Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 10
Thesis: The Gospel is the same, it is the audiences and messengers that differ.
Introduction: When it comes to the biblical presentation of the Gospel, we must understand that there are multiple debates over both of the key words: by "grace" through "faith". We must also understand that all of these debates are driven by the resistance of men with agenda issues that compel them to ignore the details of the contexts wherein they "find" their "proof". For example, in those debates, one of the most misused texts is James' "faith without works is dead" thesis (James 2:17, 20, and 26). It is easily established that James wanted to convince his readers that it was unconscionable to claim to "believe" something that did not yield a commensurate response. But, with that in hand, many have concluded that various and sundry law-keeping practices are essential elements in the "faith" requirement of the Gospel, arguing that "if you really believe, you will ... ". The problem with that false argument is that the Bible clearly teaches two specific things about "faith without works is dead": first, that "faith" is always related to highly specific content; and, second, that "content specific faith" has an identifiable "commensurate response". So, in regard to the faith of the Gospel, the question boils down to two: what, specifically, am I to "believe", and what, specifically, will happen if I do? The first aspect of the question is answered by Paul's succinct statement that Christ died for our sins. That He rose again on the third day is not a part of the Gospel, per se, in that the resurrection was designed as a validation for faith, not as an integral element of the "death for sins" (Romans 4:25). Thus, the "Gospel" is a "good news declaration" that everything that sins generate/have generated, in regard to the breakdown of union with God, has been addressed by the death of the Christ in terms of God's willingness to forgive and justify. That means that we must next ask what "faith" in that good news declaration will produce in terms of a commensurate response. The answer is found clearly in Hebrews 4:2 and 10. This context identifies the particular response of faith so that one may legitimately say "if you really believe, you will stop doing any 'work' that is designed to get God to accept you".
This evening, because many do not understand, or believe, what I have just said, we are going to look into what Paul told the Galatians about what the "seemers" in Jerusalem "saw" in terms of just what it was that God "entrusted" to Peter and Paul.
May 8, 2011
- I. The Background in Our Current Theological Scene.
- A. A "hermeneutic" that misunderstands the reasons for qualifying phrases in regard to "the Gospel".
- 1. There are several such phrases.
- a. Matthew 4:23 -- "the gospel of the kingdom".
- b. Mark 1:1 -- "the gospel of Jesus Christ".
- c. Acts 20:24 -- "the gospel of the grace of God".
- d. Romans 1:1 -- "the gospel of God".
- e. Romans 1:9 -- "the gospel of His Son".
- f. Romans 1:16 -- "the gospel of Christ".
- g. Romans 10"15 -- "the gospel of peace".
- h. Ephesians 1:13 -- "the gospel of your salvation".
- i. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 -- "the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ".
- j. 1 Timothy 1:11 -- "the glorious Gospel of the blessed God".
- k. Revelation 14:6 -- "the everlasting Gospel".
- 2. The issue involved is not whether the specific content is being altered, but why that content is tied to the connecting phrase.
- B. A set of conclusions that include the notion that there is a different gospel for Jews than for the nations.
- 1. For a small segment of "dispensationalism", the requirement of water baptism in order to be forgiven was legitimate for Jews, but a different set of requirements began to be promulgated once the Gospel went beyond Israel.
- 2. Paul's way of expressing himself in Galatians 2:7 lends itself to such misunderstanding.
- II. Paul's Meaning.
- A. Is pretty easily discerned when 2:8 is taken into consideration.
- 1. Verse eight does not, by the same linguistic forms as those found in verse seven, set up two different kinds of "apostleship".
- 2. The issue is not the nature of the gift of apostle, but the direction of its use.
- B. In the same way as "apostleship", the terms attached to the gospel in verse seven simply identify the distinctions in the audience.
- 1. There is a biblical recognition that the same message will create a different response when there is a different audience involved.
- a. Hebrews 9:14 says that Jews who believe turn "from their dead works to serve ("worship") the living God".
- 1) The issue at stake in the audience is the focal point of their "faith" (they once believed that their works would save them, but they have come to understand that, in terms of that objective, those works are "dead" -- i.e., totally incapable).
- 2) The issue of the change is faith in "the blood of Christ".
- b. But 1 Thessalonians 1:9 says that the non-Jews who believe turn from "their idols to serve ("act as a bondservant to") the living and true God".
- 1) Again the issue is the object(s) of the "faith" (idols).
- 2) And, again, the issue of the change is "our gospel" (1:5).
- 2. But there is no biblical recognition that the message is substantively different.
- 3. Neither is there any recognition that belief in one particular of a message will produce changes in behavior that are not directly linked to that particular.
- a. The issue here is "direct links" and those differ according to individual understanding.
- b. All aspects of the message are interrelated and directly linked, but only the mature grasp most of those links.
- C. It was the Plan of God that created different messengers in order to reach different audiences.
- 1. Paul's claim is that God "energized" Peter unto his apostleship to the circumcision.
- 2. He also claimed that the same God "energized" him unto his apostleship to the nations.
- 3. Such claims have to indicate that God is pursuing His own Plan and Method(s).