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Restoration

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Restoration

Think on These Things

What kind of person would we be if we agreed to make life-changing decisions based upon hearsay?  We would be foolish. Decisions that affect what a company will pursue, invest in, and lay its reputation on the line requires diligent study and long hours of debating the pros and cons.

If it is important to be prudent and resolute in business, why shouldn’t it be of equal importance in things spiritual?  Why are we so ambitious in things related to business and so lazy in the pursuit of understanding the Word of God?

You might think you are ambitious in your Bible study when in fact you are not a studier but a reader.  You might think you have a good understanding of truth but you do not.  “What makes you say that,” you ask?  Let me ask you a question.  “This knowledge that you say you have, how did you acquire it?  Did you receive it from parents, from a Sunday School teacher, a preacher, rabbi, priest, a denominational creed or a friend?” 

Now any and all of these may be reliable sources of information, but then again they may not be.  I would need to know where they obtained their information before I could be sure of it authenticity.  I would want to know if theses sources obtained their data from hearsay or from actual study. 

Wouldn’t it be wise to be as prudent and resolute in the things that will affect your spiritual life, at least on an equal basis with the things that affect a business?  It should be, so why not take the same approach as you would in business:  study, diligently, spend long hours sorting out all the pros and cons.

Pentecost

For most Christians, this is a word that has significance.  What mental picture do you get when you see it in print or hear it spoken?  Do you recall when you first heard about it?  I imagine that if you have heard of it you probably received your knowledge of it through some traditional form of church teaching.  You have probably accepted whatever the authoritative figure at home or church told you. In other words, if it was good enough for Mom and Dad, it’s good enough for me syndrome.

So, perhaps you have been told that Pentecost marks the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ; that on this day there were assembled Jews and Gentiles having all things common and thus establishing the way Christians should conduct themselves in the 21st Century.  You were probably told that the events that transpired on the day of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the speaking in tongues, the healing of the sick, raising of the dead, etc. are things that we can do ourselves today.  Are they? 

If you want to be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed you will learn to rightly divide the truth. (2 Timothy 2: 15)  You will have to come to the decision that there must be a Book that has the truth in it, and for me it is a King James Bible.  You must also believe what the Word says, not what flesh and blood said.  I will be the first to admit that this may be difficult because it may mean admitting you have been wrong for many years.

Do you realize how hard it is to admit you may have been wrong?  It is as hard as it is for most of us to say I’m sorry.  But if you really want to know the truth about Biblical things, you must ask yourselves some serious questions:

  1. Do I really want to know the truth if it means I may be the object of ridicule?  I can assure you there will be many that will ridicule you, perhaps curse you and call you names if you go against the way they believe.
  2. Do I really want to be satisfied with the limited knowledge I have even if it is wrong?
  3. Do I want to know what God has for me or will I be content in having a small portion?

Suffering for the truth is nothing new, most true believers have had to suffer.  Jesus Christ chose to suffer, and you and I have been called on to suffer with the promise of reigning with Christ if we do. (2 Timothy 2: 12)

 

THE STARTING POINT

Before we can get a clear picture of the events that transpired on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) we need to understand why the Jews were gather together and for what purpose.  Was it a law, or was it just a church fellowship?  Please read Leviticus 23: 15-21:

15     And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:

16     Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.

17     Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.

18     And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord.

19     Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.

20     And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs: they

21     And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

Fact:  Pentecost was one of the seven Jewish feast days.  It is a part of the harvest which begins with the Feast of First Fruits;  “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:” (Leviticus 23: 10) and it ends with the Feast of Trumpets “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.”  (Leviticus 23: 22-25)

Listed below are the seven feast days recorded in Leviticus 23:

  1. PASSOVER
  2. UNLEAVENED BREAD
  3. FIRSTFRUITS
  4. PENTECOST
  5. TRUMPETS
  6. ATONEMENT
  7. TABERNACLES

The following chart lists the seven feasts as they were observed.  We have included the month and number of days they were to be observed.  I have also included a time line starting with the death of Christ and where that coincides with the feast days.  Since the Church the Body of Christ was a mystery hid in God before the foundation of the world, it plays no part in Israel’s time line, but we have shown it as a break in time.  Israel is Lo-Ammi (not God’s people) today., and the time for Israel will resume when the Body is raptured.

Fact:  Feasts for Israel are not feasts for The Church the Body of Christ in the Dispensation of Grace.          

In the 21st Century, we are living in the time listed as the Dispensation of Grace. You will notice on the chart it is a period of time between Pentecost and Trumpets.  Even thought the Feasts are to be observed in real time, they represent the events concerning Messiah in both real time and future time.  The first four feasts have already taken place and there are three more to come, after the rapture of the Church the Body of Christ.  Lets look at a brief overview of each of the feast days. (we will discuss them in detail a little later)

PASSOVER:  (Leviticus 23: 4-5)  This represents death, in this instance the death of Jesus.  It has to do with redemption from bondage out of Egypt.  The blood on the two side posts and on the upper doorpost had a two-fold purpose: identification and sanctification (Exodus 12: 1-12).  Please note that the offering of blood was made by the head of the household and not by the high priest.  This blood was not for the blotting out of sins; that would come on the day of the Day of Atonement.  This blood was for temporal deliverance from bondage, but the atonement for sins would come at a later date.

UNLEAVENED BREAD:  (Leviticus 23: 6-8)  This represents the burial, of Jesus.  In Matthew 16: 6, 12 this leaven is spoken of as doctrine, in this Matthew account we learn of the evil doctrine (leaven) of men.  There was no evil doctrine in Jesus and therefore feeding on the unleavened bread of the Lord means one receives good spiritual food.

FIRSTFRUITS:  (Leviticus 23: 9-14)  This represents the resurrection of Jesus.  It marks the beginning of the harvest (see chart) and is the feast of thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest yet to come.  It is a reminder that as long as the corn is in the ground it is nothing, but it is being transformed into something new for harvest.  The corn seed must die before it can be resurrected into something new.

PENTECOST:  (Leviticus 23: 15-22)  This represents the gathering of the crops, which in this case is souls.  The Greek word “Penta” means fifty, thus the fifty days of verse 16.  Israel had been sown to the world.  In Acts chapter two she is being restored as God promised in Joel 2: 25-32.  However, something happened and God delayed the restoration.

