THE APOSTLES' DOCTRINE #2
The apostles and their doctrine are just as important to us as to the first Christians.
"If you remit any one's sins, they have been remitted; and, if you retain them, they have been retained?"(John 20:23, Twentieth Century New Testament).
Jesus commissioned His apostles to preach the gospel to the whole world. The power to forgive (remit) sins belongs only to God. Jesus claimed to have this power and hence claimed His divinity in Mark 2:5-7. He asserted all authority in heaven and earth to and through His apostles (Matthew 28:18-20). The above translation shows clearly that the apostles did not have a blank check. Jesus tells them that they will reveal what Jesus has already authorized.
A.T. Robertson, a renowned scholar of the Greek New Testament, says the Greek verbs expressed by Jesus in this passage are in the perfect tense; i.e., "have been". The basic thought of the perfect tense is that the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on, in full effect. The "perfect tense" is similar in both the Greek language and the English language. What he commits to the apostles is the power of correctly announcing the terms of forgiveness, which terms exist already in Jesus.
Jesus is saying, "Apostles, what ever sins you forgive is according to what has been forgiven." That has to be a very powerful instruction for us. After all, if Heaven is our goal, we know that sinners cannot go there (Revelation 21:8). We want our sins forgiven.
Many today are misled as to whom they should hear. Some unfortunately have said, I'm not going to listen to anyone but Jesus. Preach Jesus only. If it is printed in red, I'll gladly listen but the rest is only the teachings of men and therefore just man's ideas. The conclusion is reached that we should only hear exactly what Jesus is recorded to have said in the four "gospel" accounts.
Let's look at that thought. What if we throw out the epistles of John (and his Revelation). He is a man. But John also wrote the Gospel According to John. Wouldn't we have to throw it out as well? Both were written by the same man. Then when we throw out the Book of Acts do not forget that the writer Luke also is the writer of the Gospel According to Luke. We need to throw that out also. What about the epistles of Paul? If we throw out his writings, then it is reasonable to throw out the Gospel According to Mark since John Mark was Paul's junior companion on his first "missionary tour." That leaves the epistles of Peter and James. Men. But if we throw out Peter's writings, Matthew was Peter's fellow apostle, also a man. Throw out Matthew as well. Now that we've thrown out these writings, what do we have left? The cover only. Throw away what men have written and we do not have a New Testament.
Someone has aptly pointed out that there is no Christian in areas of the world where the New Testament has not gone. While I was a student at the University of Florida, I visited with a religious group that was dedicated to the goal of supporting the translation of the Bible in every language in the world, including its dialects. They reported for example how dedicated people would go into villages of Africa and live among them to learn their language, invent and teach them a phonetic alphabet, and then write and give them the Bible.
Please be advised that Jesus did not - DID NOT - write down anything! There is no such thing as listening to Jesus (directly). We do not have one word directly from Jesus. We would not even know about Jesus, nor can we, without our listening to His witnesses, the apostles. [Josephus' mention of Jesus is controversial]. The apostles claim that Jesus gave them power; i.e., the power to forgive my sins and the sins of the world. If I want to know about Jesus' love and instructions to me, I will have to listen to these men, Jesus' apostles.
Perhaps it would be better in our day and time to call out to the world, not for them to hear Jesus, but rather, "HEAR HIS APOSTLES." Then one can hear what Jesus wants us to hear. Jesus prayed in John 17:17-23 for us to be ONE WITH the apostles. The apostles had the words of the Lord which Jesus called "the truth" (John 17:17). The apostles were told not to preach until they had been endued with power (Greek dunama, "to be able"; Acts 1:4,5). This power came on Pentecost (Acts 1:26; 2:1) when the apostles were enabled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gave them the ability to tell people what Jesus wanted them to know (John 16:13) and this included what people were to do to be saved from sins.
For example, the Philippian jailer wanted to be saved. Paul and Silas told him, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed [their] stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway" (Acts 16:30-33). How could the jailer and his house be saved from his sins? They had to believe the word of the Lord Jesus Christ (the truth). This included being baptized in water, like the apostle Peter had earlier commanded the Cornelius gathering (Acts 10:47) and those in Jerusalem (Acts 2:38).
The apostles were God's men enabled by inspiration with the mission to witness what they had seen, heard, and touched (1 John 1:1). They subsequently gave us today the directions for God's forgiving us our sins in the Holy Scriptures. Their recorded instructions are for me, a soul living 2000 years down the road in the span of time (2 Timothy 3:16).
THE CHURCH CANNOT SAVE ANYONE; THE MEMBERS OR LEADERS CANNOT FORGIVE SINS. The apostles tell man what to do to be saved from their sins. THE CHURCH RECEIVES THE APOSTLES' TEACHINGS (words) AND IS TO CONTINUE IN THEIR TEACHINGS just as at the beginning (Acts 2:42) .