In our last lesson we closed with reference to the doctrine of “alienation,” “reconciliation” and the “new creation.” We learn, by looking into the Scriptures, which deal with these Divine truths, that the doctrine of “identification” is likewise associated with them, that is, the reconciled believer’s identification with Christ.
But now let us compare Ephesians 4:18 and Ephesians 2:12 to 17 with Colossians 1:20 and 21: “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” “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:
“BUT NOW IN CHRIST JESUS YE WHO SOMETIMES WERE FAR OFF ARE MADE NIGH BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST, FOR HE IS OUR PEACE WHO HATH MADE BOTH ONE AND HATH BROKEN DOWN THE MIDDLE WALL OF PARTITION BETWEEN US; HAVING ABOLISHED IN HIS FLESH THE ENMITY, EVEN THE LAW OF COMMANDMENTS, CONTAINED IN ORDINANCES; FOR TO MAKE IN HIMSELF OF TWAIN ONE NEW MAN, SO MAKING PEACE; AND THAT HE MIGHT RECONCILE BOTH UNTO GOD IN ONE BODY BY THE CROSS, HAVING SLAIN THE ENMITY THEREBY: AND CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU THAT WERE AFAR OFF, AND TO THEM THAT WERE NIGH.”
Now note Colossians 1:20 and 21:
“AND HAVING MADE PEACE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS, BY HIM TO RECONCILE ALL THINGS UNTO HIMSELF; BY HIM, I SAY, WHETHER THEY BE THINGS IN EARTH, OR THINGS IN HEAVEN. AND YOU THAT WERE SOMETIME ALIENATED AND ENEMIES IN YOUR MIND BY WICKED WORKS, YET NOW HATH HE RECONCILED.”
In Ephesians 2:12 we find the Gentiles alienated and without hope. In Ephesians 4:18 we find the Gentiles alienated from the life of God. In Ephesians 2:17 we read that the Lord sent His servants to preach peace to them which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. Those who were afar off were the Gentiles who were dead in trespasses and sins. Between them and the Jews there had been a middle wall of partition. This was erected at Sinai. It was a wall of law, ordinances, and religion. The Jews, or Israelites, were nigh. They were called “the Commonwealth of Israel.” In Ephesians 2:15 and 16, we learn that Jesus Christ, by His death on the cross. broke down the middle wall of partition, the law of commandments in ordinances; that He might reconcile both Jews and Gentiles unto God in one Body by the cross.
This same truth is recorded in Colossians. In Colossians 2:14 we read
“BLOTTING OUT THE HANDWRITING OF ORDINANCES THAT WAS AGAINST US, WHICH WAS CONTRARY TO US, AND TOOK IT OUT OF THE WAY, NAILING IT TO HIS CROSS.”
Note again Colossians 1:20 and 21: “And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled.
If we did not have other Scriptures to teach us otherwise, we might decide that the risen Christ, immediately after His death, sent His apostles to preach the ministry of reconciliation to Gentiles; that the twelve apostles knew that the law had been nailed to the cross and that all religious barriers had been removed and all national preferences and racial distinctions had been obliterated. But in studying the first thirteen chapters of Acts, in the ministry of the Twelve, we learn that this is contrary to fact. In Acts 10:28 we have the words of Peter that it was not lawful for him to preach to Gentiles, some seven or eight years after the death of Christ on the cross, and by carefully studying those first chapters of Acts, we learn that Peter and his fellow-apostles did not preach to Gentiles. Note Peter’s message in Acts 5:29 to: 12. There Peter preached to Israel that God had raised Christ from the dead to be Israel’s Prince and Saviour, to give that people repentance and forgiveness of sins.
If we will compare Acts 5:29 to 32 with Ephesians 1:19 to 23, we will find quite a difference. In Acts 5 we learn that God raised Christ from the dead to be a Prince and a Saviour to give Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins, whereas, in Ephesians 1:19 to 23, God raised Christ from the dead to he Head over all things unto the Church which is His Body. the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.
The first mention of the ministry of “reconciliation” for Gentiles appears in the Bible about twenty-five years after Christ died on the cross. Let us carefully note the verses:
“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:10 and 11.
“And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to as the ministry of reconciliation, To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. II Corinthians 5:18 and 19. “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” Romans 11:15.