TRUMPETS:  (Leviticus 23: 23-25)  This signals the calling of Israel to Mount Zion (Isaiah 27: 12-13), in anticipation of the Lord coming back to redeem them and to blot out their sins.

ATONEMENT:  (Leviticus 23: 27-32)  This marks the second coming of Christ to the earth. Purpose: to redeem His people in fulfillment of His promise.  The time of restitution of all things in Acts 3: 19-21 takes place at this time.  Israel will be gathered back into the promise land.

TABERNACLES:  (Leviticus 23: 33-44)  This represents the time of the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth.  It is from here that Christ will rule and reign with a rod of iron.  During this time Satan will be bound and Israel will be safe.

GOD’S PLAN FOR THE NATION ISRAEL

When God chose Abram, it was His plan that through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob a nation would emerge – Israel.  That nation’s purpose was to be fruitful for the Lord and gather souls for His Kingdom. 

 

By the time Noah, who was in the lineage Abraham, came along it was evident that the Noahtic Covenant (Genesis 11) had failed for God had scattered the people and confounded their language.  Then in Genesis Chapter Twelve, God separates Abram, asking him to leave his father and his country and go to another land.  Once Abram did that, showing his faith in God, the Lord promised Abram his seed (Israel) would be a blessing to the world.  Abram would pass on a message to his lineage that there was one true God, and God would bless him and his seed.

 

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.  (Genesis 12: 1-3)

 

The majority of the Old Testament deals with the promises of God to the nation Israel and the prophecy concerning them.  In those Scriptures you will see documentation of Israel’s failure to fulfil her obligation, how God chastises her and what He has in store for Her if she is faithful and repents.  The feasts were ordained to be a reminder of her obligation and responsibility.  As time transpires, Israel became a nation more concerned with the ritual and not with the purpose of the feasts, and that eventually led to her loosing favor with God.

 

Israel was to be a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priest and a holy nation.

 

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.  (Exodus 19: 5-6)

 

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.  (1 Peter 2: 9-10)

 

She was chosen to represent God on earth and lead the lost to the Lord by working the fields of the world.  Those of the world whom Israel harvested would then receive the blessings of Abraham.  But Israel failed miserably, so God scattered them to the four winds and into the land of the Gentiles.

 

The Book of Hosea tells the story of fallen Israel.  God instructs Hosea to take a wife of whoredoms (Gomer).  Hosea is a type of Jehovah and Gomer is a type of Israel.  They have three children, which represents the stages that Israel must go through.  The names of the children of Hosea and Gomer are a picture of the state of Israel during their time of departure from the Lord.

 

JEZREEL:  This was the firstborn.  The name means scattering and sowing and can be found in Hosea 1: 4.

LORUHAMAH:  The name means not having obtained mercy.  This was the second child and the name means not having obtained mercy. (Hoses 1: 6)

LOAMMI:  This was the third and last child.  The name means not my people and is found in Hosea 1: 9.

So it was with Israel.  God scattered her among Gentile nations and she did not learn from that so God refused to have mercy on her and allowed her to come under bondage.  When God raised up Moses she reformed temporarily, but by Acts 28 she had become Loammi, not the people of God.  She is still not the chosen of God today.

First she is scattered and sown.  Four nations will rule over her.

That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten. (Joel 1: 4)

The insects in the passage represent four nations:

PALMERWORM                BABYLON

LOCUST                               MEDIA-PERSIA

CANKERWORM                GREECE

CATERPILLER                   ROME

After being sown among Gentile nations, God has no mercy on her for a period of time with the promise to bring her back into favor.

And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. (Hosea 2: 21-23)

The third part of Israel’s demise is found in Acts 28.

And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. (Acts 28: 25-28)

But God had Joel write that He would restore the people who had been declared “not my people” back to favor.  And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. (Joel 2: 25)

When will that be?  When the restoration is complete. The start of the restoration began in Acts.  The disciples were aware that restoration was to come, for they were familiar with Joel’s prophecy. 

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.  (Joel 2: 28-32)

 So after Jesus was resurrected, they asked Him when that would happen.  When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?  (Acts 1: 6)   Look at Jesus’ reply.  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. 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.  (Acts 1: 7-8)  The Lord did not say the time of restoration was near, nor did He say it wasn’t, and then He was taken away to heaven.

Armed with this limited information the disciples make preparations to observe the Feast of Pentecost, and when the people began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, some questioned what was going on but Peter knew what was happening, and said:  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. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;  (Acts 2: 14-16)

Peter then quotes the prophecy of Joel 2: 28-32.   Acts 2: 17-21 is the same as Joel 2: 28-32. So it is evident that Peter thought that the restoration had begun, which it had.  However, it is also evident as to why the Lord could not answer that it had or had not been the time for it to begin. Why?  Because it takes a downward turn in Acts 5 when Ananias and Sapphira keep back part of their possessions for themselves rather than giving them all to the disciples for equal distribution among the people.

From Acts 5 Israel begins her slide from favor to disfavor, and by Acts 28 she had completely lost favor with God and was declared Loammi.  Acts 2 does not mark the beginning of  the Body of Christ, it is the start of the expected restoration of Israel.

Let us explore what happened in Acts 2: 1-13.

2: 1      On the day of Pentecost, a group of Jews were gathered together and were all in one accord.

2: 2      They heard something that sounded like a mighty wind.  The sound was so loud that it filled the room.

2: 3      And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

2: 4      And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

2: 5      The scene is Jerusalem.  We find in that city devout Jews from many countries.

2: 6      These devout Jews were confounded because they heard people speaking in their native tongues.

2: 7      They were even more amazed when they discover these people were uneducated Galileans.

2: 8      They cannot seem to get over the fact they could see people talking but hearing their native tongue being spoken

2:9-11  List of all the countries from whence these devout Jews had come.

2:12     They could not figure out the meaning of all this.

2:13     That’s when they determined they must be drunk with wine.

But Peter knew exactly what was happening and said: 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. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; (Acts 2: 14-16)

He says it is virtually impossible that these men are drunk since it is but 9: 00 am.  He is certain that this is what the Prophet Joel predicted, and he proceeded to quote Joel 2: 28-32.  Not only that, Peter remembered what the Lord had said prior to this day, as is found in Acts 1: 6-8.

