When I use the word religion, I’m referring to any belief system, persuasion, conviction, affiliation, denomination, order, or sect where certain law requirements, and/or sacrificial practices are set forth and expected to be followed in order to stay in good standing with that particular organization. 

When I use the word grace, I’m referring to God’s unmerited favor towards man where God does all the work and by believing that work, one is justified and receives His free gift.

According to the Bible, God created one nation which was also one religion.  Israel.  Ironically, it was by His grace alone that he selected Abraham from among the nations and gave him a promise, (Gen 12:1-4).   Abraham simply believed God, (Rom 4:3)  That is the grace-exchange in action!

Over time, as Abraham’s family grew, God instituted covenants, and then laws, which included blessings when Israel kept them but curses when they didn’t; sometimes the punishment was DEATH!  Israel’s pride and righteousness came by following the law and they agreed to do it all.

And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. 25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us. Deut 6:24-25

And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. Exodus 19:8 

Is it just me?  Would you ever, in your right mind agree to do something you know is impossible?  And yet, Israel said they would obey and keep the law.  Of course, God was gracious and made provision with certain animal sacrifices that would bring them back into right standing with Him when they sinned.  

God even warned his people in Deuteronomy 30:19 after clearly laying out His high standards: I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

We know now that the law was simply a schoolmaster that would eventually bring everyone to Christ who kept it perfectly for us. The Bible says He fulfilled all the law and is the end of the law for all those who believe in His work alone, (Gal 3:24, Luke 24:44, Rom 10:4).

Rom 3:19-28

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Religion brings death.  Grace gives life. 

Trying to follow rules, regulations, and laws within any religious organization will lead to failure at some point.  Anything done under your own strength will prove how much you need the One who already did it for you!

There is no life outside of Christ, only death. The offer of salvation through faith in Christ’s finished work (His death, burial, and resurrection, 1 Cor 15:1-4) is what secures your eternal life.

Simply believe your sins are covered by Christ’s sacrifice for you.  When you do, you are justified before God, and instantly sealed by His Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13).  You will live with Him forever!

I’m praying for you, dear reader!

When we talk about giving, it’s usually viewed through the tithing lens.  This is not that post.

The kind of giving that I am referring to here is personal.  It’s not just giving monetarily, it’s the giving of your time with encouraging words, reaching out in actions, and emotional support. 

It’s the giving of your talents and natural abilities, helping those who need you now, even if it’s an interruption in your day.  It’s the kind of giving where you never expect compensation and are genuinely happy that you could help. 

This is Grace Giving. (2 Cor 9:7-8)

Don’t pat yourself on the back just yet.  There’s a hard lesson to learn before any of us sit on the pinnacle of this sort of grace mountain top. 

Beware the Takers! They are out there, and they’re ready to suck the gracious life out of you because they know they can!   

This usually happens over a long period of time and doesn’t have to be constant. It will eventually dawn on you that your generosity is being taken advantage of.  At some point, you see there’s a lack of gratitude that turns into a sense of entitlement.  Get ready for the flesh to rear its ugly head…there’ll be a battle brewing within you!

18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Romans 7:18-23

Thankfully, chapter 6 came first and we learned that our flesh is dead to sin, (Rom 6:7, 11). You’ve already won because Christ died for you and you’re in him.  But the evil lies close at hand and the battle continues to intensify, nonetheless.

So you find a quiet place, in front of a mirror, and you look deep within yourself. You see that you’re an inconvenience, a burden, an interruption, a bother, and a waste of their time. They don’t want a relationship; they want what you can give them. That hurts. Deep.

You feel like you’ve held your tongue long enough; you’ve turned the other cheek for the last time. It used to be a joy to bless them but now you feel used.

You can hear yourself asking, “Have I ever held anything back from you? Have I ever short-changed you? When have I not given you all that I have? This is exhausting! When does it stop?

It’s time for judgment and sentencing.  What’s the verdict?

Your flesh wants justice.

