Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 8

You may listen to the audio version of this study on SoundCloud.

Today we pick back up in our study through the book of Acts 2:15-16 where it says, For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; Peter first addresses the mockers and assures them that what they had just witnessed was a true move of God and not the result of drunkenness.

On another note, I believe this verse is truly the source of much erroneous teaching in the church today. Why? - Far too many doubt that poor old Peter knew what he was talking about. Their bone of contention is the latter part of the verse when he said, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel." To me, that is just as wrong as those who say that he also got ahead of himself in choosing Matthias. No, Peter knew exactly what he was saying and his language was emphatic. If we start correcting Apostles, where is that going to leave us?

VERSES 17-18: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy: Peter is now going to quote verbatim the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32. It must be clearly understood what Peter is doing in these verses because too many do not get it. He is, for the first time, legitimately offering the Kingdom to the nation of Israel. Some will argue otherwise and say that it had already been offered in the Gospels. No, not even possible because Hebrews 9:15-17 says, And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. These verses make it clear that the Kingdom could not have been offered until after the crucifixion, let alone rejected. This is a great misunderstanding in my opinion in the modern church. Yet, when you start questioning the assumptions, people start looking at you like you are a heretic! In any wise, the Kingdom offer was rejected, Israel blasphemed the Holy Spirit just as Christ mentioned in Matthew 12:32, and it was postponed.

VERSES 19-20: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: This is where many today will say that Peter should have stopped in his quotation of the passage, but he knew full well what he was doing, I dare say more so than any of us. His full expectation was that once Israel had accepted their Messiah, Daniel's 70th Week would commence (Tribulation), followed by the Second Coming, and the establishment of the Kingdom. I would argue that his epistles are saying the same thing as well. He preached and lived the Kingdom Gospel (see previous studies).

VERSE 21: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. We must remember that Peter, being a good dispensationalist, was thinking and speaking chronologically, i.e., first, the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, followed by signs, and wonders then and in the Tribulation, the Lord would return, and those who call upon the name of the Lord would be saved. The last part foreseeing salvation in the Millenium.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 7

You may listen to the audio version of this study on SoundCloud.

We pick up our study through the book of Acts in Acts 2:5 today.

VERSE 5: And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Notice that this verse tells us that those who were present were only Jews. These Jews were men who had come out of every nation under heaven to Jerusalem for the mandatory feast days. These included Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks or Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles or Booths). At this point, we must remember that the Jews had been scattered to the nations as a result of the diaspora (the dispersion) after the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 723 BC. There was also no doubt some expectations in regard to the messianic prophecies that were most likely fueled by possibly the wise men who had come earlier, Simion's statement in Luke 2:25, and maybe the study of the faithful in regards to Daniel's prophecies in Daniel 9:24-27. Jerusalem must have been abuzz.

VERSES 6-11: Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. Immediately what happened was noised abroad. The term has nothing to do with the modern sense of abroad. The sense here is that of a rumor.

Notice the multitude in v.6. This is referring to the Jews that were just mentioned in v.5. They were amazed and marveled because all of those filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in other tongues were Galileans, but each of them was hearing in their native tongues in which they were born. Remember, these Jews were from all over the known world who were in Jerusalem for the feasts. Notice that everyone present for this event were Jewish, either naturally born or proselytes (v. 10). In other words, this was not a Gentile event.

VERSES 12-13: And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. Notice that there are two responses to this event: those who doubted and those who mocked. On a side note, that is exactly what happens today in regards to how people respond to God. The word doubt more so implies that they were perplexed more than that of being skeptical. They simply did not know what was going on. On the other hand, the mockers out-of-hand rejected the event as being a work of God.

