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Dispensationalism - Ministries of the Twelve and Paul

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Dispensationalism

Ministries of the Twelve and Paul

 

Having stated his theology, the writer must now search the scriptures and come up with more reasons to back up his belief. In this chapter he compares the CALL of the 12 with the CALL of Paul and, based on the knowledge that they occurred under different circumstances, he makes the false presumption that their GOSPEL was also different. If we follow this line of reasoning then we must presume that there are a myriad of different plans of God concerning his work in the earth present in the world today since there are so many different ways in which God calls his people.

As we go through these notes, one question must be placed at the end of each thought and scripture that the writer gives. DO THESE VERSES STATE THAT A DIFFERENT GOSPEL WAS TO BE PREACHED? If the answer is no, then the argument of the author is invalid.

Mr. Stam tells us:
The basic cause of the confusion which prevails in the professing Church doctrinally is the failure to recognize the distinctiveness of Paul's message and ministry from that of the twelve.  The majority of even sincere believers seem not to have asked themselves the question: Why Paul?  They seem not to have taken in the striking fact that after our Lord, in His so-called great commission, had sent the other apostles into "all the world" to preach "the gospel" to "every creature" (Mark 16:15) and make disciples of "all nations" (Matt. 28: 19) --after this, He raised up another apostle, and the twelve through their leaders, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, entered into a solemn agreement with this other apostle that he should go to the Gentiles while they confined their ministry to Israel (Gal. 2:7-9).  Thus some years after the "great commission" to the eleven (made twelve in Acts 1:15-26), Paul could declare:
"FOR I SPEAK TO YOU GENTILES, INASMUCH AS I AM THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES; I MAGNIFY MINE OFFICE" (Romans 11:13).
Paul himself constantly emphasizes the distinctiveness of his apostleship and message. 

We can in this verse see the distinction Paul makes in his apostleship, but there is absolutely no distinction mentioned concerning his message.

Mr. Stam tells us:
Three times he speaks of "my gospel" (Rom. 2:16, 16:25, II Tim. 2:8)

Read these verses carefully in context and you will see that Paul is comparing his gospel, not with that of the other 12, but with either the beliefs of unregenerate men or those who have strayed from the truth.

In Romans 2 he classifies all unsaved together Jew and Gentile alike.

In Romans 16 he states his gospel to Phebe in opposition to them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine they have learned vs.17+18.

In II Tim. 2:8 He states, "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel." This is exactly the same thing that the other 12 taught in their gospel.

Take the time and read each of the other scriptures the author uses to make his point and you will see that there is NEVER a contrast made between the gospel of Paul and the gospel of the 12.

Mr. Stam tells us:
In comparing the ministries of the twelve and Paul in this chapter we will number our statements concerning the twelve apostles so that they may be compared with those concerning Paul.

1.  The twelve were chosen by Christ on earth (Luke 6:13).

1.  Unlike the twelve, Paul was chosen by Christ in heaven (Acts 9:3-5, 26:16).

The writer makes a few mistakes in this contrast:

1. Christ was on earth when he called the 12 and he was on earth when he called Paul, the difference is that Paul was called by Christ after he was glorified and the original 12 were called while Christ was in the flesh. The reason I say original 12 was because Matthias never received the apostolic call from Christ in person, as Paul and the 11 did. And if Matthias was indeed God's choice for the 12th apostle then he too received his call after the ascension of the Lord. Again too, we need to ask the question, because the call may have been different, where in these verses does it say the message to be taught was different?

Mr. Stam tells us:
2.  At the time when Paul was raised up the twelve had known only Christ on earth. They had not even seen Him enter heaven at His ascension, for, "a cloud received Him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9).

2.  He knew only Christ in heaven, having never seen Him on earth (Acts 26:16, I Cor. 15:8).

Notice again, Paul saw Christ on earth the same as the other apostles only he saw Christ in His glory, which is the way all men, the twelve included, will see him from this time on. Read Philippians 2:6-11, and you will see that the change was in Christ. He was glorified due to his humility on earth, and it is this glory that all men will acknowledge as the stand before the judgment seat of God. NOWHERE in these verses does it say that there was a different message or gospel given.

