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« Reply #90 on: April 30, 2008, 08:45:02 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XI.
GOOD NEWS

Conversely, as Israel persisted in her rejection of Christ, the Apostle Paul began with the broad "gospel of the uncircumcision" as a basis for the message of reconciliation, by which both Jews and Gentiles were to become one body in Christ.  So he began with what the Scriptures had clearly foreseen (though not foretold) and ended with the mystery itself, which was "KEPT SECRET since the world began."

The above may be illustrated by the following outline:
 

QUIZ


1.  What is misleading about the term: "The Four Gospels"?

2.  Why was it necessary to have four separate accounts of our Lord's earthly ministry?

3.  What is wrong with the contention that the Bible presents only one gospel?

4.  Why is it particularly necessary to bear the context in mind when we read the simple phrase "the gospel"?

5.  Draw from memory the chart on the five gospels discussed in this chapter.

6.  How was the kingdom proclaimed before the cross?

7.  What two Scripture passages tell us that the kingdom was to be "taken from" Israel's rulers and "given to" the "little flock" of Christ's followers?

8.  What passage contains our Lord's promise that the twelve will occupy twelve thrones in the kingdom?

9.  When was the kingdom first offered to Israel?

10.  The "gospel of the circumcision" was based on what great covenant?

11.  Explain how the gospels of the kingdom and of the circumcision were related.

12.  On what great facts was "the gospel of the uncircumcision" based?

13.  Where do we read that "the gospel of the uncircumcision" was particularly committed to Paul?

14.  What does reconciliation postulate, or presuppose?

15.  Where do we find that the message of reconciliation is related to the casting away of Israel?

16.  The message of reconciliation revolves mainly around what two men?

17.  Explain the significance of the fact that according to II Corinthians 5, the proclamation of reconciliation is not a promise, but a plea.

18.  Explain how the formation of the body is related to the proclamation of reconciliation.

19.  Give three Scriptures proving that "the mystery" was not revealed until Paul.

20.  Show how the gospels of the uncircumcision, reconciliation and the mystery are related.
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« Reply #91 on: April 30, 2008, 09:09:40 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XII.
THE DISPENSATIONAL PLACE
OF MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND
WATER BAPTISM



The truths which we have been considering vitally affect our practice as members of the body of Christ and our service for Him, for if we do not clearly understand God's message and program for the present dispensation, how can we serve Him effectively?

The prevailing confusion in the church is largely due to ignorance and even indifference as to these matters.  How many of God's people today are trying zealously to serve Him, without first finding out exactly what it is He wishes them to do!  Hence, even among those who sincerely trust in Christ as Savior, many are still striving vainly to establish His kingdom on earth, while others seek for some or all of the miraculous powers of Pentecost and all together insist on practicing the ordinance of water baptism, though unable to agree as to who should be baptized, or how, or why.

Miraculous signs and baptism deserve exhaustive treatment in separate volumes, but we must deal with them briefly here because of their relation to the whole dispensational problem.

It cannot be denied that miraculous demonstrations abounded during our Lord's earthly ministry and the period covered by the book of Acts.  Neither can it be denied that such demonstrations abounded among Gentile members of the body of Christ before the close of the Acts period.

Some hold that all true believers today do possess the miraculous powers of Pentecost, since our Lord, in His "great commission," explicitly said: "And these signs shall follow them that believe . . ." (Mark 16:17,18 ).  Others believe that certain people are granted the power to work miracles, especially miracles of healing.  Notwithstanding these claims, however, God is not bestowing miraculous powers upon men today.  If the "great commission" with its Pentecostal signs were indeed being carried out today there would be no question about miracles, for saved and unsaved alike were compelled to acknowledge the mighty miracles of the Pentecostal era [1] (Acts 3:11, 4:14,16, etc.).  As to alleged evidence of the supernatural powers of present day Pentecostalist "healers": the Roman Church, the Unity movement, Christian Scientists, and others who claim healing powers can present "evidences" fully as convincing.  Are their powers, then, also God-given?
 

MIRACLES AND SPIRITUALITY


The usual reason given for the absence of these powers is lack of faith and spirituality.  If only we had the faith of the early believers, we are told; if only we were as spiritual as they, we too would possess these miraculous powers.

It is not denied that even the most consecrated believer falls far short of God's standards of spirituality, nor that there is a particular lack of true spirituality among Christians today, but this does not explain their inability to perform miracles.  Such an argument would be answered by the case of the Corinthians alone.  Paul called them unspiritual babes (I Corinthians 3:1) and sternly rebuked them for their carnality, for their "envying, and strife, and divisions" (I Corinthians 3:3), for their immorality (I Corinthians 5:1), for their dishonesty and oppression of each other (I Corinthians 6:7,8 ), for their unfaithfulness in giving (I Corinthians 9:11-14), for their selfishness and pride (I Corinthians 11:21,22) and exclaimed to them: "And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned!" (I Corinthians 5:2, cf. 4:18 ).

Yet this same Corinthian church, at this same time, abounded in miraculous gifts (I Corinthians 1:7, 12:8-11, 14:12,18,26).  The absence of these miraculous powers in the church today must, therefore, have another explanation.
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« Reply #92 on: April 30, 2008, 09:11:15 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XII.
THE DISPENSATIONAL PLACE
OF MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND
WATER BAPTISM


THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SIGNS


First the general fact should be noted that in Old Testament history miraculous demonstrations prevailed in times of great crisis as, for example, in the cases of Moses and Aaron and of Elijah and Elisha.

