Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Daniel Study, Session 1

Today we begin a new weekly study through the book of Daniel. We will look at verses 1-5 where we will find that King Nebuchadnezzar had carried away the southern kingdom of Judah and will look to the Scriptures to find out why and for how long.

Teaching Notes
The prophecies in the Book of Daniel are so detailed and accurate that scholars who don't believe in the Bible as the inspired Word of God have trouble accepting Daniel as the author of his book. As we study this book together, I suggest you refresh your memory of the book of Revelation. It has been said that “Daniel is to the OT what Revelation is to the NT.”

The author has never been disputed as other than Daniel himself (7:15, 8:1, 9:2, 9:20, 10:2). Jesus also confirms this in Matt. 24:15.

Daniel lived in the sixth century before the birth of Jesus, i.e., 538 B.C.

By this writing, we know that Daniel was a very educated man. He writes in Aramaic, Hebrew, and some Greek. 

Chapter 1
Jerusalem Besieged
v.1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem at the end of the third year of Jehoiakim's reign in 606 BC (2 Kings 6:24-7:2 in fulfillment of Lev. 26:27-33). He did this only after Jehoiakim whom he had set up as king rebelled against him (cf. 2 Kings 23:36-24:1). 

King Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar was the world’s first great monarch. He ruled the entire known world at that time. His kingdom was Babylon.

Historical Background
350 years earlier at the death of King Solomon the kingdom was divided. The two southern tribes became came under Rehoboam and were called Judah. And the ten northern tribes came under Jeroboam and became Israel. This split occurs in I Kings 12:2-16. The divided kingdoms would never be reunited again. As time passed the ten northern tribes were conquered by the Assyrians ~ 701 BC. And in 606 the southern kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar. Thus began the Babylonian captivity which we will see will last for 70 years.

Punishment Allowed
v.2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. Notice it says that the "Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand." This clearly means that God was allowing Judah to be punished. Why? – Idolatry and disobedience (cf. Jeremiah 25:1-12; 29:10-14). Why 70 years? Leviticus tells us that it was because they refused to give the land a rest every seven years as commanded (cf. Lev. 25:1-7, 26:33-35). They were in the land for 490 years. Therefore, 490/7=70. This will come into view better when we get to 9:1-3.

Fulfilled Prophecy
vv.3-4 And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. This is also fulfilled prophecy as foretold in Isaiah 39:1-7. And, of course, among these selected was Daniel and his three friends.

Schooled Three Years
v.5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service. The young men were to be schooled for three years before they were to be brought before the king for service in his court. The training was obviously to teach them the customs and language of the Babylonians. It was no doubt also an attempt at indoctrination.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Acts Study, Session 10

Today we pick up in Acts 3:21 and complete the chapter and introduce chapter 4. In these passages, Peter points to Jesus as the fulfillment of Moses' prophecy about a Prophet that would come, the Gentiles were still not in focus yet, i.e., the Body of Christ, and that the offer of the Kingdom was still on the table.

Teaching Notes
VERSE 21: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. The times of restitution speaks of when all things are restored. The word restitution means the restoration of something lost or stolen to its proper owner. In other words, life would go back to the time before the fall of man in the garden so many years ago when man disobeyed and brought death and destruction upon himself and all that would come after him. The Bible says that the last enemy to be defeated is death in 1Cor 15:24-26.

Again, the apostles were expecting these things to happen one after the other ( Luk 4:14-21; Isa 61:1-4; Psa 2:1).

VERSE 22-23: For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. This is a quote from Deu 18:15 and Deu 18:18-19. Jesus was most likely referencing this prophecy when he said in John 8:28, Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

Peter is showing them that Jesus was the Prophet that Moses foretold would come.

VERSE: 24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Notice that all of this language is still Jewish. The Mosaic prophecies were to Jews and Jews alone. Peter is referring to the covenant that God made with the people of Israel in Gen 12:3. Again, no Body of Christ is in view here.

Foretold in these days is referring to the time in which they were living. Not the days in which we are living. Again, OT prophecies are fulfilled in the nation of Israel alone.

VERSE 25: Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Make no mistake Israel is in view here, not the Body of Christ. At this point, the Gentiles are still strangers from the covenants of promise as Paul stated in Eph 2:12.

Peter now reminds them of the covenant that God had made with Abraham which involved them becoming a nation, with land and a king. We must come to grips in the church today that prophecy relates to the nation of Israel. They are the center of prophecy, not us. They are at the heart of what God is doing. Yes, we get blessed, but it is not about us. To make this point, Les Feldick points out Deu 32:8 that tells us that the Lord divided the nations according to the number of the children of Israel. Do we get blessed because of it, sure we did, but His desire was to use Israel to save the Gentiles (Isa 43:1; Isa 49:5-6; Isa 59:20-21; Isa 60:1-3).

