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« Reply #60 on: April 28, 2008, 08:59:38 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter VIII.
PETER AND PAUL AS BUILDERS


THE TWO NOT TO BE CONFUSED


We must be careful not to confuse this church described in Ephesians with that of which our Lord spoke to Peter.  That was a prophesied church.  This was a mystery.  The plans and specifications for that church are found in the Old Testament Scriptures.  The plans and specifications for this church were "kept secret since the world began" (Romans 16:25), "hid from ages and from generations" (Colossians 1:26), "in other ages . . . not made known" (Ephesians 3:5), but now revealed to and through the Apostle Paul.

Peter and Paul, then, both built upon the same foundation, but whereas the millennial church will be built upon our Lord as Israel's Messiah, the church of the present dispensation is built upon Him as the glorified Head of the body, rejected on earth, but exalted far above all, at God's right hand in heaven.

This distinction is clearly brought out by a comparison of Acts 2 with II Timothy 2.

In the former passage Peter declares that God has raised Christ from the dead to sit on the throne of David (Acts 2:29-36).  In the latter passage Paul exhorts Timothy:

"Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

"REMEMBER THAT JESUS CHRIST OF THE SEED OF DAVID WAS RAISED FROM THE DEAD ACCORDING TO MY GOSPEL:

"Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds: but the Word of God is not bound" (II Timothy 2:7-9).

To understand what the apostle means when he says that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was (also) raised from the dead according to his gospel, we must turn to Ephesians 1 and 2, where we find him praying that believers might be given the spiritual perception to see

". . . what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

"AND WHAT IS THE EXCEEDING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER TO US-WARD WHO BELIEVE, ACCORDING TO THE WORKING OF HIS MIGHTY POWER,

"WHICH HE WROUGHT IN CHRIST, WHEN HE RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, AND SET HIM AT HIS OWN RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES" (Ephesians 1:18-20).

"BUT GOD, WHO IS RICH IN MERCY; FOR HIS GREAT LOVE WHEREWITH HE LOVED US,

"EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN SINS, HATH QUICKENED US TOGETHER WITH CHRIST, (BY GRACE YE ARE SAVED;)

"AND HATH RAISED US UP TOGETHER, AND MADE US SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS" (Ephesians 2:4-6).

Surely Peter would have preached such a message at Pentecost, had he known it.  But he did not know it.  At Pentecost he proclaimed Christ only as the Savior-King whom God had raised from the dead to sit on David's throne.  He called upon Israel to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins so that the times of refreshing might come and God might send back Jesus, whom they had rejected and crucified (Acts 3:19-21).

Peter's ministry, indeed, was accompanied by miraculous signs which "vanished away" during Paul's ministry, but who would sigh for "Pentecostal power" when he has come to know the power of Christ's resurrection? (Ephesians 1:19,20, Philippians 3:10).

It is this message which Satan hates so bitterly and opposes so viciously that Paul suffered trouble for it as an evil doer, even unto bonds.  And little wonder!  It had seemed that with Israel's rejection of Christ all hope for the world was gone; that man had made his own salvation impossible; that God's promises had failed.  And then came the revelation of the mystery!  The chief of sinners was saved and sent forth to proclaim "the gospel of the grace of God." The very cross which had spelled man's condemnation was now revealed as the effective means of his salvation, and those trusting in Christ's shed blood were freely granted the remission of their sins and given a position in Christ at God's right hand in the heavenlies!
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« Reply #61 on: April 28, 2008, 09:01:43 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter VIII.
PETER AND PAUL AS BUILDERS


PAUL THE MASTER-BUILDER


Paul was not self-important in calling himself the "master-builder" of the church of this dispensation.  He makes it clear that this position was given to him "according to the grace of God." Indeed, he always associates his unique position with the grace of God, for his conversion and commission was the supreme demonstration of that grace (See Romans 1:5, 12:3, 15:15,16, I Corinthians 15:9,10, Galatians 1:15,16, 2:9, Ephesians 3:7,8 and I Timothy 1:12-16).

Moses was the master-builder of the tabernacle.  God gave him the plans and specifications for it, and said: "See . . . that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount" (Hebrews 8:5).

As Moses represents the law, Paul represents grace.  Paul too was a master-builder, for to him God committed the plans and specifications for a greater building, "an holy temple," the church which is Christ's body.  Step by step the details were made known to him by direct revelation so that, as "a wise [intelligent] master-builder," he had the right and responsibility to outline them to us, the builders.
 

THE BUILDERS' RESPONSIBILITY


Why are God's builders failing so utterly to build according to the plans and specifications set forth in Paul's epistles?  Why do they ignore the warning:

"I HAVE LAID THE FOUNDATION . . . LET EVERY MAN TAKE HEED HOW HE BUILDETH THEREUPON."