VERSES 14-15: But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. At this point, Peter, being the designated spokesman for the group, as appointed by Christ himself in Matthew 16:17-19, stands up to explain just what is going on. And notice, who he is addressing. He is addressing the Jews that had assembled in Jerusalem and had just witnessed this outpouring of the Holy Spirit. His first concern was to refute the mockers who had assumed that the event had occurred because of drunkenness.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Dispensationalism, Part 3

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The next essential belief to dispensationalism is that Israel and the church are distinct and cannot be identified as one with the other. All dispensationalists agree that the church is not a new Israel as those of the covenant persuasion insist. Dispensationalists may disagree as to some specifics, but none of them, unless seriously confused, embrace "replacement theology" or what is also called "supersessionism".

The greatest argument for this is the fact that the term "Israel" is used seventy-three times in the New Testament and it is always, without fail, referring to ethnic Jews. Some will contend that Paul's use of the term "Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16 is referring to the church. However, the context clearly dictates that he is not referring to the church, but instead to believing Jews that had rightly rejected the teaching of the Judaizers.

Those who believe that the church is the new Israel say that this exchange if you will, happened on the day of Pentecost. But strangely enough, even after Pentecost, there is always a distinction made between Israel and the church. In the book of Acts alone, the term "Israel" occurs twenty times and the church term church (ekklesia) occurs nineteen times. Yet, the two are always kept distinct This is just further proof that the church is not Israel and never will be. Those who confuse the two will forever be inconsistent in their view of Scripture and God's distinct plan for both.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Are We Living in the New Covenant?

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The question that I posed to my Bible study last week was simple, "Are we living in the New Covenant?" After all, in all of our Bibles, there is a page between Malachi and Matthew which clearly says, "New Testament" which means New Covenant.

First, we must understand that the New Covenant was a promise that God gave to the nation of Israel that he would bring them back unto their land where they would realize the blessings promised to their fathers (Luke 1:72-75). The beginnings of this covenant are found in Deuteronomy 30:1-9 where God promises he will: have compassion on them (30:3), gather them together from out of the nations (30:3-5), allow them to dwell in the promised land (30:3-5), circumcise their heart so they can obey the commandments (30:6-8), and make them plenteous in every work of their hands (30:9).  The end result would be that the covenant would provide for their redemption and institute what was needed to begin God’s plan for blessing the "kindreds of the earth" through their priesthood (Gen 12:3, 22:18, Acts 3:25). In other words, what Israel failed to accomplish on their own under the Old Covenant, God would provide for them under the new.

The prophets also reminded the Jews of the promised New Covenant when Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 31:31, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:”. He also goes on to describe how God will put his "law in their inward parts" and will "remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 31:33-34). Ezekiel also describes the supernatural empowerment that will accompany the New Covenant as he writes, “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 36:27). Ezekiel goes to mention how God will do several things that Jeremiah also mentioned when he said that He will gather them from all countries (36:24), allow them to dwell in the Promised Land (36:28), multiply the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field, and they would receive no more reproach from the heathen (36:30).

Also, in the book of Romans, Paul says that Jesus was a minister to the circumcision to "confirm the promises made unto the fathers" (Romans 15:8). Hebrews tells us that Jesus came as the mediator of the New Covenant. Jesus testified to just that during the Passover supper with the disciples when he described the symbolism of the meal when he said, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Christ spent his earthly ministry preparing his followers for the coming Kingdom and the New Covenant by teaching them about the law and how they would receive supernatural empowerment that he would send to do so in John 14:26 and Matthew 6:24-33. Hebrews also tells us that the new covenant could not be in force until after Christ died when it says, "For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Hebrews 9:17). So, when Jesus died, he sent down the "Comforter" who would prepare them for the New Covenant with power to enter the kingdom (John 14:26).

It is the same "better covenant" that the author of Hebrews refers to in Hebrews 8:6 when he says, "But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” Also, it must be understood that before He  could bring in the new covenant, Israel's past transgressions under the old covenant had to be redeemed according to Hebrews 9:15 where the author said, "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."

