Advancing the Revelation of Truth
The Fellowship of His sufferings.
Of the many sufferings of The Christ, we readily recall those physical experiences which, for the human race, brought about its salvation from sin. As The Son of God abandoned by His Father, sacrificed as sin itself, thereby bringing to life many sons.
As the human Son of Man he lived for thirty years with the ordinary every day feelings and experiences associated with his livelihood as a carpenter, or as we would better know to-day as a designer and builder of dwellings. During that time He determined to know and understand the Bible of His day, the Hebrew Scriptures. It was in the Jerusalem temple as a very young man that The Teachers were in awe of Him because of His understanding. However, when He began His ministry teaching The Truth in the synagogue at Nazareth where He was brought up, those present
were filled with wrath and rose up and thrust Him out of the city and led him to the brow of the hill upon which their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong.
When The Christ was walking in Solomon's Porch of The Temple, He told the Jews 'I and My Father are One', and 'I am The Son of God', the Jews, knowing the implication of these statements that He being a man makes Himself God, took up stones to stone Him to death for blasphemy. The Scripture says that He escaped out of their hands. This type of traumatising confrontation happened many times.
After Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, had died, the Scripture tells us that when Jesus met his sister Martha and the Jews that were with her, they were weeping. He groaned in the Spirit and was troubled. Their trauma at the death of Lazarus caused Jesus to weep. At that time, they did not recognise that He is the resurrection and The Life. Their state of mind had caused Him to weep. The Jews mistakenly thought that He was weeping at the death of Lazarus, but his death had been assured by Jesus delaying his visit by, as the Scripture says: waiting two days before setting out. After the resurrection of Lazarus, the Jews told the Pharisees what things Jesus had done who:
then took council together for to put Him to death.
Of the disciples of Jesus the one keeping the bag was also His betrayer, opened to possession by Satan. At the time of His crucifixion, the other disciples fearing for their lives, were scattered. They had not grasped the reality of Christ's teaching. Not until His resurrection did they realise exactly what was happening. even the devoted Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, for fear of the Pharisees, as the Scripture says: they all forsook Him and fled.
Many of the population of Palestine at that time were bound by the traditions established by their religious rulers, the Pharisees and Sadducees. The synagogues were the centre of their worship causing them to be of two minds in the face of the witness of the miracles performed by Jesus:
among the chief rulers many also believed on Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him lest they should be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
From these examples, and many more within the witness of the Scripture, there was a persistent resistance to the work of Jesus, despite His miracles and His words. A resistance which must have caused Him much hurt and anguish of mind. To know that He was right and doing all for the service of the nation of Israel only emphasised His isolation amongst the people. His faith in His Father held Him to the knowledge that He is The Way. It is truly written that He came unto His own and His own received Him not.
Paul, God's apostle to the nations, desired to know Christ and the fellowship of His sufferings, in order that he might fill up those afflictions, anxiety and burden of heart, for His body's sake. This 'body' or substance of Christ is the ekklEsia, the ones called and positioned out of The Lord Jesus Christ.
His desire was to continue serving His Lord even though his work of establishing the Kingdom ekklEsia, described in the book of the Acts of the apostles, was postponed in 62ad. At this time God had implemented the condemnation of Isaiah, upon The House of Judah:
Hearing you will hear and not understand; and seeing you will see and not perceive. For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
The result of this Godly action postponed the work of the Kingdom in Israel, no Jew nor member of the nations would henceforth be included in that Kingdom. At the same time God had authorised The message of Salvation for all mankind:
The Salvation of God is authorised for the nations and they will hear it.
This message was published at that time by the apostle John in what became known as his gospel:
many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life through His name.
This fundamental change in God's administration had caused Paul to perceive the need to help the many new Christians established by this gospel. He wrote to Timothy and Titus giving them revised instructions concerning the order of any new groups which would be formed by these new Christians. These instructions are not based upon the resurrections associated with membership of The Kingdom of God in Israel, but are based upon the hope at the resurrections associated with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. prior to the Millennium kingdom.
Paul returns from Philippi to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost.
The Jews associated with the churches generated during Paul's missionary journeys through Asia, did not accept this, believing that shortly The Kingdom of God in Israel would be established. As Jews they did not realise that Hearing you will hear and not understand; and seeing you will see and not perceive. Because of this, Paul reminds Timothy that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me [2Timothy 1:15].
