The gift of “apostle” was God’s idea – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles.” Jesus Christ gave (edoken) gifts (domata) to His Church and the first one mentioned is “apostles” (apostolous). Can you think of anyone who might have a problem with that gift? Hmmmm. Maybe, Satan! Yes, Satan had a big problem with God’s gift of “apostles” to the Church. Apostles like Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy were a huge thorn in Satan’s side.
So, what’s a devil to do? Lie. Steal. Kill. Destroy. Counterfeit. That’s what the devil does. He makes up stuff to confuse the people of God and confuse them he does. Look at what Paul wrote about the problem of counterfeit apostles.
“Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things. Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows! But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:1-15
Do you see how Paul handled the problem of “false apostles” (pseudapostoloi) infiltrating the Corinthian church? He called them out – “deceitful workers” (ergatai dolioi), “transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.” That’s how you deal with the counterfeiter. Call him out – “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.”
Jesus Christ made it abundantly clear how He wanted His churches to deal with false apostles — put them to the test.
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.” Revelation 2:2-3
There is nothing wrong with putting people to the test (epeirasas) when they claim to be speaking for God. If they can’t pass the test, they shouldn’t be trusted or followed. We have 2,000 years of history to fall back on. The Church has made the same mistake over and over again opening their pulpits and pews to false preachers and teachers. Shame on Christians who don’t put these people to the Lord’s test. Someone claims to speak for God, test them. If they speak for God, they’ll pass the test just fine. What is that test, you ask?
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3
The test is simply this — love God, live God, believe God, trust God, follow God, preach God, teach God, know God, want God, defend God, boast God, glorify God in everything you do. Pass or fail–that’s the test.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”