HOW TO BE SAVED

You can be saved no matter who you are or how bad you have been. It doesn’t matter if you have been a liar, an adulterer, a murderer, or any other, you can be saved.

The apostle Paul said the following to Corinthians:

“… do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

That’s the bad news, which precedes the good news. We cannot inherit the Kingdom of God in our sinful condition. Thankfully, Paul’s comment to the Corinthians did not end there, because the Corinthians had believed the gospel and had been saved from their sins. Paul goes on to say to them:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:11

When we are saved, God changes us by washing away our sins by the blood of Jesus. He sanctifies us, meaning he sets us apart as his people. And he justifies us, we are no longer condemned for our past sins.

According to the Bible, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Thankfully, God sent his only begotten son Jesus, to die on the cross to save us from our sins. The Bible tells us that God demonstrated his love towards us by sending his Son to died for our sins.

Jesus is the gift of God for all humanity. Jesus laid down his perfect and holy life as a sacrifice to make atonement for all our sins. Jesus did this because he too loved us.

If you will simply believe in Jesus who died and rose again, and turn to God for forgiveness, he will save you.  You do not have to become religious. You do not have to fear about mistakes you may make in the future. Simply turn to God with a sincere heart and ask him to forgive your sins, and trust the saving of your soul into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be sincere and honest with God and he will give you the gift of His Holy Spirit to help you live your life for him through the power of Jesus Christ.

I would love to hear from you if this has helped you. Blessings.

 

CHRISTIANITY AND CORONAVIRUS

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation (your conduct) honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. ~ 1 Peter 2:11-16

The news of how some Christians are behaving during the coronavirus pandemic by defying governmental guidelines is disturbing. 

We all know what social distancing is by now, and we should all know why it is important to do our part as this virus could be in a person’s system before any symptoms appear. Yet some Christian ministers are acting as if they and their congregations are immune because they are in a church service, thus obeying God rather than man.

Defying the instructions of those in authority, who are actually trying to save lives, is not obedience to God. Rather it is disobedience to the clear instructions given to us by the apostle Peter. Peter’s instructions in the text above is the Word of God! Peter instructs us regarding how we should serve God and be examples of godliness with regards to submitting to governing authorities.

Yet the war cry of those who have chosen to be defiant is that of “religious freedom”, even though this has nothing to do with religious freedom. No one is taking away the freedom to worship and serve God. Serving God is much larger than meeting for a service to sing songs and a listen to a preacher deliver a sermon.

Real service to God is reflected in how we live in every arena of life, and when God’s people are equipped with wholesome and sound doctrine, they will response in times like these in a manner which honors God. If there were ever a time to show the world the love of Christ, that time is now. There are many ways in which christians can reflect the love of Christ to the world. Being defiant and putting people at risk is not one of them.

I recently watched a video of a European minister accusing his fellow ministers of being “sissies” and “pansies” who have been “neutered” because they had decided to use caution by cancelling in person worship services. There was absolutely nothing godly in making such nasty accusations.

This same minister also“predicted” America will be minimally affected by the coronavirus. His prediction has already been proven false, as the coronavirus has taken more precious lives in the United States than were lost by the terrorist attacks of 911.

At a time when people need hope and real leadership, why are some in ministry saying such things? Why are so many like this minister defying directives from local governments which are simply given to keep people safe? I think the answer to that is obvious. Promotion of oneself, rather than Christ, leads to bad judgment void of sound doctrine.

The minister mentioned above went on to say, “God is a very simple being to figure out.”  He said this in context to promoting his reckless view of faith, but true faith in God is not reckless. It is balanced with wholesome doctrine, as given by the apostle Peter at the beginning of this post.

Consider his comment in view of the apostle Paul’s view of God.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. ~ Romans 11:33-36

Paul stood in Awe of the complexity of God whose ways are past finding out!

Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

Consider also the words of the Preacher, (most likely King Solomon) I saw every work of God, and that a man is unable to comprehend the work that is done under the sun. Despite his efforts to search it out, he cannot find its meaning; even if the wise man claims to know, he is unable to comprehend.”~ Ecclesiastes 8:17

The truth is, the European minister cited above is simply promoting himself and not God.

Another minister, who is the pastor of a megachurch in Florida and who goes by the title “apostle” encouraged his parishioners to attend (in person) church services rather than to heed the warnings from officials regarding large gatherings. He is cited as having said, “Do you believe God would bring his people to his house to be contagious with the virus? Of course not.”

Rather than teaching his congregation to be considerate of their fellow man and to think of others by cooperating during a crisis, this so-called “apostle” attacked some of his own congregation, accusing them of fear for taking precaution and staying away.

He went on to say, If we die, we die for Christ. If we live, we live for Christ, so what do you lose?” This is not the view of a true shepherd. It is the view of a cult leader.

I could go on as there are many examples of ministers who have chosen to display reckless doctrine which is putting others at risk, but the good news is there are many who have chosen to use wisdom, and that is what times like these call for. We need wisdom and good judgment, coupled with mercy in the fear of God.

We are to fear God and reverence him because we do not always know what God is doing. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and if we are going to honor him we must walk humbly before him and compassionately towards others.

People are dying, and many are in dire straits as uncertainties abound. As Christians, we must to be considerate and compassionate, while being people of wisdom and grace, and God will be glorified through us if we do so.

DID PETER SAY PAUL’S LETTERS ARE HARD TO UNDERSTAND?

One Hebrew Roots teachers made the following comment:

I readily stipulate that Paul says many things in his Epistles that in one letter seems to say one thing, and in another letter seems to say nearly the opposite. Since Paul was an excellent speaker, well educated and quite articulate by all accounts, Peter can only be referring to the same issue that many laymen, Pastors, Bible Scholars and Bible Teachers encounter with Paul: he seems to be contradictory on some subjects.

Contrary to the comment above, the apostle Peter never said or implied that Paul was contradictory on some subjects. Peter’s comment regarding Paul’s letters comes on the heels of Peter’s words regarding the Day of the Lord (the coming of the Lord, and the judgment of the ungodly, and the new heavens and new earth).

Peter had begun this section by saying:

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? ~ 2 Peter 3:1-4a

In the verses that follow, Peter addresses the topic of the coming Day of the Lord and how the Lord is patient giving men the opportunity to repent. Peter refers to this as the “long suffering”of the Lord. It is with this topic in mind that Peter says the following concerning Paul’s letters:

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you…

According to Peter, Paul was a beloved brother, who had also written to Peter’s audience concerning the longsuffering of the Lord in view of the Day of the Lord. Peter claims that Paul had written to them “according to the wisdom given unto him.”  That is an endorsement of Paul by Peter, who never says or implies that Paul contradicted himself.

Peter continues:

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. ~ v. 16

Is Peter saying, “some of the things Paul speaks about in his letters are hard to understand?”  Absolutely not. Peter mentions Paul’s letters as “speaking in them of these things.A reference to the very things which Peter had just written regarding the longsuffering of the Lord who gives men time to repent before the coming of the Day of the Lord.

Peter’s statement, “in which are some things hard to be understood”, is not a generalization about Paul’s letters. Instead it is a reference to the longsuffering of the Lord in view of the Day of the Lord, which Paul also addresses in some of his letters.It is this, of which Peter says, “those who are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist and misinterpret) as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.

Peter’s comments regarding Paul’s letters is not an indictment against Paul as one who contradicted himself. It is an endorsement from Peter, who thought of Paul as a “beloved brother.” Peter places Paul in the elite company of those who have written other scriptures

CHRISTIANS ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES

At the beginning of Acts 15 there were certain men which came down from Judaea to Antioch and taught the Gentile brethren that if they were not circumcised after the manner of Moses they could not be saved. This did not set well with Paul and Barnabas who vehemently disagreed with them. Therefore the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas along with some local believers to Jerusalem to discuss this issue with the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem.

When they arrived in Jerusalem Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported everything God had done through them among the Gentiles. However, some from a certain sect of the Pharisees protested in opposition to the testimony of Paul and Barnabas; claiming that it was indeed needful to circumcise the Gentiles and command them to keep the Law of Moses. Therefore the apostles and elders decided to meet together to resolve this issue.

During the meeting, Peter stood up and testified saying the following:

Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. ~ Acts 15:7-11

Notice that Peter doesn’t say, “they shall be saved even as we.” Instead Peter says, “we shall be saved even as they.” Peter also says that God “put no difference between us and them.” This is a very significant statement in view of the first century Jewish mindset, that covenant relationship with God was only through being a member of the Jewish community. If a Gentile wanted to know the one true God, he had to be a proselyte (a convert through circumcision and taking on the yoke of the Law).

However, God had done something so unexpectedly different and entirely new when he sent Peter to Cornelius’s house. He had called out a people from among the Gentiles for his Name and he had done it apart from the Law.

In Acts 15: 7-11 (cited above) Peter recounts his visit to Cornelius’ house (Acts 10). Peter along with the other Jews who accompanied him saw firsthand the salvation of Gentiles as Cornelius and his house were instantly filled with the Holy Spirit in similar fashion as the Jewish followers of Jesus had experienced in Acts 2.

When Peter returned to Jerusalem he was confronted and questioned by the Jews for lodging at the home of Gentiles and eating with them.

And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them(Acts 11:2-3)

Peter then rehearsed to the Jews his experience from the beginning (Acts 11:4- 17). Notice the following from Peter’s explanation to Jews in verses 15-17:

And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? ~ Acts 11:15-17

Then in verse 18, the scripture says:

When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

The evidence which convinced Peter and the Jewish believers at Jerusalem that the Gentiles had been accepted as the people of God, was the Holy Spirit. God had given to the Gentiles the same gift he had been given to the Jews at Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit had now become the new identity of the people of God replacing the old identity of physical circumcision.