Doubtless the call to Israel to repent, from the time of John the Baptist to Pentecost, and the presentation of Christ to Israel for her acceptance, was the greatest crisis in Israel's history up to that time.

Secondly, it had been predicted by the prophets that miracles would abound at Messiah's coming (Isaiah 35:5,6, etc.).  This is why we read in Matthew 8:16,17:

"When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick:

"THAT IT MIGHT BE FULFILLED WHICH WAS SPOKEN BY ESAIAS THE PROPHET, SAYING, HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES, AND BARE OUR SICKNESSES."

This, also, is why Peter declared at Pentecost:

"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man APPROVED OF GOD AMONG YOU BY MIRACLES AND WONDERS AND SIGNS, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know" (Acts 2:22).

Thus Paul writes to the Romans that "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision . . . to confirm the promises made unto the fathers" (Romans 15:8 ).

In the third place, we should remember that these miracles had a special significance in connection with the casting out of Satan, so long the prince of this world (John 12:31), and the establishment of Christ's kingdom, for we read in I John 3:8:

". . . FOR THIS PURPOSE THE SON OF GOD WAS MANIFESTED, THAT HE MIGHT DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL."

Thus in His attack on the kingdom of Satan, our Lord said:

"And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?"

"BUT IF I CAST OUT DEVILS BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, THEN THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS COME UNTO YOU" (Matthew 12:26,28 ).

In accordance with this the Lord also commanded the seventy to declare in each city the significance of the miracles they wrought there:

"AND HEAL THE SICK THAT ARE THEREIN, AND SAY UNTO THEM, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS COME NIGH UNTO YOU" (Luke 10:9).

In Acts it is the same for, remember, Acts is the record of what the Lord Jesus continued to do and to teach after His resurrection (Acts 1:1,2). The miracles of the Pentecostal era were wrought by the risen Christ, so that Peter, referring to one case, declared:

"And His name through faith in His name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all" (Acts 3:16).

"BE IT KNOWN UNTO YOU ALL, AND TO ALL THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, THAT BY THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH, WHOM YE CRUCIFIED, WHOM GOD RAISED FROM THE DEAD, EVEN BY HIM DOTH THIS MAN STAND HERE BEFORE YOU WHOLE" (Acts 4:10).
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« Reply #93 on: April 30, 2008, 09:13:18 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XII.
THE DISPENSATIONAL PLACE
OF MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND
WATER BAPTISM

And as Christ had been "approved of God" by miraculous signs, so we are told in Hebrews 2:3,4, of the "great salvation"

" . . . which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him;

"GOD ALSO BEARING THEM WITNESS, BOTH WITH SIGNS AND WONDERS, AND WITH DIVERS MIRACLES, AND GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST, ACCORDING TO HIS OWN WILL."

This "great salvation," which "began to be spoken by the Lord," was, of course, that of Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:67-77, and concerned the reign of Christ on earth.  And now this message was "confirmed . . . by them that heard Him," so that Peter offered to Israel the times of refreshing and the return of Christ, upon condition that they repent and turn to Him (Acts 3:19,20).

And so God confirmed our Lord's Messiahship with mighty signs and wonders, both during His earthly ministry and after His ascension into heaven.
 

MIRACLES AMONG THE GENTILES


What, then, was the reason for the miraculous gifts among the Gentiles, especially under Paul's ministry?  Even these were associated indirectly with the Messianic kingdom.

We must not forget that Paul, though entrusted with another commission and "the gospel of the grace of God," nevertheless confirmed Peter's message and proclaimed and proved to the Jews everywhere that "Jesus is the Christ," for the offer of the kingdom, made at Pentecost, was not officially withdrawn until Acts 28:28.  Hence it is not strange to find these miraculous confirmations of Christ's kingdom rights continued until that time.

We must also remember the inspired declaration that "the Jews require a sign" (I Corinthians 1:22).  The way they could tell that the new program was of God was that Paul had all "the signs of an apostle" (II Corinthians 12:11,12) and that the Gentile believers also possessed miraculous powers.  Even before Paul went to the Gentiles, Peter was sent to the first Gentile household to be thus convinced.  Note the record concerning this:

"And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

"FOR THEY HEARD THEM SPEAK WITH TONGUES, AND MAGNIFY GOD . . ." (Acts 10:45,46).
 

MIRACULOUS GIFTS WITHDRAWN


But with the setting aside of Israel there was no longer any need of this, and the later epistles of Paul do not even recognize such gifts as being in order.

Indeed, in his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle made it clear that their miraculous powers were to be withdrawn:

"CHARITY [LOVE] NEVER FAILETH: BUT WHETHER THERE BE PROPHECIES, THEY SHALL FAIL; WHETHER THERE BE TONGUES, THEY SHALL CEASE; WHETHER THERE BE KNOWLEDGE, IT SHALL VANISH AWAY" (I Corinthians 13:8 ).

Certainly Paul did not mean that supernatural predictions would fail to come true, nor that men would stop talking or knowing.  He referred to the miraculous gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge.  These were to be "done away."

