The popular saying is, “you don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone.” For too long the Lord’s special revelation to Paul has received second or third hand treatment to the ‘red letters’ and prophecy.
I propose an experiment in the spirit of Dickens’ Christmas ghosts. Let’s pretend Paul was never saved on the road to Damascus. What would happen to the church if Paul was never given his revelation of the mystery from the Lord?
Temporarily remove Paul’s epistles from the Bible. There are thirteen books from Romans to Philemon. Take them all out. You will also need to take out Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts also. Acts nine and onward should be removed as well.
Now, let’s draw an adequate picture of what remains.
Church without Paul
Without Paul, the last testimony from the church we see is the church in the temple from Acts 2-5. This group is led by Peter and the other eleven apostles.
They are continuing with the Lord’s commissions in Mark 16, Mat 28, Luke 24, and John 20. Accompanying their ministry are extraordinary powers which the Holy Ghost utilizes for signs of the coming kingdom (Mark 16:17).
Jesus had instructed the apostles in the end of his ministry to remain in Jerusalem until they received the word, then go to Judea, and Samaria, and so on. By Acts 8 the church was scattered except for the apostles who were obedient to these instructions (Acts 8:1).
In Peter’s footsteps the message we teach is that these are ‘the last days’, ‘repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins’, and the only preaching of the cross is that it was a horrible murder (Acts 2:17, 38, and Acts 5:30).
We would need to follow the Lord’s instructions, and the apostles’ example, by selling all that we have and have all things in common (Luke 12:33, Acts 2:45, Acts 4:34).
Salvation would be of the Jews (John 4:22), and we would be taking part in ushering in the kingdom which will be waiting the Lord’s return to Israel (Acts 1:6, Isa 2:2-4).
You would not understand the cross (Luke 18:34), and you would offer faith in Jesus the Messiah and the works of the law for justification (James 2:24). What you would never do is go in unto a Gentile’s house who was not a devout observer of the law (Acts 10:28).
Of course, since it has been nearly 2000 years since Peter first uttered the ‘last days’ claim, it may be time for a reassessment of the entire Jewish kingdom prophetic program. Perhaps, God’s promises have come to naught (Rom 9:6)?
Paul’s Writings Alone
Isn’t it strange how close ministry without Paul describes the modern church who has not given place to Paul’s office (Rom 11:13).
Without Paul’s writings you will not be able to prove the most basic doctrines, including:
– Salvation by grace through faith
– Justification apart from the law
– Full atonement of your sins through the death and resurrection
– A church body of both Jew and Gentile
– The fall of Israel and God’s prophetic silence for nearly 2000 years
– A heavenly position in Christ
As Scofield said so well nearly a century ago, “in [Paul’s] writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church.” Removing Paul’s writings makes this truth a stark reality.
How little we appreciate the message Jesus gave to Paul to dispense, and the pattern we have for ministry in the Apostle Paul’s writings (1 Cor 9:17, 1 Tim 1:16). It is about time the church obeyed Jesus’ instructions to “follow Paul” (1 Cor 4:16).