"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
As I said in the last program, for years and years I (and I imagine most of Christendom still do) used this as a verse for believers who’ve sinned. But, when you really analyze it, this is a salvation verse for the Kingdom Jewish believers to whom John is writing.
Now never lose sight of that fact as we’ve been repeating and repeating that James and Peter and John are all writing to Jews. Now Galatians chapter 2, because I know this flies in the face of a lot of Christendom. They say, "Now where do you get that this is all to the Jew?" Well, I’m going to base it on the character of these men. Galatians chapter 2, and this is Paul rehearsing what had happened at the Jerusalem counsel of Acts chapter 15. And for those of you who may not be aware, the Jerusalem counsel was held about 51 AD, which is about 21-22 years after Pentecost or after the cross.
The problem that has arisen is that the Jewish Law-keeping Kingdom believers were still trying to convince Paul’s Gentile believers, under his Gospel of Grace, that they had to practice circumcision and the keeping of the Law and the Commandments. (Acts 15:1-5) I know this is hidden from the average congregation by most denominations, but it’s in the Book! And of course, finally it came to a point of such controversy that the Lord was in it – that Paul and Barnabas, who were ministering to the Gentiles, should go up to Jerusalem and deal with this problem with the Twelve and the Jerusalem leadership. And you all know, if you’ve heard me teach very long that, at this Jerusalem counsel, it was finally agreed that Paul and Barnabas would be apostles of the Gentiles and that the disciples would confine their ministry to Israel.
Now here’s the verse that shows that. I’ll just come down to where Paul was able to get through to these men that he was not on the same page as they were. They were the apostles of Israel and he was the apostle for the Gentile and the twain can never be brought together. They were preaching two different messages. One of Law– believing in His name, repentance and baptism; and the other of Grace – just faith in the fact that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and rose again.
Now come back to Galatians 2 verse 7, and remember the setting. Paul has now been out amongst the Gentiles, establishing these little congregations of Gentiles on his Gospel (the Gospel of Grace, the preaching of the cross). But these Jews out of the Kingdom economy in Jerusalem are still under the Law. (Acts 15:5) The Temple is still operating, and hasn’t been destroyed yet. And so these Jews are still practicing Temple worship and Paul, of course, has now gotten his Gentile believers separated from all that – and so here’s the agreement.
"But contrariwise, (Paul writes) when they (the Twelve) saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (that’s Gentiles) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (Israel) was (committed) unto Peter;" Now that’s plain language. Two totally different concepts. The Gospel of salvation for the Gentile had been committed unto the Apostle Paul. The Gospel of salvation for the Jews had been committed to Peter and the Eleven. All right now then, verse 8.
"(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, (Israel) the same (that is the same Christ, the same God) was mighty in me toward (what people?) the Gentiles:)" Now that’s as different as daylight and dark. There’s no amalgamating them. Peter’s the apostle to Israel. Paul’s the apostle to the Gentiles.
"And when James, Cephas, (Peter) and John,.… " The same three writers that we’re studying at the end of our New Testament in that order. Not Peter, James and John; it’s James, and Peter, and John.
"…who seemed to be pillars, (that is, of the Kingdom economy up there at Jerusalem) perceived (or understood) the grace that was given unto me,.…" When they understood, yes, Paul is the apostle of the Gentiles; we’re the apostles of Israel.
"…they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; (all three of them shook on it. And here is that gentleman’s agreement) that we should go unto the heathen, (Gentiles) and they unto the circumcision." (Israel, the Jew) That was a gentleman’s agreement. No more subterfuge; no more undermining Paul’s ministry. We’re going to leave you to the Gentiles and now look what it is. They agreed with the right hands of fellowship that Paul and Barnabas should go to the heathen, the Gentiles; and they, James, and Peter, and John, and the rest of the Jerusalem leadership (the Kingdom economy), they would stay with the circumcision, with Israel. Now I’m going to take a minute and let that soak in. In 51 AD, this was the gentleman’s agreement, that Paul would be the apostle to the Gentiles with Barnabas’ help, of course. And that the Twelve would confine their ministry to Israel.
Now, had the Holy Spirit inspired James and Peter and John back here in our New Testament to start mingling their message to the Gentiles, what would that have done to that agreement in Jerusalem? That would have blown it out of the water. Somebody would have been less than honest. But it was an honest agreement and they all held to it.
Now I can show you in Acts chapter 8, because tradition is a tough thing to overcome. But Acts chapter 8 – and this is about seven years after Pentecost, and they have just stoned Stephen – and Saul of Tarsus is heading up the persecution. And it’s intense. And the Jerusalem Jewish church is under such pressure that they’re starting to scatter like a flock of quail.
"And Saul (the persecutor, that Orthodox Jew, Pharisee of the Pharisees, before his salvation) was consenting unto his (Stephen’s) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church (the Jewish Kingdom church) which was at Jerusalem; and they (these Jewish Kingdom believers, the ones that James and Peter and John are addressing in their little epistles) were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, (what are the last three words?) except the apostles."
