THE APOSTLE PAUL: A CHOSEN VESSEL
You will read--
- Paul was a chosen vessel
- How could professed Christians be misled about something so self-evident?
- There has been a generalized attack against the apostle Paul
- The apostle Paul's legacy continues.
*** PREFACE ***
All the foundations of the earth are out of course and, as with many things, that which has long been self-evident is not so self-evident in these days of apostasy. This puts one in the position of defending something that was simply general knowledge--in this case, that the epistles of the apostle Paul are scriptures.
I have twice heard a heretical/blasphemous-type doctrine come from the mouths of professed Christians. A number of years separated these comments. These people say that they will reject Paul's words if they contradict with the words of the Lord Jesus. What? Where did this come from? The apostle Paul wrote 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament. How can anyone put a difference between the scriptures and the words of the Lord Jesus Christ himself when the scriptures are his word? No prophecy of the scriptures is of any private interpretation. Man did not come up with the scriptures. Paul and other holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost and that is why we have the scriptures today.
*** PAUL WAS A CHOSEN VESSEL ***
The apostle Paul was a chosen vessel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He wrought and laboured abundantly. Paul was raised up to bear the name of Jesus before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. In a vision, the Lord Jesus told Ananias that Saul (also called Paul)is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (see Acts 9:15-16)
The Lord Jesus Christ personally appeared to Paul to make him a minister and witness sent to the people and the Gentiles to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in him (see Acts 26:16-18).
Paul is our apostle--a good man and an holy, a preacher of righteousness. Paul was chosen, kept under his body, was sanctified and consecrated before God. Paul was a man filled with the Holy Ghost and he bore witness to the truth that the Lord shewed him. To put a difference between the epistles of Paul and the words of the Lord Jesus does not make sense as they both comprise the word of God. People who do this do not make sense, something terribly wrong has happened to them, their minds are ill-affected.
- Paul was an holy man and he laboured more abundantly than all the apostles, yet not him, but the grace of God which was with him (see 1 Corinthians 15:10). In Paul, we see the transformation complete from being a sinner to being a yielded and completely consecrated saint. We see spiritual maturity with all the attendant, requisite afflictions--pains, trials, tribulation, and persecutions to keep him weak and low (2 Corinthians 12:7, 9). We see the fastings, the watchings, the labours, the cares, etc. We see the transformation from sinner to saved, sanctified and totally yielded to the Lord and meet for the Master's use. More than one person, as they have grown in the Lord, has come to admire and love the apostle Paul very deeply and has come to more closely feel and understand the magnitude of his spiritual stature, his loving nature, and his personal consecration before the Lord.
- Paul holds a prominent place in the book of Acts--his conversion, his missionary journeys, his appearance before kings and rulers.
Paul was there after the resurrection, labouring and making the name of Jesus known, far and wide. He was a trailblazer and pioneer for God. In 2 Corinthians 10:16 he was looking to preach the gospel in the regions beyond the Corinthians, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to their hand. Paul was a powerful man of God and a mighty, sanctified and meet for the Master's use, an eminent example to us. Paul was a man in position, his praise was in the gospel and he made it clear that he came not to glorify himself but rather, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth (see 2 Corinthians 10:17-18). The Lord called Paul and sent him forth as a minister and witness. The Lord specifically used Paul to write fourteen of the twenty seven New Testament books--
- I Corinthians
- II Corinthians
- I Thessalonians
- II Thessalonians
- I Timothy
- II Timothy
Paul laboured and he wrote. A dispensation of the gospel was committed to him. By God's grace, he and the other brethren preached the gospel to whole regions. Paul laboured with his hands, suffered want, taught, preached, wrote epistles, took care of the churches, fasted prayed, watched, experienced many perils, etc. He was a chosen vessel and he ran well.
- The apostle Peter specifically owned Paul's epistles and spoke of the wicked wresting with Paul's epistles as they do also the OTHER scriptures--2 Peter 3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the OTHER SCRIPTURES, unto their own destruction.
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Paul's writings are scriptures. No whole Christian could put a difference between the words of Paul and the words of the Lord Jesus.
- It is the unlearned and the unstable that wrest with scriptures that the apostle Paul wrote. The devil is very interested in getting people to not hearken to the epistles of Paul. He seeks to dissumulate and break apart, even the scriptures themselves in the minds of men. The devil has many devices and wiles that come out of the flood that issues out of his mouth. Paul preached holiness, and without holiness NO MAN shall see the Lord (Hebrews ). The devil and the ungodly (like antinomians) rail against holiness.
