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"Super-Apostles" - Discerning the Remnant: Part 1
By Pastor Bruce Sikes
I love the way the NIV translates the phrase "Super-Apostles" in 2nd Corinthians. It makes me think of cartoon super-heroes leaping from pulpit to pulpit in red capes. Before we examine that interesting concept further, let's look at how that concerns the Remnant of God in these last days.
To begin with, what is the Remnant? Let me repeat again, the Remnant is the Church - period. There is no difference. They are one and the same. However, as Jesus said, “Not everyone who says; 'Lord, Lord', will enter the Kingdom of Heaven…” (Mt.7). Likewise, not everyone who says; ‘I am part of the Remnant, I am part of the Remnant!’ is actually even part of the Church. Keep reading and you will see what I mean.
Firstly, how do we know if we are part of the Remnant? We must make sure we are part of the Church. We have asked God for forgiveness through the sacrifice His Son Jesus Christ has made on the cross for our sins, and we have asked Christ to be Lord of our life every single day through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. There is nothing more personal we can do and there is no other way to be saved. This is the only way we can truly claim to be a part of the household of God. Still, both the testimony of scripture and church history have shaken out many pretenders.
This shaking of the Church is done by God Himself. It either causes all which is false to fall away leaving a Remnant, or it shakes a Remnant loose from a corrupted house of God. In either case, the results produce what is called a Remnant. As the very foundations of the Church are being shaken, only those who firmly stand on the solid Rock of the Gospel and hold to God's Word, faithful prayer and obedience will endure. This reveals the true unadulterated Church.
I have met and continue to meet believers who are without a doubt part of the Remnant of God, yet they are unfamiliar with the term. It matters little. The point isn't to be addressed as the Remnant, but to answer and live out the Remnant's call in obedience and faithfulness.
It's fairly safe for someone to claim to be one of the Remnant of God before the full fury of the storm has struck their own house, however, the question is; "Will they endure to the end?" And make no mistake about it; Jesus has warned us in Matthew 24 and elsewhere that a storm is coming. Even now God’s house is shaking, strong winds are blowing, and the storm clouds are growing darker.
If you see and feel the shaking of God’s church and sense the accelerating storm, then you are well on your way to understanding the Remnant's call. However, do not forget that the Enemy knows this as well.
The devil does not care about spiritually dead and sleeping churches or those busy entertaining themselves. He has them right where he wants them. On the other hand, when believers begin practicing discernment, lifting their heads up and stepping forward, the Enemy will try to do what he can to prevent them from advancing. The devil will throw many obstacles into our path. Along with the obvious ones of temptation, distraction and persecution, the devil adds deception. He desires confusion.
“It is not surprising” Paul writes, "If [Satan’s] servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:15)
That is why we must never forget that the devil is a counterfeiter. He tries to counterfeit everything God creates, including a "remnant". What better way to confuse and derail an awakening Church than to raise up false prophets claiming to be part of the Remnant.
Jesus warned us about them when He said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."' (Matthew 7:15)
As with anything counterfeit, the more genuine it appears the more people will be fooled, especially if they do not examine it closely.
There is a reason the Bible speaks so highly of the Bereans. They did not simply trust their leader because he was a nice guy and quoted scripture. They tested everything against the Word.
"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11)
As a minister of God, Paul did not fear the scrutiny of his teaching and preaching. Without a doubt he encouraged it! Paul admired those who had an ongoing eagerness to know the truth and to hold everyone, including themselves, accountable to God's word. This is also the reason why Jesus so often spoke in parables. He wanted people to care enough about what He said so they would examine the Word of God for themselves and seek the Gospel truth. Jesus wanted believers to be truth seekers and doers, not merely truth agreers. He knew that in this way they would not be so easily fooled by deception.
Yet, even in our time with God's Word so readily available for us to examine and with all the continuing gifts of the Holy Spirit so richly provided to us, I am still amazed at the enormous lack of discernment in the church today. Even more troubling is the lack of Godly courage to act and stand firm against what we sense and know in our spirits is false and wrong.
