(originally posted 7/15/2015 at littlegirlriseup.blogspot.com)
There is a disturbing teaching I have come across as of late that seeks to devalue and dismiss the teachings of the Apostle Paul. These people claim that Paul perverted the teachings of Christ and anyone who abides by his teachings is actually a follower of Paul, rather than a follower of Christ. Their claim is that Paul’s “version” of Christianity is antithetical to Christ’s. Besides this being wrong on every level of rationale and reasoning whatsoever, it would also mean that over half of our New Testament would need to be deleted from the Bible. This would include the Book of Acts, over half of which deals with how Paul became an Apostle and began ministering to the Gentiles. Also the Book of 2 Peter, which testifies to the divine inspiration and authority of Paul’s ministry. And while you’re at it, you might as well throw out 1 Peter as well, because if Peter’s judgment is questioned in regard to his second letter, then anything else attributed to him must be questioned as well. Huh, I guess Jesus should have chosen a better “rock” on which to establish His church, eh?
Anyway, that would mean that 17 of the 27 books of the New Testament would have to be thrown out. No, wait, make that 18, because the Book of Revelation would have to go too since Jesus’ letters to the churches in Chapters 1 through 3 are all churches that were either started by the Apostle Paul himself or as a direct result of his missionary work. Then that brings us into quite a quandary, because now we must question the authority and judgment of Jesus Himself, which would require us to throw out the entire Bible.
Although this notion of Paul vs. Christ has been around long before the homosexual marriage debate, it has been gaining a lot of momentum as the debate rages forward because of Paul’s clearly stated condemnation of homosexual practices. Their reasoning is that Christ said nothing specifically about homosexuality, thus if a way can be found to disregard Paul, then a way has been found to disregard his teachings. That would also include his teachings about women in church. Personally, as a woman, these particular teachings are hard to navigate and even harder to submit to in faith, even after a correct understanding is reached. But if I single out and disregard that particular teaching, then I am creating my own religion. We want to find a way around it, we want to turn a blind eye to some parts and follow the rest, but the Bible doesn’t work like that. The simple fact of the matter is, that it is a person’s pride that keeps them from submission to God’s word. We resist because since the very beginning, from the very Garden in which we were created, our desire to choose for ourselves overwhelms our desire to be led by God, especially when that requires any perceived compromise on our part.
Criticizing or judging Paul’s ministry can be likened to telling God that He made a mistake in His choice of whom to appoint as Apostle to the Gentiles. In so doing, we would also be telling God that the Christianization of the entire Western civilization since the time of the Apostles was a mistake, because His choice to use Paul as an Apostle is how that was accomplished. But God doesn’t make mistakes.
The Bible must be accepted in faith. Faith that the Bible Itself is a complete revelation, and that the revelation which has been given is inspired by the Holy Spirit, all of it. Faith that God is fully capable of making sure that What claims to be His revealed testament about Himself and His plan for humanity, has remained relatively intact throughout history.
How can a Christian believe that God created all of existence in 6 days, yet that He cannot guide men throughout history to maintain the integrity of Biblical texts? Even, in pride, if you do not believe God created everything in 6 days, yet do believe that He did, in fact, create everything, my point still stands. If He is able to create all, He is able to ensure all, including the reliability of the Book that claims to testify of Him. What a cruel joke to expect your own creation to know what you expect of them, yet not provide any reliable revelation as to what that might be. To expect them to seek you, yet not provide any trustworthy path for which to be sought. If we deem the Bible as untrustworthy, then we must necessarily deem God untrustworthy. For God to truly be a just and righteous God, the Bible MUST be trustworthy, lest He be a cruel and deceitful God Who has left us without navigation, without standard and without hope.
To believe that Paul was not an Apostle of Christ who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, you would first have to believe Christ Himself to be a liar, for He Himself stated:
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:13,14)
Jesus said that the Apostles would be inspired by the Holy Spirit:
“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (John 15:26,27)
Therefore when we put faith in Jesus’ words, that would mean that the Apostle Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit, according to Jesus’ own words. Therefore, you would also have to believe Jesus and the Apostle Peter to both be liars, for Peter stated:
“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” (2 Peter 3:15,16)
You would also have to believe Paul himself to be a liar, as he accounts the Lord’s words to him:
“…for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:16-18)
And Paul’s own words about himself:
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (1 Cor 2:12,13)
I can say without reservation, that those who would discount and disregard Paul are truly devoid of the Holy Spirit. I do not make such claims lightly. However, of this I am absolutely certain, it is only with the Holy Spirit that one can truly understand and comprehend the spiritual depth of Paul’s teaching. Paul explains this, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Cor 2:14)