Paulinism – Based on Truth or Heresy?
Paulinism with its many implications have become a real heresy. The natural result of this warped system will undoubtedly be to discount the Words of God, abolish the underlying true essence of the Message of the Kingdom for this age, and present seeking believers with another Gospel, which is called the “Gospel of Grace”. No greater lie has ever been foisted upon the people of God than this terrible misrepresentation of the True Purpose and Plan of the Creator God for man – as embodied in the so-called “New Gospel of Grace”, which is accredited to the apostle Paul according to his interpretation.
Without question there is a definite, distinct style in the composition of the writings of the great scribes of Holy Writ. The four Gospels are a vivid example of the four vastly different men who wrote them – yet, they were each one inspired by the same Holy Spirit! This fact has stumbled many an agnostic and has made unbelievers out of many doubters.
The knowledge of the infinite and the clever planning of the Most High are manifest in the styles of the four different viewpoints of the ministry of Messiah as recorder in the four versions of the Gospels. In these four books we see the pictures of the men who wrote them, yet, not once do they mention their own names. In all four of these accounts there is a complete absence of the use of the personal pronoun by the author – (there are two exceptions to this: Luke said, “It seemed good to me also … to write”. (chapter I, verse 3). This was not a boast – rather an apology from a heart of humility. He was only doing what he felt was his duty. The other exception is recorded in John 21:25. This author deliberately avoided using his own name; in four places he referred to himself as the “disciple whom Messiah loved.”
What a contrast this is to the epistles of Paul! He wrote 13 letters, and each one of them started with his own name! He used the personal pronoun “I, me, or my”, 949 times! In the twelfth chapter of 2 Corinthians, the big personal pronoun was used seven times in the sixth verse alone; 60 times in the same chapter of 21 verses!
Paul seems to have been quite a boaster, and at times it appears as though he may have overdone some of his boasting: “I am proud of being sent” (to the Gentiles as their apostle) (Rom.11:13) – could it be possible that he magnified his office above what he should have done? Messiah gave this solemn admonition, “When a man’s doctrine is his own, he is hoping to get honour for himself” (Jo. 7:18), which the author of the Pauline epistles might well have heeded to advantage. Certainly no other scribe in all Scripture has displayed so much egotism, in so many different ways, as the apostle Paul has exhibited throughout all of his writings.
There are many warnings in the Bible against self-exaltation: “I am YHVH; that is My Name: and My Glory will I not give to another” (Isa.42:8). And James reminds us (chapter 3, verse 5), “the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things”.
We find that the apostle Paul, declared that he was “not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Cor, 11:5); and again: “In nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Cor,12:11). These are assertions which are rather hard to accept, for in comparing this claim of Paul to superiority, with Hebrews 3:1, where Messiah is also referred to as an “Apostle”, we find cause to wonder if Paul, the former “Saul of Tarsus”, perhaps thought himself to be “not a whit behind” the Man of Galilee? Did he think he was equal with the Saviour of mankind? In any event, masses of Christians today regard him as just such – and even more, considering that they allow Paul to have authority over the Law of God, claiming it to have been replaced, done away with, nullified, “nailed to the Cross!” As such, they regard him as author of a “New Gospel”.
The writer of these epistles, in his constant reference to himself, has thrown an element of confusion into his message, which has blinded the eyes of many. He did, unquestionably, have a divine revelation – but not a new Gospel. He was instructed of the Lord; not of men; but he was not given a different Message! Paul consistently preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to the very end of his ministry: “Preaching the Kingdom of God” (Acts 28 : 31); “The glorious Gospel of Messiah” (2 Cor.4:4); also 2 Thess. 1:8; Rom. 15:19 – all of these statements deny that this apostle was the chosen herald of a New Gospel.
