PAUL'S 'MY GOSPEL', GOD'S
GOOD NEWS TO GENTILES
- Parts One to Four
By John Aldworth
Published July 15, 2013
Rom. 16:25: Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.
Eph. 3:2-3: If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward. How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote afore in few words …
Years ago I was invited to take part in a New Zealand Religious Broadcasting Symposium. The major denominations, Quakers, Buddhists, Hindus and other “faiths” were summoned together to decide who would get to say what and when on the screen and the air waves.
It was my first, and avowedly last, experience of ecumenism. A Catholic “facilitator” opened proceedings saying, “I will pray a blessing and when I pause you can insert the name of the god of your choice.” Not suprisingly it all went downhill from there. In the end, after debating whether the message should be political or spiritual or both, a majority decided that proclaiming the gospel in “socially relevant” terms was the priority.
But nobody actually defined what today’s gospel really is or named which God it might be about. As far as the “Christian” representatives were concerned they probably didn’t know what it was and, to be honest, as a then Pentecostal neither did I. But ignorance is not bliss. And one thing’s for sure; had any bold soul suggested that it should be the good news that Paul calls “my gospel” he would have been howled out of the meeting.
Thirty years on Paul’s especial gospel is still about as popular as a pork chop in synagogue. Christendom vaguely acknowledges the good news that Jesus is Saviour but not a single evangelist I’ve heard of categorically preaches Paul’s “my gospel” by name to get sinners saved. Many would maintain, as I once ignorantly did, that, “Paul’s gospel, Jesus’s gospel, it’s all the same”.
Today to ask most Christians which gospel they were saved under is to see a stunned mullet in action. “There’s only one gospel,” they gasp when they recover from the shock. But there isn’t you know. There are several in the Bible and I would assert that Paul’s “my gospel” is crucial to understanding which one God would have you saved by today.
But let’s suppose, just suppose, that you’ve really read your faithful King James Bible and you find that three times in its pages Paul talks of “my gospel” (Rom. 2:16, Rom. 16:25 and 2 Tim. 2:8) and that twice he speaks of “our gospel”.
You have an enquiring mind so you head to your local Christian bookshop, like I did, and ask, “Do you have a book on Paul’s gospel?” Long silence, then, “Is it some particular type of book you’re looking for? We’ve got general Bible studies on Paul’s epistles.” Press the matter and you’ll find that not only do they not have a book on it, the bookshop staff themselves don’t even know there is a Paul’s gospel in the Bible, which makes one wonder just what their bedtime reading is. Talk about the blind leading the blind.
Evidently Christendom doesn’t care tuppence about Paul’s gospel, but if you’re a Bible believer you should. God caused the apostle to write of it in Holy Writ as “my gospel” and with good reason. You see, Paul’s gospel actually contains all the steps necessary to save and sanctify a Gentile, taking him all the way from pagan darkness to the Lord’s throne in heaven itself. And no other gospel in the Bible can do so.
Notice that I said “Gentile” not “Jew” because Paul’s gospel is actually to and for Gentiles. It comprises what Paul taught to Gentiles in the Acts period that differs from Peter’s message to the Jews and also proclaims the truths revealed by the Lord to Paul and recorded in the prison epistles specifically for Gentiles (e.g. Col. 1:27). In the mystery salvation sent to the Gentiles the Jew is significantly absent. The message is for Gentiles. As Paul says in Eph. 3:1-12:
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.
This study series will examine the truths of Gentile salvation as revealed incrementally to the Apostle Paul in his “my gospel”. They not only show how we must be saved but also reveal that both the calling of and destiny of saved Gentiles drastically changed when the Pentecostal period of Acts closed.
In the new dispensation which followed, and which still exists today, Gentiles are no longer saved by being baptised into Israel, thus effectively becoming Jews, but are saved directly by Jesus Christ who has been specifically sent to Gentiles as their “salvation” (Acts 28:28). Prior to this momentous change Gentiles had been “…without Christ … having no hope (of resurrection, that is) and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:1-2).
In this state they could only approach Christ, gain hope of resurrection and come to God by being joined to Israel. Indeed this is why water baptism was required of Gentiles seeking to be saved through the Acts period. By contrast having direct access to the Saviour is only one of many great blessings now made available to Gentiles in the present dispensation of grace and the mystery (Eph. 3:1-4).
It is important to realise that several “mini” gospels are embedded in Paul’s “my gospel” and that progressively they form its unique characteristics. But, you ask, how does one picture Paul’s “my gospel” overall? Remember that Jacob dreamed of a ladder set up on earth whose top reached up to heaven (Gen. 28:12)? Well, Paul’s “my gospel” can also be seen as a ladder with the various truths uniquely preached by him forming its rungs. By these steps of truth believers can climb the very summit of divine revelation and, according to the Apostle, in doing so obtain the right to appear with Him in glory.
You see in a wonderful way each of these “mini” gospels reveal new and important teachings about the Lord Jesus Christ and His especial ministry to us Gentiles that were not made known to Israel. What’s more Paul’s later epistles also contain precious promises that comprise his gospel. Each of these is an upward step by which we can “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). In fact, looked at overall, Paul’s “my gospel” might well be called the true “stairway to heaven”.
Those willing to “search the scriptures” will find early instalments of Paul’s gospel in both Acts and his pre-prison epistles. They can find latter episodes of this “good news to Gentiles” in the stupendous blessings God reveals for them in the apostle’s “prison” epistles, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.
Eventually they will discover that Paul’s gospel is a thrilling compendium of all the special gospels and truths God caused him to preach to Gentiles in the Pentecostal dispensation of the Acts period. But Paul’s gospel doesn’t stop at the end of the book of Acts. The superlative truths disclosed in the latter unprophesied dispensation of grace and mystery (Eph. 3:1-4) recorded in the apostle’s prison epistles are the icing on the cake.
It should be noted, however, that while there is a revelatory and incremental progression in Paul’s “my gospel”, clear and important dispensational boundary lines nevertheless remain. Doctrine, especially teaching meant for Jews, should not be carried over from one dispensation to the next which is predominantly for Gentiles.
For example, there is a watershed point at Acts 28:27-28. Here God’s 40-year probation period for Israel ends and she as a nation is set aside. Hopes of salvation and resurrection through her are extinguished and all Pentecostal signs and wonders, tongues and prophecies and public miracles cease.