After Peter gave his testimony, Barnabas and Paul testified of the miracles and wonders God had done among the Gentiles by their ministry. After Barnabas and Paul testified, James stood up and said the following:

Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world. ~ Acts 15:14-18

The apostle James makes appeal to a prophecy given by Amos concerning the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David, as the scriptural evidence that God would have a people apart from the Law of Moses.

The tabernacle of David can either be a reference to the tent that David pitched for the ark of the covenant after the ark was recovered, or a reference to the Kingdom under David’s descendant who is to reign forever: the Messiah.  The latter seems to be the most likely as this theme appears multiple times throughout the book of Acts.

In Acts 15:16 -17, the apostle James makes reference to this prophecy specifically and applies it to the Gentiles becoming the people of God apart from the Law.

James goes on to say: Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.

It was therefore determined, based on the testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas; along with James’ interpretation of the scriptures, that the Gentiles were not obligated to come under the yoke of the Law of Moses.

Furthermore, it might be worth mentioning that it was the apostle James, and not Paul, who made the final decision to inform the Gentiles that they were under no obligation to be circumcised and to keep the Law of Moses. James says; “Wherefore my sentence is…” (Acts 15:19).

Afterwards we read the following:

Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than the necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. (Acts 15:24-29)

The council at Jerusalem (the apostles, the elders, and the church) came to the conclusion that if they required the Gentiles to keep the Law of Moses after God had established his name among the Gentiles, they would most certainly be in opposition to the work of God.

The testimony of God had already been established by the gift of the Holy Ghost being given to the Gentiles, and the Jerusalem council decided to agree with God. Therefore they said, “it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us.” They were persuaded by the Holy Ghost and agreed!

Once this letter was delivered and read to the Gentile believers at Antioch, the Bible says: “they rejoiced” (Acts 15:30-31). These were the same Gentiles who were the first to be called Christians.

…And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. ~ Acts 11:26

GOD’S LAW

DID PAUL PREACH LAWLESSNESS ?

One of the accusations made against Christianity by heretical groups such as the Hebrew Roots Movement is that Christians are lawless, and advocate lawlessness. This accusation comes as a result of a gross misrepresentation of the teachings of the apostle Paul.

Unfortunately, some Christian ministers have not helped the cause of Christianity by teaching doctrinally unsound things regarding Paul’s gospel of grace.

Did Paul teach that we are lawless now that we are under grace? Absolutely not! Consider the following from Paul:

And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:20-21

In the reference above Paul’s reveals his evangelistic strategy. Paul was an incredibly versed scholar of the Jewish scriptures with great understanding of the law of Moses. In his evangelistic approach to the Jews, Paul knew how to use the law to preach Christ to them. Paul was also very skilled in his communication with those outside the Jewish community, and could debate with the most intellectual among the Roman empire. In his strategy towards them Paul took a different evangelistic approach. He became as one without law, though he himself was not without law to God.

Paul declared himself as “being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.”

Though Paul believed that in Christ we we not under the law (the law of Moses), Paul did not believe, nor did he teach, that we are without law (lawless). To explain Paul’s position regarding the law, I want to draw your attention to the words of the apostle John.

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

The ESV says, Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

Allow me translate what John is saying here.

John is basically saying, “the new commandment is the old commandment, but it’s new in that we now have it in view of the light of the glory of God. The light of God has shinned in the person of Jesus Christ, overpowering the darkness. The commandment is new because we now understand it in a whole new the light, and we see it through an entirely new lens – the lens of the grace of God in Christ.

When Jesus came, the law of God was transferred from the administration of death and condemnation as the law of Moses, to the administration of life by the Spirit Christ Jesus.

This is why Jesus could quote the law and, say, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” ~ Matthew 5:27-28

Jesus wasn’t establishing a new law. He was citing the law of God in view of the spiritual life and light of God that now shines in our hearts through the gospel. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” ~ John 1:4

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul expounds on the administration of the law under Moses, referring to it as the ministration of death and condemnation. He says this in contrast to the law in Christ being the ministration of the Spirit and righteousness. In the very next chapter Paul says, Therefore seeing we have this ministry (the ministration of the Spirit and righteousness), as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of GodBut if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

When the law of God, which is fulfilled by love, is obeyed from the heart we walk in the light, the Spirit, and righteousness of Christ, A man may refrain himself from physical adultery, and be guiltless of violating Moses’s law which says, “though shalt not commit adultery”, but if he has lust in his heart towards another woman, he has violated the law of God in his heart.

Only Jesus can bring to light the things that are in a man’s heart.

When God gave the law through Moses he appeared to the children of Israel in a thick cloud of darkness.

And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. ~ Exodus 20:21

These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders… ~ Deuteronomy 5:22-24

The darkness was representative of the spiritual condition of the people to whom God was giving the law under Moses. The law, as it was administered through Old Covenant Israel, was for a nation in spiritual darkness, and not for a nation abiding in the light.