They have taken Petrine material and built it upon the Pauline foundation.  They have talked about "building the kingdom" and have tried vainly to carry out the so-called "great commission." They have taken water baptism, tongues, healings and signs of the times from another dispensation and have brought them into the dispensation of the grace of God after God has caused them to "vanish away," until the church is so confused and divided that few know what to believe.

This comes from taking too lightly the apostolic anathema of Galatians 1:8:

"BUT THOUGH WE, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL UNTO YOU THAN THAT WHICH WE HAVE PREACHED UNTO YOU, LET HIM BE ACCURSED."

Are our spiritual leaders unaware of the condition of the church or have they forgotten that they will give an account to God for their workmanship when the building is inspected?

Surely God is not to blame for the present condition of the church.  The builders are to blame.  Instead of preaching the Word rightly divided, they have fed their congregations with milk and music.  Some catchy phrase, some striking verse from here or there or anywhere, regardless of its context; this, along with some sort of entertainment, is made to do for what should be intelligent and spiritually powerful preaching of the Word.  And the majority of Christians have been fed on this sort of diet for so long that they are spiritually sick -- so sick that their leaders feel justified in continuing the light diet indefinitely.

It is often argued that souls are being saved, but will the builders of the church never awaken to the fact that hands raised or people coming forward do not measure the success of their work?  Will their work abide?  That is the question.  Not does it receive public approval, but will it abide the divine inspection?

Too often spiritual leaders have applied Paul's warning in I Corinthians 3:10-17 to Christian conduct in general, while the passage deals specifically with the builders and their workmanship in the erection of the church.  The result: look at the church -- yes, even the Fundamental, Bible-believing church.  Examine it carefully and see whether the building is in sound condition.  See whether it is composed mostly of "gold, silver, precious stones," or of "wood, hay and stubble." And then ask yourself what the great divine Inspector will say to the builders when He examines their workmanship.
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« Reply #62 on: April 28, 2008, 09:10:17 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter VIII.
PETER AND PAUL AS BUILDERS

Many an evangelist, many a preacher, who enjoys prominence and popularity today will weep in that day, to see his work go up in flames.  Even though "he himself shall be saved" it will be a dreadful thing to "suffer loss" when the rewards are given out.

How may God's workmen overcome faulty building and escape disapproval of their work by the great Building Inspector?  There is only one way:

"STUDY TO SHOW THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD, A WORKMAN THAT NEEDETH NOT TO BE ASHAMED, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH" (II Timothy 2:15).
 

QUIZ


1.  How did Simon win for himself the name Petros, A Stone?

2.  On what Petra, or rock, then, was Christ to build "His church"?

3.  Give Scripture to prove that this church was not to be built upon Peter himself.

4.  To what church did our Lord refer in Matthew 16:18?

5.  To what did our Lord promise to give Peter the keys?

6.  Give proof that the Lord could not have referred to "the church which is His body."

7.  Give two other Scriptural examples indicating that believers at that time looked to Jesus as Messiah and Son of God.

8.  How must men confess Jesus today to be saved?  Give Scripture.

9.  What is the relation between our Lord and the church of this present dispensation?

10.  At Pentecost Peter declared that God had raised Christ from the dead for what purpose?

11.  What further revelation did Paul receive and make known about the resurrection of Christ?

12.  Paul later reminded Timothy that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, had been raised from the dead according to what?

13.  What relation does Paul sustain to the building of the church of this dispensation?  Give Scripture.

14.  How does he admonish the builders in this connection?

15.  Of what different types of materials may God's building be composed?

16.  By what means will the workmanship of the builders be tried, and what will be the one great test of satisfactory workmanship?

17.  How will the results affect the builders?

18.  Give Scripture to prove that the salvation of the workmen will not be affected by the quality of their workmanship.

19.  According to I Corinthians 3:10-15, who is to blame for the condition of the church today?

20.  What Scripture indicates how we may be sure to be approved as God's workmen?
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« Reply #63 on: April 28, 2008, 09:35:47 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter IX.
PETRINE AND PAULINE AUTHORITY



PETER AND HIS KEYS


In connection with the building of the Messianic church our Lord said to Peter:

"AND I WILL GIVE UNTO THEE THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: AND WHATSOEVER THOU SHALT BIND ON EARTH SHALL BE BOUND IN HEAVEN: AND WHATSOEVER THOU SHALT LOOSE ON EARTH SHALL BE LOOSED IN HEAVEN" (Matthew 16:19).

On this verse, mainly, Rome bases her claims for papal authority.  She argues that our Lord conferred upon a called-out group (Gr. ekklesia: church) full authority to act officially in His name, even to the remission of sins, and that such official acts were to be bound in heaven.  She argues, further, that the authority of this church was centralized in the twelve apostles, over whom Christ placed one of themselves, St. Peter, as chief.

These claims are based upon the fact that while John 20:23 may have been spoken by Jesus to many of His disciples, Matthew 18:18 was apparently addressed to the twelve apostles, and Matthew 16:19 certainly to Peter alone.  Thus it is claimed that authority in spiritual matters was given to the church, represented by the twelve apostles and personified in the Apostle Peter.