What’s more ordinances such as water baptism and communion do not cross the Acts 28 boundary line into the “Body of Christ” calling of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, etc. This is because the whole business of ministering salvation (and receiving it) has been “sent to the Gentiles and they will hear it” (Acts 28:28). From now on Israelites and the nation Israel are no longer in the picture because this is new and unprophesied territory. Of course, this does not preclude individual Jews being saved today just as Gentiles are.
For all that, so drastic is the Acts 28:28 change that believers saved from then on are called to a heavenly destiny, not an earthly destiny with Israel as hitherto. What’s more a new church comes into being. Thus the “church of God” of the Acts period is set aside and God begins calling Gentiles saved by his grace into the “church which is His Body, the fullness of Him who filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).
In the face of such deep change it is gratifying to know that much truth remains, that it continues. And it is exactly this need that Paul’s “my gospel” is divinely provided to meet. Together with the Mystery, Paul’s gospel comprises the rock on which we stand in this new sign-less, Gentile dispensation with its heavenly not earthly calling.
That is why it is so important to include Rom. 16:25 in our understanding of the Mystery and the new dispensation of pure grace. Today in the “present truth” of pure grace we are “stablished” not only by the Mystery but also by Paul’s “my gospel”. Both are needed: the mystery to lift our eyes toward heaven, Paul’s “my gospel” to keep our feet firmly grounded in essential truths we have already learned.
Such distinctions are hard to learn for many. This is because they have been schooled by the “keep it all the same” school of bible interpretation. This view, favoured by most of Christendom, fails to distinguish salvation doctrine for Israel (plus Gentiles added to her) from the grace dispensation doctrine of salvation for all men.
Because of such rampant confusion I need to make clear that in these studies no anti-Jewish prejudice is involved. After all, the mystery dispensation church which is “his body” is made up of both Jew and Gentile members (Eph. 2:15 and 18). Importantly, however, both are saved and “stablished” only by Paul’s “my gospel” and “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” (Rom. 16:25) and not by being water baptised into Israel.
Careful study of scripture (by heeding the context and noticing dispensational changes by “rightly dividing the word of truth” as 2 Tim. 2:15 instructs, for example) will show that today, with Israel as a nation set aside, Paul’s gospel is truth for both Jew and Gentile. However, very significantly the blessed truths it contains are especially addressed to Gentiles throughout. As the apostle said in Gal 2:2, speaking of his conference with the Jewish church elders in Jerusalem:
And I went up by revelation and communicated unto them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles…”
Before studying Paul’s gospel in depth we should first realise that it is quite different from other gospels. For example, in Gal. 2:7-8 we are told of two gospels, one given Peter for Jews and the other to Paul for Gentiles:
“But contrariwise when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was given to me as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (for he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles).
Clearly then, in the Acts period Peter was preaching one gospel to Jews while Paul was proclaiming a quite different one to Gentiles, one which he elsewhere calls “my gospel”.
The difference is profound. The “good news” preached by Jesus Christ and his 12 apostles to Israel during the Lord’s earthly ministry and subsequently in the Acts was for Jews primarily. Gentiles could be saved by believing in Jesus as Messiah only if they were also baptised into Israel’s hope of resurrection (Acts 10:48, 1 Cor. 15:29 and Acts 28:20). Essentially they were joined to Judaism. Note too that it is not until Acts 10 that the first such Gentiles are converted when Peter is used by God to open the door of faith to Gentiles in the house of Roman centurion Cornelius.
However, as Acts 11:18 makes clear, this handful of Gentiles was saved not to much for their own sake as to make clear to Peter and to those Jews believing in Jesus that now “…hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life”. It was not to save Gentiles per se. And, once this is accomplished, Acts 11 makes clear that Peter steps out of the picture as far as ministry to Gentiles is concerned.
From Acts 13 onward on right through to the end of Acts Gentiles added to the “church of God” are saved largely under the ministry of Paul and others such as Barnabas, and not at all by Peter. What’s more, as the apostle states, they are saved only to “provoke (Israel) to jealousy” (Rom. 11:11). It is only after the Pentecostal dispensation of Acts is replaced by the mystery that Gentiles are saved directly by grace without being joined to Israel.
So what does all this mean? Simply that from first to last Paul’s “my gospel” is a Gentile gospel. First, because in the Acts period only Paul was commissioned to go to the Gentiles with the good news they could be saved through Israel. Last, because the dispensation of grace and the mystery was given the Apostle Paul “…to you-ward”, meaning that it was and still is specifically for Gentiles (Eph. 3:1-2).
It also means that to be “stablished” as a believer today you need both Paul’s “my gospel” and the “preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation”of the mystery" (Rom. 16:25).
So, where in your bible would you find the “preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery”? Why, where else but in the prison epistles that speak so wonderfully of the mystery of God pouring out his grace on Gentiles even more abundantly than He has poured it out on his chosen people, Israel?
Being “stablished” is critical for true believers, for only God Himself can set our feet fast upon the stairway of truth we must climb to reach heaven. Sadly, however, many so-called Christians don’t think so. Rather than study the Bible for themselves such people prefer to let denominations, churches, pastors and even the pope decide doctrine for them and, as a result come to trust in “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1).
In doing so they and the churches that cater to them try to “establish” their own doctrine and consequently must also “establish their own righteousness” (Rom. 10:3), since they have “not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God”.
In today’s dispensation of the grace of God the litmus test for satanic doctrine is to determine whether the teaching is that it is God wholly sanctifying us and grounding us in truth or whether, as much popular teaching has it, we must do the job ourselves.
Thankfully the serious King James Bible student is unlikely to fall into this trap because he knows that in scripture there is a stark difference between the words “stablish” and “establish”. Simply put, it is that “stablish” describes what the Lord and God the Father do to set the believer on a rock and make his faith steadfast. By contrast “establish” describes what Israelites keeping the law had to do to please God and also today what religion, supposedly Christian or otherwise, demands people must do to acquire their own righteousness.
Clearly the organised, professing church is full of rituals such as water baptism, communion and laying on of hands for the supposed “baptism with the Holy Spirit”. What’s more her followers rely on self-examination, repentance, penance and doing good works, all things Israelites and those in the Acts period “church of God” calling were urged to do to make themselves right with God. It is all a far cry from being saved “by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Thankfully in the King James Bible a clear distinction is drawn between what God does to “stablish” us (e.g. Rom. 16:25, 1 Thess. 3:13, 3:3, 2 Thess. 2:17, 3:3 and Rom. 16:25) and what man does to morally “establish” himself or others. Thus in Rom. 1:11 and 1 Thess. 3:2 we see that even God’s ministers, Paul and Timothy, can at best “establish” believers when by now it is glaringly obvious that only God Himself can actually “stablish” them.