But then, you see something in that mirror that you didn’t see before. It’s your own sinful image laid bare before a holy, loving, gracious, God who has suffered long, and enduring the same type of relationship with you! The difference is He never once stopped giving. No! Where your sin abounded, His grace did much more abound! (Rom 5:20)

O Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The very heart of the grace message is the free gift of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ’s finished work. Grace is unmerited favor. That means you can’t earn it. You can’t buy it or offer an exchange for it. Grace is what the giver does to benefit the taker. In other words, the nature of grace has nothing to do with the other person’s actions or attitude toward you.

When you’re in this battle, remember who you are in Christ and make it your goal to outgive that taker! God never stopped giving, so neither should you.

Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity boasts not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; 6 Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Charity never fails:…13 And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 1 Cor 13:4-13

Religion takes. Grace gives. Therefore, grace wins every time!

Religion smoothers you in tradition.  Grace stand on sound doctrine.

What do you think of when you hear the word, tradition?

I think of the movie, Fiddler on the Roof.  Tevye questions tradition when his daughter comes to him for permission to marry the man of her own choosing.  Yente, the matchmaker, had the sole responsibility under Jewish tradition, to find a suitable mate for each young girl.  Love was never a consideration and yet it was for this reason alone that all three of Tevye’s daughters wanted to break tradition.

Of course, a father always wants his daughter to be happy so Tevye agrees to let them marry whomever they choose.  By the third daughter, breaking tradition would mean separation unto death, in his own mind and heart.  You know the story.

The Bible talks a lot about the traditions of man.  When God established the nation of Israel, he birthed a people for himself from among all the nations of the world.   Israel was separated for God’s own purpose (Lev 20:24). They were given the oracles of God, covenants, promises, and laws.  No other nation could boast in that, (Rom 3:1-2, Rom 9:4, Ps 147:19-20).

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders in Mark 7:5-9 when they asked Why don’t your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?

6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

He was pointing out that man-made traditions dressed up in religious activities become doctrinally vain and are not a form of worship towards God at all. In fact, they are detestable.

If you are persuaded by religious traditions to clean yourself up on the outside so that somehow you will look more presentable to God on the inside, you are following the rudiments of the world and not Christ (Col 2:8). Beware of such hypocrisy!

What might that even look like?  Well, since you asked…it’s the Lenten season, which according to the Catholic tradition people are encouraged to ‘give up something,’ abstain from meat on Fridays, or otherwise fast in some way, supposing to draw them closer to God, making them more acceptable because of something they do for the 40 days leading up to Easter. 

Paul warns and exhorts us to hold fast the doctrine and sound words that he preaches because these are the very commandments of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Cor 14:37, 1 Thess 4:2, 2 Thess 2:14-15, 2 Tim 1:13).

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?  Col 2:20-22

This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Titus 1:13-14

Christ did it all for you so that you could stand firm in his grace.

If you aim to give up something for Lent, here’s a suggestion: 

Give up man-made traditions.  Stick with sound doctrine.

1 Cor. 7-8 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

What wisdom?  What mystery?  Christ’s death and resurrection were not a mystery. Many scholars agree that there are over 500 prophecies in the Old Testament that point towards, foretell, describe, or in some way reference, a Messiah coming, dying, rising from the dead, and returning to claim his kingdom that will forever be on this on earth.

The Lord Jesus Christ, himself, spoke about all of this.

So, what was hidden and from whom was it hidden?

Eph 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

Gentiles?  That’s most, if not all who are reading this blog post!  Gentiles should be fellow-heirs?  No one had this information before Paul spoke of it!  Not the nation of Israel, for sure! Gentiles were dogs to them.  (Matt 7:6, 15:26-27) Lower than low. 

Not the 12 Apostles.  They were told NOT to go to the Gentile nations (Matt 10:5) but only to the lost house of Israel (Matt 10:6).  Not even Satan knew that Gentiles would be included in the salvific plan of God for all nations. 