Rome's conclusion is that since the church of today is (according to Catholic doctrine) a perpetuation of the organization which Christ instituted and vested with divine authority, there must of necessity be apostolic succession.  She contends that the apostolic body is perpetuated in her Sacred College of Cardinals with its twelve congregations, and that one of their number, the Pope or Bishop of Rome, succeeds Peter as their chief and the supreme head of the church on earth -- that spiritual authority today is still vested in the church, represented by the College of Cardinals and personified in the Pope himself.
 

PROTESTANT INTERPRETATIONS


Protestants may lift their hands in horror at such claims, but their own interpretations of these passages are as weak as cotton thread.  We list some of them:

1.  The Catholic interpretation in modified form is found in the ritualistic creeds of many Protestant denominations.  They make Rome's claims, with reservations and apologies.

2.  Some Protestants argue that in these words our Lord merely gave the apostles authority to state the terms of salvation.

3.  Others contend that the apostles were given the ability to discern and declare whose sins were forgiven and whose were not.  That is, they could pronounce sins forgiven, not by any authority given to them, but because of God-given powers to discern the true spiritual state of those to whom they ministered.

4.  Still others claim that our Lord meant to impress upon His followers their great responsibility and to warn them that through their behavior some would accept Him while others would reject Him; some would have their sins remitted, while others would have their sins retained.

But all of these arguments can be placed in one category: they wrest the natural meaning of Scripture and are easily answered by Rome as she points to the Book itself and insists: "But this is what it says."
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« Reply #64 on: April 28, 2008, 09:37:26 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter IX.
PETRINE AND PAULINE AUTHORITY


THE SOLUTION


The solution to this problem and the answer to Rome's pretentions is again a dispensational one.  It lies in the fact that from time to time God changes His dealings with men -- a premise which must be granted by Romanists if indeed our Lord did confer such powers upon His disciples after several thousand years of human history had elapsed -- and that the church of today is not a perpetuation of the organization which Christ founded while on earth.

Our Lord did in fact give to the twelve, with Peter as their chief, authority to act officially in His absence.

Let us consider John 20:23 in the light of its context, beginning at verse 21:

"Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you AS MY FATHER HATH SENT ME, EVEN SO SEND I YOU.

"And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, RECEIVE YE THE HOLY GHOST:

"WHOSE SOEVER SINS YE REMIT, THEY ARE REMITTED UNTO THEM; AND WHOSE SOEVER SINS YE RETAIN, THEY ARE RETAINED" (John 20:21-23).

"As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." In the light of these words is it strange to find our Lord granting official powers?  These words should be compared with the Lord's words to the twelve in Luke 22:28-30:

"Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations.

"AND I APPOINT UNTO YOU A KINGDOM, AS MY FATHER HATH APPOINTED UNTO ME;

"That ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Does this mean, then, that our Lord committed even the forgiveness of sins into the hands of failing men?  No, not failing men, for at Pentecost the Holy Spirit took supernatural control of them.  In that foretaste of the millennium the believers lived together in a way that even the most spiritual believers cannot, or do not, live today.  Indeed, we do not find the apostles charged with one single mistake until after the conversion of Saul.  Moreover God gave them supernatural gifts to qualify them for their work.

It is understood, of course, that the apostles possessed no essential power in themselves to remit sins.  It was delegated power exercised, as we say, under the control of God the Holy Spirit.

In Mark 2:7 the scribes find fault with Christ, saying: "Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?"

Are we, perhaps, prone to agree too readily with these scribes? We must not forget that our Lord Himself said:

"The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son."

"And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, BECAUSE HE IS THE SON OF MAN" (John 5:22,27).

The Lord Jesus certainly had authority to admit men into the kingdom or shut them out from it.  Surely He, as the Son of Man, could remit sins, and what He bound on earth was surely bound in heaven.
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« Reply #65 on: April 28, 2008, 09:39:37 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter IX.
PETRINE AND PAULINE AUTHORITY

And now He gives these powers to His followers as officials in the kingdom:

"AS MY FATHER HATH SENT ME, EVEN SO SEND I YOU."

"AND I APPOINT UNTO YOU A KINGDOM, AS MY FATHER HATH APPOINTED UNTO ME."

Matthew 21:43 makes it clear that the kingdom was to be TAKEN FROM the chief priests and elders in Israel and Luke 12:32 makes it equally clear that the kingdom was to be GIVEN TO the "little flock" of Christ's followers.  We quote these passages here:

Matthew 21:43: "Therefore say I unto you, THE KINGDOM OF GOD SHALL BE TAKEN FROM YOU, AND GIVEN TO A NATION [1] BRINGING FORTH THE FRUITS THEREOF."

Luke 12:32: "FEAR NOT, LITTLE FLOCK; FOR IT IS YOUR FATHER'S GOOD PLEASURE TO GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM."