So, to drive the point home, let us be clear that according to Rom. 16:25 it is only God “who is of power to stablish” us according to Paul’s “my gospel” and “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery”. Self effort, religious programmes, the organised church and rituals such as water baptism and taking “holy communion” cannot do it.
To be continued
PAUL'S 'MY GOSPEL' - GOD'S
GOOD NEWS TO GENTILES - Part Two
By John Aldworth
Published 30 July 2013
Few realise it but when the Apostle Paul addressed the Athenian rulers on Mars Hill he spoke to them as a Gentile not a Jew. What’s more the message he preached was a Gentile gospel, not a Jewish one. His words were, and still are, gospel (good news) for the whole world; that is for Gentiles in particular.
In fact Acts 17:16-34 uniquely spells out an important part of Paul’s “my gospel” (Rom. 16:25), the message the apostle calls “…that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles” (Gal. 2:2). Its highlight is that God now requires “…all men everywhere to repent”, and that a day of world judgement has been appointed. Proof of the latter, the apostle proclaims, is that God has raised from the dead “That Man which He hath appointed” (Acts 17:30, 31). Importantly, this gospel also explains God’s predetermined purpose for the world and its nations.
However, the crux of Paul’s Mars Hill message is that there is a God who cares about his creatures and wants them to seek after Him in order to find Him. Thus in Acts 17:27 the apostle tells the Athenians the very reason God has pre determined the times and bounds of habitation of the different nations is that:
“They should seek after Him, if haply they might feel after Him and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us.”
Paul sets this caring creator God over against the remote and often terrible devils the Greeks worshipped as gods. Far from seeking to bless mortals these capricious beings had to be frequently appeased lest they torment or destroy their worshippers.
In sharp contrast Paul portrays a loving, blessing God who ‘... giveth to all life, and breath, and all things”. He tells his Greek audience that they too are God’s “offspring” but insists that in order to know their heavenly Father they must abandon worship of the gods of “gold, silver and stone”.
A GOSPEL THAT SAVES
Some might argue this is not much of a gospel since it does not contain the important truth of Christ’s death for our sin. However, it does feature the Lord’s resurrection and, had he not been interrupted, Paul might well have gone on to preach how Christ’s death saves from sin and how his resurrection provides our justification.
Truncated it may have been but the apostle’s message evidently touched the hearts of some who heard it because they belieived. Verse 34 states:
Howbeit certain men clave unto him (Paul) and believed, ,among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
By the way notice how these pagan Greeks came to God. They “clave” unto the Apostle Paul, the Christ-chosen, Christ-ordained messenger of God to Gentiles. They received his message as being one from God; they clung to him as the “teacher of the Gentiles” that he is “in faith and verity” (1 Tim. 2:7). They recognised him as the one “appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles” (2 Tim. 1:11). And in doing so they were saved. Thus we learn that Gentiles are saved by cleaving to the message the Lord has sent to them through the Apostle Paul. And that message includes grace and the hope of glory specifically for Gentiles ( Col. 1:27).
Yet to even mention Paul’s name let alone his “my gospel” to most Christians today is like waving a red flag at a bull. Recently a man bluntly told me: “You worship Paul not Jesus.” In vain I explained that Paul was and is the Lord’s special messenger to Gentiles, but to him anything other the Lord’s message and ministry to Israel and the Jews was “blasphemy”.
I will be blunt in response: Unless you have a saving knowledge of Paul’s “my gospel” and perceive the revelation of the mystery you are not “stablished” and there would be doubt as to whether you are truly saved. Certainly it is not the “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17) given by the Father that would prompt you to reject Paul as the Lord’s special messenger to Gentiles.
Back in Acts 17 there can be no doubt that the message on Mars Hill truly was and is God’s saving word to Gentiles and that today it is still the starting point in the conversion of unsaved heathen. As Heb. 11:6 puts it:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.
How can a pagan Gentile come to God unless he is first told that God is the Creator, the Life Giver to all, the provider of all good things mankind enjoys and a God that wants intimate fellowship with his creatures? It is precisely this important information that Paul imparts to the Athenians in his Mars Hill address.
AN ENTIRELY GENTILE GOSPEL
Importantly, it is entirely a Gentile gospel. There is no mention of Israel, Jews, the Messiah, nor even of Jesus by name. The Lord is only referred to as “That Man whom He (God) hath ordained” (vs. 31). What’s more, as already indicated, it is as a Gentile that Paul presents this good news. Proof of this is that in verses 27, 28 and 29 the apostle uses the all-inclusive “we” to identify himself with his pagan hearers. God is not far from “every one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being,” he says.
To further identify with his Gentile audience, Paul again includes himself when he quotes from two favourite Greek poets (Aratus of Cicilia, c. 270BC and Cleanthes, c. 300BC) in saying “...for we are also his offspring” (vs. 28).
Here then in Acts 17 it is crystal clear that God had, and still has, an especial saving message for Gentiles, one that is separate from, and not be confused with, either the “kingdom” gospel preached by Jesus and his disciples to Israel (Matt. 4:17) or the “gospel of the circumcision” (Gal. 2:7) preached by the Apostle Peter to the Jews in the early Acts period.
Actually the Mars Hill pronouncement forms only part of that special message to Gentiles which Paul describes as “my gospel”. The gospel as a whole is of vital importance because, according to Rom. 16:25, together with the “preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” it is the means God uses to “stablish” believers today.
In the light of the above it is tragic that Christendom largely ignores both Paul’s gospel and the mystery, vainly preferring to seek to save and confirm proselytes by preaching doctrine from the gospels and the Old Testament that was never intended for Gentiles today.
For the record then, Acts 17 uniquely spells out a saving gospel for heathen Gentiles still operative for us, living as we do in the dispensation of the mystery (Eph. 3:1-5). The diligent Bible student will find that not only is there a Gentile gospel, but also an apostle to the Gentiles, a revelation especially for and to Gentiles, a different Gentile way of salvation, a different destiny for Gentile believers, a different purpose for Gentile nations as opposed to that for Israel, and even a different Gentile form of communion. All this comprises Paul’s “my gospel” and will be covered as we progress in this study series.
