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Conversations with the Apostles -
The Eyewitnesses

In this day and age of television evangelists, prosperity teachers and various other professed expositors of God’s word, there has a risen among some, a storm cloud of confusion.

Among the many voices proclaiming various versions of God’s word, we need to understand that the simple purity of the scriptures has been muddied by the feet of many, like massive herds crowding into a small watering hole. In other words, it’s getting harder to just get a simple drink of pure water. When this happens, we know it’s time to return to the basics and refresh ourselves in the virgin theology of our founding apostles, especially for someone who is a new believer and just beginning their adventure of faith in the Messiah Jesus.

The Apostle Paul recognized that the Apostles John, Peter and James were “pillars” in the early church (Galatians 2:9). The foundations of doctrine from the Lord Jesus were seeded into the church by these men who were eyewitnesses of the Messiah’s glory.

Let’s begin this examination of their words by picturing ourselves sitting with them around a table in a lovely garden. The sun is shining merrily and each of us has a steaming cup of our favorite beverage (I prefer tea). The Apostle John begins the conversation.

”That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
     (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show to you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us;”) (I John 1:1,2).

The Apostle Peter leans forward and reiterates earnestly: -

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
     For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’
     And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount” (II Peter 1:16-18).

Peter leans back and stares pensively into the distance of his memory as his mind recalls that awesome event which was recorded by the Apostle, Matthew. –

And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain apart,
     And was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His clothing was white as the light.
     And, behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him.
     Then Peter answered, and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here: if You will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.”
     While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; you hear Him.”
     And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were very afraid.
     And Jesus came and touched them, and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”
     And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, except Jesus only (Matthew 17:1-8).

In this vision, Jesus is seen conversing with Moses, who represents the law, and Elijah who represents the prophets. They disappear and we see Jesus only; who is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.
     Our founding Apostles heard God’s own voice affirm that Jesus is His Son and they were further commanded to listen to Him.

We take a few moments to contemplate the fact that we are sitting before men who were eyewitnesses of this awesome event.
     The apostasy of this age we are living in has produced voices who try to tell us that there are no eyewitnesses. We know this lie is easily refuted because we are sitting in the presence of those who claim in God’s word that they are eyewitnesses to the events recorded in the gospels.

Peter has since returned from his memory of Jesus’ transfiguration. And as if he knows the future would spawn critics of his testimony, he leans forward again and says, -

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; where you would do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arises in your hearts:
     Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
     For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:19-21).

In other words, Peter is saying that his eyewitness testimony is supported by the prophecies that were given by Moses and the other prophets. The Apostles are eyewitnesses of the fulfillment of the writings in the Old Testament, and those prophecies confirm their eyewitness testimonies.
     Jesus affirmed that Moses wrote of Him (John 5:46).
     After Jesus’ resurrection He appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus and taught them who He is from the law and the prophets (Luke 24:27, 44).
     There are more than two hundred prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. An engineer, M.B Bleecker, inventor of the Ram jet engine, calculated that the odds of one man fulfilling just eight of them in a lifetime as 1 in 100, 000, 000,000,000,000.
     The prophecies accurately foretold that the Messiah would be killed for our sins (Isaiah 53) and He would also rise from the dead (Psalm 16:10).

The Apostle Peter quickly affirms adamantly, -

”Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live righteously: by whose stripes you were healed.
     For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (I Peter 2:24,25 from Isaiah 53:6).

The Apostle Paul records that after Jesus’ resurrection –

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand;
     By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain.
     For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Messiah died for our sins according to the scriptures;
     And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
     And that He was seen of Cephas,
(Peter) then of the twelve:
     After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
     After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
     And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time (I Corinthians 15: 1-8).

The Apostle John is grinning at us broadly and he says, -

“That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Messiah” (I John 1:3).

Peter is reflecting John’s beaming smile as he adds, -

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Messiah, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again into a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Messiah from the dead,
     To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you,
     Who are kept by the power of God through faith until salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Peter 1:3-5).

John adds: -

“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (I John 1:4).

Our joy comes from knowing that Jesus has risen from the dead, our sins are forgiven, and we have been given eternal life. We have been given the gift of hope.

We contemplate the wonderful gift we have been given. We have been assured that we can believe the gospel because we have eyewitness testimony of its validity. Those testimonies are also verified by the multitudes of Old Testament prophecies, similitudes and typologies that foreshadowed Jesus’ death, His resurrection and the fact that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah.

Our faith has been reinforced. We are rejoicing in our salvation as the sunlight streams down upon our table making the liquid in our cups sparkle like jewels. It is a wonderful moment. But then a cloud begins to envelope the sun and we are all suddenly engulfed in its shadow. There is something else that is very important for any new believer in Jesus to understand.

Peter has previously assured us that we are kept by the power of God through faith, and the result of that faith is the salvation of our souls. But where there is no faith, we cannot be kept. Therefore our faith is to be guarded and treasured, as it is our most valuable and priceless possession.
     Peter speaks while the cloud’s shadow is hovering above his head. –

“That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior:” (II Peter 3:2).

