GRACE TO YOU!
GRACE TO YOU!
Paul’s Way of Greeting the Church.
His Words Were Literally Meant.
The apostle Paul was first sent out by the Holy Spirit to preach the Kingdom Gospel (the millennial Kingdom promised Israel) to Jews and proselytes in the Roman Empire outside of Israel, in the dispersion.
Acts 13:2-4, says of this (Paul at Antioch, Syria 45 AD), Ampl. -
“While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate now for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. 3: Then after fasting and praying, they put their hands on them and sent them away. 4: So then, being sent out (Greek: Apostolos) by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from (that port) they sailed away to Cyprus.”
This is the first time in N.T. that we find servants of God and Christ is sent out, that is: Outside of Israel’s land to preach the Kingdom Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We cannot find Peter and the eleven being sent out of Israel to operate in any mission to Gentiles (or even Jews) – on the contrary, Peter himself witnessed that his commission was to preach to the Jews only (the circumcised, Gal. 2:6-8). The translation work regarding Matt. 28 and the ‘Great Commission’ is at best a very doubtful one…it does not tell of the distinction between Peter and Paul and the two different callings/missions these leaders had been given by Christ. (See my article series on the Great Commission).
This is the very reason that we find the launching of Paul’s apostolic ministry to Gentiles and proselytes as a totally separate affair from the ‘Great Commission’. The latter was a commission only for the salvation of Israel, at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ to establish His promised Kingdom, the so-called Millennia (Dan. 2:44; Luke 1:32, 33). In prophecy, we find God’s nation Israel as a nation in the form of a millennial reign with Christ as their King, on earth and not up in the heavens! But we, the Body of Christ, according to Paul’s free Grace Gospel (found in Ephesians and Colossians) are destined for heaven up above, where Christ now sit at His Father’s right hand.
According to Jesus’ words to Ananias at Damaskus, Acts 9:15, this was Paul’s calling,
“Go, for this man (Paul) is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and Kings and the descendants of Israel.”
The word here of ‘Gentiles’ must be read: To the proselytes, the Greek). We find that those were being used by Paul – permitted him by Christ – to make the stubborn Jews jealous and angry, to have them converted finally. Rom. 11:11-15.
The religious map regarding the Jews in dispersion and their ability to hear the good news of Jesus - the Kingdom Gospel – was at that time as follows: A majority of Jewish pilgrims, as they were present at Jerusalem in the Passover and the Feast of the Weeks (Pentecost) 28 AD, had been so fortunate to hear the gospel preached to them by Peter and the eleven. But several districts in the dispersion, especially the one in the eastern region of the Empire, had not heard the gospel. Thus the Lord found it right to send His chosen apostle, Paul, to let these Jews and their proselytes hear what already had been preached by Peter at Pentecost Acts 2.
In other words, Paul’s mission to these regions was in the same errand as that of Peter, namely to let the Jews hear the good news of the Messiah, Jesus. Acts tells of this mission of Paul in many details.
Paul’s message in that time-period (44/45 – 62 AD) can be summed up in his words found in Acts 13:39,
“And that through Him (Jesus) everyone who believes is absolved from every charge from which he could not be justified and freed by THE LAW of Moses and given right standing with God.”
The Kingdom Gospel was taught by Peter and the eleven, as well as Paul in the early ministry to Jews in the dispersion, related TO THE LAW OF MOSES!
But what say the Bible of us Gentiles and the Law? - It tells us that we never had been under that Law (or covenant) as Paul wrote in Rom. 2:14,
“When Gentiles WHO HAVE NOT THE LAW….”
If we Gentiles did not have the Law of Moses at the time of Paul, then we sure do not have that Law in our time! It was actually ABOLISHED says Paul, Eph. 2:14-15,
“For He (Christ) is our peace. He has made us both (Jew and Gentile) one body, and has broken down (destroyed, abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us. 15: By abolishing in His own (crucified) flesh the enmity (caused by) the Law with its decrees and ordinances (which He annulled); that He from the two might create in Himself one new man (one new quality of humanity out of the two), so making peace.” Paul, in the year 63 AD after the fall of Israel as a nation for God (ref. Acts 28:25-28…Israel would NOT repent).
