Unlike the old saying, “All roads lead to Rome” the same cannot be said about everlasting life, which isn’t to say that it’s possible not to die but rather that there is life after death and there are not multiple paths to it in spite of the Gospel according to Oprah.
That there is life after death has been pretty much assumed by most of the people in the world with the exception of a few who claim that when you die, you die, that’s it. The Big question is, of course, how do you lay hold of that life after death; how do you achieve it; where do you go and how do you get there? What do have to DO?
For those of us who believe the Bible to be what it claims to be, the very Word of God, the answer to the questions about life and life after death are contained within it’s pages. However, you can ask a hundred different people, who say they believe in the Bible, how to get to heaven and or how to have everlasting life and you will likely get at least several different answers.
Is It Just Interpretation?
I believe there is a very good answer to why so many people have so many different interpretations of the Bible and how to get to heaven. My intention here is to show you what the Apostle Paul, who penned the letters of Romans through Philemon, teaches in regard to the doctrine of salvation and that it was and is unique to Paul’s ministry. Paul indicates this very clearly when he calls it, “my Gospel”.
The Epistles or letters written by Paul are written to those who are living in, as Paul puts it, ‘the dispensation of the grace of God” or the house rules or even the economy would be another way to put it and therefore it is in Paul’s letters we will find the information regarding the “Gospel of Christ” which Paul preached among the gentiles and it is this Gospel that Paul taught and preached that is the information we need to understand what salvation is and how to attain it.
Understand that it is Paul who was chosen by God to be the singular Apostle of the Gentiles. Since Israel had fallen, (We learned this in the parable of the fig tree that God would grant Israel one more year to repent and make their law failure confession. That one year ended at the stoning of Stephen then, we see Saul also called Paul on the scene.) God put his program with Israel (temporarily) on hold at that time and not before as most falsely teach. God then shows mercy on the blasphemer, Saul and puts him in charge of disseminating the information pertaining to the Mystery, or a Secret which, God had been keeping until he revealed it to Paul committing to him a Dispensation of the Grace of God, according to 1 Corinthians 9:17, Ephesians 3:2 and Colossians 1:25.
Circumcision, UnCircumcision and Other Distinctions
There are several distinctions that can be seen between Paul’s letters and the Hebrew letters. Here are just a few. Paul never says we must ask for forgiveness from God for our sins. On the other hand the Hebrew Epistle do because they were still trying to get Israel to repent of her failure as a nation having broken their covenant with God. There are other differences such as, the Gospel of Christ is not known or preached in the Hebrew Epistles (Not withstanding they did come to understand it and you can find evidence of that in some of their letters) because only Paul got this information. There is no reference to the Bride of Christ by Paul either because that is a term that is part of Israel’s program, not that Paul never addresses information pertaining to Israel because he does. And although Paul did baptize earlier in his ministry, so as not to offend the Jews and before he had learned the Gospel of Christ, he tells us in Ephesians 4:5 that, there in only One baptism and it’s not water baptism. It’s being identified with Christ being baptized by the Holy Spirit. It’s not the Baptism of John which was necessary for the Jew and Proselytes, as part of their law failure confession.
It was Paul who, in Galatians 2, explains that he had to go to Jerusalem to explain to the other Apostles, the Gospel which he preach among the gentiles and it was at that counsel where it was understood that Paul was the Apostle of the “uncircumcision” (that would include Jews uncircumcised of heart) and that Peter and the other Apostles were of the “circumcision”. They were not, as modern translators have put it, the Apostles to their respective groups disseminating the exact same information but rather they each had separate ministries and information unique to the groups they were ministering to. The Twelve had been preaching the Gospel of the kingdom that, it was at hand, up until the resurrection and then they also preached the Gospel of God after the resurrection which, was about the identity of the king being Jesus Christ the one whom they had crucified. This is the same gospel that Paul was saved under but being a blasphemer it was impossible that he could be saved had God not concluded ALL in unbelief that he might have mercy upon ALL. This is why Paul says he was the FIRST to be shown this mercy.
1Ti 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
Later, the glorified resurrected Christ would, by revelation, tell Paul a secret part of which is the gospel of Christ. Different words mean different things so don’t think all gospels are the same because they are not. None of the other Apostles ever refers to the Gospel of Christ. As I stated previously, Paul says it is “my Gospel”
But Isn’t everything from Matthew to Revelation all about us now?