For now though let us further examine the truth of Paul's “my gospel” as outlined in Acts 17. The core of it is that “…he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection” (Acts 17:18). The question is: how did he do it? For example, did Paul tell the Athenians that God had raised “That Man whom He hath ordained” (vs. 31) to make Him “both Lord and Christ”, as the Apostle Peter proclaimed to Jews at Jerusalem (Acts 2:36)? Did he say that God had exalted Him "...to be a Prince and a Saviour for to give repentance to Israel..." (Acts 5:31)? No, he did not.
THE GENTILE JESUS
In fact it is a different risen Jesus that Paul preaches to the Athenians. It is “The Gentile Jesus” (see the website for details of the author’s book of this name) who has been raised from the dead specifically to give certain proof to Gentiles, indeed to the whole world, that God hath:
… appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead (Acts 17:31).
This does not mean that Jesus ceased to be Jesus as a person when preached to the Gentiles, or that there is “another Jesus”. It is simply that in going to the Gentiles as their salvation and peace bringer (read that in Acts 28:28 and Eph. 2:17) the Lord Jesus Christ has taken on a different role, one more fitted to his new mission to unsaved Gentiles than the form of ministry He exercised among the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” as recorded in the gospels.
In the verse cited above we see a fact not hitherto revealed in scripture: It is that Christ has been raised as irrefutable proof of the truth that Gentiles should repent (change their minds about God) ahead of the coming day of judgement. However, the careful reader of scripture will observe that Gentiles here are not told they must confess their sins, be water baptised, give up eating certain foods, or be “graffed” into Israel’s olive tree (Rom. 11:17), still less be circumcised or obey the law of Moses, in order to be saved. Such requirements were not then, and are not now, part of Paul’s “my gospel”, which, in a nutshell, is the good news of God’s saving grace for Gentiles, albeit revealed bit by bit in Acts and through Paul’s early and latter epistles.
WHY THE NATIONS EXIST
And that is not all. Here in Acts chapter 17 is revealed the underlying purpose for God’s separation of the nations (vs. 26). It is that all men should “seek after Him, if haply that they might feel after Him and find Him".
Much of history then is about how and why God has placed different peoples in different lands at different times and how such nations have responded to this blessing. Thus we see that history is truly “his story”. And, as to man’s response to the Lord’s plan, well, sadly, that’s another story. Conquering kings, ruling tyrants including so-called democratic governments and their peoples have always had their own agendas. In reality, however, they owe their existence to the special purpose that God had in mind for them and their people in the first place. That purpose is and always has been that they might seek and find Him.
Strangely this purpose is rarely if ever publicly cited as a reason for a nation’s existence, although there is one exception, that of my own country, New Zealand, which we will come to later. For the most part, however, seeking the one true God, the God of the Bible, is not the aim of any nation. Rather it is to “make a name" for themselves just as it was for Noah’s rebellious descendants in Gen. 11:4. Consequently most national anthems speak of national military, political or social prowess, not of God’s mercy or grace. Nor does any nation I know of acknowledge the scriptural truth that failure to seek God may cause its ultimate demise. Yet Psalm 9:17 bluntly says:
The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God.
Remember the once powerful kingdoms of Egypt and Cush? Where are they now? What’s left today of the might of ancient Babylon, Persia and Assyria? The Ottoman Empire crumbled into dust more than a century ago and in my lifetime the British Empire, once the champion of Reformation Christianity and birthplace of the King James Bible, has largely followed suit.
In the Bible record nations that forgot God include Israel and Canaan. In Abraham’s time Canaan was a godly nation. Abraham paid tithes to the Canaanite king Melchisedek who in return brought forth bread and wine to bless the patriarch. But over time this king’s people turned from God to serve devils. Thus 400 years after Abraham lived God brought Israel out of Egypt to destroy the Canaanites. Truly that nation was turned into hell, that is, the grave. Today it no longer exists.
In our day the jury is still out on whether America that once great Christian nation will remain a super power or be eclipsed by China or India.
LEST WE FORGET GOD
Clearly then God not only turns the wicked into the grave, He also buries froward nations in the dust of history and topples proud peoples from their perch by sending others to conquer and subdue them. Such are facts of history. The lesson is not to forget God.
Yet forgetting God is just what Britain, America, indeed every western nation, is doing today. In New Zealand, almost every public and state vestige of Christianity has been swept away despite census figures showing nearly half the population still consider themselves “Christians”.
Home to Polynesians, European and immigrants of other ethnicities, New Zealand used to be called “Godzone”, meaning “God’s own”. Today, however, due to forgetting God, it like most western countries is in danger of becoming “Devilzone” as rejection of Christ, drugs, pagan religion, and other evils take hold.
This is sad because without doubt New Zealand’s birth as a nation was clearly brought about by God. It was He that at the height of the British Empire in the early 1800s impelled the Church Missionary Society to send missionaries to the Maori people in New Zealand. And the Lord moved upon the key Maori chiefs in New Zealand to personally invite them to come.
Nor is it just coincidence that the Anglican, Wesleyan and Congregationalist missionaries who arrived preached an evangelical Bible-based gospel based on Jesus’ death for sin rather than merely teach religious worship along with agricultural and other skills, a common emphasis of other missionary endeavours elsewhere at the time.
God also graced these missionaries to transcribe the Maori oral language into written form. Under his guidance they then used this base to translate and print the Bible in Maori. The fact is that without a written Maori language New Zealand’s founding constitutional document, the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi), could never have been written and understood in both Maori and English and thus come to be signed by both parties.
Today New Zealand is a peaceful, prosperous multi-cultural country where Christianity in whatever form is still the majority religion. Sadly though New Zealand, like Britain and America is fast forgetting the God who founded her. “Lest we forget” is a cry heard throughout New Zealand each Anzac Day when all citizens are urged to remember those who fell in two world wars fighting to preserve western freedom. But no one calls on the nation to remember God along with those fallen in battle. Indeed the God who saves is sidelined at such parades and largely ignored at other public ceremonies.
A CHRISTIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM
Thankfully, however, New Zealand’s national anthem remains in public use to remind New Zealanders of the gracious act of God in using European missionaries to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Maori, one of the most warlike and cannibalistic peoples on earth and from these two peoples forging a peaceful, vigorous young nation. The words of the first two verses of this strongly Christian national anthem are:
God of nations at thy feet
In the bonds of love we meet
Hear our voices we entreat
God defend out free land
Guard Pacific’s triple star
From the shafts of strife and war
Make her praises heard afar
God defend New Zealand.