Mr. Stam tells us:
3.  They represented the nation Israel--one for each tribe.  This is clear from our Lord's promise to them.

3.  Paul, as one apostle, represents the body of Christ.

Having read the following verses the writer gives: Rom.12:5, I Cor.12:13, Eph.4:4, Col.1:21+22, Phil.3:5,6, Acts 16:37+39; 22:25-29; 21:39; 25:10-12, and Eph.2:16, the scriptures show absolutely no disclosure at all, that Paul is the sole representative of the body of Christ. I see where Paul was called to go to the Gentiles with the gospel, and in fact could be declared as the apostle of Christ to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; 22:21), just as the twelve were initially called to go to the lost sheep of Israel, (Matt. 10:5+6) but again, the scriptures to not make even the slightest hint of a difference in messages or gospels.

Mr. Stam tells us:
4.  These twelve were first sent forth to proclaim the kingdom of heaven at hand (Matt. 10:7, cf. Dan. 2:44) and then, later, to offer it to Israel with a view to carrying the message to all the world (Acts 1:6-8, 3:19-26).

4.  Paul was sent out to proclaim "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24, Eph. 3:1-3).  While he confirmed the fact that Jesus was Israel's Messiah, he never proclaimed the kingdom at hand or offered it for Israel's acceptance.  Nor had the twelve until then ever proclaimed the gospel of the grace of God.

The writer finally attempts to draw a distinction between the messages of Paul and the twelve. At this point a review of earlier chapters will show where the Word of God disagrees with the theology of the writer. i.e.:

a. Paul proclaimed the kingdom at hand. II Cor.6:2 comp. with Isaiah 49:8-12, he also offered it for Israel’s acceptance Acts 28:17+23.

b. Acts 3:25-26; 10:43, is just as much the gospel of grace, which was taught by the 12, as the gospel which Paul taught.

Mr. Stam tells us:
5.  They were given power to work miracles (Matt. 10:8, cf. Mark 16:17,18).

5.  While at first Paul had "the signs of an apostle," his power to work miracles was withdrawn in connection with his God-given message (Rom. 8:22,23, I Cor. 13:8-13, II Cor. 4:16, 5:1-4, 12:7-10, Phil. 2:26,27, I Tim. 5:23, II Tim. 4:20).

Having read each of the scriptures the writer gives as proof texts concerning his statement about Paul, I can find not one mention of Paul's ability to perform miracles being taken away. To be sure, they show the presence of sickness and death and even Paul's "thorn in the flesh", but sickness and death were also present at the time of Christ. Matt.14:10-12. Does this then mean that Christ was unable to perform miracles?

We do know that Paul performed many miracles according to the Word of God (Acts 13:10+11, 14:8-11, 16:16-18, 19:11+12, 20:7-12, 28:5,8), but there is not one verse of scripture which states that his edibility to perform miracles was removed. And even if it was, this in no way implies that a different gospel was being taught.

Mr. Stam tells us:
6.  Their ministry was based upon the covenants and prophecy (Isa. 60:1-3, Luke 1:70-75, Acts 3:22-26).

6.  Paul's message was not based upon covenant promises or prophecies but entirely upon the grace of God (Rom. 3:21-28, Eph. 1:7, 2:7).  It was a mystery, kept secret until that time (Rom. 16:25, Eph. 3:1-3) and gradually revealed to and through him (Acts 26:16, 22:17,18, II Cor. 12:1-7).

a. Read Romans 3:21 and you will see the writer's first point made invalid by the Word of God. "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, BEING WITNESSED BY THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS: THE GRACE OF GOD IN SALVATION DOES NOT DESTROY THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS, IT FULFILLS THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS.

b. The mystery spoken of by Paul in Eph.3:1-6 is not so much the grace of God, but the fact that the Gentiles would be fellow heirs of God's grace, vs.6. Again as we read the scriptures we see that the mystery was given to a select group since the beginning of time (Rom.3:21, Gal.3:8, Matt.13:11), but Christ's death ripped away the veil separating God and man and made it possible for every man to have restored fellowship with his creator. II Cor.3:13-16.