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeignedFrom which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. ~ 1 Timothy 1:5-11

When Paul says the end of the commandment is charity (love) out of a pure heart and of a good conscience, and of unfeigned faith, he is describing the work of the law of God in our heart under grace. He says that this is what some “swerve” from, and and consequently turn aside to “vain jangling”. They do not understand the law of God “under Moses”, in contrast to “under Christ.”

The writer of Hebrews contrasts the two covenants (the law under Moses, and grace under Christ).

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. ~ Hebrews 12:18-29

Never once did Paul or any New Testament writer teach that we are without law to God as New Covenant believers. When Paul teaches that were are not under the law, he is specifically referring to the law of Moses, which was given to a nation in spiritual darkness. Under Moses, God’s law was catered for a nation that was under the power of the flesh to teach them God’s ways, and to lead them to Christ!

God’s law (God’s rule, authority, and dominion) has not been abolished, but the administration of it through death and condemnation has. The ministry of the law of God has changed hands from Moses to Jesus, and through Jesus God’s law rules the hearts of those who love him. They do not have to be told to not commit adultery because their aim is to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. Like their Master, their prayer is, “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.” ~ Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:7-10

When Paul speaks of not being under the law he is not referring to being without law towards God, for Paul declares, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” ~ Romans 8:2

When Paul speaks of not being under the law, he is talking about not being under Moses as his mediator. He is talking about not being under the administration of commandments designed to corral sin in a nation filled with people in spiritual darkness.

Paul believed that Jesus is our mediator with God, and Jesus is he who searches the reins and hearts ~ Revelation 2:23. He is the one that can see the lust in our hearts and it is this same Jesus who gives us grace and power in our hearts to do his will and to please God.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son… ~ Colossians 1:12-13

Because we are no longer in darkness, but translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, we produce fruit unto holiness through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law (Moses), but under grace (Christ). ~ Romans 6:14

HAS GOD’S LAW BEEN ABOLISHED?

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. ~ Romans 3:21

Paul never once disqualifies the law of God in any of his epistles, but skillfully explained the purpose of the law. According to Paul, the law was weak through the flesh. The written code with it’s commands, decrees, and statues, as was given to Israel, was weak in that it could not put a stop to sin, it could only regulate sin.

Only by the power of Christ can sin be premanately dealt with, and only by the power of Christ can we live victorious over sin. Those who are changed by the power of Christ are not under the written code of the law as the Israelites were, because the law of God under the administration of Moses was given  to regulate sin only, not deliver them from it.

Does this mean that we are without any law from God now that we are in Christ? Absolutely not! When Christ came, he did not come to abolish God’s law, but to fulfill it, and those who follow Christ fulfill the law as well, for they do the will of God from the heart.

God’s law is fulfilled in those who live according to the power of Christ. This is why both Jesus and Paul tell us that love fulfills the law.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. ~ Matthew 7:12

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. ~ Matthew 22:35-40

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. ~ Romans 13:8-10

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. ~ Galatians 5:14

The virtues of godliness such as kindness, self control, patience, peace, etc., are the very things to which the Law gave witness.

The virtues of godliness such as kindness, self control, patience, peace, etc., are the very things to which the Law gave witness. The law (the written code) had no strength to free us from sin and empower us with righteousness. Nor did we have this strenght in ourselves, for we had become servants to our own sins. Thus Paul says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” ~ Romans 5:6

Now that Christ has come, we have the strength to please God from our hearts and the law does not condemn us, for we are justified in Christ!

God’s law has not been abolished, but the administration of it in written code has. God’s law is now made manifest through those who have the power of Christ ruling their lives. The goal of God’s law wasn’t to keep us from murdering our neighbor, it was to teach us to love them.

In Romans 2 Paul speaks of the work of the Law in the heart and speaks of the same when he tells the Thessalonians, “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. ” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:9

The Law of God is eternal, but the administration of his law has changed. No longer is it the ministation of death in written code. It is now inscribed on the hearts and minds of those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. ~ See Hebrews 10:16-22

Now it is administered as the commandment of love which only Christ can give, and properly know as “the law of Christ”!

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

HOW THE LAW TRANSLATES TO THE NEW TESTAMENT

When the Bible speaks of the law in reference to the law of Moses, it is referring to either: (1) the ceremonial laws within the law, or (2) the civil laws within the law, or (3) the Ten Commandments, or (4) all these  collectively.

Also, the New Testament sometimes refers to the Law as the whole of the Old testament, and sometimes the words of the prophets.We must determined which is under discussion based on the context.

Nowhere in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, were Gentiles ever required to keep the civil or ceremonial laws given to Israel. In fact, Gentiles were forbidden from many things contained in the law because they were outside the covenant.

For example, the law forbade uncircumcised Gentiles from observing the Passover. Gentiles were outside the covenant and were forbidden from eating the Passover. If a Gentiles desired to eat the Passover, he had to be circumcised and come under the law of Moses. This is why Paul tells the Ephesians the following:

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… ~ Ephesians 2:11-12

Paul then tells the Gentiles that they had been brought near to God through the blood of Christ, for God had made Jews and Gentiles one in Christ. Consequently the dividing wall which stood between the Jews and Gentiles, which was the law, had been removed.

