Today in our Back to Basics series, we look at Basic #11 which says, "We believe that all people are by nature separated from God and responsible for their own sin, but that salvation, redemption, and forgiveness are freely offered to all by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. When a person believes and accepts Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord, trusting Him to save, that person is immediately born again and sealed by the Holy Spirit, all his/her sins are forgiven, and that person becomes a child of God, destined to spend eternity with the Lord."
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
The purpose of this study is to show that the book of Acts is a transitional book. The Nation of Israel was being set aside for rejecting their Messiah and his offer of a kingdom for a Body of Christ that would be made up of all nations.
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Sunday, October 6, 2019
Sadly, their message was ultimately rejected by the nation of Israel and God raised up the Apostle Paul to start what would become the church age (Acts 9). Yes, initially, Paul did preach the same Kingdom Gospel that the apostles preached, however, at some point between his departure and return to Jerusalem fourteen years later (Galatians 2:1), the mystery of the church had been revealed to him and he was now preaching a different gospel: the Gospel of Grace. No doubt, Peter and the others, realized that something was changing, e.g., Cornelius (Acts 10:1; Acts 15:7), but did not fully understand it until the Counsel in Jerusalem (Acts 15) when Paul returned and explained it more thoroughly. It was at that point that Paul's gospel was confirmed by the twelve (Galatians 2:2) and they parted: the twelve still remained with the Jews in Jerusalem still looking for the kingdom and preaching the Kingdom Gospel and Paul went to the Gentiles preaching the Grace Gospel. They are not the same. The first is still under the Law and the other is under the new dispensation of grace.
It must be understood that the timeline never changed for the apostles. As per Daniel's prophecy and many others in the Old Testament, their expectation and hope were that Israel would eventually repent nationally, the Tribulation (Daniel's Seventieth Week) (Daniel 9:24; Matthew 24:15) would commence, and would culminate with the Christ's Second Coming, the establishment of the kingdom, and them sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel just as they were promised (Matthew 19:28). This is reflected in all of their writings without exception. This apparently remained a hope until the eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the death of John, the last apostle. One would do well to remember this when they are reading anything between James and Jude in the Hebrew Epistles of the New Testament. They were always addressing the believing Jews and preparing them for the tribulation that they fully expected would come. Paul, on the other hand, had turned to the Gentile and the establishment of the church: the Body of Christ. As such, the apostles were teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom that required repentance and baptism, while Paul was teaching the Gospel of Grace that required only belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Failure to see this transition is the reason for so much confusion in the church today, e.g., baptismal regeneration, amillennialism, postmillennialism, Preterism, Replacement Theology, much of the Pentecostal movement, the loss of salvation, etc. In my opinion, it is only through the lens of the dispensational view that this can be seen clearly.
Unfortunately, it is clear from the writings of Paul that most of the churches that he had founded or mentored eventually turned away from the Gospel of Grace that he preached and placed themselves back under the Law or Gospel of the Kingdom (Galatians 1:6) and have quite frankly done so ever since, e.g., finding the church in the Gospels and the other writings of the apostles. With that in mind and the fact that the kingdom never came, in their ignorance, following the writings of Augustine, they began to spiritualize and allegorize the texts to make it say what they wanted it to say. As a result, the church became Israel, they were now living in the kingdom, the pope became the vicar of Christ on earth, and Rome became the Holy City, i.e., amillennialism. The Protestant Reformation did little to change this theology other than to reject the authority of the pope and gravitate from amillennialism to postmillennialism. Neither interpreted the Bible literally and both led to preterism. Dispensationalism was not lost but purposefully left.
It would not be until Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney on the edge of the Second Great Awakening that progressive revelation was revisited, wrongly so, as they waited for the kingdom that would apparently begin in America as a result of Joel 2 and Acts 2 being fulfilled. Yes, America was going to be that great "city on a hill" (Matthew 5:14) that they were waiting for. Unfortunately, the reality of the Civil War shattered any thoughts of that happening anytime soon.