Not a single person knew that God would change course and save Gentiles without the law, without covenants, and without Israel.  Anyone that would believe in the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ would be saved and become part of a new creature made up of both Jews and Gentiles! Now THAT was new! (Eph 2:11-13) And THAT was hidden from everyone since before the world began! (2 Cor 5:17) 

Had Satan known that the cross of Christ would be the conduit whereby God would offer forgiveness and eternal life to all who would believe, he would not have entered Judas and instigated the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What was for our glory?

Col 1:27 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:

The mystery is; that before this information was revealed to the Apostle Paul, God dealt with one nation, Israel, through covenants, promises, and laws.  No other nation was given that opportunity.  If anyone, outside of Israel’s nation and the Jew’s religion wanted a blessing from God, or even salvation, they HAD to either become part of Israel (proselytize themselves and follow the law) or bless a Jewish person or the nation is one way or another.

Paul says it this way in Ephesians 2:11-16

11 Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time you 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: 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 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;  16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

This new man, this new creature, called the Body of Christ, was hid in God since before the world began.  This wisdom, this new information, was kept secret until just the right time. 

For what purpose?

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: Eph 1:10

This verse indicates that when the fulness of times has finally culminated, the promise to bless all the families of the earth (Gen 12:3) by faith, through God’s grace found in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ will be brought together under the headship of King Jesus as Messiah of Israel (who fulfilled the law and the prophets for Israel) AND the Head of the Body of Christ, this new creature that came by grace through faith in those that would hear and believe the gospel of the grace of God. (Rom 10:17, 1 Cor 15:1-4, Eph 2:8-9, Eph 1:13)

So what is the Gospel that saves us today? What should you believe?

Romans 20-26

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Romans 16:25-26

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

Simply put, believe that you are a sinner needing a savior. Believe that Jesus Christ died and paid your sin debt and freely, by His grace offers you salvation. All you need is to accept this gift. I pray you do!

We know that the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most significant event in all of human history.  We also know that the only way people are saved today is by putting their trust in Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross as payment for their own sin debt (Rom 3:19-28, Rom 4:4-5, Titus 3:5).

We’ve discovered that this explicit message was not preached to everyone, throughout the entire Bible, so naturally we’ve been asking: If all men are saved by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross why didn’t everyone get to hear it?

The answer we’re looking for lies in a literal interpretation of scripture.  In the simplest terms, what we’ve been looking at throughout this series (catch up here: part 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) has been how God dispenses instruction to people specific to and for them.  All that He requires, in every instance, is that they have faith in what He says, and then do it!  This is considered a dispensation.

Today, we come to the dispensation of the Grace of God, that glorious preaching of the cross that we’ve been looking for. 

The Apostle Paul was given this dispensation (1 Cor 9:17, Eph 3:1-4) directly from the risen Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12).  After he was saved on the road to Damascus, the Lord appeared through visions and revelations and continued to dispense the information needed to understand this new revelation (2 Cor 12:1).  He explained the hidden purpose of Christ’s cross and the result (1 Cor 2:7-8, Col 1:25-27) of the glorious eternal purpose that had been hid in God since before the world began.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Eph 1:3-14

Paul calls this dispensation the revelation of the mystery (Rom 16:25) and declares that all men, without exception, can be saved, by faith alone in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, being forever sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13, Eph 4:30, 1 Cor 12:13). 

If you put your faith in what God is saying today, that Jesus Christ bore your sins on the cross and raised you up to new life (1 Cor 15:1-4) then you are a new creature (2 Cor 5:17), with a heavenly purpose and part of the Body of Christ. 

This is something that could not have been known beforehand since it had not been prophesied but kept secret.  The Lord Jesus Christ ministered the truth of God’s word to Israel to confirm the promises made to the fathers (Rom 15:8) but until His death and subsequent resurrection, we had no means by which to understand the mystery revelation given to Paul.  This is why Paul can boldly say:

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:” 2 Tim 2:7-8

The resurrection of Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophetic purpose for Israel and the mystery purpose for the new creature, the Body of Christ.

“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Gal 6:14

Today we glory in the cross because it accomplished everything!

5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 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; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Eph 3:5-12

My prayer is that we are found faithful stewards of His Word (2 Tim 2:15, 1 Cor 4:1-2) and continue to glory in the preaching of this marvelous grace through Christ’s cross.

