From Plainer Words

Ordinary Men with Extraordinary Power

Posted in: 2010
By Tom L. Ballinger
Mar 4, 2010 - 6:40:58 PM

Plainer Words Online

Tom L. Ballinger
March 3, 2010
The ordinary men who were chosen by Christ to be His Apostles were endowed with extraordinary power. Power that was never possessed by any other mortal men.
It is very poignant to consider the men who the Lord Jesus Christ selected to be His Ministers of State—the Governors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. They were to be the ones who presided over “the Israel of God;” that is to say, the “new nation” that was being divinely formed during “The Acts of the Apostles.” These Officers of State were ordinary men chosen by Jesus Christ Who gave them unprecedented power to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils” (Matt. 10:8). The Ministers who Christ chose were the result of His fervent prayer that lasted all night. None of the Twelve were men of prominence. Nor, were any of them part of Israel’s elite. They were ordinary men of ordinary birth. They were men of low estate. Several of them were disciples of John the Baptist. Two were in John’s inner circle—Andrew and Peter. The one thing all Twelve had in common was their blood-line—which is to say; they were direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Here is a most notable incident that directed Jesus Christ’s choice of the Twelve:
“And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called unto him His disciples: and of them He chose twelve, whom also He named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).
The Kingdom of Israel Will Not Be a Consolidated Nation-State
These Twelve ordinary men were given EXTRAORDINARY POWER to perform unparalleled signs, wonders, and miracles. It would be degrading to the stature of these Twelve men to make a comparison of them to modern-day preachers, evangelists, pastors, or teachers. The Lord Jesus Christ, Personally, selected these Twelve after praying all night. He came down from the mountainside with the names of the anointed Twelve, written by the Spirit of God on the fleshy tables of His heart. These men did not apply for the position of an apostle, nor did they lobby the Lord for the job. No indeed; in fact, He didn’t even interview them before He called them out from among the multitude.
This was never done for members of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head. Christ has never prayed over the appointing of today’s preachers, evangelists, pastors, or teachers. In fact, He has not even selected a single preacher; nor a single evangelist; nor a single pastor; or teacher. If any of us, as members of the Church, which is His Body, preach; or evangelize; or pastor; or teach—we do so because of our own will. The Lord Jesus has not called us, selected us, or anointed us; we do this work because we “desire a noble task” of doing so. (1 Tim 3:1-2) NIV.
During the Pentecostal era, the Twelve Apostles ruled over “the Church of God;” also known as “the Commonwealth of Israel” (Eph. 2:12). They were promised that when Israel’s Pre-Millennial Kingdom was restored, they would govern the Twelve Tribes.
“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration [in the new world], when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28).
This verse, along with Matthew 10:2, Luke 22:30, and Mark 3:13, gives the student an insight into how Israel will be governed during the long duration of the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God. The Old Testament Judges ruled over Israel between 300 to 400 years. When Israel demanded that Samuel anoint a king to rein over them, they, in fact, rejected God’s rule through the Judges. They wanted to be like the other nations (1 Samuel 8:7-8). Luke 6:12-13 and Matthew 19:28 suggest that the restored Kingdom of Israel will be a tribal-nation-state—not a normal consolidated nation-state. This fact accommodates for the Twelve Apostles sitting on Twelve Thrones, judging the Twelve Tribes. The “Twelves” indicates a form of tribal-government in a divine arrangement. God can be trusted to set-up His Government so that self-discipline, self-reliance, and personal integrity will prosper. The Twelve Judges will not need the power of coercion, or a tribal-military to enforce compliance with tribal edicts. The Tribes of Israel will be reunited in peace and harmony. David will be their King. Peace on earth will be the order of the day.
“And He [LORD] shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4).
Perhaps, much of the confusion and contradictions which exist “in the Christian church world” are the result of ignoring the factual character of the forty-year period which “The Acts of the Apostles” covered. There are those who are trying to live as if the same administration and Divine purpose exists, today, as it did during the Acts Period. By doing so, they, of necessity, deny the true character which prevailed between Acts 2 and Acts 28.
The Distinctive Nature of Pentecostal Dispensation
The chief characteristic of the Pentecostal Dispensation was that Jesus Christ designated and commissioned men to go forth, at His direction, speaking an inspired message (the Gospel of the Kingdom of God); each word of which was given to them, by Christ, each time they spoke it. He would even direct them to speak His inspired words when they were under persecution:
“But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matt. 10:19-20).
Christ, further, instructed the Twelve in Luke 12:11-12; “And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”
The Spirit, later, empowered Paul with the same Divine enablement; “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thess 2:13).
Each time the Apostles spoke an inspired message from Christ, the hearers heard it in their mother tongue (the gift of Tongues). The words they spoke were always confirmed by miraculous signs that followed (Heb. 2:4). When anyone believed the Word, his faith was endorsed and confirmed by signs (Mark 16:17). This was the unvarying principle of the Acts Period. The honest student of the Word must agree that this is not God’s method, today, and hasn’t been since Acts 28. This indicates that there were  no “closet Christians” in that era—when someone believed, his faith was manifested by “signs following.”
