By Norman Manzon
The Ambassadorial Band is one study of a compendium of extensive and detailed biblical expositions of the
doctrinal statement of The Association of Messianic Congregations*. The two studies in the Church series that preceded it are the Part 1: The Universal Church and Part 2: The Local Church.
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest
to send out workers into His harvest.
~ Matthew 9:37-38 ~
20. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us;
we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21. He made Him who knew no sin
to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 ~
As always, we will lay a foundation by considering relevant sections of the We Believe statement of The Association of Messianic Congregations.
AMC STATEMENT: EXCERPTS (1)
We believe that anyone who by faith trusts Messiah Yeshua as Savior and Redeemer is immediately forgiven of sin and becomes a child of God. This salvation is not the result of any human effort or merit, it is the undeserved favor of God. Further, there is no other way of salvation apart from faith in Messiah Yeshua for any person, whether Jewish or Gentile. We believe that Messiah Yeshua died as the sacrifice for man's sin and that all who believe in Him are declared righteous on the basis of His shed blood alone. We believe that all believers are kept eternally secure by the power of God through the new birth and the indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit. (Genesis 15:6; Leviticus 17:11; Deuteronomy 9:4-6; Habakkuk 2:4; John 1:12,13; Acts 2:37-39; Romans 1:16,17, 3:28, 8:9,15-17; Ephesians 1:7, 2:8,9,19; Titus 3:5)
We believe that all believers in Yeshua are members of the
universal body (community) and bride of the Messiah. The body of Messiah began at Shavuot (Pentecost) with the baptism of the Holy Spirit after the
ascension of Yeshua. Membership in the body is based solely on faith in Messiah. This body is distinct from Israel and is composed of both Jews and
Gentiles made one in Messiah. These members are under the solemn duty to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of love. We believe that the ordinances
of the local congregation are water immersion and the Lord's Supper. We believe that the purpose of the local congregation is to glorify God through
worship, instruction, accountability, discipline, fellowship and outreach. Its eldership is open to men who fulfill the qualifications for elder as set
forth in the New Covenant. The Scriptures encourage the active participation and regular assembly of believers in the local body. (Matthew 16:15-18
Luke 22:24-27; Acts 1:5, 2:14-36; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 2:11-18, 5:23-27; Colossians 1:18, 3:14,15) *Full AMC Statement
THE CALL OF THE AMBASSADORIAL BAND
It is the call of the body of Messiah as a whole to Go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), but it is the pronounced call of particular evangelists (Acts 8:5; 26-35) and the ambassadorial band as a whole to do the actual taking of the gospel to regions it had never touched before. As Paul said to the Romans,
I aspired to preach the gospel, not where
Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man's foundation; but as it is written, THEY WHO HAD NO NEWS OF HIM SHALL SEE, AND THEY WHO
HAVE NOT HEARD SHALL UNDERSTAND (Isaiah 52:15).
~ Romans 15:20-21 ~
And to the Corinthians: to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another (2 Corinthians 10:16).
20. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though
God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Within the limitations of holiness, Paul strove to accommodate to every culture and individual to establish common ground for
19. For though I am free from all men, I have made
myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the
Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21. to those who are without law, as without law, though not
being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22. To the weak I became weak, that I might win
the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.
In Colossians 4:6, he wrote, Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person; and in Acts 17:22-23, we see Paul walking out that exhortation as he used the Athenians' altar with the inscription, "To the unknown god," as a springboard for communicating the gospel to them.
THE ACTIVITIES AND PERSISTENCE OF THE AMBASSADORIAL BAND
Paul and his band preached the gospel, established churches, appointed elders and trained new believers to carry on and multiply the Word and the work of the Lord in all of its aspects (2 Timothy 2:2). They preached in hostile areas as readily as safer ones, not hesitating because of what may befall them (Acts 4:19-20, 23-29; 2 Corinthians 11:21-33). The Lord changed their plans in mid-stream (Acts 16:7-9) and they had strong disagreements among themselves (Acts 11:2; 15:36-40; Galatians 2:12-14); yet, the urgency of their mission superseded all resistance and human shortcoming, and they persevered, trusting that God would do His work through them; and He did. As Yeshua promised, so He performed: I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).
