- Berean Bible Society - https://www.bereanbiblesociety.org -

Part 19: Back to Jesus — On to Perfection

Most Christians seem to prefer a Red Lettered New Testament. In the Red Lettered New Testament the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, spoken while He was on earth, are printed in red ink.

It is true that Jesus of Nazareth spake as never man spake. John 7:46. “They wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth.” But Christians should ever remember that “all Scripture is God-breathed”, from Genesis to Revelation.

Some years after Jesus of Nazareth had closed His earthly ministry and gone back to heaven Paul wrote these words, in II Corinthians 13:3,—“since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me.” Then concerning the gospel which he preached, Paul said, “for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:12.

Again Paul said:

“AND I THANK CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD, WHO HATH ENABLED ME, FOR THAT HE COUNTED ME FAITHFUL, PUTTING ME INTO THE MINISTRY.” I Timothy 1:12.

Concerning his knowledge of Divine truth Paul said concerning himself: “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” II Corinthians 12:4. Note several other statements from the pen of Paul.

“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” II Corinthians 4:5.

“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.” I Timothy 1:16.

“Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.” Ephesians 3:4.

“That I should be the minister to the Gentiles.” Romans 15:16.

Note Hebrews 1:1 and 2: “God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds:”

Here we learn that from Moses, the human author of Genesis, to Malachi, the human author of the last inspired Book of the Old Testament, God spake in divers manners unto the fathers by the prophets. This covers the thirty-nine Books, from Genesis to Malachi.

Then follow Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the inspired writings, in which we find recorded the sayings and doings of the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of God. God truly spake in His Son. The Lord Jesus made a wonderful statement to His apostles

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will shew you things to come.” John 16:12 to 14.

So after the death of the Son of God on the cross, God continued to speak in divers manners. The apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, and controlled by the Holy Spirit, they spoke and wrote messages that were God-breathed. Then followed revelations from Christ, in heaven, to the Apostle Paul, and the great unveiling of Christ given to the Apostle John, on the Isle of Patmos. So God did not cease to speak to His people when He ceased to speak in His Son on earth. Christ spoke in and by the Apostle Paul. Christ, on earth, was the Minister to the Jews. Romans 15:8. Later on the same Christ in heaven put Paul in the ministry to Gentiles.

Obedient children of God, who are spiritual and intelligent students of the Scriptures, will obey the command of Paul, in I Corinthians 11:1. There Paul writes, “follow me as I follow Christ.” They will believe what Paul has written, in Colossians 1:25 and 26:

“Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil (complete) the Word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.”

Believing this statement, they will know that the risen Christ gave to Paul a message, a ministry, and a spiritual program, that, in many respects, superseded the commands, the commissions, and the doctrines which He, as Jesus of Nazareth, on earth, gave His disciples for their obedience and practice.

Note Galatians 5:1—“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us, free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

It would be impossible for a member of the Body of Christ to obey this command, and at the same time attempt to obey some of the commands which Jesus of Nazareth gave while He was on earth. We see this the very moment we compare Galatians 5:1 with Matthew 23:1 and 2:

“Then spake Jesus, to the multitude, and to His disciples, Saying, the scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.”

Now let us note Paul’s instructions, in II Timothy 2:2 and in I Corinthians 3:10

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”

In I Timothy 1:16 we learned that Paul presented himself as a pattern. In I Corinthians 11:1 he said, “follow me as I follow Christ.” Now we read that Paul presents himself as a wise masterbuilder.

Paul was a pattern, an example, and a wise masterbuilder. Paul told Timothy to teach others what Paul had taught him.

Paul was not only a masterbuilder, but he was a master teacher, because he was the Master’s inspired teacher. Christ spoke in Paul to complete the Word of God. Let us compare several statements which speak of the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the “Acts” ministry of the Twelve, with some of the commissions and revelations which He later gave to Paul.

“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a Minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” Romans 15:8. “But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24.

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” Galatians 4:4.

“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. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:5 to 8.

“And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” Luke 19:9.

“Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” Acts 3:25.

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:30 and 31.

“And he said unto them, Ye know that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Acts 10:28.

