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Life of Paul Part 8 - The Gentiles join the Church

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
January 27, 2020 6:00 am

Life of Paul Part 8 - The Gentiles join the Church

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Jewish people, Gentile people relationship between the two have been bumping for thousands of years and we're going to talk about that today because it lies at the heart of what what we want to look at next in our study the life of the great man. The apostle Paul that is were going to look at the relationship of Jewish people and Gentile people not in society at large, but in this new forming entity in the first century.

In the days of Paul called the church and so I want you to take a Bible today.

If you brought one, and let's open it together to ask chapter 10. Ask chapter 10 and as you're turning. Let me give you just a little bit of background, because were going to talk about what happened 2000 years ago and then were to talk a little bit about how that applies to our life and skews me here in the 21st century. Remember what at our last message we saw that in acts chapter 11 there grew up in the city of Antioch, an entirely new kind of church, a church in which Jewish believers and Gentile believers mixed together as brothers and sisters in the Lord. Now this was unheard of. As it never happened before. This was scandalous in these days Jewish believers share the message of Jesus the Messiah with Jewish people only. That's the way it was.

But God steps in and begins to restructure all of this and we're going to see that happen today in order in order to understand this restructuring we need to ask and answer three very important questions.

Here's the first one, number one counted in the days of the early church how to Jewish people feel about Gentile people.

What we get an insight into that from Matthew chapter 15, where Jesus is having a conversation with a a lady who was clearly a Gentiles come to him and asked for help. Here's what goes on cheese. He says to her, it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs, referring to her course and she said yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters table. Now Jesus went on a course to help her, but the point is in his reference he tips us off as to how things were between Jewish people and Gentile people in that day. The truth is the Jewish people of that time referred to Gentiles as dogs not generally when you call somebody a dog. It's not a compliment. I think we all understand and so this was not a complementary term nor a very complementary relationship, how to Jewish people feel about Gentiles at the time of the early church will not real good which is why the early followers of Christ to all Jewish is why they didn't share the good news of Jesus with any Gentile soon allowing if I understand you correctly when you're saying here is that these early Christians were racist.

What you're saying is they were pagans. They deliberately discriminated against us Gentile will that's basically correct.

I mean, their attitude was God did make Gentiles to go to heaven or have eternal life. God may Gentiles because somebody has to pay retail sale and that's what you all doing here now. Now if you're if you're here and you've never trusted Christ as your real and personal Savior and might come as a huge shock for you to hear us admit that the early Christians were bigots that they were racist and of course, God does not endorse racism never have of any kind but admitting this about the early Christians friends doesn't mess our theology up and I'll tell you why, because in inviting people to become part of what we call Christianity. We're not inviting people to join a community of perfect people.

We were perfect people before we came to Christ, which is why we need a Savior and we don't become perfect people. After we come to Christ.

I've heard so many people say the reason I'm not interested in learning more about Jesus is. I knew a Christian wants and they did this or I knew a person going to church once and they did that and you know what, I'm sure they're absolutely right that person probably did everything they said they did but that's not the issue we're inviting people to come into relationship with a perfect Savior who can change your life and so be careful. Please don't have your eye on the wrong thing. We admit were not perfect.

We admit that as hard as we try we let down the standard that the Lord would like us to live up to. But that doesn't affect the fact that Jesus is the perfect Savior and can transform your life.

Think about what we've already said this kind of bigotry is obviously wrong, obviously were not were God's heart is so God had to sit out and reeducate these early Jewish Christians, which is our second question, how did he do it. How did he reeducate the early church on this topic will hear and ask chapter 10 where I ask you to turn, we see the answer of the chapter begins by telling us about a fellow named Cornelius. Cornelius was a Roman military officer, a centurion he was a member of the Gentile occupation forces of Israel and therefore not very popular but he was a God-fearing man and an angel appeared to him and said I want you to go find Peter since the people to find Peter and bring them back here.

