Making All Men See

Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, "It is easier to fool people than it is to convince people that they have been fooled." I agree with him. Religiously speaking, I was one of those "fooled" people for four decades of my life. Satan's "ministers of righteousness" (II Cor. 11:13-15) working inside the church were effective in blinding me to "God's Grace Program" while feeding me a steady diet of law based performance. I began my "recovery" from Satan's trap (II Tim. 2:26) thirteen years ago when I unexpectedly came face to face with the "key to understanding the Bible" (Luke 11:52). My education and edification in God's program of grace has progressively stabilized my life just like God promised it would in Romans 16:25. May this blog be used of God to liberate the world's largest religious denomination---"ignorant brethren". (Rom. 1:13)

Romans Chapter 15

Vs. 1-3…We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. [2] Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. [3] For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
Once a saint understands the doctrine of reconciliation/justification, sanctification and dispensation he is called by God to APPLY these doctrines to his daily living progressively. The APPLICATION of these doctrines will not be easy; primarily because of the people we interact with on a daily basis. The reality is that people are in rebellion against God and His stated purpose in His Word. Some of the most difficult people we will encounter are religious, well meaning people, who think they are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ but are in reality ministers of SatanFor such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.[14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.[15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (II Cor. 11:13-15) Even as difficult as that reality is there is something more subtle and dangerous that we must remember…For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6:10) There is a war going on planet earth and people are caught up in it---like it or not. The Lord Jesus Christ has made it possible for everyone to become a part of His agency on earth to STAND, WITHSTAND AND ULTIMATELY STAND against Satan’s deceitful tactics (Eph. 6:11,13). God does not expect the saints to do great things for Him to establish His Kingdom here on earth (as many preachers challenge us today). However, God does expect the saints to STAND your ground. In the context of the Judgment Seat of Christ that all believers must appear before (Rom. 14) Paul gives us additional information about the purpose of that judgment in II Cor. 5:9…For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. So many believers are under the impression (because of preachers) that believers will be judged for how much they do for the Lord in this life. However, the verse says “the things done in (not by) his body”. That leads me to conclude that the most important thing we can do as believers for the Lord and for which we will be judged is to “strengthen our inner man” (Eph. 3:16) with the Word of God rightly divided (II Tim. 2:15). The great secret that Paul revealed 2,000 years ago by revelation of Jesus Christ is that as grace believers, Jesus is our resource---not the law or our local church… Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: [28] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: [29] Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. (Col. 1:25-29)

Next, notice that Paul uses the word “please” several times in the first three verses. A question that all believers ought to get settled in their minds is “What is it that pleases God”? The answer is when you and I have strengthened ourselves in His Word rightly divided to the degree that we can “help the infirmities” of the weak brethren or can edify weak brethren---THAT PLEASES GOD. When a person is ignorant of grace doctrine, he is infirm (incapacitated, debilitated). This situation in life is of great concern to God. We must help restore them to spiritual health. Paul points this fact out to the Galatians… Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.[10] I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. (Gal. 5:7-10)

Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”  God does not call us to be “people pleasers”; He instructs us to please a weaker brother for his good TO EDIFICATION. Those who understand what God is doing dispensationally today are to be wise and gentle with those who are “weak”. To say that “all things are pure” today OUT OF CONTEXT, will lead a person to encounter a “stumbling block”. Paul is talking about diet and holy days in chapter 14---not grace doctrines. We are to walk “charitably” toward our weaker brothers. Not everyone understands grace and therefore the stronger brother is to operate on the basis of grace and help them in the areas where God has changed certain things of LIBERTY---NOT DOCTRINE. We are not able to effect another brother’s edification; but we can and do influence a brother’s edification. Edification is a result of a brother’s personal study of God’s Word; not by copying my life or lifestyle.

Grace is high ground for the saint to operate from in the context of Rom. 15:3. When we fail to operate from the mindset of grace, Paul describes it as “falling from grace”… Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (Gal. 5:4)

Vs. 3…“For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.” So how important is pleasing God by strengthening a weaker brother? Paul puts this deed on the same level as Jesus pleasing the Father by His work on the Cross. Jesus subjected His will to the Father’s will in order to teach people; similarly, we are to benefit people by getting the information they need to them.

