Thursday, April 8, 2010

Comparing Kingdom and Grace Doctrines - Les Feldick

Okay, let’s go back to I John chapter 1 verse 9:

"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.

Galatians 2:7

"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.

Galatians 2:8

"(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.

Galatians 2:9a

"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.

Galatians 2:9b

"…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.

Galatians 2:9c

"…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.

Acts 8:1

"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.

Acts 11:19

"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."

Galatians 1:11-12

"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.

Romans 16:25a

"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."

Romans 16:25b

"…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.

Ephesians 1:3a

"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.

Ephesians 1:3b

"…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."

Ephesians 1:4

"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.

Ephesians 1:5

"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!

Ephesians 1:13a

"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

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We, today, live in "the dispensation of the grace of God" to us Gentiles. This dispensation, or program, which God is now conducting is a new program and it is different from His program with the nation of Israel. In this present dispensation, God's program with Israel is set aside and remains temporarily in abeyance, and the "time past" status of Israel being "nigh" to God and the Gentiles being "far off", no longer exists. (Romans 11:11 25; Ephesians 2:11 22) According to the apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:1 6, the revelation of this present dispensation, or program, was something God first made known and committed unto him.

"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:"

This present dispensation is something which was a "mystery" before. God kept it secret unto Himself in ages and generations past, and it wasn't known about before or anticipated. Not until God raised up the apostle Paul and revealed unto him the "mystery of Christ", was this new dispensation of Gentile grace ushered in.

It is extremely important that we understand the "mystery" character of this present dispensation of the grace of God, and that we don't make unwarranted assumptions with the testimony of the word of God. Unfortunately, two assumptions are commonly made by many Christians as they handle the Scriptures, which are at variance with what God teaches us through the apostle Paul.

On the one hand, often times it is assumed that the present dispensation is the program which God has always had in effect. On the other hand, the assumption is often made that even though the apostle Paul says what he does about God committing to him the revelation of this new program, it actually began before God raised up Paul. These are two common assumptions, but they are actually misconceptions which conflict with the testimony of Scripture and only lead to confusion and error. That this present dispensation of Gentile grace has not always been in effect, is evident from what the apostle Paul declares in Ephesians 2:11 12.

"Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world"

Obviously, Jew and Gentile have not always been on the same level in God's dealings. But rather, in "time past", before God ushered in this dispensation of His grace, we Gentiles were "far off", "without Christ", and "without God in the world". It is erroneous, therefore, to assume that this dispensation of grace has always been in effect. In "time past", it wasn't.

But it is just as erroneous to assume that this change in programs was ushered in by God before He says it was. It is just taken for granted by many that this dispensation of grace was in effect before God raised up the apostle Paul, even though God has the apostle Paul repeatedly declare how that God revealed it and committed it unto him. (Eph. 3:1 12; Col. 1:25 27; Gal. 2:1 10;eg) The assumption is made that the "time past" situation of Eph. 2:11 12 ended when the Lord was here upon the earth, as recorded in the Gospel accounts. Or, at least, once He had died upon the cross. But this, we suggest, is also a misunderstanding, and it needs to be corrected.


The testimony of the Gospel accounts is that the "time past" situation of Eph. 2:11 12 WAS in effect when the Lord was here. And if that is the case, then it is evident that God did not have this dispensation of His grace in effect during the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God's exclusive program with Israel was not only still in effect when Christ was here, it was coming to its climax. Christ had come to be Israel's redeemer, and to provide for them to have their kingdom and so be the blessing to the world God covenanted for them to be. Israel's exclusive "covenants of promise" were what everything focused upon. We Gentiles were still "far off" at this time. God's program was not the dispensing of His grace to us Gentiles as it is today, but rather it was His continued dealings with His people Israel. Consider, for example, the following...

Luke 1:67-79 - This is a prophetic declaration made by John the Baptist's father at the time of John's birth. Notice in verses 68 75 that he "blesses" God for what He was doing at this time. It is plain to see from what Zacharias says that God was still dealing with Israel in His special covenant relationship to them. Israel was preparing at this time for the fulfillment of all the things God's holy prophets had been speaking about. They were preparing for God to "perform the mercy promised unto the fathers" and "to remember His holy covenant which He made with Abraham". It is obvious from this that God at this time was not bringing in a new dispensation of His grace for us Gentiles, which was a "mystery". Also, it is obvious, that Israel was not set aside at this time.

