The heralding of the crucified God
Apostolicity – revealing fatherhood
In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not; O Zion, let not thy hands be slack. Jehovah thy God is in the midst of thee, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing. I will gather them that sorrow for the solemn assembly, who were of thee; to whom the burden upon her was a reproach. Zep 3:16-18
Oh how great is thy goodness, Which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, Which thou hast wrought for them that take refuge in thee, Before the sons of men! In the covert of thy presence wilt thou hide them from the plottings of man: Thou wilt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the Lord; For he hath showed me his marvellous lovingkindness in a strong city. Ps 31:19-21
The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me: he who rules over men justly, ruling in the fear of God, is as the light of the morning, as the sun rises, a morning without clouds. The tender grass springs out of the earth through shining after rain. 2 Sam 23:3-4
Beauty, stability and functionality
“A father of many nations have I made thee.” These were words to Abraham. The New Testament declares him to “be the father of all them that believe”. Fatherhood is meant to provide proper foundation and framework for a household, it is intended to provide focus and identity for the smallest building unit in a society. A corner stone settles the functionality of a building, fatherhood brings stability among those who dwell together. Apostolicity is to be regarded as having similar functions in the Christian community, the Church. As Jesus Christ, being “a living Stone, indeed rejected by men”, so does the sent man often stand alone to be regarded as unnecessary, an item obsolete, a function disregarded. The common statement against fatherhood and men of foundations is widely heard: “Let us break their bands in two and cast away their cords from us”. The sending causes opposition and dissension, because it is meant to herald Fatherhood – the crucified God.
The Davidic definition of a father’s role, even of the role of a ruler, gathers its intensity and beauty from a shepherd’s experience – rough wind and rain, perhaps for days, and then a glorious dawn, clear sky, the sun rising at the horizon. Malachi has the following: “But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise, and healing will be on His wings”. The Davidic setting; a ruler speaking as if he, by his whole being and person, takes on and by the might of his caring heart carries the burden of the people – as a corporate body as well as regarding single individuals. The Davidic perspective pictures the herdsman leaving the ninety-nine for a single straying sheep. Men, sent men, are horizoned by the heart of the crucified God. Theirs is a walk according to a meekness learnt in the pastures of the Lord, a walk in which no guile is ever to be found. “The secret of Jehovah is with those who fear Him; and He will show them His covenant.” Guilelessness and humility – the secret and the true power of men sent from Heaven.
“In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His shelter, in the secrecy of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me up on a rock.” Ps 27:5
“Thou art my hiding place; thou wilt preserve me from trouble; thou wilt compass me about with songs of deliverance.” Ps 32:7
The main feature in the Davidic concept of fatherhood, and therefore of covering, is the tabernacle – which in its presence and character provides ample expressions of the holiness and righteousness which settles the context for mercy and grace to come to the people as they adjust their stance and manners according to sacrificial measures – to be put according to the language of the New Testament: A people allowing themselves to gather in Christ, “who from God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”.
The tabernacle represents heavenly rule, righteous rule, it represents a worshipping of the Holy One in ways which are perfectly purified – no self-effort, no self-focus, no self-aggrandizement. The beat and the yelling volume produced by rhythm-machinery and high-power amplification in our modern gatherings cannot and does not comply with the holiness of the tabernacle. Its screaming carnality finds no way to the Father’s heart. It leaves us guilty of blasphemy. The Davidic tabernacle heralds fatherhood, to be welcomed in the same manner as it is sent from Heaven – in humility. Our bowing before the Lord in worship as well as our approach to men must resemble that which comes from Heaven. Apostolicity asserts correspondence – as in Heaven, so on Earth.
The Father delights in the Son: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. The Father delights in Zion. The Father delights in the providing of that which covers and protects – even His singing causes deliverance. Apostolicity opens a rich perspective – releasing the sheep to perfect pastures, to that which corresponds to Heaven. Apostolicity never gathers to itself – a drawing of the people to one man’s cause, to one man’s vision, contradicts in the bluntest manner the idea of being sent. Being sent means being theirs, being sent never means “they are mine”. Being sent means being there to serve, it never allows the sent person to persuade the people into a serving of him. A man professing to be sent, who gathers riches for himself is an outright contradiction of the apostolic measure. One step further – the Son, the beloved, does not play on attractiveness or charisma. “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”
John, the Apostle, wrote to the churches regarding his sharing with them as a “companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ”. He wrote to seven proto-churches, to seven churches chosen to stand as markers and pattern for the Church of the overcomers. Their role included a positioning in spiritual history as reminders for every corporate body in Christ, pointing to the one and only thing necessary – to the overcoming, to the ever present duty to give God His rightful position in any given situation. Theirs was the role of providing a pattern and a framework within which fatherhood will be properly displayed and within which falsehood and pretention is to be negated and driven out.
John was struggling in prison, yet writing in a most profound manner. He settled his text at the time when the Roman empire was ruled by Caesar Dominitian – a man who senselessly crossed the borderline of common decency in the deifying of himself. He founded his claims on the fact that Rome itself – its spirit – insisted on divine nature. Rome demands the right for man, certainly for its leaders, to stand as little gods. This classic error reaches horrific levels in its humanistic approach in our societies – its spiritual counterpart in churches, disguised as “overcoming”, proves radical confusion as to the apostolic seeing of the crucified God. Men and women gathered for a worshipping of God as He is, are confronted at this very point – the turning aside to see the cross in the Father’s heart and the following melting of their own hearts. The true overcomer learns to discern and identify each tendency towards self-hood. The true overcomer rejects that which demands adherence on carnal ground. The overcomer stands true in his overcoming when Heaven is allowed to rule.
The training of a foundational man
“The servant of the Lord must not strive, but to be gentle to all, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those who oppose, if perhaps God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” 2 Tim 2:24-25
Paul brings forth the essence of apostolicity as he writes to Timothy, in the advising of the young man for apostolic mission. In this radical statement he places two things together, which we generally regard as opposites. Here we have teaching and instruction – the latter is “paideuo” in Greek. This word covers disciplined education, even re-education by reproof and admonition. And Paul requires the re-education to be done in meekness. This blows our fuses – admonition makes us feel ill-at-ease, the confronting puts us to a defence mode. Far too often we find the admonisher harsh and un-kind – not at all meek and merciful. He seems to enjoy the breaking of his victim. The apostolic approach has learnt heavenly fatherhood – the admonishing with a broken heart. No human is able to capture the heavenly mode but through seeing God broken and being broken in the seeing. Fatherhood equals apostolic meekness. Fatherhood dares to confront, it is done according to the mode of the cross of Christ.
“In the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Tim 4:1
“Husteros” – latter times, at the end, at the border, even crossing borders, combined with the word “husterismos”, which defines a mode of being, these two words go well together to describe our days. These are days when many test limits and trespasses in the doing, many move boldly beyond limits, all kinds of restrictions are neglected and abolished, all this being done with the heart of a daredevil, as in a frenzy, in a hysteric mode of being. Egos inflated, claims exaggerated, spiritual exploits undertaken in a spirit of bravado, bombast and boastfulness – this is our days, this is our churches. And the apostolic heart cries out before the Lord.
The main issue is that the hysteric Church of our days sees itself to be utterly apostolic. But the man sent from God considers the apocalyptic perspective given by the Holy Spirit to be a signal for the gathering of solemn assemblies unto repentance, thorough repentance. The Lord instructs him according to the following: “I will gather them that sorrow for the solemn assembly, who were of thee; to whom the burden upon her was a reproach.” The apostolic perspective is indeed apocalyptic – the burdensome awareness of the discrepancy created by “didaskalia daimonion”, spiritual forces which promotes various grave strayings – the apocalyptic perspective tells him what time it is and what to do. In meekness instructing…
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times will come.” 2 Tim 3:1
Apostolicity is life suited for perilous times, apostolicity is the presenting of a message, a testimony for perilous times. Apostolicity is the mode and model by which the Lord of Hosts speaks into and against the wearisomeness of these last days. The “last” – the “eschatos”, the very last, at the end in a row of many. Eschatology is very much more to us in these days, than to the many who have gone before us. Ours is the task to walk apostolically for the sake of presenting a testimony which reflects heavenly fatherhood – reflects the crucified God. In these days, when men “live it up”, when men find no reason to live decent lives in godly reverence, God calls for apostolicity, for fatherhood, for crucified lives.
