Thursday, May 9, 2013

Which gospel saved the Little Flock?

Was the Little Flock who believed in Jesus as their Messiah saved by the Kingdom Gospel or Paul’s Gospel?

The dispensation of grace began the moment Paul trusted Christ and was saved (justified unto eternal life) on the road to Damascus in Acts 9.  The gift of God is eternal life.

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

This is how we are saved in this dispensation.  We are saved the moment we believe Paul’s gospel.

Ephesians 1:13
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

1 Timothy 1:11
According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

1 Corinthians 9:1b
 …a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

But the Little Flock who believed in Jesus as Messiah didn’t have salvation as we know it; Israel won’t receive salvation (from the penalty of sin) until Christ’s return when he establishes the Kingdom.

Romans 11:25-26
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

The salvation that Israel looks forward to is in the Kingdom when Christ returns at the Second Coming.

Romans 11:27
For this is my covenant unto them [Israel], when I shall take away their sins.

This is the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 that God makes with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  Jesus Christ came to ratify that covenant with his blood.

Matthew 26:28
 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

We receive the benefits of the death of Christ on Calvary’s cross and his shed blood by pure grace.  But God made the covenant with Israel “when I shall take away their sins” which he ratified through his blood.

When will God take away the sins of the nation of Israel?  In the Kingdom.   But there is a little caveat to that.  The very moment Paul was saved, all the members of the Little Flock (the believing remnant of Israel who trusted Jesus as Messiah) received the Kingdom.  They could now rest from their works (for salvation), because when God began the dispensation of grace, anyone who trusted in Jesus Christ at that time received eternal life.  Up to that point, they were required to continue on to the end.

Matthew 24:13
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved

Luke 21:19
In your patience possess ye your souls.

They were to endure and abide in him.

John 15:4-7
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  If ye abide in me [being in Christ in the prophetic program], and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

But until that time, many disciples fell away from Christ.

John 6:66
 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

They could believe in the Lord Jesus Christ during the prophetic program and then stop believing and leave him (no longer abiding in him).  During the Tribulation those who do not abide in him will take the mark of the beast.

Revelation 13:17
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Under the prophetic program, the Little Flock was under a short-accounts system.  I wouldn’t say that in prophecy the Little Flock was saved so much as I would say that they were justified  before God (by the Kingdom gospel); and it was a continual justification.  They had to do the right work that God required; that is, continue in the word of God and abide in Christ.

But once Paul was saved and the dispensation of grace began, God was now dealing with everyone based upon grace, and the believing remnant of Israel (the Little Flock) immediately received eternal life by that grace.

Romans 11:5-7
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Before the dispensation of grace, that remnant, that Little Flock, was part of the election which was according to the Law.  They were in the remnant because of their performance.
And if by grace, then is it no more of works:
Notice he says, “no more of works.”  He is not saying that it was never of works; he is saying that it isn’t any longer.  It was of works before the dispensation of grace.
otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
So there is a difference between grace and works.  Now look at verse 7.
What then? Israel [the nation] hath not obtained that which he seeketh for;
What was Israel seeking for?  The Kingdom.  Remember that they tried to force the Lord to be their king to get the Romans off their back (John 6:15).  That is what they were looking for – the Kingdom that was promised to them and their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Israel did not get the Kingdom, but the election hath (already) obtained it.  Who is the election?  The believing remnant, the Little Flock.  But the rest were blinded.
but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

So when God saved the Apostle Paul, Israel fell in blindness.  God judicially judged them in blindness.

Romans 11:25
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

A type of that blinding of Israel by Almighty God is pictured in Acts 13:6-12 when Paul blinds an unbelieving Jew and saves a gentile – a type of what God is doing today.

Acts 13:6-12
And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus [son of Jehovah, Saviour]:  Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.  But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.  Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.  And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?  And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.  Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

This was Paul’s first miracle and it was a type that portrayed Paul’s ministry by showing that God blinded the nation of Israel (“a certain sorcerer”) in unbelief and sent out salvation to the gentiles (“Sergius Paulus).

Romans 11:11
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

So when the dispensation of grace began with the salvation of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, all the Little Flock – the remnant that believed that Jesus was their Messiah under the Kingdom gospel – received the Kingdom and ceased from their works.  (In essence, they were saved from the penalty of sin.)

Hebrews 4:10
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

However, they continued to sin, as they weren’t saved from the presence of sin.  We know that in Galatians 2 Paul had to withstand Peter, Barnabas and others:

Galatians 2:11-14
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.  For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.  And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.  But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

These men were not sinless.  Peter had left the strict requirements of the Law and was eating with gentiles.  Back in Acts 10 he had told Cornelius that it was unlawful for him to do that.

Acts 10:28
And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

But by Galatians 2, Peter is eating with gentiles and living among them and fellowshipping with them because God had changed the program in Acts 9.

The Little Flock wasn’t perfect (sinless), but they were justified by believing the Kingdom gospel preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ and his 12 apostles (the gospel of the circumcision), and could rest from their works (for salvation) because God had changed the program to grace. 

Galatians 2:7
But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

Peter and the Little Flock had the gospel of the circumcision.  Circumcision was a part of the Jewish Covenant that God gave Abraham.  Gentiles were not a part of that.  Gentiles are the uncircumcision and don’t need circumcision to be right with God.  Circumcision was a part of the Kingdom gospel, but not a part of Paul’s gospel.

To be continued...

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