From: Bob Williams
Sad to say, the nation Israel rejected Christ – first in His earthly ministry then in His resurrection witness through the “little flock” under the leadership of the 12 Apostles. Israel further instigated a crisis by persecuting those who preached Christ with Saul of Tarsus the leader of the persecution.
It was in this crisis that God interrupted the prophetic program and saved Saul, making him Paul the Apostle, so that He might unfold His secret purpose of grace to Paul and through him to us. Paul spelled it out this way: “Who was before a blasphemer, and injurious: but … the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant … that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting,” (1 Tim. 1:13-16).
Paul’s epistles set forth his own inspired claims for the distinct character of his Apostleship and message. Read and absorb the following, which leave no doubt about this: Rom. 11:13, 15:15-16, 16:25-26; Gal. 1:11-12; Eph. 3:1-3; Col. 1:25-26; 1 Tim. 2:5-7; Titus 1:2-3; 1 Cor. 15:3, 11:23, 15:51.
While these are Paul’s own words, since he writes by inspiration they are also God’s Word on the subject. Scriptures teach as a fact that Paul’s apostleship and message are absolutely separate from that of the Twelve before him. This means, of course, that we must go to Paul’s writings in Romans through Philemon to find what God has to say to us as members of the Body of Christ.
This is what the church in general has refused to accept. Confusing God’s prophesied kingdom program with the mystery committed to Paul for us in this present dispensation results in spiritual catastrophe. Just look around to see it on every hand. Who can honestly doubt that the confusion and division that so grips the Church of our day is connected to the warning in Gal. 1:8-9: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel to you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
You cannot avoid it: failure to honor the distinct ministry and message our Lord committed to Paul results in great loss. It certainly did for the Galatians. They had been drawn away from Paul and his grace message, causing him to write to them: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel,” (Gal. 1:6). And: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you,” (Gal. 3:1). Then summarizing: “Where is then the blessedness ye spake of …” (Gal. 4:15).
Departure from Paul’s God-given message results in the loss of the joy and blessedness that standing in grace brings. The only path to true revival and spiritual health is through developing an understanding of and an appreciation for what God has said to us through Paul. It is not in praying, nor in fasting, confessing or even making special sacrifices. The one great need of the church, and you and me individually, is to honor God’s message for us for today.
Paul’s words to Timothy are important for us too: “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me…” (2 Tim. 1:13-14). And “…be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…” (2 Tim. 2:1-2).
This is the attitude we are to have toward Paul’s distinctive message and ministry. His message contains “sound words,” that are wholesome and healthy for us. Hold on to it, protect it, keep it and most of all, and pass it on to others. It is the message of Jesus Christ to the world today.