Matthew 19:28 makes it further clear that authority in this kingdom [2] was to be centralized in the twelve apostles:

"AND JESUS SAID UNTO THEM, VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT YE WHICH HAVE FOLLOWED ME, IN THE REGENERATION WHEN THE SON OF MAN SHALL SIT IN THE THRONE OF HIS GLORY, YE ALSO SHALL SIT UPON TWELVE THRONES, JUDGING THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL."

Finally, in Matthew 16:19 Peter is singled out as chief of the twelve when our Lord says:

"AND I WILL GIVE UNTO THEE THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN."

Peter is consistently singled out as the leader of the twelve in this way:

Acts 1:15: ". . . PETER stood up in the midst of the disciples . . . ."

Acts 2:14: ". . . PETER, standing up with the eleven . . . ."

Acts 2:37: ". . . PETER and . . . the rest of the apostles . . . ."

Acts 5:29 ". . . PETER and the other apostles . . . ." [3]

It is regretable that Protestants, instead of proving from the Scriptures the fact that the church of today is not a perpetuation of the organization our Lord founded while on earth, try in vain to disprove what Matthew 16:19 plainly states!  Obviously, one who has the keys to a building has the power to admit others or to shut them out.  A similar passage (Isaiah 22:20-23) describes Eliakim as about to be given the key to the house of David; i.e., it was to be in his power to admit men to, or exclude them from, the government of Israel.
 

THE OFFICIAL ACTS OF THE TWELVE


The first official act of the "little flock" was to appoint a successor to Judas as a twelfth apostle and, as we have seen, what they bound on earth was bound in heaven, for "Matthias . . . was numbered with the eleven apostles . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 1:26, 2:4).
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« Reply #66 on: April 28, 2008, 09:41:19 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter IX.
PETRINE AND PAULINE AUTHORITY

At Pentecost again we find the apostles fully exercising their authority.  When those present were convicted and asked Peter and the rest of the apostles what they should do, Peter replied:

"REPENT, AND BE BAPTIZED EVERY ONE OF YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS, AND YE SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST" (Acts 2:38).

And then the apostles (and perhaps others of the disciples) baptized them "FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS." Compare this with the words of our Lord: "Whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them" and "whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven." There is perfect harmony here.

But could not some shrewd person have deceived them?  Did Ananias deceive them?  He was carried out dead!  As we have pointed out, "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:4) and endued with special miraculous powers (Acts 1:8), including "the gift of knowledge."

In Acts 3:19-21 we find Peter actually offering Israel "the times of refreshing" and the return of Christ.  He did this with full official authority and there is every evidence that this offer was bound (accepted as binding) in heaven.

There are numerous such cases in the record of the apostles' ministry, but one of particular significance is found in Acts 10, just after the conversion of Saul:

Peter was not out of the will of God when he hesitated to go to the Gentiles.  He well knew the prophetic program, that the nations were to be blessed through the rise and salvation of Israel (Isaiah 60:1-3).  Filled with the Holy Spirit, he had declared that God had raised up His Son Jesus to bless Israel first, in turning them away from their iniquities, so that the Abrahamic Covenant might be fulfilled and the nations might be blessed through them (See Acts 3:25,26 and cf. Mark 7:27, Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8).  Israel must first be brought to Messiah's feet.

But here Peter was sent by a special commission to go to the Gentile house of Cornelius, "nothing doubting." The others at Jerusalem later called him to account for his action, but after he had "rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them" they, in turn, "glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:4,18).

Without in the least detracting from the kingdom aspect of this scene, it should be clearly borne in mind that when Peter went to Cornelius' household it was not according to the prophetic program or the so-called "great commission." He was not sent to these Gentiles because Israel had received Christ, but in spite of the fact that Israel was rejecting Christ.  But what Peter had done on earth was bound in heaven and Paul's subsequent ministry was later recognized and endorsed by the Jerusalem church on the basis of Peter's action here (See Acts 15:1-18).

Still another, perhaps the final, official act of the apostles is referred to in Galatians 2, where they, through their leaders, [4] recognized Paul as "the apostle of the Gentiles."

We quote:

"AND I WENT UP BY REVELATION [TO JERUSALEM] AND COMMUNICATED UNTO THEM THAT GOSPEL WHICH I PREACH AMONG THE GENTILES, BUT PRIVATELY TO THEM WHICH WERE OF REPUTATION, LEST BY ANY MEANS I SHOULD RUN, OR HAD RUN, IN VAIN."
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« Reply #67 on: April 28, 2008, 09:42:47 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter IX.
PETRINE AND PAULINE AUTHORITY

"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" (Galatians 2:2,9).

Here by a solemn agreement they, who had originally been sent into "all the world" and to "every creature," now promised to confine their ministry to Israel while Paul went to the Gentiles.

Were these leaders of the twelve out of the will of God in making this agreement?  By no means!  Subsequent revelation proves that they were very much in the will of God, both in loosing themselves from their commission to evangelize the world and in agreeing that Paul should go to the Gentiles, for Israel's rejection of Christ had brought about a change in the divine program.

Here alone is the answer to Catholicism. [5] Here alone is the axe laid to the root of the tree, for in the light of these Scriptures it is impossible to maintain that the church of today is a perpetuation of the organization our Lord established while on earth.  There is a vast difference between the kingdom of heaven, proclaimed by the twelve, and the body of Christ, revealed through Paul.

Thus by Rome's own argument there can be no apostolic succession, for by the authority given the twelve (an authority which Rome vigorously insists they had) they loosed themselves from their obligation to carry out the "great commission" to its completion, and recognized Paul as the apostle of the new dispensation.  And mark well: what they bound on earth was bound in heaven, and what they loosed on earth was loosed in heaven.

The prophetic program had been interrupted.  The kingdom was to be held in abeyance while the King remained a royal Exile.  Prophecy had given way to "the mystery" of God's purpose and grace.
 

PAULINE AUTHORITY


Paul too was given great authority.  Again and again we are reminded that he speaks by divine revelation, as the mouth-piece of Christ Himself.  He makes it clear, too, that he did not receive this authority from men:

"BUT I CERTIFY YOU, BRETHREN, THAT THE GOSPEL WHICH WAS PREACHED OF ME IS NOT AFTER MAN."

"FOR I NEITHER RECEIVED IT OF MAN, NEITHER WAS I TAUGHT IT, BUT BY THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST" (Galatians 1:11,12, cf. I Corinthians 11:23, 15:3, Ephesians 3:2,3, I Thessalonians 4:15, etc.).

He reminds the Romans and the Colossians of his special authority as the apostle of the Gentiles and the minister of the body:

"FOR I SPEAK TO YOU GENTILES, INASMUCH AS I AM THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES, I MAGNIFY MINE OFFICE" (Romans 11:13).

"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh FOR HIS BODY'S SAKE, WHICH IS THE CHURCH:"
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« Reply #68 on: April 28, 2008, 09:44:33 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter IX.
PETRINE AND PAULINE AUTHORITY

"WHEREOF I AM MADE A [6] MINISTER, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God" (Colossians 1:24,25).

To the unruly Corinthians he writes:

". . . IF I COME AGAIN I WILL NOT SPARE, SINCE YE SEEK A PROOF OF CHRIST SPEAKING IN ME . . ." (II Corinthians 13:2,3).

It should be noted, however, that Paul's authority was not of a political nature; it was entirely spiritual and doctrinal.  This is evident from such passages as the following:

"BUT THOUGH WE, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL UNTO YOU THAN THAT WHICH WE HAVE PREACHED UNTO YOU, LET HIM BE ACCURSED.

"AS WE SAID BEFORE, SO SAY I NOW AGAIN, IF ANY MAN PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL UNTO YOU THAN THAT YE HAVE RECEIVED, LET HIM BE ACCURSED" (Galatians 1:8,9).

"IF ANY MAN TEACH OTHERWISE, AND CONSENT NOT TO WHOLESOME WORDS, EVEN THE WORDS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND TO THE DOCTRINE WHICH IS ACCORDING TO GODLINESS:

"HE IS PROUD . . ." etc. (I Timothy 6:3,4).

"The signs of an apostle" were wrought by Paul, but he did not have the "keys" to the body as Peter did to the kingdom, nor was he given authority to remit sins.  Indeed, since baptism "for the remission of sins" had been set aside in favor of justification by grace, through faith, without works, he could have no part in remitting sins except indirectly by proclaiming the glad news.  This will be considered more fully in another chapter.
 

QUIZ


1.  On what Scripture passage, mainly, does Rome base her claims for papal authority?

2.  Give two other passages on which she bases her claims for the authority of the (Roman) Church?

3.  By what reasoning does she apply these passages to the (Roman) Church of today?

4.  What basic weakness is there in most Protestant interpretations of these verses?

5.  Give two verses (apart from those already given) indicating that our Lord was to confer authority upon His apostles to act officially in His name?

6.  Was their authority to remit sins their own or was it delegated?

7.  Why has the Father committed the future judgment of men to His Son?

8.  Show from Scripture whom the kingdom of Israel was to be taken from.

9.  Show from Scripture whom it was to be given to.

10.  How can you tell from early Acts that Peter was the leader of the twelve?

11.  What basic error do most Protestants hold along with Rome, which hinders them from answering Rome's claims?

12.  What was the first official act of the apostles?

13.  Give Scripture to show in what sense the apostles remitted sins.

14.  How were they protected against deception by false "converts"?

15.  What example do we have as evidence that they were not thus deceived?

16.  Give an example of the apostles binding something which was also bound in heaven.

17.  Give an example of the apostles loosing something which was also loosed in heaven.

18.  What is the basic answer to Roman Catholicism?

19.  How do Rome's own claims settle this matter?

20.  Give three Scriptures indicating the nature of Paul's authority with respect to God's program for the present dispensation.
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« Reply #69 on: April 28, 2008, 10:57:26 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter X.
THE SO-CALLED GREAT COMMISSION

CHAPTER 10 - CHART 10_1


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« Reply #70 on: April 28, 2008, 11:00:21 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter X.
THE SO-CALLED GREAT COMMISSION



How familiar has the term "the great commission" become!  It is mostly used in a general way of our Lord's parting instructions to the eleven as recorded in the four Gospels and the Acts (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-18, Luke 24:46-48, John 20:21-23, Acts 1:7,8).

