This new creature we have been made in Christ was a complete and total mystery, an unknown entity, until the Apostle Paul. Up until Paul, and through the first half of Paul’s ministry, God was dealing with mankind in terms of the separation between Jew and Gentile.
Deuteronomy 7:6… “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”
After the nation Israel failed to come to terms with their Redeemer, God set them aside.
Acts 28:28… “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”
Paul went to both the Jew and to the Gentile/Greek (non-Jew) with the gospel of Christ and, I believe, this is where the confusion begins as to whether or not Peter and Paul preached the same gospel message, which we have demonstrated they could not have been.
Romans 1:16… “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
If the Kingdom gospel was for the nation Israel (as is clear) why did Paul go to them (first even) with the new “gospel of Christ” (free grace/zero works) that the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ gave to him specifically for the Gentiles?
Romans 11:13… “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”
Let’s take a look back in Matthew 12 to get an idea. Most professing Christians have heard of the “unpardonable sin”. What was it exactly?
Matthew 12:31-32… “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
The one thing that was unpardonable to the nation Israel then was blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Commit this sin and you were not going into “thy Kingdom come”. Israel rejected and thus blasphemed God the Father by way of their rejecting the prophets He sent specifically to the nation. This was forgivable. They rejected and ultimately blasphemed His Son in Christ at the cross. This too was forgivable. They rejected and thus blasphemed the Holy Ghost during and after Pentecost as only a relative few heeded the message of repentance Peter preached in Acts 2 and 3. Paul himself as well was a blasphemer…
1 Timothy 1:13… “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”
This was unforgivable. Few in the nation Israel then could have hoped to attain everlasting life in the Kingdom as only a few successfully recognized their prophesied Messiah when He arrived among them. Only relative few were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Paul did not recognize his Messiah. God was justified to sent His wrath upon the world right then and there at the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7.
Long before this time, at the tower of Babel in Genesis 11, the “Gentile” nations (those nations Abram was called out of) were concluded in unbelief. Now His nation Israel had come to their “third strike” if you will and rejected the giving of God’s Holy Spirit, the new covenant, that the Law would be written in their hearts (Jer 31:31, Heb 8), that they would be able to walk worthy of their calling. In short… Israel (and the rest of the world) was up a creek without a paddle, all concluded in unbelief.
Romans 11:32… “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.”
Since these could not have been saved into the Kingdom program, God, in infinite and longsuffering mercy; NOT YET wanting to pour His Just Wrath out upon the world, saved the Apostle Paul, giving not only His nation Israel but the whole world a new possibility at salvation. Something the world had never before seen nor experienced. Absolutely free grace with zero effort required or accepted.
Ephesians 2:8-9… “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Mankind’s very essence is to boast in what he has done. We ARE prideful creatures by nature. God will have none of it. I heard brother Steve Atwood say just the other day that if salvation required the wiggling of our little finger just slightly, we would boast in eternity just how amazingly well we wiggled our little fingers… and he is right. It is only the Divine Activity of God Himself could save such prideful creatures as we; humbling us in the process.
This zero effort/free grace dispensation produces the heretofore unprophesied new creature and offers all men, Jew or Gentile, salvation completely apart from inherent “Jew-ness” or “Gentile-ness”. The new creature is neither Jew nor Gentile and, as a matter of fact, neither male or female!
Galatians 3:28… “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
What once were Jews and Gentiles are now NEITHER as God is not recognizing His chosen nation Israel at this moment in time. They are NO LONGER His people in this dispensation.
Romans 9:25-26… “As he saith also in Osee (Hosea 1:9-10), I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.”
God NOW recognizes the new creature and the new creature alone. But in this, for the past 2,000 years, He is giving (Israel and the Gentiles) ALL MEN EQUALLY yet another chance at redemption before His just wrath is poured out on a most deserving world.
The new creature is an individual man saved by the gospel of grace (he becomes a new creature) AND it is a body of believers as well.
It is in the epistles of Paul alone that we find mention of “the church – the body of Christ”, of which Christ is the Head. While there are many “churches” mentioned in the Bible, they are not all the same church. The Jerusalem church was in the Temple Beautiful (Acts 3)… the wandering Jews belonged to the “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38), for example. Men were first called “Christians” at the church in Antioch (Acts 11:26) which was NOT a temple. This church, the body of Christ (an assembly of believers, a church is not a building) is made up of ALL believers saved by the gospel of Christ in this dispensation of free grace. It expresses itself in local areas via individual “churches” of which Grace Country Bible Church is but one.
The church – the body of Christ is made up of NEITHER Jew nor Greek, male nor female… No man today is lifted up above another man for any reason whatsoever, as God has concluded ALL men equally in unbelief. The above verse in Deuteronomy (7:6) has been made temporarily void by the verses in Hosea (1:9-10).
1 Corinthians 12:13… “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
The reason saints in time past (Jews AND the Gentiles who blessed them) could NOT acknowledge the “unsearchable” riches of Christ, is because these riches were not prophesied in scripture. One could not search the scriptures in time past to find out about what God is doing today because God kept it secret. Paul writes:
Romans 11:33… “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgements, and His ways past finding out!”
Ephesians 3:8… “Unto me, who am less than the least of all the saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;”
While Christ’s birth, death and resurrection WAS prophesied, the fullness of the riches of His death, burial and resurrection was completely unknown. A Jew and a Gentile in time past could indeed search the scriptures to learn what they had to do to be saved: the Jew was to believe on Christ his prophesied Messiah risen from the dead, and the Gentile was to somehow bless the Jew (Gen 12:3, Mat 25:31-46… notice carefully these did not understand how they made it into the Kingdom!).
The unprophesied new creature (NOT Jew and NOT Gentile) has only to believe that Christ died for his sin nature and rose again for his justification, and eternal salvation is his! The only place in scripture a man can learn this, is in the epistles of Paul. The new creature (believers today) was therefore hidden in God since the foundation of the world and a part of the mystery given unto the apostle Paul alone (therefore Peter could NOT have spoken of it), and of which Paul was the first.
1 Timothy 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.”
What believers are today therefore, is not only NOT found in what is called the Old Testament section of the Bible, we are NOT found in Matthew, Mark, Luke John or the first half of Acts, as these are all books of the Law or the “old testament”. Nor is this new creature, the church the body of Christ found in the Hebrew epistles of Peter, James and John, as God is once again dealing with the Jew and the Gentile in these “New Testament” books. Where we see the distinction existing between Jew and Gentile we do not see the unprophesied new creature.
Right division therefore, is NOT dividing between the old and new testament sections of the Bible, it is NOT dividing between Christ and not Christ, IT IS dividing between that which God kept secret versus what God prophesied throughout time. It is dividing between Israel and their relationship to the Gentile nations, and the NOT Jew / NOT Gentile “body of Christ” being formed today to eventually take up residence in the heavenly places with God.
Where we see, even in Paul’s epistles, the distinction between Jew and Gentile, we must “rightly divide”. Romans chapters 9, 10 and 11 are NOT about the church the body of Christ. These are about the condition of Israel today, and their dealings with the Gentiles in time past, and in the ages to come, when God will once again be dealing with the Jew and the Gentile.
I have one last issue to tackle with the new creature in the next post: “The new creature, part 3.“