Christ sharing Christ with Christ by words and by deeds. Inside that ministry of Christ there are found hearts anointed to guide, to encourage, to lift up, to restore, and even to teach. These two ministries of Christ are simple, joyous, and on-going.
However, although God fills us full with all of Himself from the moment we are born again on, we don't know that, not at all. Thus the knowledge of God (not God Himself) comes at times in giant leaps from one realm of knowing to a far deeper realm of knowing. This reality of going from one level of glory to a far deeper level of glory in our knowing of God is forever. How else could it be? The idea that what I presently know of God, and by extension of myself, is all there is to know is simply ABSURD.
Now, this Jesus inside of you, filling YOU with Himself, living as you right now, sometimes does something with some of the words flowing into you. Sometimes He takes those words and by them catapults you into a level of knowing Him that you did not even know existed.
That action of Jesus is the ministry of the apostolic.
I do NOT trust anointings.
That is a simple statement, but it has enormous depths. I rejoice in (almost) all anointings resting on other people and put no trust in any of them.
There are mighty anointings resting on individuals that just wow the socks off of you. People press in to “get close to God,” hardly noticing that far distant Yordy fellow running away as fast as he can.
Some imagine that the Holy Spirit of God hovers over the wailing wall at the former temple site in the natural city of Jerusalem; they say that people sense great presence there. I am willing to reject it utterly and get myself far, far away from such a thing. I am in no danger of disrespecting the Holy Spirit.
God does not dwell in a house made of stones. He places before you no image of Himself outside of you. The least little one in the kingdom of God is filled with a far greater glory than ALL the wow of the Old Testament. If you want to be overwhelmed with God, find the person in your church who cleans the toilets and be overwhelmed with God.
Word and Spirit are always together, but Word always leads and Spirit always follows. And both come only out of Heart, the throne of God, the essence of Father, a heart like David's.
People look for “greatness” when they look for God. That's why they never find Him.
Now, let's expand our understanding of this particular ministry of lifting people up into a deeper level of knowing God than they ever knew before. There are three broad levels of knowing God for us in this present age represented by Passover-Pentecost-Tabernacles or by outer court-Holy Place-Holy of Holies.
When Jesus uses someone's words to reveal Himself to an individual person as the Passover Lamb, that ministry is called “the evangelist.” When Jesus uses someone's words to reveal Himself to an individual person as the Baptizer of Pentecost, that ministry is called “the prophetic.” “Evangelist” is correctly used in the church, but prophet is not. The New Testament ministry of the prophetic is not to speak for God to people, but rather, to lift individuals and churches up into the realms of Spirit so that they also call forth Christ.
When Jesus uses someone's words to reveal Himself to an individual person as the dwelling place of the Father, Tabernacles, that ministry is called “the apostolic.” Yes, Paul used the terms “apostle” and “prophet,” but he had no idea of creating a title for an office. No one who calls himself “Apostle so-and-so” can be apostolic.
More than that, no one can be apostolic that is not moving in the ministry of the third feast. Let me make that specific. No one who does not counteract the un-Biblical idea that the goal of the believer is to “go to” heaven when we die, no one who does not place the defeat of death front and center, no one who does not speak of all the fullness of God revealed through us now, right here on this earth, can be apostolic.
But that is the outer perimeters of the apostolic. What is it's heart?
Why is it that Jesus sometimes uses my words to lift His own ones up into a deeper level of knowing God than they ever knew before? I want to explain why as carefully as I can.
In doing so, I call the worst moments of my life, and they were many, the very, very best, precious beyond measure, altogether glorious and holy. And I give Him thanks! Oh, how I give Him thanks.
I want to switch perspective, again, however. What Jesus does with my words or anyone else's, in making His glory known to you, is His business entirely. I presume nothing. For that reason, I will speak only of what I require both of myself and of anyone with whom I would walk in any form of ministry of the third feast.
In the realms of Christianity, there are tens of millions of voices, all speaking for Christ. Regardless of the speaker, the Holy Spirit makes use of anything and everything to make Christ known in any hearer. A con-man out to steal money from a congregation can speak words that are to him nonsense only, yet a hearer in the audience can give his or her heart to Jesus utterly separate from the falseness of the speaker.
