Popularity Is No Test Of Truth
The title is a quote by Sir Robert Anderson, but this statement has been thus said in many different ways and by many different men using many different words. Do you really believe it? I have my doubts.
Ac 15:1 ¶ And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
Here we have the account of when men from the church in Jerusalem taught the Apostle Paul’s converts a DIFFERENT gospel than Paul was teaching. Did Paul teach circumcision? Of course, he did. Let’s look at the circumcision Paul taught.
Col 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Paul’s circumcision was one of the heart and not in the flesh. Just like water baptism, Paul had no use for the so called “ordinances” your church most likely practices. Paul taught only Spirit baptism was required and Paul taught a spiritual circumcision. Notice the outcome of this argument. "They" decided the matter should be taken to the “Apostles” and “Elders” in Jerusalem. Notice the plea for popularity? Notice also NEITHER side would back down from the argument? Paul would not back down and neither would the men from Jesus and Peter’s church in Jerusalem. Isn’t this the case in Christianity today? Everyone in your circle is right and everyone else must be wrong. Both sides throwing Bible verses back and forth. So, what happens? You might not know because you have probably never been taught this or at least been taught it correctly. Notice Paul goes to Jerusalem not because they said so, he went by “revelation.” (Gal 2:2)
Ga 2:1 ¶ Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
Paul went because Jesus told him too, not because he needed to win the argument. Notice also what he did there. He taught them the gospel he was preaching! Why in the world would he need to teach Peter the gospel he was preaching? Because it was different than the gospel Peter knew. The reason you struggle to understand the Bible is NOT because you need more education. You need to decide to BELIEVE what the Bible actually teaches. WE needed Paul to explain this so we can properly interpret the Bible today. There’s not room in this blog to cover this all so I will condense it here. In Gal 2:4 Paul discussed people trying to pull YOU from the liberty you could have in Christ. In Gal 2:6 Paul explains “they” (The Apostles and Elders) added NOTHING to him. In Gal 2:7-9 Paul explains that Peter will continue with the “gospel of the circumcision” and Paul will continue preaching the gospel of the “uncircumcision”. (YES, two different gospels) In Gal 2:11 Paul explains how he rebuked Peter. In Gal 2:14 Paul makes it CLEAR that PETER DID NOT know the truth of the gospel. Why? Because Peter did not receive the revelation of the mystery, Paul did. Lest go back to Acts now to see how the argument between Paul and the leaders of the church in Jerusalem works out.
Ac 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
The outcome is: The Apostles and Elders IN JERUSALEM realize THEY are wrong and Paul is right. Peter declares everyone will now get saved by Paul’s gospel. Paul declares that if anyone preaches any other gospel than his (Paul’s) that they would be accursed.
Ga 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Paul can now say this because Peter has announced publicly that Paul’s gospel is now the ONLY gospel to be preached.
So how did the law keepers from Jerusalem fair when they claimed the popularity of their message was the reason they were right? The claimed the authority of the Apostles and Elders. They learned they were wrong. They learned WHY they were wrong. Because Paul’s message was a mystery that had NOT been revealed prior to Jesus revealing it to Paul.
Eph 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Friend, I understand you appeal to the size of your denomination. I understand you appeal to your education. I understand you appeal to your study. I understand you appeal to your Pastor because you think he couldn't be wrong. If Peter himself were standing here, he would caution you, if not implore you to ignore those things if they contradict PAUL’S GOSPEL. A soul is saved today not by works but buy grace through faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and ONLY Paul’s gospel teaches this! Your appeals to your tradition will be found wanting. A lifetime of ministry built upon the wrong gospel will burn up at the judgment seat. Won’t you consider YOUR Apostle?
2Ti 2:7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
8 ¶ Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
I can’t say it any better than Paul did under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. “my gospel” Paul says “my gospel” over and over to PROVE the point. I implore you to choose to believe the Bible rightly divided over EVERYTHING and EVERYONE else.
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Steve Schoenberger is a student of the Bible and the teacher at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship, A Mid-Acts Dispensational Bible church teaching the Bible rightly divided according the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul