During my morning Bible reading today 2 Corinthians, Chapter 11 stood out among all of the various readings in the Old and New Testaments. I’m sure that happens to most folks engaged in Bible reading plans, and for various reasons.
As the title of this post states, for me today it was the subject of Super-Apostles! It does seem that like ‘Chicken Man’ of radio long ago, they are indeed everywhere! I’m not going to name any of them. I will however share some of what the Apostle Paul said about them.
11 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Cor 11:1-15)
Here’s my take on the passages highlighted above, which I conclude either from the plain text or Paul’s strong implication:
- They preach to you, but a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel than the true Biblical gospel (v 4).
- They are usually gifted speakers! They will grab your attention and keep it (v 6). Cloaked in false humility, if any, they always find ways to ‘charge’ you for their false gospel (v 7).
- They boast of grand exploits; visions of and trips to heaven, direct messages from God, new and fresh revelations never found in the text of scripture, while claiming to be on the same mission as genuine preachers of the true gospel (v 12)
- They are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ (shiny toothed wolves dressed in sheep suits) (v13).
- Disguised as servants of Christ, they are not even saved (v 15)!
What’s really sad is the ‘itching ear syndrome’ that seems to not only be a malady that permeates unbelievers and deceived, those of us who not only profess, but posses Christ also fall victim to the slick preaching and nefarious schemes of professional flock-fleecers.
So how do we know we are being duped?
Well, I suppose you can memorize all of the characteristics Paul presents us, and use them to evaluate those you find suspicious. I would like to suggest a simpler approach that cannot and will not fail – ever.
First, ask a simple question, as you listen to them: “Where’s the gospel?” If it is not present at all – if all they do is boast about themselves and their spiritual exploits, run for the door.
Second, if there seems to be a gospel in their preaching, ask: “What IS their gospel?” If the gospel they preach doesn’t challenge you to face your sin, repent of it and believe in Christ as your substitute, run for the door.
Third, if their salvation message seems to be spot on, yet they tell you that the life of a Christian is promised to be one of continuous prosperity, health and happiness (provided you are ‘doing’ all the right things or that you have enough ‘faith’), run for the door. If you have somehow been convinced already that the life of a Christian is supposed to be ‘your best life now’, read what the New Testament really promises us.
Lastly, remember Jesus’ words:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 ESV)
Today’s ‘super-apostles’ are only out to steal, kill and destroy. Truly abundant life is found by abiding in Christ, and on His terms, that the Glory of God may be manifest in our lives and demonstrated to the world around us, whatever that might ‘look’ like.