THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL
THE APOSTLE PAUL AND HIS GOSPEL
The purpose of this study, is to show the difference between the Gospel as given to the Jews through the Apostle PETER, and the Gospel given to the Gentiles through the Apostle PAUL.
For many years, Pastors, Bible Teachers and evangelists have preached the GOSPEL all over the world. However it would probably be more correct to say they have preached what THEY BELIEVE to be the Gospel that Jesus taught. However, Jesus never preached the Gospel of SALVATION, as is preached in most Churches today. He introduced the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM that he declared to be a present reality at the time of his ministry. It would seem that very few people understand that the scriptures reveal more than ONE EVANGEL, and the difference between them is most remarkable. Now for many, this statement will be considered heresy, because they have been told there is only ONE EVANGEL. But I encourage you to read on and prove it for yourself. Now let us explore the facts.
The Greek word for Gospel is EU-ANGGLEION. The prefix EU means WELL or GOOD, as in Matt 25:21. The word ANGGELION means a message, and is connected with the word "LOGOS." 1Jn 1:5. So the Bible definition of the word GOSPEL is "A MESSAGE of GOOD NEWS." The first four Books in the New Testament are called "GOSPELS," but this is not to be considered an exclusive use of this word. In Rom 4:3 it speaks of the GOSPEL that God brought to Abraham. Gen 12:3. Then there is the GOSPEL Gabriel brought to Zachariah in Luke 2:10-12. Paul speaks about the GOSPEL OF THE CIRCUMCISION in Gal 2:7, and also the GOSPEL OF THE UNCIRCUMCISION. In the book of Revelation there is THE EONIAN GOSPEL, to name just a few of the Gospels that are mentioned in the Bible. How interesting it is to note that in none of these "Gospels" is there mention of judgment or a burning eternal hell as part of the message. The Gospel is all GOOD NEWS.
In this study we will deal mainly with the TWO GOSPELS mentioned in Gal 2:7-9. The Gospel of the CIRCUMCISION that was delivered by Peter to the Jewish people, who were the people of the CIRCUMCISION, and the Gospel of the UNCIRCUMCISION given to Paul for the Gentiles or nations. Because of the divergent nature of these two Gospels, it was necessary for the Lord to use two separate men to deliver these messages to men. The separation of these two messages and the men involved, is outlined for us in Gal 2:7-9. It is obvious that Peter, James and John all recognized God’s choice in the matter, so that Paul was sent to the NATIONS, whilst Peter was sent to the CIRCUMCISION.
The one thing that impressed Peter, was the fact that in choosing Paul, Jesus Christ had acted wholly independently of the twelve, who were His chosen witnesses unto his people. It was because of this that Paul found it necessary to establish the basis of his Apostleship, which did not depend upon the winning of a vote by men, or of the church. The Lord himself chose all the original disciples, and this is very important to remember. But after he returned to the Father, the CHURCH did the choosing of those who functioned in special ministries and have continued to do so even to this day. But many are being called in this our day who are not a part of the religious establishment, those who have been trained in the school of the spirit for a particularly ministry.
So Paul makes it very plain, that he was an apostle, NOT ordained by man but of God, neither was he taught by man but by the spirit of God in the Arabian Desert. This put him on the same level as those who were the original disciples. The next matter that needed to be clarified, was the authority for the GOSPEL that he preached. The other Apostles, who had been with Jesus and had listened to His teaching, felt they had an advantage over those who had not been so involved. However, it is obvious their understanding of what Jesus said was still lacking, especially concerning the events of the cross. It was not until after Pentecost that many things became clear to them.