“Having a form of godliness, but denying its power.” 2 Tim 3:5
Paul rounds up his list of characteristics by which he settles a description of the man as he is in the very last days. He points his finger and directs his words into the power-hungry Church. And the many bring protesting in the manner of the day – loud and boastful: “We do not deny the power of God – we like miracles.” The twisting of the meaning of the word has gone a full round – power means satisfying the urge for extravagant experiences. That which is intrinsically God, that which is fatherhood in its heavenly essence – the cross in the Father’s heart unto holiness and fellowship – is met with an outright denial. “We want to live on the envelope, a living to the extreme – even challenging the sovereign lordship of Christ. This is “godliness” in the last days. Amidst extremism the Lord mobilizes a sending for the sake of thorough correction, fatherliness expressed in meekness.
The young Timothy, the man to be trained for apostolic endeavour, found in the very first sentences in the first letter received from the apostle Paul pertinent instructions which were aimed for the formation of his whole apostolic career. The apostle delivered the instructions to the young man on the very foundation of his own sending, based on the “epitage”, the mandate on which he rested his work. Timothy acquired through the words of Paul specific direction as to his approach in matters of teaching and instruction, his case was also settled in regards to deviant teaching already at hand in the newly born churches. “You might charge some not to teach other doctrines.” The Greek has the word “paraggello” – to charge, to command, to exhort.
No apostle, no prophet, not even a teacher open up or introduce new teachings, new things, new areas and items which could not, at an earlier stage, be seen and found under the hand of the Lord – if they do, they have already sided with certain “didaskalia daimonion”. The apostle confronts men who base their credentials on extra-biblical revelation, on texts which were never allowed into the canon of the Bible, or on thinking introduced in dreams and visions for the sake of twisting the message of the crucified God. The “new-thing-ology” of our days, which has given itself the right to twist, add to or take away from the Word of the Lord belongs to the that which is described by the Lord as the Great Falling Away, the apostasy of the latter days.
Apostolicity – the ministry of sound minds
“This charge I commit to thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mayest war a good warfare.” 1 Tim 1:18
Apostolicity – wage warfare. Apostolicity – wage a good and godly warfare. Apostolicity – the waging of a soft war, using weapons received from the arsenal in Heaven. As these weapons are mighty before God, they correspond to that which is heavenly – to the perfectly crucified realm of existence. The sending of Timothy was intended for an establishing of sound doctrine, it was intended for the producing of sound minds – it was a ministry of sound minds. Peter, the mellowed fisherman, wrote: “The end of all things is now close at hand: therefore be sober-minded and temperate, so that you may give yourselves to prayer.” Ministry, prayer ministry, charity ministry as well as teaching and healing ministry must reflect the jubilant sobriety of a sound mind. Apostles, sent men, are the catalysts in the process of the gathering of a godly people unto solemnity.
Sobriety and solemnity – no dull thing, lucid, transparent, a mode which never brings offence, by which many are offended, a modus operandi awkward and unpleasant to the pleasure-seeker and the many who dislike thinking and who are ill-at- ease before the majesty of the Creator. To Timothy: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.” To Timothy: “I write these things to you, that you may know how you ought to behave in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness. ” Apostolicity takes on real thinking, the sobering art of heavenly thinking for the sake of a sound and functional Church. Apostolicity takes great interest and delight in conduct and behaviour which represent Heaven. Apostles are sober men, well founded in truth for the sake of producing churches who are to stand as pillars of truth.
God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Tim 1:7
Power without a sound mind produces dictators. Love without a sound mind leads to licentiousness and lasciviousness. The Church at Ephesus was indeed commended for hating that which the Lord hates, that is the power-hungry fellowship, which uses whit, uses any gift of gab, uses intimidation – intellectual as well as brute force, and bases their claims on worldly reasonings for the taking of prime positions in the Church. The Church at Thyatira was called the corrupt Church because of their tolerance. “I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants.” Tolerance is indeed love without a sound mind, tolerance appears as an actor on the scene where soundness, sobriety and solemnity are rejected – eternal values rejected.