c. Read the scriptures the writer gives concerning his last point and again you will see no reference whatsoever to the presumption that Paul alone received the gospel. If such was the case then Acts 26:16 would read "to make thee (the) minister and (the) witness both of these things which thou hast seen and of those things in the which I appear unto thee." The writer may make the point that Paul was the first minister and witness and others followed. This argument may hold true for the aspect of ministry, however only those who came before Paul could have given witness to the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, (I Cor.15:1-8 note especially vs.8), all believers after Paul must accept this teaching by faith, not by sight. Our witness is of the presence of the Holy Spirit indwelling our lives since we have not personally seen Christ's work on the earth.

Mr. Stam tells us:
7.  Therefore they were sent to the Jew first and looked for the salvation of the Gentiles through regenerated Israel (Matt. 10:5,6, Luke 24:47, Acts 3:25,26).

7.  In his message the Jew and the Gentile stood on the same footing before God (Rom. 3:22,23, 10:12,13).

In order to see the fallacy of this comparison we need only go to the first scripture the author uses- Matt. 10:1-15. If the twelve were looking for the salvation of the Gentiles through the regeneration of Israel as a nation. Then Christ would have never given the commands concerning the worthiness of the house and the reception of the word. The apostles knew before they set out that they would be rejected by part of the house of Israel. In fact as you read on in verses 16-23 you will see that Christ did not paint a picture of acceptance, but rather one of rejection. Such would not have been the case if the 12 were expecting to see ALL of Israel as a nation repent.

In Luke 24:47 Christ says "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." We see here the call to preach, there is not even the hint in this verse that that which is taught would be accepted by all nations, Israel included, only that it would be preached to all nations.

If we look at the scripture the writer uses in Acts we will see that Peter was speaking to those who would accept the word, for in verse 23 he states, "And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." Again this rules out total acceptance by the nation Israel.

Mr. Stam tells us:
8.  They ministered in Palestine only (Acts 10:39, 21:17-20).

8.  Paul's chief ministry was among the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13, Eph. 3:1,2).  When he would have ministered at Jerusalem the Lord forbade him to stay, saying: "Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles" (Acts 22:21).

Although the twelve spent most of their time in Palestine they did not minister exclusively in that area. Peter is an example (Acts 9: 31-32). To be sure Paul's chief ministry was among the Gentiles although he first ministered among the Jews (Acts 26:20-21) but nowhere in the Word of God do we read that he was told to proclaim a different gospel.
Again by using the writers mode of analyzing the scripture we must in turn believe that a missionary to Africa preaches a different gospel than one sent to India. Never is there any reference in the scripture to a different gospel, only that the same precious gospel of Christ went to different peoples.

Mr. Stam tells us:
9.  In their message and ministry they anticipated Israel's acceptance of Christ as King and His return to reign.  This was what they labored, hoped and prayed for (Acts 1:11, 3:19-21).

9.  With the raising up of Paul Israel was concluded in unbelief.  The Lord Himself said to Paul: "THEY WILL NOT RECEIVE THY TESTIMONY CONCERNING ME" (Acts 22:18).
Hence Paul's message, unlike that of the twelve, was based upon Israel's rejection of Christ, and explained His continued absence (Eph. 1:18-2:6, Phil 2:9, Col. 3:1-3, Heb. 2:8,9).

Refer back to point 7 in order to see what the scriptures say about the apostles expectancy concerning Israel. As an added note, if Peter and the apostles were looking for the salvation of Israel as a nation, why did they include them in unbelief in Acts 4:27, why did they rejoice at their rejection and humiliation in Acts 5: 40-41? Had they expected ALL Jews to repent, this rejection would have been a cruel blow to their cause.
As far as Paul was concerned he was just as concerned about Israel as the twelve were. Read Rom.9:1-5 and you will see how much he desired their salvation. Again we need to ask the question, Where does this point and these scriptures prove a different gospel?

Mr. Stam tells us:
10.  In the "great commission" to the twelve, water baptism was required for salvation and miraculous signs were the evidences of salvation (Mark 16:15-18, Acts 2:38).
 