Peter knew about the promised restoration and he knew that the events that were taking place marked the beginning of Restoration.  He knew that the power Jesus said would come was here, being evidence by action of the Spirit – the Spirit of power.  Let’s look at what the Lord promised one more time.  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.  (Acts 1: 8)

What was this Spirit of power for?  It was to enable them to perform miracles which should have been evidence they had favor with God and that they were God’s chosen to evangelize the world. You will notice that the Lord told them they were to go to Jerusalem, all Judea, Samaria and the uttermost part of the world.  Lets look at that for a moment.

Judea is the southernmost region of Israel and Jerusalem is its capital.  It is also the territory of the two more faithful tribes of Israel – Judah and Benjamin.

Samaria is the capital of the northernmost region of Israel and is the home of the ten less faithful tribes.

The uttermost part of the earth may be a problem for some people since there are definitely two viewpoints.  Does this mean going to all of the known world or to the parts of the world where there are Jews dwelling there after having been scattered?  We believe it is the latter.

In James 1: 1 we read: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. 

But the main reason we believe it is the latter is found in the words the Lord addresses to the disciples.  These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, 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.  (Matthew 10: 5-6)  He also said the following in Matthew 15: 25:  But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 

In Matthew 10 Jesus tells His disciples they must not go the Gentiles, their commission is to the Jews only; and in Matthew 15 the word children means Jews and bread means the good news for the Jews.  Some say that was before Christ’s resurrection and now that has changed since His resurrection.  Has it?  Then why do you suppose Peter said: And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.  (Acts 10: 28)

In Acts 10 we can clearly see that Peter is operating under the guidelines given Him by the Lord when He was on Earth.  It is also evident that the Lord, in a vision, revealed unto Him something new.  It was not that he should now go to the Gentiles but that He was preparing Peter to accept the ministry of Paul.  It is the same thing he did with Ananias in Acts 9: 15:  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 

Paul is not an apostle to the Gentiles in Acts 2.  He does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, as Peter believed.  As a matter of fact Saul (the name of Paul in the beginning) is a non-believer. In Acts 8: 1 we see that he is consenting unto the death of Stephen; and Acts 9 he has been commissioned to go to Damascus and bind believers in Christ and take them back to Jerusalem for sentencing to death.

There is no need for one to speculate as to what happened in Acts 2, one only need to believe the Scriptures. In Acts 2 Peter is addressing a group of Jews from many countries; all of whom had gather there for the purpose of observing the Jewish Feast of Pentecost..

The passages that Peter quoted from Joel was prophecy concerning Israel, looking forward to the outpouring of the Spirit of power, not the indwelling Spirit associated with the Body of Christ.  The outpouring of that Spirit of power was to be the evidence of the beginning of restoration.  Only part of Joel’s prophecy happened in Acts 2, the rest of the prophecy will come later.

How do I know that only part of the prophecy was fulfilled in Acts two?   What part do I think is future?  Joel 2: 30-32: And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

And that coincides with Acts 2: 19-21:  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: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

So what do I see in these passages that are future?  Even though there have been eclipses, the sun has never gone out and the moon has never turned to blood. I also know that the day of the Lord is when He returns to earth the second time, and that event occurs after the rapture of the church.

Christ is presently seated at the right hand of the Father, far above all heavens, waiting to return and establish His earthly kingdom and the complete restoration of Israel.  I know that Israel’s sins have not been blotted out, and will not be until Christ returns to earth the second time. How do I know that?  I believe what the Scripture says.  Acts 3: 19-21:

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;

20      And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

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.

Verse 19 tells us that Israel must repent and be converted.  If they do, their sins will be blotted out when the times of refreshing come – from the presence of the Lord. Verses 20 and  21 states that God will send Jesus from heaven when the restoration (times of restitution) happens, and that cannot happen until Christ returns to the earth.

In verse 19 look at the words “blotted out” carefully and compare them with the words of Acts 2: 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. The baptism for the remission of sins was a temporal thing until Jesus returns to blot them out.  Sins were covered by the blood of Christ by the cross, not at the cross.  But the blotting out of Israel’s sins will not happen until the second coming of Christ.  Don’t get mad at me.  If you must get mad you’re going to have to get mad at the Word of God.

The times of refreshing will occur after the seven years of tribulation and at the start of the 1,000 year millennial reign of Christ.  Satan is bound in the bottomless pit. 

       Now look at how acts 3: 21 ends: “God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”  All the prophets of old wrote about the events leading up to the restitution of all things.  What were the prophets talking about? Isreal’s sins being blotted out at the time of the restoration of all things. So why don’t most theologians understand that?  Answer: they have limited knowledge, or they have limited their knowledge so as not to make their doctrinal position invalid.

Please do not misunderstand my statement.  I am not implying that I have knowledge and others do not.  What I am saying is that many people have limited knowledge of Scriptural truth because they have accepted their denominational views rather than searching the Scriptures for the truth.  Still others have limited their knowledge of Scripture based upon what they know to be true for the Dispensation of Grace.  What they do not know is that things were different before Paul was given the message of grace. You cannot mix the things of the law with the things of grace.

Example:  If you believe in eternal security you most likely believe the moment you accept Christ as Savior all your sins have been blotted out.  You would be right – for today.  However, that would not be right in Matthew-John and Hebrews-Revelation.

There are things in the Scripture that are excellent and things that are more excellent.  There are things in the Bible that have been hid in the Scriptures and there are things that have been hid in God and revealed in the Scripture whenever God wanted it revealed.  In Acts 3: 21 the fact that Israel was promised restoration on earth was written by all the prophets of old, but the mystery God revealed unto Paul concerning the Gentiles position in heaven, not on earth, were hid in God (not Scripture) before the foundation of the world.

Ephesians 1: 3-4:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: (Ephesians 3: 1-6)

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (Ephesians 3: 9)

Fact:  Paul does not acknowledge Christ as Savior until sometime after His death, burial and resurrection.

Fact: Joel’s prophecy does not mention one word about Gentiles being fellowheirs or being of the same body in Christ.  You can only find that in the Pauline Epistles.  Joel promised that once again Israel would be a blessing.  If a Gentile was to be saved, they would be saved through the nation Israel.  Ephesians 3: 6 (above) states that today Gentiles are being saved by the gospel that Paul preached.  Romans 1: 16 states the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

Fact:  Israel cannot be a source of blessing today for she is Loammi, not God’s people.