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the Word to none but unto the Jews only.” Acts 11:19.

Paul was the chosen vessel of Christ, sent to the Gentiles with a new message and ministry.

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Romans 11:13.

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” II Timothy 1:9 and 11.

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward” Ephesians 3:1 and 2.

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:13.

“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” Romans 11:11.

“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:8.

“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27.

“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same (Joint) Body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel.” Ephesians 3:6.

“Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” II Timothy 4:17.

Jesus Christ and His twelve apostles were ministers to the children of Abraham, the children of the covenant, and not to the Gentiles.

Have you carefully observed the contrast? Jesus Christ, on earth, was a Minister of the circumcision. Then note Galatians 2:8: “For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles.” The twelve apostles were ministers of the circumcision and to the circumcision. Note one difference between the ministry of Peter and that of Paul. “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.” Galatians 2:7.

Jesus of Nazareth, on earth, was Israel’s Messiah and King. During the several years that He was on earth He preached in the land of the Jews. Acts 10:39. He was a Jew. He was under the law. He was a circumcised Minister to circumcised Jews. At the time Jesus of Nazareth was circumcised His mother, according to the law, brought for sacrifice, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” Luke 2:24.

Consider this prayerfully. And then remember, in Luke 22:15, about thirty-three years later, we learn that one of the last Israelitish ceremonies, observed by Jesus of Nazareth, was “the Passover”.

Here are three facts to get fixed in our minds and hearts to help us to go on to perfection, in obedience to Hebrews 6:1, rather than to heed the foolish slogan repeatedly heard in religious circles, “back to Jesus.” Now for the three facts

1—So far as the written Records are concerned, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the only Gentile man to whom Christ ministered, while He was on earth, was a centurion who loved the Jews and built them a synagogue. Luke 7:1 to 6. Jesus called the one Gentile woman to whom He ministered, “a dog”. Matthew 15:22 to 27.

2—During the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, when He was under the law, a Minister of the circumcision, when He recognized those who sat in Moses’ seat, He did not tell the Jewish priests to discontinue the sacrifice of animals.

3—Any Gentile who might have been saved while Jesus Christ was on earth, sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, would have become an Old Testament Jew (proselyte), and he would not have been baptized into the Body of Christ by one Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:13.)

BACK TO JESUS

Some Christians cry, “back to Jesus”. Others cry, “back to Pentecost.” But they just think they go back. They cannot go back with Jesus in Palestine, under the law, to obey the Old Testament ritual, no matter how much they desire. You can neither go back to the earthly ministry of Jesus, nor back to Israel’s Pentecost, without access to Jerusalem and Israel’s temple.

THE CHRISTIAN’S POSITION IN CHRIST

“WHEREFORE HENCEFORTH KNOW WE NO MAN AFTER THE FLESH; YEA, THOUGH WE HAVE KNOWN CHRIST AFTER THE FLESH, YET NOW HENCEFORTH KNOW WE HIM NO MORE. THEREFORE IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATURE; OLD THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY; BEHOLD, ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW.” II Corinthians 5:16 and 17.

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3 and 4.

“For as we have many members in one Body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one Body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Romans 12:4 and 5.

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6.

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1 and 2.

“And ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:10.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14.

Just think of the ignorance and folly of any member of the Body of Christ who desires to go back under the law, the other side of the sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, when He called Gentiles, “dogs”, when he told His disciples, “go not in the way of the Gentiles.”

Of course man is incurably religious and he can get all mixed up in religion, if he can go back to Jesus. Just think! there are thousands of intellectual religious church leaders,some of whom are saved, who say, “give me the religious program of Jesus in preference to the grace program of Paul.”

All of the program of the Lord Jesus, which He intends for members of His Body, can be brought over to fit into “the dispensation of the grace of God”. Every member of the Body of Christ should take an uncompromising stand with Paul. Note what he said, “I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21.

And surely every sinner should rejoice to hear the wonderful news of Ephesians 2:8 to 10 and 2:13:

“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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

But you may be sure that “the back to Jesus” preachers and “the back to Pentecost” preachers will see to it that sinners do not hear this “grace” message.