10.  Neither water baptism nor miraculous signs were included in Paul's special commission, nor did either have anything to do with salvation under his ministry.  It is true that Paul at fIrst did baptize some; that he circumcised at least one; that he had "the signs of an apostle," but this was the economy under which he was saved and from which he gradually emerged.  Moreover, he states clearly that he did not preach circumcision (Gal. 5:11), was not sent to baptize (I Cor. 1:17) and that the miraculous powers he himself possessed would pass away (I Cor. 13:8-10).

If indeed what the author says is true concerning the twelve, then Matt.7:22-23, Rom.3:20; 11:6, Gal.2:16, Eph.2:8+9, and Titus 3:4+5 are not true, because they state that NO flesh is justified in the sight of God through works.

Concerning his statement about Paul, some questions come to mind:

a. Where in the Word of God does it say, or even imply, that there was a certain economy under which Paul was saved and from which he gradually emerged?

b. He states clearly that he did not preach circumcision, true. But where in the Word of God does it state that the 12 apostles did preach circumcision?

We know from the scriptures that when the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and his house those of the circumcision were astonished (Acts 9: 44-48), but there was no command given to circumcise them only to allow them to be baptized, (Note this too refutes the idea of the author that baptism was necessary for salvation. Had baptism been necessary the Holy Spirit could not have come upon them until after the rite of baptism was performed).

The problem which arose in the church concerning circumcision was brought on by a sect of the Pharisees (Acts 15:5) and it was the apostles under the direction of Peter (vs. 7-11) which ruled in favor of noncircumcision (vs.13- 29). Such would not have been the case, had the 12 believed circumcision was necessary for salvation.

c. The author also states that signs and wonders were not a part of Paul's commission. Why then does Acts 15:12 state that they were?

As we have compared this chapter of the book and the Word of God it should be very apparent that, although there were differences in the call, there were never any differences stated in the Bible concerning the message to be taught. Both Paul and the other apostles taught the resurrection from the dead through the work of Christ, Acts 4:2, Rom.|6:1-5, which is the hope of all believers.

Having completed this comparison the author now finds it necessary to major on a minor point of scripture in order to seal the fate of Paul and the 12.

Mr. Stam tells us:
Occasionally the disciples are charged with acting in the flesh in choosing Matthias to fill Judas' place as the twelfth apostle.  It is said that the disciples had no business choosing a twelfth apostle in the first place.  It is further argued that they first arbitrarily chose two candidates and then asked the Lord which of these two He would have to fill the vacant position.  Those who make this charge generally argue that Paul, not Matthias, was God's choice for Judas' place.

This charge, however, is not based upon a careful reading of the account in Acts, nor a very thorough knowledge of the Scriptures bearing on the subject.  Let us examine the record:

In my own study of the scripture I personally believe Paul could have been God's choice for the twelfth, however to argue the point either way is to basically argue on a subject which the scriptures are not crystal clear. And therefore should not be used as a basis for the foundation of any doctrine. Let us now begin with the eight reasons the author gives:

Mr. Stam tells us:
1.  The apostles, with Peter as their chief, had been given authority to act officially in Christ's absence (Matt. 16:19, 18:18,19).

We know the apostles were given the authority concerning the keys of the church, but was the choice of a twelfth apostle part of this command? To be sure, Matt.18:19 proclaims that if two would agree on any one thing it would be done for them. We could use the argument here, that Israel desired a king and, although God did not approve, he allowed them to have one which would be desirable unto them (Saul) but chose one later who was desirable to Him (David). Such could be the case here, Matthias may have been man's choice and Paul may have been God's choice. Again this is merely speculation and has no scriptural basis.

Mr. Stam tells us:
2.  It was stated in the Psalms that another should be appointed to Judas' place (Psa. 109:8, Acts 1:20).

True, but where does it state that the early church was to make the appointment?

Mr. Stam tells us:
3.  The twelfth apostle had to be chosen before the kingdom could be offered at Pentecost (Matt. 19:28). Note how Peter stands up with the eleven in Acts 2:14.

