Mysteries of the Kingdom



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THE UNKNOWN GOSPEL OF SAUL

    Our worst enemy saw the light and joined our cause. We want all the world to be like Saul of Tarsus, but we do a disservice as we preach a different gospel than Jesus preached to Saul.


THE DAY SAUL HEARD

    In Galatians 1:11-12, Saul-turned-Paul said, "...the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man... but I received it through a revelation of King Jesus."* In Acts chapter nine, Luke recounted just a few details of that day, but Saul himself recounted his fateful day in far greater detail in Acts 26.
    Standing before King Agrippa, Paul said, "I saw a light from heaven that was brighter than the sun. It flashed around me and those who were traveling with me. All of us fell to the ground, and I heard a voice asking me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me? It is hurting you to keep on kicking against the cattle prods.' I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?'
      "The Lord answered, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for the very purpose of appointing you to be my servant and witness of what you have seen and of what I will show you. I will continue to rescue you from your people and from the gentiles to whom I am sending you.  You will help them understand and turn them from darkness to light and from Satan's control to God, so that their sins will be forgiven and they will receive a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'"


WHAT JESUS DID NOT SAY

    Certainly Jesus is the divine Son of God who suffered for our sins, but when Jesus preached the gospel to Saul of Tarsus, He did not teach Saul the Trinity, nor did He explain to Saul the penalty of sins or His substitute death. Jesus did not preach what we call the gospel. He refrained from explaining how "lost" and hell-bound Saul was, neither did Jesus teach Saul to trust in the gift of righteousness. Such is the gospel of many today who mean well and preach truth, but complicate the simple gospel Jesus preached.
    In none of our four New Testament gospels did Jesus explicitly proclaim what we call the gospel. Nowhere in the entire book of Acts was our version of the gospel preached. We preach truth from the epistles, but Christians today rarely preach the same, simple gospel Jesus preached in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John's biographies - the same gospel which the apostles preached throughout the book of Acts: God's kingdom has arrived; God has made Jesus the King.


THE GOSPEL TO SAUL

    First Jesus said, "'Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me? ...I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." The gospel to Saul began with Jesus identifying Himself as Lord for Jesus is the gospel.
    Second, He established His authority over Saul by saying, "But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for the very purpose of appointing you to be my servant..." The gospel of Jesus is the good news of His authority as King.
    Third, King Jesus transitioned from the gospel of Himself and His authority to the task of assigning Saul to work. He assigned Saul to give eyewitness testimony of that day's revelation. Literally, Jesus assigned Saul to "be my servant and witness of what you have seen and of what I will show you."


SAUL'S GOSPEL TO OTHERS

    When Jesus assigned Saul to a life of eyewitness testimony, He assigned Saul to help people do two things, to understand and to turn: "You will help them understand and turn them from darkness to light and from Satan's control to God." Obediently, Saul taught Jews and Gentiles to understand the authority of Jesus. Acts 9:20,22 records very soon after the gospel revelation, "He immediately started to preach about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'This is the Son of God.' ...But Saul grew more and more persuasive, and continued to confound the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this man was the Messiah."
    Jesus charged Saul with helping people understand who He is, so Saul proclaimed everywhere the essence of the gospel, "He is the Son of God." The essence of Saul's gospel was the fact that Jesus is the Messiah King, the "Christ" (acts9:22).


THE ENTRANCE TO SAUL'S GOSPEL

    Not only was Saul assigned to help people understand Jesus, but also "to turn them from darkness to light and from Satan's control to God." Alongside the gospel of the Kingdom, both Jesus and His disciples consistently preached repentance/betrayal. Jesus is King, but His kingdom is open only to those who betray their first king whom scripture calls Satan. We used to obey the king of lies, the king of sin, the "ruler of this world"(jn14:30), the "god of this world"(2co4:4), often called Satan; but we have turned from that old king, betraying him to bow instead to the King of Kings.
    Not only did Saul tell people to repent, he also helped them repent as he lived with them (1th2:8) and spoke to them with grace (cl4:6) so that the kindness of God would lead them into repentance (rom2:4) from King Satan to King Jesus.


THE GIFTS OF SAUL'S GOSPEL

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     Last of all, when Jesus told Saul the gospel of Himself and assigned him to teach it to others, Jesus told Saul the outcome of his preaching: "their sins will be forgiven and they will receive a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me." We have preached the gifts of the gospel as if the gifts were the gospel. The gospel is simply the King-ship of Jesus. To us who believe Jesus is King and have betrayed King Satan, Jesus gives many gifts, three of which He spoke to Saul:
              1) "their sins will be forgiven"
              2) "they will receive a share" (reward or inheritance)
              3) "are sanctified" (set apart and made holy)
    Note the precondition Jesus specified for receiving such gifts. He said Saul's listeners would be "sanctified by faith in me." The precondition to the King's gifts is faith that Jesus is Lord, not faith that He is Lamb. Scripture never says, "Believe Jesus is Lamb and you will have life" or "Believe Jesus died for your sins and you will be born of God." Instead, scripture clearly states:
    "...believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and so that through believing you may have life in his name." (jn20:31)
    "If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."(rom10:9)
    "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born from God..."(1jn5:1)


IN CONCLUSION

    As he stated in Galatians, Saul-turned-Paul received the gospel not from men, but by a revelation of King Jesus. The gospel Jesus preached to Saul of Tarsus is the same gospel He preached throughout the gospel books and the same gospel Peter, Philip, and Paul preached in the book of Acts: Jesus is King, and the proof of His authority is this: God has raised Him from the dead."


                                                    
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*Quoted from NASB, substituting "Jesus" for the NASB wording of "Christ."

"The Unknown Gospel of Saul" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net March 7th, 2013. All rights are reserved. Except where otherwise noted, scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2013 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission.