Now go ahead, read for us acts And he said, 'go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.
Teachings of John Taylor
You know why I think this verse is so important? This chapter - chapter 12 - of acts, begins by telling that herod kills James, the brother of John. It ends with Peter escaping from prison and Peter giving instruction: 'go tell James' - it's almost like there's a transitioning happening at this point. James ends up being - he's recognized as really an apostle in the early church, and a leader. And probably, the first book written in the Bible - it may not have been written before the book of Mark, but it's certainly one of the first books or letters of instruction written in the Bible and - even though you find it at the end - remember, the books of the Bible are not necessarily in chronological order.
Now, notice this, when Paul says - 1 Corinthians - about James - "for I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he was seen by cephas," - that's Peter - "then by the twelve" - the other apostles - "after that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once," - probably some time before his ascension - "of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. It's not talking about James the brother of John.
Acts 15 - when they came down with Paul and barnabas and they had a problem about how much of the ceremonial laws are they to require the gentile converts to keep and how do they handle those issues. It says, "and after they become silent, James answered, saying, 'men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God first visited the gentiles to take out of them a people for his name.
And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written. So James really, sort of, becomes like chairman of the board - the bishop - the leader of the church in Jerusalem, which was - that was ground zero for the early church. And right now, a lot of people think of rome as the center of Christianity, but it was really in Jerusalem for that first century anyway. So, you know, that's sort of an introduction to our final study in the book of James.
This one is dealing with the everlasting Gospel. Now, if you look in the last verses of James - I don't know if you - maybe what we ought to do first - I don't think I even mentioned our memory verse, did i? Let's do that. Our memory verse is Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 3 - you can read it right out of your Bible or your quarterly there - Jeremiah and it's here in the new king James version.
Do you want to say that with me? And I understand why dr. Wahlen, when he wrote this lesson, he wanted to emphasize this, especially near the end, because some people, they read the second and third chapters of James, where he talks about faith and works - seems like he's giving more encouragement to works because he's dealing with those who say, 'oh, just believe, believe, believe.
It's really not what he's doing. He's talking about that real faith is going to be evident with fruit in the life. But when we study the book of James, one of the last things that you find is where you look in chapter 5 and it says in the last verse - last chapter of James - " His closing, closing salvo, as you would say, is turning a sinner from the error of his ways, covering a multitude of sins. Now, isn't that what everybody needs in their life?
The Everlasting Gospel
Isn't that the Gospel - to cover a multitude of sins? So as we delve into the lesson, we're really going to talk about the everlasting Gospel - how it really covers a whole panorama of the Bible and it talks about the Gospel in the old testament, the Gospel made flesh, the Gospel in Paul, the Gospel in the new covenant and the climax of the Gospel, so those are the sections that we're considering. Alright, first, the Gospel in the old testament. Somebody's going to have Genesis - alright, you'll be in just a moment, then. We'll get to you. And I'm going to begin by reading Hebrews 4, verse 2 - now I know Hebrews is in the new testament, but he's pointing back to the old testament.
Who's the 'them? I thought 'Gospel' was only a new testament word.
What's the word 'Gospel' mean? Good news. Paul says the Gospel was preached to them. When was the Gospel preached to people in the old testament? Well, even all the prophets, not only in the symbols but all of the prophets and - does it say Enoch was a preacher of righteousness? He said, 'behold the Lord comes. Matter of fact, it says, 'Enoch, the seventh from adam. I'm sure he was a Sabbath keeper.
So the idea that the Gospel didn't show up until Jesus - I've met people before and I've run into this frequently, they say, 'what about all the people who haven't heard about Jesus? Are they doomed to be lost? Be careful what you're saying because what you're saying is all the people in the old testament who hadn't heard about Jesus are all lost.
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And even Jesus, he kind of outraged his home town when he said, there were a lot of lepers in the land in the days of naaman, but none of them was healed - from Israel - but naaman the syrian was healed. God did a miracle for him. So did God have people there? And then he goes on and says there were many widows in the land of Israel in the days of Elijah but none of them were accompanied except the one from phoenicia - that lady of tyre that Elijah stayed with.
Remember, he stayed in the upper room, resurrected her son, did a miracle for her. And she understood what sin was. You read that whole story she says, 'have you called my sin to my remembrance? Nobody is saved without the sacrifice of Jesus. But all through the old testament, the Gospel was preached. When I ask you to think about - in one word - can't use two words - in one word, name some words that you think about that explain the Gospel. You can call them out, I'll repeat them.
The Everlasting Gospel
Alright, let's take them one at a time - love. Do you find love in the old testament? We just read one, 'I've loved you with an everlasting love. You read through all the Psalms - great deal of joy. What's another word? Does it talk about the importance of truth in the old testament? Yeah, you can talk about - there's many, many verses that talk about the peace of the Lord. Alright, so I heard mercy and longsuffering. Let's start with mercy.
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Do you find mercy in the old testament? His compassions fail not. It talks about - I was waiting for somebody to say 'grace. Who is it that found grace in the sight of the Lord? Noah, yeah. I've got a song about it - 'Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
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Is that old testament? You know, there's almost like - it's sort of an urban myth that the God in the new testament is the God of love. The God of the old testament is the God of wrath. And in the old testament they've got, you know, the plagues and the war and the new testament is the love and the goodness and - that's really not accurate. Do you find death in the new testament?
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