Paul of course was not among these men, being at that time a persecutor of all who followed Jesus. It is because of this that he needed to establish his authority for the Gospel he preached. He declares quite plainly, "The Gospel that was preached of me is NOT AFTER MAN, for I neither received it of man, nor was I taught it but by REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST." Paul testifies, that after God called him on the Damascus road he did not CONFER WITH FLESH AND BLOOD, but went to Arabia where he received REVELATION direct from God without human instrumentality. Thus he proved his Apostolic authority flowed direct from God, according to HIS predetermined GOOD PLEASURE. Gal 1:15. It is also interesting to note that Paul received his revelation outside the HOLY LAND, among the heathen or Gentiles.
The mutual independence of Peter, the Apostle to the CIRCUMCISION, and Paul, the Apostle to the UNCIRCUMCISION, had to be clearly established, This was done through THREE meetings they had together. The FIRST was private in nature as they shared together their own dealings with the Lord, and was designed to establish a basis for mutual understanding. Gal 1:18 The SECOND meeting was somewhat official and is outlined in Gal 2:1-10. In this instance God had spoken to Paul and told him to communicate to the twelve the GOSPEL that was entrusted to him. As a result of this meeting, these "Pillars" of the Church at Jerusalem, Peter, James and John, issued a formal recognition of Paul’s DOCTRINE, AND APOSTLESHIP, on behalf of the Jewish Church.
Such recognition by men was but a human formality and did not in fact legitimize Paul’s message or his authority. This had already been done by the one who said , "HE IS A CHOSEN VESSEL UNTO ME TO BEAR MY NAME." All that the other apostles could do was to publicly recognize this DIVINELY CHOSEN VESSEL. The THIRD time they met there was open confrontation over the question of GENTILES having to conform to JEWISH LAW AND CULTURE. Bear in mind, the Jerusalem conference had already recognized Paul’s message and authority, and allowed the Gentile converts freedom from the law by their decree. Acts 15:19-20.
Peter had previously been taught by the Lord in a most unusual way, that he should make no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Acts 10:9-216. Now Paul challenges Peter openly for his present behavior, because he was denying the very truth he claimed to believe. He was refusing to eat with Gentiles, being in FEAR OF THOSE OF THE CIRCUMCISION. Gal 2:12. Even Barnabas was influenced by Peter’s behavior. So Paul brings a public rebuke to the apostle Peter, accusing Him of living as do the Gentiles, and yet demanding the Gentiles live as do the Jews. (verse 14) This results in the charge that Peter had built again what he once pulled down. This makes him a transgressor and Christ a minister of sin.v17-18.
Paul begins to outline the Gospel of Grace that was entrusted to him, even though he knows it will put him at variance with those of the Circumcision.
There were THREE main truths made know to Paul in Arabia.
The GOSPEL OF GOD, mentioned in Rom 1-1.
The MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL. Rom 16-25.
The DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY. Eph 3:3 & 9.
The GOSPEL OF GOD was "promised before" through His holy prophets, in the scriptures. Rom 1:2. It concerns the justification of the nations, (heathen) on the basis of God’s promise to Abraham, that through his seed which is CHRIST would all the nations be blessed. Rom 4:9-10. Gal 3:8. When Paul understood that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, he realized that HE was the heir of Abraham’s promise. Paul knew the old testament scriptures, so all he needed was to receive light and understanding from the Holy Spirit and his view-point was changed to include Christ, as the center of all God’s purposes. The first four chapters of Romans shows how he was taught the Truth by the Lord, leading his readers along the same path.
The MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL or the SECRET NEWS, is the message of reconciliation. The message of reconciliation was latent in the scriptures, but unlike the Gospel of God that was a distinct item of promise and prophecy, it was silenced or hushed up. The truth was there but its lips were sealed, so that being mute it could not draw attention to itself. But when the fullness of time had come, the long silence was broken , and MERCY AND TRUTH declared the all consuming passion and LOVE of GOD.
When God created that first M-A-N in Genesis 1:26-28, He created the whole human race. All men were latent in him. i.e. In that M-A-N lay the germinal force to produce all of mankind all out of himself, just as a grain of wheat contains within itself, a whole crop to be produced from it. This MAN was told to be FRUITFUL and replenish or FILL the earth. We are not speaking here of the MAN formed from the dust of the ground, but the one who was in the beginning with God and was GOD. John calls him the LOGOS or the WORD that is the CHRIST.
