Dear brothers and sisters,
A brother recommended to me to read a book from Art Katz - Apostolic Foundations.
The other day I read the introduction and I was so deeply encouraged in my spirit for a deeper walk with the Lord and for more patience and faithfulness in the furnace while He is baking me.
I couldn't resist to share this with you. Although it is long, but every sentence is so deep and worth reading!
May the Lord bless your heart,
[color=003333][b]Apostolic Foundations[/b] by Art Katz
There is no word that should be more alive in our consciousness than the word apostolic. It is a word that says everything about the nature and the genius of the church, and all that God expects from it, and intends for it. Like all other great biblical words, we cannot find a definition for them by reaching for a dictionary. It is a word that we need to apprehend and be apprehended by. It is a word that has fallen into disuse and needs to be restored, and that restoration is not going to be cheapbut it is worth everything.
Nothing of any eternal consequence or immediate value can be effected in the earth independent of it. I have maybe a slight patience for what is called para-church ministries and interim things that have been raised up in our generation for the lack of a church of this kind. At best they are only Gods temporary provision. His true works, however, must emanate from a true church, and a church of a particular kind, as was laid forth in the church at Antioch (Acts 13). God is jealous over the word apostolic. The Lord designates Himself as the "High Priest and Apostle" of our confession. If the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, then we need to appropriate the depths of the meaning of that word in order that we might be part of what makes that up, and the configuration of things apostolic that makes the church the church.
The Greek root of the word apostolic is apostolos which means sent one. [b]That which is not sent of God cannot accomplish the purposes of God,[/b] and that which He sends [b]He empowers,[/b] and we are going to examine the anatomy of sending from the account of the commissioning and sending of Moses out of the burning bush. This sending by God is timeless in all of the profound principles of God that have to do with sending, and therefore, with that which has to do with apostolic.
[i] Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.
So Moses said, "[b]I must turn aside now,[/b] and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up."
When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, [b]"Moses, Moses!"[/b] And he said, [b]"Here I am.[/b]"
Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."
He said also, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." [b]Then Moses hid his face,[/b] for he was afraid to look at God.
And the Lord said, "[b]I have[/b] surely [b]seen[/b] the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.
So [b]I[/b] have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.
And now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.
Therefore, come now, and [b]I will send you[/b] to Pharaoh, that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt."
But Moses said to God, [b]"Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh,[/b] and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?"
And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain."
Then Moses said to God, "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you. Now they may say to me, What is His name? What shall I say to them?"
And God said to Moses, [b]"i am who i am";[/b] and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, [b]i am has sent me to you."[/b]
And God, furthermore, said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations." (Exodus 3:115)[/i]
The word sent is used five times. There are some principles here that have an eternal validity and an abiding application, giving us an insight into the one whom God sends. For example, why did this take place where it did on the backside (west side) of the desert, and why was there a forty-year preparation in the wilderness that preceded it? Why did God wait for Moses to turn aside and see before He called Him? What if he had not turned? When God saw that Moses turned aside to see, it was only then that He called to him out of the midst of the burning bush. [b]This turning aside to see is the pivotal and critical turning point.[/b] So much was hanging on a single moments obedience, a single moments freely rendered act that could not be compelled. God did not tell Moses to turn aside to see, but something out of the man himself was critical, and if God does not find that in us, then we can forget any kind of apostolic commissioning, sending, or doing.
Is there a parallel between the commissioning of Paul and the commissioning of Moses? They were two great master-builders, two men who were key to the purposes of God to bring a people up and out of slavery and into a land flowing with milk and honey. [b]It is not enough to deliver out but also to bring in.[/b] It is not just the rescuing of a people from the Egyptians, but also an ultimate confrontation with Pharaoh. This was a Moses who had forty years earlier sought out of his own [b]self-initiated conduct to do good to his people.[/b] But it eventuated in the death of one Egyptian, hastily buried in the sand, and Moses was required to flee into the wilderness. [b]Forty years later,[/b] the moment of encounter came, and the true fulfillment of his calling.