I believe that in the 21st century if I accept the gospel, my sins are blotted out and I am eternally secure in Christ.  However, in Acts 2 & 3 that was not the case.  Even though the blood of Jesus Christ was supplied for sins by what happened on Calvary, the blotting out of sins will not take place until Christ return to earth the second time, the times of restitution of all things.  That is what Acts 3: 19-21 says and I believe it to be true.  But Acts 3: 19-21 does not apply to believers who are saved believing the gospel committed unto Paul – the Gospel of the Grace of God.

There are too many teachers who want to mix the things of the law with the things of grace.  The two do not go together anymore than oil and water do.  You must learn to rightly divide the Word of Truth or you will forever be confused.  Believe God’s Word.  If your preacher, priest, rabbi or whatever says anything contrary to the Holy Bible do not believe them.  Trust God to reveal unto you the truth.  But you will not receive truth apart from studying it.

If you are grounded in the Word of Truth you will be able to read any author’s works and know if what they write is fact, fiction or denominational hype. The same applies if you listen to someone teach or preach.  If you are grounded in truth you will know whether they are speaking the truth or telling you a fairy tale.  Please quit depending totally on the words of men and start trusting in the Word of God.  Learn how to study so that you may reach conclusions based upon real truth and not upon biased and preconceived ideas handed down through the ages.

WHAT HAPPENED IN ACTS TWO?

After the outpouring of the Spirit of power, not the indwelling Spirit, Peter stands and addresses a group of Jews who had gathered there for the Jewish Passover Feast.

V. 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:

V. 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:

V. 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.

He is telling his Jewish brethren that the things they are witnessing should not surprise you if you have read God’s Word.  The events which are transpiring on this day, were prophesied by Joel the prophet.  If you are not familiar with Joel’s prophecy let me tell you what was written. Joel said: 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:  (Acts 2: 17-18 is a direct quote from Joel 2: 28-29)

Peter was confident the last days were at hand.  That being the case he knew that meant Christ would be returning to establish His earthly kingdom and they would be restored to the land of promise.  Look at Acts 2: 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.  The promise was to those Jews dwelling in Jerusalem and those dwelling long distances away from Jerusalem.  There is no doubt about this; Peter was addressing his fellow Jews, to whom God had promised a King and a kingdom.

Sensing they might need more proof than that of Joel, Peter quotes a passage from Psalms 110:  25-31:  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. 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.

What is Peter trying to tell them?  He is saying, “In case you have misunderstood Scripture, let me enlighten you.  David was not speaking about himself in the Psalms, he was telling of the future resurrection of the Messiah who is to sit on David’s throne.  Well brethren, part of that has happened.  Messiah has come and you killed him.  He has resurrected back to God, but He will return again to sit on David’s throne at some future date.  What is he waiting for?  He is waiting for Israel to repent and be baptized.”

Look at it!  This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 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. 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. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 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? 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.

This is not the preaching of a new gospel, and this is not the beginning of the Body of Christ.  Peter had been teaching the same gospel since Jesus called him to be a disciple.  It is the same message that John the Baptist and Jesus Himself preached.  Both were calling Israel to repentance because the kingdom of heaven on earth was at hand.  Once Israel repented they had to perform the required work for the time at hand – baptism.

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3: 1-2)  When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.  (Acts 13: 24)  John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark1: 4)  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  (Matthew 4: 17)

IS ACTS TWO SOMETHING OLD OR SOMETHING NEW?

Have you been led to believe that in Act 2 we received a new commission to preach a new doctrine to a new group of people that will become the Church the Body of Christ?  Scriptural evidence does not permit me to believe that.  But the question is, “What do you believe?”  Do you really think Acts 2 marks the beginning of something new or is it the realization that something promised long ago has begun?  If you have read what we have presented thus far, the evidence tells you Acts 2 marks the beginning of the promised restoration of Israel into the kingdom of heaven on earth.  Let’s look at that evidence again.

  1. Pentecost is a Jewish feast day.  (Leviticus 23: 15-22)
  2. It represents the beginning of the harvest for souls.  (Acts 2: 41)
  3. Israel was told she would be a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests and an holy nation, but she must keep the covenants (law) for that to happen.  (Exodus 19: 3-6)
  4. God scattered Israel among the Gentile nations, after a period of time having no mercy on them, eventually cutting them off from Him. However, He promised He would call them back and restore them to Himself.  (Hosea 2: 21-23)
  5. Joel speaks of a restoration of Israel from those who had dominion over her.  (Joel 2:  25)
  6. Joel also declares that once the restoration begins God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh.  (Joel 2: 28-29)
  7. In Acts 2: 16 Peter says that what they are witnessing, the outpouring of the Spirit of power, is that which Joel prophesied.

So, with all this information, it is evident that Acts 2 was not the beginning of a new commission or a new gospel but the fulfillment of a long-standing promise.  What happened in Acts 2-4 was the long-awaited restoration, but it soon became the beginning of the end.  It was not the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ but, due to the fall of Israel; it was the diminishing of them, which culminates in Acts 28 with their being declared “Loammi”.

Here’s a question for you:  If Pentecost was the continuation of something old, how could the Church the Body of Christ, which is something new, have begun? It could not have!  It did not!  If you say it did, you may as well throw away your Bible for it will be of no use to you.

THE FEAST DAYS DETAILED

The First Passover:  (Exodus 12: 2-12) God instructed the head of the household to put blood all around the door.  What was the purpose?  So that when the death angel came he would pass over that house and the firstborn male within the house would have his life spared. 

Note:  The blood was not for remission of sins even though the feast is representative of the death of Jesus. Why?  Because it was the head of the household who administered the blood on the door, the High Priest must administer blood from the sacrificial lamb in order to obtain remission of sins.  Israel’s deliverance was from bondage, not sin; deliverance from sins takes place on the Day of Atonement.

Jesus observing the Passover meal with the twelve:  What was that all about?  He told the disciples that as often as they ate or drank the Passover Meal they should remember Him, or as 1 Corinthians 11: 26 states, remember his death until He comes back.  In other words Christ was preparing them for the time He would come back to blot out their sins.