Matthew 3:1-2; 4:17; Mark 1:14 15 - In these passages it is stated that the gospel being preached at this time was "the gospel of the kingdom". This was the good news about the time being “fulfilled" and the "kingdom of heaven being at hand". That kingdom was what Israel was waiting for in fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. (Luke 1:26 33; Isa. 9:6 7; Dan. 2:44)

It was what the prophets foretold would be established by the coming of the Messiah, the son of David. It was the literal kingdom of the Messiah brought down from heaven to be established in the land of Israel. The prophet Daniel had prophesied the time at which it would come, as recorded back in Dan. 2:44, and 9:24ff. Because the time which Daniel had spoke of was just about completed, the kingdom of heaven was being preached as being "at hand". Again, it is obvious from this that God's special program and dealings with Israel were still in effect at this time, and the "mystery" of the dispensation of Gentile grace was not the issue.

Matthew 10:1-7; 15:21-28; Mark 7:24 30 - Here are some passages which show us that the Lord's ministry at this time was pointedly limited to the people of Israel, and that the Gentiles were not to be dealt with. Notice that the Lord's commissioning of the 12 apostles involved giving them the power to perform signs which testified to the reality of Israel's kingdom actually being "at hand". But especially notice that the Lord instructed the 12 not to preach to the Gentiles, or even to the Samaritans, but they were to "go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel". This was so because it was Israel's kingdom which was "at hand", and the program of God with them involved them receiving their kingdom and glory first, and then for them to be the blessing to the rest of the world in their kingdom. Just as the Lord told the Gentile woman, He was sent "only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel", and "the children" were to be filled "first". We Gentiles were still "dogs" and "far off" at this time. Again, it is evident the dispensation of Gentile grace was not in effect at this time.


Sometimes it is assumed that when the Lord Jesus was rejected and crucified, that at this time God set Israel aside and ushered in this present dispensation of His grace to us Gentiles. But it should be equally obvious from the testimony of God's word that this also is not correct. The book of Acts, which records the things which took place following Christ's resurrection and ascension back to heaven, clearly shows in the opening chapters that God continued to deal with Israel in His special relationship to them. Israel's kingdom program was still the program God was administering. Consider, for example, the following...

Acts 1:6 - The question of the apostles at this time was a natural one. The restoring again of the kingdom to Israel was what the program was all about at this time. They had just spent some forty days being instructed by the Lord following His resurrection, in "the things pertaining to the kingdom of God". What they had begun with the Lord was continuing on. They didn't expect things to change. They didn't ask about a new dispensation being brought in. And the Lord didn't correct them, which He would have done had they misunderstood what God was doing.

Acts 2:1 40 - The miraculous wonder producing events of the day of Pentecost are not explained by Peter to be the bringing in of a new dispensation of God's grace to the Gentiles. But rather, he explained them to be the initial fulfillment of the things the prophet Joel had spoken about. Joel prophesied about the things that would take place in Israel's "last days" leading up to the establishment of the kingdom. Joel didn't prophesy about a new dispensation, or the birthday of the church, the body of Christ. He foretold the various signs and wonders that would be taking place as Israel's time schedule for her kingdom entered its "last days". "This is that" which was taking place on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 3:12-26 - It is easy to see in view of what Peter says to the people of Israel here, that their kingdom program is still in effect and that God had not set them aside yet. Notice in verses 19 26, that Peter urges them to respond positively to God's extension of mercy unto them, seeing they crucified their Christ in ignorance. But notice especially that Peter tells them that they lived in the time which all the prophets have looked forward to and foretold of. Peter doesn't preach about a new dispensation of Gentile grace. He doesn't set forth "the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since before the world began", as was committed by God to Paul later on. But rather, he offers the prophesied kingdom to these "men of Israel", who were "the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers". Obviously, Israel was not yet set aside by God, and His program and dealings were still with them at this time.


There is a need to recognize the significance of the Lord's unexpected returning from heaven to raise up a new apostle, as the 9th chapter of the book of Acts tells us about. Though various reasons for this have been taught by men, including laxity on the part of the 12 and the like; the reason God Himself gives through the testimony of the apostle Paul is entirely different.

This new apostle Paul is "the apostle of the Gentiles" in accordance with the ushering in of the new "dispensation of the grace of God" to us Gentiles, just as is taught in Ephesians 3:1 12. Israel, and her program, have been temporarily set aside, as Paul teaches in Romans 11:1 25. God has now, according to the revelation of "the mystery of Christ" given to Paul, turned to us Gentiles and is accomplishing a purpose He has with us, which He kept secret "in ages and generations past."

As Christians, we need to understand the distinctiveness of this new dispensation, along with Paul's apostleship. For it is in the epistles of Paul, the "apostle of the Gentiles", that we have the doctrine and instructions from God which are expressly TO us and ABOUT us today.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Baptism What the Bible Teaches!

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit (1 Cor. 12.13).

Probably no one issue has contributed to more confusion, fighting, and divisions in Christendom than baptism. Some churches teach baptism is a sacrament, some that it is necessary for salvation. Some teach immersion, some pouring, some sprinkling. Apart from baptism, some churches do not consider you a Christian and some will not let you join the church or teach in the church. What one believes about baptism has a large influence in determining one's church or denomination. In order to try and remedy this confusion, it is necessary to see what the Scriptures teach about baptism.

What does baptism mean? Both the words baptism and baptize (Gk. baptismo/j and bapti/zw) go back to the Greek word ba/ptw, "to dip". Homer used it of a brazier who dipped hot brass in water to temper it. In the Old Testament (LXX), ba/ptw is used frequently. It is used of the dipping of hyssop in blood during the Passover (Ex. 12.22). The word bapti/zw is used less frequently, but notably of Naaman who dipped himself seven times in the Jordan river to cleanse himself from leprosy (2 Kings 5.14). This word has a more intransitive sense than ba/ptw. It has the sense of "wash" as in "washing oneself". In Hebrews 6.2 and 9.10 we read about "washings" (baptismo/j) that pertained to the Jews. The sense is of cleansing. This sense was carried on by John the Baptizer who preached and performed "the baptism of repentance". About half the references to baptism in the New Testament concern John the Baptizer and this mission. The twelve apostles continued this sense. Thus, Peter said, relating baptism to cleansing,

"And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ," (1 Pet. 3.21).

While baptism has the idea of cleansing, its most fundamental meaning is "identification". Thus, Jesus said,

"You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized" (Mk. 10.38)?

And again,

"But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!" (Lk. 12.50).

Paul said describing Israel,

"For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10.1-4).

Paul declared a new, spiritual sense and emphasis for baptism. According to Paul every believer in Christ in the Church age has been baptized by the Holy Spirit. He said,

"For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12.13).

"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom. 6.3-6).

"For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Col. 2.9-12).

What kind of baptism was Paul teaching in these passages? Was he talking about water baptism or spiritual baptism? It should be clear to even the casual reader that Paul was talking about spiritual baptism. Can water baptism baptize us into the death of Christ? Can it cause us to walk in newness of life? Can it raise us up with Christ? Is the baptism Paul writes about a work of man or of God? Clearly, it is a work of of God. Paul teaches us that when one puts his trust in Christ as his Savior from sin, he is baptized by the Holy Spirit. With this act, God identifies the believer with Christ. The believer becomes a part of the body of Christ, i.e. the Church, and God sees him as both sharing (identified) in Jesus' death and resurrection. What an amazing and exciting truth!

What was the role of water baptism in the ministry of John the Baptizer, of Jesus, of the 12 apostles? What do the Scriptures teach?

"John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mk. 1.4).

"And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned" (Mk. 16.15-16).

"And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2.38).

There are a few things to notice from these passages. One, they contain a consistent message from John the Baptizer, Jesus, and Peter. Two, each deals with water baptism. Three, each deals with leaders of Israel and concern a ministry to and out from Israel. Four, each teaches water baptism is necessary for the forgiveness of sins. What are we to make of these scriptures?