To what degree, therefore, must failure precede a true appropriation of ones calling? It was true for Paul and Moses, and needs to be for us. [b]Are we willing for the humiliation of failure, allowed and established by God Himself, despite our best well-meaning intentions?[/b] [b]It is only out of the debris and death of that failure, and the mortification of it, that a man can be formed whom God can send. [/b]Can a man be formed in any other way? There is something about failure, especially when it is born out of the best well-meaning intentions to serve God, [b]that does the depth of work in the human soul like nothing else can.[/b] [b]The fact that we have not experienced failure is a statement that we have neither sought, nor had apostolic intention.[/b] We have timidly [b]played[/b] it close to the vest. [b]We avoid the humiliation of failure and seek rather to get by.[/b]
There was a largesse of soul that was to be seen in both Paul and Moses, and it is this largesse that was not satisfied, but had its birth out of the intensity of the heart for God. When God finds such a one as that, even in his own error, then there is more potential for him than those who purport to be His friends, who have not that intensity, but who would rather drift along, and whose lives are lackluster and undistinguished for God. [b]Peter failed dismally, but out of that great failure came a great apostle.[/b]
[i] Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.
So he looked this way and that, and when he saw that there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. (Exodus 2:1112)[/i]
Though Moses was called of God, he was not yet qualified to be a deliverer. [b]He lacked the fear of God, and the awareness of God. His whole posture was horizontal:[/b] He saw and he acted, but there is no consideration of looking up. Merely because we see something that needs to be rectified is not the justification for doing it. [b]There is nothing more opposed to the purposes of God than the well-meaning intentions men perpetrate in their own human and religious zeal.[/b]
There is something about the whole structure of church life, and the necessity to perform something to justify its existence and its perpetuation, [b]that compels it to act without waiting.[/b] [b][i]There is no greater death than waiting,[/i][/b] which is at the very heart of priestliness. Priests did not commence their priestly activity, or ministry, until seven days of waiting were fulfilled. Seven is the number of completion, and the completion was the final death of their well-meaning intentions to do for God. Until that dies, there is no true priestly service, and if it is not priestly, then it is not apostolic. Jesus is the High Priest and Apostle of our confession. The first must precede the last. [b]Impatience, self-will, religious ambition, the necessity to do and to be seen doing, to be recognized and acknowledged is death to the purposes of God.[/b]
When a church is impatient to perform and to do (how else does it justify itself?), and if it is not doing or performing, and not having a program, how do they pacify the congregation? Why should they continue to come? [b]They are required, therefore, to implement programs in order to draw and keep the people.[/b]
In his eightieth year, when God confronts Moses at the burning bush and sends him, what does Moses say about that, "Who am I that You should send me?" [b]He is a broken man, one who has no assurance of his qualifications. He has been completely emptied out of all of his human qualifications, [/b]which were supreme and sublime, both genealogically, being a Hebrew of the Hebrews, of the priestly tribe, and also a prince of Egypt, and therefore versed in all of their wisdom and knowledge. But this is now a man truly emptied of himself and has not a wit of confidence that he can perform anything, let alone deliver an entire people out of bondage. [b]There is no man more qualified than the one who believes in his deepest heart that he is without qualification. [/b] [b][u]The whole preliminary work of God is to disqualify us before we can be qualified.[/u][/b] This is totally contrary to the whole religious mindset. [b]It is absolutely wasteful in their eyes because here is a man, who at the age of forty and full of vigor, is ready to do great things for God.[/b] How many of us are itching to go out and make our mark for God? And yet God does not think it lavish, wasteful or extravagant to give Moses another forty years of waiting in the wilderness until he is completely emptied outand then He calls him.