Members of the Body of Christ have their sins blotted out the moment they believe.  They do not have to wait for Christ to return for that to happen, but Peter, the twelve and those saved under the gospel of the circumcision do have to wait.

FEAST OF PASSOVER:  Passover began on the 14th day of the first month, at evening (probably 14 days after the Spring equinox).  It represents the death of Christ and deliverance from bondage.  But just as the blood over the door and on the side post did not atone for Israel’s sins at the time the angel of death passed over them in Egypt, neither did the blood shed by the Lord on Calvary atone for Israel’s sin at that moment in time. We will see that happening on the Day of Atonement.  Just as the blood over the door and on the side post was necessary for deliverance from bondage, so too, the blood at Calvary was necessary for remission of sins awaiting the time when their sins would be atoned for– three feast days later.

Do not be confused.  What we have today is different from what the saved had before the time of the Lord’s first coming and even after His death, burial and resurrection.  Israel will have their sins blotted out (atoned for) when the Lord returns to earth the second time.  Our sins were blotted out (atoned for) the moment we believed.  If you do not rightly divided the Scriptures you will have limited your ability to have a clearer understanding of the Word of God.

FACTThe blood for remission of sins was provided for everybody by what happened at Calvary; but Israel’s atonement for sins did not take place AT Calvary – that is future.  

The Passover Feast represents the death of Jesus but the Feast of Atonement is not observed until there have been three other feasts: Firstfruits, Pentecost and Trumpets.  Look at the following two verses with an open mind and without limiting yourself.

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. (Acts 2: 38)

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; (Acts 3: 19)

The passages are clear.  Israel sins will not be blotted out until Christ’s 2nd coming.

FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD:  This feast began one day after the Feast of Passover, on the 15th.  It was also observed on the Sabbath.  In John 19: 31 the Jews sought to have the Lord’s body taken down from the cross to be buried before the Sabbath, which also happened to be the day of observance for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

This feast represents the burial of Jesus Christ.  “Unleavened” is symbolic of purity and represents the body of the Lord Jesus.  As you read your Bible, you will find numerous passages of Scripture describing Christ as “The Bread of Life.”  As you study, you will understand that the Scriptures are the true, pure words of God.  Feed on them and not on the words of men.  Be aware that all who preach or teach the Bible do not necessarily preach the truth contained in the Bible.  These people seem to have their own agenda and if the Bible conflicts with their denominational views or creed they allow those things to take precedence over the Word of God.

FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS:  This feast day represents the resurrection of Jesus and was observed eight days after the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  The number eight is seven (the number of perfection) plus one (the beginning); it is the number associated with resurrection, regeneration and the beginning of a new era.  Eight souls went through the flood, Noah, his three sons and the wives of each. Christ’s grave was found empty on the first day of the week (John 20: 10) and He is the firstfruits of the dead.

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15: 22-23)

It is no coincidence that Christ was not in the grave on the day the Feast of Firstfruits began, which was a Sunday.  That is the reason Christians observe the first day of the week rather than the Sabbath, which is a Saturday.  That is why we, who are saved under grace,  are to forget about ordinances of the law and of the things that were of an earthly nature.  Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.  (2 Corinthians 5: 16)

The feast days were important for Israel; they need to be understood by Gentiles in order to have a clearer understanding and appreciation of what we have under grace.  The Feast of Firstfruits marks the beginning of the harvest; in this case it is the harvest of souls.  It does not mark the beginning of a new body, but it marks the beginning of the restoration of Israel.  Israel, who had gone a whoring from God, was to begin to lead souls to the knowledge that Messiah had come and would soon establish His earthly kingdom.

FEAST OF PENTECOST:  This is the beginning of the gathering of the harvest (Israel); it begins with the first 3,000 souls being saved in Acts 2: 41:  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. The restoration of Israel began at this point in time, but it did not last very long for the restoration is now in abeyance because Israel is Loammi.

The following passage is often times a confrontational point, as there are many opinions about it.  Leviticus 23: 17:  Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.

There are those that say the two loaves typify Christ, but I say that it cannot because:  1) They are made with leaven, and we have already stated that leaven is associated with evil doctrine; 2) They are the firstfruits, but we have already read the Christ was the firstfruits.

God knew Israel would become divided into two groups: 1) The two faithful tribes, and, 2) The ten unfaithful tribes.  The two leavened loaves was for each of these groups.  God is saying, even though you have become separated, I will make you one again, as we see written in Ezekiel 37: 22:  And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:

The confusion about the two loaves is carried even further by some. For they say the two loaves represent Israel and Gentiles; which is yet another effort to justify their belief that the Body of Christ began with Pentecost in Acts two.  I will not even attempt to give you their explanation of the verse above for they are so ludicrous.  If they would read verse 21 it would be clear:  And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: Do not let someone quote you one verse without looking at several verses before it and after it.

Ezekiel’s prophecy was happening in Acts 2.  The children of Israel were all in one accord and had become one nation again.  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,  (Acts 2: 46).  It is clear isn’t it?  So why do denominations not see it?  Could it not be pride or prejudice?

I can tell you something about pride.  When I was first introduced to rightly dividing the truth I tried to find fault with it.  Even when I saw the truth of it, I refused to acknowledge it as being truth.  “How can so many Baptists be wrong,”  I said.  “I have been teaching the Baptist belief that the Body of Christ began in Acts 2.  What are those people going to think about me if I tell them I was wrong?”  Pride, it was the downfall of Lucifer and it was beginning to be mine. It was hard to leave the life I had known for so long; but I had to because it was the wrong life.  When we refuse to believe the Word of Truth we do not enjoy a perfect life with Christ.  The teaching of men will rob you of that joy if their teaching is not based upon the truth, rightly divided.

There are too many people who are looking for that calm assurance they believe should follow salvation, when it does not come as quickly as they think it should, they turn to self gratifying experiences that do nothing more than edify self.  He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. (1 Corinthians 14: 4)

After the tongues experience ceases to satisfy your need, try studying the Truth rightly divided.  You will never get tired of it for it is of God and not of self.  Only God can give us peace within.  Oh yes, there will still be mountains and valleys you will have to go through here on earth, but the hope that lies ahead for us in heaven is worth all we must endure.  Unlike men, God’s Word does not contradict itself.  If you think it does, it could be because you have limited your knowledge of Scripture by believing what your ears have heard and not what your soul knew to be true.

If we see that Pentecost marks the beginning of the restoration of Israel, we can also see the necessity of Matthias being appointed as the twelfth apostle.  This is lost when we try to make Acts 2 the beginning of the body, for there must be twelve apostles in the New Jerusalem.  And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  (Revelation 21: 14)  Paul could not be the twelfth apostle, as many people believe, for his home is far above all heavens.

FEAST OF TRUMPETS:  This is the calling of Israel together to wait for the Lord’s 2nd return to earth.  So the trumpet sounds to announce His coming.  The trumpet is a common instrument used throughout the Bible:  1) It was used to proclaim liberty in the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25: 8-10);  2) We see in connection with the Feast of Trumpets in Leviticus 23: 24 and ; 3) 1 Corinthians 15: 52 it is used when discussing resurrection.  The trumpet was used in connection with judgment and liberty; judgment being necessary before liberty could be proclaimed.

FEAST OF ATONEMENT:  Of all the feasts, this one is most important for it is the feast when Israel’s sins will be completely blotted out.  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; (Acts 3: 19)

Okay, let’s see what has transpired: 1) We had the Feast of Passover, which represented the death of the Lord; 2) Then we had the Feast of Unleavened Bread which represented the burial of Jesus; 3) The Feast of Firstfruits represented the resurrection of the Lord.  Then we came to 4) The Feast of Pentecost, which, we said, marked the beginning of the Harvest.  In Acts two the disciples began harvesting souls, anticipating the restoration of Israel. After Pentecost we come to 5) The Feast of Trumpets which is to announce the 2nd coming of the Lord and which ends the harvesting for souls; for the time has come for the kingdom to be established, and that happens with the 6) Feast of Atonement and the Lord’s physical return to earth.

Let us be clear, the blood for the remission of sins was provided by what happened on Calvary, i.e. Feast of Passover and the death of Jesus Christ.  However, Israel’s sins would not be blotted out until the Feast of Atonement, which represents the 2nd coming of Christ.

If this is confusing to you it is probably because you have knowledge of what is promised us under the gospel of the uncircumcision (grace/Paul’s Gospel), which is different from what Israel had been promised under the gospel of the circumcision (Peter’s Gospel).  The blood of Jesus Christ was shed for both groups of people, but one group receives the benefits of it before the other one does.

Those who teach that baptism is necessary for repentance to those of us under grace err because they do not understand that Pentecost was a Jewish feast day for remission of sins, but those sins would not be blotted out until the Feast of Atonement.  Our sins were blotted out the moment we believed.  So you can see why it is necessary to understand the feasts days in order to rightly divide that which was for Israel and that which is for us.

Once Christ was resurrected we see Peter with a group of about 120 people gathered together in an upper room.  What were they there for?  They were waiting for the Spirit of power to come, which would be instrumental in their harvesting lost souls before the 2nd coming of Christ.

Look closely at Acts 1: 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:

What did Jesus teach His disciples? Let’s look and see.

1)       These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: (Matthew 10: 5-6) Is it not clear the disciples were to go to Jews and not Gentiles?

2)       When the woman from Canaan (a Gentile) asked for mercy from the Lord, what did he tell her?  But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  (Matthew 15: 24)  Fact:  Jesus was sent to Israel. 

3)       Jesus knew that water baptism was a temporal act representing the remission of sins, therefore John the Baptist was ordained of God to announce this new requirement.  And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; (Luke 3: 3)  That is why Peter said what he did in Acts 2: 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.

4)       What would happen if they repented and were baptized?  They would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

5)       And what was the next order of the day for Israel?  Their sins would be blotted out. Acts 3: 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;

6)       When would the blotting out of sins take place? When the times of refreshing shall come, and that happens at the 2nd coming of Christ. (Acts 3: 19)

7)       Where is Jesus Christ now?  In heaven, and Acts 3: 21 states that He must be received in Heaven before and until He will return to earth.  (Acts 3:20-21)

If you will take the time to study the Scriptures you will see what has been presented is truth, and you would know that the blotting out of sins for Israel and the Body of Christ do not occur at the same time.  Those who want to start the Body of Christ at Acts 2 have missed the purpose of the Feast days.  They were for Israel.  They were a picture of that which was to come. And they would culminate with the last feast day – the millennial reign of Christ.

FEAST OF TABERNACLES:  This feast is all about the millennial reign of Christ, or as it is more commonly known, the 1,000 year reign of Christ. (Revelation 20: 4)  The Jew is waiting for the day when God will restore them into the land of promise.  Why?  Because they know that at that time Messiah will reign as King over the earth..  This period of time is not the final kingdom of God, which comes after Satan has been cast into the lake of fire.

Are there differences of opinion concerning Acts two?

Yes, there are several opinions about this verse.

  1. Some say this is where the Church the Body of Christ began and the speaking in tongues and the prophesying are things we should be doing today.
  2. Some say this is where the Church the Body of Christ began but tongues and prophesying are not things we should be doing today.
  3. Some say that baptism is necessary for salvation.
  4. Some say that baptism is notnecessary for salvation.
    1. Some of these say the “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” means: get baptized with the understanding you already have remission of sins.
    2. Others say baptism was a part of the law and is not valid under grace for salvation.
  5. Some say Acts 2 is for Jews only.
  6. Some say Acts 2 is for Jews and Gentiles.

So, whom do you believe? Do you believe the teacher who is the most eloquent speaker?  Do you believe the person who is more passionate?  Do you believe the individual who is the kindest?  None of these should be the determining factor in choosing what is right.  The only sensible thing to believe is the Word of God, not what someone said the word of God said.  Make sure you have a Bible that is not tainted by men.  My recommendation is that you get a King James Bible.  There are many translations, but I have found a King James Bible to be the most reliable.

Baptism – the most divisive subject in Christendom.

Baptism In the Old Testament

The word baptize is found twice in: 1) 2 Kings 5: 14, used of Nathan when he “dipped” himself in the Jordan River; 2) Isaiah 21: 4.

Bapto is found 18 times, nine of them in the Law of Moses where it is used of dipping in blood, oil or in water.

Baptos is found only one time in Ezekiel 23: 15.

In the New Testament there are three references to Old Testament baptism: 1) The Ark and the Flood (1 Peter 3: 21)’ 2) Crossing of the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10: 2) and, 3) Carnal ordinances of the Tabernacle (Hebrews 9: 10).

Baptism In the New Testament

The teaching of baptism is broken into the following categories:

  1. John the Baptist.
    1. It was a baptism unto repentance, looking forward to atonement prior to entry into the kingdom. (Matthew 3: 1-2)
    2. It concerned Israel.
    3. It was a baptism of water that spoke of a future baptism with fire and the Holy Ghost.
  2. The baptism with the Holy Ghost, as promised by John, was fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 1: 5).
  3. During the Acts period, water baptism and baptism of the Spirit went together. (Acts 2: 38; 10: 37)
  4. Practiced by Paul during his early ministry (1 Corinthians 1: 16), but baptism was not a part of his gospel for salvation. (1 Corinthians 1: 17) It was an important part of Peter’s gospel.  Peter could not say, “Christ sent me not to baptize”.
  5. In the Prison Epistles of Paul water baptism gave way to spiritual baptism.

Baptism in the Pauline Epistles

Paul’s Epistles are divided into two segments: Pre-prison and Prison/Post Prison.

Pre-prison:  These are Epistles written prior to Paul being confined to a Roman prison. They are: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians.  We often refer to these books as the works of Paul’s early ministry.  You will find that in these Epistles Paul is “all things to all men.” (1 Corinthians 9: 19-23)  He did a lot of things early on that he ceased doing after receiving revelations from the Lord to stop.

Prison/Post Prison:  These Epistles are: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.  In teaching, we often refer to the Epistles as relating to his later ministry. As you read these books you will see that ordinances practiced early on became stumbling blocks.  In these seven books Paul no longer tries to be all things to all people.  Why?  Because Israel has become Loammi and the ordinances the church were to keep have been set aside.

The one baptism of Ephesians 4: 5 is spiritual baptism, not water baptism.

Acts:  Battleground of Dispensational Truth.

For the most part, Acts is about the ministries of Peter and Paul. Peter dominates the first 12 chapters before being supplanted by James, the brother of Jesus.  Paul is seen as Saul in Acts 8; he is converted in Acts 9 and his missionary journeys begin in Acts 13 and culminate in Acts 28.

Galatians 2: 7: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.  Paul speaks of the gospel committed unto him and the gospel committed unto Peter.  He clarifies that by stating his was the gospel of the uncircumcision and Peter’s was the gospel of the circumcision.  In 2 Timothy 1: 11 Paul is called the apostle of the Gentiles.  If you can see that Paul and Peter have separate callings you will be better prepared to understand what transpires in Acts.

Acts 2 is not about the Body of Christ, but about Israel. As you proceed through the chapters you will begin to see that the Book of Acts is all about Israel’s decline, and finally being declared Loammi in Acts 28.  While there is Body truth in Acts, the Book focuses on Isreal’s decline.

The Three Major Divisions in Acts      

                                          Acts 1-12                        Acts 13-16                              Acts 17-28

 City                                  Jerusalem                        Antioch                                  Rome

Figure                                Peter                                Paul & Others                        Paul

People                               Jews Primarily              Jews & Gentiles                   Gentiles Primarily

Gospel  Preached      *Gospel of  God            *Gospel o f Christ                *Gospel of the Grace of God

Message  For Jews       Beginning  of                 Gentile                                   Loammi

                                                Restoration                    Reconciliation                     Rejection

*  I am not saying there were three separate Gospels, what I am saying is that the teaching of Jesus Christ changes as Paul is given Divine revelations.  For instance:

The Gospel of God                                is simply teaching that Jesus is the Son of God.  Peter and Paul both preach this.

The Gospel of Christ                             teaches Jesus, the Son of God, died for your sins.  Peter and Paul both taught this, but Peter taught that sins would be blotted out when Christ returned the 2nd time; Paul taught sins were blotted out the moment one trusted Christ as Savior.

The Gospel of the Grace of God          teaches Jesus, the Son of God, died for your sins, even those Gentiles who were without hope. (Eph. 2: 11-13) Paul taught this and Peter never preached it.

Restoration For Israel Started In Acts

If you read the Book of Isaiah you will find that it is divided into two major sections.  The first 39 chapters pertain to the rejection of Israel and chapters 40-66 pertain to the restoration of Israel. Isaiah 40: 1-3:

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare (appointed time) is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  The Hebrew word for warfare is tsaba’ and in Daniel 10: 1 that word is translated as time appointed.

What I hope you see here is that the prophecy of Isaiah speaks of an appointed time when Israel’s iniquities will be accomplished.  Isaiah is prophesying about restoration.  I underlined “The voice of him crying in the desert” because this makes reference to John the Baptist, who announced the coming of the Messiah, without whom there could be no restoration.

Peter had a clear understanding of the prophecy of Daniel, Isaiah, Malachi, Hosea and Joel, that is why he was sure that what was transpiring in Acts 2 was in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy concerning the restoration of Israel. (Joel 2: 25-32)

In Malachi 4: 5 we read: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:  Perhaps that prophecy also came to mind after Jesus spoke theses words: For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias (Elijah), which was for to come. However, Israel did not receive it and Elijah must come at some point in the future.  That will happen at some point during the seven years of tribulation.

Can you not see that what transpired in Acts 2 was a partial fulfillment of prophecy?    Organized religion may not see this, but the apostles did.  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. (Acts 1: 11)  These words were spoken to them by angels, which perhaps brought to mind this passage from Zechariah 14: 4: And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. 

With the words of the angels ringing in their ears and the prophetic passages hidden in their hearts, the Apostles must have been chomping at the bits over the prospect that fulfillment of the promised restoration was at hand. So, the Apostles got down to business and elected someone to take the place of Judas; for they knew that, in the regeneration, twelve thrones must be occupied by twelve Apostles.  They elected Mathias.

With everything in order, they were almost ready, but one more thing had to happen before restoration could begin – the power to go forth and reach Jews everywhere. They were waiting for the Holy Ghost of power to descend upon them, and it did on the day of Pentecost.  Israel had been a rebellious nation but this day marked a dramatic change in her; but sadly the change was short lived.  The harvest began with many souls turning to God, but almost as quickly as it came so came the demise. Several thousand repented and were baptized but hundreds of thousands did not.  Israel failed one more time, and before too long God would say He had enough of Her and she was declared Loammi.