However, with that Godly and faithful church at Philippi, this did not happen. They were deeply honourable to Paul by recognising his unique authority and mission. Paul encourages them to have the same mind as himself in discharging all those things which previously related before God, to the place and authority of Israel in order that he may win Christ. Those things which he had had at the foundation of His Spiritual life. His hope rested in The Lord Jesus Christ changing his vile body, that it might be fashioned like unto His body of glory........He counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.
Paul had suffered being disregarded by all those who thought that they understood the affairs of God better than that which was vested in him.
Paul suffered as Christ had suffered being ignored by his close friends and members of the churches. Both were motivated by the discovery and acceptance of God's purposes despite the indifference and opposition of those who should have known better. Even after The Christ had told His disciples what was about to occur at Gethsemane, they were not prepared for what happened but were scattered. Similarly, Paul's message passed by letter and by word of mouth to the churches generated during the Acts period, was disregarded, because the members of those churches wished to continue with a doctrine which God had terminated. They did not care to believe their own apostle.
The new churches organised by Timothy and Titus were free from that doctrine which depended upon the establishment of the kingdom of God in Israel. That kingdom was no longer proclaimed. Even as Christ, Paul must have felt very isolated in his obedience to God's needs. However, Paul was to go further, being given a revelation concerning a new and unique Administration of God, that of His Grace:
But now in Christ Jesus, you who were sometimes far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ....of this grace I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, assuming that you surely hear of The Administration of The Grace of God which is given to me for you. For by revelation the mystery is made known to me, even as I have written before in brief........To me, less than the least of all saints, was this grace granted: to herald among the nations the good message of the untraceable wealth of Christ, even to enlighten all as to the Administration of the mystery which has been concealed from the eons in God who creates all these. That now to the sovereignties and the authorities among the most elevated may be made known, through the outcalled the manifold wisdom of God. In accord with the purpose of the eons, which He makes in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Ephesians 3]
This began at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and The Temple. He records this prayer in his letter to the Ephesians:
That The God of Our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of glory may give unto us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. The eyes of our understanding being enlightened that we may know what is the Hope of our calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the sanctified ones. And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of that mighty power which He wrought in The Christ when He raised Him from the dead. [Eph 1:17-20]
A prayer for knowledge, understanding and wisdom concerning the hope of our calling for all those who have been, are being and will be living in the light of the Administration of God's Grace.
Sadly this revelation of Paul is ignored and disregarded by the great majority of Christians to-day. They believe that they know better by continuing to proclaim membership of The Kingdom of God in the world, a gospel which does not exist. Some even persistently seek the gifts given specifically to the Jewish churches to build up that kingdom in Israel. They would erroneously excuse themselves by saying that the kingdom has passed to the nations, ignoring the Scripture which states that this action of God is yet many years in the future, long after the second advent of Jesus Christ when God's kingdom is fully established in Israel :
And the seventh angel sounded: and there were great voices in heaven, saying The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of Our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. Revelation 11:15
Thus to-day, the many Christians who perceive and walk according to this Administration of God's Grace, not following the doctrine of the kingdom, are rejected and isolated because of their obedience to God's Word. They recognise the family as the centre of God's activity [Eph 5:20 to 6:4] not any grouping called a 'church' [Eph 1:1] Their fellow Christians fail to discern The true Body of Christ which is the ekklEsia, calling them sectarians, fearing that the control over their 'church' will be compromised if they allow them to be accepted as true Christians. However, Paul has explained the true unity and its purpose:
Unto the end that we should all attain to the unity of the faith, and the realization of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the full stature of the complement of the Christ, That we may no longer be minors, surging hither and thither and being carried about by every wind of teaching, according to menís cleverness, with a view to the methodizing of the error. But, being true, in love we should be making all grow up into Him Who is the Head, even Christ, Out of Whom the entire body, being joined closely together and united together through every joint of supply, in accord with the operation of each single part, is making for the growth of the body, for the upbuilding of itself in love. Eph 4:13 to 16.
Despite their rejection and humiliation, those Christians who perceive this Administration of God's Grace and this true purpose, recognise that it is working in them.
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