He's got a very important message with good news to share with relatively couple story. Chapter 10 verse nine and about noon the following day as they were on their journey in approaching the city of Joppa.

Peter went up on the roof to pray and he became hungry and wanted something to eat. So while the meal was being prepared. He fell into a trance and he saw heaven opened, and something like a large sheet a large tablecloth being let down to earth by its four corners and on the tablecloth were all kinds of four-footed animals as well as reptiles of the earth, and birds of the air know what was the problem with all of the stuff on this tablecloth what the problem is, it was all not kosher. It was all unclean to eat and a voice came from heaven. Instead, Peter get up killing me and Peter said are you kidding, I've never eaten anything unclean or in your I'm not doing the voice from heaven said do not call anything impure that God has pronounced clean three times this happened in the tablecloth went back to heaven while Peter verse 19 was still trying to figure out what this all meant. The three men who Cornelius is sent showed up at the door. In the spirit of God said I want you to go down there go with these three men I sent them so don't hesitate to go with their invite you to meet with a bunch of Gentiles go ahead and go will Peter goes ends up in his room with Cornelius Roman military officer and all want to Gentiles and here's what he says. Verse 28. He said you know that it is against our law for Jews to associate with Gentiles like I'm doing right is even against our law for us to visit somebody like you, Cornelius God is shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean word of God, showing that 40 Peter learned that when he learned it from the tablecloth right that's where he learned and so Peter said when I when you sent for me even though I knew I was coming a bunch of Gentiles. I came anyway what you want.

Well, I'll summarize. Cornelius said a we we don't know we were sent to get you and told you had good news for Peter started telling about Jesus. Cornelius gives his life to Christ. His family gives life to Christ whole bunch of Gentiles are given life to Christ. Cornelius was a very first Gentile to ever give his life to Jesus. It was wonderful as gray house not over yet. Chapter 11 verse one then the apostles and the other Jewish brothers in Jerusalem and Judea heard that the Gentiles had received the word of God. So when Peter went back to Jerusalem to Jewish believers criticized him and said you when into the house of a bunch of Gentiles and you hate with him.

Have you lost your mind. What is wrong with you. So Peter began and explained to everything that it happen with to the whole thing. I Cornelius had come to Christ in the tablecloth and everything in the ends by saying verse 17 so if God gave them the same gift as he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think I could oppose God. And when they heard this, they had no further objections and they praise God, and said, well then God has granted even Gentiles repentance for life. Well, one that big of them that they admit it even you guys get a chance in heaven like the rest of these Jewish people to.

That's how God reeducated the early church. What was the result of all this on third and final question what was the outcome of all of this will. The outcome was that God then chose the apostle Paul his life were studying to be the promoter of this new brand of Christianity, where Jewish people and Gentile people. Both of them believe in Jesus mixed together in one and the same church family. He became what what is he often called himself the apostle to the Gentiles. Taking this message. Even though he was Jewish to Gentiles and saying you guys now come in and be equal members in this as we Jewish people.

Romans chapter 10 verse 12 for there is no difference between two and Gentile the same Lord is Lord of all, Paul writes, and richly blesses all who call on him. This was radical. This was unprecedented. Nobody but had ever believed this before in the Jewish world. This was a radical new truth.

In fact, the apostle Paul wrote an entire letter around this truth we call today the letter to the church of Ephesus, the book of Ephesians is all about. This is what he says. Ephesians 2 verse 11. He says therefore you Gentiles. Remember that you were formally used for Gentiles by birth, you were excluded from citizenship in Israel you were foreigners to the covenants of promise and you were without hope and without God in the world. Verse 13 but now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ, for he, Jesus is our peace, and he has made the two groups Jews and Gentiles one and has destroyed the dividing wall between us. Verse 19. Consequently, Paul writes you Gentiles are no longer foreigners and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with God's people, and fellow members of God's household.

This is what Paul went around promoting and the result of this is Gentiles came to Christ. Now, by the boatload shipload Gentiles started coming to Christ, so much so that in 30 years.