“as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.” Paul quotes Psalm 69 to help us see the patience we will need and the hardship we will face if we chose to “please the Father”. David is describing the experience of Jesus on the Cross…vs. 1-3; 6-9; 13-15.; 30-31.

Vs. 4… For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

We would be wise to remember that Paul was writing to assemblies of believers in Rome which consisted of Jews and Gentiles. The Gentiles didn’t have any “Scriptures” but the Jews did. Even though a new dispensation had dawned, both groups of believers could learn something from the existing Scriptures as they were growing in grace.
Right division does not eliminate other books of the Bible. Instead, it rightly defines their context so that we can have a fuller doctrinal understanding. It is all for our learning. 
What We Learn from “aforetime scriptures”?
God’s purpose for the earth. God has promised that He will have dominion over all the rebellious earth one day through His Son and the Nation of Israel.  (Eph. 1:10)
God’s character. God is great! He is gracious, just, and true. Learning about his faithfulness encourages us to have hope in what Paul says also… “And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;”  (Rom. 4:21-23)
The nature of sin…“I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”  (Rom. 7:7)    
Paul repeatedly compares and contrasts his new revelation from the Lord to the revelation in the law and prophets. When Paul refers to it (if we didn’t have it or refused to acknowledge it) we would be at a great disadvantage. (I Cor. 9:9-18) Paul is talking about his authority to take an offering to perform his special ministry of the gospel. Paul says the law teaches the same principle as grace in this regard. “Don’t muzzle the ox” was commanded for the sake of people, not the ox. Giving to Paul and his co-laborers was for their (believers) sake. Right division requires that we follow Paul if we are to follow Christ and Paul tells us that we need God’s complete revelation for our learning.
Mid-Acts right division does not teach the elimination of any book of scripture, but merely their fuller understanding through Christ’s further revelation to Paul.
What is gained from an understanding of right division is the proper interpretation of each verse into its appropriate dispensational context. While every book of the Bible is written for us, not every book is written to us or about us.
Surely we can agree that when God told Noah to build an ark, he was speaking to Noah and not to anyone in the 21st century. Once realizing the proper interpretation, we can understand the limits of its application. While we may learn about Noah’s righteous obedience as an example, or his faithful diligence despite being persecuted, we would be wrong to go and build an ark because ‘since God said it, I believe it’.
However, many would use this method to support applying any verse of Scripture to their daily situations as if it were talking about them. We would be wise to first interpret every passage in the Bible into its dispensational context, before attempting to apply it as if it were talking directly about us.
Choosing not to rightly divide a passage into its appropriate dispensational context is the root of every Biblical misinterpretation and error taught today. Dividing passages into their appropriate dispensational context allows us to easily understand certain instructional contradictions.

Vs. 5-7… Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:  That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [7] Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.   In context, the willingness to participate in one another’s edification is what glorifies God. Our willingness to receive one another for the purpose of having one mind and one mouth is the essence of finding God’s will for your life. It will take patience and consolation in order to accomplish this purpose. Paul taught the Philippians this grace truth in Phil. 2:17… Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. Paul desired to facilitate the faith of the Philippians. He experienced joy by living in this manner. Then in verse 18… For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me. This is a beautiful illustration of the reciprocal relationship between the “weak” and “strong”.

I Thess. 5:19… Quench not the Spirit. Now, the believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit till the day of his redemption; so what does it mean to “quench the Spirit”? The next verse gives us the proper interpretation… Despise not prophesyings. The early saints did not have a Bible to study to learn grace truth. They had to depend upon the spiritual gifts of the fellow believers in the assemblies. One of the most important gifts in the early church was the gift of prophecy (I Cor. 12:28… And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. To refuse to listen to the “prophets” was to be ignorant of necessary grace truth which resulted in the Holy Spirit being quenched.  Now that we have the completed revelation of God’s plan and purposes for the church, the body of Christ preserved in a Book, we are no longer operating under the same instructions of the early church---supernatural spiritual gifts, assembling the saints, and spiritual leaders. We are now called to study a Book, rightly divided.