Again, to Timothy, an apostle in the making: “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” 2 Tim 1:13-14
Hold on to the “hupotuposis”, the heavenly protocol, for an example for those who should hereafter believe. Hold on to the “hupotuposis”, the heavenly protocol, guard it, protect it, keep it from being snatched away, guard the heavenly protocol from being abandoned. Guard apostolic doctrines – a duty worthy a real man. Even more, guard the apostolic mindset, the mode of being – the apostolic meekness which alone verifies the sending.
Apostolicity, being aligned and adjusted to His sovereignty
“I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. Ps 61:4-5
The sending defined in short hand: “I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand.” Isa 51:16
Apostolicity develops and is maintained under the hand of the Lord, a steady abiding under the hand of the Holy One. There, the man is being made true. There, the man learns to identify truth. There, the solemn necessity of truth occurs to him as the very essence of heavenly protocol. A heavenly vessel takes shape only under the hand of the Lord. A man forfeiting the prospect of a sitting under the hand of the Lord is about to become his own severe judgment. Men of the tabernacle, tempered by the tent, are vessels prepared for heavenly duty. The Davidic man learns the heavenly art of abiding. In this peculiar art of waiting on God, truth formulates itself ever fresh, refreshingly reliable, permanent and rock solid.
The apostolic covering, the abiding under the hand of the Lord engages the enemy. “The cravings of the lower nature are opposed to those of the Spirit, and the cravings of the Spirit are opposed to those of the lower nature; because these are antagonistic to each other, so that you cannot do everything to which you are inclined.” Apostolicity learns to walk steadily in the Spirit for the sake of victory in Christ. Paul instructs, “Be ye imitators of me”. “Follow the patterns already given to all the churches”. Also, from the pen of Paul: “And if any one among you thinketh that he is a prophet, or that he is spiritual, let him recognize the things which I write to you, as being the precepts of our Lord.” The apostolic mind expresses itself as being under the hand of the Lord. The apostolic heart reveals fatherhood – never taking any kind of advantage of any person within its reach. This will be the only attractive characteristic which answers to the need of the coming generation in its recklessness and global despair.
To the apostle in the making: “Take heed to thyself and to thy doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou wilt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” 1 Tim 4:16
“If you warn the brethren of these dangers you will be a good and faithful servant of Christ Jesus, inwardly feeding on the lessons of the faith and of the sound teaching of which you have been, and are, so close a follower.” 1 Tim 4:6
The training of the apostolic mind is ever set on the formation of a sound mind and a burning heart, a mind alerted to heavenly values and the appropriation and application of these values from beyond in any a setting of saints. Foundational formation unto newness of life is the prospect of apostolicity. A good minister, Paul says, is a man settled under the hand of the Lord, engaged in the instructing and correcting of men unto godliness. A good minister, says Paul, is the one who closely follows heavenly patterns and precepts. He admonishes all men to “meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all”.
Finally summarizing: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” 2 Tim 4:2
The heralding of the crucified God is an ongoing operation, The Lord sends His messenger, and sends him again. The Lord sends His word, ever fresh, ever sharp – and it never turns back without result. “So shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void.” And, the apostolic man never moves into action without the securing of sent word. The apostolic man, the man with a burning heart, never pretends having heard from Heaven. The man with a father’s heart, touched by the Father’s heart, leads the sheep to find perfect pastures – to that which corresponds to Heaven. His words are empowered, truly powered by long-suffering – especially in the day when the sent words are aimed at exposing and convicting, confronting and correcting the straying sheep, even the straying church.
Reading: Gen 17:5, Rom 4:11, Ps 2:3, Mal 4:2, Ps 25:14, 1 Cor 1:30, Matt 17:5, Isa 53:2, 2 Tim 3:16, 1 Tim 3:14-16, Rev 2:6, 2:20, 1 Cor 14:37, Isa 55:11