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The Church in Action


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Title: The Church in Action

The Church in Action
Lesson 12
Lesson TextMatthew 1619
Matthew 1619 And I will give unto thee the keys
of the kingdom of heaven and whatsoever thou
shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and
whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be
loosed in heaven.
Lesson TextLuke 101-3
Luke 101-3 1 After these things the Lord
appointed other seventy also, and sent them two
and two before his face into every city and
place, whither he himself would come.
Lesson TextLuke 101-3
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly
is great, but the labourers are few pray ye
therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would
send forth labourers into his harvest. 3 Go your
ways behold, I send you forth as lambs among
Lesson TextLuke 1016
Luke 1016 He that heareth you heareth me and he
that despiseth you despiseth me and he that
despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
Lesson TextLuke 1912-14
Luke 1912-14 12 He said therefore, A certain
nobleman went into a far country to receive for
himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he
called his ten servants, and delivered them ten
pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
Lesson TextLuke 1912-14
14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message
after him, saying, We will not have this man to
reign over us.
Lesson TextLuke 1915
Luke 1915 And it came to pass, that when he was
returned, having received the kingdom, then he
commanded these servants to be called unto him,
to whom he had given the money, that he might
know how much every man had gained by trading.
Focus VerseJohn 2021-23
John 2021-23 21 Then said Jesus to them again,
Peace be unto you as my Father hath sent me,
even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this,
he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive
ye the Holy Ghost
Focus VerseJohn 2021-23
23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted
unto them and whose soever sins ye retain, they
are retained.
Focus Thought
The word apostle means one sent, and the
apostolic church emerged as a body of believers
sent out to the world as personal extensions of
Ephesians 219-20
Many people try to fit the church into various
molds and paradigms they think are best suited to
its establishment. In other words, they attempt
to force the church to function within the
frameworks they devise. For example, over the
past generation we have witnessed various
individuals advocating the Lighthouse Movement,
the purpose-driven church model, and numerous
applications of church cell ministry.
Ephesians 219-20
However, no single human idea of organizational
structure can be a one-size-fits-all pattern for
the church. A person cannot reduce the New
Testament churchthe apostolic churchto one
simple organizational form. While this thriving
church met in homes (Acts 542) and in the Temple
(Acts 512), its work and worship were not
confined to structured worship services. The sick
were set beside the streets where Peter walked so
that they might be healed as his shadow passed
over them (Acts 515).
Ephesians 219-20
One of the deacons, selected to ensure the fair
disbursement of all resources, preached a
convicting sermon in a courtroom (Acts 612 7).
Philip preached to the Ethiopian in the desert
(Acts 8), and in Athens, Paul preached both in
the Jewish synagogue and to everyone he met in
the marketplace (Acts 1717).
Ephesians 219-20
Neither intimidation nor persecution was able to
destroy the church. The church wielded no
political power, yet no king or governor was able
to stifle its growth or influence. Jesus assured
believers that He would build His church and no
forcenot even hells most intense effortscould
stop it (Matthew 1618). Leading this brand new
collection of believers was a small group of men
called the apostles.
Ephesians 219-20
Thayers Greek Lexicon defines apostle as 1. a
delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders,
John 1316 . . . 2. Specially applied to the
twelve disciples whom Christ selected, Matthew
101-4 . . . 3. In a broader sense the name is
transferred to other eminent Christian teachers
as Barnabas, Acts 1414. The twelve disciples
of Jesus Christ certainly fit the definition of
apostle as they carried the message of Jesus
Christ to the world.
Ephesians 219-20
The churches that formed as a result of the
preaching of the apostles so embraced the message
and lifestyle of the apostles that the assemblies
became a reflection of their words and actions.
Birthed by the passionate care of the apostles,
the early church embodied the values and spirit
of its builder, Jesus Christ, and became the most
powerful force on earth. As we study the
apostolic church, we will examine closely the
definition of an apostlehistorically, literally,
and practically.
Ephesians 219-20
Historically, there were twelve original
disciples, the apostles, who had a unique calling
by Jesus Christ, which was never again to be
repeated or replicated within the church. The
purpose of their specific calling was fulfilled
and completed within their lifetimesthe
establishment of the New Testament church of
Jesus Christ. However, the general work of an
apostle continues in its most literal and
practical definitions Jesus is still calling
believers to carry His message into all the
Ephesians 219-20
Our look at the churchs continuing efforts to
perform apostolic ministry is in no way intended
to diminish or blur the very specific one-time
work performed by the original apostles. We
endeavor only to examine and encourage the
continuance of the essential idea of ongoing
apostolic ministry. Having also received our
special calling and orders from Jesus Christ, we
continue to carry the message of Jesus Christ to
every hamlet and village and region throughout
the earth.
I. The Office of Apostle
The Office of Apostle
Matthew 10 records the commissioning of the
twelve apostles. As Jesus prepared to send them
out, He gave clear instructions regarding both
the message the apostles would deliver and the
audience to whom they would minister. But go
rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of
heaven is at hand (Matthew 106-7). These
disciples were true apostles.
I. The Office of Apostle
They were called out and sent to deliver a
specific message to a specific audience. Not
only did Jesus commission these men to deliver a
message of hope to the nation of Israel, but He
used them to establish the foundation upon which
He would build His church.
Ephesians 219-20
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and
foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints,
and of the household of God and are built upon
the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner
stone (Ephesians 219-20).
Ephesians 219-20
Between the commissioning of Matthew 10 and the
birth of the church (Acts 2), Judas forfeited his
position with the Twelve when he sinned and chose
suicide rather than repentance. Acts 2 describes
how Matthias was selected to take his place.
Later, Saul of Tarsus was converted and became
known as the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans
Ephesians 219-20
The message collectively constructed by these
New Testament apostles provides the foundation
upon which the apostolic church is built. While
God continues to send men and women forth with a
message to declare, that message always springs
from the words first delivered to us by the
apostles. Paul expressed the completeness of
their work when he wrote, But though we, or an
angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto
you than that which we have preached unto you,
let him be accursed (Galatians 18).
II. The Function of an Apostle
The Function of an Apostle
With the church established and Gods Word
delivered, the work of the apostles as mentioned
in Ephesians 219-20 was completed. However,
Gods plan for His church requires that men and
women continue to hear and obey His command to
carry the gospel to every person. Consequently,
the essential function of an apostle goes beyond
the work of the original Twelve and will remain a
vital role in the church as long as the church
remains on the earth.
A. Go with a Mission
A. Go with a Mission
Jesus made it clear that He was sending forth
all His disciples with a message. Before He
ascended into heaven, following His resurrection,
Jesus final words to His disciples were
instructions to prepare themselves to deliver His
message to the world.
A. Go with a Mission
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy
Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses
unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and
in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the
earth (Acts 18). Jesus had given believers
the message (Acts 13) and He expected them to
use the power He would supply to carry the gospel
to the whole world.