VERSE 26: Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. Finally, there is no doubt from the context that Peter is making it clear that the offer of the Kingdom was still on the table if they would just repent and be converted. Of course, it didn't happen, so God went around the Jews and went straight to the Gentiles without them.

Some will point out that just as God used forty years in the desert to get the nation to repent in the Old Testament, so He gives them forty years from Pentecost to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. That, of course, would be assuming that Pentecost occurred in 30 AD.

His message will be interrupted in the next verses because they had offended the Sadducees.

Chapter 4
VERSE 1-6: And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. The Sadducees were offended because they did not believe in the resurrection, so as far as they were concerned, Peter was preaching heresy.

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Necessity of Literal Interpretation, Session 2

Today we continue to look at the necessity of literal interpretation by comparing what could've, should've, would've happened had the nation of Israel collectively turned to their Messiah; as compared to what did happen.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Necessity of Literal Interpretation, Session 1

Why did our Lord stop reading mid-sentence in Luke 4:19?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Acts Study, Session 9

Today we pick up our study in Acts 3:16 and work our way down to verse 21. In these verses, we find Peter explaining that the nation had crucified their Messiah in ignorance and that if they would but repent and be converted, their sins would be erased and the times of refreshing would come.

Teaching Notes
Peter's Third Point
VERSE 17: And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. Peter now comes to the third point of his sermon: yes, they did indeed put Jesus to death, but they did it through ignorance (Luk 23:34). This point is critical in his sermon. They did it in ignorance. Even the apostles themselves had been walking in ignorance. For example, they did not see the cross coming in spite of the fact that Jesus told them emphatically in the Gospels. Even after the resurrection, they were utterly clueless as to the resurrection that would follow, cf. the women and the disciples in Luk 24:13-27.

The point is, they, just like those who demanded the crucifixion, where walking in ignorance. They were not walking by faith at all, but purely by sight, just like all of the others. The apostles had already had their' come to Jesus moment between his resurrection and ascension when all things were made know unto them, now the nation is getting theirs. 

VERSE 18: But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Having established that they did it in ignorance, Peter goes on to point out that it had to have happened. God used their ignorance to accomplish His purposes. 

VERSE 19: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; Having established that they did it in ignorance, they still did it, the deed was done, and they needed to repent. The word repent speaks of a change of mind in regard to what they had done. The word converted means to turn back or turn around. 

Peter is saying that if they have a change of mind and turn back, their sins will be blotted out, erased, and the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. The times of refreshing are speaking of the Kingdom that would come from the presence of the Lord. In other words, the offer was still on the table in spite of their ignorance. All they needed to do to accept it was to repent and be converted. 

The next verse continues to drive this point home when it says...
VERSE 20: And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: This is no doubt speaking of the Second Coming that would shortly occur if they did. I have no idea how I missed this for so many years! It is called filters! 

VERSE 21: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. The times of restitution speaks of when all things are restored. The word restitution means the restoration of something lost or stolen to its proper owner. In other words, life would go back to the time before the fall of man in the garden so many years ago when man disobeyed and brought death and destruction upon himself and all that would come after him. The Bible says that the last enemy to be defeated is death in 1Cor 15:24-26. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Acts Study, Session 8

Today we pick up our study by taking a look at Acts 3:13-16. We see how the nation of Israel stands accused of killing their Messiah even after Pilate was determined to let him go, and instead, they had asked for a murderer in his place.

Teaching Notes
VERSE 12: And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? Now Peter followed up with the message addressing the men of Israel. He immediately makes sure that they understand that none of what had just happened was their doing. They were merely tools. Peter, like us today, must view ourselves as nothing more than tools to be used by the Lord. 

We also need to remember that the purpose of the Holy Spirit was not given primarily to empower the apostles to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, but to also prove their Apostolic Authority (Mar 16:14-18). 

VERSE 13: The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. Notice that he is still addressing Israel and he is making his second point, which is that God has glorified his Son Jesus. It was not a good news message at all. Just bad news in that they were now guilty of killing their own long-awaited Messiah. 

VERSES 14-15: But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. The bad news continued. Not only had they denied the Holy One, but also desired a murderer to be granted to them instead. Not good. This happened in Mat 27:15-24. Peter goes on to say that now the one that they had killed, God hath raised from the dead, and not only they, but many others were eyewitnesses. 

VERSE 16: And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. This is the first time that faith is mentioned in the book of Acts, but it has nothing to do with a saving faith. It was only a faith in his name that this man was healed. We will not see saving faith until we get to Acts 13 when Paul is addressing the people in Antioch where they were first called Christians. Also, please understand that there is no church doctrine to be found in the book up to this point because there is no Body of Christ at this point.

Acts Study, Session 7

In today's study, we pick up in Acts 3:1 and work our way down to verse 11.

Teaching Notes
Chapter 3
VERSE 1: Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. I find it extremely interesting that Peter and John are going to the temple at the hour of prayer, i.e., 3:00 p.m. Why would they go to the temple? This is the new church after all, right? No, it wasn't. They are still under the Law at this point. And make no mistake, sacrifices were still involved in the ongoings of the temple.

