Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P20 (03-23-21)
In order to be an apostle, you had to be someone who was with Jesus in the beginning, a witness of His baptism, death, burial and resurrection and ascension into heaven. Those were the men Jesus called apostles and gave the authority to represent Him here on earth initially, with the proclamation of the gospel, and then to select some of them to be writers of the New Testament. Those who wrote, wrote down what the Spirit of God living in them revealed as only what He wanted them to say.
Then we have the apostle Paul, the last of the apostles, almost too late for that, having not witnessed the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, but was appointed by God to be an apostle to the Gentiles. But He did have direct revelation from God and His message was affirmed by the apostles as of equal authority as their writings. Paul even testified that what was revealed to him, the message, was revealed directly to him by God (Galatians 1:12). That would not have any meaning without having been confirmed by the other apostles whom Jesus said are his representatives here on this earth (2 Peter 3:15-16, Acts 1:8).
Paul, formerly known by the name of Saul, explained in detail to King Agrippa his conversion to Christ on the road to Damascus, sent with letters from the Pharisees to imprison and persecute the Christian followers of the way. On his way to Damascus he saw a blinding light, who was Jesus, and heard the voice from heaven that confronted him with the question? “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And the response Paul got back was, “I am Jesus whom you are are persecuting.” Then we later hear the testimony of the believers that the man who formerly persecuted them is now proclaiming the gospel he once tried to destroy.
Then we later read in other scriptures where Paul did not consult with the other apostles but testified that no one else taught him but the Lord Jesus Christ, that he was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles, and that signs and wonders as performed through him, giving credibility to his message as coming from God. So all these testimonies give credibility of the authority of the apostle Paul. The majority of the New Testament we read today is through the apostle Paul.
Paul proclaimed the truth of the gospel revealed to him by no other person than Christ Himself, which was in agreement with what the other apostles taught, who also preached the same truth revealed to them. Paul was not a man-pleaser, and would stand firm with the truth he had heard and received from God, exposing the false gospels made up by men, as he would confront any false teaching contrary He had received from God, as he addressed the church in Galatia.
Today, we should not tolerate any other gospel, for no other gospel than what Paul preached can save anyone. You cannot tolerate the mixing of law and grace, for that is no gospel at all, and keeps people bound up in sin, unable to live in the new life God has given, which is of pure grace. This is the gospel that saves, Christ died to take away the sins of the world, was buried to confirm that, and was raised to give new life to men, and salvation is receiving the new life God offers in Christ Jesus. Salvation is being saved from the consequence of sin, which is death, by the gift of God, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus, which is received by faith alone in what Christ alone accomplished for you. You cannot add or subtract to what Christ has done for you.
Upon receiving that life means the Holy Spirit of God comes to live in you forever. You have become a new creation as a child of God, who will guide you into all truth, lead you internally, and allow you to participate in the divine nature, to live in accordance with God’s original creation when He first created Adam and Eve. You are restored to true humanity, Christ alive living in you.
So the apostles did not have to rely upon their memory as to what Jesus said to them in regard to get what He said written down on paper, the writings of what we have today in the scriptures, on the scrolls. They did not have to rely upon their memory of that. Jesus said, “I will cause all things to come back to your remembrance, everything that I said to you”. The way that will be done is through the Counselor, the Holy Spirit of God, who will come to live in you, on the day of Pentecost.
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.
In our particular case, on the day of our salvation, when we stepped out of Adam into Christ, Christ stepped out of heaven into us, and we were born again. When that occurred to them, and occurs to us, He will teach us all things about Jesus. He taught all of that and brought all of that to the remembrance of the apostles so that they could write that information down so that that same information that was revealed to the apostles, identical information by the Spirit of God, is revealed to us through the Spirit of God as we read the word today.
How much is the word going to teach you about Jesus? Everything. Everything that God wants us to know was revealed to the apostles in remembrance of Him, written down.
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Were there some things Jesus said that was not written in the word. John said if we wrote down everything there would not have been enough libraries to contain it. But everything God wants you to know about Him is revealed in Christ. If there was anything more He wanted us to know, He would have written it down. If there was less to know, He would have left it out.
So all I need to know is revealed in the word of God. So I do not need to seek more revelation or seek more about God. Everything He wanted me to know about Him He put in the word. That truth that is contained in that word will set you free, if you let it.