While the last two verses say:
May our mountains ever be
Freedom’s ramparts on the sea
Make us faithful unto Thee
God defend our free land
Guide her in the nation's van
Preaching love and truth to man
Working out Thy glorious Plan
God defend New Zealand
What other patriotic anthem is there that prays the whole nation will be made “faithful unto Thee”?
Britain and America in times past have to some extent found a far-reaching purpose in God though latterly they have fallen away from it. New Zealand, I would suggest, has still to find her God-given destiny. Could it be that as this present age of grace draws to a close that this small South Pacific nation will yet sound out the message the world so desperately needs to hear. It is that all men need to seek God, feel after Him and find Him before it is too late?
It is my fervent desire that it may be so. I pray that the people of this beautiful land, which each day is the first on earth to see the sun, will be the first to also see by faith that the Day of Christ is fast drawing near . It is in this day that our Lord, addressed as “Ihowa”, that is Jehovah, or the Lord, in the Maori version of God Defend New Zealand, will show forth his glory from heaven in a powerful appearing unto all on earth. And, of course, Jehovah is the Old Testament title of the Lord as the Creator in covenant with his creation.
That shining forth includes New Zealand because in Acts 17:26-27 Paul’s “my gospel” states that God hath “made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth …that they should seek the Lord”. And New Zealand is definitely a nation and its location is at the ends of the earth.
In line with this Ps. 67:7 says that “all the ends of the earth shall fear Him” and Ps. 65:5 states that the Lord will be “the confidence of all the ends of the earth”. As a matter of geographical fact New Zealand is the end of the inhabited earth as you travel south from Jerusalem.
What’s more, New Zealand is the only nation to have an anthem that prays its people will be missionaries in preaching truth and love around the world and thus have a role in the out working of God’s "glorious plan" (see the last verse of God Defend New Zealand above).
I pray that in these dying days of the dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:1-4) God will indeed send New Zealanders to proclaim the wonders of his mercy and grace to “this present evil world” that so desperately needs them.
Furthermore God Defend New Zealand is the only national anthem to address the “God of nations” in prayer. One wonders if author Thomas Bracken had Ps. 22:28 in mind when he penned its words? To my mind it is no coincidence that this Psalm, which speaks prophetically of the Lord’s agony in death on the cross for all our sin, also says:
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s and He is the Governor among the nations (verses 27-28).
And it is the Lord’s kingdom, rather than man’s flawed and feeble attempts to govern the nations and the world, that will be seen at the Lord’s appearing in glory in heaven. Thus 2 Timothy 4:1 says:
…the Lord Jesus Christ (who) shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.
Even so come, Lord Jesus.
To be continued
PAUL'S 'MY GOSPEL' - GOD'S GOOD
NEWS FOR GENTILES - Part Three
By John Aldworth
Published August 7, 2013
Matt. 12:18 and 21: Behold my servant whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He shall shew judgement to the Gentiles. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
Rom. 2:16: In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
It isn’t politically correct or popular in most Christian circles to talk of a coming Day of Judgement. Yet the Bible makes clear such a day is indeed coming and that surprisingly the judgement it entails will be “good news” for mankind.
Certainly that is the tone of Matt. 12:18 and 21 above. Right thinking people don’t “trust” a judge who only hands out punishment. However, they do have confidence in a judge who sees his business is putting right that which is wrong, which is exactly the meaning of “judgement” here.
Of course, the “putting right” involves punishment for those who made it wrong in the first place. It always has. But just imagine telling a magistrate or judge about to pronounce sentence that there’s “a day of judgement” coming for him too. That’s exactly what my maternal grandfather did in court many years ago when in his view he was unfairly fined for what seemed an unavoidable technical offence in the early days of motoring.
Try telling a magistrate that today and you would be likely to be punished for contempt of court. Yet don’t some preachers or churches show contempt for the far higher court of heaven where “God is the judge” (Psalm 75:7) when they ignore or reject what the Bible has to say about the coming day of judgement?
This not to suggest that most Christians do not believe in judgement; for they do. Problem is they mostly see it as taking place at death when a person is judged and sent to heaven or hell and not during a specific day of judgement which is when it actually takes place according to Rom. 2:16.
Often Heb.9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgement”, is quoted in this regard. However, this verse does not talk about anyone being sent to heaven or hell; rather verse 28 says that Christ having suffered once for the sins of many“… will to them that look for Him appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Heb. 9:27 is actually is talking of our Lord’s yet future appearing at which there will indeed be a great judgement. In fact it will be the beginning of a whole day of judgement. This is more fully pictured in 2 Tim. 4:1 which reads:
I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.
That this is not a one off judgement at the end of a person’s life but a whole day of judgement, arguably lasting up to a thousand years ( see 2 Pet. 3:8), is made clear both by Rom. 2:16 above – “… in the day when God shall judge…” – and also by 2 Tim. 4:8 where the Apostle Paul states:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only but all them that also love his appearing”.
“That day” is the Day of Christ, referred to seven times in Paul’s epistles (1 Cor. 5:5, 1:18, 2 Cor. 1:14, Phil. 1:6, 1:10, 2:16 and 2 Thess. 2:2). It is the era of blessing God will bring in at the close of the current mystery-grace dispensation. Sadly it is largely ignored by Christendom. Further studies about the truths of the Day of Christ, which is also his the time of his appearing and also the Day of Judgement, can be downloaded elsewhere from this website.
Importantly, the Day of Christ is when the Lord will rule from heaven curbing the power of the devil and his angels, toppling evil rulers, destroying the wicked and bringing in true justice, righteousness and fairness for the “meek of the earth” (see Ps. 89:8-9, 96:10-13, 110:5-6 and Is. 11:4).
Right now, however, Satan is the god of this world. He is both “prince of the power of the air” and “the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Consequently it is said to be “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4). However, “… the Lord cometh to judge the earth; He shall judge the world with righteousness and the people with his truth” (Ps. 96:12).
An important question is: Why does the Apostle Paul say this future day of judgement is “according to my gospel”? Answer: Because it was to Paul the apostle to the Gentiles that the Lord gave the task of announcing to all men that this time of world judgement is at hand.
This is clearly seen in Acts 17: 31 where the apostle announces to an audience of unsaved, pagan, idol worshipping Athenians that God:
Hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance to all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.