BUT there is another MAN ADAM formed of the dust of the earth who is placed in the Garden of Eden. This man also has the power to procreate but on an earthly level. This man through disobedience looses his divine perception of God and himself and enters into a world that is hostile to him. However because of his representative nature his disobedience flows on to affect all of his offspring. Paul says, "Through the one man’s offence, death was passed upon all men."
However this same representation, and headship exist in Christ. As in the ONE so in the OTHER, is the principle laid down by the apostle. Each is HEAD and represents the human race on two levels , the EARTHLY and HEAVENLY. Each HEAD imparts his own quality to the whole race. The first Adam was a living SOUL and in Him ALL DIE. The LAST Adam is a LIFE GIVING SPIRIT, and in Him ALL are MADE ALIVE. Adam sinned and through the one offence brought condemnation on ALL MEN. In the same way through Christ’s OBEDIENCE he brought LIFE AND JUSTIFICATION to all. Rom 5:18-20. When Adam sinned IT WAS RECKONED TO ALL, but was imparted by generation. In the same way, Christ SANCTIFIED ALL, through the offering of his BODY once and for all. Heb 10:10. Therefore for ALL, death has been destroyed that we might LIVE.
TO EACH IN HIS OWN ORDER. FOR THE RECONCILIATION OF ALL THROUGH THE DEATH OF CHRIST, IS THE FOUNDATION OF GRACE. Neither ADAM or CHRIST is a SUBSTITUTE for all men. Neither stand INSTEAD of the human race, but each stands FOR the whole human race, all being present and represented in their HEADS, ON BOTH THE EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY PLANES. The teaching of SUBSTITUTION is NON BIBLICAL. It is ONE-NESS and not SUBTITUTION that brings both SIN and DEATH in ADAM, and LIFE and RIGHTEOUSNESS in CHRIST.
Paul’s knowledge of the DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY could not have been known except by revelation from the Lord. He speaks in humility of these wonderful truths, "I was made a minister according to the gift of the Grace of God given to me by the effectual working of his mighty power. Unto me, who am the least of all the saints is this GRACE given, that I should preach among the Gentiles, the UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST. And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world HAS BEEN HID IN GOD, WHO CREATED ALL THINGS BY JESUS CHRIST." Eph 3:7-8.
A new experience awaited Paul in order that he might understand the Truth of the DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY. Eph 3:9. Paul is "caught up" to the third heaven, and hears UNSPEAKABLE WORDS. 2Cor 12:4. Let us not waste time seeking to establish the number of levels associated with HEAVEN. The truth here is that Paul heard things that he categorized as being UNSPEAKABLE. The rest of the verse does not appear in the old manuscripts. What does he mean by UNSPEAKABLE? Divine truth is of such a quality that our language is totally inadequate to give expression to it.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, "If I have told you of EARTHLY THINGS and you cannot understand them, how will you grasp the truth if I speak about HEAVENLY THINGS." Paul is transported to the dispensation of the FULLNESS OF TIMES, and sees heaven and earth reconciled. Remember Christ is HEAD in both the heavens as well as the earth. We must understand that the heavens and the earth refer primarily to man who consists of a part, which is spiritual and therefore associated with the heavens, and a part that is earthly. These are the heavens and the earth that must be reconciled through Christ. For in the beginning he was the WORD, but the time came when he BECAME FLESH, and lived among us, so that we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth. He is the Savior of ALL MEN 1 Tim 4:10, because HE is the HEAD of every man . 1 Cor 11:3. HE is the Savior of the BODY Eph 5:23 because HE is the HEAD of the body. Eph 1:22. He reconciles all Principalities and Powers, Col 1:20 because HE is HEAD of all Principalities and Powers. Such a revelation staggers the imagination, and overwhelms us with a VISION of the MAJESTY of HIM who sits upon the throne, working all things after the counsel of His own will.