What the Holy Spirit does in other people's lives, that is, the outward impact, is not the same thing as the “fruit” of Christ coming out from a particular ministry. However, in the long run, like brings forth like. Thus those who are willing to stay with a con-man as if he is “leading them in the Lord,” will become like him.
There is a terrible thing in the human experience, in the Christian experience. Alexander Pope said it this way: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” That's the propensity of the human heart, a heart as bold as God's. When we know the God who fills our hearts, then Pope's line is who we are in Christ. But there are individual people more than willing to get as close as they can to God, to this One who is consuming fire, and then, relying on their own blindness towards His fierce jealousy, make use of His “aura,” I guess, to offer their own self as the ministry “above” others.
Now, God gave the pattern of the Tabernacle to Moses through July and August of 1462 BC. It was completed, dedicated, and filled with God's presence by the time of Passover the next spring. At that time of Passover is when Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, offered their own fire before the Lord and were destroyed by the simple fact of getting close to the real Fire without the right buffer in-between. This was just after the Pillar of Fire touched down upon that Tabernacle. At the beginning of His presence in the midst of His people, God shows us His fear.
I cannot comprehend no fear of God; it is simply beyond my reach.
I require four things of anyone with whom I would walk side by side in any ministering of the third feast to God's precious people. God has taught me the importance of requiring these four things right up front. Now, although it is my hope that those who hear me gladly will also know the Lord Jesus in the practice of these four things, I am here speaking only of those who would connect their ministry with mine.
1. They will justify God in all things.
2. They will blame no one for anything that happens to them – that includes no pretending need to “prove” they are right and no gossiping about other people's “motives.”
3. They will give thanks FOR all things.
4. They will speak only blessing and Christ to all others. If God leads them to correct, that will be private, personal, and tender only, spoken out of the continual conviction that, “I, myself, am so often wrong.”
Please understand, I am certainly not somebody, nor setting myself up as somebody. This is only my own personal standard, a standard I apply to myself as fully as I would apply it to anyone else. These are not doctrines or theories, but the hard reality of who a man or a woman is at the core of their person.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 1 Corinthians 2:1-3
The underlined words are God's definition of the apostolic.
I was told once that my expressions of weakness, of fear, and of much trembling cast doubt on whether I could even be a ministry of Christ. I am a judge of no one, but I cannot walk in ministry with anyone who does not feel that way about themselves continually.
I require the following words able to come freely with no pretence on the one hand nor any sense of loss on the other: “I am so sorry, I don't know what I was thinking. Please forgive me. I was wrong.” As you are coming to know Christ as your only life, it may take some time before you are able to say these words in that manner. But to minister Christ at the level of the third feast requires nothing less.
The apostolic is always at the very bottom, unnoticed and requiring no notice.
One could write a book titled A Tale of Two Sauls. Both were of the tribe of Benjamin, both were touched by God, both were anointed with the Holy Ghost. The first was large and strong and little in his own eyes – until God touched him. The second was small and scrawny, brilliant of mind and big in his own eyes – until God touched him. The first Saul fought against God's anointed one, against David who himself refused ever to strike back, who refused ever to touch God's anointed or to do His prophets any harm. The second Saul changed his name to Paul, which means “little.”
Saul was as anointed of God as David. David knew that and honored Saul all the way through, as sorrowful in Saul's death as he was when his own son Absalom, a second Korah, died.
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Heb. 12:5-8
All, every human being on this planet, partake of chastening. It's just part of life in this world. But illegitimate means that father and mother were not married. The difference is simple. Those who see and thank God in the difficulty are married to Him. Those who see and blame others in the difficulty are illegitimate.
I have known many, including some whom I walked under for some years, who imagined that their spiritual gifts, their natural leadership abilities, and/or their knowledge of the things of God gave them place and position over God's “lesser” people. I have known those who, when stripped of everything, failed to justify God, but blamed people, refused to give thanks, but rather, spoke mean things against others. I have known those who were mightily anointed of God, but who continue to this day incapable of seeing their own iniquity. They do NOT know what they do. Yet they continue fully able to minister Christ to others by that same anointing.
