The apostles learned to be stedfast after they were saved. They didn’t always act Christ-like before receiving the Holy Ghost.
I Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Before Jesus was crucified Peter (Cephas) denied him, but Peter was the first apostle who Jesus appeared to after he was resurrected. Jesus also appeared to his own brother James who wasn’t saved until after Jesus’ death. On the road to Damascus Jesus appeared to Paul who had ordered Christian executions. Jesus has mercy on all who want to serve him.
I Corinthians 15:5-8 And that he was seen of Cephas, 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.
We have hope if we’re stedfast and immovable. When the apostles got saved, they had attitudes that weren’t Christ-like. God didn’t cast them away but he corrected them and they didn’t give up their salvation.
I Corinthians 15:13-17 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
John the beloved was the only apostle who died naturally. Paul, James, and Matthias were beheaded; Bartholomew (Nathaniel) was whipped to death; James and Matthew were killed with a sword; Luke and Andrew were hanged; Peter was crucified upside down; Thomas was stabbed with a spear; Mark was dragged by horses; Jude was killed with arrows. John and James were called the sons of thunder and were intolerant of anyone that didn’t follow their group.
Mark 3:17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:
Mark 9:38-40 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.
John and James showed they had a retaliatory spirit but they were saved. The only test of fellowship with Christ and his followers is salvation from sin. Jesus said not to forbid them from casting out devils in his name as long as they were not working against him by what they did. He came to save people, not to condemn them.
Luke 9:51-56 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
Everyone has a carnal, selfish nature until they get sanctified by being filled with the Holy Spirit. John and James also sought pre-eminence or to be lifted up in others eyes because of pride in their hearts. The others that heard about it were upset because their pride was hurt.
Mark 10:35-41 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.
We’re chosen to be in a furnace of afflictions at times. It will be hot and uncomfortable there. The Hebrew children were thrown into a fiery furnace when they wouldn’t bow to the King’s idol. It was probably a smelter furnace that is usually heated to 2000 degrees. The king said to heat it 7 times hotter so it was 14,000 degrees. The ones who threw them in the furnace died. We are purified to lose our contrary opinions when we’re put in a furnace of affliction or a fiery trial. The dross of things we thought were important has to be removed. The only thing that was burned on the Hebrew boys was the ropes that bound them. Our trials free us from things that bind us or keep us from glorifying God.
According to the historian Josephus, John the beloved was boiled in a vat of oil at the Coliseum for the entertainment of whoever was there. Water boils at 212 F. Oils boil at different temperatures: Olive – 375F, Safflower – 510F, Peanut – 440F. Josephus said John was preaching before he went into the boiling oil and during the time he was in it. He didn’t die or suffer harm when he was in the boiling oil and afterward was sent to do hard labor at the Isle of Patmos. John wrote the book of the Revelation of Jesus at Patmos. He went to live at Ephesus when he was released. It is said that John’s followers carried him to church when he was very old and he would tell the people to love one another. He died of old age.
The first thing that comes to us in a hard trial is fear. God said “fear not.” We must not rely on our fear or keep our eyes on the trial. Fear is always from the devil and is to keep you from trusting God.
Isaiah 43:1-5 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba…Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee…
Don’t think the trials are strange because there are others who have gone through the same kind of trial. When we go through the fiery trial, it lets us see God’s glory. God’s glory won’t shine through us if we’re focusing on how hard the trial is. The fiery trial is so the dross can be burned away and God can be glorified in our life. We learn things by fiery trials that we can’t learn by any other way.
Malachi 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)