They took over the church. I mean, in acts chapter 10. Think about it when when when the tablecloth came down from heaven, there wasn't one single Gentile and old church. 30 years later you have to search high and low to find one single Jewish believer in the whole church in 30 years. Not only did you guys join the church. You guys took over the church and it's been that way for the last 900 year that's as far as we want to go in our in our passage for today because we got a question that I know you're dying so here we go you're anybody ready 123. That's right Alonso what a thank you for the history lesson was wonderful always wanted to know how we took over the church.

So thank you for telling us is great. Go great to know but what difference does it make to my line well and see if we can help you understand and I told you many times that I was born and raised Jewish, and when I came to Christ in 1971, is a senior at the University North Carolina Chapel Hill. I really believe I was the only Jewish person in the whole world to believe in Jesus as matter-of-fact when I read the Bible. I really believed it was like Peter, James, John, Paul, Bert, 1900 years, Bert, me, I really believe that. Well I didn't know. I mean I've never heard of a single person ever believing in Jesus. I never met anybody who said they were Jewish and believed in Jesus and the truth is a 1971 there. I wasn't the only person in the world. It was Jewish and believe in Jesus, but there were very many and I'll tell you why there's a reason why Romans chapter 11 verse 25 Paul writes and says I do not want you to be uninformed you Gentile brothers so that you become conceited, here's what I want you to know that Israel, the Jewish people have experienced a partial hardening. I'm going to finish the verse lets out there for just a second.

What is Paul saying here what is this hardening while the Greek word that it is translated hardening. Here is the same word from which we get our English word callous that there's been a callous put on the Jewish people, a spiritual callous with the knee while in the Bible. Ephesians chapter 4 verse 18 tells us that every single human being is born into our world with a sinful nature, like we all are.

We all come into the world spiritually blind and the spirit of God has to break through this spiritual blindness in order for us to make a decision for Jesus Christ, but with this verse is telling us Romans 11 is that in addition to this spiritual blindness that everyone of us has the Jewish people have a second layer of callous things spiritually like a double whammy if you will, between them in making a decision for Christ and the reason this is on the Jewish people is as a judgment from God for them, rejecting their Messiah. This is why it's so hard and why so few Jewish people have come to Christ. They just don't have to overcome normal blindness in every human being has a have the second double whammy on them.

Let's finish the verse. A partial hardening has happened Israel. Paul says unto now. There's your keyword because the word until tells us that this spiritual callous that is been put on the Jewish people is only temporary.

One day it's coming all now the Bible does say it's a partial callous if it were 100% callous no Jewish person would've come to Christ in the last 1900 years been a few Jewish people. So it's been only a partial callous but it's been partial enough, there have been very many.

One day, that callous is coming off when his that's going to be finished. The verse partial hardening is happened Israel until look at this fullness of the Gentiles has been completed and this phrase the fullness of the Gentiles or the times of the Gentiles is a phrase that the Bible uses to describe the end of our age and the return of Jesus. So let's summarize what is this first each. It's teaching that is the end of this age, approaches as the return of Jesus draws near, God is going to lift this callous it is A number of Jewish people coming to Christ down to a very small number is going to lift that and we should expect to see as the number as the return of Christ draws near, we should expect therefore to see a surge in the number of Jewish people coming to Christ, the likes of which has never been seen in the last 1900 years of the church is his.

We should expect to see cosmic events, we should expect to see revival breakout among the Jewish people, we should expect to see Jewish people giving their lives to Christ at an unprecedented rate. Okay, it's a sign of the return of Christ. Now what's going on today. 2001 and I got all these figures from Jews for Jesus and they ought to know, all right today and I world the best estimate we have is that there are somewhere between 75 and 100,000 Jewish people who believe Jesus is the Messiah. In fact, is between four and 5000 native born Israelis sombreros living in Israel who believe Jesus is the Messiah over 35 congregations and meet their weekly in Israel were Jesus is worship as the Messiah friends. What this means is that there are more Jewish believers alive and well today on planet Earth. There are more Jewish believers today living in the land of Israel than there has ever been at any time since the days were Peter and James and John and Paul walked on the face of the earth. This is what I want you to understand staggering staggering thing that's happening today.