Why? Well they weren’t about to leave their home base. They weren’t about to leave Jerusalem because, after all, once Israel should repent and come to a knowledge of Jesus as their Messiah, to what place on the globe would the Messiah return? Jerusalem. He’s going to come to the Mount of Olives when He returns. And they weren’t about to leave because they still had high hopes that somehow or other, in spite of all this persecution, that the Jews would be able to convert the whole nation and that the Messiah could yet come. That’s their whole premise.
But you have to understand that when these three men are writing these epistles at the end of our New Testament, they were under that agreement of Galatians chapter 2, and they could not have gone against that. It wouldn’t have been gentlemanly. It wouldn’t have been Christian. And so I maintain they did not. And they kept their ministry on the Kingdom ground to Israel.
"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only." Do you see that? They preached to none but the Jews! And they’re letting Paul fulfill his ministry then among the Gentiles.
All right, now let’s pick up some of Paul’s statements to show that he was totally removed from anything concerning the Kingdom economy and the Twelve in Jerusalem. Let’s see, I believe you’re still in Galatians 2, so go to Galatians 1 and verse 11 for just a moment. Now remember, Paul is writing to Gentiles. And he’s writing to Gentiles who were succumbing to the false teaching of these Jerusalem people that they had to keep the Law. Do you see how all this ties together? And so the whole book of Galatians is written on that basis. Paul had to keep telling his Gentile believers, "You’re not under the Law. You don’t have to keep kosher food. You don’t have to keep the Commandments as such and you don’t have to do all the things that the Law required because you’re under Grace."
"But I certify you brethren, that the gospel (of salvation) which was preached of me is not after man. (Why?) 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (by other men) but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Now, what’s he telling us? And I always put it this way – under normal circumstances, here someone comes to a knowledge of Who Jesus was, like Saul of Tarsus. Years after the fact, wouldn’t it have been normal for him to go right back to Jerusalem, find Peter, James and John and say, "Well now look, I now recognize that I was wrong. I now know that the Jesus that you preach was the Messiah. Tell me everything you know." Wouldn’t that have been logical? Of course it would have because old Saul knew that these men had been with Jesus for three years. He knew they’d been preaching the Messiahship and the Kingship of Christ for these intervening six/seven years. They would have been the logical place to go. But the Spirit forbade him.
The Spirit, instead of letting him go southwest to Jerusalem (I’ve done this on the board, on the program) sends him southeast into Arabia. Opposite direction basically. Why? He didn’t want Paul’s teaching to be muddled with anything that the Twelve had to offer. He had to have a total revelation of things completely different. Oh, based on the same Christ, of course. The same God. But it’s going to be a whole new revelation. So what’s that revelation?
Now back to Romans chapter 16 verse 25. You know, I’ve asked in my seminars around the country, "Have you ever heard a Sunday morning sermon with the text Romans 16 verse 25?" Well, finally last fall up at our Concordia seminar in Minneapolis we had two or three hands. That’s the first time. I’ve never had anybody admit that they had a Sunday morning sermon with the text Romans 16 verse 25. Preachers avoid it like a plague. Look what it says.
"Now to him (the Christ) that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel,.…" What’s Paul’s Gospel? "By believing in your heart that Christ died for your sins, was buried and rose from the dead."
"…and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, (A revealing of something that’s been mooted before. Something totally different. And what is it?) which was kept secret since the world began." Now what was kept secret? That when Jesus of Nazareth was rejected as the Messiah of Israel, God in His eternal purposes brought about the work of the cross, and the work of the cross – His death, burial and resurrection and His shedding of blood – was now going to open up salvation, not just to Israel, but to whom? The whole world.
Now go to II Corinthians chapter 5, and see this is just a whole different concept than what Peter, James and John understood. They were preaching to Israel on the basis of the Old Testament covenant promises. They had no concept that God was now going to save the whole human race. They were stuck with the idea of Israel. But look what Paul writes in II Corinthians chapter 5 verse 14. I know it takes a little bit to see it but once people see it, oh, it is so plain – it just lights this Book up like a three-hundred watt bulb.
II Corinthians 5:14a
"For the love of Christ.…" See, now sometimes people will write and say, "Les you make too much of Paul." No I don’t make too much of Paul. Paul was merely the one who points us to the Christ. And that’s what he’s always saying. He preaches "Christ crucified, and risen again." Paul is that eminent apostle of the Gentiles to whom was revealed this tremendous Gospel of Grace that’s beyond human understanding. We just simply take it by faith.
II Corinthians 5:14
"For the love of Christ constraineth us; (drives us) because we thus judge, (or conclude, now watch this) that if one died for all, then were all dead:" Now, you know there is teaching about there being limited atonement – that Christ only died for the believer. Don’t you believe it! He died for ALL! He died for the whole human race. All right, and if He did die for all, then it’s a natural conclusion then that all were dead, spiritually, like we saw in the last program. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Now verse 15.