GRACE WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS OR RULE
Devotees of the heresy of “grace unlimited”, find abundant support for their distorted teachings in the epistles of Paul. There are millions of present-day professing Christians who actually believe that this ‘apostle was the founder of a “New Gospel of Grace”. It is this teaching that has opened the door of the church to the world: unrestricted license, freedom and liberty from all law to any who will accept and believe the new Gospel. It is this interpretation which has heralded these present times of lawlessness and crime without proper judgment in the world.
The thirteen epistles of this converted scholar from Tarsus are written in a style that is like an amazing obstacle course: Truth angled in such a fashion that it freely yields to the manipulations and devices of the triflers. There are three basic pillars which are used to support these erroneous deductions; and all three are derived from the written words recorded in the thirteen Pauline epistles:
(1) – “According to my Gospel” (Rom. 2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim. 2:8). No other scribe ever spoke of the Gospel as “my” Gospel. Even Messiah Himself never referred to it as “My” Message. It is assumed by many modern scholars that if the apostle called his good news his own, in three different places, it most certainly indicated that he was the author of it!
(2) – “The Gospel of the uncircumcision” (Gal. 2:7). It is possible to infer from this verse that his message was different from the Gospel which Peter and the others taught. But the truth of the matter is that “the Good News” taught by all of the apostles was the same (“The Gospel of the Messiah”). The difference was not in the essence of the communication, but in the callings and manner of deliverance.
At the time of his conversion, this former “Pharisee of the Pharisees, was especially called to evangelize the Gentiles. The apostle Peter and all of the others who were especially called to minister to the Jews had an extremely difficult ministry: first they had to refresh the minds of their audiences concerning the fact that Moses and the prophets had predicted the coming of a Saviour.
(3) – The “mysteries” to which Paul refers, are played up as absolute proof (by the “Grace Gospel” teachers) that the Lord vested the “Grace Message’ in this one man, alone. Those who are curious, often love to delve into mystery. Many cultists and sectarians feed upon the mental excitement derived from exploring “the secret things that belong unto God”. Clever interpretations of “dark speeches” feed the egos of the proud in heart as they probe into the philosophical labyrinth of human speculation. The letters of Saul from Tarsus provide an inexhaustible source for those who like to delve in to the Word of God merely for personal entertainment. The word mystery is used 27 times in the New Testament: the author of the epistles has used it 20 times! And of course, the “Grace Gospelers” make much of these mysteries spoken of by this apostle. The promise of the revelation of a new mystery has somewhat the same effect upon people who turn away from the plain Commands of the Saviour in an attempt to find a philosophical sop in the writings of others.
Consider these declarations from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in comparison with the inspired writings of some of the other great men of God: “You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the Grace He meant for you and that it was by a Revelation that I was given the knowledge of the Mystery, as I have just described it very shortly. If you read my words, you will have some idea of the depths that I see in the Mystery of Messiah. This Mystery, which has now been revealed through the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets, was unknown to any men in past generations … that gentiles now share the same inheritance” (Eph. 3:2-6). This sounds as though the writer of these words was the first and only man to have the understanding of this most mysterious work to be done among the Gentiles! At least, this is the conclusion of millions of professing Christians.
But the other Scriptures deny that this Mystery was a new thing. “There shall be a root of Jesse . .. to it shall the Gentiles seek” Isa. 11:10; “My servant (Messiah) … to the Gentiles” Isa. 42:1; “A light of the Gentiles” (Isa. 42: 6); “My Name shall be great among the Gentiles” (Mal. 1:11); “Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation … A light to lighten the Gentiles” (Luke 2:30-32); “Teach all nations” (Matt.28:19); “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15); etc.
The traditional Jewish interpretation had so blinded the eyes of the Jewish believers of apostolic days, that it was virtually impossible for them even to imagine the God of Abraham having anything to do with anyone of another nation. Of the apostles themselves, Peter was actually the first to receive the Revelation that the Gentiles were also called to have a part in the work of the Messiah, “the first and the last”, the One Who presented all of the major doctrines Himself. His Gospel is the “everlasting Gospel”: and it is the only Gospel.
