#13a A synopsis on Study #13 - The Shadow of Peter

We are going to move on with our study shortly, but I didn't want to leave some things unsaid. Please take time to read this synopsis on Acts Study #13. Make sure you understand what I am sharing. Feel free to ask questions if you are troubled over anything. And above all, see if what I have to share accords with Scripture.

I'll number points of consideration:

Apostolic Age

(1) The term 'apostolic age' refers to first century Christianity. The apostolic age ended with the death of John the Revelator around 98 a.d. It was during this time that we received the New Testament. Once the book of Revelation was completed, there was nothing to be added to the sacred canon. And after the apostles and their companions left the scene, the apostolic age was complete.

This is why it is important to understand that there are no apostles and prophets today who can be regarded in the same sense as the apostles and prophets who gave us the Bible. I hope everyone understand this.

The problem today is that it can create a lot of tension among believers today when a stress is placed upon them to measure up to Peter and Paul. No one can measure up to these men. We can only be faithful to our calling and to our generation.

Apostolic Signs

(2) The term 'apostolic signs' carries a somewhat similar meaning. It does not mean that miracles and signs will ever stop manifesting among believers. It means that the magnitude of powers seen in the Lord's original apostles will not be seen in any individual today. This is what Paul meant, when he said, "The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles." (2Co12:12)

Church history itself has proven this to be true. Remember what the Lord said through John to the Church in Ephesus? Listen carefully; "I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false." (Rev2:2)

How would you put someone to the test who claimed to be an apostle? I'll leave that with you. Just think about it. Let's connect the statement in Revelation to something Paul said.

The apostle told the elders at Ephesus, "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes." (Acts 20:29-33)

I would challenge any member to break Paul's statement down, bit by bit. This is we learn. See if a distinction can be made between one of God's true apostles, and some who may like to take that title to themselves. (This is not a matter of 'Lets get on a bashing trip.' Hebraic-Foundations is not for that purpose. Just point your own reasoning powers to work.)

Did Signs and Wonders Cease?

(3) Did signs, and wonders, and miracles cease with the apostles? No. But the magnitude of power that was present in the apostles of the Lamb, has never been seen again in any individual in the history of the Church.

Certain giftings of the Holy Spirit will always be in place among believers, but these giftings will always be in accordance with God's will and according to what He is doing at any particular time.

Signs and Doctrine

(4) Another thing we considered was to what extent signs and wonders are to be looked at as validations of true doctrine. Here is where it can get unbalanced. We are never told to look at signs themselves as validations of truth. This is true in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament. This is an area for great caution. For example:

Moses said, "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God ..." (Deu13:1-5)

Before I share a New Testament Scripture, consider carefully how this warning given through Moses would apply to the Church age. Notice the emphasis on the false prophet is, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them.'

We would say, 'But a false prophet would never prophesy in the name of Jesus.' Another thing we would say is, 'I would never listen to a man who told me to go after another god.'

This is exactly where the problem lies --- Paul warned the Corinthian Church that certain ones among them were preaching another Jesus, and that they were receiving a spirit what wasn't the Holy Spirit, and that they were actually hearing a gospel that is not the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

See how scary this can be? Years ago the Lord began dealing with me in dreams and visions to warn the peoples that another Jesus was being preached today. Ever since then I'm received opposition. Someone may say, 'Well, Mr. Martin, what makes you so right, and others so wrong?!'

That isn't even the right question to ask. All I am saying is, read your Bible. Read your Bible. Study the Scriptures for yourself. Find out if the Jesus being preached in some camps today is the Jesus of the Bible. Find out if the message being preached today is the same message that was preached by the apostles.

Now notice one other thing that Moses said, that Paul says nearly the same thing. Moses said, "for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." Do you mean that God will actually test His own people with regard to their love for Him? Yes, a thousand times yes.

Now listen to Paul, " ... the one whose 1coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness." (1Th2:9-12)

Notice 'who' is going to send the activity or error. (Deluding influence.) God is going to send it. Why? To test His people. To show who truly belongs to Him.

Finally let's hear it from Jesus Himself; "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" (Matt7:22,23)

The Only Sign that Marks True Believers

(5) Finally --- Why did Paul say to the Corinthians in the midst of trying to help them understand giftings, "I will show you a more excellent way?" There is a reason. Follow closely.

Notice how Paul then begins his wonderful chapter on God's love. He begins this chapter with startling statements; "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noise gong or a clanging cymbal."

Now notice, "If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."

Why does this sound so familiar? Think about how some groups today center the bulk of their teachings on 'casting mountains into the sea' faith. You see, Paul wasn't taking away from the miracles of faith. He was dealing with the problems that arise when an emphasis is placed on the wrong thing.

But why did he deal with love so strongly? Because love is the only 'sign' that the Lord gives that is to be the distinguishing mark of true believers. Not speaking in tongues, or casting mountains into the sea, or casting out demons.

Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34,35)

Why did Jesus call it a new commandment? It was because on the day of Pentecost, new covenant believers were going to have their hearts filled with a love that is un-worldly, and is not found in man's natural state. It would be the very love of God poured out in the hearts of true believer. And it would be this ability to love the same way that Jesus loved, that would become the distinguishing mark of believers.

Folk, I am not a prophet. I am not an apostle. I am only a simple country preacher who pastors a congregation of less that 200. But I am a voice that needs to be heard. And while the word 'pastor's seems to trouble some today, that should not be the case. Pastor simply means shepherd. A shepherd's primary gift is teaching (feeding).

Listen to the prophet. God said, "Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding." (Jer3:15)

Since it is time to move on to our next study, I'll leave this synopsis open for a bit for any responses members may wish to make. (Even when we move on, all prior studies are available for discussion.)

Previous: #13 (Acts 5:12-16) The Shadow of Peter
#14 (Acts 5:17-42) Second Encounter With Temple Authorities

This study on Acts was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, Founder and Senior Pastor of Christian Challenge International.

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