Peter crossed the waters while he was still a fisherman, and also during his time with Jesus. After his conversion, Paul sailed the seas and shipwrecked several times during his missionary journeys. Both men were well familiar with the forces of nature in respect to wind and water. Peter showed fear in times of storm. Paul, in chains when they set sail for Rome, spoke in calmness to the crew what the Angel of the Lord had told him, while they were caught in the storm.
Why was Peter so fearful in times of need, during his walk with the Lord? How did Paul preach in boldness, while being falsely accused; stoned to near death; received beatings and imprisonment ? What was lacking in one and what was present in the other? What was the difference between them, and why?
What is the difference between the mission of the foundational and church age apostles?
I would like to examine the Scripture and draw a conclusion about the difference between these two. Scriptures used are from the New King James Version.
When Jesus went about and chose His disciples they followed Him immediately.
It must have been LOVE at first sight, because Jesus did not have much to offer when it came to wealth or fame. The disciples knew that the Messiah would come and free the Jews from oppression, but they had no idea how this was going to happen. Nevertheless, they followed Him.
Luke 6:13... And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named as apostles.
They were carnally inclined, as we can learn from their conversations. Even after they walked for three years with Jesus they still did not understand the mystery of the Kingdom of God. They lived with Him and saw the miracles which were performed before their own eyes. They heard the teachings from Jesus first hand, but did they understand His words?
Luke 24:21a... But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.
They stayed at Jesus' side while He served the multitude, healed the sick and brought deliverance to them in bondage.
In Luke 10:1-17 we read that He selected seventy others and empowered them to do miracles, cast out demons and heal the sick; thus preaching the Kingdom of God. Before they were sent out, He provided them with instructions about what to wear, what to take with them, what to expect and how to respond. Jesus taught them how to pray, explained the secrets of the Kingdom of God and openly revealed the powers of darkness. Still, Jesus had to ask them why they were so fearful and had little faith, when a storm surprised them, while in the boat at sea.
Peter became fearful and started to sink after Jesus told him to come to Him, when He walked on the water. Again, he became very fearful and denied Jesus three times, and said that he did not know Jesus of Nazareth, even under oath.
It seemed, that when everything went smooth the disciples were right on top, but when difficulties arose they shrunk from fear. What was lacking in their lives?
Matthew 26:56...Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.
Although they confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, they did not realize who He really was.
These apostles did not have the Holy Spirit living in them, they were not baptized with the Holy Ghost yet. The Holy Spirit was not working amongst them, because Jesus was still with them.
John 15:26... But when the Helper comes, who I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
The Lord told them to wait in Jerusalem until He had sent the Promise of the Father,
The Holy Spirit who would provide them with all the power and wisdom they would ever need. This was the great secret they needed in their lives.
What I am trying to say with all the above is, that the disciples who walked with Jesus were not equipped to go out and proclaim the Kingdom of God apart from Jesus.
These apostles were students with the mission to observe, experience, absorb, record, and to learn, but not so much as to practise or exercise their faith.
The great mission to present the Kingdom of God and Salvation through Jesus Christ could not be fulfilled by these apostles, until after Jesus' death and resurrection, nor could they do this outside the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
John 14:12... Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
Acts 1:5... For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
The church age apostles became equipped with the power from on high. Their mission was to preach Salvation through Jesus Christ. It was not the carnal mind that was speaking anymore, but the wisdom of the Lord. They functioned through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The evidence is right in the Scripture where Peter addressed the crowd at the Day of Pentecost, as written in Acts Chapter two. It did not sound like the same Peter, and he really was not the same anymore. He had become a new creation in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Peter spoke with great boldness, even at the risk of his own safety. I can hear his voice, as it were, loud and clear: Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God had made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ ( Acts 2:36).
Wow, this Peter really dares to speak up this time.
"With the coming of the Holy Spirit - made unmistakably evident by inward transformation and signs that all can see and hear - the waiting is over. The apostles and disciples became the new church, full of life and power, as different from their former fearful selves as can be imagined". From Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible, page 551.
The apostles of the early church were zealous in their mission of service to God, even at the risk of their own life. They saw what was going on in the spiritual realm and they did understand the warfare against the evil spirits of darkness and sin. Paul was constantly instructing the churches and warning them against sin and backsliding.The apostles were dedicated in winning souls for Christ, establishing the church, instructing the congregations and furthering the Kingdom of God.
Such a zeal was impossible without the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
The difference between being filled with the Spirit of God and not being filled is the difference between "Knowing" God, and knowing about God!
In conclusion, I would like to make a short statement as to the difference between the mission of the apostles who walked with Jesus and the early church apostles.
The first were followers and observers in their mission and the last were leaders and practitioners.
May we use the apostles of the early church age as our example in dedication and obedience unto the voice of the Lord. Also to us the baptism of the Holy Spirit is available, just for the asking. It is through His power and in the authority of Jesus Christ, that we can stand up and speak with boldness; declaring salvation to the lost, freedom to them in bondage, healing to the sick, restoration to the hurt and encouragement to the down-hearted. Through Him we can do all things. AMEN !
Mark 16:17,18... And these signs will follow those who believe; In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.
Acts 4:31... And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.