Eph. 4:29-30… Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. [30] And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. In these verses we are told to “grieve not the Holy Spirit”. How do we do that? In context, it would appear that Paul is admonishing us not to curse one another. However, upon further review the “corrupt communication” Paul is referring to is conversation that reflects the world’s values and philosophies and “religious jargon” that is absent an understanding of dispensational grace. A proper understanding of grace is the only means of edifying a fellow believer---all other ground is sinking sand. Therefore, if we are communicating false doctrine, we are grieving the Holy Spirit. False doctrine corrupts; sound doctrine builds up.

Vs. 8-9… Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: [9] And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. How did Christ receive us to the glory of God? Paul is going to bring up the idea of Christ being a minister of the circumcision and then Paul talks about the Gentiles being received by God also. This sounds like these verses belong back in chapters 9-11 where he discusses dispensationalism. It is not! Paul has just admonished the Jew and Gentile believers at Rome to receive one another. How was this to be done? Was it to be done in the same way God had received Gentiles in the Old Testament according to Genesis 12:2-3… And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.  Nor was it the way Jesus received Gentiles in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. God does not receive us the way Prophecy says Gentiles are going to be received. So how does He receive us? He ushered in a brand new dispensation called the dispensation of grace. That is the basis we are to receive one another. God has been doing something new for the last 2,000 years. Verse 8 says Jesus WAS (past tense) a minister of the circumcision---He is not that today!! Today, He is the Head of the Church, the body of Christ. That is who He is ministering to today.

The things written aforetime are written for our LEARNING---not for our OBEDIENCE.

Jesus came to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. Now, do any of those promises affect any of the Gentiles? Absolutely yes!!! (vs. 9 confirms this) What is the difference between God doing something based on His promise versus doing something based on His mercy? Obligation! When Jesus came into the world 2, 000 years ago, Israel was the worst people (spiritually) among the nations of the world. Why? Because Satan had specifically targeted them for the purpose of guaranteeing that God’s announced plans for Israel on the earth would be blocked. (Matt. 12:29) Jesus came the first time to confront and bind the “strongman” (Satan) so Israel could fulfill its purpose on the earth for God. God had made a promise to the fathers and He intends on keeping that promise.
Vs. 10-12… And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. [11] And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. [12] And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Paul is assuring us the Gentiles have always been received by God but only through the promises made to the fathers of Israel. Rejoice ye Gentiles, WITH HIS PEOPLE. The Gentiles were not given the promises made to the fathers; but through the fathers the Gentiles could be extended mercy.

Do we get received by God today by blessing Israel? No! Rom. 11:11…I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

How has God been receiving the Gentiles for the last 2,000 years?  According to the dispensation of the grace of God, not according to the Prophecy Program of Israel. Paul is making this important point to the Roman believers lest they revert back to the Prophecy Program and ignore the changing dispensations. The so-called church has done exactly that down through the centuries---preach Jesus, ask them to repent of all their sins and seek God’s forgiveness, and submit to water baptism as a picture of what you have done.

Vs. 13…Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. What is the power of the Holy Ghost? The written Word of God given by the Holy Spirit. This should produce joy and peace in us. We have some marvelous things to fill our inner man.

Vs. 16-19… That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
[17] I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.
[18] For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, [19] Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 

ministering the gospel of God”… “I have fully preached the gospel of Christ”… Let’s see if we can unpack exactly what it was that Paul was preaching as the Apostle of the Gentiles. It will help if we review the various gospels that are mentioned in the Bible and who preached each one.