II Corinthians 5:15
"And that he died for all, that they which live (spiritually and get eternal life) should not henceforth (from the time of their salvation, when they’ve been justified and they’ve been granted eternal life, that from that point on) live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and (what?) rose again." See that? Paul never shuns the resurrection, it’s everywhere. But, you see, the Jewish writers don’t mention it because that wasn’t part and parcel of the Kingdom Gospel. The Kingdom Gospel was to believe Who Jesus was, followed by repentance and water baptism. The Grace Gospel is to believe that not only did Christ die for our sins, but He rose from the dead. I know many people try to make them all the same, but you see the Bible says they’re different, and that’s why Paul says, we should be "Rightly Dividing the Word of God."
II Corinthians 5:16
"Wherefore (because of the death, burial and resurrection) henceforth know we no man after the flesh: Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, (according to His earthly ministry and before He was crucified.) yet now henceforth know we him no more." And Paul is saying he lived contemporary with Christ. He was already that fanatical Jew and was probably burning at the fringes when he saw the crowds following Jesus of Nazareth. He knew His ministry. He knew what He was doing. He knew about those three years of Christ in the flesh.
But, it was the crucified, buried, risen and ascended Lord that confronted Saul on the road to Damascus, not Jesus of Nazareth in those three years. See the difference? Oh, what a difference! Jesus chose the Twelve in His ministry of the flesh inside the borders of Israel. This man He confronted, after His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, outside the borders of Israel on Gentile ground. And that just separates them.
And that’s why they had to come to the conclusion; yes, they would maintain their ministry with Israel up until finally it all fell apart, but this man would go to the Gentiles. And now, even archaeology supports that, by the end of the first century, that element of Jewish believers, of what I call the Kingdom believers, disappeared. They just disappeared. You don’t see any evidence of them anymore in archaeology or history, or anywhere else. But for those seventy years from the time of the cross until about the end of the century there were these little Jewish congregation scattered throughout the Roman Empire. But they never entered into this Gospel of Grace. All right, one more verse in II Corinthians 5. And, oh, what a verse!
II Corinthians 5:17a
"Therefore (and what’s that ‘therefore?’ Because of the death, burial and resurrection) if any man be in Christ,…" See, now that’s another terminology that is uniquely Paul. The Jewish Kingdom believer had no concept of being "in Christ." That’s the body element, and it is a Grace Age doctrine; that, the moment we become a believer, we are placed into the Body of Christ, we’re in Christ. In fact I think Paul uses that term 93 times in the Book of Ephesians alone.
I had a gentleman say, "Les I hear all the time about being ‘in Christ,’ but nobody ever tells anybody how to get there." And I said, "You know, you’re right." So how do we get "in Christ?" By believing Paul’s Gospel of salvation. Because as soon as we become a believer of Paul’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit places us into the Body of Christ. And we become members one of another, as fingers and toes and eyes and ears are members of this body, every believer is a member of the Body of Christ. That’s a Pauline concept. It was never revealed before. And this is all part of the revelation of the mysteries.
II Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." We’re a whole new creation. God has worked a work within us that makes us different.
II Corinthians 5:18
"And all things are of God, who hath (already) reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;" We are to tell others to be reconciled. Oh, this is all Pauline truths and you don’t pick this up in the Kingdom economy. Well, let’s look at a couple of verses in Ephesians in the short time we have left.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,.…" Rarely does Paul us the term "Jesus" alone. One or two places he does, but as a rule, he puts the full title and I think it’s appropriate even for us, we refer to Him as our Lord Jesus Christ.
"…who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings (not here on earth. Not name it and claim it. But where?) in heavenly places in Christ." That’s where our riches are, in the heavenlies. We may go through this life poor as paupers. Most Christians down through the centuries have. It’s only been in the last few years where Christians have enjoyed the wealth. For most of Church history, they were the poverty stricken element and that’s, of course, as Paul teaches. We are not promised earthly blessings because we’re a believer. Ours are heavenly. Ours are waiting for us. We’re laying them up in Glory. All right, so He’s already "blessed us in the heavenlies, in Christ."
"According as he hath (already) chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" In other words, before anything was ever created, God already knew we’d be believers today.
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." But let’s go down to verse 13. Ephesians 1 verse 13. My, all these verse are so wonderful!
"In whom (he says) ye also trusted, (believed) after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye (What?) Repented and were baptized? No, that’s not what it says. After you what?) believed,.…" That’s the whole crux of Paul’s message – that we believe that everything that needed to be done was done in that work of the cross.
How God Saves Men
Believing Christ DIED, that’s HISTORY.
Believing Christ DIED for YOU SINS and Rose again that’s SALVATION.
Read Romans 1:16, Romans 10:9-10 and 1. Corinthians 15:1-4
(A 10 Minute Video)
Posted By Cecil and Connie Spivey
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