Studying these Scriptures, together with their immediate context, we learn when and why the Lord Jesus Christ committed to Paul the ministry of reconciliation and the dispensation of the grace of God for Gentiles; and Romans 11:15 is certainly a key verse. So we observe that the gospel of reconciliation for Gentiles is first mentioned in connection with the first mention of Adam in the New Testament Scriptures and in connection with the casting away of Israel. Israel was not cast away until after the death of one of the twelve apostles, some years after the Pentecost of Acts Two. In Acts 12:1 and 2, we learn of the death of James, the brother of John. James was one of the Twelve. Until the time James died there were twelve apostles; Peter and the Eleven. Twelve men stood up on the day of Pentecost. The number “12” is a representative number and speaks of Israel, which was made up of twelve tribes. Note the reference in Acts 2:36, “all the house of Israel.”
Paul declared that salvation was sent unto the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy; that the Gentiles obtained mercy because of Israel’s blindness and unbelief. Romans 11:11 and 30. Reconciliation was sent to Gentiles when and because Israel was set aside. Romans 11:15. Peter was not in this program, for, according to Galatians 2:9, even after Peter had preached to the household of Cornelius, he agreed to go with his message and ministry to Israel. Peter and his associates did not preach salvation to the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy. They preached to Israel and Cornelius concerning Jesus of Nazareth and what he did on earth. Acts 2:22 and 10:35 to 38.
But in connection with the message of “reconciliation”and “the new creation,” Paul says. concerning Jesus Christ, “henceforth know we Him no more after the flesh.” II Corinthians 5:16. Peter preached “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit;” “Repent and God will send Christ back from heaven,” “Restitution.” This was quite different from Paul’s gospel of grace, and it is indeed interesting and instructive to learn that after the mention of “Adam” and “reconciliation” there is no record in the Scriptures of any one receiving water baptism. Surely there is a reason for this.
Israel was God’s religious nation. When God set aside that religious nation, the time of reformation arrived (Hebrews 9:10) and God was through with His religious program. Whatever interpretation or significance may be attached to water baptism, all must admit that it is a religious ceremony or ordinance.
When Jesus of Nazareth was on earth He was dealing with the children of Abraham, preserved and protected by the Abrahamic Covenant. The Covenant of Circumcision was binding. Genesis 17:7 to 17. Acts 7:8. Any Gentile who received God’s Divine blessing had to come under the Covenant of Circumcision and become it proselyte to the Jews’ religion.
Note why the diseased woman of Luke 13:16 received her blessing. She was the daughter of Abraham. Note why the publican of Luke 19:8 to 11 received his blessing. He was the son of Abraham. Christ did not mention Adam in connection with salvation while He was Jesus of Nazareth on earth, when, by His own word, He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24), and when He told His twelve Israelitish messengers to go not into the way of the Gentiles. Matthew 10:5. In that same tenth chapter of Matthew, the twenty-third verse, note what Christ said to His twelve apostles: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not (may not) have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come.” Matthew 10:23. Then note what He told them in Matthew 19:28: “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
This may explain the “why” of the question of these men in Acts 1:6: “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” This may explain why, as far as we have any record in the Book of Acts, the twelve apostles did not preach in other cities than the cities of Israel and why there is no record in Acts that they preached to any Gentiles, except to the household of Cornelius. Any Gentile who may have been saved while Jesus Christ was on earth as the Minister of the Circumcision (Romans 15:8) became a Jew by religion.
But now for reconciliation in Romans 5:11: “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the reconciliation,” (Not “atonement”—it should he “reconciliation.”) “Wherefore”—Wherefore what? “As by one man—sin and death.” Who was that one man? Adam. “Reconciliation”—“Wherefore”— “Adam”—“sin”—“condemnation”—“alienation”—“death.” “As in Adam all die.” I Corinthians 15:22. In Christ; by Christ—”justification,” “righteousness,” “reconciliation,” “life”. In Romans 1:18 to 32 we have the record of God’s wrath visited upon the Gentiles just before God elected Abram, at the time when universal idolatry and ungodliness prevailed. God gave over, gave up, the Gentiles at the time God cast them away. That was more than 1900 years B.C.