B. Complete the Task
B. Complete the Task
Gods nature and power do not permit His work to
languish unfulfilled. From the example of His
creation of the world to the specific prophecies
fulfilled by Jesus birth, it is obvious that He
deals in completeness. The resident Spirit of
God within provided the power that made the
apostles effective witnesses. (See I Corinthians
619.) God does not expect men and women to
establish His church solely by the use of their
own intelligence and resources.
B. Complete the Task
We are mere conduits to facilitate the building
of the church through the resources of Jesus
Christ, for He said He would build the church. It
is built by the power of God. The apostles knew
their role in laying the foundation of the
church, and they completed it faithfully. Now, it
is incumbent upon believers today to continue the
work of constructing His church.
B. Complete the Task
Building the church is a spiritual work whose
progress cannot be measured by natural
observation, but we are to be faithful to
whatever work He has assigned us. Only God can
calculate the real significance of our
faithfulness to perform His work on earth. He has
placed the great commission in our hands and is
depending on us to do our part.
C. Give an Account
C. Give an Account
Jesus often told stories to illustrate truth. In
Luke 19, He told of ten servants who were called
to account for how they had managed their lords
goods. While God does not measure the success of
His church or of His disciples by how much money
they generate, He has clear expectations for His
stewards. God bases His judgments on faithfulness
and obedience.
C. Give an Account
He does not expect every person to produce the
same quantity, but He expects every person to
produce. God knows each persons strengths and
weaknesses and commissions and judges each one
A. Abrahams Servant
Examples of Apostolic Function
A. Abrahams Servant
Abraham sent his servant on a mission that
parallels the task that Christ has given His
disciples. Recognizing that it was time for his
son Isaac to marry, Abraham directed his most
trusted servant to find a suitable bride.
A. Abrahams Servant
Not wanting his son to marry into the heathen
families living nearby, Abraham had his servant
travel back to his homeland to select a wife from
among Abrahams own people. The servant became,
in a sense, an apostle sent to perform a function
vital to Abrahams covenant with God.
A. Abrahams Servant
The work of the apostolic church is centered on
the bride that Christ will claim as His ownHis
church. (See Revelation 219.) Just as Abraham
sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac, so the
Lord has sent the apostolic church to acquire a
bride for Him. (See Revelation 197.)
B. Jesus
B. Jesus
We clearly witness an apostolic function in the
life of Jesus Christ. His message was not His
own, as He explained to the Jews When ye have
lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that
I am he, and that I do nothing of myself but as
my Father hath taught me, I speak these things
(John 828).
B. Jesus
Neither did Jesus come to pursue His own
pleasure, but as He told the crowd, I can of
mine own self do nothing as I hear, I judge and
my judgment is just because I seek not mine own
will, but the will of the Father which hath sent
me (John 530). His prayer in Gethsemane
revealed that He was fully committed to seeing
the Fathers will done. Father, if thou be
willing, remove this cup from me nevertheless
not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 2242).
B. Jesus
Paul summarized Jesus purpose when he wrote,
Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners (I Timothy 115).
C. Paul and Barnabas
C. Paul and Barnabas
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the
Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul
for the work whereunto I have called them (Acts
Acts 132
God demonstrated His sovereign will when the
Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to do a
special work. The church is a spiritual body (I
Corinthians 12) and God assigns each person his
place within it (I Corinthians 1218). Responding
to the Spirits call is one characteristic of an
apostolic church. The church is not the product
of its own plans and programs but is the result
of the divine intervention of God who is guiding
D. Andronicus and Junia
D. Andronicus and Junia
In the closing lines of his letter to the church
at Rome, Paul greeted Andronicus and Junia,
thought by some scholars, including Matthew
Henry, to be a married Jewish couple and cousins
to Paul. He saluted them for being distinguished
among the apostles and for having been converted
longer than he (Romans 167).
D. Andronicus and Junia
It is possible this couple was among the seventy
believers Luke wrote about in chapter 10 of his
Gospel (Luke 101, 17). Jesus organized this
group of disciples into pairs and sent them to
minister throughout the region. Jesus not only
placed the burden of ministry upon them, but He
empowered them to act on His behalf He that
heareth you heareth me and he that despiseth you
despiseth me and he that despiseth me despiseth
him that sent me (Luke 1016).

