Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
"THE APOSTLE PAUL IS NOT GUILTY!" That's how the black headlines should read in the world's media. The apostle Peter is not accusing Paul of being "hard to be understood," which is the cardinal fault of would-be gospel preachers who are superficially minded (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). For anyone to stand in a pulpit and confuse people about the most blessed truth the world can know, is awful! Paul was anything but confusing to people.
People have glanced superficially at what the apostle Peter says there. It mentions Paul's "epistles, speaking in them of ... some things hard to be understood," and they assume (from their English Bible) that Paul's Romans or Galatians is a forbidding thicket of theological confusion; so skip Paul. You'll get to heaven fine without understanding him; all you need is the little ditty, "Jesus loves me this I know." Period. God asks no more of your understanding.
But the Lord Jesus Himself declared of Paul, "He is a chosen vessel of Mine" (Acts 9:15). It was He Himself who saw to it that many of Paul's "epistles" got into the New Testament; we need every one of them, especially Galatians and Romans. That's where at last we find the clearest answer to the question of what Israel's convoluted history means; set in perspective, it's the world's best good news for it's told in the light of the cross where the Jews crucified the world's Christ. In this grand Day of Atonement, the last of earth's history, we are privileged to overcome ancient Israel's sins, for as never before in 6000 years the message of "Christ and Him crucified" is to be proclaimed most clearly.
What Peter meant and said is different from the popular understanding: the problem was (and is) that people "wrest" or distort what the apostle Paul said, and thus rob themselves of eternal life, for it's "to their own destruction."
An example of a blessing overlooked is Romans 5. I well remember in younger days avoiding that chapter; I thought it was well over my head. So I deeply sympathize with those who think Romans 5 is forbidding to read. But the word that Peter used (in the Greek) was dusnoetos, which literally simply means "misperceived." It gets Paul off the hook; all you have to do is to read his epistles with perception! Try reading his Romans 5 with a different version also, it may help. He is simply saying that the sin of Adam brought on "all men" the inheritance of a fallen, sinful nature, with its death; Christ took on Himself that same nature (with its death), and became our new, or second Adam, reversing all that the first Adam did to us. Thus He gives the same "all men" His eternal life instead. And Paul says five times that it's a "gift," not a mere "offer"!
But you have something to do, and if you're an honest soul, you'll do it: youreceive the "gift," you thank Him for it, you appreciate it, you believe; and in gladness of heart you obey forever after.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 5, 2007.
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