"AND NOW ABIDETH FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY [LOVE], THESE THREE; BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS CHARITY [LOVE]" (I Corinthians 13:13).
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« Reply #94 on: April 30, 2008, 09:15:29 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XII.
THE DISPENSATIONAL PLACE
OF MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND
WATER BAPTISM

As to the healing miracles: those who were healed by the Lord and His followers would doubtless have entered into the kingdom and have gone on living, had the kingdom been established, but now that Israel rejected Christ and His reign all these healed ones died.  So it was not because our Lord had failed that those He healed did not remain alive and well; it was because the kingdom was refused and "this present evil age" settled down upon the world.

In Paul's early letters there is abundant proof that the gift of healing was already being withdrawn, for there he says:

"FOR WE KNOW THAT THE WHOLE CREATION GROANETH AND TRAVAILETH IN PAIN TOGETHER UNTIL NOW.

"AND NOT ONLY THEY, BUT OURSELVES ALSO, WHICH HAVE THE FIRSTFRUITS OF THE SPIRIT, EVEN WE OURSELVES GROAN WITHIN OURSELVES, WAITING FOR THE ADOPTION, TO WIT, THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BODY" (Romans 8:22,23).

"FOR IN THIS [TABERNACLE] WE GROAN, EARNESTLY DESIRING TO BE CLOTHED UPON WITH OUR HOUSE WHICH IS FROM HEAVEN" (II Corinthians 5:2).

Add to these passages such statements as the following: "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (II Corinthians 4:16), "There was given to me a thorn in the flesh lest I should be exalted above measure" (II Corinthians 12:7), "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling" (I Corinthians 2:3), "Through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first" (Galatians 4:13), "Who is weak, and I am not weak?" (II Corinthians 11:29), "Epaphroditus . . . was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him" (Philippians 2:25-27), "Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick" (II Tim 4:20), "Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (I Timothy 5:23).
 

TAKING PLEASURE IN INFIRMITIES


The gift of healing, then, was being withdrawn as Paul wrote his early epistles.  God, however, was replacing it with something better, for we are "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3).  Indeed, our high and holy calling, our perfect position in Christ, our spiritual wealth, might well puff us up did not God allow us to be visited with bodily affliction (II Corinthians 12:7).  Meantime He assures us: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness (II Corinthians 12:9).  Thus these afflictions become blessings in disguise and serve to draw us closer to God.  This is why the Apostle Paul goes on to say:

". . . MOST GLADLY THEREFORE WILL I RATHER GLORY IN MY INFIRMITIES, THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST MAY REST UPON ME.

"THEREFORE I TAKE PLEASURE IN INFIRMITIES, IN REPROACHES, IN NECESSITIES, IN PERSECUTIONS, IN DISTRESSES FOR CHRIST'S SAKE: FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN AM I STRONG" (II Corinthians 12:9,10).
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« Reply #95 on: April 30, 2008, 09:17:11 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XII.
THE DISPENSATIONAL PLACE
OF MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND
WATER BAPTISM


WATER BAPTISM


Water baptism and miraculous signs both belong to the so-called "great commission" (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16-18, Acts 1:8 ), yet, strangely, many pastors who would excommunicate any of their members for speaking in tongues or seeking to perform miracles, nevertheless cling tenaciously to the practice of water baptism.  Surely it would seem that if the "great commission" is for our obedience today, the Pentecostalists are more consistent than the great majority of their Fundamentalist brethren in this matter.  Here, then, let us point out briefly the dispensational significance of water baptism and the glory of the "one baptism" of the present dispensation.

In all the division and confusion which has prevailed in the church over the subject of baptism, the primary question at issue has been almost completely overlooked.  That question is not whether water baptism is found in the Scriptures, nor who should be baptized, nor how.  The first question which concerns us is: should we practice water baptism now?  Is it included in God's program for the present dispensation? [2]

If, instead of becoming wrought up over secondary questions, the spiritual leaders of the past centuries had first asked themselves this basic question, much discord and heartache could have been avoided.
 

WATER BAPTISM AND THE
MESSIANIC KINGDOM



We have already seen that the opening message of the New Testament Scriptures is "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2).  This message was first proclaimed to Israel by John the Baptist and was later taken up by our Lord (Matthew 4:17) and His twelve apostles (Matthew 10:5-7).  The proclamation of this message and its results are what the "Four Gospels" record.

The fact that this kingdom was now proclaimed "at hand" indicates that it had been predicted and expected, and so it had.

Under the Old Covenant God had promised:

"Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine:

"And ye shall be unto Me A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and AN HOLY NATION.  These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:5,6).

Until they did obey God's voice indeed, only certain people in Israel were set apart as priests, but in connection with the coming of Messiah and the conversion of all Israel, God later promised that they would indeed become a whole nation of priests through whom the Gentiles should approach God:

"BUT YE SHALL BE NAMED THE PRIESTS OF THE LORD: MEN SHALL CALL YOU THE MINISTERS OF OUR GOD . . ." (Isaiah 61:6).
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« Reply #96 on: April 30, 2008, 09:19:24 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XII.
THE DISPENSATIONAL PLACE
OF MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND
WATER BAPTISM

The first rite to be performed at the induction of the priest into his office was his washing with water (Exodus 29:4).  This spoke of his need of cleansing before approaching the presence of God.  Hence, as John proclaimed the kingdom at hand, in which all Israel should stand before God as priests, he demanded repentance and water baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4). [3]

That John's baptism was associated with the manifestation of Christ to Israel cannot be denied, for John himself said:

"AND I KNEW HIM NOT: BUT THAT HE SHOULD BE MADE MANIFEST TO ISRAEL, THEREFORE AM I COME BAPTIZING WITH WATER" (John 1:31).