The very ‘spine’ of Paul’s Free Grace Gospel, as found in Ephesians and Colossians is based/founded upon the spiritual fact that God, at the time of Israel’s fall in Acts 28:25-28, had turned to us Gentiles as He used Paul to establish an entirely new dispensation, the dispensation of God’s Grace for all mankind, and no longer just to Jewry and proselytes. For this purpose it was that Paul declared to the disbelieving Sanhedrin counsel at Rome,
“So let it be understood by you then that (this message of) the salvation of God HAS BEEN SENT TO THE GENTILES, AND THEY WILL LISTEN TO IT.”
In other words, the Gentiles would listen and repent and believe on Jesus Christ for salvation! As opposed to the unbelieving Jews…since that was the actual settings and scene we can read in Acts 28:25-28.
This is the actual status in the world today – Paul’s prophecy was fulfilled – we Gentiles happily received the fantastic message of the free Grace Gospel of Paul for us. (Minus of course those knuckleheaded Gentiles in this world who comes forth as atheists and disbelieving humanistic philosophers.) The Gospel went ‘overnight’ from being a message offered to Jews and proselytes only, with an earthly Kingdom in Israel as their hope, to now a hope of salvation awaiting us in the heavens up above, ref. Col. 3:1-4; Eph. 4:30.
It went from a national segregated salvation message to Jews and proselytes, over into an international message for all peoples in the world. Israel had fallen, and thus God let Paul emerge with this new free Grace Gospel to the entire world. Eph. 3:1-9 is his Grace dispensational declaration of a new era, a time in which the Free Grace is available to all believers world-wide, and there is no claims to have such believers keep the Law of Moses.
Think of this every time you read Paul’s greeting to the church…as for instance in Eph. 1:2,
“May grace be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ”
And Col. 1:2,
“To the saints and believing and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”
Then I shall come to a serious issue, dealing with pastors and preachers anywhere, who dare preach judgment upon their respective nations…because they think that their nation is so full of sin and ungodliness. Such preachers can be found on YouTube channels – with their totally twisted understanding of the grace of God and the dispensation of grace which we still live in.
Allow me just to quote one of these headlines from YouTube…saying,
“Its Too Late For America” - pointing to that the nation have gone too far in sin and ungodliness….”When a Nation Rejects God”.
The pastor in this YouTube video is John MacArthur, a Christian pastor who chose to use Paul’s greetings in Ephesians/Colossians as a name for his series of preaching: Grace To You! His assembly, in Sun Valley, CA, is named “Grace Community Church”. Photo: MacArthur in his pulpit.
It’s a pity though, that he ‘meets himself in the doorway’, saying totally against that slogan…threatening with heretical ‘No more Grace to you’. Trying to tell his nation, USA, that it has gone too far and that there is no way back.
However, John MacArthur also comes up with a lot of good stuff, and he knows the Bible well it seems. He is not a bad Christian or some reckless talkative preacher. I am not trying to drag him down into the mud or anything, but I couldn’t help being surprised that he, of all pastors, came up with such a message telling USA that there is no way back. Actually, it is too late!
So, with that in mind I cannot understand how he can make a ‘Turnaround on a Dime’ like this. Unfortunately he seems to me as a pastor who – among a host of other American pastors – thinks that the ‘Great Tribulation’ will come upon the entire world, USA included. But the Bible has lots of proof that this is not so. The tribulation will only come upon Israel in the end times. Jeremiah wrote in Jer. 30:7 that the tribulation would come upon Israel –“the time of Jacob’s trouble”. The idea of the tribulation coming upon the entire world seem to have become an obsession with 80% of the pastors and preachers in USA, and also other nations. But Revelation displays a scenario which takes place in Israel. (Check out my free Word-book “Moses and Elijah Coming with the Day of Vengeance” – in which I fully explain this Bible truth).
This dispensation of Grace has in it that there will be no judgment and interference with anyone, from the average citizen up to the very president or prime minister of a nation. No doom will ever fall upon any nation today from God, for sin or ungodliness, whatsoever. Not as long as we still have this Church dispensation.
Wars come and wars go. Much chaos and unrest, suffering much poverty, hunger and disasters around the world, yes. It has always been like that. Perhaps it is worse than ever…I will let you be the judge of that.
But there is no way that God will cast doom and destruction over any nation, because they are sinful, derailed, degenerate…even reprobate. Not in this dispensation of Grace.