THE GOSPEL OF THE CIRCUMCISION
BLESSINGS AND DEMANDS
In Gen 17:9-14, the covenant of circumcision was made with Abraham, and his seed after him for their generations. Israel who are the descendants of Jacob was "set apart" from all the Nations of the earth by the rite of circumcision. THESE ARE THE CIRCUMCISION of the New Testament. The first five books of the New Testament are taken up largely with this people. It was declared by their prophets that that the MESSIAH was to come and that he would be born in Bethlehem. But the nation of Israel into which he was born rejected him and the religious leaders set about to kill him.
It is recorded, "He came unto his own (people) but his own received him not." However it soon became evident that even though Jesus began by dealing with the people of Israel, the scope of his mission was far greater than any of the circumcision realised. Twelve men were selected to be his disciples from this people, and to them he shared many wonderful things.
It is most important to note the commission given to these twelve disciples in Matt 10:1-6. "Into the road of the NATIONS you should not pass forth, and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans, but rather be going to THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL". Also remember Christ never went outside the Land of Palestine in His earthly ministry. Only TWO GENTILES were blessed during His ministry, and they were the centurion who was a proselyte, and the Syro-Phoenician woman. When she asked for help, she was told that it is not meet to take the CHILDREN’S Bread and give it to DOGS. As a Gentile, she was told she did not qualify to receive the "Children’s Bread."
All the prophets in the Old Testament prophesied concerning Israel, bringing instruction and direction and sometimes rebuke to them from the Lord. Israel had become a very proud people and that pride had elevated them in their carnal minds causing an arrogance to develop, which was most destructive. For this reason the four "GOSPELS" in the New Testament are more a part of the OLD TESTAMENT than the NEW. In these Books Christ the Messiah is seeking some recognition from the people of the circumcision while calling for them to REPENT of their wicked ways. This was like a special visitation of the Messiah himself seeking to bring them back from apostacy.
Israel’s response to the coming of the Messiah was to oppose him at every opportunity. They challenged him concerning the SABBATH, and sought to trap him in his judgment of a woman taken in adultery. The religious leaders were jealous of his acceptance by the ordinary people, and searched for an opportunity to destroy him. Finally at the instigation of the High Priest, one of the disciples was bribed and made it possible for them to arrest him. This resulted in a mock trial before the Sanhedrin, which passed the sentence of DEATH upon him. However because the Jews were subservient to the Romans at that time they had no power to execute him. Therefore they handed him over to the Roman authorities.
This is the nation who had drunk water from the ROCK that was CHRIST, every day in the wilderness, and eaten BREAD which came from heaven every night Who delivered them from slavery in Egypt, sending them forth with much wealth from their captors. This is the same one who had opened the Red Sea before them providing a way of escape for them from their enemies, who were all destroyed as they tried to follow. This was the nation who stood at Mount Sinai and said, "All that the Lord has said we will do."
After the crucifixion of Christ and the out pouring of the Holy Spirit Peter tells the people, "Ye men of Israel hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth a man approved by God among you by miracles wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you as you yourselves know; HIM being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain, whom God hath raised up having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be holden of it." Acts 2:22-24. The result of Peter’s words the people realised what they had done and asked, "WHAT SHALL WE DO."
Peter replies to their question, "REPENT, AND BE BAPTISED EVERY ONE OF YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE REMISSION OF YOUR SINS, AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST. FOR THE PROMISE IS TO YOU AND TO YOUR CHILDREN AND TO ALL THAT ARE AFAR OFF (THE DISPORA) EVEN AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD SHALL CALL" These are the demands of the Gospel of the circumcision.