First let’s look at a passage of Scripture where Paul acknowledges that God has offered salvation to both Jew and Gentile but the offer has a very unique and subtle distinction to each group of people… Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: [30] Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. [31] Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.  (Rom. 3:29-31) The Jews were justified “by faith” (in Time Past) BUT NOW the Gentiles are justified “through faith”. Is there a difference between the two? I say yes. These two thoughts are related but they are not the same thing. Justification by faith is the norm for both dispensations. However, in Rom. 1:16-17 Paul advises us that he preached the Gospel of Christ as the message God gave him to preach that would bring salvation to both Jew and Gentile. Then he announces how that salvation process would work during the dispensation of Grace… For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. [17] For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Paul tells us how to interpret the words “from faith to faith” in Romans 3:19-22… Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. [21] But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;[22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  Paul is telling us that even when Israel was under the Law Contract, no one was justified (declared righteous) by performing the deeds of the law. Obedience to the law was simply evidence that you had faith in what God said. Therefore Jews were justified BY THEIR FAITH in what God said but the message of salvation that God gave Paul to proclaim was “through faith of Jesus Christ” (that faith belonging to Jesus Christ). Ephesians 2:8-9 further helps us think about this correctly…For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves” (it is the faith of Jesus Christ); however, we must believe that information…therefore it is “from faith” (our faith) “to faith” (Christ’s faith). We are justified by the faith of the God-Man Jesus Christ that took Him to Calvary. God justified those under the Old Covenant when they exercised faith in what He told them; they knew nothing of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Luke 18:31-34). In other words, God put up with some things under the law contract prior to the announcement of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ according to Rom. 3: 24-25…Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Did Paul preach two different gospels at the outset of his ministry?  
Did Paul preach two different gospels throughout his ministry?  
Did Paul ever preach the kingdom gospel (kingdom of heaven) as taught by Jesus and the twelve?
If you want to know what men and women were required to believe prior to the gospel of Christ, we can look at Hebrews 11. God lists what each man was called to believe in order to be declared justified. When we get to Moses, we get introduced to the law covenant. Law was never given to make anyone good or to establish a righteous standing before God through the doing of it. The law was given to show man how far he would come short of God’s glory.  Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Rom. 3:31) To establish something is to put something in its proper place so it can fulfill its purpose. Paul was putting the law in its proper place by writing the book of Romans.
Hebrews 11:6 declares…without faith it is impossible to please God.  Therefore it is not faith plus some works that saves. Faith is central to all men’s salvation who ever lived. Faith justifies not works. However, under the Kingdom Gospel faith was manifested by works. Think about this: If I were to tell you that the ceiling is going to fall on you in 30 seconds; if you don’t move do you really believe what I said? No. If you believe it, you will do something. That was the requirement under the Kingdom Program…Abel offered, Enoch walked, Noah built a boat. (Heb. 11:4)
The gospel of the kingdom of God is God’s rule over heaven and earth (I Chron. 29:11). The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is used only 1 time in the New Testament---Mark 1:14… Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. The phrase the gospel of the kingdom is used 3 times…Matt. 4:23; Matt. 9:35; Matt. 24:14. Specifically which part of the gospel of the kingdom of God was Jesus preaching? The kingdom of heaven on earth--- Matt. 3:1-2; 4:17…Israel was called to repent (change their minds); they needed to change their minds about their earthly kingdom and their ability to earn their righteousness through their performance. Israel knew nothing about the identity of their King; that was not the subject of their good news at that point. God was not ready to proclaim that yet… Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. (Matthew 16:20).  The gospel of the kingdom did not include the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Israel nationally did not accept the King of the kingdom at His trial. The twelve accepted the kingdom teaching, that Jesus was the King, but they did not accept that He would rise from the dead.

1. The gospel of the Kingdom of God has two parts to it: heaven and earth… Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. (I Chron. 29:11) One of the first names the Bible refers to God as is “Most High”---“Possessor of heaven and earth… And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.[19] And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: (Gen. 14: 18-19). 

2. The gospel of the kingdom (on earth).  Jesus began His earthly ministry to Israel by preaching the “gospel of the kingdom of God”… Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, (Mark 1:14). So what part or aspect of the Kingdom of God did Jesus present to Israel? The kingdom of God ON EARTH. When Jesus and the twelve spoke of the kingdom of God or the gospel of the kingdom with nothing after it, they are always talking about the kingdom of God ON EARTH.  The key point of that “good news” is…The kingdom is AT HAND and REPENT (change your mind) about your ability to earn your own righteousness through your performance…In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, [2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 3:1-2). These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: [6] But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.[7] And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 10:5-7). That phrase (kingdom of heaven) is not a new or distinct gospel designation; it is a reference to the timing of the gospel of the kingdom of God PERTAINING TO THE EARTH. Israel must repent and be baptized to enter the kingdom. At the time when Jesus and the twelve were preaching this gospel of the kingdom/kingdom of God (on earth), Israel could not come to gripes with who Jesus was, despite His mighty miracles among the people. Mary and Joseph had been told by Gabriel of His identity and a few others in Israel; but the nation as a whole did not believe or acknowledge who He was. Mary and Joseph were not told of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection by Gabriel. It was only toward the end of Jesus’ ministry that He confronted His disciples about His identity and even then He said “His father had revealed this to Peter---not flesh and blood”. At that point in time He instructed His disciples to tell no one who He was… Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. (Matt. 16:20) Even after Jesus arose from the dead, His disciples were having a problem believing He was the Christ.

