by William R. Newell
William R. Newell (1868-1956), pastor, long-time associate of the Moody Bible Institute, evangelist, author of Bible commentaries, Bible teacher, conference speaker, and composer of the text of the beloved Gospel song (1895)— At Calvary
There are two great revelators, or unfolders of Divine Truth in the Bible—Moses in the Old Testament and Paul in the New
. Someone may say, "Is not Christ the Great Teacher?" In a sense this is true; but in a real sense Christ is the Person taught about, rather than teaching in the Gospels
. The Law and the Prophets pointed forward
to Christ; the Epistles point back
to Him; and the Book of Revelation points to His Second Coming
, and those things connected with it. The Four Gospels tell the story how He was revealed to men and rejected by them. Christ, Himself,
therefore is the theme of the Bible
. Moses in the Law reveals God’s holiness, and thus by means of the Law
reveals human sin and the utter hopelessness and helplessness of man. Paul in his great Epistles reveals Christ as our Righteousness, Sanctification, Redemption, and All-in-All.
The twelve Apostles (Matthias by Divine appointment taking the place of Judas) were to be the "witnesses" (Acts 1:22) of Christ’s resurrection—that is, of the fact
of it. They
(the disciples) were not to unfold fully the doctrine of it as Paul was.
The twelve were with Jesus personally and knew Him as a man, and when He died they saw
it. When He was buried, they knew it personally as eye-witnesses. And when He was raised, they found it out experimentally, visiting His actual tomb and seeing that it was empty. They were also to see and handle the physical, risen body of our Lord. And it was with them that our Lord abode on earth forty days after His resurrection, "shewing Himself alive [physically, in a body] by many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3).
This great fact—that is, that the Person whom the Jews themselves well knew they had crucified and buried, was risen from the dead and ascended to Heaven—this tremendous fact the twelve Apostles witnessed to Israel at Jerusalem and everywhere else. Thus we find the opening chapters of the Book of Acts filled with the single testimony that Jesus of Nazareth had risen from the dead and that remission of sins was through Him.
But unto none of these twelve Apostles did God reveal the great body of doctrine for this Age. Just as God chose Moses to be the revelator to Israel for the Ten Commandments and all connected with the Law dispensation, so God chose Saul of Tarsus to be the revelator and unfolder of those mighty truths connected with our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection and His ascended Person. And all the "mysteries" or "secrets" revealed to God’s people in this Dispensation by the Holy Spirit are revealed by Paul.
Finally, Paul is the unfolder of the great company of God’s elect, called the Church, the Body of Christ,
the individuals of which Body are called members
of the Body of Christ—members of Christ Himself.
No other Apostle speaks of these things. Peter himself had to learn them from Paul
(2 Pet. 3:15-16). When Paul finishes his thirteen great Epistles (Romans to Philemon) those which belong to the Church, God indeed permits him to give a message then to the Hebrews
. This is not part of the Church’s doctrine, but is simply explaining to Hebrew Christians the character, the real application, the typical meaning, of their Levitical system—that is, how it pointed forward to Christ.
James addresses his Epistle to "the twelve tribes"—that is, his Epistle has special reference to the Jewish Christians in the early days and to such throughout the Dispensation, for that matter. Peter writes to "the strangers who are sojourners of the Dispersion," that is, to the dispersed Jews who acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah.
In the second chapter of Galatians we are distinctly told by Paul that James, Cephas, and John were to go to the circumcision, while Paul tells us that his message was to the Gentiles.
Since then the testimony by the Jewish Apostles to the Jews was duly given, there is now no distinction between Jews and Gentiles; and Paul’s message holds good for the world, both Jews and Gentiles. So that we find Paul finally sets the Jewish nation aside in the last chapter of the Book of Acts and opens his great Epistle to the Gentile’s center of the world with the statement that "there is no difference" between men; for "all have sinned," and there is again "no difference," for "whosoever
shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved," since the same Lord is "Lord of all
" (Rom. 3:22-23; 10:12).
God does as He pleases, and it pleased Him to choose —first to save people in this Dispensation through "the foolishness of preaching" [the "preached thing"]—that is, through the message about the Cross and what was done there (See 1 Cor. 1:21). And second, it pleased Him
(God) to choose Paul to be the great proclaimer and revealer of just what the Gospel is for this Dispensation
You can judge any man’s preaching or teaching by this rule—Is he Pauline?
Does his doctrine start and finish according to those statements of Christian doctrine uttered by the Apostle Paul?
No matter how wonderful a man may seem in his gifts and apparent consecration—if his Gospel is not Pauline, it is not the Gospel
; and we might as well get our minds settled at once as to that. Paul calls down the anathema—that is the curse of God Himself—upon anyone who preaches any other Gospel than that which he declared
Not for one moment are we to believe that James, Peter, and John were at variance
with Paul—not in the least. They were given certain things by the Spirit to say to certain classes of people. They do not conflict with Paul. And their words are included in the statement that "All Scripture is profitable" (2 Tim. 3:16).
But nevertheless, Paul is the declarer and revealer of the Gospel to us. Take Romans to Philemon
(written by Paul) out of the Bible and you are bereft of Christian doctrine
. For instance, if you were to take Paul’s Epistles out of the Bible, you cannot find anything about the Church, the Body of Christ, for no other Apostle mentions the Body of Christ. You cannot find one of the great mysteries, such as the Rapture of the Church (1 Thess. 4; 1 Cor. 15) or the mystery of the present hardening of Israel (Rom. 11). No other Apostle speaks of any of those mysteries. Paul alone reveals them—the great doctrines such as Justification, Redemption, Sanctification
. And what is perhaps the most tremendous fact of every real Christian life, that of his personal union
to the Lord in glory. Paul is the great Divinely-chosen opener to us of truth for this Age.
The great doctrines that Paul reveals may be outlined as follows—
....(omitted for brevity)...