As a matter of fact, this would have been for the evening sacrifice mentioned in (Exo_29:39). Again, nothing has changed in regards to where the apostles go to worship. The temple was still very much the center of spiritual life. There was no Baptist church on the corner yet.

VERSES 2-3: And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. Now we see that as Peter and John started to enter the temple through the gate that was called Beautiful, they came upon a lame beggar.

VERSE 4-8: And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. Number one, this is Peter continuing to use the keys that he had been given in Mat 16:19. These keys have absolutely nothing with him being the first pope by the way. Number two, this was a continuation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that had occurred on the day of Pentecost as prophesied by Joe 2:28-28. Number three, all of this was preparation for the expected acceptance of the offered Kingdom.

Side Note: It is not wise to to build a healing ministry today based on these verses. As I stated earlier, no one beyond the apostles had the ability to do this.

Dr. Randy White says it this way, "the church of Rome used to say that because of their wealth they could no longer say 'silver and gold have a none'; but they were never able to say 'rise and walk.'"

I have heard many say that because of the technological advances in the west, we no longer see these types of miracles, no, it is not because of technology, instead, it is because the Kingdom offer was refused and the gifts that accompanied it left with it. No, that doesn't mean God does not heal today. He obviously does.

VERSE 9-11: And all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. The miracle (as intended) brought amazement to the people and built a ready-to-listen crowd for Peter's second sermon. The signs gifts were always followed by the Kingdom Gospel.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Acts Study, Session 6

Today, we pick up our study in Acts 2:11 and complete the chapter.

Teaching Notes
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. Of course, news of what was happening began to spread throughout the community and abroad. Remember that the multitude is still referring to the Jews back in verse 5. The crowd was amazed and marveled because all of those filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in other tongues were Galilaeans but each of the men was hearing in their native tongue. No doubt, a miracle was taking place, in that while the apostles spoke in their own tongue, others understood it in theirs.

Again, it can't be overstated, notice that this event involved Jews, either natural-born or proselytes (v. 10). No gentiles. Why is this important? - Because this event was exclusively for the House of Israel. This was the fulfillment, the culmination, of Old Testament prophecy in regards to the Messiah and the offering of the Kingdom. When we lose sight of that, as I did for years, you start making this a Gentile event and calling it the birth of the church. Just think how many dominations have been started simply around this one event that had nothing to do with the Gentiles or the soon to come Body of Christ!

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: doubt and mocking. Those are the two common responses that I see in regards to God today. The word doubt more so implies that they were perplexed more than that of being skeptical. However, the mockers have rejected the event as being a work of God at all.

VERSE 14: 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: Now Peter stands up to address the audience. Notice who he addresses, "Ye men of Judaea, and all that dwell in Jerusalem." He is still addressing only Jews. How do we know this? - Because his orders had not changed from Matthew 10:5-6 when the Lord specifically told them, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mat 15:24; Act 2:36; Act 7:42; Heb 8:8; Heb 8:10). It took me too long to realize that, Peter wasn't all of a sudden turning to the Gentiles. His ministry never was to the Gentiles.

VERSES 15-16: 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; Now Peter address first the mockers to assure them that what they had just witnessed was a true move of God and a fulfillment of Scripture. I believe that this verse is truly a pivot point for so many errors in the church today because they tend to doubt that Peter didn't know what he was talking about. Peter is not saying, this is "something sort of like" what Joel said. Instead, he is saying, this is that. The language is emphatic. For us to arrogantly assume two-thousand years removed that Peter was out of line here is absurd.

VERSE 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. Many fail to see exactly what is happening in this chapter because we have always been taught that the Jews rejected their Messiah in Gospels by crucifying him, and now the Holy Spirit is being poured out and the church, i.e, Body of Christ is being born. Nope. Instead, what Peter is doing is for the first time offering the Kingdom to the nation of Israel.  It could not have been offered before the crucifixion (cf. Heb 9:15-17). No, it could not have been offered in the Gospels, let alone rejected. This is a great misunderstanding in my opinion in the modern church.

Of course, we know that it ultimately will be rejected, Israel will blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Mat 12:32, and the Kingdom will be postponed. Crucifying Jesus was not blaspheming the Holy Ghost. Matthew 12 clearly says that they would be forgiven for that, and he did so from the cross in Luke 23:34. Instead, what they were about to do, reject the Holy Spirit, and therefore, the Holy Ghost, that was the blasphemy spoken of in Matthew 12. And as we will see, instead of giving them the judgment they deserved, He turned to the Gentiles and shut them up in disobedience as an act of grace.

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: While most in the church today will say that Peter was right to quote vv.28-29 of Joel, he should have stopped there and not proceeded to vv.30-31of the prophecy because that was still yet future. No, Peter knew full well that once Israel had accepted their Messiah, Daniel's 70th Week would commence, and that is exactly what he expected. Peter is saying, these things have to happen before that great and notable day of the Lord come. He is referring to the Second Coming.

