Difference between a Disciple and an Apostle?

Difference between a Disciple and an Apostle?

Disciple comes from the Greek word mathetes, which means “learner, pupil, disciple.”  Apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos, which means “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.”

Apostle Disciple

What is the difference?

The term apostle is used in two different ways in the New Testament.  Normally it’s used to describe a church leadership office in the early church in which the 12 apostles and Paul had inspired authority and the ability to perform miracles (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; 2:42; 6:1ff; Rom. 11:13; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11; 2 Cor. 12:12).  In order to be chosen for this office, one had to have been an eyewitness of all Jesus did from his baptism to his ascension (Acts 1:21-26).  However, it’s also used in a broader sense to refer to Christian missionaries sent forth on mission trips by churches (Acts 14:14; Rom. 16:7; 2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25).

All apostles were disciples, but not all disciples were apostles, either in the sense that they were in the church office nor in the sense that not all were sent out by churches to do missionary work.

Interestingly, Jesus was also called an apostle in that he was a messenger, one sent by God (Heb. 3:1).

Posted in Jon Mitchell | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Difference between a Disciple and an Apostle?

Slow Down! Don’t Read Too Fast!

Slow Down! Don’t Read Too Fast!

Sometimes we read the Bible too fast and then form conclusions which hinder our ability to fully see the message of God. Read the passage below to see if you may have overlooked what others have overlooked and thus reached wrong conclusions.

read to learn

Read with purpose and with care or you will miss the important things which are there.

On Paul’s second missionary journey he received the Macedonian call and went to Philippi. After the conversion of the households of Lydia and the jailor, persecution arose, and he left Philippi and traveled to Thessalonica and then to Berea. Luke described the reception of the apostle’s preaching in Berea.

The Beginning of the Church in Berea

“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were true” (Acts 17:11). They were honest and fair-minded and respected the Bible. What does this imply about the church in Thessalonica? As we read these words, we may wrongly conclude that the church in Berea  was more fair-minded and more spiritual than the one in Thessalonica. Such was not the case.

The Preaching in Thessalonica As the Church Began

Paul relates the experience he had as he preached in Thessalonica. In the second chapter of his first epistle to that church, he uses several phrases to describe what happened. First, he said that the word was boldly preached (v. 2). It involved exhortation (v. 3). It was based on a realization that he had been entrusted with the gospel, and he preached it exactly as he had received it (v. 4). It was not designed to please men but God (v. 4). It was imparted to the church (v. 8). It involved exhortation, comfort and a charge from God (v. 11). There is no doubt that this was also the kind of preaching he did in Berea.

The Reception of the Gospel in Thessalonica

How did the church react to this preaching? Look at all that is said about this.  (1) They received the word.  (2) They welcomed the word as they heard it.  (3) They had a clear understanding that it was not the words of men.  (4) They honored it as truth.  (5) They realized the message was truly from God.  (6) They allowed it to effectively work in them. It was truly a great church which respected the Bible.

How do we reconcile what Luke seems to imply about the church in Thessalonica not being as noble and fair-minded as the one in Berea? Read it slowly and carefully and notice that Luke is not describing the church in Thessalonica, but the people in that city. We may have failed to see great truths because we sometimes read too fast and jump to conclusions.

Posted in Dan Jenkins | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Slow Down! Don’t Read Too Fast!

Study and Practice

Study and Practice

There are very few areas of expertise achieved by men apart from diligent study and practice.

Olympic athletes and other individuals considered to be at the peak of physical human ability are not born that way. They have a regime they have followed, and most of them practice, and practice, and practice, devoting hours a day to improving themselves. Our physicians and surgeons are not considered competent to take us apart and put us back together again without first undergoing years of study and training. There are many more examples that could be given.

practice preach

A life of godliness doesn’t occur through osmosis.

There are not many activities where constant practice does not improve ability. And there are few activities where, with enough practice, most people can not achieve some competence. Generally, when an individual says, “I could never do that,” what they really mean is that they don’t want to spend the time and energy to learn how to do a thing. Sometimes such thinking is borne out of fear, but if we were to be honest with ourselves, frequently it’s just laziness or a lack of proper motivation on our part.

Why should we think that it is any different in matters of spiritual achievement?

The Bible reminds us concerning spiritual ability, maturity, and our ability to understand the Bible: “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:13-14; NKJV).”

Let us first notice that it is possible to be “unskilled” in God’s word; implying that it is fully possible to be “skilled.” This skill is achieved, not through the passage of time, but through, “reason of use,” and, “exercising” the senses to discern good and evil. In other words, spiritual ability and spiritual talents get better with practice and exercise, just like any other skill.

Have you considered the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, made like us in every way, and partaking of the full human experience, had to study to get better with God’s word? We find Him engaged in a Bible study at the age of 12, and when found doing so, He identified the study as His Father’s will (cf. Luke 2:46-49). Thereafter we read that Jesus, “increased in Wisdom and Stature (Luke 2:52).” Jesus grew to be a wise man, because, from a very young age, He applied Himself to obtaining that wisdom. He became good at doing the right thing because he practiced constantly doing the right thing, so that He could say of His relationship with God, “I always do those things that please Him.” (John 8:29)

But someone will say, “Well Jesus was God in the flesh, I could never be like Him.” As in so many other things, however, such a statement is more of an excuse not to try than it is a valid argument.