It is nothing less than high treason against the Kingdom of God for anyone to attempt to introduce another Gospel, of which Paul is alleged to be the author. This is even contrary to Paul’s own teaching; yet the “Grace Gospelers” have resorted to wresting the words of his epistles in an effort to provide a foundation for their latter-day heresy.
A careful student of the Word will note that these epistles are written in such a manner that they provide a vast amount of material which is readily adaptable to misinterpretation and misrepresentation. It pleased the Creator to let this apostle present his own views of certain things; and the all-wise One … knew that His servant was providing stumbling stones and rocks of offense for those religious wiseacres who would not be above juggling the Words of Holy Scripture in an attempt to “climb up” into the Kingdom by “some other way” than the “door” which the Lord has provided. (See John 10:1-9).
WHY ARE DIVERSIONS ALLOWED TO SURFACE AMIDST TRUTH?
Some of the rankest errors taught by many present-day professing believers, have their sole source and support in these Epistles of Paul. So powerfully, in fact, do the four Gospels and the book of Acts contradict certain diabolical interpretations of the letters of Paul, that a number of these schools of Paulinism have relegated all books of the Bible, except these epistles, to the (for them) unacceptable realms of the Jew.
Now consider this: what foundation would the following apostate teachings have, if the epistles of Paul were removed from our Bibles? “The postponement theory”; “The new gospel of Grace”; the idea of “once saved always saved”; “Baptism for the dead”; Disrespect for the ten Commandments; the so-called “Free Love” movement; Hatred for the Law and the Customs of God; etc.
No man should ever attempt to write Scripture. Of course, some may contend that when the apostle wrote to his “beloved son, ” Timothy, and asked him to bring his cloak, his books, and his parchments (2-Tim. 4:16), he was not writing Scripture – and to this we heartily agree: Paul was merely writing a letter to his friend. But how can we know where to draw the line between his writings which were inspired, and those that were not?
It is probable that the apostle dictated all of his letters which were not written by his own hand. At least, he was aware of the subject matter, and must have approved of it, for they all begin with his own name. However we find that no less than six different men did the actual writing. Some of these were even included as authors of the epistle: “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus” (1 Thess, 1:1; and 2 Thess. 1:1); “Paul … and Timothy our brother”
Let us be brave enough to face the facts: These epistles contain much Truth, but verbal inspiration (God-given, word-for-word dictation) is not always evident. Shall we then relegate these writings to the wastepaper basket? Absolutely not! Has not the Lord permitted them to be canonized for a purpose? For one thing, these epistles are excellent “Sifters”
Why has God allowed “rocks of offence” to become a part of the Bible? Here is the answer – “The reason why God is sending a power to delude them and make them believe what is untrue, is to condemn all who refused to believe in the Truth and chose wickedness (lawlessness) in stead … those who are bound for destruction because they would not grasp the love of the Truth which could have saved them” (2 Theses. 3:11 and 10).
Countless “tares” are being sifted out of today’s “wheat” by means of the misinterpretation of the writings of our good Brother Paul. Bear in mind that the man’s words are good, but they are put in such a fashion that when they are not interpreted in the light of what Messiah has said in other writings, they can become a snare and a delusion. This is the secret for understanding these epistles which Peter called “things hard to be understood” (2 Peter 3:16).
There are many places in these writings where the apostle seems to contradict himself; other places where he seems to contradict Messiah or the other inspired writers. In such places it is most necessary that we “prove all things” (1 Theses. 5:2) by comparing his words “To the Law and the Testimony, if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20).
Paul seemed to have been woefully ignorant of his own inconsistent errors as a scribe. Especially so, where he contradicted his own statements: “I please all men in all things … that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:33). His intentions were commendable; but his method left much to be desired. We quote again from his own words: “Do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Messiah” (Gal.1:10). Had he forgotten his words to the Corinthians (see above: chapter 10, verse 33); or had he simply decided upon a different approach – a change in tactics?
