Part 9 – The Truth for Us Today
As we saw in Part 8, it is our faith in the truths of Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God,” which is based upon the Cross-work of Jesus Christ, that fully equips the believers of this age to endure and live victoriously over all the wiles and power of the enemy. Thus, we must know ‘how to study’ the Bible ‘rightly divided.’ In doing this we must fully appreciate Paul’s unique place and teachings, as our designated Apostle for this Gentile age of “the dispensation of the grace of God.”
If we are to live in Christ and thereby live in the liberty grace and enjoy His victory over all the power of the Devil as He desires for us, we must recognize the Apostle Paul as God’s sole authority for “the Body of Christ.” Knowing this, we then know where to go in the Bible to get this information. The following is taken from my multi-part Study Series called “How To Approach The Bible,” seen at http://www.artlicursi.com/series/how-approach-bible. The following is written in support of Paul’s unique calling and place as our Apostle.
All Scripture is for our learning… but by noting the context of the verses we read we ought to note that NOT all Bible Scriptures are instructions applying to us as members of “His body” during today’s Biblical age called “the dispensation of the grace of God.”
A key Scripture for us to note proclaims that the Apostle Paul is ‘the one’ Biblical authority that God has provided for the Gentiles; to guide the members of “the body of Christ” into the truth that is for the people of God during “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:1-2).
Romans 11:13 For I (Paul) speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle (apostolos, sent one) of the Gentiles, I magnify (doxazo, esteem glorious) mine office:
Here above Paul says he is not just one of the apostles but rather Paul tells us how that he is “the [singular] apostle of the Gentiles” saying also, “I magnify mine office.” In writing this Paul is not exalting himself; rather, he is acknowledging the importance of his divinely appointed office and calling, and his ministry of the glorious gospel message of the pure grace of God. That message was given to him directly from the ascended Christ (Gal 1:12), for the Gentiles (Eph 3:1-2). Paul repeatedly claims his apostleship in all these verses - Romans 1:1; 11:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1, 9:1-2, 15:9; 2 Corinthians. 1:1, 12:12; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians. 1:1; 1 Timothy. 1:1; 1, 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:1, 1:11; Titus 1:1.
2Tim. 1:11 I [Paul] am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the GENTILES.
1 Tim. 2:7 Whereunto I [Paul] am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not) a teacher of the GENTILES in faith and verity (truth).
Paul calls the message that he received “my gospel” (Rom. 16:25). Some Bible readers rebel against Paul’s seeming arrogance. Yet, I might ask, it is true? Wasn’t Paul given this grace gospel message for the Gentile “body of Christ,” according to the Biblical record? If one considers this a problem then I might ask, why not also question the fact that God gave “the LAW” message to Moses for its delivery to Israel. The Law message is properly referred to as “the Law of Moses” in 22 verses of the Bible. Note here Moses own claims of his ministry in these verses and that they sound somewhat like Paul’s claims.
Deut. 4:1-2 …hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I (Moses) teach you, … 2Ye shall not add unto the word which I (Moses) command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I (Moses) command you.
Then Note Paul’ similar claims.
1 Corinthians 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I (Paul) write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
Was it self-importance or self-exaltation on the part of Moses? Was Israel following a man when they obeyed Moses? No, this was Moses’ calling, just as Paul was also called to a unique ministry! Jesus acknowledged Moses’ authority as being yet in effect when He was on earth and gave this instruction when healed a Jew.
Mark 1:44 … go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. To another Jesus said,
Matthew 8:4 …See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Speaking to Ananias, the ascended and glorified Jesus now also proclaimed Paul’s unique calling. Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he (Saul/Paul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: Paul’s calling includes something astoundingly new. He was to bear the name of Christ to the Gentiles. From the call of Moses until the day of Paul’s calling, the Gentiles were stranger, outsiders, having no relationship with God. They were “without hope and with God in the world” (Eph 2:12). A major change had arrived. The dispensation was now about to change from the Law exclusively toward Israel… to…grace for all on an equal basis (Gal 3:28).
Moses was simply the man, the vessel, who God used to authoritatively deliver the LAW to Israel; it was for Israel alone. So it is with Paul, our Apostle. Paul brought to “the church, which is His (Christ’s) body” the message of pure grace for this day of “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:1-4).
These verses note the authority that God gave to Paul.