It  takes quite an imagination and absolutely no Biblical foundation to see the author's first point in Matt. 19:28. If we were to take this scripture in the context that the writer has attempted to place it throughout his book, we would have to say that the twelfth had to be chosen before Christ returned to rule on His throne in earthly Jerusalem, not before Pentecost. I believe, however, that Christ rose to His throne of glory upon His ascension to heaven (Phil.2:9+10), and appointed the twelve to be the ruling body over the church.(Matt.18:18+19).

As far as the scripture in Acts we could take this verse two ways:

a. Peter stood up as a part of the eleven.

b. Peter stood up along with eleven others.

Mr. Stam tells us:
4.  Their action was literally bathed in prayer.  They did not proceed until after many days of united prayer (Luke 24:49, cf. Acts 1:12-15), and when two candidates were found they again prayed and left the final choice to God (Acts 1:24-26).

These verses say absolutely nothing about their action being bathed in prayer. Note carefully vs.13-14, we know that the apostles as well as the women, Mary and the brothers of Jesus were in fervent prayer concerning something, but the scriptures imply that the prayer was concerned with the receiving of the Holy Ghost and not with the election of a twelfth, to take the place of Judas.

They left the final choice up to God, in a sense, but they only gave Him two options. It could very well be that God had a third option he was going to use in the future. There are many times in the life of a believer that we run ahead of the Lord. Many are the times that a believer has decided to do something, asked the Lord's blessing, and done it, only to find out later the Lord had a completely different way in mind. In a sense Peter and the others could have done this. Abraham did this when he went into Hagar and she conceived Ishmael. He thought he was doing God a favor by going another route to bring about the seed which would inherit God's promised to him. Gen.16.

Mr. Stam tells us:
5.  It is probable that no more than two (Matthias and Joseph Barsabas) were eligible for the office, for only those could qualify who had followed with Christ all during His earthly ministry, "beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that He was taken up . . ." (Acts 1:21,22, cf. Matt. 19:28, Note: "Ye which have followed Me").  Surely there could not have been many such.

Peter, not under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit but by deductive human reasoning, came to the conclusion that, since Christ had ascended to heaven, there would be no one else whom he would call as an apostle. Although this was sound advise from a human standpoint, we know that nothing is impossible with God. Christ could call an apostle to fill Judas' place even though He had gone to be with the Father. Notice that the primary requirement for apostleship was to be a witness of the resurrection of Christ vs.22. We also know that Paul along with over 500 others (I Cor. 15:6) were witnesses to the resurrection.

Note Matt. 19:28 says ye who have followed me. Many men have followed the Lord, through the action of the Holy Spirit, only thirteen, the original 12 and Paul received the command directly from the Lord, to leave what they were doing and follow Him.

Mr. Stam tells us:
6.  For this reason Paul would not have been eligible.  He did not even see Christ until after His ascension.

What command of God states that the 12th had to be present during the earthly ministry of Christ? Chapter and verse please.

Mr. Stam tells us:
7.  Paul was not even saved at that time.  Indeed, after that he "persecuted the church of God and laid it waste" (Gal. 1:13).

This again, according to scripture, nowhere eliminates Paul from being the choice of God as the twelfth. If you think about it no one in that room was yet saved. It was not until the tongues of fire came that they received the Holy Spirit which in effect saved them.

Mr. Stam tells us:
8.  The final and conclusive proof that the eleven acted in the will of God in this matter is found in the fact that the Scripture clearly states that Matthias "was numbered with the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:26) and that,
"THEY WERE ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST" (Acts 2:4).
Most assuredly, if the disciples had been out of the will of God in so important a matter they would not have been filled with the Holy Spirit.  Nor would Matthias have been filled with the Holy Spirit if he had not been divinely chosen for that particular position.  A man out of the will of God is never filled with the Holy Spirit.

Three remarks concerning this supposedly conclusive evidence:

a. Matthias was numbered with the twelve by those in the upper room, it does not state he was numbered with the twelve by God.

b. The giving of the Holy Spirit was not dependent on the action of man but rather on the action of Christ. (John 15:26) It did not hinge on the obedience of men toward the Father but of Christ toward the Father. (John 16:7+8) The Holy Spirit was not given because man made the right decisions toward God, the Holy Spirit was given so that men could understand the will of God and make the right decisions. (John 16:13) We know from the scriptures that Peter was a very impulsive person, he reacted against Christ, when Christ said he had to die, (Mark 8:32+33), He refused to have Christ wash his feet, (John 13:8), He cut off the ear of Malchus (John 18:10), he impulsively followed Christ and the end result was denial of his Savior. (Matt 26:74+75).