In all Scripture, no other writer of Holy Writ has so confused the doctrines relative to the Law, as has Paul who boasted of being a “citizen of no mean city” (Acts 21:39). In a number of places he apparently debased the law by implication: “The curse of the Law” (Gal. 3:13); etc. In all of these statements, he failed to make a clear distinction between the sacrificial Laws and the rest of the Law of God.
Those who rebel against God, despise the Divine Commandments and rebel against God’s Law – so they eagerly grasp at these verses which apparently sanction lawlessness. But Paul did not abolish the Law. He said that by faith we “establish the Law” (Rom. 3:31); “Wherefore the Law is holy, and the Commandment is holy, and just and good” (Rom.7:12); .”The things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (I Cor.14:37); “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the Commandments of God” (1 Cor. 7:19). Even Paul admitted, “I worship the God of my ancestors, retaining my belief in all points of the Law …” (Acts 24:14). There is then, value in keeping the Commandments of God – even Paul says so! Let us test these last statements of the apostle, by the words of Messiah “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments” (Matthew 19:17).
Where Paul does not make things clear, we must go to the words of Messiah for clarification. The apostle wrote: “The whole Law is summarised in a single Command, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14). Let us not presume that the apostle misspoke himself, for he went into much detail on this matter in the book of Romans: “If you love your fellow men, you have carried out your obligations … All the Commandments … are summed up in this single Command: you must love your neighbour as yourself” (Rom.13:8,9).
Let us now turn to Messiah Himself and compare statements : “. . , a lawyer, asked Him (Messiah) a question . . . saying, . , , ‘Which is the Greatest Commandment of the Law?’ Messiah said unto him: ‘You must love YHVH your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the First and Greatest Commandment. And the second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these TWO Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets'” (Matt. 22:35-40).
Certainly a great and a vital spiritual difference! How could we take Paul’s version above that of the Lawmaker Himself?
CONFUSION OR HIGHER WISDOM?
Doctrines related to the Law seem to have been the most confusing issues in the mind of the author of these thirteen letters to the Messianic congregations. At times he wrote one thing to a congregation in one city, and then again, he would write just the opposite letter to another group : “A man is not justified by the works of the Law” (Gal. 2:16) he told the Galatians – but to the Romans he wrote; “For not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law shall be justified” (Rom 2:13). Surely the man was not double-minded? Could it have been that he was in confusion on this subject of Law?
Consider the following quotations, taken from two different epistles, written by this same man: “Once, when there was no Law, I was alive; but when the Commandment came, sin came to life, and I died. The Commandment was meant to lead me to life, but it turned out to mean death for me” (Rom.7:9,10); and, “… if the administering of death, in the written letters engraved on stones, was glorious … if there was any splendour in administering condemnation, there must be very much greater splendour in administering justification … if what was done away with was glorious, there must be much more in what is going to last for ever” (2 Corinthians 3:7-11).
If words mean anything, then the author of these epistles is saying that the ten Commandments were done away with, abolished, ended. At least, this is the meaning as it appears on the surface and as it has been accepted by most of Christianity: but remember, that the words of this scribe are tricky and they are especially designed to trap the carnal mind which rebels against the Truth.
The key to these ambiguous statements relating to the Law which was written on tables of stone, is to be found in 2 Corinthians 3:6 “(God) is the One Who has given us the qualifications to be the administrators of this New Covenant, which is not a Covenant of written letters but of the Spirit, the written letters being death, but the Spirit gives life”.
That which was “done away” with, was not the Message or the contents of the Law, but the manner in which it was delivered. The tables of stone and the face of Moses were merely reflectors of the glory contained in God’s Commandments as the Keys to Life. Neither of these two reflecting mediums were able to convey God’s Message to many hearts – the new ministry of the Spirit is a more accomplished carrier of that Message of the Law which “converts the soul” (Psa.19:7).