Apostleship, Authority, and Accountability – Galatians 1:1

“Paul, an apostle— not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead…” -Galatians 1:1

The early 1900’s was an exciting time for the church in America. The Pentecostal movement had been birthed, and what started with a small assembly in the middle of no where, had now stretched to the distant shores of the U.S. coast. This movement was even starting to expand globally! Places like the Azusa Street revival were becoming more and more normal, as people were gaining interest on how they could experience God in a way they hadn’t experienced Him before.

During this period, there rose a group of men and women whose passion it was to preserve this move of the Holy Spirit. They saw that with this movement growing so quickly, it would be easy for some one who was uneducated or misinformed to teach falsely on God or the Holy Spirit. People could come and take advantage of innocent people, and use this move of the Spirit for their own selfish ways. This reason was one of the main reasons Harvest Time’s fellowship, The Assemblies of God, was formed.

With Harvest Time being in the Assemblies it means we hold to the doctrine that they set forth. There are specifically sixteen of these “fundamental truths” that all A/G churches and pastors must adhere to and agree upon. The denomination holds our church accountable to teaching the correct gospel, and us being in the denomination puts us in fellowship with millions of like-minded believers.

At the start of his letter to the Galatians, Paul takes longer than usual to explain the authority given to him as an apostle. There was a group that came to Galatia from Jerusalem, and they claimed that their apostleship was better than Paul’s because they were from Jerusalem (the hub), and Paul was sent from a church in Antioch. They came to Galatia and were telling them that they needed to become “Jewish” to be truly accepted as a Christian.

Paul wanted to remind the Galatians that his authority wasn’t given to him just by the church in Antioch. They might have sent him on his missionary journey, but ultimately Paul’s authority came from Christ. The Galatians were in a tight spot in that they were denying the right that Paul had as their spiritual authority. They were no longer letting him hold them accountable, which is why Paul is writing this letter with such urgency.

I think there are many people today that do not have a spiritual authority in their lives. I’ve heard of stories of non-denomination churches where the pastor will cheat on his wife and keep his position, because there is no accountability. I’ve heard of pastors who owned church buildings who sold them under their congregations feet when they got let go of their pastorate. Without accountability people are left to their own devices, and even churches are left to rely on the handful of people in their four walls.

The early church wasn’t like this. Though each church had a pastor, the church as a whole would meet and discuss issues. There is an example of this in Acts when they discuss whether Gentile Christians needed to be circumcised. Each member of the church had the spiritual authority of their pastor. Each pastor had a spiritual authority of the Twelve Apostles. The Twelve were held accountable by God.

Maybe you don’t have anyone to hold you accountable. I am blessed with a wonderful senior pastor who will sit down with me and wrestle with me over tough issues. He is patient with me and gives direction not just to me and our pastoral staff, but also to the entire congregation. If you don’t have someone who can hold you accountable, someone with whom can correct you when you are wrong, I encourage you to find someone. Christianity isn’t meant to be done alone. God put pastors and leaders in our lives for a reason. Learn to be submissive not just to God, but also whoever is your spiritual authority.

I bet even your pastor has someone who he has holding him accountable.


Free Will, Faith, and Folly.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” –Romans 8:28-30

Springfield, Missouri’s roads are mapped out like a grid. Almost every single major byway has coordinates facing directly north, south, east, or west. But yet, there are still people who seem to get lost. Oftentimes, I find myself riding shotgun, calling out directions to one of these disoriented drivers behind the wheel. Some drivers don’t trust where I am taking them. I can tell by the way they ask at every intersection if they are supposed to turn or keep going. If they want me to tell them the directions, then why don’t they trust I’ll tell them when to turn when the time is right? Why don’t they have faith in me?

One thing that I’ve been wrestling with these past few months has been defining faith. I’m not talking about faith in God in a salvific sense – the faith that it takes to believe and be saved (Rom 10:9-10; Eph 2:8). But I am talking about trusting in God and allowing him to guide the steps I take. Most of this has been plaguing my mind because of graduation, and sometimes I wrestle and wonder if I am just supposed to do what I think best to do, or if I am supposed to wait until I hear what God through the Holy Spirit tells me to do.

Then one day I remembered this passage in Romans 8 (quoted above). If I am loving God and being faithful to walking the way Jesus did, then shouldn’t things work together for my good? I’m not saying that the Holy Spirit doesn’t give me direction, but maybe I have a little bit more decision than I thought.

I think oftentimes I am the person going on with my life asking God at every intersection, “What am I supposed to do?” Am I showing faith in God in those moments, or am I showing a lack of faith because I don’t trust He is guiding what I am doing in those times? As a Pentecostal, I feel as though we fall short here – asking God for everything what He wants to do, when in reality, if we just stay faithful to Him, His will will be done.

Faith and faithfulness have more of a correlation than we give credit.

Ask yourself if you really trust God, or are you using your questions to God as a façade for, “wanting to know His will.” Have faith that God knows where you are at, and that He will give you direction when the time is right. Remain faithful to Him, because you were called by Him. And if you love God and are called by Him heavenward, then believe and know that all things will work together for your good.