Our search for the preaching of the glorious cross of Christ (Gal 6:14) for salvation to all people everywhere, for all time, has brought us to the Book of Acts.  Some theologians claim the “birth of the church” takes place in Acts 2.  If this is so, then we are sure to find what we’re looking for because we know that the way people are saved today is by faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ the LORD, (Eph 2:8-9, Rom 3:24-26, Rom 4:5, 1 Cor 15:1-4).

The purpose of this post is not to explain everything that is going on in Acts.  I’m simply going to point out what is being preached and see if it lines up with what we are looking for. If you want to continue with your own expository study and learn the truth, rightly divided, about the fall of Israel and the rise of Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles, I highly recommend this study.

Skim through Acts 2:5-11 to see who is participating in the Jewish feast of Pentecost. There were Jews from everywhere and an unknown number of proselytes.  These were Gentiles who converted to Judaism. What happens next is a fulfillment of prophesy. The Holy Spirit is poured out on ALL those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

No matter where you stand on the tongues issue, we should agree on this one thing; the Apostles are speaking the wonderful works of God, (Acts 2:11, Ps 40:5; 78:4; 111:4).  Don’t gloss over this important truth.  These men are filled with the third person of the God-head, the Holy Spirit, to reveal and make known God’s purpose for Israel.  They only get to speak the things God tells them to speak.  They didn’t study ahead of time for this meeting.  No one had notes or an outline to follow.  What do they know?  They know that Jesus was crucified and is now risen, proving their own scriptures that He IS LORD and Christ! 

Peter takes the mic to explain what’s going on in Acts 2:16-18.  He quotes Joel’s prophesy in Acts 2:19-20 and tells them, “this is that which was spoken of…”  If this is that which was spoken of, then it was known before hand…which means it wasn’t a mystery.  It wasn’t hid from them and was NOT a new revelation.  What Peter presented to those standing before him was substantiated by the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, and all the prophecies that pointed to him being the Christ.

Peter continues his indictment against unbelieving Israel for killing the Messiah and gives testimony against them in an effort to get them to repent and believe.

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made this same Jesus, whom ye have crucified,both Lord and Christ. Acts 2:36

When they heard this, they were pricked in their heart and ask, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)

What did they hear?  “You killed the Christ!” Not exactly the gospel of the grace of God, is it?  

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:38-40)

Peter could not preach something that he did not know.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit, he could only preach what the Holy Spirit told him to preach.  Peter stays on point:

“…Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?  13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.  14But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.  17 And now, brethren, I wot [know] that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.  18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:12-21

Peter connects Jesus’ name with the title of ‘Christ’ (Messiah) again, confirming the message of the prophets, John the Baptist, (Matt 3:1-3) and God the Father’s own testimony, (Matt 3:16-17).  He pleads with them again to repent.  Repenting does not mean to get down on your hands and knees and beg God’s forgiveness.  It means change your mind.  Peter wants them to change their mind about who Jesus is and after believing He is their Messiah, they need to be baptized.  Repentance and baptism were always a part of the Kingdom Gospel.

Peter does add something interesting here.  He says that their sins will be blotted out at a future time. He calls it a time of refreshing, when the Lord is present with them, Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

Let this all sink in. 

Are you waiting for your sins to be blotted out after the restitution of all thing?

Didn’t Jesus Christ die for you while you were still his enemy? (Romans 5:6, 8,10)

Didn’t the Holy Spirit seal you until the day of your redemption after you heard and believed the gospel of your salvation? (Eph 3:13)

Aren’t you complete in him right now? (Col 2:10

Are you not the temple of the Holy Spirit? (1 Cor 3:16)

Don’t you possess all spiritual blessings in heavenly places today? (Eph 1:3

What part of the free gift of God’s salvation through faith in the finished work of Jesus’ cross on your behalf is left for you to do?