VERSE 21: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Bear in mind that Joel 2:28-32 is chronological, i.e., first, the pouring out of the Spirit, signs, and wonders, Daniel's 70th Week, the Second Coming, and those in the Millenium who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Yes, that last part if speaking of what will happen during the Millenium. It could not have been referring to Peter's day because they were still under the Law.

VERSE 22: Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Peter is still addressing Jews: Ye men of Israel. His point is that Jesus was approved by God because of the miracles that he had done in their midst (cf. 1Cor 1:22). There is no doubt that what Peter is doing is placing the blame squarely upon them and forcing them to a decision in regards to what they had done in regards to Jesus.

VERSE 23: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: This again is where many get lost in the weeds: God had already determined Christ's crucifixion. It was not optional for the narrative. It had to happen. God, in His foreknowledge, knew that it would happen. After all, they had to in order for a legitimate offer of the Kingdom could be made (cf. Heb 9:15-17).

VERSE 24: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. In other words, you can't blame Pilate or Rome, you killed him! The Body of Christ is never accused of killing Jesus.

VERSES 25-28: For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Peter now begins to show them from the Old Testament that their actions were actually fulfilled prophecy. He quotes from Psa 16:8-11 to show that Christ had to die and be resurrected. A fact that even the Apostles had overlooked (Luke 18:31-34).

The word hell is also a subject of debate because it is a transliteration from Psa 16:10 where it means grave or the world of the dead. That is a study for another day.

VERSES 29-31: Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. He continues to prove that David was not writing about himself in the previous verses. His point is that David saw Messiah being raised up to sit upon his throne. To be raised up, he must first have had to die.

VERSE 32: This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. And you guys are all witnesses to this very thing.

VERSE 33: Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. Jesus was no longer in the grave, but sitting at the right hand of the Father which is why what had just happened happened: the promise of the Father, the outpouring of the Holy Ghost that many of them had blamed on drunkenness.

VERSES 34-35: For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Peter refers to another Psalm, Psa 110:1 to show that the prophecies were not about David, but Christ.

VERSE 36: Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Peter's summation is that the one they had killed was both Lord and Christ (Master and Messiah). Again, notice the accusation is against the house of Israel and not the church.

VERSE 37: Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? They are now convicted by the accusation and asked what they needed to do now.

VERSE 38: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Anyone who can read can clearly tell that Peter's response is clearly not one of grace. He did not say you must believe in the death, burial, and resurrection. Instead, he said you, every one of you, need to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Remember the offer of the Kingdom required national acceptance and not just individual. Therefore, anything less than every one of you was not enough.

On the contrary, that is very different than what Paul preached in  16:25-31 where it recounts the story in which Paul and Silas prayed and sang in the prison. Note Paul's answer was nowhere near Peter's. Instead, it was, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. It must be understood that while under the Gospel of the Kingdom which Peter preached, national repentance was required. However, under the Gospel of Grace which Paul preached, it was simply an individual's belief that was required. Unbelievable how this has confused so many today in the Body of Christ. WE ARE UNDER THE GOSPEL OF GRACE!

Peter and Cornelius
As I have pointed out, the book is one of transition and we will get into this more later, but here the receiving of the Holy Spirit was contingent upon them repenting and being baptized. Later, we will see with Cornelius that he did neither and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44). A transition was taking place. God was apparently preparing Peter for Paul's ministry.

VERSE 39: For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. At this point, many will immediately assume that this verse is referring to Gentiles. Not so fast, we are still in chapter 2. Peter had not been introduced to Cornelius yet. Nor has Paul been raised up. Those who are afar off could only have been understood by Peter and the others to be the Jews who were still scattered to the nations as a result of the "diaspora" which refers to Jews are were living outside of Jerusalem.

VERSE 40: And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. The untoward generation is referring to those Jews who still did not believe.

VERSE 41: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. As a result of Peter's message, only three thousand received it and were added to the assembly that was continuing to grow there in Jerusalem. This is not to be confused with the Body of Christ that would later develop under the teaching of Paul. Bear in mind, this was an offer of national salvation to Israel, not individual, and it was being rejected. Three thousand was not enough! That number alone shows that many still did not believe. Later on in Acts 4:4, we are told that their number had risen to five thousand (or possibly eight).

VERSE 42: And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Now we see that those Jews who had responded to the Kingdom message and were baptized, are now aligning themselves with the apostle's doctrine. As we have stated, many will contend that this church is the same church that you are I are a part of today. However, that can not be drawn from the text. I have heard and taught many sermons on this verse being the basis for a healthy church, but never noticed that I had conveniently ignored the following verses in regards to selling everything and having all things in common (vv.43-45). I mean, if we really believed that this is the Body of Christ, why aren't we doing the same thing? Not very convenient for sure. This is the Kingdom Church, not the Body of Christ.