D. Andronicus and Junia
What occurred after the disciples ministered was
not their issue to handle. Their task was to
minister. None of them possessed the power to
heal diseases or forgive sins on their own. Their
only responsibility was to obey Jesus Christ by
preaching the gospel to the lost. The results
were totally dependent upon God. (See Mark

A. Jewish Passover Meal
Jesus Object Lesson
A. Jewish Passover Meal
As the Jews celebrated their deliverance from
Egypt during the Passover meal, they set an
extra, but empty, place at the table for the
Messiah. They set bread and wine before this seat
to remind them of the deliverance they had
received and the Redeemer who was yet to come.
B. Jesus Last Passover Meal
B. Jesus Last Passover Meal
As Jesus shared the Passover with His disciples,
He took the bread and wine reserved for the
Messiah. Passing the bread and wine to His
disciples, He referred to them as His body and
His blood.
B. Jesus Last Passover Meal
1. Jesus assumed the role of Messiah. Jesus was
not timid when it was time to answer the call of
God. He knew for what purpose He had been born,
and He was determined to fulfill it. Outside
pressures and the expectations of others did not
stop Him. Although the message He had to deliver
was going to shatter the religious traditions
many people held dear, He was faithful to His

B. Jesus Last Passover Meal

2. Jesus fulfilled the disciples expectations.
By assuming His role, Jesus confirmed to His
followers that He was indeed sent from God.
Although His methods often confused them, there
was no denying the power of God that was resident
in Him.