Merely because we see something that deserves to be rectified is not a justification necessarily to perform it. We cannot act in response to need. Moses is not sent because he sees the need, but it says that, "the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me." God saw their affliction, and [b]we are not to go on the basis of our seeing, but on the basis of His sending.[/b] [b][i]What a difference that is from all the running here and there that is currently taking place in Christendom![/i][/b]
While God waited for Moses an additional forty years, Israel continued to be afflicted an additional forty years, and God did not count that as being wasteful, or extravagant. He allowed an entire nation to suffer for yet another generation, waiting for the moment chosen by God for His own divine action. This is not only a revelation of the man, but also a revelation of the God who calls and sends the man. [b]Do we know that God in that way? Until we do, then how shall we be sent, for how will we represent Him and make Him known if we do not know Him as He is?[/b] An apostle is sent in the place of another. [b]He is representing Godnot his thought about Himbut who He in fact is in Himself.[/b] That is an [b][u]expensive[/u][/b] knowledge when one considers the amount of suffering that took place in the waiting, and yet God allowed it. Human nature is expedient and utilitarian, and wants to get it done [b]now.[/b] But our way is not His way, nor are our thoughts His thoughts. [b][i]The church operates more out of the temper of modern things than out of the timeless and eternal God, who has a far different view about suffering than we.[/i][/b]
Right now we are centering in on the root of apostolic character and the knowledge of God. [b]God will not send someone who is half-baked in the understanding of Himself.[/b] What is that person going to convey? What does an apostle bring when he comes? Why is the apostle the foundation of the church? The single distinctive characteristic or trait of an apostle that makes him foundational to the church is the [b]knowledge of God as He is in Himself, and not as we think Him to be.[/b] That knowledge is not [b][u]cheap,[/u][/b] but takes years to obtain at the hand of God through trials, suffering and failures that are permitted through [b]humiliations and defeats.[/b] If we have subscribed to some easy, intellectual understanding of God, and have not wrestled with the righteousness of God, the judgments of God, and why He allows suffering, then we will not be sent. We need rather to burrow in to understand the enigma of God, and not to be satisfied with mere credal statements. God loves men like that who will wrestle with Him. [b]Many of us are not been sent because we have not wrestled.[/b] We are satisfied with a patsy notion of God, which may be technically correct, but is not in fact true.
We may know something, and be called to something, or have a revelation of something, but [b]it is not yet the moment of Gods time to express it.[/b] [b]Can we patiently hold it until that time? [/b]Why then does God give the calling and then call for it at a much later time? [b]Why put the man through all kinds of inward struggles and wrestling? Why does he not give the calling and fulfillment right at the same time? [/b]What is served by giving a calling way in advance, and then requiring it at a much later time? Why does God allow it? What takes place existentially and inwardly that somehow serves the purposes of God? [b]Is it a coincidence that Moses is forty years on the backside of the desert?[/b] Forty signifies trial and testing. We need to [b]respect[/b] the extraordinary [b]preparation[/b] of a man for service, because if we do not respect it in Moses, then we will not respect it in ourselves. [b]Will we be willing to submit to waiting and to conditions of trial and preparation for true service [i]when the whole religious world clamors for action?[/i][b]
There is something in Gods heart that is tenderly disposed to those who watch the flock by night, who are dutiful, faithful and unprepossessing. [b]Shepherding sheep was the most disgraceful vocation in Egypt. There was nothing lower in Egyptian values than tending flocks, and for forty years that was all Moses did.[/b] There is something that is served in monotony and regularity, in something that is predictable, that has no variation, that [b]lacks any kind of flamboyance or charismatic excitement,[/b] but requires a steadfast [b]patience and faithful performance, day after day after day.[/b] If Moses had not done that, he would not have been qualified to bring the flock of God out of Egypt. The one was a necessary preliminary to the other, and we need to serve our apprenticeship in the things that are ordinary, unseen and undistinguished, and show ourselves faithful in that, in order to be faithful in the other. [b]This is the sublime wisdom and requirement of God.[/b] For Moses, it came out of circumstances, fleeing from Egypt, and finding himself in Midian and into an economy that had at its heart the tending of sheep. It was Gods perfect and necessary preparation for a man who was a prince in Egypt.
