Archive for May 25, 2010

Israel’s Great Commission, Part 10

May 25, 2010

Grace

One should take particular notice that not once in all five of the “Great Commission” passages does the word “grace” even appear. This is not to say, of course, that God did not have grace during this time, for He did – as He always does – for it is an attribute of God’s Own character and nature. If it had not been for grace Noah could not have been saved (Genesis 6:8). Yet we must remember that there is a difference between the grace of God as a part of His nature, and “the dispensation of the Grace of God” where the administration of all of God’s dealings is conducted in full and total grace (Ephesians 3:2).

In other words, there is a difference between the grace of God in a dispensation and “the dispensation of the grace of God,” a difference between God’s attribute of grace and grace being the ruling principle.

That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto age-lasting life by Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:21).

Grace did not reign in Noah’s day, for God did not at that time show grace to the rest of the world – only to Noah and his family. The world perished. Grace was then, for that time, selective and limited. Only small rays of God’s grace broke through. Now, during this present age, God’s grace is immeasurably released.

Under Israel’s “Great Commission” there is not even one single reference to “grace” – let alone to “the Gospel of the Grace of God.” The fact is that it was still hidden at that time. The free gift of God’s grace, as well as the Jews and Gentiles in one Body were not to be found anywhere in this commission. These were all still yet unrevealed truths. None of them were known or preached until Paul (I Timothy 1:16; Galatians 1:25). Paul received them by revelation (Galatians 1, 2) from the heavenly Christ.

The plain truth of the matter is that God, in Paul’s epistles, has given us a complete and independent body of truth for this dispensation in which we now live (Romans 2:16), and a “much more” blessed commission than that found in “the Gospels” (II Corinthians 5:14-21; Ephesians 3:8-9).

Let us recognize that our position today is not that of being “witnesses” under Israel’s “Great Commission,” but instead of being “Ambassadors for Christ” of the evangel of the grace of God – God’s Grace Commission (II Corinthians 5:20). We have the “ministry of conciliation” given to us (II Corinthians 5:18), and the “Word of conciliation” committed to our trust (II Corinthians 5:19).

There is a two-fold purpose of God: the heaven and the earth. Israel is God’s instrument of His earthly purpose, and we the Body of Christ are the instrument of His celestial purpose.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 1989, 2010

Israel’s Great Commission, Part 9

May 25, 2010

Witnesses of What?

You shall be witnesses unto Me (Acts 1:8).

Under the “Great Commission” Israel’s Apostles were to be “witnesses’” but “witnesses” of what? Before we deal with the answer to that question, let’s first find out what a witness is.

Noah Webster defines the word witness as a person who knows or sees anything; one personally present. So, to be a witness, one must have firsthand knowledge concerning the thing which is being witnessed. Of what were the Twelve actually witnesses? On this the Scripture is abundantly clear.

Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day … and you are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:46, 48).

Wherefore of these men … must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection (Acts 1:22).

This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses (Acts 2:32).

Whom God has raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses (Acts 3:15).

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus … and we are His witnesses (Acts 5:30-32).

And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; Whom they slew and hung on a tree, Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly; not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead (Acts 10:39-41).

And He was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people (Acts 13:31).

How clear are all these verses! The “Great Commission” was for those who had been actual eye-witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry, death resurrection.

What if you read in your local newspaper of a horrid crime which had been committed in your community, but one that you had not personally witnessed? Then suppose that you showed up at the trial and offered to testify and were subsequently placed on the witness stand. While on the stand you vividly and accurately describe the details of the crime as they had been recorded in the newspaper article. During the cross-examination you are asked, “Where were you when you saw this crime committed?” To which you would respond, “Why, I didn’t see the act, but I did read all about it in the paper.”

Your proclamation of the details of that crime may be true, or not, depending on the accuracy of your source; but one thing is certain: your testimony would not be accepted because you simply did not witness the event. Your witness would be thrown out as inadmissible evidence.

We never witnessed the death, burial or resurrection of Jesus Christ. We heard His Word and believed its message (Romans 10:17). Although we cannot bear witness to the resurrection, we can proclaim it. We are teachers of this wonderful truth and all that it means.

We can give witness and testimony to God’s wonderful work of salvation in our own lives, but we can never fulfill the “Great Commission’s” duty of being “witnesses chosen before of God.”

(To be continued …)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Daily Email Goodies
© 1989, 2010


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