Truth Lost, Truth Regained, Truth Lost Again
In 1Thes 4:13-18, Paul, “by the word of the Lord” (15), addressed the Thessalonians, as members of mainly Gentile “body of Christ” (Eph 3:1-5), concerning the “Rapture” or catching away of “the church.”
Paul then also wrote to the Romans saying, “I (Paul) am THE APOSTLE to the GENTILES” (Rom 11:13). The word “THE” here is grammatically the “definite article.” The definite article here indicates the person is uniquely specified. In this case “THE” refers back to “I (Paul)” as the uniquely specified one. This means Paul alone is “THE Apostle (Gk., apostolos, THE sent one) to the Gentiles.”
To this some may say, “What about Peter?” Here below is what Paul wrote to clarify the difference between his and Peter’s callings – then having two (2) different gospels for two (2) different people groups. Paul was sent unto “the Gentiles” of “the Church, which is the His body” while Peter was sent to “the lost sheep of the house of
” (Mat 10:5-6) - “the circumcision (Gal 2:7, see below)” Israel
“But CONTRARIWISE (as OPPOSITES), when they saw that “THE GOSPEL (good news) OF (pertaining to) the UNcircumcision (the Gentiles)” was committed (entrusted) unto me (Paul)… as “THE GOSPEL (good news) OF (pertaining to) THE CIRCUMCISION (
)” was (committed) unto PETER” (Gal 2:7 KJV) Israel
Earlier, in Gal 2:2, we have the context of Gal 2:7 (above). It accentuated Paul’s unique gospel as “THAT GOSPEL WHICH I (Paul) PREACH among the GENTILES.” Paul also said his “gospel of (concerning) the uncircumcision (Gentiles)” is versus “any other gospel” (Gal 1:9) during this age of “the grace of God.”
In Peter’s 2nd epistle, written just before his death, he acknowledged Paul’s unique “wisdom.” Peter warns the children of
, to whom he was sent (Matt 10:5-6), to learn from the “wisdom” Paul had written. Israel
“And account that the longsuffering (patience) of our Lord (the delay in His return for Israel) is (opportunity for) salvation (before the coming judgments); even as our beloved brother PAUL also according to THE WISDOM GIVEN UNTO HIM hath written unto you; 16 As also IN ALL HIS EPISTLES, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which THEY THAT ARE UNLEARNED AND UNSTABLE WREST (twist), as they do also the other scriptures, UNTO THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION. (2 Peter 3:15-16)
Also by the inspiration of God, Paul here claims his unique place, and the unique place of his “gospel,” telling us how he had “RECEIVED IT… BY REVELATION… OF (directly from) JESUS CHRIST”
“… I (Paul) certify you, brethren, that THE GOSPEL which was preached of me is not after (according to) man. “For I (Paul) neither RECEIVED IT of man, neither was I taught it, but (I received it) BY the REVELATION of (unveiling by) JESUS CHRIST” (Gal. 1:11 12).
“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that THE THINGS THAT I (Paul) WRITE UNTO YOU ARE THE COMMANDMENTS (Gk, entole, prescription) OF THE LORD.” (1Cor. 14:37)
From the time of his Christ-given ministry on earth unto this very day, Paul’s gospel and doctrines have been attacked, marginalized, or largely set aside. The Protestant Reformers of the 1500’s established their “Five Solas,” which were five Latin phrases that summarized five core gospel doctrines for this age of grace. The “Five Solas” were all truths drawn from Paul’s epistles; they are 1) Sola Scriptura (the Bible Alone) is the source that proclaims salvation is available…, 2) by Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), 3) through Sola Fide (Faith Alone), 4) in Solus Christos (Christ Alone), 5) unto “Sola Deo Gloria” (the Glory of God Alone).
Having established Paul’s place and status in God’s plan, let’s now consider what I call the “Lost & Found Truths of Paul’s Mystery Gospel.” Paul’s “mystery” gospel had been “kept secret” until it was revealed to Paul for the “church, which is His body” (Eph 1:22b-23a). “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to MY (Paul’s) GOSPEL, and the preaching of Jesus CHRIST, ACCORDING TO THE REVELATION of THE MYSTERY (God’s secret plan), which WAS KEPT SECRET SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN,” (Rom 16:25)
These key Pauline truths were Revealed to Paul, then Lost, and then Recovered.