In “The Humility of Christ,” I stated that I intended to speak of a person by name as an example of walking in the anointing of God while at the same time doing deceitful and illegal things that bring endless ruin to others. I was confronted by this man's deeds by finding him being investigated in one of the larger alternate news sites that I read, along with an horrific denunciation of the move of God, the fellowship of communities in which I lived for many years. Yet I had known of these same deeds of this man since moving to Texas.
However, when I wrote out the details, I suddenly felt that my words were separated from God's purposes. Thus I will simply emphasize the lesson learned.
Here is a man who can sit down with you right now as a counselor in the Lord. You will find his ministry to you to be kind, anointed, and helpful. You will find good fellowship with him as a brother in the Lord. Yet, in his anointed wisdom, he will suggest certain investments that might be helpful to you. You will trust him; you will invest your fortune; and you will see none of it ever again. Yet he continues in that same anointing without ever even knowing what he has done – and to a long string of dear Christian brethren who “trusted” the anointing.
Yes, he was a ministry in the move for a number of years. So now, as his actions are taken into the courtroom, even though he has had no association with those fellowships for thirty years, “investigative reporters” who build their careers by false accusation have discovered this “evil cult” and are broadcasting it to a cynical world. The brethren in the move are dear and precious people; they don't deserve such false accusation in a dangerous world, though God certainly carries them.
The greatest sorrow to the Lord Jesus, the greatest harm to His testimony in the earth, is those who use their anointing, their gifts, their natural and spiritual abilities, to build a place for themselves as superior to God's people and in the name of representing Christ to His church.
However, I need to balance this thought. Christ as us means that we are what we are and we give what we are to one another. Thus, a big part of knowing God is knowing ourselves, and vice versa. When we are young, we don't know ourselves well, and thus pursue the wrong things at times, until we wake up and discover, “Hey, that's just not me. I thought it was, but it is not.”
Let me use Joel Osteen as an example. Joel knows his place and his gifting, and he gives freely what he is and what he has to God's people. He is liked by his congregation partly because he is so unassuming. Yet he limits himself all the time to what God made him to be. This is where he gets in trouble with the “correctors” masquerading as Christians. Because Joel will not give to God's people what he does not have, pretending that he has it, people denounce him. Yet a man can give only what he is and what he has. Part of God's task for each one of us is to find the limits of who and what we are, to fill those limits full in giving to others, but never need to go beyond those limits at any time.
People who attempt to be – what they are not – do so only to win the face of other people; that is, to thrust themselves in between other people and Jesus.
At the same time, to know ourselves as God made us to be is to know Christ as us, and to give all that we are, as we truly are, to give all that we have, as we truly have, is essential to the building up of the body in love.
I need from Joel exactly what Joel is and exactly what Joel has to give. What I do not need from Joel is what he is not and what God has never given him. You see, when someone who knows their true gifts inside their God-designed human limitation, who gives those gifts freely, without strings attached, but who never moves in some false human “need” to be or to do something they are not, when such a person shares the joy of Christ with you, then you find yourself engaging with that same Christ arising in joy in your own heart.
But when someone who feels inadequate in themselves attempts to move outside of their true self in Christ in order to establish place in the eyes of God's people, then the knowledge of God you obtain from them is one in which a far-way God must be approached only through this ministry now “above” you. Yes, this one will move in the anointing of God, but that anointing will come with sticky, yucky, manipulative strings attached.
Like begets like. Kind comes into union with kind.
The story God gave us is the story of Saul, of David, and of Absalom. That story is at the core and center of the Bible. May I suggest that you obtain a copy of A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards and read it. You can get a used copy from Amazon for 78 cents (as of the moment of writing this) plus shipping.
Let me give you the most important line in that book.
– “What do you do when someone throws a spear at you?” –
You see, I am not interested in imparting nice ideas to anyone. I want to know, God wants to know, you want to know – What do you do when someone throws a spear at you? Notice, it does not ask, “What do you feel?” Of course we feel awful, frustrated, angry, abused; of course we feel like throwing one right back. That is certain. But the question is, “What do you do?”