Mark well, John baptized the people "for the remission of sins." Nor was this changed after the resurrection of Christ, for at Pentecost Peter offered Christ's return and the times of refreshing to Israel, again calling upon them to "repent and be baptized for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38 ). [4] This was in strict obedience to the commission given to him by the risen Lord, in which it was expressly stated that "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). [5]

As with miraculous signs, the departure from this program came with Israel's rejection of her risen Messiah and the raising up of Paul to proclaim the gospel of the grace of God.  And, like miraculous signs, this part of the program was not discontinued all at once.  Even after the raising up of Paul God still continued for some time to stretch forth His hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people (Romans 10:21).  The departure, however, did not begin until after Saul's conversion.  Then Peter was sent to the first Gentile family only to have his sermon interrupted while, to the astonishment of His companions, these Gentiles were saved and received the Holy Spirit apart from water baptism (Acts 10:44-46).  True Peter then baptized them (Acts 10:47) to keep the books straight, as it were, but the departure from the program of the "great commission" is clear.  The practice of water baptism continued for some time after this, while Christ was still being made manifest to Israel.
 

PAUL AND THE "ONE BAPTISM"


But in the ministry of Paul, with which the rest of Acts is concerned, water baptism is never required for the remission of sins.  Obviously, then, another commission was replacing that given to the eleven before our Lord's ascension.

It is significant that while Paul did baptize some, [6] and mentions this in his first letter to the Corinthians, he states that he is glad he has baptized so few of them, adding:

"FOR CHRIST SENT ME NOT TO BAPTIZE, BUT TO PREACH THE GOSPEL: NOT WITH WISDOM OF WORDS, LEST THE CROSS OF CHRIST SHOULD BE MADE OF NONE EFFECT.

"FOR THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS IS TO THEM THAT PERISH FOOLISHNESS; BUT UNTO US WHICH ARE SAVED IT IS THE POWER OF GOD" (I Corinthians 1:17,18 ).

It is also significant that Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles and minister of the body of Christ NEVER ONCE, IN ANY OF HIS LETTERS, COMMANDS OR EVEN EXHORTS US TO BE BAPTIZED WITH WATER.

In his later letters, written after the setting aside of Israel, he states emphatically that there is now but "ONE BAPTISM" (Ephesians 4:5).  This baptism is the operation of the Holy Spirit whereby believers are made one with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 3:26,27, Colossians 2:9-12), and so are also made members of "one body," the "body of Christ" (I Corinthians 12:13,27, Galatians 3:26-28 ).

If believers, especially spiritual leaders, better understood the "one baptism" by which the "one Spirit" baptizes us into "one body," our unity in Christ would be more fully enjoyed.  Indeed, we are exhorted to endeavor to "keep" or observe the unity that the Spirit has made, remembering that there is but "one body . . . one Spirit . . . one hope . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father . . ." (Ephesians 4:3-6).
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« Reply #97 on: April 30, 2008, 09:20:50 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XII.
THE DISPENSATIONAL PLACE
OF MIRACULOUS SIGNS AND
WATER BAPTISM

One thing is certain: the student who is willing to put aside preconceived notions and human traditions, and search the Scriptures concerning this "one baptism" with an open mind, sits down to a veritable feast of spiritual good things.
 

QUIZ


1.  Explain how it was that Gentile members of the body of Christ once possessed miraculous powers.

2.  Prove from Scripture that lack of faith or spirituality is not the reason for the absence of the Pentecostal gifts today.

3.  Give Scripture to show how Christ was "approved of God" among His people.

4.  What relation was there between the miracles of Christ's day and the kingdom of Satan?

5.  Give Scripture showing how God bore witness to the Pentecostal ministry of the twelve.

6.  How did Peter and his companions know that those of Cornelius' household had received the Holy Spirit?

7.  What did the Apostle Paul write in I Corinthians 13 about the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge?

8.  What eventually happened to all those who were healed by our Lord and His followers?

9.  Why?

10.  Give five Scriptures indicating that healing powers were already being withdrawn in Paul's day.

11.  What greater blessings do we have than physical and material well being?

12.  How do physical infirmities often prove to be blessings?

13.  What was Paul's attitude with respect to infirmities?

14.  What is the first question which concerns us with respect to the ceremony of water baptism?

15.  Give Scripture showing how John the Baptist associated water baptism with Israel and the kingdom.

16.  Give three Scriptures proving that water baptism was required for salvation under John the Baptist, under the "great commission" and at Pentecost.

17.  Where, in Scripture, do we find the first departures from the Pentecostal program?

18.  Prove from Scripture that the Pentecostal program did not cease all at once.

19.  Was Paul sent to baptize; was it part of his special commission?

20.  What is accomplished by the "one baptism" of this dispensation?
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« Reply #98 on: April 30, 2008, 09:37:26 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XIII.
PAUL'S EARLY MINISTRY

 

A DISPENSATIONAL PROBLEM


The early ministry of Paul has puzzled many earnest and diligent Bible students.

