Now we have established what Peter and the other disciples (apostles) knew about redemption. Paul had not received the information of how to be redeemed, or how to live in redemption from them. Paul tells the Galatian believers that he had not received the gospel he preached from any man (Gal. 1:11-12). He didn’t go up to the Jerusalem church and confer with the apostles, but instead spent three years in Arabia and Damascus (Gal. 1:16-17). It is believed that during these years the full plan of redemption was revealed to him, along with the understanding of HOW to continually receive these benefits. This gospel that Paul preached was given to him directly from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Gal. 1:11). Of course, this wasn’t a different gospel than what Peter and the disciples knew. But it was a further revelation of the gospel that they knew. Paul was shown by the Lord the same gospel for initial salvation, the filling of the Holy Spirit and water baptism as the disciples had been shown. But, he was also taught the process of how to continue to receive the benefits of redemption, what the giftings of the Holy Spirit are, how they worked, and the resurrection and Believer’s glorification. All of this was revealed to the apostle Paul directly by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit (Gal. 1:11, 1 Cor. 2:9-12). He proclaimed this gospel to everyone during his ministry. Then, after his three years in Arabia and Damascus, he shared this revelation with Peter (Gal. 1:18,2:1-4; 2 Pet. 3:14-18). This information about how to live for God after being born-again, is not only needed, but is essential for redemption to continue to take place in a Believer’s heart and life. We all must take note, that a Believer will not automatically know this information. We must be taught these truths, just like Peter had been taught them by Paul.
Paul tells us that this meeting with Peter was their first. So the council in Acts 15:1-31 had to be after this first meeting between Paul and Peter. The council assembly we read of in Acts 15, was probably what Paul refered to in Galatians 2:1. If so, fourteen years had passed since Paul’s first meeting with Peter, and the debate was still raging about how Gentiles could be saved. Initial redemption by Faith and grace, instead of by fulfilling the Law was still not understood by many. And if this wasn’t understood, sanctification (continually living by Faith) certainly wasn’t! Peter declared at this council that the Jews themselves were never able to keep the Law. Therefore there is no salvation in law-keeping. The reason for this debate and council was due to the false doctrine (a wrong way of thinking) that was still in the minds of these saved Jewish Believers and Jewish Pharisees. They continued to Believe that what you do makes you righteousness. However, Peter reminds them that the task of keeping the Law is impossible. Therefore, it would not be correct to tell the Gentiles they have to keep it in order to gain justification and righteousness with God. It is opposed to grace and Faith.
I have no doubt that Paul in his first meeting with Peter, revealed to him the truth that is found in Rom. 3:19-22. Peter had been shown that the Law wasn’t given so the Jews, or anyone, could be right or stay right with God by trying to obey it. Sure, it was given for mankind to try and regulate their behavior by. But, it was primarily given to show mankind the impossibility of keeping it! That may sound odd, but it was for our redemption! Humanity needed to realize how sinful we are, so in turn we would depend on the mercy of God alone for our salvation (Gal. 3:21-25). The purpose was to direct an Old Covenant Believer’s Faith to the innocent sacrifice for sins and the coming redeemer. This was the only thing in the Law that could redeem them. The moral Law under the New Covenant is for the same purpose. New Covenant Believer’s are not to put their Faith in keeping the moral Law, or any law, to make us right or maintain a right standing with God. We too, are to put all our Faith in the obedience of Jesus who kept the Law for us, in order to make us right (righteous) before God (Rom. 5:19). Our Faith in Him, and Him alone, is what establishes AND maintains our acceptance with a holy and just God (Rom. 3:26-27).
Some have referred to what God gave the apostle Paul as, “the meaning of the New Covenant”. Using this term is a way of pointing to what the incarnation of Jesus becoming a man, the act of Him dying on The Cross and His Resurrection from the dead really did for humanity. Many know that Jesus did these things. Many know it was to redeem humanity. But what does that mean? Redeem us from what exactly? And to give us what? What are ALL the benefits of our redemption? Although the truth about our redemption is revealed in the Bible, exhaustive study and understanding of the New Covenant is a life long task. Freedom from the sin nature and the Devil are not the only benefits of our redemption. However, these are two of the “biggest” benefits that every believer should come to know and understand after their initial salvation. I am not too concerned that Believers understand everything about heaven and our glorified bodies that we will be given after death (1 Cor. 15:35-56, Rev. 21:1-22:5). If you are a Believer, you will be given this glorified body and experience heaven whether you knew much about it or not. And it is in the Bible, so you should know about it. BUT,……….a Believer lives their daily life DAILY! Daily life is where the enemy of our soul and Faith works to corrupt, pollute and try to destroy our Faith. It is essential to have the foundation of our Faith laid in our minds securely. It is what all Biblical doctrine is built on. If you don’t know how to live by Faith like the apostle Paul taught, then what do you really know?
What is THE PROCESS for daily living after an individual first Believes? HOW do Believers live out their redemption? What does the phrase, “the just shall LIVE by Faith” mean?
After being shown by the Lord, Paul proclaimed this gospel and form of doctrine to every believer to which he ministered (Gal. 1:11-12, Rom. 6:17-18). He taught a message that explained what The Cross of Christ really meant in regard to daily living (2 Pet. 3:14-18, Eph. 3:1-5). This detailed revelation is given to us in his letter to the church at Rome. No where else did he state the meaning of the New Covenant in such detail and magnitude. Some have labeled the book of Romans as the “Magna Carta” of the christian Faith. There is a reason for this. Paul was not the one who established this group of believers in their Faith. Although they had been founded by one of his associates, He had not yet taught them personally (Rom. 1:8-13). So in his letter to the Roman believers, he presents the meaning of the New Covenant in detailed form (Rom.1:15-17, 2:16). These believers needed to know this information, which should be obvious, due to the fact that the Holy Spirit of God wrote it through the apostle Paul. We now can read it ourselves in the “book” of Romans. This gospel was so unique, that Paul referred to it as “his gospel” (Rom. 2:16). “His gospel” was, of course, THE GOSPEL. It is the greatest news mankind can ever hear! If one understands the doctrine taught in the letter to the Roman believers, one can properly interpret and know what Paul’s other letters to other groups of believers is saying. Romans is the declaration of the gospel. That gospel, is the revelation to mankind about how to not only be delivered from the penalty of sin, but delivered from the POWER of it as well. The gospel explains to an individual how to first enter into redemption, and then the process that individual must follow in order to experience ongoing redemption.
A short overview of Romans will help us understand the form of doctrine Paul is proclaiming to the Roman Believers.