I recently came across a man who refers to himself as chief apostle, and from what I can tell, he seems to teach that he’s called by God as the modern day “chief” of all apostles. He claims to have had an experience (or experiences) with God and was called by God into this prestigious ministry. That alone ought to be a glaring red flag from the get- go, but he has followers.

You may find it interesting that the only use of the word “chief” in relation to apostles in scripture is used by Paul as a description of the self appointed apostles who were deceiving the Corinthians. You may also find it interesting that those who were deceiving the Corinthians were boasting of their visions. If you have never taken time to read Paul’s refutation of the false apostles who were influencing the Corinthians, it is very insightful regarding the mojo of false apostles, the gullibility of those who believe them, and the heart of a true apostle as Paul pleads with the Corinthians.

Paul thought of himself like a father to the Coritnhians because they had been nurtured under his ministry. Paul had not moved in on another man’s labors. Paul genuinely cared for the Corinthians and loved them deeply. In 2 Corinthians 11 and 12, Paul out of sincerity and passion, compares his apostleship with the false apostles who had influenced the Corinthians. One of the things that Paul reveals about the false apostles was their boasting of supernatural experiences. In response Paul says, “I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord…”

This is part of a train of thought in which Paul is basically giving the Corinthians what they want. It would be like him saying, “you want to hear boasting about  visions, well, let me tell you about visions I have had”  Now, Paul does not say this with any pleasure as if he’s truly boasting in his experiences. He is actually saying it to their shame to get a point across.

He goes on to say this:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—

The context seems to indicate that Paul is referring to his own experience of being caught up into the third heaven, and I believe that many scholars agree that Paul is referring to himself. However Paul did not promote his ministry by such experiences and only brings it up to show the Corinthians their error.

Paul had chosen to boast in his human weakness because the grace of God he had discovered in his own life was available to all through faith in Jesus Christ. Real supernatural experiences, like being caught up to heaven are few and far between, but in real life in this world where there are trials and suffering, people need to know the grace of God in truth.

Those who boast in dreams, vision, and supernatural experiences do so to elevate themselves, instead of the grace of God which is given to all who call on the Lord. Consider Paul’s words to the Colossians:

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. ~ Colossians 2:6-19

Notice that Paul mentioned those who go into details about visions which are puffed up by their fleshly minds and then he says, “not holding fast to the Head”. Christ is the head of the body and those who boast in visions promote themselves and not Christ. They want you to believe they are special and thus they gather followings rather than leading others into the true grace of God.

Those who claim to have a special place in God’s Kingdom because of supernatural experiences are false ministers. A true minister will boast in the grace of God which is available to all of God’s children. God’s true grace cannot be mixed with the boasting of the self appointed, for God’s grace is available to all people who humble themselves under Christ Jesus our Lord. 

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