We are looking at the biblical signs of an apostle. These signs, when seen in the life and ministry of an apostle, indicate a man who has allowed the Lord to mould him and train him over a period of years and who is a true apostle ministering within the calling God has placed on his life. We often think of the signs of an apostle as “miracles, signs and wonders” and these truly should follow someone called to be an apostle. However, there are more basic character qualities that are signs of a valid apostolic calling and ministry.
An apostle called by the Lord will have the divine grace to patiently endure and persevere to build. 2 Corinthians 12:12 states, “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds...” Patience (including patience to endure) is a very important sign in the character of an apostle. Paul mentions it several times throughout his writings. Apostolic “patience” works specifically in three areas. Let’s look at the first one…
1> Patience to hang-in for the long haul…
In Greek, the word for “patience” is ‘hupomone”; it refers to the ability to endure trails and tribulations for long periods of time; to be encouraged and not lose one’s peace even when undergoing intense pressure; a long-lasting and joyful resistance.
It is not enough to endure persecution if the expression on our faces is one of misery which seeks the compassion of others. Patience means to endure the test joyfully, and this joy should be obvious in our facial expression because persecution should never lead us to a state of desperation. The apostle has that grace which comes from God; that is why he is able to build, though it might take long periods of time, without feeling desperate or discouraged.
Paul wrote: “...and not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
What Paul said was that he had the grace to glory in tribulation, which produced or exercised his patience to persevere, which in turn built his character that led to hope.
In the previous verse, it says that perseverance produces character; in actuality, it means that the person’s character is tested by undergoing great pressure, persecution, and crisis for long periods of time. Without this virtue (and sign), the apostle is unable to continue or persevere in his calling because the difficulties he will encounter in life will be many and constant.
Apostles are characterized by the grace they have to build, with patience, in future generations and for long periods of time. They do not look for short cuts or easy methods when dealing with the unexpected conveniences. Rather, they build with care and dedication because their mind-set is multi-generational. For instance, prophets have the ability to see something in the spirit but not the patience to build it. Apostles, on the other hand, have the grace to build and persevere to the end even if the circumstances are less than optimal, full of pressure, and persecution. The apostle can build in prayer, doctrine, grace, and in the calling; he can build in faith, in the training of leaders, and in establishing divine plans on earth. He can endure persecution and trials without feeling discouraged and without losing his hope and his drive or motivation.
Next time – 2nd reason “patience”is a sign of a true apostle….