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Folks, you are never going to be set free by trying to gain more. If He wanted you to know more, He would have put it there. Nor are you ever going to be set free by thinking maybe I did not get enough. You got all that you need to have.
2 Peter 1:3 (NASB)
3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
So rely on that. That is what faith in that does. Realize that if that is revealed in the word of God, I can walk in it, in the newness of life. It is truth and truth will do exactly what is said, and that is to set us free.
He revealed that to us, what we know today, through the apostles. Now, are there apostles today? Not according to God. There are some men who call themselves apostles, but those are man-made ones. They are certainly not apostles that Jesus named.
In Acts 1:21-22, He explained what it took to be called an apostle. An apostle is as God named him not as man walks around today calling themselves an apostle. That is an ego trip, thinking you are an apostle. Jesus said what an apostle was.
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
In other words, to be an apostle, you had to be there with Him while He was here on earth. Beginning with John’s baptism, from the time Jesus was identified as the Messiah. That is what John’s baptism is all about.
31 And I did not recognize Him, but so that He would be revealed to Israel [as the promised Messiah], I came baptizing in water.” 32 And John testified, saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
John said that the one who sent me to baptize stated that the one on whom you see the dove descend, that is the Messiah. John was sent to identify the Messiah to an unbelieving Israel. The way that he was going to be able to say to Israel, “This is the Messiah” “This is the Messiah that you have been studying about for thousands of years in the Old Testament. This is the Messiah that has over 300 testimonies regarding the Messiah.” There were over 300 prophecies involved in the Messiah, and all were fulfilled in this person that John was about to identify, namely Jesus of Nazareth.
6 A man [John the Baptist] came, one sent from God, and his name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light [Jesus, the promised Messiah], so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Tell us, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one calling out in the wilderness, ‘Make the way of the Lord straight,’ as Isaiah the prophet said [Isaiah 40:3].”
1 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
God sent John to baptize, identifying the people with the coming Messiah. That is what his baptism was about, before Jesus came and after, was identifying them with the Messiah. Beforehand, it was repent, change your mind. Jesus is coming. He, the one coming, is going to be the Savior. The Jew thought being a Jew saved you. No. There is a Messiah coming that is going to save you. You are not going to be saved when He gets here, if you are still holding onto being a Jew. That is not going to save you. So change your mind. You need to understand something, that the Messiah is on the way.
I, John, am going to identify Him. Prepare yourself. The way to prepare yourself is realizing that being a Jew, or a Catholic or a Baptist or a Presbyterian, is not going to save you. So get rid of that mindset before He gets here, so you will be willing to receive Him when He does. The one who told me to baptize, that the one on whom you see the dove descend, that is the Messiah of the bible.
From that day forth, he identified that Jesus is the Messiah, because somebody, and basically the disciples along the line had heard that. They were the ones who followed Him, Jesus, having heard what John the Baptist said about Him. They just got up and followed Him. Why? They were already prepared. They believed John when he said the one who told me to baptize, that when this dove descends on the one I am baptizing, that is the Messiah. Well, they saw the dove descend. So when he said follow Him, so natural a thing to do is go.
How exciting John’s ministry must have been. Whenever he baptized someone, he thought this might be the one. Also when he saw the Pharisees coming He said, “What are you doing down here? There is no sense in you coming to be baptized for sure. You are not it”.
6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance;
We are talking about the authorities of the apostles to write what we know today as the New Testament. Once again, the canon, the criteria for writing of the scripture, in the Old Testament, had to be written in Hebrew. In the New Testament, it had to be written in Greek, and by an apostle or an Amanuensis of an apostle. An Amanuensis of an apostle would merely be a scribe, someone writing down what is being dictated by an apostle, and confirmed. That obviously was taking place. So the scripture you and I hold in our hands today, had to be written. The New Testament had to be written by an apostle or an Amanuensis. There are no more apostles today because the qualifications of being an apostle was given to us in Acts 1:21-22 when they were naming a new apostle to fulfill the role of Judas.
15 At this time Peter stood up among the brothers and sisters (a group of about 120 people was there together), and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the residents of Jerusalem; as a result that field was called Hakeldama in their own language, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms:
‘May his residence be made desolate, And may there be none living in it’;
‘May another take his office.’
