The Church has become extremely Pauline these days, and yet, in doing so, has become the anti-pauline church. Admittedly, I for a while, saw dissonance between Paul’s message, and the teachings of Christ. I still do. But only because it is there, and people try to give exactly the same weight to both of them, without any understanding of covenants, time periods, dispensations, etc..
Our Orthodox and Catholic brothers are still, often times, dining on a leftover form of Judaism, and even refer to the Old Testament to show why they use the robes, and the descriptions of how they are to be made and look.. Then they go to church tradition, as the way it’s always been done. They cite the apostles for giving this to them. I admit, the apostles did play a part in this. It was the system they knew and understood, and thought that they were to use. Also of note, they drew straws to replace Judas, with Mathias. Never heard of that fellow again. I’m not trying to discredit the works of the initial 11 apostles. God gave them a high order and showed them what to do, but they STILL were able to get things wrong. Peter and Simon the Sorcerer is a prime example of this. Simon didn’t know what else to do, so he tried to buy the Holy Spirit with the full intent of giving Holy Spirit away through the laying on of hands. It says so, right there in the text. He offered them gold, saying: Give me also this gift, that I too may lay hands on others that they may receive it.
Peter? He screwed up here. “you think you can buy this? You have neither part nor lot in this matter, cause your heart isn’t right! Pray that God doesn’t curse you for this!” Ohhhh… Peter, Peter, Peter… You still had no idea of the character of your Father.. You were still too much an orphan.. I get where you’re coming from, but Simon didn’t know any better.. And altogether, too often, when a man of God acts in that manner, it sends people back to the occult. I wish I knew what became of Simon. One day I might be given that knowledge. That’d be nice eh guys?
But all this is to be expected when you try to bring Religion into this. The church was too Judaic. Trying to follow Jesus teachings to the letter. Many received the Holy Spirit and were given grace to help them in their understanding of what the apostles taught. Many performed Miracles and they fell into the same trap that happens today: Well! God gave me a sign to show others and that validated what I preached! Well then guess we all better go be Mormon. Or Catholic. Or Orthodox. Or Desert Monks. Or Baptists. Or Anabaptists. Or Presbyterian. Or Methodist… All of these and more have had Holy Spirit give them signs and wonders at one point or another. Some continuously.
But on the road to Damascus, Saul got knocked on his arse, off his Donkey, and came face to face with the risen Christ. For all practical purposes, God hired this man, this terrorist and murderer, tormentor of Christians, persecutor of Christ Himself, per Christ, to rescue the teachings from the hands of Judaism. Christ personally taught Paul. Personally showed him what to say, how to say it, and gave him a deep understanding of Grace. So deep, that it transcended words, transcended human knowledge, and makes people deathly afraid of it. Paul did his absolute best to relay it to us all. 1900 years later, we still can’t stomach it. We the church still don’t understand it, and don’t get it Martin Luther got a glimpse of it. It set off the Reformation. Theologian Thomas Torrance did a remarkable work diving into the depths of what Grace is. Going back so far as to see what it was in reference to in the pre-christ religions. The people who do get it, understand it, and preach it, are ALWAYS, without fail, like the apostle Paul, accused of giving a license to sin. Somehow, in the twisted logic of humankind, if you have grace and rely upon grace, many have decided that you must be looking for an excuse to fornicate or commit adultery and get away with it. Don’t get me wrong. Many with a barely basic understanding, and a huge fundamental misunderstanding have preached grace, and then lived however they want. But not a single grace loving teacher has EVER said that it was a way to get away with sin. That’s a lie and a false accusation used by Satan to get people to continue using the Law to balance Grace out, or to at least moderate it. When Peter so much as went to sit down with the Judaizers, who were working to get people to get snipped at the tip, Paul smacked him down and told him that he wasn’t living in accordance with the gospel. Then he got bold. Paul made the statement that one day, all people, would be judged in accordance to the gospel he preached. The gospel of Grace.
So what did Paul preach? What does the Bible tell us about his teachings by the records of the epistles? You died with Christ. You were crucified with Him. You’re no longer a sinner because you died to the law. You were buried with him, and then on the third day, your mortal body was quickened to life by the Spirit of life. You’re no longer a sinner.
So simple. Yet, so unbelievable, eh? The moment you read that last paragraph, you started to get a check in your spirit, didn’t you? You can write it out to one of the local ministries if you like. Nonetheless it is entirely true and biblical. It is completely there in scriptures. In every single one of the letters of Paul. Peter said that these are the words of God, better listen to Paul on this.
~The Christian Mystic