The ceremonial and civil commands within the law were for citizens of the nation of Israel only, and served the purpose of governing their civil life and the order of their worship. This is what has been abolished by the death of Christ.

The ceremonial and civil laws have been taken away by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The laws regarding pots, pans, different kinds of washings, animal sacrifices, stoning offenders, etc,. has been abolished. God’s law, which is fulfilled by love is no longer administered by such regulations.

Under the old Covenant, the civil and ceremonial laws were given to facilitate the moral laws given in the Ten Commandments, and governed Israel’s daily life and worship.

Even though Jesus died and gave us a new covenant, the things which the Ten Commandments reveal as sin, such as idolatry, adultery, and covetousness are still sins, and the New Testament reveals that God is going to judge the ungodly by this standard.

The New Testament also teaches us that the godly fulfill the law from their hearts because of the love of God in them. The only command not carried over into the New Covenant is the third commandment, which is the Sabbath.

The Sabbath played a large role in Israel’s ceremonial laws and civil laws.  The New Testament teaches that the Sabbath was a foreshadowing of the rest we have in God, through Jesus Christ.

Many people who make the Sabbath an issue have never actually studied the Sabbath in scripture, and would likely miserably fail a pop quiz regarding the Sabbath.

John tells us that Jesus broke the Sabbath. That will mess with your theology if you dared to believe it. Even though Jesus broke the Sabbath, he fulfilled it. Now that will really mess with your theology.

For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God. ~ John 5:18

Jesus wasn’t a servant of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was his servant. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. ~ Matthew 12:8

When the Sabbath becomes about legalistic rules, we become it’s servant, and this was never God’s intent. God gave the Sabbath to Israel for multiple reasons.

1. The Sabbath was a sign of God’s covenant with Israel.
2. The Sabbath was a gift of rest because Israel had been slaves in Egypt, under hard labor.
3. The Sabbath was a reminder that Israel’s God is the creator, the only true God.

God rested from all his works of creation on the 7th day, and he therefore commanded Israel to keep the Sabbath, because he alone is the one true God the creator of Heaven and Earth.

Israel’s Sabbath was a memorial to God’s finished work of creation.

Though Israel observed the Sabbath day which they were commanded to keep, they never entered the Sabbath rest that God had prepared for them: a rest that had been predestined before the foundation of the world. 

The true rest for God’s people is not found in a day of the week.  It’s found in a person, Jesus Christ, who is the one to whom the Sabbath command pointed. An individual can keep the Sabbath day, but if he isn’t free from sin, and if his heart is cut off from God, he has not truly enter into the Sabbath rest of God.

The rest that God desires for his people is not found in a day, but in a person, and that is why Paul tells the Colossians to let no man judge them regarding the Sabbath. It was only a shadow, and the fulfillment of it is found in Christ!

 

THE HANDWRITING OF ORDINANCES

The heretical Hebrews Roots Movement teaches that the handwriting of ordinances mentioned in Colossians 2:14 does not refer to the Law of Moses. They claim that since the word ordinances in Colossians 2:14 comes from the Greek word dogma (dog’-mah) it cannot refer to the Law of Moses.

They insist that this word, dogma, refers to man-made laws each of the other four times it is used in the New Testament which makes it impossible to refer to the the Law of Moses.

I=Are they correct? Absolutely not!

First, the Greek word dogma (dog’-mah) is found 5 times in the New Testament. It appears in Colossians 2:14 and in four other places. In Luke 2:1 and Acts 17:7 it is decrees from Caesar and Caesar’s decrees were authoritative.

Secondly, in Acts 16:4 it refers to decrees given by the apostles and elders. Specifically this is a reference to the decision made by the apostles and elders at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15.

In Acts 15 the apostles and elders along with the whole church determined that the Gentiles were not obligated to follow the Jewish religious code contained in the Law of Moses. As a result they sent letters to the Gentiles informing them that they were under no obligation to come under the Law of Moses. They instructed them only to abstain from food offered to idols, from consuming blood, and from fornication.

During this meeting in Acts 15, it was determined based on the testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas, along with James’ interpretation of the scriptures that the Gentiles were not obligated to come under the yoke of the Law of Moses.

When they sent letters to the Gentiles informing them of their decision they said. “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things…”

The apostles and elders believed: (1) God had already chosen the Gentiles for His Name apart from the Law based on the testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas. (2) The scriptures of the prophets confirmed that the Gentiles would be the people of God without the Law of Moses. (3) The Holy Spirit had guided them in their decision.

Again, the word decrees translated from dogma (dog’-mah) in Acts 16:4 refers to the apostles instructions and is based on the testimony of God (witnessed to by Peter, Paul, and Barnabas), the scriptures of the prophets, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it is authoritative and not simply a reference to man – made commandments.

The other use of this word dogma (dog’-mah) is found in Ephesians 2:15 where it refers of the law of commandments contained in ordinances, a specific reference to the Law of Moses as the separating wall between Jews and Gentiles.