Are we living in the new covenant? No, we are not. While it was offered, it was never realized because the nation of Israel rejected the message and the Messenger. As a result, God raised up the Apostle Paul to reveal the mystery of the church which will continue until "the fullness of the Gentiles be come in" (Romans 11:25-27), during which time He will reconcile the world back to Himself apart from any covenant or special people (2 Cor 5:19). During this current dispensation, believers receive the benefits of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross outside of any covenant relationship. Today there is neither Jew nor Gentile. Paul said that "God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” in Romans 11:32.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dispensationalism, Part 2

You may listen to the audio version of this study on SoundCloud.

Picking up in our study of dispensationalism, we continue to look at the essential beliefs of this lens of Biblical interpretation. Last time, we looked at essential belief that the primary meaning of any passage in the Bible is found in that passage of the Bible. The New Testament does not reinterpret or transcend the passages in the Old Testament in any way that would override or cancel the original intent of the author. Again, that is a high view of Scripture that simply means that the author said what he meant and meant what he said when he said it and who he said it to.

Today, we look at the next essential belief which is that types do exist but national Israel is not an inferior type that is superseded by the church. That just simply means that the church never replaces Israel. The study of typology is a special kind of symbolism. A symbol is something that represents something else. We can define a type as a “prophetic symbol” because all types are representations of something yet future. For example, Adam is a type of Jesus as we are told by the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:45. The flood of Genesis 6-7 is used as a type of baptism 1 Peter 3:20-21, etc. Another way of putting it is that types by definition involve God intended correspondences between Old Testament persons, places, things, and events with New Testament realities.

Those who do not embrace dispensationalism in favor of covenant theology will say the exact opposite and say that Old Testament types do indeed superceed New Testament realities. For example, they will say that Old Testament Israel was a type of the church and now everything that was for them has transitioned to the church. In other words, the church has replaced Israel. They say that this happened on the day of Pentecost. Dispensationalists categorically reject that notion.

The bottom line is that we believe that God made unconditional covenants and promises to Israel that must be and will be fulfilled. In Jeremiah 31:35-37, it says, "Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever. Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord." That sounds like a pretty iron-clad promise to me. Also, Paul said in Romans 9:4-5, "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." As dispensationalists, we believe God's very integrity is in question here. Why would God make promises to one group, pull the proverbial carpet out from under them, and give them to another? Seriously?

Paul said in Romans 11:28-29, "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." He says that God's promises are without repentance. That means irrevocable. Paul told the Galatians that once a covenant "has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it (Galatians 3:15). Some will argue that the covenants made to Israel were only for that generation to which he made it. No, the Bible makes it clear that the covenants were trans-generational Deutoronomy 30:1-10 and Leviticus 26:40-45. Also, the salvation and restoration of Israel are reaffirmed over and over in the New Testament (Mat 19:28; 23:39; Acts 1:6; 3:19-21; and Rom 11:26-27). If Israel is the transcended type that those of the covenant theology persuasion say, why does the New Testament make so much about Israel's glorious future? The obvious answer is that Israel still has a glorious future and they are wrong. 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mediator of the New Testament

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Hebrews 9:15 says, “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."

I have been studying this verse for a few days now. In all my years of ministry, I have been averse to studying the book of Hebrews. Not sure why, but I am finding that it is a treasure trove. Maybe it is because I have heard interpretations that I knew could not be right.
 
Be that as it may, this is the verse I am currently looking at. Notice that it says that Christ is the mediator of the New Testament, or as most of us refer to it, the New Covenant. No doubt, we all know that, but I would disagree with those who go so far as to say that we are under said New Covenant and I will explain why. This covenant, as with all covenants, is with the nation of Israel and their future redemption. To say otherwise is Replacement Theology.

Notice also that it says that he did this "by means" of his death. This speaks of his act of mediation through which he became the arbitrator in the dispute between God and Israel in regard to their "transgressions that were under the first testament" which had not been permanently removed through the temporary atonement that was provided through the sacrifice of animals (Hebrews 10:4). So, Christ's death on the cross was to provide redemption for the sins of Israel that they committed under the first covenant so that they (Israel) "might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" which will come to them through the New Covenant.