We do not have the luxury of being willfully ignorant or lazy in exercising our God-given ability of spiritual discernment. It does not matter if discernment is one of your dominate personal gifts of the Holy Spirit to you or not; all believers possess and have access to it due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In this respect, professing Christians are without excuse. However, discerning deception and evil is one thing, having the courage to act on what the Holy Spirit is revealing to you is another.
Too often we look at physical appearance or nice sounding words and never question the spirit behind them. This is weak, superficial and fleshly thinking. Jesus did not care how poor you appeared, or for that matter, how important, wealthy or religious you might appear. He looked at the spirit within you. Jesus spoke directly to your soul. We are to do the same.
Ironically, the teachers of the Law, although they resented it, recognized this quality in Jesus.
"They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth..." (Mark 12:14)
Unfortunately, it seems that in our day one could dress a monkey in the latest fashionable clothes and people would begin to address him "Sir". What's more, if the monkey gave away free ice cream, he would soon have a huge following!
This is why the Apostle Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:4-6 & 31-15;
“For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “Super-Apostles.” I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.” ..."For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve."
The reason I like the "Super-Apostles" label is that it seems so appropriate for us today. Emergent in our time is the appearance of last days “Super-Apostles” and "Super Apostle/Pastor" wannabes - and there are plenty of those! The “Super-Apostles” title seems to fit so well the way many contemporary pastors have given themselves over to the excesses of our popular secularized “church” culture. The draw of wealth and the pursuit of popularity have produced an abundance of pastor personality cults these days. They even compete with each other for photo-ops at mega-pastor meetings..."Super-Apostles!"
If it weren’t so tragic, it would be laughable to see how formula-oriented many pastors and churches have allowed themselves to become, right down to the appearance of onstage clothing, hair styles, and worship set design. Not to mention, the shameless jump on the bandwagon race to adopt the latest popular church programs and in-vogue "ministry-speak". For them it has become all about image manipulation. The only thing missing is their red super-hero capes! No wonder people are deceived, when their own leaders encourage it by their appealing to the flesh practices!
Now, some of these “Super-Apostles” are claiming to be part of the Remnant. They are even attempting to usurp the Remnant's call to fit their Dominion theology of an earthly triumphant church before Jesus returns. In their view, the Church (the Remnant), takes over and dominates the world prior to the Second Coming of Christ. Not only is this a convoluted picture of End-time doctrine, but it also reflects the extent of their own arrogance and pride.
Where is the humility?
If anyone has the right to boast, it is the Apostle Paul, yet what does he say about himself?
"For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:9-10)
"I...do not even deserve to be called an apostle"! Quite the opposite attitude to the "Super-Apostles." Paul's humility was genuine. It was acquired through persecution, hardships, and conflicts from without and within the Church. All Paul accomplished he attributed not to his hard work, but to “the grace of God that was with me."
Paul's Apostleship, his authority and humility were not false. The truthfulness of his testimony was confirmed by the Holy Spirit, and even now it is confirmed in our own hearts as we read his letters in the Bible. We are to continually seek and pursue the Spirit of Truth who is ever alive and working for our benefit. .
1 John 5:6&9 says, "...it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth....We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God..."
We accept man’s testimony, that is, we take their word when they claim to be a Christian, and when they claim to be a part of the Remnant, but without the Spirit of God confirming their word, they will be proved false brothers and sisters. There is the outward appearance we can see with our own eyes, and then there is the inward appearance, the spirit within a man. We cannot physically see another’s spirit with our human eyes. That is why we must rely on the Holy Spirit to provide us with spiritual discernment, or as the King James Bibles translates it; the discerning of spirits. It is the believer's obligation and duty to read and study the scriptures, to pray continually, and to diligently exercise God's gift of Discernment.
"To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits...
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." (1 Corinthians 12:9-11)
May we ask the Lord God to work the Spirit of Discernment severally within us!
For Christ and His Remnant,
Pastor Bruce Sikes
VoiceOfTheRemnant.org © 2011