- Most today are Biblically confused because they’ve not seen Paul’s unique ministry of his “mystery” gospel that Jesus gave to Paul for the mainly Gentile “body of Christ” (Eph 3:1-5). Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Eph 2:8-9), was recovered in the Reformation through men such as John Wickliffe, John Hus, Martin Luther and John Calvin. This light of God ended what we call “the Dark Ages.” Paul wrote, “ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14b). Sadly, much of Christianity today has apostacized just as Paul predicted; having “fallen from grace” and going back to “the Law.” Many today cling to some form of “the Law” that God gave Moses for
along with manmade religious laws. Today Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God” (Act 20:24) is mostly NOT seen because Paul’s unique calling and ministry “to the Gentiles” has been marginalized. Many today think Paul is “just one of the Apostles.” Actually, Paul’s mystery gospel of “the grace of God” is for ALL who would believe today (both Jew & Gentile, Gal 3:28), but mainly for “ye Gentiles” (Eph 3:1). Israel
- After Paul’s death, the dispensational distinction between “
” and “the Body of Christ” that Paul taught was still somewhat held early on by Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and others in the 1st – 3rd centuries. This understanding was undermined by Augustine’s teaching in the 5th century. Yet this truth was more fully recovered much later by men such as C.H. Spurgeon, J.N. Darby, D.L. Moody, R.A. Torrey, E.I. Scofield, EW Bullinger, Ryrie, Stam, and others. Without noting this distinction between “ Israel ” and “the Body of Christ,” the Bible is a confusing hodgepodge of seemingly contradictory information. Consider that most who ignore the distinction between “Israel” and “the Body of Christ” would say we “are under the law,” but Paul says we “are not under the law” (Rom 6:14). Today this truth distinction has been largely lost again in the church. Israel
- Just as Paul received multiple progressive “revelations” (1Cor 12:1, 7), the recovery of these key Pauline doctrines has been progressive during and after the Reformation. The doctrine of the Rapture of “the body of Christ” was recovered not by the Reformers, but later by men such as E.I. Scofield, J.N. Darby who also translated the Darby Bible, E.W. Bullinger, and Charles Ryrie.
Though these doctrines were revealed and recovered by and since the Protestant Reformers of the 1,500s, many in the church today are “falling away” from the Pauline truths of “the faith” (1Tim 4:1, 2Cor 13:5; Col 1:23, 2:7), including the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of “His body.” With the loss of “the faith,” the “blessed hope” of the Rapture at “His appearing,” many today are “shaken” and insecure “in mind” in view of the world events.
“Now we beseech (desire for) you, brethren, BY THE COMING OF OUR LORD Jesus Christ, and BY OUR GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM (Rapture), 2(So) THAT YE BE NOT SOON SHAKEN IN MIND, or be troubled, NEITHER BY spirit, nor by word, NOR BY letter (as if it were) from us, as that THE DAY OF CHRIST IS AT HAND.
(Note: Some were spreading error concerning the Lord’s 2nd coming under Paul’s name, saying the 2nd coming was at hand. Here below Paul sets this falsehood straight.)
3LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU by any means: for THAT DAY shall NOT COME, except (until) there come a FALLING AWAY FIRST, and that MAN OF SIN BE REVEALED, THE SON OF PERDITION (Antichrist); 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (2 Thes 2:1-4).
(Note: Since there was no Antichrist sitting in the
, this could not true, and it won’t be until the middle of the Tribulation) Temple
We today aren’t to be looking for the Antichrist; Paul says we are to be looking and waiting for “the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ” at the Rapture.
“LOOKING FOR that BLESSED HOPE, and THE GLORIOUS APPEARING of THE GREAT GOD and OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST; (Titus 2:13)
“And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the PATIENT WAITING FOR CHRIST. (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
The church-at-large today has already and will yet come to breed even more narcissistic, self-loving, and self-serving “Christian pretenders,” who actually “deny (reject) the (sovereign) power of God.”
“… IN THE LAST DAYS PERILOUS TIMES SHALL COME. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having A FORM (only an appearance) OF GODLINESS, but DENYING THE POWER THEREOF (of God): from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
The blessings of these 4 Pauline truths (below) have largely been lost to the church-at-large today.
1. The blessings of security and stability are found only under Paul’s pure “gospel of the grace of God” (Act 20:24). Many today have lost the blessings of the gospel of “the dispensation of the GRACE of God.” God’s salvation and favor comes to men only by GRACE ALONE, through FAITH ALONE, IN CHRIST ALONE (Eph 2:8-9). The church today has largely fallen away from the pure grace and love of God, favoring rather Jewish and manmade laws, trying to be saved, or to have favor with God.