I hope you see the point I’m trying to make with this short study. Paul’s message was hid in God since before the world began. It could not be know until God made it know. He was given a special apostleship to the Gentiles, kings and children of Israel (Acts 9:15). His Gospel glories in the cross of Christ! Praise God for the cross of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for all men, everywhere, throughout all time, made known by both prophecy fulfilled and mystery revealed!

For those that might be joining us late, we set out to find the glorious preaching of the finished work of Christ’s cross for the salvation of all men, everywhere, throughout all time. 

If this is true, and we believe it is, why isn’t everyone preaching it?  In our first study, through the Old Testament books, God never mentioned it to anyone.  We looked at John the baptist, and Jesus’ ministry to Israel for this glorious gospel, but found only information that the (prophesied) Kingdom was at hand.  We examined the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ instructions to his followers after His resurrection in part 3, and still did not find the preaching of the glorious cross for salvation, offered to all people, everywhere, throughout time.

Today, our study brings us to the Book of Acts, often called “The Book In-Between”.  It’s a bridge for understanding how Israel fell and how Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15) came to be.  Without the Book of Acts we would never understand how and why Israel fell, how the kingdom was put on hold but not forgotten (Rom 11:11, 15, 25) and how salvation would begin to be offered to all men by grace through faith.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

The Lord Jesus Christ just rose from the dead!  He showed himself and talked with followers for 40 days after his resurrection as infallible proof.  Luke begins his history lesson, documenting for Theophilus, all that Jesus did and taught concerning the kingdom, until he was taken up to heaven, (Acts 1:1-3).

Jesus offered no new information to his followers about the significance of the cross for Gentiles.  His instructions to the Apostles were to wait in Jerusalem for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, (Acts 1:3-5). They were excited for what they knew was next, so they ask:

“… Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6 

Remember, Jesus already spent ample time teaching them and making clear the scriptures concerning the coming kingdom, so this question makes perfect sense.  They know the kingdom starts in Jerusalem (Luke 24:47) with all Israel being saved by repenting, being baptized for the remission of sins, and believing in the name of Jesus Christ, as their Messiah.  They understand that it’s their job, now, after the city of Jerusalem is saved, that they go to Judea, then Samaria, and once all Israel is saved, to the uttermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8) with this kingdom message. They also know that there will be a time of trouble and great tribulation before the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. (Matt 13:11-12 Matt 24, Daniel 9:24-27  Joel 2:28-32). Jesus didn’t hold any information back…or did He? 

Jesus replies: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Acts 1:7-8

Do you find that answer strange or even a little evasive?  Wouldn’t this have been the perfect opportunity to tell them: “Hey guys, start preaching the good news of salvation by grace through faith in my finished work on the cross (Eph 2:8-9)…especially to Gentiles…who have never been included in the covenant promises given to Israel!”? (Eph 2:11-12) Shouldn’t Jesus have told them that they were now complete in Him? (Col 2:10) That they were no longer under the law, but under grace!”? (Rom 3:24-26, 6:14, 10:4) It just seems like Jesus could have said so much more about the cross before He was taken up, but he didn’t.

Jesus kept with the program.  The prophecy program!  There was still work to be done in Israel before Jesus would come back as their King to rule and reign forever on earth.  The Apostles watched him disappear and then did what they were told. (Acts 1:9-12)

He left without telling them the secret, the mystery that had been hid in God since before the world began; (1 Cor 2:7-8, Eph 3:9, 6:19, Col 1:25-27), which explains, in great detail, what we set out to find in this short study…the preaching of Jesus Christ’s Glorious Cross for salvation to all men, for all time! (1 Cor 2:2, Gal 6:14)

The rest of Acts 1 explains why and how the Apostles cast lots for someone to replace Judas Iscariot.  (A good study and worth your time…!)  In our next post, we’ll look at what happened at Pentecost. Maybe we’ll finally find the Apostles preaching the message of salvation by faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross. I hope you stay with me! There’s a lot more to explore!

If Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection offers forgiveness and justification to all men, at all times, through faith alone, why is this information not preached to everyone throughout scripture? We’ve been traveling through the pages of the Word of God, trying to find what Paul calls, “the preaching of the cross,” (1 Cor 1:18). If you’re just joining us, you can find part 1 here, and part 2 here.

