A TIME TO BE BORN
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Almighty God has set the time for which every human is born, as well as the time of their death. And he also sets the place of their ‘habitation.’ And he does so in order that each soul has the best advantage in seeking him. Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
This is also evident in the most important of all births when the Eternal Son of God was born as the son of man. Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
And this was a part of the Lord’s message when he first began preaching. Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
The Apostle Paul considered himself as one born out of “due time.” But it was not that he considered his birth not to be under the control of the Lord God. He was referring to the fact that all the apostles except himself had been able to see the Lord Jesus in his earthly humanity as he walked upon earth, fulfilling his earthly ministry. For he saw the Lord in his enthroned, glorified state as he appeared to him on the Damascus Road. 1 Corinthians 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
Yet he comes to write that it is not seeing the Lord “in the flesh” that really matters. For many thousands saw him and never came to believe on him! It is in seeing the Lord by faith that is the true issue of salvation! John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 2 Corinthians 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
The time of the birth of the Lord Jesus was as certain as were other historical events. Consider these verses in Daniel that reveal the exact time of his birth regarding the precise timing of certain events. Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
And Ester, the Jewish woman who became the queen in Babylon, had it brought to her mind by her uncle Mordecai that her time of life was to the deliverance of the Jewish people from annihilation. Esther 4:13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. 14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Let us now consider the Lord God’s timing in the bringing in of the apostles Peter and Paul. Both their “times before appointed” and “the bounds of their habitation” were differently established by Almighty God for His purposes. Here is Peter’s entrance into the ministry of the Lord. Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. So he was just an average Jewish male, grown up in that society, as well as into his father’s fishing business.
Then there was Saul of Tarsus, which we know today as Turkey. Here is the account of his calling. It was at a different time and is quite different from the peaceful calling of Peter in a quiet domestic scene, “casting a net into the sea,” following along with this family business. Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Peter was always involved with the Jewish community. He was consistently entwined within it. But the Apostle Paul strongly brings out the fact that even in his calling, he was not involved with men, not even with the Lord’s other apostles. Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Galatians 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Therefore the Apostle, being called to minister to the Gentiles, had this far different birth and calling into the gospel ministry. He could easily minister to Jew and Gentile alike. Whereas Peter, even with his ‘rooftop schooling’ had a difficult time in ministering to Gentiles.
Here is the Apostle Paul’s attitude concerning his ministry. 1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
But here is an incident which reveals to us both the Apostle Peter’s and the Apostle Paul’s mindset concerning their gospel responsibilities. Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled (“played the hypocrite”), likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. (“their hypocrisy.”) 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
Take careful note that the Apostle Paul considered being “all things to all men,” as “walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel!” For Peter plainly confessed to the Gentile Cornelius “Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28) Therefore having been rebuked by God concerning the cleansing atonement upon all to whom it was applied, he still forsook the company of the Gentiles, to whom he had just been ministering when James and some other Jewish believers appeared on the scene!
And THAT is a most important event in the preserving of our gospel faith! For at that very moment the timely birth, and call into the ministry, of the Apostle Paul was of utmost importance. For his having been introduced to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ as ascended and enthroned Lord caused him to be beyond the influence of men! Please reread the Galatians 1:10-14 scriptures listed above.
If Peter had not been checked we might have had a Bible and a traditional religion that was but a half-baked Judaean composite! But thanks be to the Lord God, that in his control of the “times before appointed” of Saul of Tarsus’ conversion this was avoided. And this was not the only time which the Apostle Paul stood up against “the Jews religion” in order to preserve a pure gospel of mercy and grace, not based on the works of the law! Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
For the Apostle Paul stood against heaven and earth for the true revelation of the gospel of God’s grace. Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
He took those who professed belief in Christianity to task concerning these things in the Galatian church! Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
And how blessed are we today to hear this apostles words, for they are the words of his Lord, and our Lord! For in his calling he was explicitly informed that he would hear the very “voice of his mouth.” Acts 22:14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. 15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And we shall be judged according to the very words of his gospel! Romans 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Pastor Gene Breed
January 29, 2021