God wants us to try to be more like Jesus. The term “Christian” means, “Christ-like.” The Scriptures encourage us, telling us that we should look to the example of Jesus as our model for love, forgiveness and many other things (cf. Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 2:21; etc.) In fact, God very clearly tells us in His word that the goal is to grow spiritually, to reach the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). You might want to declare that you can’t grow spiritually, but God says you can, and that you should, even if such an endeavor is going to take effort on your part.

Sure, chances are pretty good that if you begin the process of spiritual growth, at some point you are going to falter. But it is only when we stop practicing that we stop improving. Don’t sell yourself short. God sees great potential in you. Don’t let laziness, fear, or indifference prevent you from achieving that potential. It takes practice, but the more you practice, the easier it gets.

Posted in Jonathan McAnulty | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Study and Practice

Seed Rejecting Soil

Seed Rejecting Soil

A lady from the local area recently called to request that she and her husband’s address be removed from our House-to-House, Heart-to-Heart mailing list. She explained how they currently had three trash bags that needed to be taken down to their burn pile as it was, and that they really didn’t need any more unnecessary mailings only adding to that volume. (I must admit that afterward, when I had a chance to stop and think about it, I wondered if she either had, or was going to, contact all of the other sources of flyers and mail-outs that came on a far more frequent basis than our little bi-monthly publication). She additionally informed me that they didn’t wish to receive them anymore because she and her husband were not members of our church, but had been (identified themselves by their denomination’s name) for fifty years.

seed soil

Some soil is tough and and will not accept seed for growth.

I told her that where HtH is mailed in bulk to targeted areas, individual addresses within such areas could not just be selectively removed – at which point her exasperation seemed to increase. Besides I replied, we all used the same Bible, right? And after all, I told her, we were just seeking to “spread the seed” … to which her response was actually quite revealing, and terribly chilling. Along the same lines as what the people responded with according to Matt. 27:25, she said, “Well it’s not gonna sprout here!”

How sad. How tragic. But apparently, how true. “The seed is the word of God” (Lk. 8:11). It is the word of God which HtH seeks to point everyone back to. Hence, God’s word is that seed we are seeking to spread with our HtH mailings. However, her resolutely vocalized rejection of that seed should come as no surprise, but only serve as a sad validation in light of the other information she provided. For when any religious person decides to risk and devote their entire earthly and eternal life, on and to, a salvation process which is totally foreign to any of the thousands of examples of conversion to Christ we see in God’s New Testament (Acts 2:37-41); to become a proud and productive part of a man-made denominational church never seen anywhere in God’s New Testament (Mk. 7:5-13; 1 Cor. 1:10); and to practice worship which is nowhere to be found anywhere in the truth of God’s word (Jn. 4:23-24); why should it surprise us, should they admit that the seed of God’s word isn’t going to sprout in their home? Isn’t that quite obvious?

Let us all determine to go out and seek to teach some poor, lost, misguided religious soul, with the life-giving seed of God’s holy truth!

Posted in Doug Dingley | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Seed Rejecting Soil

Botham Jean Justice —Now what?

Botham Jean Justice —Now what?

Now that Amber Guyger has been found guilty of murder, what will be the church’s reaction?

I had the pleasure of meeting Botham Jean’s family recently at the Annual Caribbean Lectureship. In fact, Botham’s father spoke during the lectureship and his tears and pleas for justice still ring in my ears. For those unfamiliar with the case, Amber Guyger shot Botham Jean in his own apartment, thinking she was in her own.

botham paradise

All mankind has been invited to be forgiven and have a home in heaven.

A few minutes ago Dallas police office Amber Guyger was found guilty. So here’s my question: Who is going to step up and study with Amber? How do we find her contact information so that New Testament Christians can teach her the Truth? Who will go and talk with her and build a relationship that might bring her to a knowledge of the Truth?

Botham’s soul is in a place of paradise—I have confidence in that. I listened intently as individuals shared how this young Christian had made such an amazing impact on so many. They are even setting up a non-profit–https://bothamjeanfoundation.org—to continue his amazing legacy. We know where he will spend eternity.

But what about Amber’s soul? If she were to die today where would she spend eternity? What about the mental torture she will now endure each day knowing she took the life of an innocent man? What will be the church’s reaction to her?

Who will step in and demonstrate Christian love to her family? Who will wipe away the tears of her parents? Who will take them food as the grieve the loss of their daughter who will probably remain behind bars beyond their deaths.

Christians talk about not being conformed to the world and having our minds transformed (Romans 12:1-2), but are we really transformed enough to reach out to those who have hurt us? Are we able to demonstrate the type of love Jesus commanded to our “neighbors” (Matthew 22:36-40)? Do we honestly feel blessed when people persecute us? Do we really pray for our enemies?

I think the most powerful message that could emerge from this horrific event would be for Botham’s Christian family to now offer forgiveness, and Amber be baptized into Christ! Hear me out—I believe Amber still needs to face the consequences of her actions, but I hope the Jean family is able to forgive her. Difficult? I can’t even imagine the magnitude of strength it would take for them to do this. But can you imagine the Christian message that would be sent out to the world from such an amazing act of love? What the world would see—if only for a few minutes, is the love that Jesus Christ has for each and every one of us.

Posted in Brad Harrub | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Botham Jean Justice —Now what?