If one takes them at face value, one can only conclude that they mean what they say, namely, that according to the preaching of John, Jesus, and Peter, forgiveness of sins was based upon repentance, belief in Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, and water baptism. Does this mean that salvation was through works? No. Salvation has always been through faith. Hebrews 11 makes this clear as do many other passages throughout the Scriptures. While salvation has always been based upon faith, the content of faith has changed over time according to the revelation and the command of God.1 What did Abraham believe for salvation--that Christ died for his sins and was raised from the dead for his justification? No, he believed what God had revealed to him--that he was going to be the father of many nations, that by him the world would be blessed, and that God would give him a land. Salvation has always been based upon faith in that which God has revealed.

How does faith work? God provides a revelation. In response, a person says, "I believe that". This is not only an act of faith but an act of obedience. The two cannot be separated. The content of the message of John the Baptizer, Jesus, and Peter, was the message of faith in Jesus as the Messiah, repentance, and baptism. What was the response of faith and obedience? To repent, be baptized, and believe in Jesus as the promised Messiah.

What is God's revelation today for salvation? Is it repent, be baptized, and believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel? No, the content of the gospel has changed. The gospel we have today we know from Paul. God revealed and committed to him the "gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20.24). The gospel for today is the following:

"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15.1-4).

This is what we must believe, i.e. obey, in this age to be saved.

We have seen the role baptism played in the ministry of John the Baptizer, Jesus, and Peter. What does Paul say about water baptism? After all, almost all churches today teach some form of water baptism. In his first letter to the Corinthians one the great issues Paul confronted and was trying to correct was the matter of divisions among believers. With regard to baptism, Paul wrote:

"I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, that no man should say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void" (1 Cor. 1.14-17).

In addressing the problem of divisions, Paul told the Corinthians that he was glad that he had not baptized many so that they might not claim him and let this be a cause of division. This passage rings true. In our mind's eye we can see Paul dictating the letter. He remembered he baptized Crispus and Gaius and just as his amanuensis has recorded his words, he remembered that he also baptized Stephanas' household and related that. But the main point to consider is Paul's statement: Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. Why does Paul say this? Jesus told his disciples,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 28.19).

Does Paul contradict Jesus? Not at all. How was Paul commissioned as an apostle? Was he commissioned like the other eleven disciples? No. Paul received a special commission from the Lord. God saved Paul on the Damascus road where Jesus, the risen Lord, appeared to him. Jesus did not tell Paul to baptize as he had the other disciples. Jesus gave Paul a different mission than he gave the other apostles. Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles while Peter and the eleven were apostles to Israel (Acts 9.15-16; 14.26-28; 18.6; 22.21; 26.16-18; 28.28; Gal. 2.2, 7-9; Rom. 11.13; Eph. 3.1, 8; 1 Tim. 2.7). To Paul, Jesus committed the "gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20.24).

Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians,

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph. 4.4-6).

Paul's statement has the elements of a creedal statement: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father. The common concept from this statement is one. Paul said there was one baptism. What baptism was he talking about? From all of Paul's other teachings, we know that he was talking about spiritual baptism. It should be obvious that Paul did not regard water baptism as of great importance since he declared that "Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel". Furthermore, if there is but one baptism, what baptism is important--the baptism by man or the baptism by God the Holy Spirit? Clearly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit overshadows baptism by man. If there is only one baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, why do churches practice water baptism?

The short answer to that question is relatively easy. Churches practice water baptism because theologians have failed to recognize and distinguish between Paul's ministry and the revelation God gave to him and the ministry of John the Baptizer, Jesus, and the 12 apostles. John, Jesus, and the Twelve proclaimed the "gospel of the kingdom of God". Their message was to Israel. It's focus was on repentance, water baptism, and belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah-King of Israel. Paul's message was different. It was the "gospel of the grace of God". It's focus was on grace and faith alone, the gospel (1 Cor. 15.1-4), and was primarily to Gentiles. Failure to see the difference between these two ministries and messages and failure to distinguish between Israel (the earthly people of God) and the Church (the heavenly people of God) has led to most of the hermeneutical problems that exist. When one allows the Scriptures to mean what they say in context rather than reading later revelation into them or forcing them into a preconceived theological position most apparent contradictions vanish. Such a methodology is much more successful and enlightening than rationalizing or forcing passages into contorted directions resulting in confused or contradictory renderings.

