CHOSEN OF GOD
T. Pierce Brown
In Matthew 10 we find a record of Jesus choosing and giving a commission to His Apostles. Although their qualifications and original commission are different than ours, their basic job was the same. It was to proclaim a living Christ to a dying world. In view of that, it is probable that a study of some similarities between their calling and ours would be profitable.
First, they were chosen of Christ, not in view of what they were, but in view of what they could become. It is hard to see in any of them except Paul any indication of any exceptional qualities or fitness for the remarkable task that confronted them. This should give great hope for all of us. Titus 3:5 probably puts this in as clear a fashion as the pen of inspiration can do. “Not by works [done] in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
When He first called them, before He made them Apostles, He said to them, “I will make you fishers of men.” I do not think this point can be over emphasized. He did not say, “Come after me, and if you work hard enough studying how to use film strips, or do an open Bible study, you may become a fisher of men.” He said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew3:19). It seems apparent that a person can no more follow Christ and not be a fisher of men than he can follow Christ and not go to heaven when he dies.
It is often said that Christ wrote no book. But Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3, “Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men; being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables [that are] hearts of flesh.” If we have written on our natures the nature and message of Christ; if we represent Him properly in the world of sinful men, we are His epistles.
Several aspects of his choice are worthy of consideration. He did not call them in terms of brilliance, scholarship or outstanding ability. This is in no way meant to disparage any of those. God gave some men a brilliant mind and outstanding ability to use for His glory, and a brilliant man with ten talents who uses them for the glory of God will be worth more to the cause of Christ than the five talent man. But the ten talent man who glories in his ten talents, or only uses five of them, will not be worth as much as the five talent man who does what he can, where he is, with what he has for the glory of God.
Not only were they not chosen on the basis of culture, possessions or riches, they probably were as varied in ability and personality as it is possible to be. Suppose none of them had ever doubted Deity, flinched in the face of peril, acted with ulterior or base motives. What a loss that would be to us, for we can have hope that if Christ can make something out of those weak and erring men, maybe He can eventually do something with us! Many denominational commentaries seem to emphasize that we need a variety of denominations because of the various temperaments, qualities and needs of the members. In that case, Jesus would have needed to establish at least twelve churches at the beginning!
They were called to be sent with a special commission, with special powers to carry out that commission, and thus were called “Apostles.” We have the same basic commission, but are not called Apostles because we do not have the same qualifications and powers that an Apostle of Christ had. But when He said, “Teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20) we should be impressed with the similarities between their calling and ours.
Their basic task was to make disciples. Contrary to popular concepts, a disciple is not merely a learner, but a learner who is following. Those who were to follow properly had to be baptized and taught to observe all that Christ had commanded for them to do. Our business also is to make disciplined followers of Christ — not merely impart information to people and make learners of them. There is no doubt that if we are properly committed to doing that, we will be given the necessary divine assistance to accomplish the task.