1 Jan 2000

Did only Paul not mix Law in his writings?

Submitted by theshovel
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Could it be that Paul had the correcting teaching of Grace and the Apostles (i.e. Peter, James and John) did not?

It's too much of an easy out to suggest that Paul was the only one who had a clue. We do it because we have found a comfortable way to explain "grace" using Paul's writings, but then we're still stuck with multitudes of conflicts in those writings that we just learn to ignore. Not only that, we really think that the interpretations of the law-teachers have some merit to them. Legalism has twisted Jesus' words and Paul's words as well as James' words. Why don't we claim that Jesus was a legalist? hmmm? :) I spend just as much time (if not more) having to establish a "grace" viewpoint with Paul's writings as I do with the others. Paul HAD been given more revelation into the grace of Christ, but does that mean that the others were given INFERIOR or INCORRECT revelation? I think not.

I mean there seems to be an awful lot of law mixed in with the Grace of Jesus Christ that the Apostles had mixed in together. A close look at James will show you that. There seems to be an emphasis on works in James, but you look at a scripture like Romans 8:1 and the two are totally unrelated.

I disagree totally with that view of James. :) We have misread James in EXACTLY the same way we have misread Jesus. Bear with me as I first discuss our grand misconception of Jesus.

If you read the "gospels" without constantly reminding yourself WHO IT WAS that Jesus was either speaking TO or ABOUT or IN FRONT OF then you end up trying to "apply" these words in red print as if He was really suggesting that THIS was the new set of rules for a new dispensation. Jesus came at the "fullness of time". Part of this had to do with the development of the religious establishment consisting of Pharisees and lawyers and scribes. It's not that they were worse people than the rest, but that they were the full grown fruit of legalism. They represented the epitome of mankind's attempts at righteousness. How they reacted was how any fully-developed self-righteous man would react. That's why MOST of what Jesus had to say was either directly to them or referring to them. The religious men of that day were the "perfect" contrast to what the Law was really about. And what Jesus said was to every other religious mind as well. We read the "sermon on the Mount" and LOVE the beginning "nice" parts, but then ignore the steady downhill trend of the message. The moral of the story is that with all their talk these men were simply hypocrites - those who claimed to have the "real thing" but did not have it at all. Jesus ended by contrasting two men: the man who heard His words and DID them (something totally foreign to them in reality) and the man who heard and did NOT do it (of which the religious leaders were the prime examples). Jesus came to bring wholeness to man by putting God in that empty place in him ... and changing EVERYTHING.

James dealt with the same farce. That religious self-righteous man was able to adapt to the "new" framework and now found himself in places of leadership in the "Christian" community. James writes his letter to draw the same contrast between the empty man who has nothing but false words and the man who has been filled with the life of God. One merely "hears", the other miraculously "does". We try to use the difference between Paul and James to conclude that James was a legalist, but the fact is that Paul ALSO wrote MUCH about works. But BOTH of them attributed it to the working of the indwelling God.

I keep thinking of a statement that Mike Williams said that the Apostles walked, talked and spent loads of time with the savior but didn't know who he was. Why did Peter deny him 3 times? Not once, not twice, but three times?!! All of the other 11 denied him as well. "I don't know the man" is what they said.

Had Paul been among them from the beginning I have no doubt he would have reacted the same as the rest of them.

Paul seems to have had a better handle on the Grace message than the 12. Jesus therefore, HAD to strike down Paul on the road to Damascus because of the incorrect teachings of the 12.

Are you sure about that? Now, I agree that Paul was given incredible revelation, but it is quite a stretch to say that it was BECAUSE of the "incorrect" teachings of the 12. There was a FULLNESS of the revelation that God gave Paul in the fact that here was one of the fully ripened products of self-righteousness. God took this aggressive, driven Pharisee and yanked him totally out of his element (just like Abraham) and sent him to those who didn't care about this law he had so loved. Paul came to see himself as having been the "chief sinner" that God chose to be the example of those who believe in Christ. He KNEW beyond the shadow of a doubt that he could not take any credit for this righteousness received as a free gift of God.

If you notice Paul had a distant relationship with the 12. Why is that?

What is the most obvious consideration here? Isn't it the fact that the 12 hung together with Jesus for almost three years, while Paul did not? Paul wasn't lying when he wrote:

for He who EFFECTUALLY worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles. Galatians 2:8

Jews were given revelation into seeing Christ as the FULFILLMENT of every aspect of the Law, while Gentiles had been given revelation into this grace that found them even when they were not looking for it. In God's wisdom, He revealed more abounding grace to all by taking that which belonged to one and gave it to another. Paul was such a incredible candidate of having this grace revealed to him because he was such an "abortion" from being the epitome of man under law who had been uprooted and driven from "God's people" to discover this grace that was given based on NOTHING in man ... and even in spite of man's rejection.

Oh, well, that's an incredibly long answer, huh? Now you know why I don't post much ... I would have to quit my job!! :)

Love,
Jim

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