A few days ago I participated in a live-streamed discussion with AK Richardson on his YouTube channel, where we discussed a little about the “Concordant” perspective on Hyper-dispensationalism (which is a fancy way of saying we believe there are at least two separate Gospels which two different groups of people were saved by in Scripture, along with the other details that we “Concordant” believers believe), and if you feel so inclined, you can watch it here:
During the discussion, AK brought up the point that we make about how Peter didn’t teach that Christ’s death was for our sins in the book of Acts, and how His death was bad news for Peter’s audience in Acts, rather than the Good News that it is for Paul’s audience, and pointed out that neither did Paul in the book of Acts, yet while we then go on to say that Paul taught that fact in what we call Paul’s Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Peter also mentioned the death and blood of Christ in one of his own epistles, in 1 Peter 1:18-19 And in 1 Peter 2:24, and commented that this would be considered good news to Peter’s audience too.
Now, while the answer I gave should be sufficient — that, while what Peter wrote in that epistle technically can be said to be good news for his written audience, it wasn’t called “the Good News” (aka the Gospel Peter preached) there, and that we also already know what the message called “Good News” (which is what Gospel means, as I explained in the introduction I gave near the beginning of the show — and I recommend reading my transcript of it here as a refresher on the important points I made about what a message is in it) which Peter taught his audience could be saved by believing is — this isn’t really a point I’d thought much about prior to the show, so I realized I should respond to this particular point a little more here, since it probably was AK’s strongest argument for his perspective, which is that there is only one Gospel, and that Peter and Paul taught all the same things. (I cover basically all his other points in my eBook, which is available for free here on this website, but this is a point I didn’t really get into there so I wanted to say a little more here.)
The first thing to do is look at what it is that Peter’s audience was said to be ransomed from. In the first passage, Peter wrote, “…being aware that not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, were you ransomed from your vain behavior, handed down by tradition from the fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a flawless and unspotted lamb…”
This is basically saying that Peter’s Jewish audience was ransomed from the Old Covenant, meaning from having to follow the Mosaic law of their own strength, which they could never do anyway. Instead, when the New Covenant comes fully into effect, they’ll have the law written on their hearts, as Jeremiah prophesied, and will finally be able to keep the law perfectly through God’s power rather than their own (in)ability. The thing to keep in mind here is that Gentiles were never under the Old Covenant (or the Mosaic law) to begin with, so we didn’t need to be (and hence weren’t) ransomed from it. Whatever the ransom that Paul referred to was about, it wasn’t the same ransom that Peter was writing about here. (The reference to the “flawless and unspotted lamb” should be another dead giveaway that this is a Circumcision reference, since the lamb is connected to the Jewish perspective of Christ’s death — if you aren’t already familiar with the pattern of differences between the Circumcision and Uncircumcision Gospels and churches, please see the table of differences I included in this post.)
So yes, Peter eventually realized the connection between Christ’s death and Isaiah 53, but he didn’t understand the full effect that Christ’s death for our (meaning everyone’s) sins had the way Paul did, knowing only the Circumcision connection to His death according to prophecy rather than according to the secret (or mystery, depending on your Bible translation). Jesus did have to die in order for Israel’s New Covenant to come into effect, and also in order to be a propitiatory shelter concerned with their sins, as John wrote, but His death accomplished so much more than that as well. As Martin Zender wrote in chapter 10 of his excellent book, The First Idiot in Heaven (which you need to read if you haven’t already):
The cross of Christ reached far deeper into humanity’s need than merely giving one sad nation a new heart. Each year, the Passover lamb was not tortured; its throat was slit — that was it. Not so Christ on the cross. Jesus Christ’s six hours of torture touched an aspect of humanity’s condition that the mercifully killed Passover lamb could not reach. The Passover lamb leaves Israel intact — the cross wipes out everything and everyone in its path. The cross of Christ says:
The whole race is finished. Watch the depth of suffering; see the six hours on the Roman stake. We’re pulling humanity out by the roots here; that’s how deep this goes. Forget Abraham and David; we’re going back to Adam now. It’s that bad. When this Man rises from the grave, a new creation will have come into the lives of those believing it. Eventually, all shall come to believe it. (As Paul makes clear in 1 Timothy 4:10 — “We rely on the living God, Who is the Savior of all humans, especially of those who believe.”)