In Colossians 2, “the blotting out of the handwriting of ordinances that were against us” is coupled with the forgiveness of all our trespasses. God forgave us of our trespasses by blotting out the handwriting of the ordinances which were against us.

In Deuteronomy 31, God told Moses to write the words of the Law in a book which was to serve as a witness against the people. Hence the use of the language “the handwriting of ordinances that were against us.”

In Christ we have forgiveness of all our trespasses (the transgressions of the Law for the Law reveals our sinfulness) because the handwriting of the ordinances “against us” have been blotted out!

The Old administration of Law which condemned us cannot serve as the law for the new man in Christ, for the old law was given to govern the old man which has been destroyed in the cross of Christ. Those who are crucified with Christ are no longer under the administration of the law under Moses because the old man to whom that law applies was nailed to the cross with Christ. The law which condemns the old man is no longer binding. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature and old things have passed away, behold all things are become new!

The law of God in the new creation is governed by love and is lived out by the life and power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. 

ARE CHRISTIANS LAWLESS?

One of the accusations made against Christianity by heretical groups such as the Hebrew Roots Movement is that Christians are lawless, and advocate lawlessness. This accusation comes as a result of a gross misrepresentation of the teachings of the apostle Paul.

Unfortunately, some Christian ministers have not helped the cause of Christianity by teaching doctrinally unsound things regarding Paul’s gospel of grace.

Did Paul teach that we are lawless now that we are under grace? Absolutely not! Consider the following from Paul:

And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:20-21

In the reference above Paul’s reveals his evangelistic strategy. Paul was an incredibly versed scholar of the Jewish scriptures with great understanding of the law of Moses. In his evangelistic approach to the Jews, Paul knew how to use the law to preach Christ to them. Paul was also very skilled in his communication with those outside the Jewish community, and could debate with the most intellectual among the Roman empire. In his strategy towards them Paul took a different evangelistic approach. He became as one without law, though he himself was not without law to God.

Paul declared himself as “being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.”

Though Paul believed that in Christ we we not under the law (the law of Moses), Paul did not believe, nor did he teach, that we are without law (lawless). To explain Paul’s position regarding the law, I want to draw your attention to the words of the apostle John.

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

The ESV says, Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

Allow me translate what John is saying here.

John is basically saying, “the new commandment is the old commandment, but it’s new in that we now have it in view of the light of the glory of God. The light of God has shinned in the person of Jesus Christ, overpowering the darkness. The commandment is new because we now understand it in a whole new the light, and we see it through an entirely new lens – the lens of the grace of God in Christ.

When Jesus came, the law of God was transferred from the administration of death and condemnation as the law of Moses, to the administration of life by the Spirit Christ Jesus.

This is why Jesus could quote the law and, say, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” ~ Matthew 5:27-28

Jesus wasn’t establishing a new law. He was citing the law of God in view of the spiritual life and light of God that now shines in our hearts through the gospel. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” ~ John 1:4

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul expounds on the administration of the law under Moses, referring to it as the ministration of death and condemnation. He says this in contrast to the law in Christ being the ministration of the Spirit and righteousness. In the very next chapter Paul says, Therefore seeing we have this ministry (the ministration of the Spirit and righteousness), as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

When the law of God, which is fulfilled by love, is obeyed from the heart we walk in the light, the Spirit, and righteousness of Christ, A man may refrain himself from physical adultery, and be guiltless of violating Moses’s law which says, “though shalt not commit adultery”, but if he has lust in his heart towards another woman, he has violated the law of God in his heart.

Only Jesus can bring to light the things that are in a man’s heart.

When God gave the law through Moses he appeared to the children of Israel in a thick cloud of darkness.

And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. ~ Exodus 20:21

These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders… ~ Deuteronomy 5:22-24

The darkness was representative of the spiritual condition of the people to whom God was giving the law under Moses. The law, as it was administered through Old Covenant Israel, was for a nation in spiritual darkness, and not for a nation abiding in the light.

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. ~ 1 Timothy 1:5-11

When Paul says the end of the commandment is charity (love) out of a pure heart and of a good conscience, and of unfeigned faith, he is describing the work of the law of God in our heart under grace. He says that this is what some “swerve” from, and and consequently turn aside to “vain jangling”. They do not understand the law of God “under Moses”, in contrast to “under Christ.”

The writer of Hebrews contrasts the two covenants (the law under Moses, and grace under Christ).

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. ~ Hebrews 12:18-29

Never once did Paul or any New Testament writer teach that we are without law to God as New Covenant believers. When Paul teaches that were are not under the law, he is specifically referring to the law of Moses, which was given to a nation in spiritual darkness. Under Moses, God’s law was catered for a nation that was under the power of the flesh to teach them God’s ways, and to lead them to Christ!

God’s law (God’s rule, authority, and dominion) has not been abolished, but the administration of it through death and condemnation has. The ministry of the law of God has changed hands from Moses to Jesus, and through Jesus God’s law rules the hearts of those who love him. They do not have to be told to not commit adultery because their aim is to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. Like their Master, their prayer is, “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.” ~ Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:7-10

When Paul speaks of not being under the law he is not referring to being without law towards God, for Paul declares, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” ~ Romans 8:2

When Paul speaks of not being under the law, he is talking about not being under Moses as his mediator. He is talking about not being under the administration of commandments designed to corral sin in a nation filled with people in spiritual darkness.

Paul believed that Jesus is our mediator with God, and Jesus is he who searches the reins and hearts ~ Revelation 2:23. He is the one that can see the lust in our hearts and it is this same Jesus who gives us grace and power in our hearts to do his will and to please God.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son… ~ Colossians 1:12-13

Because we are no longer in darkness, but translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, we produce fruit unto holiness through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law (Moses), but under grace (Christ). ~ Romans 6:14

 

IS THE THEME OF REPENTANCE MISSING FROM PAUL’S LETTERS?

One of the accusations made against Paul by those within the Hebrew Roots Movement is that the theme of repentance missing in Paul’s letters in the New Testament?

This is not true and it can easily to be refuted.

Did Paul constantly address repentance in all of his letters? Of course not! There wasn’t a need for Paul to address repentance every time he wrote a letter. Among Paul’s letters were those he wrote to Timothy and Titus, whom he had discipled. Timothy and Titus were servants of the Lord who had already repented of their sins.

The same can be said for the believers at Ephesus. Consider the following from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 1:1-2

Notice to whom Paul was writing. He was writing to the saints, and to those who were faithful in Christ Jesus. These were believers who had already repented and turned to the Lord. Why would Paul harp on the theme of repentance if they had already repented, and were serving the Lord?

In verses 15 & 16 Paul says, Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers…” 

Paul doesn’t need to address the subject of repentance in this letter to the Ephesians, because the saints to whom he was writing had already repented and were serving God. So what does Paul do in response? He prays for them, and encourages them, and expounds on the mystery of redemption in Christ. Paul also instructs them concerning godly living in chapters 4-5, and how to stand against the strategies of the devil in chapter 6. 

Now consider Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Paul begins his letter by saying the following:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. ~ Colossians 1:1-8

Notice that Paul is writing tothe saints and faithful brethren in Christ.” They were walking in Christian love and bearing forth fruit for the kingdom of God. Paul did not need to tell them to repent, they had already repented and were serving God.

However, Paul does address repentance when there is a need for repentance. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul confronts the Corinthian believers for allowing the sin of fornication in their midst.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. ~1 Corinthians 5:1-2

Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians moved them to repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul says the following to them:

For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:8-11

Later in 2 Corinthians, Paul expresses his concern about the lack of repentance of some among them.

For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:20-21

So did Paul address repentance in his letters? When repentance was needed, he absolutely did.

 

 

 

ENDORSEMENTS FOR PAUL

The following was written in response to those who attempt to discredit the Apostle Paul. May you be blessed as you read. 

And they wrote letters by them after this manner; the apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Acts 15:25-26

In Acts 15 it was determined based on the testimony of Peter, Paul and Barnabas, along with James’s interpretation of the scriptures, that the Gentiles were not obligated to come under the yoke of the Law of Moses. As a result they sent letters to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia informing them of this conclusion.

In these letters, the apostles, elders, and brethren in Jerusalem endorsed Barnabas and Paul and the gospel they were preaching to the Gentiles by referring to them as “our beloved” and “men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The testimony of Barnabas and Paul, along with Peter’s testimony of God sending him to Cornelius, coupled with James’s citation of an Old Testament text, was interpreted as the witness of the Holy Spirit, “… it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things…” ~ Acts 15:28

Luke, the author of the book of Acts tells us that Barnabas and Paul had been set apart by the Holy Spirit, and sent by the Holy Spirit.

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul (Paul). As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. ~ Acts 13:1-4

Notice in the text above, Barnabas and Paul’s ministry was ordained by the Holy Spirit, as certain prophets and teachers (among whom were Barnabas and Paul) ministered to the Lord and fasted. According to Luke, in Acts 13-15 we have endorsements of Barnabas and Paul from the Holy Spirit, and from prophets and teachers who ministered to the Lord, and from the apostles at Jerusalem, and the elders and brethren in Jerusalem.

That’s quite an impressive list of endorsements if you ask me.

Peter, who was present at the Jerusalem counsel, endorsed Paul in his second epistle by referring to Paul as “our beloved brother” and described Paul’s letters as both “wisdom” and “scripture.” ~ 2 Peter 3:15-17

That is a far cry from those who attempt to discredit the apostle Paul.

The truth is, you will not find a single text in all of the New Testament where any of the original apostles or any leaders of the church discredited Paul. Those who were hostile to the gospel in their unbelief were the ones who sought to discredit him. The same is true today.