This so-called "great commission" is generally supposed to embody our Lord's "marching orders" to His church today.  This has come about, however, because ministers of the Word, rather than expounding these instructions with a view to having them faithfully carried out, have been satisfied to pick out certain phrases from them for devotional sermons.

All that most church members hear of the so-called "great commission," is Matthew's "Go" and "Lo, I am with you," Mark's "All the world" and "every creature," Luke's "Ye are witnesses," John's "As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you" and Acts' "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."
 

CHOOSING COMMISSIONS


To those who go beyond these picked phrases to examine the record in its entirety, however, the acceptance of the "great commission" as our marching orders has presented great difficulties.  The legalism of Matthew 28:20 (cf. 23:1-3), the baptismal salvation and miraculous signs of Mark 16:16-18, the "Jerusalem first" of Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8, and the authority to remit sins in John 20:22,23, are all so obviously incompatible with the gospel of the grace of God, that Fundamentalist Bible teachers have been forced to choose individual records of the commission as binding in this dispensation, in accordance with the amount of difficulty they have experienced harmonizing the various commands with the present truth.  This has naturally contributed much to the confusion prevailing among Fundamentalists today.

Comparatively few Christian people are aware of the fact that our spiritual leaders have never agreed as to which of the five passages referred to above embodies our commission for today, but the disagreement has been sharp.

Dr. A. C. Gaebelein, for example, believed that the Matthew commission is not our commission.  He chose Luke 24:46-48 as "the Gentile commission." The late Dr. H. A. Ironside, however, did hold to the record in Matthew as "our marching orders," while Dr. I. M. Haldeman, on the other hand, stressed the commission in Mark.  Dr. Wm. L. Pettingill disagreed with them all and wrote: "The commission under which the Church is supposed to work is that of Acts 1:8."

From the writings of Dr. Ironside, the so-called "Archbishop of Fundamentalism," [1] it might be assumed that nearly all Fundamentalists agree that the Matthew 28 commission is ours.  In his writings he seems astonished at any other conclusion and implies that only Bullingerites would question the matter.  Referring to the Matthew commission, he says:

"People who have never investigated Bullingerism and its kindred systems will hardly believe me when I say that even the Great Commission upon which the church has acted for 1900 years, and which is still our authority for worldwide missions, is, according to these teachers, a commission with which we have nothing whatever to do, that it has no reference to the Church at all . . . Yet such is actually their teaching" (Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, p. 17).
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« Reply #71 on: April 28, 2008, 11:03:23 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter X.
THE SO-CALLED GREAT COMMISSION

Later on in the same book he calls this interpretation "absurd," "grotesque" and "wicked"! (Wrongly Dividing, pp. 17,18).

Apparently the "Archbishop of Fundamentalism" was so intent on going after the "Bullingerites" that he forgot that many of his colleagues, plus Mr. J. N. Darby, the founder of the Brethren (with whom Dr. Ironside was for years associated), emphatically denied that the Matthew commission is ours.  We quote from a few of their writings:

Dr. James M. Gray: "This is the Kingdom Commission, as another expresses it, not the Christian Commission . . . Its accomplishment has been interrupted, but will be taken up before the Lord comes to deliver Israel at the last" (Christian Worker's Commentary, p. 313).

Dr. Wm. L. Pettingill: "Mark's Gospel, like Matthew's and Luke's, is primarily a Kingdom book, and I am satisfied that none of them contains the Church's marching orders -- not even the so-called 'Great Commission' of Matthew 28:18-20" (Bible Questions Answered, p. 100).

Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein: "This is the Kingdom Commission . . . A time is coming when this great commission here will be carried out by a remnant of Jewish disciples" (Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, p. 323).

Mr. J. N. Darby: "The accomplishment of the commission here in Matthew has been interrupted . . . we find no accomplishment of it . . . for the present it has, in fact, given place to a heavenly commission, and the Church of God" (Collected Writings, p. 327).

So it has not been generally agreed that the Matthew commission is for our obedience.  But the sad fact is that while many of Dr. Ironside's colleagues disagreed with him as to the Matthew commission, they also disagreed with each other as to which "great commission," or which record of the so-called "great commission," embodies our marching orders.  They did, however, seem to agree to keep far away from the commission in John 20:21-23 while Rome, on the basis of this passage, boldly claims the authority to remit sins.  The Fundamentalist church has not yet succeeded in clearing up these difficulties.