VERSE 43: And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. Interestingly, nowhere in the book of Acts will we see the miraculous being performed by anyone other than the Apostles or those closest to them.

VERSES 44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. Notice that everyone who believed, sold everything to ensure that no one went without. Why? - Because they did not believe that they were going to need it much longer since the kingdom couldn't be more than seven years away assuming they knew the prophecy of Daniel, which I have no reason to doubt. Also, Jesus had already warned them about material goods in Mat 19:23-24, and Mat 19:29.

VERSE 46: And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Notice that they did not abandon the temple and all that came with it, e.g., sacrifices! Why? - Because they were never told to. While a new assembly had been born (Kingdom Church), a new dispensation had not. They were still under the Old Testament law.

VERSE 47: Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Obviously, a period of time had passed since Pentecost, and they were now in favor with the people, and the Kingdom Church was growing. The phrase such as should be saved on its surface sounds very Calvinistic, but it speaks to the fact that all of Israel was to be saved assuming they accepted that Christ was their Messiah and the offer of his Kingdom. Also, Albert Barnes points out that it would be more accurately those who were being saved; however, I do not have a problem with it either way. Saved from what? - This untoward generation that was spoken of in verse 40.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Acts Study, Session 5

Today, we pick up our study in Acts 1:2 and make our way through Acts 2:11.

Teaching Notes
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. Notice that they were still concerned with the law. 

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, Judas is gone. Altogether, there was about 120 present. Notice also that it says that they were all in one accord in prayer and supplication. That is important to know since some today say that Peter messed up in what they are about to do. 

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, cf. v.20. There is no way we could have known that is what Psalm 109 was talking about otherwise. It has been said, "The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, while the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed." 

VERSE 17: For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Judas was one of the original twelve apostles. Interesting that the word part is kleros which is where we get the word clergy. 

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 the background. It must be noted that the field spoken of here is not the field that was purchased by the chief priests in Mat 27:6-8. Instead, this field appears to have been purchased by Judas himself "with the reward of iniquity." Remember, he did hold the money bag and he was a thief (Joh 12:6). Therefore, these fields are probably not the same also because, in Matthew's account, he says that he hung himself before the priests actually used the money to purchase the land (Mat_27:1-5). 

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. This is a quote from both Psa 69:25 and Psa 109:8. Again, we would have no way of knowing that these Psalms spoke to this without the light of the New Testament. 

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. The point is that however would be chosen must have full knowledge of what was going on and present for the 40-day Kingdom seminar in Acts 1:3. 

Note: Any witness could testify of his resurrection but only one would take the office of Judas. Why? Because testifying of the resurrection was only one role of the office, the Apostolic role included judging the tribes of Israel and it could only be filled by the Twelve.  

VERSE 23: And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Based on the qualification, they chose two men. It is interesting that these two have been with them from the beginning, but not every detail is recorded in the Scripture, just those that lend themselves to the story, cf. Joh 21:25.

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. 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 Apostles cannot make a valid decision under these circumstances, then what hope is there for any of the rest of us? They trusted God for them to make the right decision as should we. 

VERSE 26: And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. This is a clear reminder that 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 when Aaron shall cast 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 in the Dispensation of the Law, however, it is never used again after the Holy Spirit is given. Therefore, I believe those who have concluded that this was a decision made in haste are simply wrong. Of course, this line of reasoning upsets the whole apostolic succession practice of the Roman Catholic Church.

Examples of this can be found in practically any commentary: 1. "Whose name will be on the 12th foundation in the heavenly Jerusalem in Revelation 21:14? Matthis or Paul? -  Got Questions; 2. “On the issue of the "13" disciples, it is true that Peter and company "elected" Matthias to replace Judas, but not everything recorded in the Bible that individuals do is to be taken as ordained of God... Peter made his share of mistakes."; 3. "Whose names are on the gates? If we are to imagine that one of them will have the name "Matthias", then who will be left out (certainly not Paul, the last but also the greatest of the apostles)?"; 4. "Remember that the election of Matthias was held before Pentecost, after which Peter (and his fellows) are suddenly much more effective for God (as one would expect with the coming of the Holy Spirit). Notice too that to "elect" Matthias, they turn to the Old Testament device of casting lots, something Jesus never did and something that is never authorized in the New Testament (or practiced elsewhere ever again). Notice also that God did not communicate to Peter the need to get a new number 12."; 5. “The selection of St. Matthias (Acts 1:15-26) by the Apostles was made out of their desire to fill up the number twelve, but it seems possible they jumped the gun. Had they been patient and waited just a while, they would have seen the conversion of St. Paul and that he would have been a perfect replacement for Judas, rounding out the number twelve.”