Believing Israelites already knew of this day. They knew it was one when the Lord would “punish the host of the high ones that are on high and the kings of the earth upon the earth” (Isa. 24:21). It was the time when “... a king shall reign in righteousness and princes shall rule in judgement” (Isa. 32:1). Moreover …
…in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord and the poor rejoice … for the terrible one is brought to nought. (Isa. 29:18-20).
What a wonderful new world it will be when all are made to hear the words of God and to know the truth the Bible contains. This is what will happen in Judgement Day, which is the Day of Christ, the day of his appearing (Titus 2:13, 1 Tim. 6:14, 2 Tim. 1:10, 4:1, 8). In this day the Lord will shine forth from heaven in his full glory, powerfully convincing men of his love, mercy truth and justice. Just as He promised in Num. 14:21:
But as truly as I live all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.
As already stated, believing Israel knew this wonderful truth. The Apostle Peter, for example, described it to his Jewish hearers as “the times of refreshing” which were to come “from the presence of the Lord” and "the times of the restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).
However, until Paul’s proclamation on Mars Hill Gentiles knew nothing of it. From the tower of Babel down to Paul’s time Gentiles were “far off". They were “... without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).
Not until the Apostle Paul was sent by the risen Lord to the Gentiles did they begin to learn not only that the Lord had died for their sin also and not just that of the Israelites, but that also He would be their righteous judge in the day of judgement in a new world to come.That is why it was given to Paul to announce in Rom. 2:16 that there would be a “… day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel”. This is why Paul’s “my gospel” includes all of the truth the Lord Jesus Christ has revealed to the apostle (Gal. 1:11-12) for Gentiles (Gal. 2:2, 7-8). As Matt. 12:18 above says: “… and He shall shew judgement to the Gentiles.” And Isa. 42:1 reads:
I have put my Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles.
Some may ask: But didn’t Christ bring forth judgement to Gentiles during his three and a half year ministry on earth to Israel? No, He did not. Rather, He said: “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”.
Others would assert that Christ has brought forth much judgement to Gentiles since his ascension to heaven nearly 2000 years ago. But again that is not the case. Rather the Lord has been showing his abundant grace to the whole world in the nearly 2000 years that have elapsed since then. That is why in Rom. 2:16 Paul advises that such judgement will take place “…in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel”. And not before.
What form will such judgement take? The context suggests that when God “render(s) to every man according to his deeds” (vs. 6) his judgment will be vastly different from that seen now. Today God is dealing with mankind in grace and nothing but grace. He is “reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor. 5:19). Thus in our time and for us Gentiles the Apostle Paul is commissioned to:
“…preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God who created all things by Christ Jesus”(Eph. 3:8-9).
But in the Day of Christ, the day of judgement, it will be very different. For one thing the secrets of men will be both made known and judged by God. They certainly aren’t today. For example, the British Government hides classified documents about its decisions for more than half a century and routinely politicians disguise the real motives for their actions behind honeyed words.
And justice as we know now it often goes awry. As I write there is grave disquiet in New Zealand about an stark miscarriage of justice. Even rank and file police have called for an independent review of the case of a young man wrongly convicted on cooked up evidence and false confession of a murder and rape he did not commit. Pora has languished in jail for 20 years while the real killer went on to rape nearly 20 other women – and police knew who the real killer was all along.
As to equity in today’s world, forget it. Sin has not created all men equal and today injustice and unfairness abounds but in the Day of Christ all this will change. God will judge both the secrets and the deeds of men according to his own perfect standards of justice. Gen. 18:25 asks rhetorically: “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” For sure He will, as Psalm 98:8-9 assures us:
… He cometh to judge the earth; with righteousness shall He judge the world and the people with equity.
Rom. 2:5 says it will be a “day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds”. He will reward with eternal life those who “by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality”. There will be glory, honour and peace to every man “that worketh good” (vs. 10). But God will heap unrighteousness, indignation and wrath on “the contentious that do not obey the truth” (vs. 8).
Though this is an evil world many in it long for justice to be done, for evil deeds to be properly punished, for evil rulers and for wicked men to be destroyed. And in the Day of Christ this is just what God will do as Rom. 2:12 and 15 (read together without the parenthesis) assures us:
For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish (that is, die) without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Punishing evil angels and slaying wicked men will be the order of the day with no beg pardons and none of the “let’s be kind to killers” nonsense that exists today. Execution for murder, according to Gen. 9:5-6, will be carried out by God Himself. Make not mistake about it, those that still transgress against God after seeing the glory of the Lord revealed, the earth restored to its pre-flood beauty and plenty and justice and righteousness brought in for all will be destroyed. Thus in Isa. 66:23-24 we learn that in the “new heavens and the new earth” which God will make:
... from one sabbath to another shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring to all flesh.
However, this drastic punishment of those few determined to rebel against God’s goodness will be a small price to pay for bringing, peace, plenty, fairness and true justice to the world.
To sum up, we see that the Day of Judgement is actually the bringing in of a better world with righteous judgement as its theme. Told to Israel long ago by the prophets, it is now is proclaimed to Gentiles by the Apostle Paul in his “my gospel”.
It remains to address the view of some dispensationalists that Rom. 2:16 teaches that God will judge men by (not, according to) Paul’s gospel. Predicated on the assumption that there will be a general resurrection of all the unsaved to face judgement this view proposes that the basis of God’s assessment at the judgement will be whether or not the gospel of the grace of God that Paul preached (Acts 20:24) was believed in the lifetime of those judged.
However, this is a fanciful and far fetched interpretation of the text which actually merely says that there will be a day in which God will judge the secrets of man and that this is truth according to Paul’s gospel – that is, that it is a part of the considerable body of Paul’s teaching and preaching for Gentiles that comprises Paul's "my gospel". Realising that the “day” in Rom. 2:16 refers to the Day of Christ and not to a supposed general resurrection of the dead disposes of the theory.
To be continued
PAUL'S 'MY GOSPEL' - GOD'S
GOOD NEWS FOR GENTILES - Part Four
By John Aldworth
Published Sept. 10 2013
2 Tim. 2:8-10: 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. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Col. 2:12: Buried with Him in baptism wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of Go, who hath raised Him from the dead.
This is the last of three scriptural references in which the Apostle Paul writes of “my gospel”. The first in Rom. 2:16 speaks to Gentiles of the soon coming day of world judgement, the second, in Rom. 16:25, asserts that God will now “stablish” all believers “according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery…” The third in 2 Tim. 2:8, which we now consider, urges Gentiles to know Christ as the risen Lord in order to be saved and to know “the power of his resurrection” to obtain eternal glory.
