3 Close Friends & An Outsider
Did you ever look at the ministries of Jesus’s closest friends? Did you ever ask, after Jesus’s resurrection, what was their message to believers? Just like us, we have a circle of friends. Then we have those who are closer to us but then we have our closest friends that we share most everything with. Jesus dealt with many people and he had his 120, the 70, even his 12 disciples, but his closest friends were Peter, James and John.
When you think about it, Peter, James and John knew Jesus when he started his ministry, when he was teaching and performing miracles, when he went before Pilate and when he was crucified. They saw him rise from the dead, they received the Holy Ghost from Jesus on His resurrection day – John 20:19-22. They witness the Holy Ghost coming upon them and they received power – Acts 1:7,8. Jesus even told them after that power came upon them what they would do – be witnesses of Jesus. They witnessed Jesus going back to heaven.
We don’t hear too much about the rest of Jesus’s disciples after Jesus went back up to heaven. When we look at the three closest to Jesus; Peter, James and John, we see these are the only three that wrote books in the New Testament. James wrote one book the book of James and Peter wrote two books 1st and 2nd Peter but John wrote 5. John wrote the Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd and 3rd John and the book of Revelation.
We also have some other nuggets from Scripture. We know Peter, James and John were called to preach to Jews not to Gentiles – see Galatians 2:7-9. Is it a wonder then, that the book of James talks about works – faith and works – James was killed before Paul’s ministry. Look at Acts 12:1&2 – how would James know and understand Paul’s ministry if James was killed before Paul’s ministry really got going? So how can people take a book written by James and written for Jews (Gal.2:7-9) and put that into Paul teachings? James’s audience was a different audience than Paul’s. James 1:1 even says who he is speaking to – “the 12 tribes ” Jews. Does the book of James have application? Yes of course but to teach faith and works is not correct doctrinal teaching for the church. James ‘ message was to his audience.
We also see Peter and John called to Jews as well. Any light bulbs going on yet? Why do I mention this? Because Peter and James’ message dealt with good works and faith. John did write about faith and works a little but John deals more with spirit and spiritual matters. It is the Gospel of John where we learn of the Godhead aka Trinity – it is the Gospel of John where we are introduced to the Holy Spirit. In John’s letters – 1st, 2nd and 3rd John points out the Antichrist and antichrists. John is the one who warns us to try the spirits to see if they’re of God. And it is John that God chose the write about the future – the book of Revelation.
But John also dealt with a faith and works message, but that was not John’s focus – his focus was on “spirit” issues and the future. An example – 1st. John 1: 7 -10 so many “religions”, “denominations ” teach verse 9 only. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us….” What if you don’t confess them? Will God not forgive you? What if you are killed suddenly in a terrorist attack or you have a heart attack?
This clearly goes against everything Paul teaches in Paul’s thirteen books he wrote. When you understand how Jews were intrenched in the law entrenched in works you know Peter, James and John were of that teaching. And that’s what makes Paul’s conversion so miraculous.
Paul, a Jew who not only knew the law, but lived under the teachings of a renowned rabbi in his time. Paul, a Pharisee, the most dogmatic religious zealot God got a hold of and changed him. Paul’s message from God was different. Peter even commented on people not understanding Paul’s message in 2 Peter 3:15,16. Paul would explain for by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God not of works.
Why am I explaining this? Because Paul’s message was about our spirit man, how our mind plays a role, what battles we fight – everything is our spirit life not our flesh. God did show John some of this but he gave Paul the message. Paul’s letters help us to understand our life and walk in Christ in this 21st century.
So what was Paul’s message? We will pick that up next time.