Before we get into chapter two, here are some things that we need to keep in mind moving forward. 1. Pentecost is related to the Kingdom, not to the church. 2. The church could not begin (nor even be revealed) until the Kingdom had been officially offered and rejected to and by the nation of Israel. The nation had to be "in unbelief as Paul stated in Romans 11:28-32. Of course, their' being temporarily cast away provided for the reconciliation of the world as per Romans 11:15. In the end, it was only by the removal of Israel could the world be made a recipient of God’s grace and only by the removal of the church can Israel be the recipient of God’s promises to Abraham.

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, and as instructed in Lev 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 first fruits, which was always on a Sunday.

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 what happened. 

VERSE 4: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. This event was prophesied in verses 16-17. The context of this verse only allows for known human languages and nothing else. Sadly, most in the church have interpreted this verse to be the birth of the church. However, nothing in this verse says that. That is called eisegesis and not exegesis. 

VERSE 5: And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Notice that the emphasis is on the Jews, devout men. Thus far in Acts, we have no gentiles in the narrative at all. These Jews were men who had come out of every nation under heaven but were now dwelling at Jerusalem. They were apparently returning from the diaspora that had occurred as a result of the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 723 BC. There was no doubt a messianic expectation at the time. I believe that we grossly underestimate the understanding of the Jews of the time. They knew Daniel 9:24-27. Luke 2:25 says that some were waiting for the consolation of Israel.

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. What happened was noised abroad. The term indicates more of a rumor that had become known by all. The crowd was amazed and marveled because all of those filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in other tongues were Galilaeans but each of the men was hearing in their native tongue. Note verse 10. There were no Gentiles. 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Acts Study, Session 4

Today we continue our study in the book of Acts by looking at 1:1-15.

Teaching Notes
VERSES 1-2: The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: The former treatise that he is talking about is the Gospel of Luke. No one knows who Theophilus was, but his name means lover of God. As Luke states, his gospel was what Jesus did and taught until he was taken up.

Notice that Jesus had given "commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen." What commandments had been given to them? Mat 5:38-39; Mat 10:8; Mat 5:46-48; Mar 16:14-19; Joh 13:14; Joh 20:23; Luk 24:47. The bottom line is that all of these commandments had to do with the Kingdom and not the age of Grace.

40 Days
VERSE 3: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: Apparently, suring the 40 days between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus spoke to them the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. That means that Jesus had 40 days to explain to the eleven what was going on. Too many in the church today erroneously think they were ignorant of what was going on. Not true.

Promise of the Father
VERSE 4-5: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. They were told not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father. What was that promise? The promise of the Holy Ghost as foretold in Joel 2:28-32. So they were to wait until the prophecy of Joel to occur.

Note: Red letter editions of the Bible did not come about until 1899. However, it appears that John the Baptist said this and not Christ, e.g., Mat 3:11; Luk 3:16.

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? Notice that the apostles were still looking for an earthly kingdom! Throughout our Lord's ministry, they were constantly concerned about a kingdom. Why? - John the Baptist's first words were "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" in Mat 3:2. Our Lord's first words were also, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" in Mat 4:17. The Beatitudes of Matthew 5 are all about the kingdom! There entire message was the gospel of the kingdom, e.g., Mat 4:23. Anyone who says that we are in the kingdom today needs to actually read the text!

Yes, they fully expected the kingdom to be restored. Not in their hearts either, but a physical kingdom from which they would rule with Christ (Mat 19:28).

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. Instead, he just said that it was not for them to know. The bottom line is that the kingdom offer was still on the table at this time.

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. While he refused to elaborate on the timing of the restoration of the Kingdom, he did tell them that 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 Mat 24:14. Only the Kingdom is view here and nothing beyond that, i.e., the church.

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.

Why did Jesus have to ascend? The only passage that speaks about it that I can find in Eph_4:9-10 and it says "that he might fill all things". It speaks of reigning or overseeing.

Also, Psa_110:1 makes it sound like he was expected to do so by the God the Father until "I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."

On another note, when it says "a cloud received him" it may be referring to a heavenly hosts rather than normal atmospheric clouds.

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. The two men wearing white apparel are obviously angelic beings, perhaps part of the cloud in v.9. The Bible also says that he is going to return with clouds (Mat 26:64; Mat 24:30;  Rev 1:7). The clouds as present at the rapture of the church (1Th 4:17) and in regards to the two witnesses (Rev 11:12).

Interesting that the angels asked them "why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" The Apostles had a lot of work ahead of them. They had to prepare the nation of Israel for what was to come: the Tribulation, the Second Coming, and the Kingdom. There were going to do this by still proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom (Mat 24:1-31). This is not the message or mission of the church. We are not preparing the world for a kingdom or a king necessarily.  Our mission is heavenly (Php 3:20). Our message is not about the Kingdom, but about individual salvation. Luk 19:11-28 speaks directly to the ministry of the Apostles.