God gave up the Gentiles about 1900 B.C. He gave up the nation Israel about 1900 years ago. When God turned from Abram’s seed, Israel, and cast them away, about 1900 years ago, God turned to the Gentiles with the ministry of reconciliation and with the dispensation of the grace of God. Paul was His human instrument: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office” Romans 11:13.
Most assuredly the Lord did not instruct Peter and the Eleven to inaugurate this Gentile program on the day of Pentecost; and those who have “the dispensation of the grace of God,” “the dispensation of the mystery,” begin with Peter and the Eleven, on an Israelitish religions feast day, do greatly err. These men are largely responsible for the faulty dispensationalism that is taught by the sectarian leaders and by most of the “Premillennial” Fundamentalists of the day. Peter and the Eleven in their recorded “Acts” ministry preached concerning the Abrahamic Covenant. To them was committed the gospel of the circumcision. Galatians 2:7. Paul was the Lord’s apostle of reconciliation. His testimony in Acts 20:24 and in Ephesians 3:1 to 3, is, that the Lord committed to him the gospel of the grace of God, the dispensation of grace.
After Paul wrote of “Adam” and “reconciliation” in the fifth chapter of Romans, he wrote to the saints in the sixth chapter, that they had died and had been buried and had been raised to walk in newness of life; that their old man had been crucified. So new creation and identification follow reconciliation. Our great commission is this side “the fall of Israel.” Read it in II Corinthians 5:18 to 21.
Thus we see how alienation is linked with Adam and the old creation, and how it is mentioned in Corinthians with “reconciliation”, Christ and “the new creation.” We can likewise see how “identification” is linked with reconciliation and the new creation. Again, in II Corinthians 5:12 to 21, “the new creation,” “reconciliation” “and identification” are all linked together. The sinner belongs to the old creation: he is identified with Adam and he is alienated from the life of God. Judgment and condemnation are his portion. With the new creation in Christ everything is different.
At the time of the flood when Noah’s family went into the ark, God destroyed all the children of Adam, except Noah’s family. There was a new beginning with the human race after the flood. Several centuries later the awful judgment of Romans 1:16 to 32 fell upon the Gentiles. They were cut off and given up by God. Abram was circumcised; then followed the birth of the nation Israel. The Gentiles were alienated from the commonwealth of Israel about that time. Israel lost her place of governmental political control about 600 B.C. But until about the middle of the first Christian century, Israel continued to be God’s religious nation, with spiritual authority. Then Israel was set aside, about 1900 years ago. It was at that time that the Lord’s special apostle was sent with the message of reconciliation and grace to the alienated children of Adam. He found the wicked Gentiles twice alienated, alienated in Adam from the life of God by wicked works, and alienated from the commonwealth of Israel. First alienated in Adam, and again alienated from the commonwealth of Israel after the call of Abraham.
When the Lord Jesus Christ was on earth, the children of Adam, other than the children of Abraham, were still alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and from the life of God. Christ, on earth, was not sent to them. He told His twelve apostles not to go in their way. But some years later Christ spoke from heaven. He said to Paul, “Get thee quickly out of Jerusalem” “I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” Acts 22:17 to 22. The Twelve remained in Jerusalem. Acts 8:1. Their message was to the children of the covenant. Acts 3:25. Galatians 2:9.
With the turn from Israel, from the children of the covenant, with the gospel of reconciliation to the Gentiles who were strangers from the covenant, the Lord Jesus in heaven gave Paul a commission and a ministry that superseded the so-called “great commission” of Matthew 28:19 and 20, committed to Peter and the Eleven, and the gospel of the circumcision committed to them. Galatians 2:7. Note Paul’s commission in II Corinthians 5:18: “And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given us the ministry of reconciliation.” Ephesians 3:1 to 3 and 8: “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: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,).” “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.”
These Divine orders were given by revelation; and with these orders remember the testimony of the apostle in Romans 11:13: “I magnify mine office . . . for I am the apostle to the Gentiles.” And also remember his testimony in I Corinthians 1:17, “Christ sent me not to baptize.”
In the Scriptures, where the message of reconciliation is mentioned, the Holy Spirit speaks of the One Divine Baptism; but never of water baptism. Note Romans 5:10 and 11 with Romans 6:3 to 6. Note Colossians 1:20 and 21 with Colossians 2:12. Note Ephesians 2:13 with Ephesians 4:5.
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