They see quite clearly what his ministry led up to.  They rejoice in his pure message of grace.  They understand fully that water baptism and the Pentecostal signs have no more place in the body of Christ than circumcision and the law, but they are perplexed, not to say somewhat disappointed, to find circumcision, baptism and miraculous signs all practiced by Paul during his early ministry as recorded in the book of Acts.
 

A FAULTY EXPLANATION


This problem has led some to suppose that the mystery was not revealed to Paul until his Roman imprisonment and that "the body of Christ," the church of this age, only began, historically, after Acts 28:28.

But this extreme conclusion is as unscriptural as that which marks Pentecost as the historical beginning of the body, for we read distinctly of the mystery and of the body of Christ in Paul's earlier epistles, written before Acts 28, as well as in those written after (Romans 16:25, I Corinthians 2:7, Romans 12:5, I Corinthians 12:12,13,27, etc.).  Indeed, this fact has driven those who date the body from Acts 28 to the conclusion that there must be two bodies, -- that "the body of Christ" of which Paul speaks in Romans and I Corinthians is a different body from "the body of Christ" to which his later epistles refer.

They have been driven to this conclusion, we say, for such an explanation is, to say the least, forced and unnatural.  We cannot help feeling that such theories must sound shabby even to those who present them, and should cause them to re-examine the foundation of their structure, for a wrong premise will surely lead to wrong conclusions.  Certainly the theory of the "two bodies" leads to most extreme and unscriptural conclusions.

One who resorts to this theory writes that "since Paul's ministry was primarily to the Jews during the Acts, his epistles written during that same time could not be otherwise."

Such statements are as thoroughly unscriptural as they are extravagant, for the record makes it crystal clear that his early ministry and his early epistles were primarily to the Gentiles, not the Jews.
 

PAUL'S ACTS MINISTRY


In Acts 22:18 and 21 Paul relates how, upon first returning to Jerusalem after his conversion, the Lord had revealed to him that his testimony would not be received there and that he was to be sent to the Gentiles:

"And saw Him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for THEY WILL NOT RECEIVE THY TESTIMONY CONCERNING ME."

"And He said unto me, Depart: for I WILL SEND THEE FAR HENCE UNTO THE GENTILES."

And the story of his ministry from then on is in perfect harmony with this.

Acts 13:46,47: "LO, WE TURN TO THE GENTILES.  FOR SO HATH THE LORD COMMANDED US . . ."

Acts 15:3: "And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, DECLARING THE CONVERSION OF THE GENTILES . . ."

Acts 18:6: "FROM HENCEFORTH I WILL GO UNTO THE GENTILES."

Acts 21:18,19: "And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

"And when he had saluted them, HE DECLARED PARTICULARLY WHAT THINGS GOD HAD WROUGHT AMONG THE GENTILES BY HIS MINISTRY."
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« Reply #99 on: April 30, 2008, 09:39:11 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XIII.
PAUL'S EARLY MINISTRY


PAUL'S EARLY EPISTLES


When we compare Paul's early epistles with the latter part of the book of Acts (the period during which they were written) the picture remains the same:

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

I Corinthians 12:2, "YE KNOW THAT YE WERE GENTILES, CARRIED AWAY UNTO THESE DUMB IDOLS . . ."

Galatians 1:15,16, ". . . it pleased God . . . to reveal His Son in me, THAT I MIGHT PREACH HIM AMONG THE HEATHEN [GENTILES] . . ."

Galatians 4:8, "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, YE DID SERVICE UNTO THEM WHICH BY NATURE ARE NO GODS."

I Thessalonians 2:14, "For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for YE ALSO HAVE SUFFERED LIKE THINGS OF YOUR OWN COUNTRYMEN, EVEN AS THEY HAVE OF THE JEWS."

Imagine contending, in the light of such Scriptures as these, that Paul's early epistles were written primarily to the Jews!  Surely these quotations from Acts and the early epistles prove conclusively that Paul's early ministry was primarily to the Gentiles and not primarily to the Jews.  It is true that he went to the Jew first, but that is a very different matter.  And herein lies the solution to the problem of Paul's early ministry.
 

THE SOLUTION


There is an important fact which we fear our "two body" brethren have overlooked.

Paul went to the Jew first, not because it seemed that Israel might yet accept Christ as her King, but simply because God would not leave her with any excuse for rejecting Messiah.

Paul confirmed Peter's message and mightily contended with the Jews everywhere that "Jesus is the Christ." Miracles also accompanied this confirmation ministry -- greater miracles, indeed, than Peter himself had wrought but, unlike Peter, Paul never offered the kingdom to Israel.

As we have seen, Paul, like the twelve, would have launched his ministry from Jerusalem, Israel's capital city, but the Lord Himself appeared to him, and insisted upon his leaving Jerusalem immediately.  At this time the Lord made two very important statements to Paul:

1. "THEY WILL NOT RECEIVE THY TESTIMONY CONCERNING ME."

2. "I WILL SEND THEE FAR HENCE UNTO THE GENTILES."

What was God doing here?  He was concluding Israel in unbelief and disobedience and, even at that early date, calling Paul to minister to the Gentiles.