In summary,


From John the Baptizer to Calvary there was one baptism--water baptism (Mk. 1.4; Jn. 1.31).

During the Pentecostal period there were two baptisms--water (Acts 2.38) and baptism with or in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1.5; 2.38)

At the present time there is again but one baptism (Eph. 4.5) which is the baptism by which we are baptized into Christ (Rom. 6.3), that is, into his body (1 Cor. 12.13). This baptism is different from the baptism with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. At Pentecost Christ was the Baptizer (Mt. 3.11; Acts 1.5). Today, the Holy Spirit is the baptizer who baptizes us into Christ and his body (1Cor. 12.13).

If water baptism is invalid for our day there is no need to discuss infant baptism. Interestingly, infant baptism is a key part of Reformed theology. One small word will be said, however. Not a single Scripture supports the idea of infant baptism. Search the Scriptures. You won't find it. Furthermore, the Reformed notion that baptism is for the New Testament what circumcision was for the Old Testament has no Scriptural support. One only wonders how this teaching began since it has no support from the Scriptures. One of the chief principles of the Reformation was sola scriptura, or the Scriptures alone. Reformed theologians clearly have failed to maintain this principle as both infant baptism and water baptism stand as challenges to their system and the reformation principle of sola scriptura .

From Paul's teaching, the apostle to the Gentiles, the apostle of the gospel of the grace of God, and the apostle to whom Christ revealed the Church, the body of Christ, we have the knowledge that there is one baptism which is a spiritual baptism, i.e. the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is by the baptism of the Holy Spirit that we are identified with Christ and are placed "in Christ". God the Holy Spirit is the baptizer of believers, not a minister who dips, pours, or sprinkles water on someone. Despite the centuries of history of water baptism and all its attendant traditions, the Scriptures teach that only the baptism of the Holy Spirit is legitimate in this age for the Church, the body of Christ.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

“MARANATHA” By - Paul W. Rood.

“MARANATHA” is an un translated Syriac word found in I Corinthians 16:22. It means; “The Lord Cometh.” It was a word of greeting in the early church. When believers met they said “Maranatha.” It was a constant reminder of the fact of the Lord’s return.

The time has come to revive the use of this word among believers. It should be our word of greeting when we meet and when we part. It should be used in writing letters to fellow believers. Use it at the beginning or at the end of a letter. When you are asked for your autograph write “Maranatha” before your name. A revival of the use of this word will bring awakening and blessing to many.

The use of the word “Maranatha” is an expression of faith in the promises of our Lord regarding His return and in all the more than three hundred references to the second coming of Christ found in the New Testament. All the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. He is looking for our faith and rejoices when He finds faith in our hearts. Let us dare to believe the promises of God regarding the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and to declare that faith to all that we meet.

The use of the word “Maranatha” is an expression of hope. Titus 2:13–”Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The return of the Lord is the blessed hope of the Church. We believers are not admonished to look for death. Death is not the “blessed hope.” Death is a foe even though it be a defeated foe, as far as the believer is concerned. We may die, it is true, but we are Not ‘looking forward to death. W are looking for the Lord. A whole generation of believers will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and consequently will not go through the process called death. Enoch is a type of the believers who are to be translated. When we use the word “Maranatha” we are reminding ourselves and others that we have a hope that is indeed “that blessed hope.” When our loved ones are taken from us “we sorrow not as others who have no hope.”

The use of the word “Maranatha is an expression of love. The Lord desires not only our faith, but our love. When Peter was restored to fellowship, our Lord asked him, three times, “Lovest thou Me?” He wanted above everything else, Peter’s love. If you love the Lord you will of necessity love His appearing. The bride longs for the coming of the Bridegroom. In II Timothy 4:8 we read: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” There is a special crown for those who love His appearing. You don’t want to miss that crown, do you?