THE NECESSITY OF A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF THE
Paul’s band had a clear understanding of their mission: It was the mission of their leader, to be an apostle to the Gentiles. It is noteworthy that although God called Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7), yet, wherever the apostle to the Gentiles went he always preached to the Jew first (Romans 1:16) because it was necessary (Acts 13:46) for the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham: in you all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). As God used the Jews to bring forth the Law of Moses and the Messiah; as He used them to establish and lay the foundation for the body of Messiah (Romans 15:20; 1 Corinthians 15:10) and bless the world with the writings of the New Covenant; as He will yet use them to complete the evangelization of the world (Revelation 7:1-9); so God desires for individual Jews to receive the gospel first in every locale so that they may have the privilege of being the first to share with others. This is not to say that we are to ignore others until we have first shared with every Jew in a particular locale, but it is to say that it is biblical to focus on them first. It is consistent with God's promise to Abraham. A careful reading of the Book of Acts will affirm that Paul always preached to the Jew first. Even when he returned to a place in which he had previously ministered he again preached to the Jew first (Acts 18:19; 19:1-8). To the Jew first is a principle that has never been rescinded, and if the apostle to the Gentiles' practice and proclamation mean anything, it is still necessary for the gospel to be brought to the Jew first in every outreach in every locale where there are Jews.
THE AMBASSADORIAL BAND AND LOCAL CONGREGATIONS
The local congregation and the ambassadorial band each recognized the other as an authorized and specialized form of the Lord’s work. They recognized each other as equals in authority and responsibility, and served each other. When the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them, the leaders of the church at Antioch sent them out with fasting, prayer and the laying on of hands (Acts 13:1-3). When Paul’s journey was diverted by the Lord from Bithynia to Macedonia, he immediately . . . sought to go into Macedonia (Acts 16:7-10), not requiring the permission of either the Antioch or Jerusalem elders.
Members of local churches joined Paul’s band (Acts 12:12; 16:1-3; 20:1-4), opened their homes to them (Acts 16:14-15), prayed for them (Colossians 4:13; Ephesians 6:19), assisted them financially (2 Corinthians 8:3,5, 11:9; Philippians 4:14-16), and took great risks for them (Romans 16:3-4). Conversely, the ambassadorial band established local churches and remained with or returned to them for long periods of time, when necessary, to ensure that they were well-trained and established in the Word.
And [Paul] was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches
He settled [in Corinth] a year and six months, teaching the word of God among
them (Acts 18:9-11).
To the Ephesian elders, he wrote, night and day for a period of three years I did not cease
to admonish each one with tears (Acts 20:31).
To Titus, he wrote, For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what
remains and appoint elders in every city (Titus 1:5.)
Also, Acts 20:28-32; Romans 16:17-19; Philippians 3:15-16; 1 Corinthians 5; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22.
Paul also ministered to local congregations by means of letters, and he and his band assisted in meeting the practical needs of
congregations, as well. When the saints in Jerusalem needed practical assistance, members of his band received donations from local congregations for that purpose (Acts
11:29-30; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3).
THE AMBASSADORIAL BAND AND MODERN TIMES
Times have changed, and modern ministries have arisen: Bible translation ministries, mercy ministries, modern evangelistic organizations and the like. In addition, we can now spread the Word through means of communication that would seem inconceivable to Paul and his company. These are well and good; yet, according to the Joshua Project of the U.S. Center for World Mission (joshuaproject.net, 2017), the world is still forty-two per cent unevangelized, and ambassadorial companies akin to Paul’s are still needed.
What Yeshua said two thousand years ago still applies: The harvest is plentiful, but the
workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest (Matthew 9:37-38).
May God raise up strong, bold, wise and gifted men and women to perpetuate the ambassadorial band and send it to regions beyond. Let us be open to a call beyond the people and places that are closest and most familiar to us, even as Paul reached far beyond his own Jewish brethren.
The Ambassadorial Band
a messianic Bible study
© Norman Manzon, 2017
All rights reserved.
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