2. With the church largely abandoning Paul’s gospel and the “revelation of the mystery” (Rom 16:25), which “is CHRIST IN YOU,” believers today have not heard of the key to successful Christian living.
“To whom (the believers) God would make known what is the riches of the glory of THIS MYSTERY (heretofore secret) among the Gentiles; which is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory: (Col 1:27).
The key is this; salvation includes the BELIEVER’S ORGANIC UNION WITH CHRIST’S VERY OWN RESURECTION LIFE. Christ literally indwells each believing member of “the body of Christ” as their new “life” (Gal 2:20). Christ’s indwelling life is the all-sufficient, sustaining, inner reality of the believer. Sadly, this reality has been mostly lost in favor of the externalities of religion’s precepts (laws), works, liturgy, ritualistic ceremony, and tradition. With Christ as the believer’s inner reality and life supply, religion’s external laws aren’t at all needed today.
Every believer today has the “law (regulating power) of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2a) indwelling his human spirit as his new life and spontaneous inner guide
3. As discussed earlier, the church has lost knowledge of the distinction between “
” and “the body of Christ.” The term “the body of Christ” is only used by Paul. Mingling Israel ’s keeping of “the Law” and the “gospel of the kingdom” … with “gospel of the grace of God” (Act 20:24) for “the church, which is the body of Christ” is THE GREAT ERROR that causes contradiction and confusion in today’s church-at-large. Keeping the Law actually destroys God’s free “gift of righteousness,” nullifying God’s GRACE (Gal 5:4). “If (salvation is) by grace, then is it NO more of WORKS… (Rom 11:6a). The “Law” the Lord gave Israel Israelthrough Moses (John 1:17a) was for ONLY. Israel
“TO WHOM (TO
) PERTAINS the adoption, the glory, the covenants, THE giving of THE LAW, the service of God and the promises…” ( ISRAEL 9:4-5). Rom.
Contrariwise, Paul writes these words concerning the mainly Gentile church, which is His body.
“… YE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW, but UNDER GRACE.” (Romans 6:14)
“you… hath he quickened (made alive) having (now) forgiven you all trespasses; 14 BLOTTING OUT THE HANDWRITING OF ORDINANCES (the Law) that was AGAINST US, which WAS CONTRARY TO US, and TOOK IT OUT OF THE WAY, NAILING IT TO HIS CROSS;” (Col 2:13-14)
4. Most Bible teachers today misapply the Bible’s prophesied “future events” concerning “
”… applying them to “the body of Christ.” This has led to confusion about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the “the body of Christ.” Paul is the ONLY God-inspired Bible writer who tells us about the Rapture of “the body of Christ.” Not seeing the distinction between that which applies to the nation “Israel” and that of “the body of Christ,” most today misapply the genuine prophecies of Christ’s 2nd coming (i.e., Matt 24-25, Luke 21) … to the time of the Rapture of the church. Israel
This results in contradiction and confusion that prompts many to fall away from the “blessed HOPE” of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture for “the Church, His Body.” Paul says of the “body of Christ” we are “NOT appointed to (God’s) wrath” (1 Thes 5:9). Actually, the Rapture marks the conclusion of the church age of “His body” and simultaneously … the resumption of God’s prophetic program for
The Apostle Paul referred to the Bible as “The Word of God,” writing “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, to teach, reprove, correct, and instruct” (2Tim 3:16). But then some ask; “Why have so many sincere people been led astray by these false Bible teachings? Why do we see so many heresies and false teachings springing up – while all claim to be based upon the Bible?”
The answer is this. Being Biblical is one thing, most cults site the Bible. But to see the Biblically dispensational is quite another – noting what applies and to whom it applies.
Most often both teachers and followers have failed to heed this important instruction Paul gave just prior to his declaration ALL Scripture is inspired of God and profitable. Paul wrote;
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH” (2 Tim. 2:15 KJV).
We must divide the Bible dispensationally. The fact is that through the centuries God has periodically altered His dealings with mankind, these times we call “dispensations.” First there was the dispensation of Innocence in the Garden of Eden, then the dispensation of Human Government in Noah’s day, the dispensation of Promise to Abraham and his seed, the dispensation of the Law for Israel, and now Paul’s “the dispensation of the Grace of God” for the Gentiles (Eph 3:1-2).