Dispensationalism did not come full circle again until a fellow by the name of John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren in Great Britain began what would come to be called The Dispensational Era. Darby's teaching was popularized in the United States by Cyrus Ingerson Scofield via the Scofield Study Bible and the subsequent rise of fundamentalism between 1857 to around 1956 which sadly came to an end with the advent of Evangelicalism which is another topic for another day. The bottom line is that Dispensationalism is not some new contrived invention as some would suggest. We are merely returning to a literal interpretation of Scripture.
Monday, September 30, 2019
After years of teaching ministry, I have come to believe that we are simply interpreting the book of Acts incorrectly. I am not alone in that assumption. Many before me have come to this conclusion as well. So, I am not out on a limb by myself here. Those who embrace this view are often called Mid-Acts and Hyper Dispensationalists. These terms are oftentimes used in derision. However, make no mistake; they are dispensationalists who have just concluded, after comparing Scripture with Scripture that many of the things that we have been taught in regards to Progressive Dispensationalism are simply incorrect and current assumptions need to be questioned. Why? We are taking the things that belong to the Nation of Israel and misapplying them to the Gentile Church. In my opinion, it is just soft Replacement Theology. The result has led to constant attempts to overcome seemingly glaring contradictions that exist between the message of the twelve and that of Paul. This need not be. The contradictions disappear once the preset filter is removed. Rule number one in Biblical interpretation is that the Bible must be rightly divided in order for it to make sense and never contradict.
First, it must be understood that God’s initial plan was to reach the Gentiles through the nation of Israel after their restoration which prophetically should have happened with the first advent of Christ. Isaiah 42:1 says, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” He also said in Isaiah 49:6, “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” And also in Isaiah 60:1-3, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” Also in Zechariah 8:23, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” Of course, there are many more verses that show this, but in the end, the nation rejected their Messiah and his Kingdom offer, and the result was the postponement of said Kingdom, and the mystery of the Church being revealed to the Apostle Paul (Romans 11:25; 16:25; 1Co 2:7; 15:51; Eph 3:3; 3:4; 3:9; 5:32; 6:19; Col 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3).
Therefore, the book must be viewed as a transition from Peter to Paul, the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Gospel of Grace, and from Jerusalem to Antioch. The first examples that I offer are from the book itself. Compare the first part of the book in regards to Peter to the last part of the book in regards to Paul.
In Acts 2:37 we see after Peter finished his first sermon to the Jewish people about how they had killed their Messiah, it says that the people were “pricked in their heart and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter’s response was simply, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Is that what we would tell someone today? That they need to repent and be baptized to be saved? No. Only those who have incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures in this regard would teach the necessity of baptism to be saved, i.e., baptismal regeneration. Later in the book, Paul was asked almost the same question by the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30 when he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul’s response we simply, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." My friends, that answer is totally different than the one that Peter gave. There is no way around it. Peter’s required the work of baptism while Paul’s did not. Something happened. A transition was taking place.
Also, compare Acts 2:45 with Acts 11:29. In the first part of the book, we see the Jerusalem church selling everything that they had and “parting them to all men, as every man had need.” Why did they do this? They were expecting the Lord to return and establish his Kingdom! Also, the Lord had previously told them in Matthew 19:21, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” They wanted to be obedient. We don’t tell or expect people to do this today! By the time we teach the eleventh chapter of the book, the Church at Antioch was making collections to send “relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea.” Why? - The Church in Jerusalem was expecting something that did not happen. Why? - National rejection of their Messiah and Kingdom offer.
Also, compare Acts 12:11 with Acts 26:32 where Peter was supernaturally freed from prison by angels and yet Paul was imprisoned and headed for an appeal to Caesar.
In summation, something was happening. A transition was taking place. Peter was losing prominence and Paul was being raised. The Gospel of the Kingdom (repent and be baptized) was being replaced with the Gospel of Grace (believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved). The purpose of this study is to follow that transition. You may not agree with everything that is presented, and that is okay. Just be open to questioning previous assumptions and we can learn together.