The effect of 2 Tim. 2:8 and accompanying verses is to further demarcate Paul’s “my gospel” as a distinct message separate from previous gospels such as that of the kingdom preached by Jesus and his disciples to Israel (Matt. 4:17), that by the Apostle Peter to Israelites on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38) and “the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1-4) which Paul preached to Jews “among all nations” during the Acts period. Essentially this latter gospel was a Jewish gospel in that Gentiles saved under it became members of the called out Israelite company which comprised “the church of God” (Acts 20:28).
When it comes to resurrection the difference between Paul’s “my gospel” and preceding gospels is crystal clear. Acts period believers were saved by believing “God hath raised Him from the dead” (Rom. 10:9) which is also what Peter preached in Acts 2 to the Jews. Going far beyond that believers in the “church which is his body” (Eph. 1:22-23) calling are told that they are “risen with Him” (Col. 2:12).
In fact all three earlier gospels mentioned above were preached only to members of the nation Israel plus such Gentiles who were saved under the Apostle Paul’s ministry in the Acts period and thus added to the Jewish “church of God” (Acts 20:28, 1 Cor. 1:2) mainly to “provoke” Israel to jealousy (Rom. 11:13-14).
By contrast Paul’s “my gospel” is a message for Gentiles saved under a Gentile, not a Jewish calling. Struck by this some years ago I wrote the book, “The Gentile Jesus”, which argues the scriptural case for realising that just as Jesus went to Israel as their Messiah in his earthly ministry, so for nearly the last 2000 years He come to the Gentiles as their Gentile Saviour. Thus to that extent He is indeed “The Gentile Jesus”. If you would like a copy of this book please email the author at email@example.com and explain how you came to hear about it and why you would like it. The book will be posted to you free of charge.
Simply put Paul’s “my gospel” comes in three main parts. It sets out God’s special message to save Gentiles (Rom. 2:16 and Acts 17:30-31), then teaches how those Gentiles who respond to this good news can be “stablished” (Rom. 16:25) and finally presents how Gentile believers have been made one with Christ Jesus in his resurrection (2 Tim. 2:8 and Col. 2:12) and “made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).
I make no apology for stressing that this is an entirely Gentile, not Jewish gospel. It is the clear teaching of Acts 28:28 that “salvation”, in the form of the Saviour Christ Jesus was sent to the Gentiles after the dismissal of Israel in verse 27.
This is confirmed by Eph. 2:17 which states that Jesus came personally (through the ministry of the Apostle Paul) to “preach peace unto you who were afar off. In Eph. 3:1-3 we learn that Paul is “a prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles” and that the dispensation of the grace of God and the mystery was personally imparted by the Lord to him while he was in prison as a Roman citizen (see Acts 25:11, 21; 26:32 and 27:1). Paul says this wonderful revelation was “given me to you-ward”, that is to Gentiles, not Jews.
Thus we see that the Apostle Paul’s “my gospel” is a message of grace and love from the Gentile Jesus through the Gentile apostle (Paul is indeed the “apostle to the Gentiles”, see Rom. 11:13) sent to Gentiles throughout the world. It is not a message to or through Israel, or to Jews. The Jews actually had their own “gospel to the circumcision” (Gal. 2:7) through the Apostle Peter.
It is necessary to labour the point about the Gentile nature of this gospel because almost all of Christendom refuses to accept what the Bible actually teaches about it. Ignoring the clear instructions of God in 2 Tim. 2:15 to “rightly divide the word of truth” and in Phil. 1:10 to “approve the things that are excellent” or that “differ” (KJB margin note) the professing church at large falsely insists that there is only one gospel and that it is the same whether found in the Old Testament, the gospels or Paul’s prison epistle ministry. But emphatically it is not.
Fact is Gentiles cannot now be saved merely by believing Jesus was the Messiah sent to Israel (as the Jews then had to believe), or by believing that God raised Him from the dead to be Israel’s Saviour and prince (Acts 5:31).
Rather they must believe that they as Gentiles have been “made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13), that Christ has come personally to “preach peace” unto them as ones “afar off” (Eph. 2:17 and that through “faith in the operation of God” they are now “risen with Him” (Col. 2:12).
Thus we see that to be “stablished” today (Rom. 16:25) - which means to be assured of going to heaven to be with Christ - we must trust in Paul’s “my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery”. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he urged Timothy to “lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:12). It is also what he meant when he urged his timid disciple to “hold fast the form of sound words which ye have heard of me” (2 Tim. 1:13).
As explained at length in “The Gentile Jesus” Christ Jesus today is the risen, glorified Lord who in a very real way since the setting aside of Israel has become a Gentile to save Gentiles as much as He was earlier born a Jew to be Saviour to Israelites who came to trust in Him. As Matt. 2:2 states, He was “born king of the Jews”, not king of the Gentiles. Fact is He was only “made” a Gentile in his death and resurrection. And He was only sent to Gentiles at the close of the Book of Acts. For more detail on this please take up my free offer to receive the book “The Gentile Jesus” as outlined above..
Now it is deeply regrettable that the huge and important difference between Jews and Gentiles, which is such a vital key to correct Bible understanding, is not fully recognised , even among dispensationalists,. Ethnicity is indeed the key to recognising that a whole new revelation of truth was given to Paul specifically for us Gentiles and that a new dispensation of grace and love from the Father and his Son now offers salvation to all men on a Gentile basis.
Today we live in a predominantly Gentile dispensation, the special truth of which should not be watered down by mixing it either with doctrine preached by the Lord to Israel during his earthly ministry or that which He imparted to the apostles during the Pentecostal Acts period.
Let me beat the drum louder. Why is that so called “Christian” believers are so viciously persecuted particularly in countries where Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism hold sway? In recent years tens of thousands have been brutally murdered, millions have been driven out; those that remain suffer daily discrimination and persecution? Why does the gospel they believe not deliver them? Is it because in fact their trust is in an outdated, largely Jewish message that has been set aside by God?
Note well that while western governments loudly intervene to oppose injustice done to Muslims (especially in oil producing countries) when it suits their purpose, they do not utter a word, nor lift a finger to help hapless “Christians” losing their lives in dozens of countries around the world.
