I believe BUT …
There are many believers in the Lord who have responded to His call as found in the gospel concerning His atoning sacrifice. You will notice that this gospel is firmly rooted in the OT scriptures and has been eloquently expressed by Paul in 1 Cor 15 which is repeated below:
1 (TR) γνωριζω δε υμιν αδελφοι το ευαγγελιον ο ευηγγελισαμην υμιν ο και παρελαβετε εν ω και εστηκατε
2 (TR) δι ου και σωζεσθε τινι λογω ευηγγελισαμην υμιν ει κατεχετε εκτος ει μη εικη επιστευσατε
3 (TR) παρεδωκα γαρ υμιν εν πρωτοις ο και παρελαβον οτι χριστος απεθανεν υπερ των αμαρτιων ημων κατα τας γραφας
4 (TR) και οτι εταφη και οτι εγηγερται τη τριτη ημερα κατα τας γραφας
- Reject it as “distinct and special” and place it with Paul’s other writings (mid-Acts) — “I believe BUT Paul is PAul”.
- Defer till more light is gathered — “I believe BUT I am not sure”.
- Accept it as “distinct and special” and see with enlightened eyes the new and different hope set before him/her — “I believe and I believe”.
“I believe BUT Paul is PAul”
This is essentially the mid-Acts position. A person expressing this is in compliance with the idea that Ephesian mystery truth (PAul) was already known in Acts by Paul. I wish to talk about what our destinies will be. This is a difficult topic because some will see this as the author’s attempt to put fellow believers down either by emphasizing a hope that is perceived as “less” and then assigning their group to it or emphasizing a different hope assumed “better” and assigning the author’s group to it. This is not the object of the exercise, and we should consider that ultimately we shall all be gathered together in one in the dispensation of the fulness of times:
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
The question is, are we all (believers in the Lord as outlined above) members of the church for whom Christ is head? Does salvation bring membership to this one body PAul outlines in Ephesians 1-3? There are a number of gospels taught in Ephesians, one of them speaks to this question (Eph 3):
5 (AV) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
5 (TR) ο εν ετεραις γενεαις ουκ εγνωρισθη τοις υιοις των ανθρωπων ως νυν απεκαλυφθη τοις αγιοις αποστολοις αυτου και προφηταις εν πνευματι
6 (AV) That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
6 (TR) ειναι τα εθνη συγκληρονομα και συσσωμα και συμμετοχα της επαγγελιας αυτου εν τω χριστω δια του ευαγγελιου
7 (AV) Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
7 (TR) ου εγενομην διακονος κατα την δωρεαν της χαριτος του θεου την δοθεισαν μοι κατα την ενεργειαν της δυναμεως αυτου
8 (AV) Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
8 (TR) εμοι τω ελαχιστοτερω παντων των αγιων εδοθη η χαρις αυτη εν τοις εθνεσιν ευαγγελισασθαι τον ανεξιχνιαστον πλουτον του χριστου
9 (AV) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
9 (TR) και φωτισαι παντας τις η κοινωνια του μυστηριου του αποκεκρυμμενου απο των αιωνων εν τω θεω τω τα παντα κτισαντι δια ιησου χριστου
How were the Gentiles to be made “fellowheirs”, “the same body” and “partakers”? — Note that these words are very distinctive συγκληρονομα και συσσωμα και συμμετοχα, there is no other record in ancient greek to the word “συσσωμα” – possibly PAul coined it right here for its distinctive and special use. PAul answers “by the gospel” or through the gospel. What do we know of this gospel? What is gospellized? Vs 8 that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. A person then would gain membership to this joint body by believing the gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
A mid -Acts position would not necessarily hold this as meaning a new body formed unassociated with Israel and her covenants. To say you believe the gospel of 1 Cor. 15 means that you must accept all of its content, you could not rightfully claim salvation by taking another Jesus for example. It would be presumptuous of me to suppose knowledge of what people believe. The most I can do is say that it is possible that mid-Acts believers do not qualify simply because hopes are not clarified. (Would a person be saved from an unclear gospel? It depends on how fuzzy it was.)