Today we arrive at the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I’m excited to hear what He tells his disciples! Will His message change now that his death and resurrection have been realized by those he ministered to? Will they understand what his death accomplished for all men throughout all time? Does He reveal new information, new revelation, or a secret that has been hid in God since before the world began?

Matt 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30 are the verses that tell us Jesus died.  Noticed, they are at the end of each Gospel account.  After Jesus rises from the dead, and there is still much doubt among his disciples, (Matt 28:17, Mark 16:11-14, Luke 24:15-17, Luke 24:25, John 20:8-9), He sets out to give them his final instructions.   

Matt 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

In Matthew’s account we find what mainstream Christianity calls ‘The Great Commission.’  Jesus tells his Apostles to “GO…teach all nations, All that I have commanded you,”

While Jesus walked this earth, He taught the law and commanded others to follow it, as well! (Matt 5:18, 7:12, 22:37-40) The only thing that changes in Christ’s risen instructions is the fact that they should now go to ALL the nations of the world, not just to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, (Matt 10:6). But, did they do this? 

Mark 16:15-18 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Mark’s account of Jesus’ instructions adds signs!  Why signs?  Because Jews require a sign, (1 Cor 1:22).  Signs were used by God to prove His messages.  Without signs, Israel could not be sure it was from their own God, (John 4:48, 10:37-38, 14:11).  Tongues were a sign and fulfillment of prophecy that happen at Pentecost.  Being healed from a serpent’s bite and poisonous drink will be useful to the nation of Israel during the Tribulation period.

Luke 24 is an interesting chapter with lots of detail. I urge you to read the entire chapter for yourself and notice the words that describe how the disciples felt.

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27

All of the sudden, Jesus appears, incognito and schools two of his followers as they walked on the road to Emmaus.  He explains what even the prophets didn’t know or understand when they wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, those things concerning the Christ, (1 Peter 1:9-11, Heb 9:28). Later he appears to those that were gathered together, enlightens them, and gives them these instructions:

46… Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. Luke 24:46-49

Notice what Jesus DOESN’T say. There’s no talk of a new body made up of Jews and Gentiles (2 Cor 5:17), or salvation by faith through grace, (Eph 2:8-9). Jesus doesn’t say a thing about a mystery or secret that has been hid in God since the creation of the world, (Rom 16:25, Col 1:25-27, 1 Cor 2:7-8, Eph 3:3-4).  Why not?  This would have been the perfect opportunity, don’t you think?

John’s Gospel adds one more piece of the Kingdom Gospel puzzle.

John 20:21-23 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

The Apostles were given the Holy Ghost for the purpose of forgiving or retaining sins.  That’s something new!  Who can forgive sins but God?  And yet, Jesus breathes on them and they are now equipped with the ability to judge another man’s heart!  We see the only incident of this in Acts 5:1-11 when Ananias, with Sapphira lie to the Holy Ghost and through Peter’s God-given-Spirit power to discern the lie, they are killed on the spot. 

Thankfully, that doesn’t happen today or we’d all be dead!

We’ve come to the end of the four Gospels and we still have not found anyone preaching salvation by grace through faith in the cross of Christ. Next time, we’ll continue in the Book of Acts to see if and when God changes his instructions.

Thanks for following!  If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.

Today, we continue our search for the glorious preaching of the cross to see if we can find anyone who agrees with Paul’s message in Gal 6:14

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

The Bible says that Jesus Christ was born under the law, (Gal 4:4) to redeem those that were under the law, (Gal 4:5).

When Jesus started his ministry, the world that he created (including Gentiles) didn’t know him, and his own people, Israel, didn’t receive him, (John 1:10-11).  That didn’t stop Jesus from doing what the Father sent him to do, (John 4:34, 5:30, 6:38).