21 Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us – 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us – one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all people, show which one of these two You have chosen 25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
So the qualification for being an apostle was someone who had been with them from the beginning, from John’s Baptism. So the event was the baptism of Jesus, whereby through that baptism, the Messiah was identified as God Himself, the Messiah, by John the Baptist. When he baptized, the dove descended upon Jesus, the clouds opened and a voice said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.
21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came from heaven: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.”
So they were there. It had to be someone who was there. Then it said, from that point until the time that Jesus was taken up from us.
21 Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us – 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us – one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
In other words, His ascension. For one of these people who was with Jesus at those events must become a witness with us of His resurrection. To be an apostle, you had to be one who was there at the baptism, where God identified Jesus as the Messiah, one who was a witness with us of His resurrection and one who was there when Jesus was taken up in the cloud.
Now, it goes ahead to say in John 15:27, and this is what gave the apostles the authority to write the scripture we hold in our hands today.
27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
So He is saying to the apostles, that you are the ones who must testify to this truth. You are the ones who have been with me from the beginning.
Look also at Luke 24:46-48.
46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You [apostles] are witnesses of these things.
Folks, when we are talking about the authority of the writing of the New Testament, we are talking about the fact that Christ Jesus is living now in the apostles, who were told that when that day occurs, Jesus will bring back to their remembrance all the things He had told them.
13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; this is why I said that He takes from Mine and will disclose it to you.
When the Spirit of God comes to live in you, He will testify about me, bringing glory to me, and taking the things of mine and making them known to you, the apostles.
In order to be an apostle, you had to be one with Him in the beginning, in His baptism, witness to His death, burial and resurrection and to His ascension into heaven, which took place on the last day Jesus was here physically on this earth, raised from the ground with the commission of telling the apostles to go into the world and proclaim this good news to every nation (Matthew 28:19-20), and with the promise that just as you saw I, Jesus, leave physically, I will come again physically with my feet on the mount of olives. That will be the day that will begin the thousand year, millennial reign (Revelation 20), whereby Jesus, once again, will be restored to who I am, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, whereby every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philipppians 2:10).
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.
What about Paul’s writings? Paul said that what was revealed to him, the message, was revealed directly to him by God (Galatians 1:12). That would not have any meaning without having been confirmed by the men that Jesus said are my representatives here on this earth (2 Peter 3:15-16, Acts 1:8).
12 For my message comes from no less a person than Jesus Christ himself, who told me what to say. No one else has taught me.
2 Peter 3:15-16
15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
That is why Paul’s writings, if they had not been confirmed by Peter, then they would be up for grabs whether or not they truly were the true words of God through His Spirit because Paul had not been with Jesus from the beginning, was not there at His baptism, His death, burial, resurrection or ascension, as far as we know. He may have been standing around seeing those things but we do not know. But his claim to authority of writing of the New Testament I do not believe could have been held in esteem as it is today had it not been confirmed by the apostles who were with Him from the beginning.
So what did Peter say in 2 Peter 2:15-16? Paul’s writings contain the majority of what the New Testament is about today and literally, in my opinion, is in the scriptures as the recording of the life that we live today. We live, quite frankly, today by the Pauline doctrine and Pauline writings.
Did Peter, in essence, claim that Paul’s writings were scripture? Yes, he did. Peter said people distort Paul’s writings just as they do other scriptures to their own destruction. So Peter testified to the fact that Paul’s writings were equal to his or to any of the other apostle’s writings. They were deemed by Peter as scriptures.
Paul also said this. This is his testimony of what happened to him, in Acts 9:3-6. Here was a man adamantly against this Christian sect called the way, and he persecuted the church and those who proclaim the resurrection of Christ. On one of his journeys to vent his venom on more of these believers, he was on his way to Damascus.
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
He knew it was not the voice of another man, but the voice of God. Here this voice from God was recognized by Paul, or he would not have responded, “Who are you, Lord?” The answer came back, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Turn now to Acts 26, as he was relating this story to King Agrippa.
13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
Why are you banging your head against a brick wall, in other words.
15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet.
Now, turn to what Paul said to the Galatians.
