Saturday, June 25, 2011

Religious baggage

I have noticed that when a false teaching takes root, it permeates throughout a lot of other areas in one's belief.  Once the truth is presented and believed, there are many areas to "clean up," per se, from that false teaching.

I do have another question about Peter's ministry.  I have come to believe that Paul is my apostle.  That is clear to me now.  But, because of my previous way of looking at the scriptures, I still have some confusion left over.  Talk about a mess, huh?

In Acts, as Peter is preaching and people have believed on his message, hence the little flock, and then Paul with the mystery, the kingdom message diminishes while the mystery is on the rise.

During that transitional period, how does the little flock live?  Do they live according to the law?  Wouldn't they want to believe Paul's message over Peter's?  Or, does the little flock see and understand the dispensations are changing and accept it all and rejoice?  Peter's letters are addressed to those listed in Acts 2 as we have previously discussed; as James' letter addressed to those scattered.  Is this how those in that transitional period lived during that time?

Yes, it is a learning process and past false teaching is deeply rooted and permeates through every area of one's life. It must be uprooted by the truth of God's word rightly divided, and that comes through time.

As far as your question about Peter's ministry...especially during the Acts period, it is great that you understand first that the purpose of the book of Acts is not to teach us gentiles today in the body of Christ doctrine—that is the job of Paul's 13 epistles. You realize that God's intended purpose for the book of Acts is to explain to the Nation of Israel their fall from a privileged position in the eyes of God, and his salvation going to us gentiles through Paul. What we see in that book is the actions/activity (Acts) of Israel's apostles and then our Apostle Paul.

Therefore, in early Acts Peter is preaching to Israel a renewed opportunity to believe on and receive their Messiah and his kingdom to them. When those Jews believed, they became part of the little flock. Then, here comes Paul and God's change in the program.  So, now how are those kingdom saints living? Well, in later Acts Peter is writing/teaching them about the delay in the program, but they are still under their program, waiting for God to change back.

We see clearly all of this, both in Acts 15, and in Galatians 2, and in Hebrews through Revelation.

Those Jewish-kingdom saints of the little flock continued in their own program! They continued meeting and learning God's word to them about their future earthly kingdom, both in the “law and prophets” (Old Testament books), and in the Hebrew epistles, written during that time (Hebrews through Revelation). But, they also knew perfectly well that God changed the program with Paul and that he was doing a new thing. They knew and believed that the scripture that God wrote through Paul explained the change in their program and the delay of their kingdom.

Seventeen years after Paul's salvation and the change in the program, the Jewish members of the little flock, led by their leaders—the circumcision apostles—held the Jerusalem council in order to discuss whether the gentiles who believed on the Lord Jesus needed to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses also.

Acts 15:5-6
But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

Notice that these kingdom saints, even after 17 years of Paul's ministry are still observing the Mosaic law, even though they believed on Jesus.

They actually had to hold a meeting to discuss this because circumcision and law keeping was still part of their program!

Look how our Apostle explains the same thing…

Galatians 2:1-9
Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto 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:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

Here we have Paul explaining to us that we he went up to Jerusalem by revelation (the Lord himself told him to go).  He had to explain and make clear to those in Israel God's uncircumcision program for the heathen (both lost Jew and gentile), even after 17 years (three years from chapter 1, and another 14 years in chapter 2)!

Paul says that he took Titus (a saved uncircumcised Greek gentile) with him to demonstrate the truth of his gospel. He even calls these Jewish believers of the little flock (those Pharisees which believed in Acts 15) false brethren.  Why? Did not they believe that Jesus was their Messiah? Yes. But they were false because they passed themselves off as members of the body of Christ, and they were NOT! They were members of the little flock...a totally different group of saints! Therefore they were confusing the two programs in the eyes of the gentiles (like people still do today) by preaching circumcision and law keeping—something Paul did NOT preach! Those Jewish believers who were in Christ before Paul had a gospel of the circumcision, not uncircumcision!

So Paul says that the way that they should live, should be according to their own program (circumcision), therefore he says in Galatians 2:9, that Peter, James, and John, the apostles/leaders of Israel should confine their ministry to the circumcision.

So, that is how those Jewish kingdom saints lived. Yes, they lived according to the law. Although they now knew perfectly Paul's message and ministry, they continued on in the program that Christ gave to them until they all died off. Even Peter, as he writes to the circumcision reminds them of the change and how Paul's letters are God's scriptures explaining the delay in the kingdom.

2 Peter 3:15-16
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 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, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

So the same way that we today as gentiles can read Hebrews through Revelation to learn about what God will do in the future, they too, could (and did) read Paul's epistles to understand God's change in the program and his delay of their kingdom.

Paul calls them the "Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16, and the "election" of Israel in Romans 11:7.

So no, they would not believe Paul's message over Peter's (they believed that God was the Author of both messages), but they were to follow Peter and his ministry and not Paul—yet they rejoiced in God's manifold [multifaceted] wisdom in both messages as you and I, as grace believers, do today!

Peter continued to edify the little flock about the delay in their kingdom and their future glory, and that until then, they should love one another.

1 Peter 1:22; 3:8
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

And all those lost Jews and gentiles (the heathen) must believe Paul's gospel and follow him as he follows the Lord Jesus Christ!

1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1
Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Philippians 3:17
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

And Peter, James, John and Jude wrote epistles to the circumcision; and that, is how they lived during the Acts period!

Hopefully this helps!


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