Moses led the flock on the backside of the desert where the Mount of God is to be foundand only there. [i]We can go to all our charismatic conferences and all of the renowned speakers for our great experiences in God, and yet come back with ashes in our mouth, because we have not gone to the backside but the frontside.[/i] [b]But the Mount of God is not located there. Horeb means dry, desiccated, barren and impoverished. That is the Mount of God and it is that which He occupies. [/b][b]That is where God is to be found.[/b] Do we have a stomach to seek Him in that place? [b]The backside is unsavory, unbecoming and unspectacular.[/b] [i]The frontside is where the action is, being lush, and has all the glitter, the big stars, the names, and the activity.[/i] [b]Who is going to seek the backside where the Mount of God is?[/b] [b][i]Nothing has changed.[/i][/b] Do we have a stomach for the backside, and can we be weaned away from the frontside with all of the four-color brochures that come in the mailbox?
All of this is preliminary qualification for the encounter with God and the sending. Mt. Horeb is a lowly kind of a nothing mount, which is not only where God is found, but also what God is in Himself. Why is He found there? It is for the very same reason that He was born in a stable, and has the inception of His kingdom with a man who dribbled in his beard (King David), and was joined by the indebted and disappointed. [b]This is God, and if we do not know that, then what are we going to communicate. It is only this knowledge of God that brings men out of bondage.[/b] For after all, what is Egypt but the antithesis of the desert. [b]Egypt is lush carnality and fleshly gratification. God is Horebdryness, arid, seeming disappointment, and [i]nothing that tantalizes the flesh.[/i][/b] [b]He is the God of humility, and it is only the revelation of Gods humility that can save men out of Egypt.[/b] The seemingly inferior thing is alone calculated to destroy the thing that seems to have all the marbles. [b]The weakness of God is greater than the strength of men, and the foolishness of God is greater than the wisdom of men.[/b] Egypt was the epitome of human wisdom and civilization, but Horeb is something entirely opposite.
The man that God reserves for ultimate use, ultimate deliverance, and ultimate confrontation, is not one who is going to deal with a few Egyptians,[b] but very Pharaoh himself,[/b] in an ultimate demonstration. God hears the cry and sees the need, and we have to have a sublime confidence, not only in His compassion and mercy, but also in [b]His sovereignty.[/b] [b]That will save us from self-initiated activity and from becoming premature saviors of the world.[/b]
[i] And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, [b]the bush was burning with fire,[/b] yet the bush was not consumed.
So Moses said, [b]"I must turn aside now, [/b]and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up." When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."[/i]
[b]Why did God choose a bush[/b] and not just reveal Himself as He did to Joshua in apparition form? Why does God reveal Himself in this context? What had this got to do with the particular and peculiar sending of Moses? How does that relate to the history of Moses? What does God want to impress on our minds by this kind of revelation of Himself? [b]What is there in a burning bush that reveals God?[/b] Was Moses turning aside to see his own voluntary act? Was it mere curiosity? With what kind of a looking did he look? What evoked this uttermost consecration of God, "Here am I" that we do not see in multitudes of Gods charismatic and evangelical people? [b]Until God has the whole man, lock, stock and barrel, "Here am I," then there is no sending.[/b]
The extraordinary preparation of the apostolic man is [b][u]only[/u][/b] to be understood [b]in the eternal perspective[/b] not only in this age, but also in the ages to come. If we think that everything is in terms of Moses call and Gods purpose in the deliverance of Israel, however great those things are, then we have missed it. [b]There is something more that we need to understand, or we will not be willing to submit patiently to the preparation of our character, namely, the eternal context.[/b] [b][i]Our call is an eternal call, and our earthly service is only one aspect of that fulfillment. God sees everything in the eternal context,[/i][/b] and we need to see that also. [b]That is why forty and eighty years are nothing! [/b]It is a preparation for the ages to come, and [i]this awareness has been totally lost to the modern church, to our own detriment.[/i]
Let us take the bush itself. [b]Why did God use a mere bush? It is the most ordinary, scrubby thing that can be found.[/b] Should He not have been in the midst of a burning oak or some great towering massive tree that bespeaks the grandeur of God? What is it about a bush that God dwells in? [b]It is the key to revealing apostolic character.[/b] [b]When one will turn aside to see that, the God in that bush, then God calls.[/b] If we have not found God where he is most profoundly to be discovered, it is because we have not thought to find Him in the most unlikely and ordinary thing. [b]There is a revelation of God that must be given in that place, or we cannot be sent.[/b] An apostle is a man who sees the grandeur of God in the ordinary place, and the ordinary circumstance. We tend to look for the impressive, but God is in the grit of daily life, in its failures, frustrations, and vexations. [b]God is found right in the midst of the trials of our life, and if we have not thought to find Him there, we have not yet found Him in truth.[/b]
[b]Moses turned aside to see, but many will pass that by,[/b] and that is why we have a whole history of broken marriages. Divorce is as endemic in the church as it is in the world. We pass it by; we throw it on the scrap heap for the failed thing it was. We do not turn aside to see; we have not burrowed into it; we have not examined it; we have not gotten into the entrails; we are not willing to invest ourselves into the gritty, sticky, pointed thing, which is the constituent element of all our life. We are looking for something large, magnificent, heroic, and dramatic, but God is not to be found in that place.
