I engage in a process that precedes what I consider having possession of any kind of reliable information. Speculation and casual comments I have made are not particularly reliable. Research I’ve done to try to understand a subject is not reliable. Conversations in emails about some topic may be nothing more than guess work or casual conversation. When information, light and truth come from God, I consider that reliable information worth writing about, talking about or teaching.
Years ago I was contemplating the subject of Christ’s original apostles. As I looked into the scriptures, the promise Christ made to the twelve was that in the resurrection they would sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Judas was among the twelve when the promise was made. Judas fell away, betrayed the Lord and committed suicide. Whatever promise Judas may have had would have required his continued faithfulness. He was not faithful. Therefore, his throne and position as a judge in the resurrection over a tribe of Israel was forfeited. This led to the question of who would fill that vacancy.
I studied the scriptures looking exclusively for an answer to that question. Matthias was chosen to fill the vacancy left by Judas. He was chosen “by lot” which was the agreed method of discovering who the Lord wanted. Assuming that process was inspired, then Matthias would be one candidate.
Christ called Paul to be an apostle and messenger. Paul wrote 2/3 of the New Testament books (letters). He was clearly chosen by God and would be another candidate to replace Judas in the resurrected role given to the twelve. I saw no other likely contender apart from these two. After considering the almost complete absence of Matthias from the New Testament record, and Paul’s great contribution, I concluded that the vacancy was filled by Paul.
Having reached a conclusion, I took it to God in prayer. Despite all my effort to study the matter out and reach a conclusion, I learned that I was wrong. I had not found the truth. My efforts did nothing more than qualify me to receive the right answer. It did not make me right.
I learned that of the original tribal leaders, eleven of the twelve fell from their positions as patriarchs. But one of the sons of Jacob never forfeited the right to be the head of his family. Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, remained worthy, chosen and fixed in his position over his posterity. There were always only eleven vacancies to be filled. Eleven of the twelve apostles, along with Joseph of Egypt, will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the resurrection.
The guesses I made, the researched answer I came up with, and my best efforts did not yield reliable information. But by taking thought beforehand and accomplishing that labor, it did qualify me to approach the Lord in prayer and ask and receive His answer. His answer is reliable. Everything else is interesting, perhaps entertaining, and good faith attempts to understand. But they are not reliable in the same way as God’s word.
If I have reliable information I teach it. If I do not, I leave the matter alone or clearly qualify it as only my current understanding.