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
Folks, as we take a look at this gospel of Jesus Christ that we are talking about, as it was revealed by the apostle Paul, we need to understand something, that Paul, as he was revealing this, was saying, that what I got I did not get from man. I did not make it up and I did not get it from man. I got what I was taught by revelation from Jesus Christ our Lord. That all started when God appeared to me personally on the road to Damascus when I was on my way to persecute the very people He came to die for. He testified to that fact, how this light came and that was Jesus. Jesus asked him, “Why are you persecuting me? Why are you banging out your head against the bricks? Why are you kicking against the goads? I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. He is the one you studied about in the Old Testament for years, about the coming Messiah. I am here and you are rebelling against me.
It is like my father, who was not a Christian at the time, but certainly had a heart in that regard. He was talking to one of his best friends and our best friends who were a Jewish couple in Indiana, whom we loved, Joe Shapiro. I will never forget the day sitting there. We were religious people and we did not know the Lord. He said to him, “Joe, if Jesus is not the Messiah, that the Jews believe in, how much better is the Messiah going to have to be in order to be the Messiah than Jesus was? How many more miracles is he going to have to do than Jesus did? How much better of a man is he going to have to be than Jesus was? How many more people is he going to raise from the dead than Jesus did?” It did not have any meaning to me until I became a Christian. That was coming out of a man who was truly not born again yet.
A very exciting study, as we are continuing in the authority that God has given to the apostles to write the scriptures. We talked about the fact that in order to be an apostle, you had to be one who was with Him from the beginning, witnessing His baptism, death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven. Those were the men He called apostles and gave the authority to represent Him here on earth initially with the proclamation of the gospel and then to be writers, those he selected to do so of the New Testament, as the Spirit of God living in them revealed those things as only what He wanted them to say, but in some instances, to write down. Not all of the apostles recorded what Christ had revealed to them.
Then there came along the apostle Paul. Had Peter not confirmed the fact that the apostles did regard his writings as scripture as holding the same authority as theirs would the writings be recognized. The fact that just as nothing was written down by them that had not been revealed by Christ that obviously what Paul was writing had also been revealed by Christ in a different way.
We talked about Galatians. I would like to go back to Galatians and read through Paul’s testimony of how all of this took place. In Galatians 1:6, Paul writes.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – 7 which is really no gospel at all.
It tells us that you and I can be turning to a gospel that is really not the gospel. A gospel that is made up is not a gospel that God revealed. That is a warning to us today, to ask, “Have we deserted the true gospel that is the gospel of grace by hanging onto a gospel that combines grace and the law?” That is not the gospel as revealed by God, mixing law and grace. That is one you made up or adhered to a gospel that some other man has made up, but is not the gospel that God declared and, therefore, is not a gospel that saves you. The gospel that saves you is the only gospel that is revealed by God to the apostles but not to us. Our goal is to walk by faith in the gospel that was revealed through the apostles and written down by them but not for us to make up one.
Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
That is how perversion comes, through people. Any addition to the gospel or taking away from the gospel is a perversion of the gospel.
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!
There are cults today who say they receive revelation from an angel. The reason we know that is a perversion because the message is perverted. Jesus is not a glorified man. He was God who became a man. He was not a man who elevated himself into God. As an example, the Mormons would teach that. It is a perversion by perverted people who are teaching a perverted gospel.
9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
That is a strong condemnation of people. God’s curse is to be under God’s condemnation of hell.
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
If you are trying to win the approval of man, then you will placate man with some gospel that just sounds good by tickling their ears. But the gospel I am proclaiming is a message that came from God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
I want to tell you something, folks. That is not hard for me to understand. If you want to be a man pleaser you would just teach what is acceptable to man. It is amazing to me how people who call themselves Christians are so adamant to the preaching of a complete message of the grace of God. Instead of being a man pleaser, which you would think that message would please man. That does not please man. Man wants to earn his own way to God. He does not want to go in totally on the works of Christ. We want to add to it. But if you want to be a servant of Christ, you have to teach what Christ taught, a message of pure grace.
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.
So it shows there are gospels that man makes up.
12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
That, incidentally, is what people are naturally zealous for, their own tradition, but not Christ.
15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was,
So Paul certainly called himself an apostle. He would not have dared to call himself that unless Christ called him that.
but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.
18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[b] and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.