The use of the word “Maranatha” is an expression of joy. It is your privilege and your duty to rejoice. Philippians 4:4- “Rejoice in the Lord always , and again I say, rejoice.” This is an apostolic command. If you rejoice in the Lord you will rejoice in His return. You are looking to the day when you will see Him as He is. You have never seen Him with your mortal eyes. I Peter l:8-”Whom having not seen, ye love.” What a day it will be when with rapture you behold Him! Then you will also have the joy of being like Him. There will be no more failures and no more disappointments. You will have the joy of receiving a new body of flesh and bone, “like unto His glorious body.” You will never suffer pain again. You will also have the joy of receiving your reward at the judgment seat of Christ. Every service you have rendered, because of your love for Him, it matters not how humble and insignificant it may be, is recorded in the books of heaven and will be rewarded when the Lord comes! Rejoice, oh faithful follower of the Lord, in what is in store for you when Christ returns!

The use of the word “Maranatha” is an expression of your concern for others. When you use that word you are reminding them of the imminent return of Christ and the importance of being ready to meet Him. It is an admonition to watch and pray and to win souls and live for eternity. To the unsaved, it is a message of warning. You don’t want your loved ones to be left behind when He comes.

So let this word “Maranatha” be burned into your consciousness and use it to the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What’s Ahead? - By Dee L. McCroskey

What’s Ahead?  
 By Dee L. McCroskey

"THOUSANDS Disappear!" "Driverless Cars Crash!" "Strange Event Shrouded in Mystery!" Such will be the headlines of to morrow. God does intervene in the affairs of men. In the beginning of our calendar time, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for the sins of mankind upon the cross. Now, the time is drawing near when God's Son will return to judge this world and rule over it. Here is the order of the coming events:


This will be the greatest evacuation of all time. Our English word, "Rapture," means "to be caught up." Here is the statement from the Bible:

"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; "Then we (believers) who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

"In a moment!" All living people who have received Christ as their Saviour and Lord will be "caught up" in the air to meet Him. There will be no time to receive Him then. God's Word says, "Behold NOW is the accepted time" (II Corinthians 6:2).


According to the prophecies of God's Word, there will be an unprecedented rejection of God, a world wide revolution against God after the Rapture. Three times the Bible tells us that there never has been, nor ever will be again, such a period in human history--of war, violence and terror upon earth!

"For then shall be Great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21). See also Mark 13:19 and Daniel 12:1. It will be a time of violence and terror, death and destruction, nuclear wars, earthquakes, famines. It will last about seven years. Peace will be removed from the earth, "that they should kill one another" (Revelation 6:4-8, 9: 15).

A world dictator, the Antichrist, will come into power. The Bible calls him "the man of sin," Satan's man (II Thessalonians 2:3-4). This awful period of time will culminate in the great and terrible "Battle of Armageddon" (Revelation14:20 and 16:13-16). This will be in the Valley of Megiddo, near Jerusalem. World events today are hastening mankind toward that awful day!


In great glory and power the Lord Jesus Christ will then return to earth. "In righteousness He doth judge and make war" (Revelation 19:11). See further details in verses 12 to 16.

"When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, Inflaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thessalonians 1:7-8).


After the destruction of His enemies at Armageddon, the Lord Jesus Christ will reign on earth, as "King of kings, and Lord of lords," for one thousand years. See Revelation 19:20-21 and 20:1-4. It will be a reign of peace and true righteousness.

The Kingdom age will close with the Great White Throne judgment, when the unsaved of all ages will be raised to stand before the Great Judge (Rev. 20:11-15)."And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire!" The Great Judge will be Jesus Christ, whom they rejected.

He must be your Saviour now, or your Judge in that day!


Yes, What of today? God put enough resources in the earth to last until the Great King comes back to renew all things. Man is now rapidly depleting the earth of all of these resources--oil, minerals, arable land, water and even good air itself. Tensions mount, and war and violence are filling the earth. The Great Tribulation is just ahead!