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. Mark 1:14-15

‘Repent’ and ‘believe’ in what?  Don’t read into the passage what isn’t there! Jesus is preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom! The time is fulfilled! This long awaited kingdom is at hand! Jesus is the Messiah and King, the one they’d been waiting for! Why didn’t he cry out to all those that would hear at the very beginning of his ministry and for the next three years while He walked the earth, “I was sent from God to DIE on a bloody cross for your sins and for the sins of the world”?  

Jesus had an opportunity to talk about this with a Samaritan woman. What did He tell her? Salvation is of the Jews! (John 4:22).  By the end of their conversation, she believed that he was the Christ, (Messiah), the Savior of the world, without mentioning his cross.  After she tells her friends, many come to Jesus, hear his words for themselves and believe that he is who he says he is…the Christ, even the Savior of the world! They believed in what he was saying, but it was NOT salvation through faith in the sacrifice of His cross!

John 4:39,41-42 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 41 And many more believed because of his own word; 42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

Jesus adamantly taught about fulfilling the law (Matt 5:17-19) and the prophets, keeping the commandments and seeking the Kingdom, (Matt 6:33).

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. Matt 4:23

He taught them to pray: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, (Matt 6:10), and to make the mandatory offerings under the law after they were healed, (Mark 1:44, Matt 8:4).

He chided the Scribes and Pharisees for NOT keeping the whole law.  He warned his followers to be careful of those that sat in Moses’ seat (they, of all people, should know better!).  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: (Matt 23:2-3)

When asked the specific question on securing eternal life (Matt 19:17-22) Jesus responded this way:but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

If ever there was a time to let the multitudes know that the cross was what they should glory in, cling to, and trust for their eternal salvation, wouldn’t it have been during this conversation?  I mean, we’re talking eternal life, here!  This was a direct question. But Jesus kept quiet about that glorious cross.

We know Jesus had twelve Apostles (which means sent one), who were given a great commission.  Maybe He left this message with them. Maybe we’ll find what we’re looking for through their ministry.

Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.  2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick… 6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. Luke 9:1-6

Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matt 10:5-7

Why wouldn’t Jesus tell His disciples to go everywhere to everyone?  And why was Jesus being so exclusive? And even so, notice, the message hasn’t changed. Where is the preaching of the cross?

Jesus finally puts it out as plainly as he can and tells his inner circle what’s going to happen as it pertains to the cross. Peter boldly stands against it and the Lord rebukes him and calls him Satan! (Matt 16:21-23) If Jesus was explaining how his death on the cross would be for the purpose of redemption for everyone, who would be against that? Jesus kept some important information to himself for good reason, (1 Cor 2:7-8).

Jesus brought it up again in the next chapter;  ‘The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: 23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.’ (Matt 17:22-23)

A parallel verse is found in Mark 9:31-32 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

So why are the Apostles exceeding sorry this is going to happen and even afraid to ask for more details? Why aren’t they excited and glorying in this new revelation?

In Luke 9:44-45 and John 8:26-28 we find two more incidents where the apostles didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about when he referenced his death and resurrection.

I know I sound sarcastic, and I do apologize for that.  I’m trying to get the reader, the student, to understand the difference in the dispensational context.  I’m praying that, even with my limited knowledge and lack of writing skills, you will see that, though these verses seem to contradict what Paul is saying, they line up perfectly in the dispensation for which they were intended and they are not at all contradictory.

There was a secret that Jesus was keeping.  It was a mystery that had not yet been revealed.

That’s why we study!  Stay with me and together we’ll search for clarity on this subject.

Next up, what happened after Jesus rises from the dead? What message does He give His Apostles? What can we learn?

Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection offers forgiveness and justification to all men, at all times, through faith alone.  

This is a true statement, and yet, how is it that the preaching of the cross is missing in 90% of the Bible?  The answer is all in the dispensation!

How could Adam and Eve have a good standing with God if no one preached the cross to them?

They were in good standing based on what they didn’t do! They were told NOT to eat of a certain tree.

Gen 2:16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eat thereof thou shalt surely die.

After they sinned, that good standing was broken with God.  It was what THEY DID, not what they believed.

How about Noah?  Was Noah trusting the cross for his salvation?

