We are looking at the restoration of the ministry of the apostle. So far we have seen:
The apostolic Ministry The apostolic mantle and authority The apostolic mandate – Kingdom expansion The apostolic mission – Laying the foundation The apostolic message – sonship
Let’s look at our next concern – “The Apostolic Motivation” …
THE APOSTOLIC MOTIVATION – Filling The Earth With God’s Glory
Paul writes, “… this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship
from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is
Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (Colossians 1:25-29)
The apostle should observe the substance of this apostolic passage. Paul maintains his priority of being a messenger, a steward of the mystery: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
He proclaims with wisdom this Christ, that he may present every man complete in Christ.
He is careful to exemplify the way of God by pointing out that it is the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ working within him.
Perhaps somewhat frustrated by the Galatians’ tendency to stray, he wrote: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh.” (Galatians 3:3)
He also wrote: “My little children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.” (Galatians 4:19)
The apostle must be faithful to the task. Only sons can glorify the Father as they labour, striving according to His power within them.
Our Father intends that He be glorified in and through His sons by their Spirit-led obedience. Jesus, the firstborn among many brethren, prayed to our Father: “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4).
The apostle’s privilege and duty is to declare this vision to the church. It should be the life motivation of all believers to glorify Him (Jesus) on the earth by finishing the work which He has given them to do.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit of God, the first-fruit of sonship. He was filled with the Spirit of His Father, and walked by faith in fellowship with the Father.
His testimony: “Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:10) He goes on to say… “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 5:30)
The apostle labours to form Christ in individual leaders and local bodies of believers, by precept and by example. He will hear and judge, see and hear, and co-labor with the Father as he seeks not his own will, but the will of Him who sent him. He will glorify the Father because Christ is in him. He will bring believers to understand that God is glorified as He works through them by the revelation and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “The Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10) We must birth that truth in every believer’s heart so that they will see the Father working through them.
THE CRY OF CREATION
God is now working to bring many sons to glory. The Holy Spirit is labouring within His sons to bring them to maturity. The process of learning obedience can be painful. Although He (Jesus) was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)
“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies (the firstborn Son) and those who are sanctified (many sons) are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Hebrews 2:10-11)
These two words, sufferings and glory, are often used together in Scripture. Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (I Peter 4:12-14)
Paul wrote, “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to (and in) us.” (Romans 8:18)
He continues: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:19).
It is vital that the apostle understand that he is sent to extend the kingdom throughout the earth. This is accomplished as believers are matured in the Spirit until they are revealed, manifested, as sons. Sons reveal their father. They glorify their father. As many sons come to glory, the Father will be seen in them. All of creation is crying out for these sons to be manifested. The sons will turn futility into fruition.
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20-21).
God placed the first man in the Garden of Eden, gave him dominion, and instructed him to cultivate and keep it and to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:26-30; 2:15). Through faith in Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the same dominion and commission is being restored to God’s sons. Creation will be delivered from its slavery to corruption which came about with the fall of man.
The painful process of maturing equips believers for the Throne. “If we endure, we will also reign with Him.” (2Timothy 2:12) First the suffering, then the glory. First the pain, then the gain. Isaiah provides a picture of the consummation of God’s process involving His sons:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, and it will be a memorial to the Lord, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off. (Isaiah 55:10-13)
“As I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.” (Numbers 14:21)