But God has a wonderful promise to all who will now receive His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Speaking of the coming Tribulation "wrath," He says: "For God hath not appointed us (believers) to wrath but to obtain salvation (or deliverance) by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him" (I Thessalonians 5:9-10). Is He your Saviour? He died on the cross to save you "from the wrath to come" (I Thessalonians 1:10). "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).


 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

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Posted By Cecil  and Connie Spivey 

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rightly Dividing Paul's Epistles - By L. McCroskey.

The Distinctive Messages of the Prison and Pre-prison Epistles

MOST instructed believers today know that present truth-the truth for the church which is the body of Christ-is to be found only in Paul's epistles, from Romans to Philemon. (Hebrews is a special epistle to the Hebrew believers, and is not addressed as a church epistle). The rest of the Word of God is for us, and is rich in instruction to us, but only in the church epistles do we find the direct doctrines and practices for the present age of grace. Paul plainly states that to him was given this special revelation, "of the dispensation of the grace of God" (Eph. 3:2-3).

But is every statement in Paul's epistles for us today? Are there some things, even in these epistles, that were Jewish and have passed away? Most believers have not been able to give a very good answer to the first question, and though they believe the second one should be answered in the affirmative, they are hard pressed for Scriptural proof.

For instance, in I Corinthians 12:28-30 there are certain gifts listed, including the gifts of healing, speaking in tongues and "workers of miracles." In 14:13 Paul writes, "Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret." Anyone with a correct understanding of dispensational truth knows that all of these special wonders and miracles were Kingdom signs (Isaiah 35:5-6), and belong with the nation Israel, who always require a sign (I Corinthians 1:22). He knows also that these signs simply do not work today, in spite of all the fantastic claims of modem cults. And further, it is stated in 13:8 that one of these, tongues, shall cease.

Again, in Romans 12:6, as well as in First Corinthians, we find the gift of "prophecy ."This gift also was to cease, as we read in I Corinthians13:8. It apparently was a gift given by the Holy Spirit in the early church for the "edification, exhortation and comfort" of the believers (I Corinthians 14:3), while the Word of God was in the making. After the Word was completed there was no longer any need for the New Testament prophet.

But the fact remains that these passages are in Paul's epistles, which we insist are present day truth. If they are for us today, then the Pentecostalists are right. If they are NOT for us today, then we have some explaining to do beyond the fact that things changed, and these sign gifts ceased. For then we must answer the question: WHEN did the change of order come in, and WHY did it come in?

The Numerical Structure

Paul wrote thirteen epistles (not counting Hebrews). This number itself is significant, and shows the amazing perfection of God's Word. Had Paul left out even that small epistle to Philemon, the number would have been twelve, which is the number of Israel throughout the Bible. But the number thirteen goes on beyond Israel to the Gentiles. Paul himself was not one of the twelve apostles. He did not take the place of Judas, as some teach. He was an added apostle, a special apostle, the thirteenth apostle, the apostle to the Gentiles.

Before he went to prison Paul wrote six epistles, and during his imprisonment he wrote seven others. Six is man's number, the number of weakness. And so it is that in these first six epistles we find the HUMAN SIDE of the church, with all its faults and failures. Romans opens with the wickedness of this poor, fallen race, out of which we have been called. In First Corinthians we find carnality, greed, selfishness and even fornication among those who named the name of Christ. In Galatians we find backsliding and legalism. All human weakness. But seven is the number of perfection and completeness. So in the seven Prison Epistles we find the HEAVENLY SIDE of the church, seated in the heavenlies in Ephesians, looking at her heavenly Head in Colossians, looking for heaven itself and the coming of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, in Philippians.

The Order of the Epistles

As the New Scofield note states (page 1209), the order in which Paul wrote his epistles is generally believed by competent scholars to be as follows: I and II Thessalonians, Galatians, I Corinthians, Romans, II Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians, I Timothy, Titus and II Timothy. The first six of these are the Preprison Epistles, and the last seven are the Prison Epistles.
The Pre-prison Epistles The Pre-prison Epistles and the dates they were written, according to the New Scofield notes, are as follows:

I and II Thessalonians-A.D. 51.
Galations A.D. 49 or 52.
I Corinthians-A.D. 56.
Romans-A.D. 56.
II Corinthians-A.D. 57.