Thus Paul says we need to divide the Bible, dispensationally; noting the dispensational differences in the relationship between God and man. Only then can we clearly see the Lord’s eternal plan and intent in the Rapture for “the body of Christ” as distinguished from… Christ’s 2nd coming to earth for
and to establish His Millennial and eternal Kingdom on earth. Israel
So we must heed Paul’s method for Bible interpretation, to “rightly divide the Word of truth,” for the simple reason that if we do not “rightly divide” we likely will pervert the truth and come to harmful error.
Example: Many religious rites that were commanded by God in Old Testament are positively forbidden in this present dispensation of grace. Consider that under the Old Testament animal sacrifices WERE REQUIRED for acceptance with God, and from John the Baptist through Pentecost water baptism WAS REQUIRED for cleansing from sin and for salvation (Lev 17:11; Mk 1:4; Acts 2:38).
But now, on the contrary, AFTER the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and then Stephen’s stoning, Paul was sent with “the preaching of the cross” (1Cor 1:18). Paul declared;
“We (now) have REDEMPTION through His blood, the FORGIVENESS OF SINS according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7);
“(we are) JUSTIFIED FREELY by GRACE, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).
So we must study the Bible in its near and remote context by comparing Scripture with Scripture. Paul’s Epistle to the Roman’s touches almost every Bible issue, of which John Calvin wrote; “If a man understands it (Romans), he has a sure road opened for him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.”
Romans brings together and sets out in systematic relation all the great themes of the Bible - the sin nature, acts of sin, the law, judgment, faith, grace versus works, justification, sanctification, election, the plan of salvation, the work of Christ, the work of the Spirit, the believer’s identity in Christ, the Christian hope, the nature and life of the Church, the place of Jew and Gentile in the purposes of God, the fulness of times, the heaven and the earth, the meaning and message of the Old Testament. From the Romans vantage-point the whole landscape of the Bible open to view, and the broad relation of all the parts to the whole become plain. The study of Romans is the best starting-point for Bible interpretation and theology.
Miles Coverdale (1488-1569), the great Bible translator, offered basic tenets for proper Bible interpretation (hermeneutics). He produced the first complete printed translation of the Bible in English. Most people normally employ Coverdale’s simple tenets of context and literalism when interpreting any book, secular or religious. I sometimes wonder why Christian Pastors and Bible students ignore these common sense, reasonable, Bible interpretation principles, of which Miles Coverdale wrote the following words.
“It shall greatly help ye to understand the Scripture if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but also;
Of whom (who is speaking) and To whom, (To
, the Gentiles, the body of Christ, or all mankind?) Israel
what words, (quotes, or direct statements?), at what time, (in the immediate, or long term?).
Where, (before all men, or only in the church?). To what intent, (to stir, build up, cheer up, or warn?).
With what circumstances, (e.g., while under the law, or while under grace?).
Considering what goeth before and what followeth after (considering the context).”
We should use these aforementioned keys to Bible interpretation as we study the whole Word of God.
The “consistently LITERAL OR PLAIN INTERPRETATION is indicative of a DISPENSATIONAL approach to the interpretation of the Scriptures,” declared the great theologian Charles Ryrie. And it is this very consistency that is the strength of dispensational Bible interpretation. A “consistently literal interpretation” was listed by Ryrie as a most important ingredient of dispensationalism, which forms the foundation for the most important defining Bible element …THE DISTINCTION between
and THE CHURCH.” ISRAEL
The non-dispensationalist prefers to “spiritualize” the Bible, to make it say whatever he wants. Origen and Augustine of Hippo (3rd - 5th centuries) “spiritualized” the Bible, refusing to accept what the Bible plainly says about
. Not seeing Israel Israelin “the Land” in their day, they wrongly assumed that the church today must be “spiritual .” Hence, under Augustine’s influence, Romanism adopted its “Israel-like” priesthood, temples, holy days, and ritual ceremonies as “church law,” even though Paul says these externalities are done away “in Christ.” Israel
“…YOU HAVE DIED WITH CHRIST to material ways of looking at things and have escaped from THE WORLD’S CRUDE and ELEMENTAL NOTIONS and (RELIGIOUS) teachings of EXTERNALISM… [Why do you submit to rules and regulations?—such as] 21 Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them], 22 … TO DO THIS IS to follow HUMAN PRECEPTS and DOCTRINES. (
2:20-22 (AMP) Col