And upon that answer is built the kingdom of God and the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles.
However, Gene Edwards does not allow us to surmise that the one who threw the spear was “obviously” Saul. Most spears do come from a Saul, a big little man, who went from little to big in his own eyes the moment God anointed him. But what to you is a spear that cuts you to pieces may well have been from the simple clarity of David in putting God's heart first above all else.
David was 26 years old when Saul threw a spear at him. The next four years were the worst years of David's life. Those four years are the very heart of the coming of Tabernacles into the experience of Israel.
But that story awaits a later letter.
The question of God right before our eyeballs, a question required of every individual person who would minister the Feast of Tabernacles prior to its fulfillment, is this. – What do you do when someone throws a spear at you? (I say it this way because those who are with God as He flings wide open the veil of Tabernacles will find themselves flat on their faces in the dirt as the multitudes rush over them into all the glory of God.)
Now, we must understand that this point is a big deal to Jesus. Read the parable of the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew 20. As I left the move fellowships, I understood the horror of Jesus' point. Those who labor for years in “the things of God” stand in great peril. There is a voice that whispers,“I deserve the glory of God far more than those immature Christians out there BECAUSE I have done it right, exactly the way God requires.” Here is the interchange between these people and Jesus in the parable.
They complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen. Matthew 20:11-16
How will you know if you are able to handle all kinds of people, most of whom have never given one thought about “God's requirements” or have never experienced one second of “the deep dealings of God where he takes a man all apart,” rushing without cost into all the outpoured glory of the Father while God requires of you to be silent under His hand, to remain unnoticed by anyone, even though He opened those same doors through you?
You will know because God will send someone who will throw a spear at you (more than once, likely, and “some” more than one). More than that, He will require of you NOT to consider whether that someone is a Saul or a David. And then He will take you into the worst years of your life – but only on one condition. If you throw a spear back, God will simply continue on to someone else, leaving you happy in your own take on Christianity.
Do you know why Christians have never been just like Jesus? It's easy, really. It's because we have never before seen Him as He is.
I do not presume as to why Jesus would use some of my words to reveal Himself to you as you have never known before. I am so grateful that He does; it's something, I realize now, that I have always wanted.
But when He shows me His reality in me, I see the glory of the worst years of my life; how precious they are to me, more valuable than any earthly wealth. And in the midst of those years the simple decision, evidenced many times, actually, to walk away quietly and to throw no spears at all.
(Speak these as confessions of faith, that is, calling forth Christ personal in you.)
1. Justify God.
I justify God as being right and true concerning everything in life I have ever gone through or that has happened to me, including my present experiences. God is not responsible for any evil thing against me, but He and I together make everything intended for evil into unending goodness. Yet I will see nothing apart from God; for I see Him alone in all things. When people do or say things that hurt me, I find God right and true, regardless of any loss to myself.
2. Blame no one.
Regardless of who does what, I blame no one for anything that happens to me. I do not join with Adam or Korah or Absalom, pointing the finger at other people. Jesus died for the sins of all; I never dishonor Him by finding fault with my brother. I never imagine that I know anyone else's motives nor any secrets of their hearts – unless I ask and they tell me. I never gossip about another person, imputing my own tendencies upon them and then talking about “them” to others. I leave all free of me entirely in the hands of our most capable Savior.
I do not speak against other people; I do not speak against God.
3. Give thanks.
I give thanks. I thank God for everything that happens to me, everything I am and everything I have. I thank God for the difficult things as much as I thank Him for the good things. I never worry about my present feelings of frustration, but I always end every difficulty with a full giving of thanks. When I share with others concerning my difficulties, thankfulness is the primary thing they hear.
4. Speak only blessing and Christ.
I have no problem abandoning myself because Christ is my only life. Yet in finding Him as me, I find all of me returned back, pure and holy and good. I speak Christ of myself. In the same way, I see only Christ when I see others, and I speak Christ and blessing to everyone to whom I speak.
When I am reviled, I bless.
When I am accused falsely, I speak Christ in encouragement and faith.
I speak Christ, lifting you up, carrying you, swallowing up all your sin and rebellion, ascending on high, and you inside of Him.
I speak Christ.