REPENTANCE, BAPTISM for the remission of your sins, and the receiving of the Holy Spirit is the requirement for the circumcision. Both the Lord Jesus and the disciples called for Israel to REPENT. The Greek word for repent is METANOEOO and literally means A COMPLETE CHANGING OF THE MIND, or to CHANGE DIRECTION. At Mount Sinai, God made a covenant with Israel giving them the TEN COMMANDMENTS, which they vowed to keep. But their history is filled with failure. John the Baptist as the fore-runner of Christ continued to demand REPENTANCE from Israel, as did the disciples.
However the Gentiles as such HAVE NOT THE LAW according to Rom 2:14. The LAW was not given to the Gentiles as it was to Israel, therefore the breaking of the LAW cannot be attributed to the Gentiles. This situation also applied to Israel before the time they received the Law at Mount Sinai, but from that time on, they became responsible to keep it. So the heralding of the baptism of repentance had no application to the Gentiles. It was Israel who had forsaken the covenants and promises, and made void the commandment of God. Thus they were required to repent and be baptized, which brought them to a position where they could believe the Gospel.
The BLESSINGS promised are these, pardon or remission of sins with the promise of the Holy Spirit for regeneration and New Birth. Then there is the hope of the resurrection of the dead and an abundant entrance into the everlasting Kingdom. Having believed the Gospel of the Circumcision, they were then exhorted to "ENDURE UNTO THE END", and they would be saved. Matt 10:22. They were also assured that Christ was their High Priests, seated at the right hand of the Throne of the Majesty. Heb 3:1-6. And if anyone should be sinning we have an advocate with the Father. 1Jn 1:7-10. How many of these scriptures are "misquoted" by today’s preachers as part of the Gospel to the Gentiles.
The Gospel of the Circumcision was heralded by the Lord Jesus and His disciples, but was eventually rejected by the BUILDERS of Israel Mk 12:10-12. It was then Jesus quoted the words of the prophet Isaiah, "BY HEARING YE SHALL HEAR AND SHALL NOT UNDERSTAND: AND SEEING YE SHALL SEE AND SHALL NOT PERCEIVE." At this point the doors of the Kingdom were locked against them, and the KEYS were given to Peter Matt 16:19 which designated him the Apostle and custodian of the Gospel of the Circumcision. Gal 2:7-8.
A further proclamation of this Gospel began on the day of Pentecost, in accord with the commission given to the disciples in Acts 1:8. On that day Peter declared to the people, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth a man approved of God among you by miracles and sign and wonders, you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Whom God has raised up having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." This resulted in many people asking Peter what they must do in the light of this indictment
He replied, "REPENT AND BE BAPTISED every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off (the dispora) even as many as the Lord our God shall call." This resulted in about 3000 who believed the "Good News" and so REPENTED and were baptised. Acts 2:41-47. The witness continued in Jerusalem and Judea, until the Priests and officers of the Sanctuary, together with the Sadducees, led a persecution against them, and imprisoned the disciples. However in Acts 4:1-4 the number of the converts reached 5000 and they keep multiplying. This continued for about 28 years after Pentecost, at which time the church numbered "Many thousands", or as the Greek states, many tens of thousands. Acts 21:20.
It is interesting to note that the persecution started with Pauls visit to Jerusalem in Acts 21. Again the differences in the GOSPEL Paul preached, became a problem for the elders of the Jewish Church who requested that he fulfill all the requirements of the Law for purification with four men from the assembly. This he agrees to do but just before the seven days that were required, were finished JEWS from Asia saw him in the Temple. They stirred up the People so that the Temple guards were called in and the persecution began.