If we go back to Pentecost what do we find? We find twelve Jews standing up, the Lord’s preachers to devout Jews from every nation under heaven, giving a message to all the house of Israel. Acts 2:14— Acts 2:5 and Acts 2:36.

The scene is in the Jews’ city on a Jewish feast-day, and the message is for the children of the covenant. Acts 3:25. The message is, “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” They were to sell their earthly possessions and bring the money to the twelve Jews.Then Peter preached, “repent, and God will send Jesus Christ back from heaven to take David’s throne and redeem Israel.” Pray tell, what has any of this to do with the “dispensation of the mystery” of Ephesians 3:9, or “the JointBody” of Ephesians 3:6? Nothing whatever. For God’s spiritual program for this age of grace, no spiritual and intelligent member of the Body of Christ will go back before there was a Body, before God opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27), before Paul said, “lo, we turn to the Gentiles”, before “the dispensation of grace” was given to the apostle to the Gentiles. They will not go back the other side of Paul’s conversion to say nothing of the other side of Calvary.

What Christian, who knows his position and possessions in the heavenlies, wants to come down out of the heavenlies, from under the guaranty and blessings of grace, to go to Jerusalem under the law, to strive to enter in, or to endure unto the end? Should we who have been risen with Christ go back to Matthew 10:5 to 8?

GO ON TO PERFECTION

“THEREFORE LEAVING THE PRINCIPLES OF THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, LET US GO ON UNTO PERFECTION.” Hebrews 6:1.

Note the three verses just preceding:

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the Word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12 to 14.

With these verses let us read Ephesians 4:13 and 14—I Corinthians 3:1 to 3—I Corinthians 13:11 and 13.

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, UNTO A PERFECT MAN, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth BE NO MORE CHILDREN, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even AS UNTO BABES IN CHRIST. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

“WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” The Corinthian babes could speak with tongues, in fact those Corinthian carnal saints exercised all the sign gifts. But they could not receive the “meat”, the profound and blessed “Body” truth of Ephesians and Colossians. Compare the standing and gifts of those sanctified Corinthians with their carnal state or behavior.

STANDING AND GIFTS

I CORINTHIANS 12:8 to 10

“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.”

I CORINTHIANS 6:11

“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

I CORINTHIANS 6:19 and 20

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with, a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

I CORINTHIANS 6:2

“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?”

I 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.”

CARNAL STATE

I CORINTHIANS 3:3

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

I CORINTHIANS 6:7 AND 8

“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.”

I CORINTHIANS 5:1

“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you.”

I CORINTHIANS 8:10

“For if any man see thee which past knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple.”

I CORINTHIANS 11:30

“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”

I CORINTHIANS 15:12

“How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”

I CORINTHIANS 6:5

“I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you?”

Here we see that the Corinthians were saints, members of the Body of Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit, exercising all of the sign-gifts. But we also see what kind of saints they were. They certainly were not in the Body of Christ because of their sinless behavior. They did not have the gifts of the Spirit because they were spiritual. They were carnal and not able to take the “manhood” truth of Ephesians 4:13, the meat of Hebrews 5:12 to 14.

The Apostle Paul wrote the Epistle to the Ephesians, to the faithful in Christ Jesus. The majority of the saints in the Church of God, at Corinth, could not have understood the profound truths presented in Ephesians.

When we go out of Corinthians into Ephesians we say with Paul—“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” I Corinthians 13:11.

When we understand Ephesians 4:13, and live that glorious truth, and labour together with God in that program, we will know what is meant in Hebrews 5:14 and Ephesians 4:14.

“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

Now let us carefully note Ephesians 4:13—“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a Perfect Man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

This is the ultimate of God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. To enter into this wonderful truth is “to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God”, (Ephesians 3:18 and 19). This is indeed to go onto perfection.

Christ spoke in Paul to give His spiritual program for this present Divine economy which began after Saul became Paul.

Let us resolve by the grace of God, and yielding to the Holy Spirit as our infallible Guide and Teacher, that whatever may be the cost we shall line up with the Lord and work intelligently and diligently in the work He is doing, as set forth in Ephesians 4:12 and 13.

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a Perfect Man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”