I mean, in 1971. I thought I was the only Jewish believer on the face of the earth today. Everywhere I go I mean Jewish people who believe in Jesus. In fact this week I was down at a framing shop in Alexandria. I had a baby picture obligate frame for the guy owns the shop as a follower of Christ and the phone rang while I was standing there. He went out and answer the phone and came back. He said a lot to the guy on the phone is a friend of mine is a Jewish believer. He lives in Kansas City. He's heard about on the radio you want to say hi to you told him you were here, not friends.

I got. I didn't even know there were already choosing. If you're Jewish 2111 Kansas for know that the money enhances anyway this guy in the heartland of America is a Jewish believer want to talk to me on the telephone. As a matter fact in our church. They regularly Bible Church we have somewhere between 50 and 75 Jewish believers and attend regularly. This church you know when I came to Washington in 1971 there were 75 Jewish believers in the entire city of Washington, and we got that many one church. 30 years later staggering with happened and to help you get a handle on this.

I want to quote from a paper that I had the privilege to hear Dr. Daniel Fuchs read Dr. Daniel Fuchs about eight years ago was then, the past president of the American Board of missions to the Jews and I was at a Lucerne consultation for Jewish evangelism meeting. We were all sitting around the selector table about 20 of us in the room. I was it about the from this wonderful man of God, and I heard he read this paper and I think this will give you a sense of proportion as you hear him talk about this very issue. Listen, I'm quoting. He said when I began with the American Board of missions to the Jews in my 37 okay I believe Dr. Fuchs speaking that I knew every Jewish Christian in the United States and Canada is a staggering statement. I mean how many Jewish believers could there be at this man knew every single one in America and Canada.

He said there were so few of us, the Jewish leaders mostly ignored us, scorned us and then he went on to tell how he and his family did without. How they sacrifice to serve the cause of Jewish evangelism. How literally they ate hot dogs and beans how they have one change of clothes they wore simply wants to sit. They wore that that they watch the other said how they lived in New York City and went out on the streets and got spit on indeed often abused and cursed out and how they prayed and prayed writing to see revival breakout among the Jewish people and he said the authorities went by the 40s went by the 50s went by the 60s went by nothing and then quoting from him again. Then in the late 60s and early 70s. He said there came a marvelous movement of the Holy Spirit among the Jewish people in 1972, one Jewish missionary was quoted in Time magazine as saying he had seen more Jewish people come to Christ in the last nine months than he had seen in the previous 23 year what a difference it is today. Dr. Fuchs everywhere I go, Jewish Christians, the rabbis no longer ignore save organize a committee of Colton missionaries applied us to attend our meeting read everything we publish sales seminars on how to answer the missionaries more Jewish people are being one to the Lord Jesus Christ today. He said that it any time.

The days of the apostle and I wish I could say this is because of Jewish mission is. I wish I could say this because of the church doesn't what we are seeing today, he said, is an act of God's spirit and we have only started to see what God plans to do with the Jewish people. Many stop 6 feet from this aged warrior.

God, and he lifted up his head and under his glasses. He had tears running down his unbelievably moving and he looked around and he said that I'm 76 years old. I have been in Jewish missionary work for over 50 years. He said I wondered if I would ever see you but now I can lay down and close my eyes with joy. Dr. Daniel Fuchs died two weeks to the day from giving a seminar get an unexpected heart attack in two weeks to the day after he gave it he went to be with the Lord today was on the greatest experiences of my life sitting here listening to this man. Tell about what happened and I had tears rolling down my face and I felt like God was saying to me long.

Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things that you see son, and they didn't get to see him but blessed are your eyes because you get to see things that the church is only dreamed about the church is only prayed about the church is only fantasize about revival among the Jewish people you get to see it print your get to see it. Things at the church is only been able to talk about. It's never been a reality you're seeing it happen today. This is a cosmic event is not an accident is not a coincidence. This is a cosmic event and friends. God doesn't waste cosmic event.

This is meant to tell us something that the return of Jesus Christ really is very close so I can give you day or time or in our but I can tell you when you see something like this happen, then you better buckle your seatbelt because it's not far away and I'm reminded of the words of Jesus.

Luke 21 verse 28. When you see these things begin to take place. Lift up your heads. Jesus said, because your redemption is drawing near. Jesus said when you see these things happening, man get some new hope in your life that some new resiliency in you step get some new stamina to face your everyday problems because my return is right around the corner. As a follower of Jesus Christ. If you're here today live in the 21st century you got problems. Hey guess what join the rest of her friends were leaving here soon.

God wants us to put our eyes on the tomb return of Christ.

You got pain. It's okay leaving here soon you got heart ache is okay leaving here soon. You got sickness in trouble. Leaving here soon. You walk into work tomorrow. Your boss walks up and starts yelling at you just look at him and go I'm leaving here soon.

Try that. You might want to say it under your breath, but it'll make you feel good, just as I was out to brunch with a guy this week was talking to me about how unfair the world of been the him and how unfairly he'd been treated in.

I said hey hey well hello salsa you got your eyes on all the wrong thing. Man, the one you having a problem if God is God settled up every account on this front end side of the return of Jesus you like this to be a very unfair world that's not what the Bible says. The Bible says that God's going to settle all those accounts when Jesus comes back, he's got a settle on so you need to get your eyes off of how unfair you been treated, you need to get your eyes on the return of Jesus could not tell you something I've learned in 30 years of being a Christian when my eyes are all my problems and how unfair things are. I'm depressed when my eyes are on the return of Christ. And now he's going to make things right and justly and righteously and equitably make sure everything gets settled. I'm fine I can deal with anything I can take anything. I love what Paul wrote in second Thessalonians chapter 1 he said God is just, and he will repay trouble to those who trouble you and he will give relief to those who been unfairly treated. He, God will render to every person according to their deeds. And there is no partiality or favoritism with God wins is all going to happen. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his powerful angels and so friends you know what if I got my eyes on the return of Christ, and he's going to make things right.

You know I just kick the can down the road little bit. I just that's right.

Do do do whatever you want. I just can't write down the road because when Jesus comes back almost hands are coming home group. I'm okay with that. Do whatever you want. I'm just kick and cancel Jesus, and a little straight. Melissa you know there's tremendous strength and resiliency in believing that is true and you get not your eyes off your problems off the way people treat you on to the soon return of Christ with everything's going to be settled. So I leave you today with the words of the apostle James is what he said in closing James five verse seven he said, be patient until the Lord's coming. You've heard of Job's perseverance what the Lord finally brought about the him how the Lord vindicated him and settled everything up for him. Okay so you Jameson you be patient and stand firm to waiver for the coming of the Lord is near and I'm hoping that you walk out of here today my friend having been inspired to new resilience been inspired to new stamina to new strength in your walk with God because your eyes are all for your problem and onto Jesus's return when all this stuff will be made by God change our lives because we learned from his word today with four Jesus you know there's not a one of us here who don't have problem. Lord I thank you for talking to us today about your strategy for how we can face our problems each and every day how we can face our struggles and our heartaches each and every day and not lose heart and not get depressed and not lose hope board, it's all about focus. It's all about being focused on the return of Christ and his promise to make all things right and as we seen today that return is much closer. I think in many of us would even dare thing we see the Jewish people.

The timeclock of God almost picking up to midnight so Lord encourages today. Help us to lift up our head infuse new stamina new strength new resilience into our life as we focus not on our problem, not on how people treat. But as we focus on the soon return of Jesus, help us fight Jameson patient and stand firm until you come back to make things right. We pray these things in Jesus name God's people said Amen

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