The national rebellion had grown to such proportions that "a great persecution" was being waged against the church at Jerusalem.  Paul, who but lately had been the leading persecutor, now thinks that perhaps his testimony might turn the tide (Acts 22:19-21).  But God knows better.  He knows that the crisis in Israel's history has been reached.  Persuasion will be useless.  Salvation now will be sent to the Gentiles, not through Israel, but in spite of her, and Paul himself is chosen for this purpose.
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« Reply #100 on: April 30, 2008, 09:41:26 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XIII.
PAUL'S EARLY MINISTRY

This incident in Paul's early Christian experience should be viewed in the light of three important verses of Scripture:

Romans 11:15: ". . . IF THE CASTING AWAY OF THEM [ISRAEL] BE THE RECONCILING OF THE WORLD . . ."

Romans 11:32: "GOD HATH CONCLUDED THEM ALL IN UNBELIEF THAT HE MIGHT HAVE MERCY UPON ALL."

Ephesians 2:16: "AND THAT HE MIGHT RECONCILE BOTH UNTO GOD IN ONE BODY BY THE CROSS . . ."

Of course, God's gracious purpose in the casting away of Israel was only in process of being revealed as God gradually set her aside.  The fulness of it is not unfolded until the later epistles, where Paul prays that believers may be given wisdom and spiritual understanding to comprehend it.  But the reconciling of believing Jews and Gentiles unto God in one body, the blessing of the Gentiles through the fall of Israel, most assuredly began considerably before the close of the book of Acts.
 

PETER, PAUL AND ISRAEL


One fact should be apparent even to the casual observer: Peter's ministry very definitely anticipated Israel's acceptance of Messiah (Acts 1:6, 2:30,38,39, 3:17-26), but Paul's just as definitely assumed Israel's continued rejection of Messiah.  In fact, he was raised up by God in view of Israel's rejection of Christ, for God's answer to the stoning of Stephen and the dreadful persecution of Acts 8:1-3 was the salvation of Saul, the chief persecutor and the leader of the rebellion.  Matchless grace!

Those who hold the extreme views above referred to, argue further that "the blessing of the Gentiles [in Acts] is dependent upon the realization of the blessing promised to the Jew."

This was true of Peter's ministry, as Acts 3:25,26 indicates, but the very opposite was true of Paul's ministry.  Acts 13:46 alone should settle this.  Here, by no stretch of imagination can we conclude that the Gentiles were being blessed through Israel's realization of her blessings.  The Gentiles, on the contrary, were being blessed because the Jews had put the Word of God from them.

". . . SEEING YE PUT IT FROM YOU . . . LO, WE TURN TO THE GENTILES."

All this substantiates our basic contention that while Peter's ministry had to do with the blessing of the Gentiles through the rise of Israel, Paul's had to do with the blessing of the Gentiles through the fall of Israel.  The former is the subject of prophecy, the latter of the mystery.

Is it correct to speak of Israel's "primacy" during the later Acts period?  Romans 11 makes it clear that Israel's fate was already settled before Acts 28, [1] even though the sentence had not yet been officially pronounced.

"ISRAEL HATH NOT OBTAINED THAT WHICH HE SEEKETH FOR . . . THE ELECTION HATH OBTAINED IT, AND THE REST WERE BLINDED . . . THEIR FALL . . . THE FALL OF THEM . . . THE DIMINISHING OF THEM . . . IF BY ANY MEANS I MIGHT SAVE SOME OF THEM . . . THE CASTING AWAY OF THEM . . . BLINDNESS [or DULLED PERCEPTION] IN PART IS HAPPENED TO ISRAEL, UNTIL THE FULNESS OF THE GENTILES BE COME IN . . . THEY ARE ENEMIES . . . GOD HATH CONCLUDED THEM ALL IN UNBELIEF . . ." (Romans 11:7-32).

Before the martyrdom of Stephen, Peter promised the return of Christ to earth upon condition of Israel's repentance.  After Stephen, God raised up Paul who never made such an offer.  Acts is the story of the fall of Israel, and the stoning of Stephen marks the crisis.
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« Reply #101 on: April 30, 2008, 09:42:56 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XIII.
PAUL'S EARLY MINISTRY


THE JEW FIRST


But what about Paul's famous statement in Romans 1:16:

"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."

Many have missed the very point of this passage by taking this one verse out of its context.  They have made it Paul's defense for going to the Jew first, when in reality he defends his ministry among the Gentiles in this passage.  Let us see:

In accordance with the prophetic plan our Lord had instructed the apostles to make disciples of all nations "beginning at Jerusalem" (Matthew 28:19, cf. Luke 24:47).

The twelve apostles began their work there.  Peter declared to the "men of Israel" in Jerusalem's temple:

"Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, AND IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED.

"Unto YOU FIRST God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts 3:25,26).

Acts 11:19 further makes it clear that, until Peter was sent to Cornelius, even the scattered disciples had preached the Word "to none but unto the Jews only." Israel was to be the channel of blessing to the world.

The apostles sought earnestly to bring the favored nation to Messiah's feet, but --

"BUT TO ISRAEL HE SAITH, ALL DAY LONG HAVE I STRETCHED FORTH MY HANDS UNTO A DISOBEDIENT AND GAINSAYING PEOPLE" (Romans 10:21).

The gospel had gone to the Jew first and had been rejected, but God would not allow Israel to stand in the way of Gentile blessing, so He began to set Israel aside, raising up Paul to bring good news to the Gentiles notwithstanding.