So, are we, the Body of Christ, living under the New Covenant? No, we are not, because it is not for us. The covenant was never actualized because the offer of the Kingdom was rejected by the nation of Israel. It will be instituted at the Second Coming and in full force during his millennial reign.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 6

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We pick up our study through the book of Acts today in Acts 2 which deals with the day of Pentecost.

We pick up our study through the book of Acts today in Acts 2 which deals with the day of Pentecost.

Chapter 2
VERSE 1: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. The day of Pentecost was the 50th day after the first day of the week after Passover, as instructed in Leviticus 23:15-16. This day was fully come only after seven sabbaths had passed, not counting the Sabbath immediately following Passover, but only those after the feast of firstfruits, which was always on a Sunday. I know that is a mouthful, but there it is.

Notice that they are all with one accord in one place. Acts 1:13 says that they were in an upper room when they chose Matthias; however, we are not told that they are still in the upper room here. The only insight as to where they were is found in verse 2, where we are told that they were in a house. Since few houses (then or now) would hold about a hundred and twenty people (see Acts 1:15), it could be that only the 12 were present in this particular house (though the traditional view says there were 120). I personally believe that only the Twelve were present for the following reasons: few houses can hold 120 people, let alone seated (v.2); if there were 120 of them, they were all Galileans according to v.7; and verse 14 speaks only of the Twelve. Of course, that is just my perspective and I don't plan on starting a church on it.

VERSES 2-3: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. These two verses give the physical description of the event, the next verse will give the spiritual description. Just as a side note, the word cloven means split or divided. Dr. Randy White points out that it is interesting that from the English language: in Old English cleave meant "to separate," while in Middle English, cleave had come to mean the exact opposite (as in Genesis 2:24).

VERSE 4: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. While we know that this event was both prophesied (cf. vv. 16-17) and phenomenal, we are not fully able to understand what it means to be filled with the Holy Ghost, at least not from this passage alone because we were not there and this event only happened one time. The tongues in this text are referring to other human languages that were understandable by those present.

Interestingly, almost the entirety of Christendom will point to this verse as the birth of the church. However, that can not be drawn from the text at all. Instead of being the birth of the church, I submit to you that it was instead just an adding to the already existing kingdom church. Why do I say that? - Because this is not the first time that the Holy Spirit had been given to the apostles at all. In the Gospel of John, it says, Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Again, nothing in the verse implicitly says that this was the birth of the church. To do so is using eisegesis (reading into the text) instead of exegesis (drawing from the text). I also believe it will become more apparent as we make our way through Acts that the church of which you and I are a part was not born in these verses. The literal Kingdom was being offered and ultimately, refused which led to God raising up the Apostle Paul to take the Gospel of Grace to the Gentiles.

Just a bit of backtracking here on my part. If you read the Gospels with the lens that says Jesus was creating a new spiritual Jerusalem as a new spiritual Moses, leading a new spiritual exodus to a new spiritual Kingdom, you will arrive at the church was born in Acts 2. However, if you will read the Gospels literally and stop spiritualizing the text, you will see that Jesus literally came to offer a literal Kingdom that was ultimately rejected and postponed, you can not arrive at the birth of the church in Acts 2. So, before you start regurgitating what you have been taught by your milder replacement theology friends, take the lenses off and read the text using proper exegesis.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 5

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Before proceeding into chapter two, I think that it would be a good time to give a primer on Pentecost. Firstly, in my opinion, Pentecost has everything to do with the Kingdom and nothing to do with the Body of Christ. I say this because the Body of Christ could not have begun until the Kingdom had been officially been offered and rejected by the nation of Israel. For too long I believed that this was done in the Gospels. No, it wasn't. In the Gospels, the message was "repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7). Notice, it says, "at hand", not here, but at hand. It could not have been offered until the Messiah had been crucified (Hebrews 9:16-17). This is exactly what happened in the first several chapters of Acts. It was offered by Peter and was ultimately rejected at the stoning of Stephen. Afterward, the mystery of the Body of Christ was revealed to the Apostle Paul.

