What is commonly ignored by most Christians, but should be apparent to all, is that Acts chapters 10, 16, and 21 makes it clear gentiles were never under the Law, (Torah), and that those twelve apostles before Paul never forsook the law but lived and died under it’s confines. As gentiles we should not be attempting to follow the law in it’s various forms and commands. While the four ‘gospels’ so-called are complete and clear explanations of Christ earthly ministry and commands to Israel, it was never intended for gentile believers to obey. Rather, all of our commands can be found in Paul’s ministry and letters. The Revelation of the Mystery given to Paul, that gentiles should be included in the Body Of Christ apart from the law of works by grace alone, was committed to Paul alone and not the twelve. As gentiles, it is in Paul’s writings we find all we need for life and Godliness in our present dispensation.
In Corinthians we find the breakdown of the gentile church in the following of men and the divisions created by the forsaking of Paul’s doctrine to following that of Peter and Apollos. Paul corrects them by trying to return them to following God’s will for them by returning them to his own teachings given by the Lord Jesus himself. In Acts 4:16 and 11:1 this is exactly what Paul does.
“For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” 1 Corinthians 4:15-16,
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
While the church has made an issue out of baptism in 1 Corinthians, the real issue here is the Corinthians had moved away from Paul’s doctrine alone. Paul attempts to show them their canality and his inability to speak to them on a spiritual level because now the divisions caused by their forsaking Paul’s doctrine was causing contentions and bitterness. The only prescription for these divisions then was to return from following Peter, and Apollos (who was also a Jew who had been saved under the gospel of Christ’s earthly ministry), to himself as their apostle.
In the same way the church today has forsaken Paul’s doctrine alone as the standard of it’s rule and practice and is following these same twelve men and Christ’s earthly ministry. The many divisions in Christianity are the result of it, each one thinking it is right and each one thinking it alone has the truth. But the truth cannot be taught while this gentile church continues to follow apostles other than the apostle God gave to the gentiles – Paul. Nor can it truly exercise it’s spiritual gifts while it follows the earthly ministry of Christ intended for Israel and the Jews to bring the nations to the God of Israel.
You may be wondering at this time what any of this has to do with the true love of Christ in the believer’s life? Continue reading.
Well, the divisions in the church and the arrogance of being right are proof of the same carnality Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians who had forsaken Paul’s gospel and doctrine alone as the source of their livelihood in Christ. It is the same carnality and the same prescription to heal the church.
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-4
While the church is feeding it’s flock with the same milk over and over, the church does not grow as it should and the same separations remain still. To this I say, grow up! Return to Paul as the sole apostle to the gentiles and stop following the gospel meant for Israel and her belivers which neither did away with the law or the gospel of circumcision committed to Peter and the others.
“But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” -Galatians 2:7-9
While this carnality exists, the church cannot reach the spiritual level of understanding or growth God intended. This of course was satan’s plan all along. In fact, very early in the church satan began mixing law and grace and pressuring the church to follow the law and the ministry of the twelve instead of Paul. In Acts 16, and 1 Corinthians 1 and 2, satan attempts to bring the gentiles under the law of Moses (the Torah) and have gentiles become Jews by also being circumcised (one of the last steps to becoming a Jew). This would of course, erase the very distinctions of Paul’s gospel and make the things Christ had done for the gentiles in saving them without the law to be of no effect. This is the very thing he has accomplished in the present day church. Law is mixed with grace and the real power of the gentile church has been all but totally diminished. No wonder Paul fights so fervently in his letters for the gentiles to know the real meaning of grace apart from the works of the law and to know all Christ had given to them, and to us.
Without this spiritual growth unmixed with the law Christians cannot love as God intended. Think about it. With so many separations over minor issues like dress, music, diets, fellowship, beliefs, the church has become totally carnal and does not know the real power of God to overcome sin. The real love of Christ in the gentile church can only be fully realized in the environment of grace, apart from any works of the law. While the church thinks it’s purpose is to “establish the law” by somehow fullfilling the law by a self-imposed pueso-set of rules and regulations created from some grace-law mix, it cannot truly be the example it sets out to be, and the world knows it. The church falsely sees itself as setting the standard of love, but the world sees a selfish and self-important mix of what a Christian is supposed to be. Instead of a clear example, what the world sees is hodpodge of beliefs and dogma, none of which seems to really exemplify who Christ was or what he was about. How can the church then truly represent God’s love to the gentiles when the church itself does not truly understand it?
Under these demands the church is not free to love one another, let alone the world outside with a true unselfish love. When we constantly separate over man-made self-imposed rules of behavior we are not walking in the Spirit. After all, how can we be walking in the spirit if the scripture is revealing the fact we are truly carnal in our behavior as 1 Corinthians makes clear? If we are not walking in the spirit, (which is what the Bible tells us the divisions show of us), then we cannot be free from fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. We deceive ourselves if we think we, the church we attend, or the denomination if we are part of one, has the only truth for doctrine and belief and we stand apart from them. We are carnal. We cannot love like Christ. We are walking in the flesh. If we really had the truth should we not want to lift up and help correct our brother in Christ when he is believing wrong and not separate? If we really had the truth should we not be passionate for it?
I believe we know we are false but deny the truth. We do not love. We do not rise above our sin. We are not passionate because we do not have the love and power of God in our lives, and this is because we as gentiles are trying to follow the gospel of the twelve and Christ’s earthly ministry instead of Paul’s gospel alone. This mix of law and grace robs us of the truth and the real love in Christ. We do not understand the real gospel, the real Christ, or the real ministry of reconciliation God has committed to us. We are confused, being caught between two gospels. In this satan has won. How can we be passionate for the truth of the gospel when we do not truly know what it is we are supposed to be doing?
Unless love is grounded firmly in Paul’s gospel it will waver back and forth between legalism where it can never reach out to others with God’s true character, and liberalism where it can never be truly planted in faith which will protect the heart and mind of the believer from false doctrines attacking it. As gentiles, only following Paul’s gospel and relinquishing the gospel of law taught by the twelve can allow the Holy Spirit to work through our spirit to perform his love.
Following the gospel taught by the twelve will only lead to legalism because it never delivered those twelve or their followers from the law, and neither will it deliver you.