Contrast Peter's "you first" at Jerusalem, with Paul's "you first" at Antioch, where he says to the Jews:

"IT WAS NECESSARY THAT THE WORD OF GOD SHOULD FIRST HAVE BEEN SPOKEN TO YOU,  --  BUT  --  SEEING YE PUT IT FROM YOU AND JUDGE YOURSELVES UNWORTHY OF EVERLASTING LIFE, LO, WE TURN TO THE GENTILES" (Acts 13:46).

All this throws clear light on Romans 1:16.

Paul by no means contends here that the gospel should continue to be sent to the Jew first, otherwise Romans 1:16 would most assuredly contradict Romans 10:12,13, which says:

"FOR THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE JEW AND THE GREEK: FOR THE SAME LORD OVER ALL IS RICH UNTO ALL THAT CALL UPON HIM.

"FOR WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED."

Romans 11:7 and 25 should be enough to convince us that Paul at that time understood that God had given the nation up and that a judicial blindness was already settling upon it.
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« Reply #102 on: April 30, 2008, 09:44:37 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XIII.
PAUL'S EARLY MINISTRY

As he opens his Roman epistle, therefore, he argues for his responsibility to go to the Gentiles also.  Note carefully the emphasis in the whole passage:

". . . THAT I MIGHT HAVE SOME FRUIT AMONG YOU ALSO, EVEN AS AMONG OTHER GENTILES.

"I AM DEBTOR BOTH TO THE GREEKS, AND TO THE BARBARIANS: BOTH TO THE WISE AND TO THE UNWISE [He does not even mention the Jew here].

"SO, AS MUCH AS IN ME IS, I AM READY TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO YOU THAT ARE AT ROME ALSO.

"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" (Romans 1:13-16).

His argument here is clearly that he is not ashamed to go to the Gentiles at Rome with the gospel, since it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

God's good news concerning Christ had been sent to the Jew first, but now, through Paul, was being sent to the Gentile also, and Paul was ready, as much as in him was, to preach it to those "at Rome also."

Romans 1:16, when thus considered in the light of its context, by no means conflicts with the rest of Romans.  Those who use this passage to teach Jewish precedence today, miss one of the basic lessons of the book of Romans: that there is no longer any difference, in the sight of God, between the Jew and the Gentile and that both alike must now approach God as the fallen sons of Adam.

The great motive for Jewish missionary work in this age of grace is given to us, not in Romans 1:16, but in Romans 11:30-33:

"FOR AS YE [GENTILES] IN TIMES PAST HAVE NOT BELIEVED GOD, YET HAVE NOW OBTAINED MERCY THROUGH THEIR [ISRAEL'S] UNBELIEF:

"EVEN SO HAVE THESE ALSO NOW NOT BELIEVED, THAT THROUGH YOUR MERCY THEY ALSO MAY OBTAIN MERCY.

"FOR GOD HATH CONCLUDED THEM ALL IN UNBELIEF THAT HE MIGHT HAVE MERCY UPON ALL.

"O THE DEPTH OF THE RICHES BOTH OF THE WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE OF GOD! HOW UNSEARCHABLE ARE HIS JUDGMENTS AND HIS WAYS PAST FINDING OUT!"
 

THE GRADUAL UNFOLDING OF
THE MYSTERY



The question of Paul's early ministry is important to the understanding of the mystery.  There are some who see distinctions everywhere, but they fail to see the sweep, the progress, the development in the unfolding of God's wonderful plan.  They do not see how, when it seemed that the prophetic purpose had failed and the Gentiles would be deprived of blessing because of Israel's unbelief, God overruled and unfolded His secret, eternal purpose of grace, which at the same time explained how, and how alone, the prophetic purpose could and would after all be fulfilled; indeed, how alone any sinner ever had been, or could be saved.  This is the difference between "the gospel" and "the mystery [or secret] of the gospel." When we see it we cry with the Psalmist, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; and the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain!"

Was the mystery communicated to Paul in one single revelation or in a series of revelations?  Let us see what the Scriptures have to say as to this:

Acts 26:16: "But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness BOTH OF THESE THINGS WHICH THOU HAST SEEN, AND OF THOSE THINGS IN THE WHICH I WILL APPEAR UNTO THEE."
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« Reply #103 on: April 30, 2008, 09:46:47 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XIII.
PAUL'S EARLY MINISTRY

Acts 22:17,18: "And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; AND SAW HIM SAYING UNTO ME . . ."

II Corinthians 12:1: ". . . I WILL COME TO VISIONS AND REVELATIONS OF THE LORD."

II Corinthians 12:7: "And lest I should be exalted above measure through THE ABUNDANCE OF THE REVELATIONS, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh . . ."

Undoubtedly Paul both received and communicated one great body of truth gradually, otherwise his term, "my gospel" [2] and our term, "the distinctive ministry of Paul" are wholly misleading, but all was made known by "the revelation of Jesus Christ" to Paul.  In each case Paul saw the Lord Himself.

Thus the old program gradually passed away as the new one took its place.  There was development in the revelation given to Paul as well as in the historical unfolding of God's secret purpose.  God raised up Paul for ONE great purpose, to declare ONE great new message progressively, though his message confirmed and in no way contradicted the message of Peter and the eleven concerning Christ.