A church that languishes in its superficiality, looking for something outside of itself to spice up its services, [b]will never find God.[/b] The things that make up the grit of its life is the very place that God abides and dwells. [b]If we would look into that grit, and give ourselves to it, then we would find such unspeakable realms of meaning and significance and very God Himself in a depth that we would not otherwise have found. How can we be apostolic when we have not even examined the content of our own life and have passed and glossed over that? We love looking for end-time truth, but we neglect the grit of what we ourselves are made.
This turning aside, or turning back to look into what we would otherwise have dismissed as having been finished, is a key to our whole future use in God. In Gods sight, that which is past is now, and God requires that which is past. That is the very thing, humanly speaking, we want to pass over. [b]It is painful to look into our past.[/b] We do not want to remember things that have to do with failure, divorces, abortions, and lost friendships. When Moses turned aside to see, it was not out of curiosity, but to turn aside to see and ask why the bush was burning and was not consumed. That is apostolic turning, apostolic examination, and apostolic seeing. [b]It was not mere human curiosity wanting to understand an aberration of nature. It is rather a man turning aside to get into something.[/b]
[i]If we could but see by the eye of God, as He looks down upon the modern church, full of Amens and Hallelujahs, choruses, homilies, and biblical messagesall as an overlay to a people who are struggling inside, failing and bumblingwe would see a superficial haze and a religious gloss.[/i] The true spiritual thing is Gods people in their condition in the reality of their life and situationthe very thing that is left undealt. The church will never be an apostolic reality until it turns back and sees, and deals with the grit of its life. Merely to adopt a new vocabulary of apostolicity is to compound the error. We have got enough raw materials and treasure in Gods people in the ordinary constitution of their life, their circumstance, and their history, that if we would but examine it, and deal with it, it would be a key to apostolic glories.
When we will turn aside to see, we can say goodbye to our categories and convictions. We were all set up with our charismatic understanding, and New Testament convictions, but to turn aside to see means that something fundamental has turned, something has been wrenched, and there is, of necessity, no coming back. We need to be willing to take that risk. All of our security, religious and spiritual, all of the things that we have understood about the faith, or ourselves in the faith, might well be lostand necessarily so. It is so wrenching an experience that who knows what the end of it will be. Unless we are willing to risk it, there is no calling, or sending. It is a radical opening of oneself to God for whatever He will reveal, even about ourselves.
God called Moses name twice. In most instances through the Scriptures, men who are called twice are called to something uttermost. They are called to something ultimate and of great consequence that will require their all, possibly even their death. As absolute and as total as was Gods call, so equally was Moses answer, [b]"Here am I." This is at the heart of apostolic, namely, no strings attached, no holds barred, no conditions, and no questions.[/b] That is the holy ground not its geographical location. The presence of God, the call of God, and the total response of the man make that ground holy.
There needs to be a transition from wherever we are, to this apostolic ground. If this book is anything, its one central theme is the call to this ground, [b]and this foundation the knowledge of God as He is,[/b] and desires to be made known.