THE CROWN JEWEL of PAUL’S GOSPEL

Let Paul speak for himself: ACTS 20

Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders

17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them:

“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by [1] the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

FULL Gospel in this post must be understood in the same sense as Paul’s words “The whole counsel of God” has in Holy Scripture. It does not mean what it means in that tradition which today is known by this phrase. See  FULL GOSPEL Fellowship    cma_logo

As often the case, the article in wikipedia leaves something to be desired. I was ordained in the C&MA having encountered the tradition not through any local representation of it, but through my exposure to the writings of A.W.Tozer and it’s Founder, Albert Benjamin Simpson. See my humble honoring of Dr.Simpson in Saint’s Gallery. I disagree with the identification of Simpson’s work as belonging to “the holiness” movement. I have found a number of folks down through the years that have done that, but I think they are mistaken and greatly miss the “hybrid” gift from God that he represented . Dr.Simpson did not come from the holiness camp but from the Reformed, the Scottish Covenanters. He probably fits best in what we call “the deeper life movement“(Simpson called it the Higher Christian Life) but that movement is also misunderstood by most American christians today.

I’m getting away from the CROWN JEWEL of the GOSPEL- but not really. It should be clear from the above text alone, that the Apostle Paul was deeply and emotionally involved with what he believed to be his life task given to him by the risen Christ. Fulfilling that task was a matter of being “innocent of the blood of all…” before Christ when he would meet Him at the Judgement. He describes that task here as faithfully delivering to others a message that had been entrusted to him. Sound familiar? That is how Jesus himself described his mission on more than one occasion :

My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work.

I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is righteous, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me.

(see the entire discussion of Jesus with the Jews who were seeking to kill him-Chapter 5, St.John’s gospel)

The CROWN JEWEL of Saint Paul’s life task and his Gospel was of course JESUS himself, or as Paul says, Our Lord, Jesus Christ. He describes the message which testifies to this Christ in various ways in this passage thus calling our attention to the completeness or the fullness of this CROWN JEWEL in the redemptive work of God on planet earth:” repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ”,  “the gospel of the grace of God”, “proclaiming the kingdom “.

For me this fulness, for example that shows up big time in the Ephesian letter (see Chapter 4), includes all that Christ is and has accomplished as God’s love gift to the ungodly and rebellious race of Adam. The CROWN JEWEL of Paul’s Gospel is nothing short of the perfect redemption we so desperately need in order to flee from the wrath to come. The four-fold Gospel Dr. Simpson saw with the eye of faith, he described as -JESUS as SAVIOR, SANCTIFIER, HEALER, and coming KING. It not only includes what God does for the sinner in the beginning, as he hears the Gospel and calls in faith on God to save him, repenting of not only his sins but of the entire life style of the sons of Adam living in rebellion, thereby repudiating the flesh and living according to the flesh; it includes also all that God begins to do in that believer both to will and to do His intended work of applying the full redemption which is in His Son, Jesus, and He will do this until the Day of Jesus Christ, the consumation of our salvation. He does all of this through His Son, the exalted King of Kings who is actively reigning TODAY.

I hope I haven’t lost anyone in the details-my apology to those reading this for example for whom english is not their mother tongue. You can see why I’m so excited about “The Year of Saint Paul” and the special opportunity this affords christians of every tradition to take another, serious look at this very special vessel of almighty God and the universal work of redemption that He launched in His Son Jesus Christ.

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