Gen 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. (That sounds familiar…is it close to what Paul teaches us today?)

Gen 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 

Gen 7:1 And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

Noah trusted what God told him to do in order for him to be saved from the destruction that was to come upon the earth. (Heb 11:7)   God saved him from utter destruction without the preaching of the cross. How could that be?

After the flood, things didn’t get better…they got worse.

Gen 11:4-9 Because the people of the earth are not following God’s instructions, He judges them and confounds their language so that they no longer speak as one.  Out of all the people on the earth, God takes one man and calls him out from among the Gentiles (Gentiles means nations). God makes him the father of the only nation He would ever create – Israel.  

(Gen 12:1-4) God show Abram a lot of unmerited favor (that’s another way of saying grace!) God promised Abram a dominion on the earth, that He would make him a great nation, his name would be great, he would be blessed and be a blessing to all the people of the earth. Abram believed this. PERIOD.

Gen 15:6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Abraham was found to be righteous because he believed in what God told him, but there was no preaching of a cross for which Abraham could cling to and believe in for his salvation.

The chosen descendants of Abraham (remember he had many children, but the promise came through Isaac) made up the nation of Israel.  At this point, God dealt with mankind through Israel. Those that wanted to be blessed came through Israel, those who rejected God’s plan, were cursed.

In Ex. 19:5-6 Moses was given the law to give to the people of Israel.  This is the start of what we now know as the Old Covenant or Old Testament, an if/then contract.  Israel actually agreed to DO all that was written in the law.

Deut 6:24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. 25 And it shall be our righteousness if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.

Israel gained righteousness with God by doing everything that was commanded of them in the law.  There were provisions in the law for when they failed. David followed the law, loved the law, and trusted God to save him by the law.  Ps 18:20-24, Ps 25:10, Ps 119 BUT, The law was impossible to keep! Jer. 31:31-37 , Ezek 36:24-28 God gave the law so that Israel could recognize their inability to keep it, (Rom 3:20).

God promised a NEW COVENANT, whereby He was going to cause them to keep this law perfectly, by his indwelling  Holy Spirit.  This is still a future promise and unfulfilled prophecy.   Israel will have to go through the Tribulation, (their baptism by fire as foretold in Matt 3:11 and endure to the end through the trials of their faith (James 1:2-3) in order to receive their Messiah and become the nation of Priests (Hebrews talks of this as well as the Prophets) that the other nations of the world will be coming through in order to get their blessings from King Jesus when he sits on his throne in the New Jerusalem.

God does not take pleasure in the wicked dying (Ez 18:23).  He would much rather they believe and trust in him, but God will justify his holiness one day by destroying his enemies: Nahum 1:2, Joel 2:28

After the last prophet speaks (Malachi) there are 400 years of silence from God. At the right time, John the Baptist is born for a purpose and a specific message, what is it? He came to prepare the way for the king!

Matt 3:2 REPENT for the KINGDOM of HEAVEN is at HAND!

But look closely; John’s message is the same as all the prophets before him who have prophesied of this coming kingdom.  The only glorious difference is he puts a name to the promise. He baptizes and points out who the King and Messiah is in order that his fellow kinsman might follow and believe in this name. You guessed it! Jesus!

We must make the distinction, however, that just because Jesus appears on earth and in fact, does have a ministry to Israel, we do not find him preaching about his cross to the multitudes.

According to Heb 9:16 before the NEW TESTAMENT can start the testator must die.  Jesus, being that testator, doesn’t die until the end of the 4 Gospel accounts. That should give you a clue as to when that page entitled, “New Testament,” in your Bible should appear. Without the cross, without Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, there is nothing that we can glory in, (Gal 6:14).

HIS sacrifice is going to save the whole world.  He knows this; He’s God! Why does He keep it a secret? This is not a theological question, it’s a dispensational question. God has a plan. He made it known. We have to study in order to understand it.

We’ll look at Jesus’ ministry and what He taught his Disciples while on earth in the next study.  Maybe we’ll find someone (other than Paul) preaching the glories of the cross of Jesus Christ.