Scriptural Christianity – Wm R Newell

There are two great revelators, or unfolders of Divine Truth in the Bible—Moses in the Old Testament and Paul in the New. Some may ask, Is not Christ the Great Teacher? In a sense that is true; but actually He is the Person taught about, rather than teaching, in the Gospel. The Law and the prophets pointed forward to Him; the epistles point back to Him; and the Revelation points to His second coming, and those things connected with it. The Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, is the theme of the Bible.

Unto none of the Twelve Apostles did God directly reveal the great body of doctrine for this age. Just as He chose Moses to be the revelator to Israel of the Ten Commandments, and all connected with the Law dispensation; so God chose Saul of Tarsus to be the revelator and unfolder of those mighty truths connected with our Lord’s death, burial, resurrection and His ascended Person. And all the “mysteries”, or “secrets”, revealed to God’s people in this dispensation by the Holy Spirit in the Word are revealed by Paul. Finally, Paul is the unfolder of that great company of God’s elect, called the Church, the Body of Christ, which is also the Bride—members of the Lord Jesus Himself.

No other Apostle speaks of these things. Peter himself had to lean them from Paul (2 Pet 3:15, 16). When Paul finishes his thirteen great epistles (Romans to Philemon), those which belong to the Church, God indeed instructs the Gentile believers as to the meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures concerning the priestly Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ as carried on in heaven now. The Book of Hebrews is the great meeting place for both Gentile and Jewish believers.

James addressed his epistle to “the twelve tribes”; that is, his epistle has a special reference to Jewish Christians in the early days and to such throughout the dispensation, for that matter. Peter writes to “the strangers who are sojourners of the Dispersion,” that is, to the dispersed Jews who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah. The word Cross does not appear in James, Peter or 1-3 John. Paul is the unfolder of what God did at Calvary. If Peter (1 Pet 2:24) speaks of it, it is as “the tree” (Deut 21:22, 23) and for atonement only.

You can discern a man’s preaching or teaching by this rule—is he Pauline? Does his doctrine start and finish according to those statements of Christian doctrine written by the Apostle Paul? No matter how wonderful a man may seem in his gifts and apparent consecration, if his Gospel is not Pauline, it is not the Gospel; and we might as well get our minds settled once and for all as to that. Failure or refusal to discern the Pauline Gospel as a separate and new revelation, and not a “development from Judaism,” accounts for most the confusion in many people’s minds today as regards just what the Gospel is.

Paul calls down the anathema, that is, the curse of God Himself upon anyone who preaches any other Gospel than that which he declared (Gal 1:8, 9). Not for one moment are we to believe that James, Peter and John are at variance with Paul—not in the least! They are given certain things by the Spirit of God to say to certain classes of people and they say it; and it’s true—just as true as Paul’s words and they in no way conflict with Paul.

But, nevertheless, Paul is God’s declarer and revealer of the Gospel to us. Take his thirteen epistles of Romans to Philemon out of the Bible and you are bereft of Christian doctrine. For instance, if you were to take Paul’s epistles from the Word, you cannot find anything about the Church as the Body of Christ (mentioned but not disclosed by Christ – Mat 16:18), for none of the apostles mention the Body of Christ. You cannot find one of the great mysteries, such as the Rapture of the Church (1 Thess 4:16, 17; 1 Cor 15) or the mystery of the present hardening of Israel (Rom 11) for no other apostle speaks of any of those mysteries. Paul alone reveals them.

You cannot find the exact meaning of any of the great doctrines, such as Propitiation, Reconciliation, Justification, Identification, Redemption or Sanctification. You cannot find what is perhaps the most tremendous fact of every Christian life, that of his personal union with the Lord Jesus in glory. Paul alone is the divinely chosen opener to us of truth for this age. “The Church, of which I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God, even the mystery which hath been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints” (Col 1:24-26). “You have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given to me toward you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery” (Eph 3:2, 3).

Saul already stood in clearer light regarding the Risen Lord Jesus than did the other apostles; for they had known Him primarily in humiliation, and they were His messengers to Israel, of whom is Christ “as concerning the flesh” (Rom 9:5); but Saul’s first vision of Christ was as the Glorified One, the Son of God, in resurrection glory. The concept of the Lord Jesus in Paul’s epistles is one of constant, unspeakable glory. We do not mean that the other apostles did not recognize the Lord Jesus as the Son of God. They has, long since (Matt 16:16; John 1:14, etc.). But their first testimony at Jerusalem and to Israel had been more of the Messiahship and Lordship of Jesus, as the Crucified and now risen King, who was ready to return to Israel and set up His kingdom if they would repent (Acts 2:36; 3:19, etc.).

But Paul received his teachings all from heaven, from the Lord Jesus in glory, rather than on earth in Jewish connections. “But I make known unto you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal 1:11, 12). Paul’s Gospel has nothing Jewish about it. He was not even converted in Jerusalem, but near a Gentile city (Acts 9:3). He was told by the Lord Himself that his testimony would not be received by the Jews, and he was to go far from them (Acts 22:18, 21).

The moment Paul begins his life-work (Acts 13:39) he opens up to the believer a new thing, a marvelous thing, that far exceeds in fullness of grace any words of the other apostles up to that time. “He that believeth is justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). The basis of, the character of Paul’s Gospel is the risen Lord Jesus Christ and of God as the One who raised Him from the dead and is now working on resurrection ground only!

Thank God for Paul, through whom those who seek liberty and deliverance believe the Gospel set forth in Galatians 2:19-21 concerning righteousness. When the heart rests in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, it just rejoices; it ceases from all efforts to produce anything. It knows it is not under law but under grace; its bondage has ceased; the bond of the law has been taken away; the Lord Jesus is there instead of the law as the hope of the heart and its Object.