3. This gave rise to a new gospel designation---THE GOSPEL OF GOD.  This new “good news” involved the identity and role of the King. 1. Jesus is the rightful Messiah/King or Christ (the anointed One) of Israel. 2. Jesus is God (His deity). 3. He has risen from the dead (fully satisfied God’s justice) and lives forever more.

Jesus stopped the mouth of devils when they announced that they knew who He was… And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, [24] Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. [25] And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.[26] And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.[27] And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. (Mark 1:23-27)

Once again Jesus tells a leper to tell no one about who He was or what He had done… And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. [41] And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. [42] And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. [43] And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; [44] And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
[45] But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
(Mark 1:40-45) Jesus did not openly tell His full identity at that time. The subject at hand was the gospel of the kingdom and the need for Israel to repent and be baptized.

The twelve preached the gospel of God in the early chapters of the book of Acts. They proclaimed the full identity of the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Israel would not repent.

The gospel of God was applicable to Israel’s program and the church, the body of Christ’s program. Both groups needed to know the full identity of Jesus. This is why Paul said in Rom. 1:1 that he was separated unto the gospel of God. He proclaimed to both Jew and Gentile the full identity of the Lord Jesus Christ; however God added more good news to Paul called the gospel of Christ.

3. The gospel of the kingdom (in heaven). Paul uses the expression “kingdom of God” many times in his letters. Each time he does he is always talking about the rule of Jesus in the heavenly part of His kingdom…

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  (Col. 1:12).
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Rom. 14:17)
For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. (I Cor. 4:20)
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
[10] Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (I Cor. 6:9-10
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:21)
And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me. (Col. 4:11)
That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. (I Thess. 2:12)
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 18] And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  (II Tim. 4:1 & 18)

4. The Gospel of Christ. This good news explains what the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus accomplished for sinners and how it applies to them. (I Cor. 15:1-4) (II Cor. 5:17-21) 

Paul’s focus in the thirteen books he wrote was “the revelation of the mystery”. Paul reveals God’s plan concerning how God is going to rule in the heavenly places through the church, the body of Christ. From Genesis 3 forward, God’s focus is on the earth and His purpose to reclaim it. We are saints that belong to Christ’s heavenly kingdom. We are not waiting for the King of the earth to return to the earth to be with us; we are waiting for the King of the Universe to catch us up to be with Him in the heavenlies.

Vs.18-22 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, [19] Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: [21] But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. [22] For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. 

The Roman saints were doing what “Christians” do to this very day---they believe the Bible to be one continuous, harmonious story of God’s unfolding redemption of mankind. While that statement contains some truth, it is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The Corinthian saints not only backed away from Paul’s ministry but they took the logical but fatal step of turning to the ministry of the Jewish Apostles… I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. (II Cor. 12:11) So just who were these “very chiefest apostles” Paul is referring to? II Corinthians 11:21-23 identifies them…I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.[22] Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. [23] Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more;  The answer to each of these four questions by Paul is “Yes”. He is referring to the Jewish Twelve; they are ministers of Christ, but to that Paul says “he is more”.

will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me”…Paul was not merely carrying on the same message of Peter and the twelve. His message was unique and in many doctrinal points contradictory to the rest of the Bible (the gospel and baptism---Acts 2:38 vs. Rom. 6:3-4). You can not harmonize both programs (as many preachers routinely do today) and maintain Biblical faithfulness. Why? Because the two programs (prophecy/mystery) are different. The things wrought “by me” (Paul) are not compatible with the things done by the Jewish Apostles.

lest I should build upon another man's foundation”… Paul’s ministry has been under subtle attack from the very beginning. He learned early on that the issue of his unique apostleship would be the battleground on which he would have to fight. Throughout his ministry he continued to proclaim and forcefully defend his apostleship… Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? (I Cor. 9:1). (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) Gal. 2:8. People have never outright denied Paul’s Apostleship; they simply put it on par with the other writers of Scripture and believe them all to be saying the same thing about Jesus, the church, law, grace and the “Christian life”. To do so is to become an “enemy of the cross of Christ”.