Think of it!  At this late date, more than nineteen hundred years after our Lord gave these commands, the church is not even agreed as to exactly what God would have His people do and teach!  Let us not close our eyes to this fact, but let us face it so that it may be remedied, for how can we obey our "marching orders" if we do not know what they are? "For if the trumpet shall give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to battle?"

Even among those who have come to see the mystery we still see the effects of this mistake of supposing that our Lord, in the short interval between His resurrection and ascension, gave the same men different commissions, intending that others should commence carrying out one or more of these commissions at a future date -- and all without any explanation of this in the record itself!

Noting that the apostles never got farther than their own nation, as far as Scripture is concerned, they conclude that "the uttermost part of the earth" in Acts 1:8 should have been rendered "the uttermost part of the land [i.e., Palestine]" and that "all nations" in Matthew 28:19 means only the Gentile nations.  Hence, of these two commissions (as they see it), both given by the Lord to the eleven before His ascension, the one in Acts 1:8 is presumed to have been for their obedience, while they are supposed to have understood that the one in Matthew 28:19 was not to be carried out by them, but by others of a future day.  It is further argued that, according to Luke's record (24:47), "repentance and remission of sins" was to be preached among all the Gentile nations, "having begun" at Jerusalem.

But all this is making a complex problem out of a simple one.

It is true that the Greek word ge in Acts 1:8 may sometimes be rendered land, but in the great majority of cases it must be rendered earth, not land.  Furthermore, similar phraseology is found, for example, in Matthew 12:42 where we read that the Queen of Sheba came from "the uttermost parts of the earth [ge]" to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and in Mark 13:27, where we are told that angels are to be sent to gather God's elect "from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth [ge]." Surely the Queen of Sheba did not journey to Jerusalem merely from the uttermost part of the land of Palestine, nor can "the four winds" possibly designate that one land alone.
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« Reply #72 on: April 28, 2008, 11:05:06 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter X.
THE SO-CALLED GREAT COMMISSION

It is also true that the phrase "the nations" frequently refers to the Gentile nations, especially when the one nation, Israel, is being separately discussed.  This is so in the nature of the case.  But it is a mistake to suppose that the phrase "the nations" always refers to the Gentile nations and a greater mistake to suppose that the phrase "all nations" must necessarily refer to the Gentile nations.

When we read, for example, that "the Lord is high above all nations" (Psalms 113:4), that God "hath made of one blood all nations" (Acts 17:26) and that "all nations shall come and worship" before Christ (Revelation 15:4), can Israel possibly be excluded?

Israel most assuredly is included in the "all nations" of Matthew 28:19 for the simple reason that she had not yet been brought to Messiah's feet.  She is also included in the "all nations" of Luke 24:47 for, mark well, the record there reads: "beginning [or having begun] at JERUSALEM," not: "having covered the land of Palestine."

Perhaps the most important point of all to observe in this connection is that in the Matthew commission our Lord said to the eleven apostles: "GO YE," just as He did in Mark 16:15 and Acts 1:8.  By what rule of hermeneutics or logic have we the right to exclude from the interpretation of this command the very ones to whom He gave it?
 

THE INCONSISTENCY OF CHOOSING
COMMISSIONS



In solving this difficulty (which men have made for themselves) it should be noted first that all of the instructions referred to were given to the same men within a period of forty days, with no hint either of a change in program or that certain of the instructions were to be carried out then and others later.  The contention that certain of these records contain the kingdom commission and other, or others, the Gentile commission is therefore strained and unnatural.

To argue that one or more of these records apply only to a future generation is, as we have said, also strained and unnatural, for it is not logically possible to exclude from the direct interpretation of these passages the very persons to whom He gave the instructions.  While, to be sure, they may not have completed their mission, nevertheless when He said, "Go ye," He evidently meant they should proceed to obey His orders.  It would be strange indeed if they understood His "Go ye" to mean that others later on should go.

It should next be noted that the legalism of Matthew 28:20, the baptismal salvation and miraculous signs of Mark 16:16-18, the "Jerusalem first" of Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8 and the instructions to remit sins in John 20:22,23 all agree with what the apostles actually did as recorded in the book of Acts.

There is no indication of any revelation to them that the death of Christ had freed them from observance of the Mosaic law.  They continued daily with one accord in the temple (Acts 2:46) and took part in its worship (Acts 3:1), careful not to start a new sect separate from Judaism, for they, who had accepted Messiah, were the true Israel.

The person who baptized Saul of Tarsus was "a devout man according to the law" (Acts 22:12) and as late as Acts 21:20 we find James pointing out "how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; AND THEY ARE ALL ZEALOUS OF THE LAW."