All of these actions occurred before Peter was anointed by the Holy Spirit. Peter did them out of a desire to do what was right, yet they were the wrong decisions. This, however did not prevent the coming of the Holy Spirit. The action of Peter in the upper room could have been done in the same spirit, only the Lord knows, but if wrong it certainly could not have prevented the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the same way that Abraham still received the promise, even though he fathered Ishmael, the believers would still receive the promise of the Spirit because the Spirit was necessary for them to understand the scriptures. An unsaved man receives the Spirit of God and instantly his mind and heart are changed in their relationship to his creator. If the Holy Spirit was dependent on a man's action toward God, how could a man ever receive the promise of the Spirit, since his every thought is against God? ( Rom. 3:11; Gen. 6:5, 8:21). Simply because it is not dependent upon his actions but rather on the finished work of Christ.

At this point look at the discrepancies the writer must make in the truths of the scripture in order to make his theology work. In chapter 5 he states that Peter, when he stood up on the day of Pentecost full of the Holy Spirit, was totally ignorant of the plan of God. However now prior to the gift of the Spirit he states he is completely right in his actions. If what the writer says is true then we as believers have no need for the Spirit of God in our lives because we are more in tune to the will of God without His influence.

c. Matthias received the Holy Spirit, but then so did Joseph called Barsabas. His being numbered with the twelve could not have made a difference.

All of the disciples received the anointing of the spirit, not just the twelve. Note Acts 2:1 they were ALL with one accord in one place. The Spirit fell not only on the 12 but on all the believers that were there Vs.3. The writer's implication that because the scriptures speak of the twelve after the election of Matthias should have little bearing on the presumption that it was due to there now being twelve apostles, since the twelve, in reference to the apostles, was used to designate the eleven after Judas' death and before Matthias' appointment. (John 20:24), in the same way Philip was called one of the seven (Acts 21:8) even though Steven another of the seven (Acts 6:3-5) was stoned years earlier (Acts 7:59).

Listed below are some reasons why Paul could be considered to be the choice of God to replace Judas:

a. Paul received his call directly from Christ the same as the other eleven. Acts 26:14-18.

b. Paul referred to himself as an apostle (Rom.1:1, 11:13, I Cor.9:1+2, 15:9, II Cor.1:1).

c. Paul makes the distinction in his call by God instead of by man in Gal.1:1. As a by-note if we read Gal.1:17-18, we will see that the point the author makes earlier in this chapter concerning the comparison of Paul and the 12, where he states in comparison 10 that Paul was saved under the disciple's economy from which he gradually emerged, is seen in its total falsehood in these verses. The writer makes the implication that Paul was taught what he believed at first by the disciples and then gradually received the new revelation from Christ as he went on. According to these verses of scripture we see that Paul never conferred about the gospel he was to teach with flesh and blood but went IMMEDIATELY to the desert where he spent three years receiving it directly from Christ Himself vs.12. Therefore the revelation he was given was the same one he had from the time he first saw the disciples until the day the Lord took him home, there is not one scripture which states he received another gospel later on in life.

d. Paul and the eleven both received their gospel through the direct revelation of Christ. The eleven while Christ walked on the earth John 17:6-8, and Paul after Christ's glorification Gal.1:11+12.

e. Paul, as well as the 12, was witness to the resurrected Christ I Cor. 15:3-8. In fact if you were to read verse 11 you would see that Paul claimed to preach the same gospel as the others.

As stated earlier the apostleship of Matthias as Judas' replacement has little or no bearing on the gospel of Christ. Peter may or may not have made the right decision prior to the advent of the Holy Spirit being given. What is important is that the scriptures are abundantly full of proof that the same gospel, that of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our redemption was taught by all. And that belief in that truth makes us fellow heirs with Christ of eternal life.

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