B. Jesus Last Passover Meal
3. After Jesus referred to the bread as His body
and the wine as His blood, He distributed them to
His disciples and invited them to partake. By
inviting the disciples to partake of His body and
blood, Jesus was uniting them, making them one
with and in Him. They would not only be witnesses
to a moment of great historical significance, but
propagating the message of Jesus Christ would
become their very livesthe whole purpose of
their existence.

B. Jesus Last Passover Meal
No longer did they live to build their own lives
and fortunes, but their lives became lost in His,
and His purpose became the force that motivated
their lives. 4. Jesus performed the messianic
ministry (Luke 418-19). His purpose in coming to
earth was to provide the only true sacrifice for
sin and to proclaim the hope of the living
gospel. In sharing communion with His disciples,
He also passed to them the responsibility of
carrying the gospel message to the world.

A. We Have Been Sent
Sent as Individual Apostles
A. We Have Been Sent
Before Jesus ascended, He commanded His
disciples to continue His work upon the earth
(Acts 18). His work was not to build His own
kingdom, but to speak and do those things the
Father taught Him.
A. We Have Been Sent
Just as Jesus was careful to surrender His own
will to the will of the One who sent Him, each
born-again disciple must lose himself in Christs
message and mission (Colossians 33).
A. We Have Been Sent
Jesus taught His disciples that they could not
accomplish His work without the Spirit He would
send (Acts 18). From His instructions, it is
apparent that the Holy Ghost is not just an added
blessing. Jesus told them to expect power when
they received the Spirit and not to attempt to do
His work without it. Apostolic ministry is
possible only when the believer is empowered by
the Holy Ghost.
B. We Have Our Job Description
B. We Have Our Job Description
The job of proclaiming the gospel to the world
has been placed upon the shoulders of Gods
church. The foundational message has been clearly
established by the prophets and apostles
(Ephesians 219-20), and now the church has
orders to go, preach, teach, and baptize.
B. We Have Our Job Description
No one who has received the Holy Ghost can claim
an exemption. The primary purpose of that gift is
to empower believers for their life in Christ,
including their call to share the gospel. By
supplying the power Himself, God has made it
possible for every believer to be an apostle.

B. We Have Our Job Description
The standard is not to measure up to the
knowledge of the apostle Paul or to the boldness
of the apostle Peter before one can be a witness,
but God establishes a standard for each believer
based on his or her talents and abilities
(Matthew 2515). Not only does the Holy Ghost set
a person free from his past, but it also frees
him from unreasonable expectations regarding the
future. God will judge believers by what they do
with the gifts He gave them, not by how well they
do compared to someone else.

C. We Have the Apostolic Message
C. We Have the Apostolic Message
On the Day of Pentecost, the power Jesus had
promised was delivered to His disciples. They had
tarried in Jerusalem as He had commanded, And
suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a
rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house
where they were sitting. And there appeared unto
them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat
upon each of them.
C. We Have the Apostolic Message
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and
began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit
gave them utterance (Acts 22-4). Now that they
had the power, they were ready to deliver the
message. When the people asked what they needed
to do to be saved, the brand-new church was
ready. Standing united with the other apostles
(Acts 214), Peter said, Repent, and be baptized
every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for
the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the
gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 238).
C. We Have the Apostolic Message
This message, the first one preached after the
formation of the church, was repeated throughout
the Book of Acts as the disciples took the gospel
throughout their world. Hermeneutics is the
art and science of interpretation. Dr. J. Edwin
Hartill wrote in his book Principles of Biblical
Hermeneutics, Unless consistent principles of
interpreting its passages are followed the truth
of God becomes blurred and confused.
C. We Have the Apostolic Message
Later in the same book Dr. Hartill listed The
First Mention Principle, which is that
principle by which God indicates in the first
mention of a subject, the truth with which that
subject stands connected in the mind of God. In
other words, Dr. Hartill continued, The first
time a thing is mentioned in Scripture it carries
with it a meaning that will be carried all
through the Word of God.
C. We Have the Apostolic Message

Using this principle of interpretation, the
first message preached to those not in the church
instructing them on how to enter must be
considered whenever a similar circumstance
arises. The message of salvation preached by the
apostles is the same one delivered by todays
apostolic church.
C. We Have the Apostolic Message