Notice also that 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. That is the very same Jesus, the same way you saw him go, he will return in like manner. Just as he physically left he will physically return. Just as he left from the Mount of Olives, he will return to the Mount of Olives (Zec 14:4; Zec 14:9). This is not referring to the Rapture, but the Second Coming. The Rapture is for the church while the Second Coming is for the nation of Israel.

A Replacement for Judas
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. Notice that they were still concerned with the law.

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, Judas is gone. Altogether, there was about 120 present. Notice also that it says that they were all in one accord in prayer and supplication. That is important to know since some today say that Peter messed up in what they are about to do.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Acts Study, Session 3

In lieu of a live study since I am traveling, we discuss the absolute necessity of learning to view the book of Acts as a transitional book.

Teaching Notes
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.

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).

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Acts Study, Session 2

Today, we continue looking at the book of Acts by reviewing some fundamentals of interpretation and defining Acts 2 Dispensationalism versus Mid-Acts Dispensationalism.

Teaching Notes
Now, with all of that being said, I believe that the apostles were dispensational in the way that they viewed the Scriptures and should we be. To them it was simple. The Messiah had come, and as per the Old Testament prophecies, he was going to restore the kingdom, and fulfill the Davidic and Abrahamic Covenants just as God had promised. No, they did not see the cross. This is evidenced both by their increased questioning as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom and Peter's rebuke of Christ for even suggesting his purpose for returning to Jerusalem. 

However, eventually, the cross did come and they were demoralized, but after the resurrection, and some obvious clarification laid out by Christ during the forty days before his ascension in Acts 1:9, they were re-energized because the purpose of the cross had apparently been made clear. 

Moving forward, their focus stayed the same in that they were still looking for the restoration of the promised kingdom (Act 1:6). This is evidenced by the fact that their message never changed. It still remained as it was in the Gospels; repent and be baptized (Act 2:37-38).

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 in 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 (Gal 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), 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 (Gal 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. Again, they are not the same. The first is still under the Law and the other is under the new dispensation of grace.   

Unchanged Timeline
It must be understood also that the timeline never changed for the apostles. As per Daniel's prophecy and many others in the Old Testament, their expectation and hope was that Israel would eventually repent nationally, the Tribulation (Daniel's Seventieth Week) (Dan_9:24; Mat_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 (Mat 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 Hebrews and Revelation in 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 Gentiles 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. As stated earlier, 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, if not all, 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 (Gal 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.

Sadly, with that in mind, and the fact that the kingdom never came, in their ignorance, following the writings of Augustine, specifically, his work, The City of God, early 5th century, 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, we are now living in the kingdom, the pope is Christ's vicar on earth, and Rome is the Holy City, i.e., amillennialism. 

Unfortunately, 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" spoke of in Mat_5:14 that they were waiting for. Unfortunately, the reality of the Civil War shattered any thoughts of that happening anytime soon.

Full Circle
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, and if we consistently interpret is literally, it results in a dispensational interpretation. These and other studies that I have done such as, More Than One Church, More Than One Gospel, and Back to Antioch, have all made me take a fresh look at the Book of Acts. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Another Gospel

After having studied Replacement Theology, Covenant Theology, Acts 2 Dispensationalism (the Body of Christ was born in Acts 2), and Mid-Acts Dispensationalism (the Body of Christ was not born in Acts 2 but with the revelation of the mystery as given to Paul). What now? How does it apply to my faith and walk with God? For starters, I can now classify books that we read, the churches that I attend, the people I listen to, etc. Now that I know that there is a difference, it is easy to spot which of the above they subscribe to. They are either teaching the Gospel of Grace, the Gospel of the Kingdom, or a mixture of both. There is no doubt that both the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace are true gospels, but they are different in that the first is exclusively for the Nation of Israel while the second is exclusively for the Body of Christ. According to the Apostle of Paul, mixing them is no gospel at all. He warned the Galatians in Galatians 1:6-7, I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. You see, you can mix Grace with Law and not lose much, but if you mix Law with Grace, you lose everything. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Acts Introduction and Background

Today is our first study together before we continue into the Book of Acts. I thought that it would be a good idea to just rehearse the road that I have traveled to this study with you.

Teaching Notes 
About a year ago, I did a study called, Fundamentals of Bible Interpretation. I changed me forever. The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:19-20 that we have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. Notice, that last part of these verses where it says, no prophecy of scripture is subject to private interpretation.

Many today struggle, especially in a culture that denies absolute truth; that the Bible says what it means and means what it says, period. Not a very popular idea for sure. However, when it comes to biblical interpretation, we can both be wrong, but we can't both be right. I suggest to you today that the main reason for incorrect Bible interpretation, other than just sheer ignorance and a desire to twist the scriptures to mean something they do not, is inconsistency and a failure to adhere to the fundamentals of biblical interpretation.

Right Division
The Bible must be rightly divided in order for it to make sense and never contradict. Paul told young Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. The very fact that Paul said this presupposes that there are divisions in the Bible and they must be properly recognized or, at best, they will not make any sense, or at worst, there will appear to be contradictions in the text.

