The LORD has blessed the church immensely in choosing unto HIMSELF, twelve apostles and sending them forth into the earth to declare the unsearchable riches of CHRIST with a particular unction which was (and is) particular to them, even as the sons of Levi, were solely ordained to minister of the things of the Tabernacle (and later the temple). Their office (i.e. the Apostles), calling, and gifts have not been duplicated since, even though there were some in their day and now in the present time who would lay claim to these gifts and calling. The primary characteristic which sets them apart from all others who would seek to usurp their authority and position, is that they were all taught directly from the mouth of HIM who is the WORD of GOD. They were eyewitnesses of the resurrected CHRIST and brought to bow down before HIS excellent glory.
Many have come along in latter times claiming to possess apostolic authority, going about to make names for themselves with parlor tricks, mind games, and outright, deceptions, as they demonstrate their desire to have the preeminence, like Diotrephes. Those who were “true Apostles” were given one message and desired that ONE NAME be magnified in the earth. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:13-15) If a man would preach any other message than the singular glory of CHRIST, he demonstrates that he is an impostor, not simply, “not an apostle” but not a preacher sent by GOD, all of whom will exalt CHRIST alone.
The Kingdom of GOD is one of LIGHT and LIFE, which is totally in contrast to and at odds with the Kingdoms and thought processes of this world. This is the exact reason that the LORD told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Paul describes this blindness saying, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Cor 2:14) This is not to say that a man cannot learn and recite scriptures and even declare doctrinal truth that is in itself sound and useful.
Yet that ESSENCE of TRUTH is missing from those who have not “tasted that the LORD is gracious.” These are those who are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Tim 3:7) This ESSENCE of TRUTH, is that which is described by John, who was privileged to have walked and shared discourse in his body of flesh and blood, with HIM who is “the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.” Though we cannot testify with John as a Apostle to having seen HIM with these eyes of our flesh, nor conversed with HIM in the same, yet by the grace of GOD, we have indeed seen HIM through the eye of FAITH, as the SPIRIT has enlightened our minds and opened our understanding to behold HIM who is full of grace and truth. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Cor 4:6)
The LORD gave to HIS Apostles the gifts that HE did in order that they in turn might glorify HIM in the declaration of those things which they both saw, heard, and touched. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” (1John 1:1) We are extremely blessed by the testimony of these men whom the LORD was pleased to call and send into the Earth with the glorious gospel of the blessed GOD.
John said that this “WORD of LIFE” was “manifested” in the Earth. Thus he testifies in his gospel account saying, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Joseph Hart speaks of this “manifestation”, which is not of the imagination but in reality,
A Man there is, a real Man, With wounds still gaping wide,
From which rich streams of blood once ran, In hands, and feet, and side.
’Tis no wild fancy of our brains, No metaphor we speak;
The same dear Man in heaven now reigns,That suffered for our sake. (Gadsby’s #23)
CHRIST came into this world in a body of flesh and blood, coming forth from HIS mother’s womb just like every son of Adam. HE walked among the sinners of this earth, and was tempted in all points like as we, yet was totally without sin of HIS own. Apart from this “real body”, HE could in no wise have atoned for our sin. For we could not be redeemed except by HIM who is our near kin. “In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” (Col 1:22) “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1Pet 1:18-19) “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Pet 2:24)
This same MAN who died on Calvary, is the same ONE who was sealed vainly in a tomb, awaiting the third day, when HE split the bonds of death and arose a VICTOR over sin, death, and shame in the behalf of HIS kinsmen. Once again, HE walked among HIS apostles, in the same body which was laid in the tomb. When HE removed the cobwebs of unbelief from their eyes, they beheld HIM once again, but this time as a triumphant WARRIOR who made a show of HIS enemies openly. HE ate with them on the sea shore of a meal which HE prepared for them. A few days later, they beheld HIM as HE ascended back to the glory which was HIS from the beginning. There HE presently lives in that same body which was manifested to them, bearing the scars of HIS victory and the mantle of that glory which is rightfully HIS.
In this same body, HE shall descend from heaven with a shout, and the voice of the archangel, to gather from the far reaches of the earth, that possession which HE has purchased with HIS own blood. “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
It is true that we which are alive and remain cannot testify that we have beheld HIM in HIS body, yet we have been given the gift of faith to believe the testimony of those who have. These are not mere random speculators or those who have sought to perpetuate some concocted myth. These are those who have been ordained by the true and living GOD to bear witness of HIM whom they walked with daily. “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word.” (Luke 1:1-2) “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2Pet 1:16-19) Do you believe? mam