So why does God Himself not intervene to save them? After all He promised Saul (who became Paul) He would always rescue him from trouble (Acts 26:17). Could it be because these so called “Christians” are not saved under the pro-Gentile “my gospel” of Paul but are trying to get right with God in some other way?
You see if it’s deliverance you’re after then you must know that today in the dispensation of grace and the mystery (Eph. 3:1-3) deliverance only comes as part of the salvation package in Paul’s “my gospel”. It is not promised or secured under the earlier gospels. Consider the following scriptures:
Gal.1:4: (Our Lord Jesus Christ) who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world according to the will of God and our Father.
Col. 1:13 (The Father) who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
2 Tim. 3:18: And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom.
These three verses are part and parcel of Paul’s “my gospel”. In comparison Jesus’s earthly disciples were not promised deliverance; rather He told them they would be killed (Matt. 24:9).
We Gentiles must realise that Paul is our pattern for salvation (1 Tim. 16) and, if that is so, then his deliverance is a pattern for our deliverance also. Provided of course that we ourselves are witnesses for the “present truth” as Paul was. What is the present truth for Gentiles, you ask? Why, Rom. 16:25 gives it you in a nutshell! It is that God the Father…
“….is of power to stablish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.
It was these two truths – Paul’s “my gospel” to the Gentiles and the “preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery”- that got the apostle into trouble, deep trouble. In 2 Tim. 3:11 he records:
What persecutions I endured: but out of them all, the Lord delivered me.
Delivered from them all. Why then cannot professing Christians in Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria and the Yemen say that the Lord is delivering them out of all their troubles? Why is it that more than a million “Christians” in recent years were butchered by the Gangaweed in the Sudan and the “world’s policeman”, the United States, deliberately looked the other way?
I believe it is because these people have put their trust in rituals and religious works prescribed by an apostate Christendom which refuses to believe God is now saving believers by a new gospel as part of the “…mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations but now is made manifest to his saints” (Col. 1:26).
The “present truth”, which is “the form of sound words”(2 Tim. 2:13) and which saves “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8) is found in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, the pastoral epistles and Philemon. Sadly it is not taught as salvation doctrine by most churches. Instead they cling to the unscriptural notion that people today can get saved just as Jews did in Jesus’ time on earth or by the largely Jewish message preached during the Acts period.
Consequently, the stress in the denominations is on repenting, going forward at altar calls, being water baptised, taking communion, turning over a new leaf and practising good works – all things that human beings do. Or it is on expecting the Holy Ghost to redo things scripture says He stopped doing with the setting aside of Israel at the end of Acts.
By contrast Paul’s “my gospel” and the “preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” is all about what God Himself has already done to secure our complete salvation, sanctification and deliverance in grace. It couldn’t be more different.
You see it is what God is saying and doing now that saves and delivers, not the doctrinal leftovers from the Lord’s dealings with the now long set aside Israel. Such stale “manna” cannot “stablish” us nor can it can it deliver us from trouble in “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4).
But know this, God really does want every believer to personally experience his mighty power to both save and deliver us in this life, and to also resurrect us from death. Thus in Eph 1: 17-21 Paul prays that….
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that ye may know 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.
This is why in 2 Tim. 2:8 the imprisoned apostle urges his young disciple to remember that “Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel”.
You see Jesus Himself had to die to all hope of seeing his ministry to save Israel succeed this side of the grave. He said Himself, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). Now like Jesus and like Paul Timothy also has to learn what it is to “be made conformable unto His death … if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11).
God very strongly wants every believer to know “the working of his (God’s) mighty power” (Eph. 1:19) in raising them from spiritual death, setback and despair. He wants us to spiritually experience for ourselves his greatest feat ever, the raising up of his Son Jesus Christ from death, a work which will find its ultimate fulfilment in our life beyond the grave. This will take place when those who have laid hold on eternal life will appear in glory with Christ in the heavenlies. Comparing Col. 2:12 and 3:4 beautifully sets out this progression from “positional experience” in our present life to our future actual “state of being”.
Col. 2:12: Buried with Him in baptism also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead (i.e. spiritually and positionally).
Col. 3:3-4: For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” (complete fulfilment, our future state of being).
Timothy was in “tears” (2 Tim. 1:4) at the apparent wreck both of his own ministry and that of Paul. The apostle had to remind him that inevitably the ministry of “my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” was met with rejection from many and with affliction and suffering for those who preached it (2 Tim. 2:17-18, 1:12, 2:9). You see after Acts 28:28 even believers saved in the Pentecostal Acts dispensation spurned it (2 Tim. 15).
Timothy himself was also adversely affected. He was fearful (2 Tim. 1:7), weak in the Lord’s grace when he should be “strong” (2:1) and had to be told to not “be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel” (1:8).
Paul’s message to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:8m is that despite appearances to the contrary, the battle is not lost; indeed already the victory is actually won in Christ. All that is needed is for Timothy to die to himself and in the ministry to what he as a human being can do, in order to see what God can do triumph. That is where knowing the Father’s resurrection comes in. But before the power of His resurrection can be known, Timothy like Paul, must be “made conformable to his death” (Phil. 3:10). In other words in our life here below we will undergo a real spiritual dying before we experience the truth of being “risen with Him” and thus knowing the “power of his resurrection”.
In 2 Tim. 11-13 Paul lays this on the line:
For if we be dead with Him we shall also live with Him. If we suffer we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him He will also deny us. If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.
But why, you might ask, does Paul mention that “Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead”? It is because David was a mighty earthly warrior in the Lord, he was not a king who could conquer death. By contrast Jesus Christ did and still does.
Paul is saying to Timothy: Remember that Jesus Christ rose in a power far greater than that which He had as David’s son. He is now “the blessed and only Potentate, the king of Kings and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality …” (1 Tim. 15-16).
Raised by God, Christ Jesus is now set at the Father’s own right hand in the heavenly places …
Far above all principality and might and dominion and every name that is named not only in this world but also in that which is to come. And hath put all things under his feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:19-22).
In all his setbacks and troubles Timothy is to remember that in the truth of Paul’s “my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery”, Timothy in reality is already risen with Christ. Already he has been “raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. In God’s mind because he is in Christ Timothy is in a position where already he has been …
Delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son. (Col. 1:13).
Consequently Timothy is to take comfort in the truth that even though the devil’s work and man’s opposition may appear to have quashed his ministry of Paul’s “my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” (Rom. 16:25) God through Christ is well able to raise it up from the grave, just as He raised Christ Himself.