One example of many comes to mind: the Law of the Kingdom as given by our Lord in Matthew 5. It was obviously not part of the Mosaic Law, but a future kingdom that Christ came to offer exclusively to the nation of Israel. Remember that the first words out of both John the Baptist and our Lord's mouths were, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. 

This is the message that they and the apostles proclaimed throughout their earthly ministries. Sadly, in the end, that kingdom was rejected by the Jewish nation, therefore postponed, and the church that was the hidden mystery was born as revealed through the Apostle Paul. Therein lies the confusion which leads to all kinds of wild interpretations, various heretical doctrines, and the cause of untold denominations.

No Law for Us
You and I are not under the Law of Moses, never have been, never will be. Neither was the rejected and postponed Kingdom ever offered to the church. At this point at least, we have no part of the Kingdom they spoke of. We are not in it and we are not building it, and yet, how many times do we hear things like, "we are a kingdom church, we are building the kingdom, we are enlarging the kingdom, we are bringing in the kingdom, we are doing kingdom work", etc. Why? - A failure to understand that the Kingdom was not offered to the church. As a matter of fact, little, if anything, that was spoken in the gospels in their entirety has anything to do with you and me today.

Results of Bad Doctrine
Think about the things that are taught today in regards to losing one's salvation, the need to stay faithful until the end, baptism as a requirement for salvation (baptismal regeneration), works to be saved, the church is now Israel (replacement theology), amillennialism, and postmillennialism. Where do these teachings come from? The Gospels! Again, the Gospels were about a Jewish Messiah that came to a Jewish people to proclaim that a Jewish Kingdom was at hand! See the problem? No, I have not always understood these things so clearly, and many around me may disagree. However, I believe that a failure to understand leads only to misinterpretation and contradiction.

Distinctiveness of Paul
Another thing in regards to interpreting the Bible to remember is the distinctiveness of Paul's revelation about the hidden mystery or the Church. As such, his thirteen epistles, Romans through Philemon, are of supreme importance during this dispensation of the Church or grace. 

We must understand that Jesus and his apostles ministered to the House of Israel with a message of an offered kingdom if the nation would collectively repent. It was not contingent upon individual repentance, but national. There were at least five thousand Jews, maybe eight thousand, depending how you interpret the response to Peter's second sermon, that we know of that repented in the book of Acts (Act 2:41; Act 4:4), but the nation itself never did repent, and thus, rejected their Messiah and his kingdom offer. Therefore, the kingdom was postponed, not be offered again until the Tribulation Period or what is called Daniel's Seventieth Week (Dan 9:27). As such, God raised up the Apostle Paul with a new message to take to the Gentiles.

New Testament Beginnings
Another thing that many fail to see is that the New Testament does not start in Matthew, chapter 1, in spite of the fact that all of our Bibles have a page marked New Testament between Malachi and Matthew. As a matter of fact, it could not have started until after the crucifixion, and I would contend, the resurrection of Christ (Cf. Heb 9:16-17). In other words, there can be no testament without the death of the one making it, i.e., Jesus. Remember, that our Last Will and Testaments are not enforced until after we die.

That means that all of the Gospels are Old Testament. The New Testament could not have begun until at least Matthew 27:51 when Christ died. To rightly interpret the Bible is to understand this. Do not be tempted as so many, including me once, to pull the teachings in the Gospels into the Church! If you do, you will end up with confusion that we just discussed.

Church Doctrine
With that said, the epistles of Paul are of supreme importance to you and me today. They alone are where the Church gets its doctrine. Also, they shed tremendous light on the Old Testament by revealing things that we never would have or could have known without them.

Paul's Gospel was Different
This also means that the gospel that Paul received from God himself was different than the gospel which Jesus and the apostles taught in the Gospels and even well into the book of Acts. Now, before you become a bit unhinged, remember that the apostles had no clue that Jesus was going to be crucified; even when he told them directly because the Bible says that it was hidden from them (Luk 18:31-34). 

Bear in mind, this was right after he had commissioned them to go out and preach the kingdom of God (we call this the Gospel of the Kingdom) in Luk 9:1-2. The apostles were not preaching the Gospel of Grace that Paul preached. Paul's gospel was different in that it included the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It also required only belief as compared to the Kingdom Gospel that required repentance and baptism.

Exclusive Gospel
All throughout Paul's epistles, he says that this gospel was exclusively delivered to him (Cf. Gal 1:11-12;  Eph 3:2-4; Rom 2:16; Rom 16:25; Gal 1:15-17; and Gal 2:2). The bottom line is that the gospel that Paul preached was different from the gospel that the other apostles taught.

The conclusion is that when interpreting the Bible, we must remember that Paul's gospel is unique to the Church. Only Paul received the revelation of the mystery that had been hidden from ages and from generations but now is made manifest to his saints (Col 1:26).