Luke, who is the author of both the gospel of Luke, and the book of Acts, documents the apostolic ministry of Paul. Without Luke’s contribution there would be no New Testament record of the impact of Peter’s preaching and miracle ministry after the ascension of Jesus. We would know nothing of Stephen, who was full of faith and power, and who testified of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. We would know nothing of men like Ananias, the disciple whom Jesus sent to lay hands on Paul and baptize him in Acts 9, which is where the endorsements of Paul have their beginning.

Jesus endorsed Paul when he said to his disciple, Ananias, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.” ~ Acts 9:11-12

When Ananias expressed his concerns because of Saul’s history (v.13-14), Jesus replied, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”~ Acts 9:15-16

According to Jesus, Saul (Paul) was a chosen vessel unto for Jesus, to bear his name.

Ananias, the disciple whom Jesus sent to Paul, endorsed Paul when he obeyed the Lord and baptized him, and referred to him as, brother Saul.

And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. ~ Acts 9:17-18

At the beginning of this teaching, we see that Paul had a partner named Barnabas.
According to Acts 11, Barnabas was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith (v.24). He had been sent out by the church which was at Jerusalem (v.22) to verify the reports of the spreading of the Word of God.

Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. ~ Acts 11:22-23

When Barnabas departed, he went to Tarsus to seek for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. ~ v. 25-26

Luke’s documentation of all those who endorsed Paul (Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Ananias, Barnabas, the apostles, the elders and the church at Jerusalem) should speak volumes to us. Luke also himself, was a fellow laborer with Paul in the work of the ministry (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11), and refers to Paul and Barnabas as apostles.

Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. ~ Acts 14:3-4

Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out… ~ Acts 14:14

Luke believed that Paul ministered the Word of God, referring to the things which Paul preached and taught as:

  • the word of God ~ Acts 13:43-44; 14:25;
  • the word of God’s grace ~ Acts 13:3
  • the Word of the Lord ~ Acts 15:35
  • the gospel ~ Acts 14:7; 16:10

Luke’s contribution to the New Testament is of indispensable value, and it is Luke, not Paul, who documents Paul’s apostolic ministry in the book of Acts, and that documentation is part of New Testament scriptures.

Luke tells us of Paul’s persecution of the church before his conversion when he was known as Saul of Tarsus. Luke tells us his conversion, his baptism, his sermons, his teachings, his testimony, his missionary journeys, and the things Paul suffered for the sake of the gospel.

When Luke introduces us to Paul, he wasn’t yet the apostle to the Gentiles that he would later become. Instead, he was Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of the church, a very zealous Pharisee. Yet after his conversion he became a humble man who considered himself unworthy of being called an apostle.

For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Paul understood the gravity of his previous sins, and that his calling was not based on any merit of his own. This must have contributed to his understanding of God’s grace towards the Gentiles apart from the Law.

It is truly remarkable that with so much overwhelming evidence in the New Testament supporting Paul’s apostleship, there are some who think they have a responsibility from God to expose Paul. Consequently, they attempt to pit Paul’s teachings against the teachings of Christ, not understanding that Paul’s teachings are in fact the teachings of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

The book of Acts is the continuation of the ministry of Jesus through his apostles like Peter and Paul, and his servants like Ananias who baptize Paul, and Stephen who was full of faith and power, who testified of Jesus before the Sanhedrin.

The central theme of the book of Acts isn’t Peter, Paul, or anyone else. The central theme is the exaltation of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, and Luke documents Paul’s ministry as Jesus is exalted through his preaching, teaching, and sufferings.

I could go on speaking of others who endorsed Paul, such as Silas who was with Paul when God shook the prison at midnight and the jailer along with his house were saved. I could mention Timothy, who served Paul in the ministry like a son with his father. Timothy because a leader among the Gentile believers.

Furthermore, who could forget Paul’s friends, Aquila, and Priscilla, who were Pastors and who were fellow laborers in the gospel with Paul.  Aquila and Priscilla took a man named Apollos under there wing and discipled him, and he became a more effective minister of the gospel.

And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. ~ Acts 18:24-28

Paul mentions Apollos multiple times in his first letter to the Corinthians, among those references, Paul says the following:

As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.  ~ 1 Corinthians 16:12

Paul had many companions in his gospel ministry and endorsements from the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the apostle Peter, the apostle James, the elders and church at Jerusalem, Barnabas, Ananias, Timothy, Aquila, Priscilla, Silas, and Luke.

His credibility is second to none.

REFUTING UNIVERSALISM: IS REPENTANCE REQUIRED?

Rooted and Grounded In Christ

I recently came across the teaching of someone claiming that it is heresy to teach people that they must repent to be forgiven by God. There is a growing sentiment towards this persuasion, and it is straight out of the doctrine of those who teach universalism (the belief that everyone is saved) as well as those who teach an unscriptural view of grace.

The ideology behind it states that God has already forgiven everyone, because forgiveness proceeds repentance.

Yet in Acts 2, when Peter preached the gospel to the Jews gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost, Peter preached that the people should repent to be forgiven of their sins.

Now when they heard this (Peter preaching the gospel), they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? ~ Acts 2:37 

In response, Peter said, repent, and be…

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