If they die in such a condition and mindset, they will go lost for salvation. But God will not push them into an early death because of sin! This latter would have been a judgement and punishment. God did such judgements in the time of the apostles, but not in this present dispensation. The case of Ananias’ and Sapphira’s theft of money and lying to the Holy Spirit as we learn from Acts 5, causing God to execute them in Peter’s presence, cannot be repeated in this present dispensation. In the apostolic era He did, but after the fall of Israel and the apostolic era gone, no such judgmental actions will be cast upon any person, group or nations whatsoever. Including a ‘sinful’ USA.
In history, we find only one single nation which was charged with such a rule. That was Israel. They had a covenant with God and were His own people. They would be blessed abundantly if they obeyed the Law of Moses and listened to the voice of their God.
Well, they were destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans because they had come to the point of no return: They turned down ultimately the offer to have the millennial Kingdom, with Jesus Messiah as their king. Not only so, but they added sin-to-their-sins, piling up against them, as they killed the Lord’s apostles.
Matt. 22:6, 7 is clear, as Jesus prophesied of their destruction in His parable of the “King’s Servants”,
“…while the others seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and put them to death. 7: Hearing this, the king was infuriated; and he sent his soldiers and put those murderers to death and burned their city.”
The king’s servants were the apostles and their followers. The city which was burnt, after the murderers had been put to death, was Jerusalem. It happened the 10th of September 70 AD. It was a Sunday in our calendar.
History, according to Flavius Josephus, tells of the Messianic Assembly at Jerusalem and how they were killed by stoning. It happened at the same time as we find Paul in Acts 28 in 60-63 AD at Rome. (Paul actually managed to escape the murderous mob at the temple site in Jerusalem, by the help from the Roman ruler there. They actually tried to kill Paul! Christ had thus given up on Jerusalem – but as a last resort He sent Paul to the Sanhedrin counsel, Rome, to try to convert these leaders) Acts 23:11.
Josephus wrote that Governor Festus took ill and went away to Rome for cure (he died there, finding no cure). But that made the priests in the temple aroused into full persecution of the assembly, killing James and all the elders by stoning. They took advantage of the absence of Festus, whom they had an agreement with of rule at the temple site. It was under the leadership of High Priest Ananias II (who had Paul slapped in his face, Acts 23:2).
The survivors fled up to Pella because of this. The assembly was thus split up and did no longer have any more influence in Jerusalem.
Ananias II was later killed by his own political followers as the rebellion against Rome got on in 66 AD.
There exist not any Christian ministers today who can say on God’s behalf that He will destroy a nation if that nation does not repent to Jesus, all of them. We cannot lawfully take this kind of claim, as it was in times before Israel’s destruction, and apply this to our time. No nation – other than Israel – has ever been a nation under God.
For crying out loud: USA has by no means been such a God-fearing nation. But it has had and still has God-fearing citizens in it; real Christian believers who believes on Jesus Christ. But never did God set forth a claim to the nation to repent as a whole, or else He will destroy it! Anyone who comes up with such nonsense is lying.
America did not crucify Jesus, Israel did. America – or any other nation in the world of Gentiles, did not kill God’s apostles, Israel did. Of course we have history of Roman Caesars persecuting Christians, Nero was the very first who mass-murdered them; but it was mainly the Jewish religious leadership who went after the apostles and their followers. God destroyed Israel in 70 AD, but He did not destroy Rome and their Empire…they lasted for several centuries after the time of the apostles, and after the destruction of Israel. We must keep this in mind. Even after the evil Caesar Diocletian and his mass-murdering the Christians in 303 AD, God did not send doom and destruction upon the Romans. This is a fact we cannot deny. You can travel to Split in Croatia, and have a close look inside his summer resort, a magnificent large town house where he lived for recreational purposes.
So, John MacArthur (Note: He is not the only one saying so) is entirely wrong in his assertion of USA being a nation no longer having any hope for salvation. I suggest that Pastor MacArthur should be so obedient to the Word of God and its Grace Gospel of Paul, that he will want to beg his audiences of forgiveness for such a blunder. It is entirely unbiblical that God will destroy and overthrow a nation into destruction while we still have the dispensation of the Grace of God for all peoples, according to Paul’s Gospel.
God is not performing any sort of doom and punishing judgement in the dispensation of the Church.
But on the other hand, this does not mean that God does not care whether we go on in sinful ways! Of course not. We should all follow Paul’s exhortations as found in Eph. 5:5,
“For be sure of this: that no person practicing sexual vice or impurity (homo)in thought or in life, or one who is covetous – for he is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ampl.)
From NIV: “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a person is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Leaving out “in thought or in life” as in Ampl.)
Grace to You!