We nod our agreement and mentally cleave to the assurance we have in those two first foundations; the eyewitness testimonies and their verification by the prophets.
     Then Peter says: -

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
     But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Messiah's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.
     If you are reproached for the name of Messiah, happy are you; for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.
     But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.
     Yet if any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf (I Peter 4:12-16).
     Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through many temptations:
     That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it is tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Messiah:” (I Peter 1:6,7).

James suddenly adds exuberantly; -

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various temptations;
     Knowing this, that the trying of your faith produces patience.
     But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4).

At first we are not really understanding what our instructors and friends are trying to tell us. Then all of a sudden a dark figure descends from the cloud above our heads and stands in the distance just outside the perimeters of our garden.
     It is then we realize that this ominous apparition represents persecution. We understand now that our faith in Jesus is going to make us objects of persecution and demonic attacks.
     The Apostle Matthew reminds us of Jesus’ instructions to His disciples when they had asked Him what would be the signs of His coming. He told them that one of those signs would be persecution.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake” (Matthew 24:9).

John remembers the instructions Jesus gave His disciples before He was crucified. –

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
     If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
     Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.
     But all these things will they do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him that sent Me” (John 15:18-21).

It is a solemn moment. Our instructors are looking at us earnestly. We understand that in Jesus we have been given the priceless treasure of eternal life. We have been given the gift of hope and a future. The world hates us because we possess the greatest treasure, wealth and power that they cannot humble themselves to receive.
     We remember Jesus’ words:

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
     Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say every kind of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so they persecuted the prophets which were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).
     These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

We are being told that we have not been guaranteed a trouble free future because we have received Jesus. He has not promised to answer every prayer, or keep us from experiencing losses in this life. Instead, He has told us to keep our eyes on Him and on our inheritance that is being kept for us in a realm we cannot as yet see with our eyes, but we can embrace in our hearts by faith.
     Right now the treasure in our beings is glowing. We are being permitted to feel the love, peace and security it brings. We are making a silent vow to never let it go.

As we are contemplating our treasure, we suddenly notice that another dark figure is descending from the cloud. It takes its place with its companion on the outskirts of the garden. This being has the form of something like an animal, a wolf, perhaps? Or something like a wolf trying to make itself appear more like a sheep. Both beings are glaring at us with malicious intent.

We have been shown that the first being represents persecution and as we are wondering what this second creature is, we hear the Still Small Voice of the Lord’s Holy Spirit remind us of Jesus’ words: -

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many (Matthew 24:11).
     For there shall arise false Messiahs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

Then as if Peter has heard what the Spirit had said to us in silence, he reiterates: -

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
     And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be spoken of as something evil.
     And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time does not linger, and their damnation does not slumber” (II Peter 2:1-3).

“You will know then by their fruits…”

The voice of the Lord Jesus is suddenly speaking to us through His Holy Spirit in our beings. He is reminding us of the words He spoke to His disciples recorded by the Apostle Matthew. –

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
     You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
     Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.
     A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
     Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire.
     Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.
     Not everyone that says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven.
     Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works?’
     And then will I profess to them, ‘I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:15-23).

John is nodding an emphatic agreement, then he adds:

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made apparent that they were not all of us.
     Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Messiah? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son.
     Whoever denies the Son, the same does not have the Father: (but) he that acknowledges the Son has the Father also (I John 2:19-23).
     Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
     This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Messiah is come in the flesh is of God:
     And every spirit that does not confesss that Jesus Messiah is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, that you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world (I John 4:1-3).
     For many deceivers are entered into the world, who do not confess that Jesus Messiah is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
     Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have acquired, but that we receive a full reward.
     Whoever transgresses, and abides not in the doctrine of Messiah, has not God. He that abides in the doctrine of Messiah, he has both the Father and the Son.
     If there comes any to you, and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house, neither bid him God speed:
     For he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds (II John 1:7-11).
     Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God (I John 4:15).
     Whoever believes that Jesus is the Messiah is born of God: and every one that loves Him that begat loves him also that is begotten of him (I John 5:1).
     And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
     He that has the Son has life; and he that does not have the Son of God does not have life” (I John 5:11,12).

Peter adds:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
     Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
     But the God of all grace, who has called us into His eternal glory by Messiah Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you” (I Peter 5:8-10).

James says, -

“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
     Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very compassionate, and of tender mercy” (James 5:10,11).

And Peter concudes:

“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” (II Peter 2:9).

Our instructors are beholding us like loving, good parents who only want the very best for their children. They have been eloquently reinforcing us in the first four foundational principles that every believer in Messiah Jesus must know. Our faith is founded on Eyewitness testimonies that are supported by all the previous scriptures so we can trust the testimony we have been given. We will face persecution and we must also be aware of false doctrines and spiritual deception; especially those that deny the atonement, our Lord's sacrifice for our sins. We can protect ourselves by treasuring the words of our Lord and the words of these ones who are the founding fathers of our faith.

We look beyond them back to our two opponents glaring at us in the distance. We know that we can face them unafraid and confidently walk forward into an uncertain future because we are protected and guarded by the certainty of our precious faith.

We look back at our instructors. They are looking at us as if they are wanting to continue, as if they are holding back a massive stream of information that we still must know to be successful in our walk with the Lord. We know our session with them is not over, in fact, it is just beginning.


Copyright 2022 by H.D. Shively

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