Six-hundred-fifty years before the birth of Christ, Habakkuk said, anticipating the dispersion of Israel among the nations, “Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you” (Hab. 1:5). This prophecy still awaits final fulfillment; yet, there should be no doubt that there was a precursory fulfillment in the Acts Period. Paul’s words prove the case; “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you”      (Acts 13:40-41).
The Israelites who lived during the Pentecostal Dispensation (Acts 2 to 28) not only heard of reports of what the Lord Jesus was doing; they saw with their own eyes what He was, miraculously, accomplishing  (Acts 2:33). The Jews, whether in Palestine or among the nations, were the objects of, and witnesses to this work of God. His actions, during this period, have been unparalleled in human history. This forty-year period stands apart and is different from all other periods of Divine activity. A careful, prayerful, and serious study needs to be given.
It Is Foolish to Equate Today’s Christians With Acts Period Christians
It has ever been the practice of theologians to minimize, disparage, and cloud the truth concerning the work that God was doing during “The Acts of the Apostles.” This has been done, wittingly and unwittingly. The Divine history of this time has been the subject of the revisionists of the Book of Acts. They are determined to see nothing in this period except the founding and development of what they call, “the Christian church.” They read this into every passage; they interpret it into every event; and they even translate so it will be found throughout the period. They, actually, minimize everything that belongs to this period of time, and, then, they magnify everything in Christendom, today, so that both might meet on a common level, and one becomes a continuation of the other. Thus, they insist that it was “the church” which began at Pentecost; then, they make the organized religious establishments of today to be “the church” which began then - the outgrowth of what began at Pentecost.
The men who Jesus Christ called to follow him were ordinary men who received EXTRAORDINARY POWER. Not one single, solitary man-of-God, who ministered after the Book of Acts closed, was ever empowered as were the Apostles of Jesus Christ. Those men who walked the shores of Galilee with Him and became His Disciples were endowed with powers of supernatural dimensions. The Twelve Apostles, the Apostle Paul, as well as many others during “The Acts of the Apostles,” received the Promise of the Father sent to them by Christ—which was that of being “endued with power from on High” (Luke 24:49).
These theologians make the Church of God, of the Acts Period, to be nothing more than church members; then, they make the church members of today to be the Church of God. The Divinely commissioned and inspired heralds of that time are made to be preachers and pastors; then, the preachers and pastors of today are made to be Divinely called and commissioned servants of God, just like the Act’s Apostles. Consequently, past positions were ordinary, and present positions are exalted so that they will appear to be the same.
An apostle, such as Paul, is made to be a “missionary,” and his travels are made to be missionary journeys. The Divinely-inspired proclamations of the Apostles are made to be “sermons,” and the chief purpose of these men is said to have been “the founding of churches.” Also, we are told that all of the great miracles that these men performed could, also, be performed by us if we only had sufficient faith. We are even told that the God-given ability to speak in a foreign language was only an ecstatic and unintelligible babble, and that the head-jerking, eye-rolling, unintelligible muttering of meaningless sounds, experienced today, is the Biblical Gift of Tongues. Thus, the magnificence of the past is leveled, and the present is elevated. God’s highest is made to be man’s lowest, and man’s lowest is made to be God’s highest, so that everything that happened in the Acts Period is made to be the same as denominational programs, today.
Dr. C. I. Scofield fell into this trap, giving in his reference Bible such paragraph headings in the Book of Acts as “The first Church;” “Peter’s second Sermon;” “The first missionaries;” “Elders appointed in every church;” “Founding of the church at Thessalonica;”and “Founding of the church at Corinth.” By so doing, a modern-day denominational and organized religious program is superimposed on every page of the Book of Acts when, in reality, it cannot be found there.
There are certain great truths related to this time-frame that stand out like mountain peaks, and these need to be recognized and emphasized by all who would deal, honestly, with the history recorded in “The Acts of the Apostles” and with the epistles that were written during this time. These mountain peaks of truth must not be imploded and made low in order for preachers and pastors, today, to be exalted.
When the Acts Period closed out, the Lord had accomplished everything that He set out to do. No purpose was left unfinished; no mission was incomplete. The message had gone forth to the ends of the earth; all of Israel heard; the remnant (the repentant ones) had been established; and a company for His Name had been called out from among the Gentiles.
Theologians, of every stripe, have invented and created myths surrounding God’s purpose during the Acts Period. He never offered the Kingdom to Israel. Israel never rejected the Kingdom. If an offer never occurred, then, there is nothing to reject.  To say so is a dead give-away that they don’t have a clue as to how the Kingdom comes to Israel (Mark 4:26-28. Luke 17:20-21).
To teach that the offer of the Kingdom was gradually withdrawn during the latter part of the Acts Period is a destructive error. Did Acts 28:28 signify that God’s Acts’ program was a failure? No! He ended His Acts’ episode in order to bring to light, and make manifest, a Secret purpose He had planned before the foundation of the world - that Christ would be among the Gentiles and would be their hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
Tom L. Ballinger

© Copyright 2010 by Plainer Words