Paul wanted to visit Rome and establish them in grace truth (mutual faith) for many years. However, he had not been able to do so because of the numerous cities needing his ministry throughout the Roman Empire and the fact that he agreed with Peter to preach the gospel of Christ where people had not heard about Jesus Christ. These factors had hindered him from getting to Rome---not Satan. Satan did hinder him from going to Thessalonica… Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. I Thess. 2:18). Saints have a tendency to blame everything on the devil.

 Vs. 23-29…But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; [24] Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. [25] But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. [26] For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. [27] It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. [28] When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. [29] And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

"a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”…This is odd in view of the great prosperity which these saints had enjoyed after Pentecost…"Neither was there any among them that lacked” (Acts 4:34). What has happened that Paul must now go and minister to the "poor saints" there?

When on earth our Lord had taught His disciples to "take no thought" for their food or clothing (Luke 12:22-24). His instructions were: "And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. [23] The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.” "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (vs. 31,32). The kingdom, to be taken from the chief priests and Pharisees (Matt. 21:43) was to be given to the "little flock," of His followers. Our Lord had already appointed the rulers who were to reign with Him in that kingdom (Matt. 19:28). The disciples were not to "take thought" about the trivial needs of the present, but were to "seek the kingdom," assured that "all these things" would be provided them.

Many who apply the Sermon on the Mount to our day interpret the words "seek ... the kingdom of God"  to mean: seek the things of God, and the words "give you the kingdom" to mean: give you victory, or give you some spiritual blessing. But all of them stop short at the next verse (vs. 33), which says, "Sell that ye have, and give alms"! It appears that they would rather not discuss this passage, for none of them obey it, and to misinterpret this would be too obvious. Yet our Lord
included all this in His Sermon on the Mount and even sent His apostles forth to preach, with the instructions: “Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses" (Matt. 10:9). The Sermon
on the Mount, called "the charter of the kingdom," taught communal living with every one concerned about the welfare of his brother… "neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own,”  with the result that none of them lacked anything (Acts 4:32,34) As we know, however, Israel rejected the King and His kingdom, therefore it was not long before this program passed away and a serious economic problem developed. Now many of them were poor.

Some years previous, at the great Jerusalem Council, the Judaean leaders had requested Paul to remember their poor, "which," says Paul, "I also was forward to do" (Gal. 2:10). It was in fulfillment of this promise that Paul had now purposed to collect a love offering from the Gentile churches for the "poor saints" at Jerusalem. (Acts 20:22) So how did Paul’s trip to Jerusalem turn out? On the second day there he was arrested and charged with blasphemy. Acts 21:17-32)
There is a reason that there are some poor saints at Jerusalem that Paul is concerned about ministering to. So what is the backdrop to this matter of Paul being so concerned about getting an offering to the poor saints at Jerusalem?
The great man of God, John the Baptist, was sent to the nation of Israel with a clear message---repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 3:2). The first message out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus to Israel was---repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt. 4:17) The nation as a whole was well acquainted with the prophesied “coming kingdom” from reading the Old Testament Scriptures. They also knew that the nation had to go through the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (great tribulation) before that kingdom would be set up. John and Jesus’ both announced the timing of that kingdom---it was “at hand”. In preparation for that glorious “heaven on earth” Jesus taught His little flock to withdraw from the economic system of the day and depend wholly on Him to meet their need for food, clothing and shelter. When Jesus told the “rich young ruler” to sell what he had and give the proceeds to the poor, He was not giving a parable or emphasizing the importance of being generous givers. He literally meant for those of the little flock to look to Him for daily sustenance. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matt. 6:11…Give us this day our daily bread. In the kingdom, it will be just that easy to “make a living”. Prior to the kingdom officially beginning, Jesus required His “little flock” to trust Him for all their needs. This “test” would be extremely important in light of the fact that the Nation would have to go through the seven year great tribulation, a period of time where the anti-christ will require that everyone on earth receive the mark of the beast in order to buy and sell. Rejecting the economic system of that dispensation will be necessary to those who are saved and as they do they are assured that their heavenly Father will meet their day to day needs miraculously, just as He did for forty years while Israel was in the wilderness.