The disciples were scattered to the districts of Judea and Samaria. As they passed through they evangelised with the Word. Then Phillip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ, thus fulfilling the third part of the commission. From this time the apostle Paul was rejected by the rulers of the Israel. At this point AD 61-63 Israel was "BLINDED", cast away, "BROKEN OFF", and made ENEMIES OF THE GOSPEL. Rom 11:7-28. Paul became a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the NATIONS or GENTILES. To him was given the task of revealing the DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY, in which we live today. During this administration of the Mystery there is a remnant of Israel according to a choice of GRACE. These together with the believing Gentiles, are jointly blessed in the CHURCH WHICH IS HIS BODY, through the GOSPEL of which Paul was made a minister. Our realm, or citizenship is inherent in the heavens, where we are blessed with EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING, among the CELESTIALS, IN CHRIST. Remember the Pauline Epistles of EPHESIANS, PHILLIPIANS and COLOSSIANS, were written soon after Acts 28.
THE GALATIAN CHURCH PROBLEM.
The study so far is designed to help us see that there is a FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE between the GOSPEL given to Peter and the Gospel given to Paul. To understand this DIFFERENCE is basic to being able to grasp the far higher calling and blessings of the Gospel that is ours today. If we have not learned the difference between the TWO, then we may well be in the same situation as the saints in Galatia. For this reason we will see what Paul had to say to the church there about the false teaching that had crept in amongst them.
Gal 1:6-9 says they have moved from the Gospel he preached to them to a DIFFERENT (Gk HETEROS= implying essential differences) Gospel. So Paul himself makes it clear these TWO Gospels are NOT THE SAME. However they are ONE in origin but differ in FORM AND COMPOSITION. The Greek text makes it plain that this OTHER Gospel was not another OF THE SAME KIND. This is important, for if the Galatians simply changed from one Gospel to the other that was basically the same, there would have been no case at all for the ANATHEMA spoken by Paul.
The problem was that the Galatians were carried away by agitators, who had traveled up from the Church in Jerusalem and "PERVERTED THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST" The intention of this clause is to extend the thought of the differences, being not ANOTHER but a perversion of the Gospel Paul preached by tampering with the Truth. So strongly does the Apostle feel, that he pronounces an ANATHEMA upon those who caused the problem. This sentence upon them simply exposes them to the just judgment of God.
Paul’s answer to their problem comes in the form of a series of questions. The first one concerns the MANNER in which the Spirit was received. "Received ye the spirit by the keeping of the LAW, or by faith? The acceptance of Paul’s Gospel by the Galatians, received the seal of God’s approval. When they believed the WORD OF THEIR SALVATION, God sent into their hearts, the SPIRIT OF HIS SON, crying "ABBA FATHER". Gal 4:6. If the spirit of SONSHIP came as a result of pure FAITH, them God had established FAITH as the basis of all future receiving. The beginning marked the way and mapped the line of the continuity. The SEED OF GRACE must be allowed to grow in the soil of its original planting. FAITH was to be the CROWN, just as it had been the BEGINNING of their life unto God. Could these people be so lacking in understanding as to suppose, that what BEGAN in SPIRIT, could be perfected in FLESH?
The second question relates to the operation of the Spiritual gifts operating among them. What is supplying the Spirit to you, and who is operating powers among you, is it your keeping of the LAW, or is it the HEARING of FAITH?. Because if FAITH was the basis of the Spirit’s work, which enriched them and extended their usefulness, was it not obvious that FAITH would continue to bring the same response. The whole question of FAITH taught by Paul was no new innovation, but is based on an historic precedent. The scriptures record Abraham’s experience in days of old. "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness". This faith of Abraham was established before circumcision or any of the legal system was instituted.
Now this identity of experience, between the believers in Galatia and the ancient patriarch establishes a certain bond, and a kind of kinship, linking them together. Know therefore, that they are of FAITH; the same are the sons of Abraham. This link with Abraham adds multiple blessing as Paul says, "And the scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by FAITH, preached the Gospel before unto Abraham, IN THEE AND THY SEED SHALL ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED." It becomes perfectly clear that the Abrahamic promise anticipated the GOSPEL OF GRACE, being a fore-declaration of it. Thus in fact Paul’s Gospel actually is older than both ISRAEL and the LAW.
The people from Jerusalem, who were troubling the saints in Galatia, were seeking to destroy their LIBERTY which they had in Christ. They ENTERED IN by faith, and were received by faith, and blessed by faith, yet now they were being told to add LAW to their faith. Beloved this is not so different from our experience in Christ today. We are constantly being told we must DO THIS or we are made to feel guilty. If a person believes the Gospel today, they are told now you must do this list because God requires it of you. The list of "Laws" may vary according to the particular group you may belong to and their teaching, but it will be imposed and you will be expected to obey. Beloved we are saved by GRACE, AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES, LEST ANY MAN BOAST, for IT IS THE G I F T OF GOD.
How comforting to know, "WE ARE HIS WORKMANSHIP created in Christ Jesus. And Paul states very clearly, that IT IS GOD THAT WORKS IN YOU BOTH WILL AND TO DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE. The world may well speak of "self made men", but to be seated in the heavenlies in Christ, we must be part of the "NEW CREATION", which is Christ, for he is the first-fruits.
To sum up what has been said, we find that the Gospel to the circumcision, was the Gosper Peter was given for the children of Israel, it said, "REPENT and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which shall be to you and to your children." Their Gospel involved repentance because when they sinned it became a legal issue for they were under the LAW of commandments. So being under the Law they needed a Judge to administer the Law, and that is how they saw God. Then if you have a law there must be a penalty, so God was not only their judge, but he was also the one who punished them when they sinned. Therefore the God of Israel was always presented as an angry God who blesses those who do good, but punishes those who do evil.
The Apostle Paul’s commission was to take the "Gospel of God’s Grace" to the Gentiles or the Nations, who were never under the law of commandments. Rom 2:14. In other words the Gentiles were not put in legal bondage to the Law as a system of Judgment. However, even though the Law was not a binding legal system on the Gentiles, yet they did by nature the things contained in the Law, showing that the Law is universal. But God has now written his law in our hearts and in our minds. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law in every detail and now dwells within us fulfilling the law now in his people. The law for us is not written on pieces of stone but it is written in our hearts, and our sins and iniquities he said, I will remember no more.
So we have a God of Grace and not a God of law. So sin for us, is not a legal issue at all and we do not need a judge, and as a result we know God as OUR FATHER. So Paul does not speak about repentance and Baptism for the remission of sins at all. In fact he says there is only ONE Baptism, which is by the spirit into ONE BODY. Gal 3:26-28. Paul’s statement is very simply, "IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST HE IS A NEW CREATION for old things have passed away and behold all things have become new." 2 Cor 5:17. In speaking to the saints in Ephesus he said, "You are God’s workmanship CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS." So there is nothing we can DO to "BE" in Christ, except to believe that our very origin was in him, that first man in Gen 1:26. Israel had to keep the law in order to please God, but under Paul’s Gospel of Grace, we are SAVED BY FAITH and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
Finally it is important to note that the Jewish Church in Jerusalem established in the early part of the book of Acts, had all but disappeared by the end of the same book. The Churches that remained were the Gentile Churches established by Paul. The startling issue here is that for almost 2000 years the Church has been preaching the Gospel that was given to the Jews or the circumcision, complete with a legal system and an angry God who relegates millions to an eternal burning hell if they do not respond correctly to him. No mortal man can possibly keep the Law, so to him it becomes a Law of SIN AND DEATH. Only those who are IN CHRIST whose presence WITHIN US gives us the capacity to keep the law engraved on our hearts and in our minds..
These studies are sent out with the prayer that they will bring hope to many who are confused by the thousands of voices that are in the world. It is inevitable that some things shared will be controversial in terms of TRADITIONAL TEACHING, BUT AS WE COME HUMBLY before Him and seek His face, He will be that Lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. Remember ALL TRUTH is a manifestation of God, WHO IS TRUTH.
May the Lord give you understanding of these things.