There was a time when the writer viewed the mystery as a particular point in Paul's preaching, but now, thank God, he sees it as one great, grand message, the comprehension of which is unspeakably precious.

We would ask our "two body" brethren to consider the following proposition:

We agree that God had a revealed, prophesied purpose.  We agree that He also had a secret, eternal purpose which was the key to the fulfillment of the prophesied purpose.  Did He have still another purpose  --  a sort of buffer between the two?  Or did He have several unrelated purposes?  What was Paul's message during his early ministry?  Was it the gospel of the kingdom?  Most certainly it was not.  Was it the gospel of the circumcision?  This would contradict Galatians 2:7.  What was it then?  It was "the gospel of the UNcircumcision," "the gospel of the grace of God," and these cannot be dissociated from the mystery.

Ephesians 3:13, "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

"IF YE HAVE BEARD OF THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD WHICH IS GIVEN ME TO YOU-WARD:

"HOW THAT BY REVELATION HE MADE KNOWN UNTO ME THE MYSTERY . . ."

Surely it is altogether gratuitous to suppose that Paul had "a special temporary ministry" during the Acts period, for it is during the Acts period that he expresses the desire

"THAT I MIGHT FINISH MY COURSE WITH JOY [Here he looks ahead to the close of his ministry], AND THE MINISTRY WHICH I HAVE RECEIVED OF THE LORD JESUS [Here he looks back to the beginning], TO TESTIFY THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD" (Acts 20:24).

What we must recognize is simply that the old economy was that under which Paul was saved and from which he gradually emerged.  Therefore it was right and consistent for him to do certain things before Acts 28 which would have been contrary to the will of God after Acts 28.

But it is more than gratuitous  --  it is a flat contradiction of Scripture  --  to teach that Paul received the revelation of the mystery in prison at Rome and that this supposed revelation superseded his other revelations and marked the historical beginning of the body of Christ of which we are members.  The facts which we have already considered, that both "the mystery" and "the body of Christ" are referred to and dealt with at length in Paul's early epistles, stamps this teaching as wholly unscriptural, as does also the fact that the apostle emphatically states in his later epistles that he is in prison FOR the mystery (Ephesians 6:20, Colossians 4:3).

It has been observed by one extreme dispensationalist that in Acts 21 there are two distinct groups  --  "the Jews which believe" and "the Gentiles which believe," while in the body of Christ this distinction disappears.

This is a good point, for it shows that God had not yet concluded his dealings with Israel.  But it must be noticed that even while God was permitting this distinction to remain outwardly, He was already saying, through Paul, that IN CHRIST there was neither Jew nor Gentile (See I Corinthians 12:13 and Galatians 3:27,28 ).
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« Reply #104 on: April 30, 2008, 09:48:36 AM »

THINGS THAT DIFFER
by Cornelius R. Stam - Chapter XIII.
PAUL'S EARLY MINISTRY

Some have supposed that Paul meant, in Galatians 3:27,28, that in the body of Christ there was neither Jew nor Greek and that this did not apply to the Jews under Peter and the twelve.  This, of course, does violence to the wording of the passage which clearly states that it was in Christ that the distinction had disappeared.  The Jewish believers at Jerusalem were certainly in Christ.  Some had even been "in Christ" before Paul (Romans 16:7).  But now all in Christ became members of one body.  That Galatians 3:27,28 included the Jewish believers at Jerusalem as well as those saved through Paul's ministry is further confirmed by II Corinthians 5:16,17: "HENCEFORTH know we NO MAN after the flesh . . . Therefore if ANY MAN be in Christ, he is a new creature." Even Peter knew this and was rebuked when later he went back on the light he had received (Acts 15:9, cf. Galatians 2:11,12).
 

QUIZ


1.  What problem perplexes many Bible students with respect to Paul's early ministry?

2.  This difficulty has led some to conclude that the mystery was not revealed and the body of Christ, the church of this dispensation, did not begin until when?

3.  How do the early epistles of Paul disprove this contention?

4.  Give three Scriptures from Acts proving that Paul's early (Acts) ministry was primarily to the Gentiles.

5.  Why did Paul generally go to the Jew first during his early ministry?

6.  Give three Scriptures from Paul's early epistles, proving that these were written primarily to Gentiles.

7.  Did Paul ever offer the kingdom to Israel, so far as the record is concerned?

8.  Explain how Paul confirmed Peter's message to the Jews.

9.  Give Scripture to prove that Israel, as a nation, had been spiritually blinded before Paul even started for Rome.

10.  How do you reconcile Romans 1:16 ("Jew first") with Romans 10:12 ("no difference")?

11. What is the Scriptural basis for Jewish missionary work today?

12.  Give two Scriptures proving that Paul received his message by a series of revelations.

13.  Whom did Paul see in each of these revelations?

14.  What one comprehensive term does he use to describe the good news he proclaimed?

15.  How would you answer the contention that Paul received the revelation of the mystery in prison at Rome?

16.  What passage from his later epistles indicates that "the gospel of the grace of God" and "the mystery" are inseparable?

17.  Explain the relation between the two.

18.  Give three Scriptures proving that Jewish and Gentile believers were one in Christ during Paul's early ministry.

19.  What distinction did exist between them at that time?

20.  When did that distinction cease to exist?
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