Peter, a man full of the Holy Spirit, picked up this same message about the kingdom being at hand on the Day of Pentecost when he said… But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: [15] For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. [16] But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; [17] And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God,I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: [18] And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: [19] And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: [20] The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: [21] And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:14-21) Peter knew that before the Lord Jesus would come back and set up His kingdom on earth, Israel must go through the prophesied seven years of the great tribulation. In keeping with the requirements of the Lord Jesus about refusing to participate in the economic system of the apostate nation, the little flock sold what they owned and lived in a communal fashion as they called on the Nation to repent (change their minds) about the need and source of righteousness, the nature of the kingdom on earth, and who Jesus is…And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. [33] And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. [34] Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, [35] And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:32-35) Rather than the Nation and its religious leaders repenting, they defiantly murdered Stephen, a man full of the Holy Ghost. God did not respond in anger or unexpectedly change His mind about what to do with the nation of Israel. According to Ephesians 1: 3-10 before the foundations of the world were laid God purposed to temporarily set aside the nation of Israel and usher in a new dispensation whereby He would form a new body (the church, the body of Christ) on earth made up primarily of Gentiles (no one excluded), whose ultimate destiny would be the heavenly places. This distinct body of believers (saved by the gospel of Christ) will be given governing responsibilities in the heavenly places according to each beleiver’s knowledge of and faithfulness to God’s purposes during his/her life here on earth…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: [4] According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: [5] Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, [6] To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. [7] In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; [8] Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

This willful blindness by the nation led Paul to write in Romans 11:11…I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Paul announced the FALL of the nation Israel. To be ignorant of that announcement or worse yet to refuse to believe that announcement will directly affect your understanding of the Bible and your eternal destiny.

Now back to verse 25: What was the point of Paul’s ministry to the poor saints at Jerusalem beyond just seeing that they had something to eat and something to wear? Besides weren’t there some poor people to minister to in Macedonia and Achaia? Why all the focus and attention on the poor saints in Jerusalem. Let’s not forget also that when Paul met with the “Jewish kingdom church” (Acts 15 and Gal. 2), he agreed to minister to the “heathen” and they (Jewish apostles) to the circumcision (Jews)… And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.[10] Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. (Gal. 2:9-10) 

As noted above, the kingdom saints under the Twelve’s leadership were bold in their witness to Jerusalem about the kingdom being “at hand”. They happily sold all their earthly possessions. Now, some 20 years later (57 AD) they had run out of money, the kingdom had not come and to add insult to injury they were becoming a laughing stock in Jerusalem. The Christ-rejecting Jewish religious leaders had fun accusing the apostles of being nothing more than skilled liars to beware of…Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. [16] For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (II Peter 1:15-16) Given the tragic circumstances in Jerusalem Paul concluded he could minister to the poor saints there by reminding them why the great tribulation had been postponed; why the kingdom had not come; and why it appeared that the Lord had not kept His Word to them. Paul told them God was raising up a new agency on earth primarily among the Gentiles; He was revealing His manifold wisdom and grace to the angelic realm; He was manifesting His plan for the heavenly places. No one could cheer up “poor saints” like Paul.

Vs. 31-33… Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; [31] That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; [32] That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. [33] Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Paul prays for four specific things and asks the Roman saints to pray for these things also. When saints pray for saints it means that their prayer for him would change them---not God or his circumstances. Each request is prefaced with a “may”. Doesn’t it sound like Paul is praying that God will INTERVENE in his daily life and that He would change his CIRCUMSTANCES?  Well God does intervene and change circumstances but only when the believer goes to impact those circumstances. God is not going to manipulate the housing market in order for you to sell your house.

God intervenes in the inner man of the believer when the believer believes the Word of God; He intervenes in circumstances when the believer goes to impact the circumstances.

