If Christ was not sent to me (He was sent to Israel) then how am I blessed by His coming? After all, John 3:16 says… “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “Am I not a part of the world”, you ask? Well, yes we all are a part of the world, of course. “Then God sent His Son for me, says so right in the verse”, you exclaim.
Let me ask then… If the gospel of our salvation is that Christ died on His cross as a substitute for us (1 cor 15:1-4), taking our deserved place as hopeless sinners (Rom 3:26); with the penalty of any sin at all being sure death (Rom 6:23); was made into sin for us (2 Cor 5:21), that sin and its penalty could be permanently destroyed by death (Rom 6:6-7); and was subsequently raised for our justification (Rom 4:25); where in John 3:16 can I learn any of that? In truth, John 3:16 is the gospel of Israel (the circumcision) as it was Israel who needed to simply “believe that Jesus was the Messiah sent from God” to His people. This is the gospel Israel failed to grasp… simply, that Christ was God incarnate.
John 3:16 is NOT the gospel believers today need to trust in; the gospel that proclaims the object (but not the content) of our faith. We must trust the object AND the content (what Christ did); that Jesus paid the ultimate cost of OUR sin on OUR behalf and rest in that and that alone; with nothing to add save insult if we even try to justify ourselves by way of “good works” to make ourselves more “pleasing” in the sight of a Perfect and Holy Creator. A turd is still a turd no matter how polished the turd. All the best human lives ever lived, COMBINED, could not even remotely approach the Perfect Life displayed in Christ Jesus. He is NOT our pattern. He establishes us perfectly redeemed, completely complete (Col 2:10) lacking nothing at all in God the Father’s sight, by what He accomplished for us.
Then who was sent to us?
How do we learn the “content” of our faith? Christ says in John 13:20… “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” Christ sent the twelve, but they were sent to Israel as they were preaching the Kingdom (and therefore impending great tribulation) “at hand”. Mat 10:5-6… “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, GO NOT into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Go not means do not go. The twelve were not sent to believers today. Great tribulation has not yet occurred.
Paul was sent to us.
Romans 11:13… “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”
1 Tim 2:7… “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”
2 Tim 1:11… “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”
You rightly question, “So I am NOT supposed to follow Christ or the twelve?” My answer (the Bibles rightly divided answer) is no, you are not. You can not. You are not empowered to (as early Acts believers were). You are to follow Paul (NOT that we magnify or worship Paul), we follow Paul as Paul followed Christ. We worship and magnify Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, One God in 3 Persons, for all time!
1 Cor 11:1… “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
1 Tim 1:16… “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me FIRST Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
“In me first“, Paul says? “A pattern to them”… “Did not the twelve come before Paul?” They certainly did. “Then how is Paul first?” Because something changed. The word hereafter shows this. Hereafter what? God dealt with man from the time of Abraham till the time shortly after Christ was crucified, in a certain way. The nation Israel was His instrument to the world and Gods Law was His instrument to them. But when Israel failed, God was not finished, as the world knew Him not. He called Saul on the road to Damascus who became Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles; the heathen; you and me. Paul became God’s instrument. Free grace; the righteousness of God without the Law (Rom 3:21) was Gods instrument to Paul. God Himself didn’t change; the way He deals with man over time, does. The dispensation of the Law (Israel) was coming to a temporary end (as we shall see, God is far from finished with Israel) and the dispensation of the free grace of God to man was beginning.
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