An apostle is not free to choose the message he
will deliver. Without a message there is no need
for an apostle. And if the message is distorted,
changed, or confused, delivering it is pointless.
The message, then, is more important than the
messengersomething that the apostolic church
must always keep in mind.
D. We Have Our Scheduled Day of
D. We Have Our Scheduled Day of Accountability
In Matthew 25, Jesus told of a man who took a
long journey, leaving the management of his
affairs in the hands of trusted servants. Upon
his return, he assembled his stewards to account
for what they had done in his absence. The lord
was pleased with those who had increased his
wealth, but he was angry with the man who had
taken no action to improve the portion of the
business he had been assigned.
D. We Have Our Scheduled Day of
He still retained all he had been given, but had
no contribution of his own to add to it. In the
end, the man who preserved only what he had been
given lost even that and was discarded as an
unprofitable servant. Expanding the boundaries
of the church is every disciples assignment.
While some may be more gifted or have more
available resources, every believer possesses the
ability to bless and strengthen the church.
D. We Have Our Scheduled Day of
The command to go lists no exceptions and bears
no excuses. Spreading the gospel is the
responsibility of every Christian. The servants
lord was not unreasonable. He did not expect his
servants to produce identical results, but he did
demand that they all show some gain on what they
had been given. In the same fashion, our Lord has
reasonable expectations of us.
E. We Have Been Charged with a Mission
E. We Have Been Charged with a Mission
As members of the body of Christ, we are called
to complete the work Jesus began on this earth.
Paul stated our job description when he wrote,
Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners (I Timothy 115).
E. We Have Been Charged with a Mission
Jude reiterated the apostolic responsibility and
accompanying influence And of some have
compassion, making a difference and others save
with fear, pulling them out of the fire hating
even the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude
E. We Have Been Charged with a Mission
Just as Jesus brought the early church apostles
into ministry with Him by having them partake of
His flesh and blood, so we are made partakers of
His ministry. The same Holy Ghost that empowered
them to serve their generation has been given to
us for the same purpose. We are sent with a
mission. Our lives are not ours to spend as we
choose. The burden of the great commission rests
with us.
Choosing a certain name or denominational
affiliation does not make a religious body an
apostolic church. The actions and behavior of the
believers within that body are the only factors
that determine whether or not a church is
apostolic. Being apostolic is about the values
and core beliefs a persons actions reflect
rather than the words that person may choose to
describe himself.

E. We Have Been Charged with a Mission
A person cannot purchase, claim, or inherit the
apostolic life. He can only experience it. Paul
described the new birth as an inside-out
transformation, not an external makeover.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new
creature old things are passed away behold, all
things are become new (II Corinthians 517).
When the Holy Ghost fell on the Day of Pentecost,
the disciples, who had been fearful and
faithless, became bold and passionate champions
of the gospel.
E. We Have Been Charged with a Mission
Their prayers shook houses, their shadows healed
diseases, and their message changed the world.
(See Acts 176.) Threats did not sway them and
prisons could not confine them. Attempts to
snuff out this powerful new force only fanned the
flames and pushed the apostolic revival into
other cities and onto other continents. This was,
indeed, a new thing.
E. We Have Been Charged with a Mission
God was no longer relegated to specific locations
dedicated to worship, but His Spirit was set free
to work wherever people gathered as the
born-again believers shared their joy without
reservation. That power has not subsided and
its effect has not diminished. Apostolic churches
flourish even in nations closed to Christian
missionaries. God has used ordinary people
without religious training or organized
assistance to introduce the Holy Ghost in places
where governments have fought to keep it out.
E. We Have Been Charged with a Mission
God is still calling and empowering His
disciples. The effect of the new birth is so
great in the lives of those who experience it
that they no longer belong to this world and its
culture. As Paul helped the Corinthians to
understand their new role and identity, he
identified the new position that every
Spirit-filled believer attains ambassador for
Christ (II Corinthians 520).
E. We Have Been Charged with a Mission

The completed new birth supplies the disciples
with the power necessary to fulfill the
commission that Jesus gave the church. May the
power of the Spirit of God impact every land and
every culture as the church faithfully executes
its apostolic mission.