Hebrew Epistles are those letters written to the Jews which are all the letters in the so called “New Testament” not written by Paul including the Epistle of Hebrews. They are all clearly addressed to Jewish believers and not to gentiles or believers who are part of God’s program with the gentiles. It could not be any clearer but and yet for millennia now, so called Christendom, has been declaring that it’s all for and about us. Rather than recognizing that Israel is fallen and their program has been put on hold, they’ve decided to hijack Israel’s program and claim all the promises of the earthly kingdom program. While all the Bible is certainly all for us and it is profitable, not everything is applicable to us. If it were all applicable then by that logic we should then conclude that we should all be in the Ark building business because after all, it’s in the Bible. What I’m saying is this: The Bible says what it means and means what it says to whom it says it. So, make sure you are in the audience. Reading other people’s mail, thinking it’s yours, will no doubt create confusion just as it has done. So there are differences and God has clearly made the distinction and we should respect that and cease trying to join together what God has separated.
Israel’s Rise and Fall
If the information was the same there would be no need to make a distinction between the circumcision and uncircumcision. After all do the scriptures not say that there is “no difference” and yet we see in Paul’s account of the Jerusalem Counsel, as it is called that, God did indeed make a distinction. The explanation is because God, at the stoning of Stephen when, because of unbelief, God temporarily shuts down his work or program with Israel and starts a whole new program which, from the beginning of the world, was not known.
And since the ministry of the Twelve pertained to Israel whose program is now in abeyance, being temporarily held back until it’s resumption at the start of the Tribulation (the time of Jacobs trouble) it was necessary that they be separated because now it is not through Israel’s RISE that the Gentiles or nations would come to God but now, it is by their FALL, something that was not known until it was revealed by Paul.
God has now elected to work through the Body of Christ and his election of Israel, while it is not ended, it is temporarily shut down. Again, in time future the Gentiles WILL come to God by Israel’s RISING as was prophesied and known since the beginning of the world.
Isaiah 60:3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
Paul’s Gospel – The Gospel of Christ
We must be careful to understand that the word Gospel never stands alone. It simply means Good News of something or about something. What Paul taught concerning what Christ Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection accomplished is good news that was not known until it was given to Paul by revelation. We must understand that the Gospel of Christ by which we are saved can only be found in Paul’s letters. It is Paul to whom the “revelation of the mystery” was given and the message of reconciliation and justification that was accomplished by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for all apart from Israel. It is Paul who reveals that rather than the gentiles coming to salvation by Israel’s rise it is now by their fall and that ALL now come on equal footing there being no distinction between Jew or Greek, bond or free and so on. This was not known before it was revealed to and by Paul.
Salvation In The Dispensation of the Grace of God
Understanding what Christ did when he died upon the cross, was buried and rose again and what one believes or puts their faith in is critical to the issue of whether or not one is “saved”.
Almost every “Christian” denomination and even some non Christian groups believe Jesus died, was buried and rose again so having a belief that an event took place 2000 years ago does not in and of itself save anyone.
The issue is what do you believe Christs’ death, burial and resurrection accomplish? Let’s just walk through the process of Jesus’ cross-work, if you will.
Reconciliation For All
1. Christ died upon the cross having given his life, no man taking it from him. At his death the sins of the world were judicially imputed to him or put upon him and he became sin for us, making payment for sin and satisfying God’s justice.
Romans 5:10 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.
2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Colossians 1:20 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.
3. Christ was then buried removing that sin from the sight of God and rose again for our justification.
Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Sin – Not An Issue Anymore
Of course there are many more verses we could quote but these are sufficient to make the point that God has reconciled THE WORLD to himself and is no longer counting mankind’s sin against them. So when Christ died 2000 years ago he took care of the sin issue for all and for all time – past, present and future. This is exactly what the verb tenses indicate by the way.
I think these verses also clearly establish that there is nothing you can do, no good works, no law keeping – nothing that will add anything and if you believe you can you are believing a false gospel and you are trying to do what the Jews could not do which is to claim that you have to ability to be righteous by your own merit. If this were even remotely possible then we would not need the righteousness of Christ Jesus to be credited to our accounts and it has been credited to our accounts and the only requirement for salvation is to accept this truth by faith. The moment that one simply takes God at his word about what Jesus did having died upon the cross for the sins of the world; being buried and rising again, then they are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ and God no longer sees them but rather, he sees Christ and his righteousness, applying Christ’s righteousness to their account. You are married to Christ so what is his is now yours.