- Paul was an apostle, who wrote fourteen of the twenty seven New Testament books--there is no separation between the scriptures and the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Paul was not speaking on his own behalf; he was God's messenger, holy, fit, and meet for the Master's use. He spake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost.2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that NO prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
*** HOW COULD PROFESSED CHRISTIANS BE MISLED ABOUT SOMETHING SO SELF-EVIDENT? ***
The issue here is how could professed Christians be so influenced by so odious a doctrine (separating the words of Paul from the words of the Lord Jesus)?
I do not know, but it seems obvious that they were taught this in church or some book.
- Perhaps they have heard bad church doctrine from their childhood days
- Perhaps they do not read and obey their Bibles which leaves them open to deception
- Perhaps they are unlearned and have a tendency to believe their leaders, I do not know.
- Perhaps some are lascivious antinomians and dispensationalists taught to automatically reject every doctrine of holiness.
As one who came from a heathen background, when I finally did start reading the Bible it never once occurred to me that the whole Bible is not one book and that the apostle Paul was not speaking for heaven.
It may be that tricksters and false teachers use particular passages in 1 Corinthians 7 to trick people into separating the words found in the gospels and the words found in Paul's epistles. In 1 Corinthians seven, the apostle Paul gives his judgments on certain matters and so notes them, e.g., 1 Corinthians 7:6-7But I speak this of permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widow, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband.
1 Corinthians 7:25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
Note in 1 Corinthians 7:6 that Paul spoke by permission and not of commandment, but yet he was given permission to so speak this word. When we are unmarried, we can wait on the Lord without distraction, but this is not a commandment that Christians cannot get married--it is the apostle speaking to us for our own profit, for that which is comely and that we may attend upon the Lord without distraction (see 1 Corinthians 7:35). These are the words of a good man, an holy man, a caring man, a loving man, a man of power, an eminent example, a righteous father in the church of God.
*** THERE HAS BEEN A GENERALIZED ATTACK AGAINST THE APOSTLE PAUL ***
Another thing that I have noticed through the years is a general attack against the apostle Paul--the critical method* being used to misinterpret Paul's epistles.*in the critical method, the impious wicked look for ways to reinterpret the scriptures e.g., explaining away the scriptures based on what they say were cultural conditions, etc. These people write lots of books, and it seems that the visible church seems very interested in such productions. There is no room for these blasphemies and heresies in the church of God, get thee hence, Satan. These people use words, mere words to explain away the scriptures. Eve was tricked by words and the devil is still tricking people with words. Eve believed the devil's words instead of God's words and many church people are doing the same thing today.This is just the same old hateful Biblical criticism continues to be spewed out of the mouths of mockers, scorners, blasphemers, deceivers, seducers, and heretics. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. In Paul's epistles we learn how to go on to perfection--the devil and his agents want to stop that.
The deceivers calling themselves by various names do not belong in the church--and neither do their books. This includes false teachers called dispensationalists--let their doctrine be corrected or let them and their books (Clarence Larkin, etc.) and their hatred of holiness get out.
In John 16:12, the Lord Jesus told his disciples that he had yet many things to say to them but that they could not bear them at that time. Eventually, the New Testament would be complete and we would have the word of God that we could read and learn. The New Testament scriptures give us the information that we need to grow--the epistles are not separate from the gospels, it is all the word of God. The devil (and his people) seeks to check our progress and put us in hell through disobedience. He can achieve his goals with those that listen to him, but those that will read their Bibles, obey the word of God, and ignore the doctrines of men become strong and overcome the wicked one.
God is holy and we are exceedingly sinful. After we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we must mortify our members under his watchful care. No-we do not remain street sinners--that is the odious, go-to-hell doctrine of the antinomians (who are oftentimes dispensationalists). Much of the New Testament is dedicated to rending us away from our evil ways. The rending, having occurred, leaves us meet and fit for the Master's use. We can go on to useful service in the midst of this generation.
*** THE APOSTLE PAUL'S LEGACY CONTINUES ***
To this day, the words spoken by the apostle Paul continue with us comforting us, teaching us, edifying us, rebuking us, and correcting us. As we go along further in our Christian walk, it seems that to many of us, the apostle Paul is more appreciated for who he is to God's people--a mountain of a man, a man of great spiritual stature, a gift to the Gentiles and a loving son of Israel.
The unlearned and unstable are still wresting with the epistles of Paul just like they did in Peter's day (see 2 Peter 3:15-16). This they do unto their own destruction. By good words and fair speeches they deceive the hearts of the simple. May they meet with no success amongst those seeking God's face. And may any misunderstandings amongst God's people be corrected--without delay.
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