The Prison Epistles

The Prison Epistles began with the Ephesian Epistle written in A.D. 60 or 62. Colossians, Philemon and Philippians were written also in A.D. 60 or 62. I Timothy was written in A.D. 64 or 67; Titus in 65 or 67; II Timothy in 67 or 68. In other words, Paul wrote his last seven Epistles during his two last years in prison at Rome. It may have been the two years mentioned in Acts 28:30, at the close of the Acts period.

The Dividing Line

You will note that there is a three or four year gap between the last of the Pre-prison Epistles and the first of the Prison Epistles. During the gap the nation Israel rejected God's final offer of His risen Son as their Lord and Messiah, and a tremendous statement was made in Acts 28:28. It reads as follows:

"Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it."

This Scripture is the great pillar of demarcation that stands between these two groups of epistles. The Pre-prison Epistles on one side, and the Prison Epistles on the other, with Acts 28:28 between them. Although Luke wrote the Book of Acts in A.D. 65, the setting aside of the nation Israel in Acts 28:28 seems to have taken place a year earlier, sometime in A.D. 64. In God's mind it was already the beginning of the end of Israel's occupancy of the land. In a few more years, A.D. 70, He permitted the Romans to completely remove them.

The Pre-prison Epistles, then, were written during the period of time covered by the Book of Acts. Throughout the Book of Acts God was still dealing with the nation Israel. In the Old Testament they had rejected God the Father. In the four Gospels they had rejected God the Son. And in the Book of Acts the rejected the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, even though He displayed before them great
power and the Kingdom signs of healing, miracles, etc.

But it is quite evident that God was also bringing in the church, that He was for a little while engaged in a two-fold program. He was offering Israel her Messianic hope, though in His fore-knowledge God knew this offer would be rejected, and He would visit the Gentiles "to take out of them a people for His name" (Acts 15:14).

So in the Pre-prison Epistles we find some things that are Jewish, and must cease when Israel is set aside. This took place in Acts 28:28, and then we have the Prison Epistles, in which we find the full revelation of the mystery. In these nothing is of Jewish character, nothing temporary, nothing to cease, and no signs and miracles.

The Word does not tell us when Paul received all the revelations of the mystery, though there is considerable conjecture about it. It seems most probable that the Spirit gave him these revelations as he went along. We know that he received the gospel by special revelation (Galatians 1:12). Perhaps he received his final and complete revelation of the mystery in prison at Rome, from whence came those high pinnacles of church truth- Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians.

Some may ask, Why did there have to be Jewish truth at all in the early church epistles? One reason is that the early assemblies were composed of both Jews and Gentiles. In fact, much of the work began with meetings in synagogues. But the main reason is that since God was not yet through dealing with Israel, the Holy Spirit was still working through the apostles in signs and miracles. Paul himself healed and did other miracles during his Acts period ministry (see Acts 14:8-10, 19:11-12). It was needful that some of these things be taken up in his early epistles.

The whole picture changed after Acts 28:28. No more sending handkerchiefs to heal; one brother is sick nigh unto death, and Paul had to leave another "at Miletum sick" (II Timothy 4:20). And he could only prescribe a certain tonic for Timothy's sick stomach (I Timothy 5:23). But only the things that were distinctly church revelations in the Pre-prison Epistles continue on. Healings, tongues and other miracles, for instance, were not Pauline revelations. Nor was water baptism. All these things began before Paul came on the scene, and they are related to Israel and the coming earthly Kingdom.

On the other hand, the things that are distinct church truths, and not brought in until the Spirit revealed them through Paul, these things all continue on. Take the rapture, that "blessed hope" that is so precious to US today.

Our Lord briefly alluded to it in John 14, but it remained for Paul's revelations to give us the full truth of it in detail. In I Corinthians 15:51 he calls it "a mystery," or secret, which he was revealing. But the truth of the rapture goes right on into the Prison Epistles also (Phil. 3:20). All the great doctrines of salvation, faith, separation and church order continue on into the Prison Epistles. But other things did change, and Acts 28:28 was the big turning point.

 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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