Do We Ask For Forgiveness For Our Sins To be Saved?
I may be beating a dead horse here but again, the sin debt of the whole world has been dealt with and from God’s side of it you are reconciled and your sin, past, present and future is not being counted against you because it was already been dealt with. So, the issue for mankind is not sin. If anyone tells you that you have to ask for forgiveness to be saved they are mistaken because if you were to ask God to forgive you of your sins he would ask you what sins you’re talking about. The sin debt of the world and that means you too, has been dealt with 2000 years ago. Jesus Christ was made sin so, if your sin is still keeping you from God then God is a liar. I don’t think God is a liar. So we see the issue is belief and not sin.
I know I’ve already made this point above but it’s so critical again to understand that justification or being made righteous has also been taken care of but it is of no effect until you believe, what God has made perfectly clear is that it is your faith in the finished cross-work of Jesus Christ that is counted for righteousness. When you believe God about your sin having been paid for by Jesus Christ he then places you into Christ and HIS righteousness is then credited to your account. As Pastor Curt Crist has said: “Christs’ test scores have been placed on your paper.”
A Perfect Score
I like to illustrate it like this: Your test paper for your entrance exam, in times past (even before you were born) was filled with sin but when Christ shed his blood upon the cross your sins were washed from your paper.(everyone else’ too) So now you have a blank exam paper thanks to God’s mercy. Nice and clean but it’s blank. You need something on it to gain entrance but you have nothing that’s acceptable. So you concede the point and give your paper to Christ (Faith in what he has already done on your behalf) and what he has IS acceptable and that’s the Grace of God; his perfect test score on your paper.
I apologize for being so redundant on the SIN issue but it’s been taught wrong by so many for so long. The Apostle Paul – God’s Word, doesn’t tell you to walk down the aisle at the local church building to an alter (alters are for sacrifices and we have nothing to sacrifice) and confess your sins. You do not need to ask God for forgiveness and be sorry for your sin (although you may be) because God has already placed all your sin on his Son who conquered it and took it off the table of God’s justice. You do not have to be “born again” (Israel has to be born again) You do not have to ask Jesus to come into your heart (That also pertains to Israel) You don’t have to say any magic prayer, be baptized, ask God for forgiveness, be catechized or mesmerized… all false gospels.
You only have to believe – put your faith in, which is to say, take God at his word about what Christ Jesus has already accomplished when he died for the sins of the world, including yours, reconciling all to God, having been buried and rising again for our justification. That’s it! That’s what God has said through your apostle, the Apostle Paul.
So What Now?
If you are a believer remember, you are complete in Christ. Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: There’s nothing more to get. Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: Your life is now hid in Christ.
It is up to you now to be what your already are in Christ. A good place to start is by doing what Paul told Timothy. 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Everyone hates it when all I want to do is talk about doctrine but having the right doctrine, Paul’s doctrine, is critical. Paul says we are to follow him as he follows Christ and he is our example. I am not elevating Paul above Christ but we must understand that the Dispensation of the Grace of God was given to Paul and he is the Apostle of the gentiles and he says “I magnify mine office” for a reason. We are to follow Paul’s pattern because the resurrected ascended Christ told us to through Paul. It’s not Paul’s words you are reading in Paul’s letters, it’s Christ’s words except when Paul tells us it’s his own words.
You are an Ambassador for Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
Remember you are a dead man walking. You are dead to sin and you cannot sin but your flesh is still breathing and pumping blood so you will no doubt sin. What does Paul say about a believers sin? Well a few things. One, that you should walk in the Spirit…. mortify the deeds of the flesh… don’t sin… etc. He never says to ask God for forgiveness as I mentioned earlier but he does say we should forgive one another.
Just remember, when it comes to your salvation and your security it’s not DO, it’s DONE. This article is by no means exhaustive, although I may have exhausted you, so please do continue to study.
If you have questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would also recommend the website welcometograce.com where there is literally hundreds of hours of lessons by Bible teacher Curt Crist and also a forum where you can ask questions.