(continued - 5)

by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXV

October, 1945

Number 3

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

It is hard for the average saint to see that the period covered by the Acts, was one when nothing was settled, except in the mind of God.  Not only were the saints in a state of uncertainty, but even Christ Himself, Who had said, while on earth, that He did not know the hour or day of His future advent, Matthew 24:36, was STANDING, (not sitting), at the right hand of God, as if ready to come back to earth, Acts 7:55.  This is in contrast to the fact that, after God's plan became evident, He was "SEATED at the right hand of the Majesty in the heights," Hebrews 1:3.  It is significant that the Lord had said, just before His ascension, that the times or eras were in the FATHER'S jurisdiction, Acts 1:7.  This not only leaves out the apostles, but the Lord, Himself.  

Peter, who, on the day of Pentecost, said the great demonstration of that day was "that which has been declared through the prophet Joel."  Acts 2:16, could not know that many hundreds of years would pass before the prophecy would be fulfilled in its entirety.  Three thousand were added to the ecclesia on Pentecost, and other thousands later.  It really looked like the kingdom was proceeding apace, and would soon be n full function.  But when Israel. responded to God's mercy by stoning Stephen, the movement began its downhill journey.  

In preparation for the time the nations would be blessed in spite of Israel's failure, God called Saul, when he was outside the land of Israel.  However, His purpose was concealed, and the ecclesia noted the "conversion" of its arch enemy, mainly by the fact that persecution practically ceased.  Saul was taken away into Arabia, Galatians 1:17, but this fact is not noted in the Acts.  The calling of this foremost of sinners is given in detail in that account, because it is a picture of the future advent of Christ to Israel.  But the sojourn in Arabia is in accord with present grace, (for Saul must learn something which the apostles of Israel could not teach him,) and this seems to be the reason why it is omitted from the Acts account.  It should be evident that if Paul was to herald the message that was being heralded by the twelve, this "theological course" in the desert would have been unnecessary. 

The Lord now does another thing which is "out of line" with Jewish tradition.  He sends Peter to Caesarea to herald the evangel to a man of the nations, Cornelius, a so-called Gentile, Acts 10.  This was not followed up.  Peter was not the apostle to the nations.  His one experience was necessary, in order that he might be able to help Paul at the Jerusalem conference, Acts. 15.  Peter's later contact with people of the nations does not reflect any credit to him, Galatians 2:11, 12.  

During the Acts period the powers of the kingdom were present.  The dead were roused, the sick wer healed, and offenders were executed, as this will be done in the coming eon.  

Finally, James, who was not an apostle, pushed Peter and the others aside, and usurped the place as head of the ecclesia.  This was distinctly a downward step.  From that time forward, the kingdom was "dying," until its demise was accomplished at the close of the Acts. In other words, the Jewish ecclesia "went down until it hit the bottom."  

It is interesting to study the career of Barnabas, in connection with that of Paul.  Barnabas was a Levite, and expected the kingdom to be established in his day, as is evidenced by the fact that he sold a field and placed the money in the common fund, Acts 4:36, 37.  He was the one who introduced Saul to the disciples, 9:27.  He was sent by the Jerusalem ecclesia, as a delegate to Antioch.  When he saw evidence of the work of grace in that city he went to Tarsus and found Saul, and brought him to Antioch, 11:22-26.  Later the two were sent from Antioch to Jerusalem with help for the poor saints, verse 30.  They later returned to Antioch, 12:25.  

The Lord, through the holt spirit, told the ecclesia in Antioch to sever from the others, Barnabas and Saul, "for the work to which I have called them," 13:1-3.  Accordingly they were sent away by the ecclesia.  They had been called to a special ministry.  It soon developed that people of the nations would hear and believe, while those of the Jewish nation, for the nest part, would not.  In the first recorded meeting, Sergius Paul believed and Gar-Jesus was blinded.  The position of the former marks him as one who was of the nations, while the name of the other distinguishes him as a Jew.  In this "encounter" Paul was the only speaker.  It was here that the apostle's name was changed to Paul, meaning Interval.  What was done in this case seems to have been prophetic.  

John Mark, cousin of Barnabas, who was with them turned back.  In Antioch, Pidisia, Paul was again the speaker.  Here he mentioned justification, and showed it to be a departure from the Circumcision evangel.  He said, "Through this One is being announced to you the pardon of sins, and from all from which you could not be justified in the law of Moses, in this One everyone who is believing is being justified," 13:38, 39.  Pardon is Circumcision gospel.  It was being announced, and then Paul went beyond that, and promised justification.  Paul and Barnabas both spoke afterwards.  But the Jews objected to the evangel, and both speakers announced that they were turning to the nations.  As many of them as were set for eonian life believed.  

Space will not permit tracing the journey all the way, but in Acts 14:26 we find them back in Antioch.  Soon thereafter they go to Jerusalem to have the question of circumcision settled.  James, head of the ecclesia, decides it is not necessary for believers among the nations to be circumcised, but he places them under certain decrees, and directs Barnabas and Paul to take them to the ecclesias.  

In Jerusalem it was seen that Paul had been entrusted with the evangel of the Uncircumcision and James, Peter and John gave him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that they should go to the nations, Galatians 2:6-10.  Notice, Paul does not say that Barnabas, too, had been entrusted with the evangel of the Uncircumcision.  The purpose 9of their special mission was now understood.  Both were for the nations, but only Paul had the evangel that was needed.  It seems that Barnabas is a type of those who will go to the nations during the "millennium."  Then the nations will be brought under the leadership of Israel.  Now, Paul is to evangelize the nations with a view to building up an ecclesia that will uphold the doctrine of pure grace, while Israel is calloused.  While the present ecclesia evidently began at Antioch, Acts 13:1 yet Paul did not begin to teach its distinctive doctrine by epistle, until after Barnabas was no longer actively with him.. Barnabas does not go with Paul on his second journey.  Yet Paul continues to recognize the pre-eminence of the Jewish ecclesia, by giving out the decrees from James.  

It was during Paul's second journey that he wrote his earliest epistles.  The last ones were written during his imprisonment in Rome.  Not until then did the ecclesia emerge from under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem ecclesia.  Israel is set aside, and those Jews in the body of Christ are reconciled to those of the nations, and the ecclesia becomes a joint body, Ephesians 2 and 3. 

(To Be Continued)

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