Again, the Gospel of the Kingdom had to be rejected first. Paul explains it this way in Romans 11:28-32, "As concerning the gospel, they (Jews) are enemies for your (Gentiles) sakes: but as touching the election, they (Jews) are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye (Gentiles) in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their (Jews) unbelief: Even so have these (Jews) also now not believed, that through your (Gentiles) mercy they (Jews) also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them (Jews) all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." Pentecost was the beginning of the Jewish nation being "in unbelief". The NASB uses the phrase "shut up in disobedience". This had to happen before mercy could be extended to the Gentile.

However, with that said, God was not surprised by their rejection and already had a plan that involved the Gentiles. Paul says in this way in Romans 11:15, "For if the casting away of them (Jews) be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them (Jews) be, but life from the dead?" In other words, the casting away of the Jews meant the reconciliation of the world. That means that it was only by the setting aside of Israel that the rest of the world could be a recipient of God’s grace through Christ's crucifixion. Of course, it will also be the removal of the church through which Israel will be the recipient of God’s promises to Abraham.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 4

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Today, we pick up our study in Acts 1:12.

VERSE 12: Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. A Sabbath day's journey is slightly over a mile.

VERSES 13-15: And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Luke now names the apostles present by name. Of course, by this time, Judas was no longer with them. Notice also that it says that they were all in one accord in prayer and supplication. That is important to know since many today will contend that what they do next in choosing Matthias was not of God.

VERSE 16: Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. Peter, being the designated leader, points out from the Psalms 109 that Judas' office must be filled. Interestingly, there is no way that we would have known from simply reading the Psalm that Judas was being referred to. This is the case many times in the New Testament when light is shed on Old Testament passages. It has often been said, and it is true, that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. We must study both to fully understand either. Too many people today want to shy away from the Old Testament. That is not possible if you want to understand the Bible in its entirety.

VERSE 17: For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Yes, Judas was one of the original twelve apostles. Our Lord chose him knowing full well what he would do and prophetically had to do (Matthew 26:21-23). He was used, of his own will, by the way, to facilitate the crucifixion.

VERSES 18-19: Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. These verses are parenthetical in that they are just filling in the blanks in regards to background. It must also be noted that the field spoken of here is not the field that was purchased by the chief priests in Matthew 27:6-8 with the money that Judas returned to them. It must also be noted that the field that was purchased was not where Judas hung himself since they did not purchase that land until after he had done so (Matthew 27:1-5). Remember that Judas did hold the money bag and he was a thief according to John 12:6. In all likely hood, he hung himself somewhere else; even possibly on another piece of property that he himself purchased with his ill-gotten gain.

This brings up another point, too many times when we think of Judas, we imagine this shifty-eyed little creature that looked like a thief. However, that was obviously not the case since he was entrusted to hold the money. It is apparent that he was considered to be above reproach in this area. Furthermore, when the Lord told them at the Last Supper that one of them would betray him, none of them called out Judas. Instead, they each, in turn, said, "Lord, is it I?" (Matthew 26:22).

VERSE 20: For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Again, this is the quote from both Psa 69:25 and Psa 109:8 that Peter was referring to in regards to why Judas needed to be replaced.

VERSE 21-22: Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. Here we also learn that there were others who had been with them from the time of the baptism of Jesus by John until that same day that he was taken up in the Ascension. They were more than likely part of the one hundred and twenty spoken of in Acts 1:15. I believe that the point of these requirements is that the one that was chosen must have full knowledge of what was going on and present for the 40-day Kingdom seminar that he apparently had given according to Acts 1:3.

VERSE 23: And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Based on the qualifications outlined in the previous verse, they chose two men.

VERSES 24-25: And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. Before proceeding, it is important to note that the apostles were with one accord (v.14), basing their decision on Scripture (v.20) and after careful deliberation (v.23) and with prayer (v.24). If the apostles cannot make a valid decision under these circumstances, then what hope is there for any of the rest of us?

VERSE 26: And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. This verse is a clear reminder that even after the Ascension the apostles were living in a different dispensation, for we would never condone this method of decision making. However, in their dispensation, Joshua divided the land by lot (Jos 18:10, Act 13:19), the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement was selected by lots (Lev 16:8), the division of the Levites was divided by lot (1Ch 24:5), and Jonah was determined to be the guilty party when the sailors cast lots (Jon 1:7). The casting of lots is never seen as luck or as poor judgment under the Dispensation of the Law; however, it is never used again under the new Dispensation of Grace.

Interestingly enough, even with all of that, because Matthias is never mentioned again, it has led many to assert that the apostles made a hasty decision and got ahead of God. Examples of this can be found in practically any commentary. They usually ask questions like, "Whose name will be on the 12th foundation of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:14? - Matthias or Paul?” Why would they ask this question? - Because they believe that Peter and the others got ahead of God and chose Matthias when they should have waited for Paul. Another commentary goes on to point out that the decision was made prior to Pentecost which insinuates that the decision was made in the flesh. After all, they conclude, "Peter did make his share of mistakes."

All of this just goes to prove that far too many in the church today do not understand what was truly happening in the first eight chapters of Acts.



Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 3

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Today, we pick up our study through the book of Acts in verse six.

VERSE 6: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? It is obvious that the apostles were still looking for an earthly kingdom. To them, nothing had changed. They were still expecting the kingdom to come at any time just as they had been expecting and proclaiming all along. Remember the first words of John the Baptist and our Lord? Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mat 3:2; 4:17). Their message stayed the same as they kept their sights on the Lord's promise to them that they would sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat 19:28) when he restored the kingdom.

VERSE 7: And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. Notice that he did not correct them, but instead, he just said that it was not for them to know at that moment.

VERSE 8: But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Yet, while he refused to elaborate on the timing of the restoration of the kingdom, he did tell them that when it did come, it would be preceded by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost who would come and empower them to take the message to Jerusalem and beyond just like he told them in Matthew 24:14 when he said, and this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. We are all too good at taking this verse and applying it to the church today.


VERSE 9: And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. At this point, a question needs to be asked. Why did Jesus have to ascend? After all, why didn't he just stay and help the newly commissioned apostles complete their task? I believe that Ephesians 4:9-10 answers this when it says, now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. No doubt, we could get lost in the weeds in those two verses, but the latter part says that he might fill all things. The word fill means to make full or to complete. In other words, while the apostles were doing their part on earth, he was to do his part in redeeming the earth back unto himself, e.g., Revelation 5:5, or as foretold by his Father in Psalm 110:1 until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 

VERSES 10-11: And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. In the previous verse, we saw that a cloud received him. Now we see two men in white apparel. This lends itself to the fact that this cloud may not be atmospheric, but instead, heavenly hosts. In fulfillment of the promise by these two men, the Lord will also return with the clouds. Jesus said in Matthew 26:64, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Also, in Matthew 24:30 he said, and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Also, The Apostle John wrote in Revelation 1:7, Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. Remember also that those who are with him at his return, you and I, will be clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

One final note on the clouds. They are present at the rapture of the church as well. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul said, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Also, the two witnesses that give their lives during the Tribulation ascend up to heaven in a cloud (Rev 11:12).

I also find it interesting that the angels asked them "why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" It is almost like they are saying, "Hey, he is going to do his part, you guys need to get moving to do yours now as well!" What was their part? - To continue proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom as told in Matthew 24:1-31.

On a side note, we need to stop reading the church into Matthew 24,  or the rest of the Gospels for that matter. Always remember that while the promises for Israel are earthly in nature (Luke 19:11-28), e.g., a throne, a land, and a kingdom; the promises for the church are heavenly. Paul reminded the Philippians that their citizenship was in heaven (Php 3:20). As the Body of Christ, our future is heavenly and not earthly.

Finally, notice once again that the Lord shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. As I mentioned before, he left with clouds and he will return with clouds. However, he will also return to the same place from which he departed: the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4, 9).