Not until the great council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) did the Jewish believers even agree that the Gentiles were not to be under the law.  Whether or not the Jewish church, at Jerusalem was to remain under the law did not even come up for discussion.  It was clearly assumed they were so to remain.  This is because the twelve had been commissioned to teach law observance, as we have seen.
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« Reply #73 on: April 28, 2008, 11:06:53 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter X.
THE SO-CALLED GREAT COMMISSION

Indeed, in the Millennium, of which Pentecost was a foretaste, the law will be taught at Jerusalem and Israel will be zealous to hear and obey.

The apostles also taught the baptismal salvation of Mark 16:16, for Peter demanded repentance and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).  As to the miraculous signs of Mark 16:17,18, the most casual reading of early Acts will show that these abounded.  The "Jerusalem first" of Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8 was also carefully adhered to and sins were remitted by men (instrumentally) as they baptized those who believed (Acts 2:38, 22:16).

All the records of the so-called "great commission," then, agree with what the apostles actually did, as recorded in the Acts, so that there is no reason to suppose that certain of these commands were for their obedience while others were not.

The contention that the "formula" for baptism in the Matthew commission differs from that used by the apostles in Acts presents no difficulty here, for it is not stated that they were to use any formula, or form of words, when baptizing.  It is simply stated in Matthew 28:19 that they were to baptize in the name of (i.e., by the authority of) the triune God, while in Acts we read that they did baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Those who believe that "in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" will find no difficulty here.  The difficulty arises only when it is supposed that the apostles were to repeat certain words in baptizing.  This whole idea of a baptismal formula is a deep-rooted but wholly unscriptural tradition.

Neither does the promise: "Lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the age," present any difficulty for, remember, this present dispensation is a parenthetical period of grace which was then still a secret "hid in God" (Ephesians 3:9).
 

THREE GREAT COMMISSIONS


In order to obtain a clear understanding of our great commission, let us now consider three great commissions given in succession by the Lord Himself; one before His crucifixion, another after His resurrection and a third after His ascension.
 

A GREAT COMMISSION


Much stress has been laid on the "Go" of the so-called "great commission," but this was not the first time our Lord had commanded His apostles to "go." His first great commission to the apostles is found in Matthew 10:5-10:

"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:

"But GO RATHER to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

"And AS YE GO, preach, saying, The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils [demons]: freely ye have received, freely give.

"Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses.

"Nor scrip [bag or satchel] for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat."

To this our Lord added further instructions regarding their conduct among friends and enemies, and predicted some of the afflictions they would be called upon to endure.  The whole of this commission actually covers all of Matthew 10 (See 11:1).
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« Reply #74 on: April 28, 2008, 11:08:23 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter X.
THE SO-CALLED GREAT COMMISSION

Surely this commission is not our "great commission," but if we had been among the twelve apostles when these directions were given we would certainly have considered them a "great commission."

The command to confine their ministry exclusively to Israel would not have seemed strange to them, for this was based on the well known Abrahamic Covenant that through Abraham's multiplied seed the nations should be blessed (Genesis 22:17,18 cf. Acts 3:25,26).  Moreover, the prophets had repeatedly predicted that the nations would find blessing and salvation through redeemed Israel.  Not until Israel was saved could blessing flow through her to the Gentiles (Isaiah 59:20-60:3, Zechariah 8:13).

It was perfectly normal, then, that our Lord should send the apostles first to the house of Israel exclusively.  Indeed, He had emphatically declared concerning His own ministry:

". . . I AM NOT SENT BUT UNTO THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL" (Matthew 15:24).

This doubtless was taken for granted by those who recognized Israel as the chosen nation.  The apostle Paul, looking back some years later, wrote:

"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:

"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.

"And again He saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with His people" (Romans 15:8-10).

Mark well the details of this millennial promise.  It is mercy to the Gentiles but the fulfillment of promises to Israel.  The Gentiles will indeed rejoice "with His people," but not until His people themselves have come to rejoice in Him.  Thus the Lord had come, first of all, "to save HIS PEOPLE from their sins" (Matthew 1:21), and He was now sending the twelve apostles forth as His co-workers.

In harmony with all this the twelve were commissioned to proclaim the kingdom of heaven "at hand" and were given power to work miracles as the signs of the long-promised blessing (cf. Isaiah 35:5,6).  Surely they must have considered this a great commission.

In order to facilitate a comparison of this commission with the two to be considered later on, we will list the outstanding details by number:

1.  Under this commission the apostles were sent to the nation Israel exclusively (Matthew 10:5,6, cf. 15:24 and Romans 15:8).

2.  Under this commission the kingdom was to be proclaimed "at hand" (Matthew 10:7).

3.  Under this commission the apostles were given miraculous powers (Matthew 10:8).

4.  Under this commission they were not to lay up provisions for the future (Matthew 10:8-10, cf. 5:42, Luke 12:32,33).

5.  Under this commission repentance and baptism were required for the remission of sins.  While water baptism is not mentioned in this particular passage, it is clear from the whole record that our Lord and His apostles, like John the Baptist, proclaimed the kingdom and required repentance and baptism for the remission of sins (See Mark 1:4 and cf, John 4:1,2).
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