“I believe BUT I am not sure”
Such a person has no belief in the gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ and therefore would have some other hope. After collecting all such individuals together we can talk of a group who have the same hope. They would of course have life, but where would they find their eternal destiny? Where would their aspirations be in relation to Israel’s promises and covenants? PAul’s post acts epistles are all based on the teaching of a special revelation of the mystery. We can find no other hope than the heavenly places there. Is there any other hope presented to the Jew and Gentile consequent to God’s judgment on Israel? The answer is Yes!
Joh 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Christ came to His own “things” and his own “people” received him not. He was rejected finally at Acts 28. John addresses the world, “for God so loved the world”. Many in professing Christiandom find their hope and aspirations in the gospel of John. Some of them reject the gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ, John10:16 says:
16 (AV) And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
16 (TR) και αλλα προβατα εχω α ουκ εστιν εκ της αυλης ταυτης κακεινα με δει αγαγειν και της φωνης μου ακουσουσιν και γενησεται μια ποιμνη εις ποιμην
There are other sheep (Gentiles) not of the house of Israel that must be brought, they will in this way be one flock (γενησεται μια ποιμνη) and have one shepherd (εις ποιμην) over them. The figure for the house here is the sheepfold The verb is used in Math.21:17 “lodged” and Luke 21:37, “abode”. These are the guest’s to the marriage of the Kings son subsequent to the failure of those who were bidden to the wedding.
8 (AV) Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
8 (TR) τοτε λεγει τοις δουλοις αυτου ο μεν γαμος ετοιμος εστιν οι δε κεκλημενοι ουκ ησαν αξιοι
9 (AV) Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.
9 (TR) πορευεσθε ουν επι τας διεξοδους των οδων και οσους αν ευρητε καλεσατε εις τους γαμους
10 (AV) So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
10 (TR) και εξελθοντες οι δουλοι εκεινοι εις τας οδους συνηγαγον παντας οσους ευρον πονηρους τε και αγαθους και επλησθη ο γαμος ανακειμενων
Those who are brought into the fold are made one flock and there shall be one shepherd. They become associated with Israel and her promises as guests. Their’s is a place at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
The Shepherd is a clearly Jewish symbol of God and Israel especially in relation to His covenant relationship in the OT and to Jesus in the NT
Jer 31:10 Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
Jeremiah is interesting, it is here that the new covenant is rehearsed in Jer 31:31. Paul takes from Jer 31 and reminds the reader of God’s new covenant with Israel accomplished through Jesus Christ
Joh 10:2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
Joh 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Joh 10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
Joh 10:14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
Joh 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
The one shepherd is Jesus Christ.
Heb 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
The Lord Jesus, the Shepherd, the sheep and new covenant are all brought together in these passages.
1Pe 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
1Pe 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Jeremiah, John, Paul and Peter are consistent here.
“I believe and I believe”
For those who believe the gospel of salvation and see and believe in the distinctive and special gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ have by grace a place in the sussoma. The only teaching extant today that clarifies and makes manifest the Mystery in its correct and logical place is that ministry which preaches Acts 28. Can we expect every christian to see this — clearly the answer is NO and God has made provision for different companies of believers as shown above. We can only pray that a spirit of wisdom and revelation be given to believers so that with enlightened eyes they might see what is the hope of their distinctive calling.
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly <2032> places in Christ:
Eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly <2032> places,
Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly <2032> places in Christ Jesus:
Eph 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly <2032> places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high <2032> places.
The expression repeated above is εν τοις επουρανιοις, which in the dative is locative. The hope is in the heavenly places themselves.
There are many groups associated with the bride, the friend, the children of the bridechamber and the virgins equipped with oil for their lamps for example. What has been pointed out above is that there is a group who know nothing of “the mystery” yet are “other sheep” in this age who will be made one flock with believing Israel and associated with the shepherd. If this is your hope then praise God for it!
Mid-Acts teaching does not clarify the gospel that brings membership to the sussoma. It might be that many will start with a mid-Acts belief but when God gives a spirit of wisdom and revelation eyes will be enlightened.
We trust that those of you who read these blogs will see, believe and know. If you dear reader have made the jump to light speed, then praise God for it! Come across to the un-promised land where grace is upon grace and riches upon riches.
I believe and I believe!