When we examine the outcome of Paul’s prayer, we see that God did not answer all of his requests: For instance, in Acts 21:17-21 Paul arrived in Jerusalem and encountered Jewish believers who were zealous of the law. Verse 28 reports that God did not prevent the Jews from attacking Paul and made him a prisoner from that point on in his life. They beat Paul up but they did not kill him. The Holy Spirit had already told Paul that things were not going to go well at Jerusalem (Acts 20:22) Paul was not disobeying the Holy Spirit; he was letting everyone know that mistreatment was not going to detour his ministry in Jerusalem. Safety and security was not Paul’s first priority.

What about his request for “his service to be accepted”? Acts 21:17 reports that Paul presented his offering to the Jewish believers but they were interested in confronting him about the Jewish law. Thankfulness is strangely missing. (II Cor. 8:1-2)

Paul did get to Rome but only after suffering shipwreck and getting snake bite on the island of Miletus. (Acts 27)

Paul did refresh many in Jerusalem according to Acts 28:30? Yes

Compare this kind of grace praying in the life of Paul (God answers prayer but they don’t always turn out like we would like God to answer them). Does that mean that God doesn’t care or He is not involved? No. Even if we pray for the wrong thing, God cares about us and He answers prayers in His own way. We know of His care, love and provision based on His Word, not our circumstances.

Let’s examine Solomon’s prayer under the law program of Israel. II Chron. 6:19-39 documents one of his prayers:
  • Vs. 22-25…If Israel sinned, they could look at their circumstances and tell how they were doing spiritually. God promised to deal with them in this fashion.
  • Vs. 26-27…Sin brought bad circumstances from Israel’s environment (rain, insects, etc.) God INTERVENED in their daily lives.
  • Vs. 34-36…God would allow Israel’s enemies to conquer them.
  • Vs. 38-39…God would forgive their sin if they would “bethink” (repent/change their mind).

We (grace believers) are not Israel. We must not look to our circumstances to determine if God is working in our lives---Philemon 15… For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Paul couldn’t tell if Onesimus’ leaving was God’s will or not. We can not tell by circumstances if God is intervening in our lives or the lives of others. So where can we look to know if God is intervening to change our circumstances? The Word of God in the inner man. When God’s body on earth (the church) goes to do the work of God we can expect God to work in our behalf but not in the manner or way we might expect or desire. We are called to a grace/faith walk life… For we walk by faith, not by sight: (II Cor. 5:7).

Circumstances guides our prayers today; it should not. So how do we determine how our relationship with God is going? NOT OUR CIRCUMSTANCES!!! How does God think about your personally? Eph. 1:6-7…God is never angry at you; We are accepted in the beloved! He did get angry with Israel because of sin (II Chron.6: 36… If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; 

All of us are dealing with life issues constantly: health, money, relationships, etc. These are not reliable indicators of how God is dealing with us about our sins. We often think when a problem comes our way, “What is God teaching me from this”? God uses His Word to teach us things; not our circumstances.

Circumstances for the believer is best defined as “living life outside the Garden of Eden”. It is a fact that our conduct can affect our circumstances and often times we need to change our conduct. However, some circumstances are uncaused--- they are just life. So then am I saying that God has kind of left us alone down here and doesn’t really care about us? Certainly not according to Rom. 8:35-39.

You as a grace believer can pray to God about anything but don’t let your circumstances cause you to equate your circumstances with His love for you or the quality of your relationship with Him. THAT IS LAW THINKING!!!

Paul learned this lesson about prayer early on in II Cor. 12:8-10.
  • Paul had a physical infirmity he prayer about; God said GRACE is the answer, not changed circumstances (that it may depart from me).
  • Do you really want God to work through circumstances or grace? Do you really want to be Israel?
  • Grace doctrine will work, so take your eyes and thinking off of your circumstances and put them on grace doctrine. We will never find out that God’s grace is sufficient until we put our eyes on His grace and find that it is sufficient.
  • “My grace is made perfect in your weakness”…So where is God working today? In my weakness. What is my weakness? The tendency to desire to perform for God, accomplish great things for Him, have victory over life’s difficulties, etc. Paul goes from asking God to change his circumstances to glorying in them. How did he do this? By acknowledging his weakness to look to circumstances (as a trained Jew) and focusing his attention on God’s Word to be his strength. Paul knew Israel’s program very well; that had to change and so must it change with you and me.


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