Peter never taught this; he was not a new creation. The new creation eliminates fleshly distinctions, and Peter has to be an Israelite in the kingdom — he has to be. Jesus told him he would sit on one of twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28).
Yet what does Paul say? “For whoever are baptized into Christ, put on Christ, in Whom there is not Jew nor yet Greek” (Galatians 3:27).
Peter never taught this; he couldn’t. He has to be a Jew in the kingdom. Peter was not, and is not, in the body of Christ.
Paul alone discusses how one man, Adam, affects all humanity. Not coincidentally, Paul alone boasts in the cross. Only Christ on the cross — not the Lamb sacrificed for Israel — undoes the condemnation of Adam.
No other writer discusses Adam. They speak of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Daniel. Paul alone traces our entire spiritual history to the inaugural human. Only through Paul’s message does the entire race become new. The Hebrew Scriptures demanded a new birth for Israel. Paul’s teachings are to the new birth what a well is to a tea saucer.
Now I know why Paul always seemed like Mr. Absolute to me. Why I always sensed he went deeper. Because he did go deeper. I failed to see specifically then that Paul was the only writer returning us to Adam, relating Adam’s failure to the manner of Christ’s death, and removing the old humanity by the roots.
When I was a kid, one of my chores was to pull dandelions. My dad always said: “Get ‘em by the root.”
The gospel of the Circumcision does not get humanity by the root. Rather, it remakes humanity. It takes the raw material of the present creation and fashions it anew. This is what being “born again” means. “Born again” puts God’s spirit into Israelite flesh, so that Israel can at last enact God’s commandments. Being born again merely spruces up the old humanity; it reforms it. No wonder the other writers always struck me as reformers; they were reformers. Modern so-called men of God always wanted me born again. I never embraced that. I needed more. My root was wrong. Fix me today, and I am back in a month to re-confess my sins, as the Catholic church did to me. They never extracted my sin by the root. Their fix was a Band-Aid; ten “Our Fathers” and ten “Hail Marys,” and I was back next month — back on the wheel like a gerbil. The root never left me. (Protestant churches aren’t much different. Protestants say you must confess your sins each day or you’ll be “out of fellowship” with God, and then poor, helpless God can’t bless you.)
Thus also, Israel. With Israel, flesh is still recognized. In Israel, Jew and Greek remain. As I said, these must remain, because there are twelve thrones in the kingdom, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. What about Paul’s throne? There are not thirteen thrones. I wondered about this. Poor Paul. He was the most awesome, energetic apostle of them all. Where was his throne? Now I know: Paul does not have a throne on Earth; his future is not tied to Earth. Only Paul announced the truth: “There is neither Jew nor Greek.” This was beyond radical. Peter never did quite understand. Not be a Jew? How could it be? Yet Paul, in the book of Philippians, despises his nationality and throws it away. Either this is dangerous and stupid — or else it sits at the core of the most liberating message ever to visit humanity …
Paul pronounced a curse on the message that mixed law and grace, the very message that reigns today in the modern Christian church. This mixed message confuses and disturbs, breeding fear, false guilt, and shame. Many people hearing this mixed message wonder if they are really saved. Those hoping for truth in the realm of Christianity see some light in the writings of Paul, but then they read James and despair comes. Something in Romans thrills them, such as: “There is no more condemnation in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), but then here comes Peter. Or here comes James. Or Jude. Or Hebrews. Or here come even the red letters of Christ.
What these folks fail to realize (no one has ever told them) is that the red letters of Christ, while inspired, are not the final words of Christ.
“If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12).
What follows when people mix the two gospels, then, is the guilt and condemnation of religion; it’s a pseudo-grace in Israelite garb that attempts to couple “total grace” with a do-this-or-else mentality. How few people read the address on Scriptural envelopes; how few distinguish between what is theirs and what belongs to Israel.
They open other peoples’ mail and try to pay other peoples’ bills.
On the one hand, the Christian religion will say you are a new creation in Christ, and all your sins are justified. On the other hand (the hand they slap you with), they will say you’d better confess your sins and at least attempt to reform yourself before Christ returns and finds you slacking. Otherwise, how do you know if you’re even saved?
Identifying the source of this confusion will grant you a peace and security in Christ that you’ve probably never known …
I couldn’t have said it better myself.