NO! We read, study, love and teach the entire Word of God. We know that the Old Testament, the Gospels and the Book of Acts are the FOUNDATION of everything Paul wrote. The Apostle Paul quoted from the Old Testament Scriptures more than any other New Testament writer. He loved and preached the Word of God. Paul told his student Timothy to do his best to present himself to God as one approved, "a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15) What Paul was telling Timothy was to be a student of God's Word who understand how to use it. HOW TO USE IT is the key. The main problem in religion today is people misuse God's Word. They take it out of context. They twist it to "prove" their pet theories about God and life. Paul says we must CORRECTLY HANDLE God's Word. That's where an understanding of Paul's Gospel of the Grace of God guides us to use The Word correctly.
Paul also told Timothy that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16) ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed! ALL SCRIPTURE is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in rightousness. Because of the wonderful truth of the Grace Gospel, we understand that ALL SCRIPTURE is FOR us but NOT ALL SCRIPTURE is TO us. Paul's letters are written specifically to Gentiles AND Jews today. Peter, James and John wrote their letters ONLY to Jews in the First Century AD who were still waiting for Messiah to return to earth to set up His earthly Kindgom. That didn't happen. God set the Peter, James and John's Kingdom Gospel aside for a time because Israel's leaders rejected Christ. God will reinstitute the Kingdom Gospel in the future when Christ returns to restore Israel to its rightful place as the greatest nation on earth. In the meantime, God is doing something different in the world. He is NOT setting up an Earthly Kingdom and Throne for His Son in Israel. He IS setting up a Spiritual Throne for His Son in the hearts and lives of people who receive Him "by grace through faith." He IS building a SPIRITUAL BODY for His Son. He IS managing the world according to the rules of HIS GRACE. That's what Paul teaches in his letters. That's what we believe and teach: The Gospel of the Grace of God.
NO! We obey everything that was MEANT for us. Some of God's Truths are HORIZONTAL in nature. Some are VERTICAL. A Horizontal truth is for God's people in ALL DISPENSATIONS. A Vertical truth is for God's people in SPECIFIC DISPENSATIONS.
An example of a physcial Horizontal truth is what God said to Adam and Eve after they sinned against Him. He told Eve she would have increased pain in childbearing. That's still true today. God told Adam that working the ground for food would become painful toil. It was true for thousands of years and is still true today. It will be true tomorrw and the next day and the next day. An example of a spiritual Horizontal truth is God's commandment to Israel that they should have no other gods before Him. That was true in David's time, Isaiah's time, Micah's time, Christ's time and Peter's time. Paul makes it clear in his letters that it's still true today. God told Israel they should honor their fathers and mothers so they would live long on earth. That's still true today. Paul wrote: "Honor your father and mother--which is the first commandment with a promise--that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." (Ephesians 6:2-3)
An example of a spiritual Vertical truth is animal sacrifice. Why don't Christians obey God's Old Testament commandments concerning that? Why don't Christians obey Christ's commandments concerning that? Why don't Christians follow the disciples example concerning that? Most Christians today believe we no longer have to sacrifice animals. Why? Why shouldn't we? Even most people who believe in obeying the Old Testament dietary laws to the letter don't sacrifice animals. Why not? Didn't Jesus tell His disciples to "obey everything I have commanded you?" Yes, He did. So why don't Christians today sacrifice animals? Why don't churches have priests who take the blood of the sacrificed animals and offer it to God to receive His forgiveness for the sins of the people in the church? Why don't most Christians worship on Saturday instead of Sunday? Jesus worshipped on Saturday. So did His disciples. Why don't most follow the strict Old Testament dietary laws? Why don't most go to Jerusalem each year for Passover? Most Christians would answer that God did away with those things for Christians. Who says? Christ obeyed every aspect of the Law and instructed His disciples to obey everything He had commanded them. Who said we didn't have to obey the Law anymore? PAUL DID! It's because of Paul's teachings in Acts and his letters that Christians understand they no longer should obey Jewish Law. That should tell us all something about the difference between Paul's ministry and the ministry of Christ's disciples.
