"Whatever the devil cannot be or do as it relates to God in Jesus Christ, he will either counterfeit or wipe out." Gary Flannigan, 111: The Media War (2008) at 131.

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Tough Questions

Sometimes I am given a hard question to answer. It provokes new ideas. I enjoy a change in perspective, so please send me emails with a new angle on an issue that interests you.

Here is an example of DR's email question of October 2009 and my response:

Hi DR:

You ask a question I never considered: "What is it about Paul's writing you are doing that he says Christians should not do?"

So you ask what do I do that contravenes a command of Paul upon Christians. I never address this issue in that way in any of my books, but I will try in light of the interesting way you put the question.

Background Differences: I am obeying Jesus' command that He is our sole teacher, and we should not call anyone else a teacher. Matt. 23:8-11. Thus, I look to the verifiable 12 apostles to hear quotes of Jesus, i.e., Matthew, John, etc., as Jesus commanded in Matt.10:14-15, but not to permit them to be called a teacher, for that honor solely belongs to Jesus, as Jesus sternly commanded. By contrast, Paul said he "learned nothing from them" i.e., the 12 apostles. (Gal. 2:7). This explains why not a single quote of Jesus appears in Paul's letters although written in Paul's 17th year as a Christian!

(The only exception is that Paul in 1 Corinthians does have the communion quote from Jesus. However, that is likely because it was liturgy that he learned third hand, and not from the apostles. Even so, one such quote alone proves a lack of familiarity with Jesus' teachings.)

At the same time, Paul warns that if anyone comes with a different gospel than Paul himself that such a person should be cursed, even if this 'other gospel' came from an angel of heaven. (Gal. 1:8-9.) This clearly raises Paul's teachings up to an equality to Jesus. In context, most scholars agree that Paul meant to prohibit a salvation doctrine from the 12' apostles if it conflicts with Paul.

Specific Answer #1

Thus, I give Jesus an exclusive honor as Teacher which Paul implicitly says Christians should not do, and instead should treat Paul as a teacher worthy of equal credence to Jesus.

Specific Answer #2.

Also, I am listening to the 12 apostles when they convey Jesus' words on how to be saved, even if Jesus clearly contradicts Paul. Jesus certainly does so when Jesus teaches repentance and good works are vital to salvation, e.g.,"a believer in me" who is ensnared can go to "heaven maimed" or "hell whole" (Mark 9:42-47); "every tree without good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire" (Matt.7:19), etc. See my book Jesus Words on Salvation for 26 chapters of proof.

However, Paul essentially tells us that Christians should not listen to the 12 if they come with a different gospel than Paul's faith-alone teaching, such as appears in Eph. 2:8-9 and Romans 4:3-5. This is why Paul boasts he learned nothing from them (i.e., the 12 apostles/pillars of the Jerusalem church). (Gal. 2:7). 

Hence, Paul in essence says Christians should not exclusively listen to Jesus, but should also listen to Paul's teachings and gospel ("my gospel")(Gal.1:8-9), contrary to Jesus' words that He was the "Sole Teacher." (Matt. 23:23.) And Paul implicitly says Christians should not listen to the 12 if they convey a doctrine of Jesus that contradicts Paul's salvation doctrine (Gal. 1:8-9; 2:7), when Jesus instead tells us to listen to the 12 (Matt:10:14-15, obviously when they convey the Teacher's words, and do not violate the 'sole teacher' position of Jesus.)

Analysis Of What This Tells Us About Paul

Jesus said he was the Sole Teacher. What Paul is doing is focusing on something or someone else for a source of teachings. What or who is this?

We can prove what he is doing by seeing what Paul ignores or rejects.

First, Paul ignores the words of Jesus which he never quotes except the supper account. Second, Paul rejects the Words of the Law  but which Jesus accepts in Matt. 5:17-29). (I believe the Law applicable to Gentiles is only those commands that mention foreigners/sojourners of Israel, which is why James concluded Lev. 13's command on circumcision did not apply to Gentiles. The Law is very narrow in applicability to Gentiles by its own terms, so it is not burdensome.) Third and finally, Paul rejects the 12's words as he says he "learned nothing from them." (Gal. 2:7).

When Paul ignores Jesus's actual words, rejects the Law (which Jesus endorses) and rejects the 12 (whom Jesus told us to listen to--as they conveyed His commands in obedience to the Great Commission), then who or what is Paul following?

The answer is obvious: himself.

What is the result? Many believe Paul speaks to us alone, and Jesus' words no longer appply. Jesus' words were supposedly for the era of Law. I detail this in my book, JWO. Those who try to rebut my book actually endorse this tragic denial of our Lord's right to exclusive glory as our Teacher. For example, a writer with the name "Bible Books" criticizes Jesus Words Only at google.books saying as follows:

 

Paul's gospel is the only gospel that saves today.

Which leads to:

Specific Answer #3

I am following Jesus and Jesus' gospel of salvation but Paul teaches that a Christian cannot do so if that gospel message contravenes Paul's gospel.

I trust this answered your question. I never put it before in these terms, but I thank you for provoking the analysis.

What is your opinion?

Doug