Romans 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. 1 Cor. 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
1 Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I [Paul] obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
Like Moses claims, Paul says we should follow him, ‘as’ or ‘in the same way’ He follows Christ. 1 Cor. 11:1 Be ye followers of me (Paul), even as I also am of Christ. How did Paul follow Christ? He followed the indwelling Christ that was revealed to him (Gal 1:16), and Paul commends the members of “the body of Christ” to also follow or walk in union and accord with the indwelling “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 2:6 (KJV) As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: We’ve each received “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom 8:9) into us and we are to now walk in union and accord with Him. Galatians 5:16 (KJV) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
In Paul’s epistles he sets forth his appointed position as the deliverer of the “grace” gospel to the Gentiles. John 1:17 declares “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” In 1 Corinthians 3:10 Paul says he is the one who “laid the foundation” of God's “building.” That “building” is “the body of Christ,” God's living temple “made without hands,” which Paul calls “the church, which is His body” (Eph 1:22b-23a).
1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me (Paul), as a wise masterbuilder, I (Paul) have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
Ephes. 3:1-3 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2If ye have heard of the dispensation (oikonomia, administration of God’s household economy) of the grace of God which is given me to youward: 3How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (musterion, God’s secret gospel, see Col 1:27)
Paul here makes the clear comparison between his gospel ministry to the predominantly Gentile “body of Christ,” which Paul calls “the uncircumcision,” and that of Peter to “the circumcision,” the nation Israel.
Galatians 2:7-9 (KJV) But contrariwise, (on the contrary) when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me (Paul), as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen (Gk. ethnos, ethnic nations, the Gentiles), and they unto the circumcision.
Having seen that there were two different men with two different gospels for two different people groups, we now we need to note their two different commissions. Much is written of the so-called “great commission,” which our Lord gave to His Jewish Apostles just before His ascension. This “great commission” does not say one word about “the preaching of the cross” or “the gospel of the grace of God.” The “gospel” that ‘the circumcision’ believers were sent to preach was same “gospel” they had been preaching under Jesus - the “Gospel of the Kingdom” - only they could now declare it as Peter did at Pentecost, that the King had risen from the dead and that was to occupy the throne of David.
The so-called “great commission” Jesus gave to Israel demanded faith, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15-16). It then included the power to heal the sick and work miracles (16:17, 18), but it did NOT include the message that “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor.15:1-3). Likewise Peter at Pentecost began to carry out this commission, scolding his hearers saying they had “killed the prince of life,” Christ.
When the people were convicted of their sins, they asked Peter; “What shall we do?” Peter did NOT say “believe on Christ who died for your sins.” Peter only commanded his Jewish audience members to “repent and be baptized every one... for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), still no mention of the redeeming work of Christ’s Cross-work. Peter did not yet know the meaning of the cross as it had not yet been revealed, as it would first come through Paul, who was not yet converted. Compare Peter’s message at Pentecost with Paul’s gospel wherein he says simply “believe on [trust in] the Lord Jesus Christ” to be saved (Acts 16:31). Today, repentance and baptism are now excluded as requirements for salvation.
Today “faith” alone in the risen Christ alone is the one requirement for salvation during this day of “the dispensation of the graced of God.”
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)
After Christ and His Kingdom were again rejected in Act 7 with stoning of Stephen as the rejection of the Holy Spirit working in and through Stephen, With that, Israel had ‘fallen.’ With that God sovereignly interrupted God’s prophetic program for Israel and then sent Paul to begin to proclaim “the preaching of the cross” which later included “the gospel of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:2) for the Gentiles. The fall of Israel and their being set aside is clearly seen here in Paul’s explanation as to what has happened to Israel and their condition unto this day.
10 Let their [Israel’s] eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11 I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their [Israel’s] FALL salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world [Gk. kosmos: the entire heaven and the earth], and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles [Gk. ethnos]; how much more their fulness? Romans 11:10-12 (KJV)
15 For if the casting away of them [Israel] be the reconciling of the world [Gk. kosmos: the entire heaven and the earth], what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? Romans 11:15 (KJV)
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery [Greek: secret, plan of God], lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness [cf. v10] in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. Romans 11:25 (KJV)
After the coming Rapture of the Gentile church, that Paul called “the body of Christ,” God will again turn to Israel and fulfill all His promises to and concerning the Nation Israel.
In 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, Paul proclaims “the love of Christ” who “died for all” and instructs us in the ‘new great commission’ in effect during this grace-age today.
“And all things are of (provided by) God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself... and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2Cor.5:18-19).
Today, the ministry for “the body of Christ” is “the ministry of reconciliation” under these new terms of salvation that we learn from Paul’s epistles.