Grace Believers compare ALL of God's Word to Paul's letters. We know that God is speaking to us today through Paul's Gospel. We hear Him and obey Him. We learn from Him what truths are Horizontal (for all people of all time) and what truths are Vertical (for people of a specific time).
NO! Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Paul is the person to whom Christ chose to reveal His Mystery. Paul is an important person to Christians because Christ speaks to us through Paul's life and testimony. Paul is Christ's spokesman for God's Age of Grace. Christ made Paul important, not us. We worship Christ, not Paul. Paul is simply a messenger of the Gospel of the Grace of God. Christ is the Center, the Heart, the Life of that Gospel. We make no more of Paul than God makes of him. Christ is the One we love and serve. Paul's a dear brother in Christ who went before us and delivered God's wonderful message of Grace.
Good question! Paul understood well who he was. He called himself the chief of sinners. He meant that. Anyone who has been a Christian for awhile should understand that. We are all sinners saved by Grace. We are fortunate that God loved and chose us to become members of Christ's Body, the Church. We don't deserve what God gave us. None of us can or should boast about our position in Christ. All the glory goes to God! Paul understood that.
Paul also understood what God had called him to do. Paul knew that Jews and Gentiles alike would oppose him all his life because of the message God gave him to preach. Paul was constantly under attack from wicked Gentiles and Jews, from believers in the Kingdom Gospel and from Christians who were jealous of Paul's ministry. People wanted to embarrass Paul and his message. Many wanted to kill him. Paul HAD to stand up for his position as the Apostle of the Gospel of the Grace of God because he and it were constantly under attack. Paul would preach in a community, see people come to Christ, teach them for awhile, move on to another community to preach, and wicked people would come right behind him to mislead God's new converts in believing they had to do something other than what Paul taught them to please God. Paul wrote several of his letters specifically to deal with wrong teaching about him and the Gospel of the Grace of God. That's why Paul made much out of his position as an Apostle of to the Gentiles. He had to to protect and preserve the integrity of the Grace Gospel.
Paul's understanding of the Gospel of the Grace of God grew over time. He knew very little about it when he was first saved. He spent a long time alone with God in the desert and learned more. He spent many years at his childhood home learning more. He continued to learn more and more during his time at Antioch and his missionary journeys. God taught him gradually and carefully. At the same time God was instructing Paul about the Grace Gospel, God was still dealing with Peter, James, John and others who were still teaching and practicing the Kingdom Gospel. God managed TWO HOUSEHOLDS at the same time. He was giving Israel a fair opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Messiah and bring in the Kingdom Dispensation while He was introducing the Grace Dispensation through Paul.
God always knew His offer of a Kingdom and Messiah Jesus wouldn't work the first time. He's God! He prophesied through the Old Testament prophets and through Christ Himself that Israel would reject their Messiah. However, God is a Person of His Word. He made promises to Israel and He kept them. He made a legitimate offer to them that if they would turn from their wickedness and turn to His crucified and resurrected Son Jesus Christ, He would send Christ back to earth to set up His earthly throne in Jerusalem. Because God is Eternal and All-Knowing, He knew Israel would reject the offer. That's one reason why God called out Paul and introduced the Gospel of Grace to Gentiles and Jews while Peter, James and John were still preaching and practicing the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Kingdom Gospel was slowly on its way out while the Grace Gospel was slowly on its way in. Some call it the Transition Period. God's Good News was changing from salvation and a Messiah for Israel to salvation and a Lord for the world. The messages of Paul and Christ's disciples overlapped and even conflicted during their ministries. Paul understood what was happening more and more during his ministry. He had a great respect, love and passion for Israel because he was born and raised a Jew, but he also had a great ministry, passion and commission for the world because God had called him to preach the Gospel of the Grace of God.
Taking God's Grace to the World!
"Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers."
Last Updated: 12/20/1999