God knew this would happen, for Scripture tells us He had made preparations for this event before the foundation of the world, before the calling of Abraham.  God chose to raise up the Gentiles to carry on where Israel had failed. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” Ephesians 1: 4.

Reconciliation

The Apostle Paul was chosen to lead these Gentiles into a far greater commission than that which Jesus gave his disciples. (Matthew 28: 19-20)  That commission is known as the ministry of reconciliation. Paul had been chosen for this task long before he believed Jesus was Messiah. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: (Galatians 1: 15-16)

But the religious leaders of the Jews refused to acknowledge Paul’s apostleship.  They went to great lengths to discredit his authority and the message he preached.  People in the 21st century do the same thing.  Too many religions refuse to believe the uniqueness of the complete message of Paul, but they will take some of it (the liberty it preaches) and discard most of it as being nothing significant.

Our Greater Commission – The ministry of Reconciliation:

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5: 18-21)

Under the ministry of Paul the Gentile comes to a place of prominence and blessing.  At a certain point in time we cease to read the words “Jews Only” or “Ye men of Israel.”  As a matter of fact, God in His wisdom had to bring Israel down in order that the Gentiles could be raised up. “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” (Romans 11: 7-11)

Paul is the only apostle to use the word reconciliation for he is the APOSTLE TO THE GENTILES.

THE BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH THE BODY OF CHRIST

Before we analyze the subject it is necessary to define a few words.

Definition # 1 – CHURCH

The Greek word for church is ekklesia and has been translated in English as ecclesia and is defined as: a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly. In the Old Testament the Greek word ekklesia is used to translate the Hebrew word qahal, which means to call or to assemble. It is from this verb form that we get the noun congregation or assembly.

In Acts 7: 38, Stephen referred to Moses’ leadership and the history of Israel: This is he, that was in the CHURCH in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:  Israel was the church of that period, she was called out of Egypt and assembled together under the leadership of Moses.

You need to understand that the word ekklesia (church) does not always mean a gathering or an assembly of God-fearing people.  We can see that in Acts19.

Verse 32: Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly (ekklesia) was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Verse 39:  But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

Verse 41:  And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly (ekklesia).

There was a church before Pentecost.  Look at Matthew 18: 17: And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

So if you say the church began at Pentecost, shouldn’t you ask what church? Was it:

  1. The church in the wilderness? (Acts 7: 38)
  2. The church of Christ’s early ministry and before Pentecost? (Matthew 18: 17)
  3. The future church spoken of? (Matthew 16: 18)
  4. The seven churches of Asia as found in Revelation chapters 1-3?  It is interesting that one of those churches is at Pergamos, which will be the city “where Satan’s seat is”. (Revelation 2:13)
  5. The Church the Body of Christ? (Ephesians 1: 22-23)

Interestingly enough, the first four churches above speak of an assembly of people, whether saved or lost.  But the church mentioned in number five speaks of those who are a part of Christ’s body.  The first four are physical and number five is spiritual.  The Church the Body of Christ is a living organism with Christ as its head.  The other churches mentioned are but a group of people assembled together on earth.

Definition # 2 – BODY

The English word “body” is translated from the Greek word soma.  In almost all cases it refers to the actual physical body.  In Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians it is used of believers which are made part of Christ’s body by spiritual baptism. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12: 13)

Ephesians 1: 22-23:  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. We see here that Christ is the head of this particular body. Col.2:19: And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.  The two (body and Head) are inseparable and this Church will be exalted with Christ, as seen in Ephesians 2: 6: And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

It is interesting that the Church the Body of Christ is the fullness of Christ. The thought is that without this group of believers, this Church, Christ is not or will not be complete.  It is also interesting that Paul is the only apostle who preached of this church.  Why do you suppose that is true?  Because the church that Peter and the other apostles spoke of will be physically situated on the earth, not far above all heavens.

Definition # 3 – The Church the Body of Christ

The Church the Body of Christ is a called-out group of people who are joined to Christ by spiritual baptism and is seated together with Christ in heavenly places. Christ is the head of this church. Members will make Christ complete, therefore equal with Him.

Definition # 4 – The Church that began at Pentecost

Is a called-out group of people who will be gathered together on the earth at the 2nd coming of Christ. Christ will be its King.  Members of this church will not be a part of Christ’s body, they will be subservient to Him, for He will rule them with a rod of iron.

Three viewpoints concerning the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ.

Acts 2:  Those who take this position say the outpouring of the Holy Ghost was indication of a change, therefore a new beginning.  They are of the opinion that the Spirit that came down was the indwelling Spirit.

Mid-Acts:  Those who take this position believe the Church the Body of Christ could not have begun before the salvation of Paul, who is the Apostle of the uncircumcision and the only one who speaks specifically about the Body.  Paul is not saved until Acts 9 and begins his missionary work in Acts 13.

Acts 28:  Those who take this position believe in the unique ministry of Paul but believe the body could not have begun before Israel became Loammi, which happens in Acts 28. They acknowledge a body of believers in mid-Acts who have a heavenly inheritance, but not far above all heavens.  They propose a split body.

So, how can one know which viewpoint is the real one?  You will find it by studying. We have already given you sufficient information as to why it could not have begun in Acts 2 because that was not the start of something new, it was the continuation of something old.  However, you need to understand that the majority of professing Christians do take this position.  That does not necessarily mean they are right.  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day wanted Him crucified.  But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. (Mark 15: 9-13)

It takes little courage to follow the majority but it takes great courage to stand for the truth when so many oppose it. In Acts 6 & 7 Stephen was preaching in the power of the Spirit and drew unfavorable comments from the Jews, (6: 9) who stirred up the people against him.(6: 12)  He doesn’t pay any attention to their ridicule, but uses the occasion to preach truth unto them.  Though he was only one against many, he preached the truth until they gnashed on him with their teeth. (7: 54)  All he could see was the Son of Man standing at the right hand of the Father, (7: 56). When he told the crowd that, they cried out and stopped their ears (7: 57) and then overpowered him and stoned him to death (7: 58-60). For Stephen, the truth was more important than opposition, even if it meant death.  Is truth important to you?

Saul:  The opposition leader

The first mention of Saul is found in Acts chapter seven.  The witnesses of the stoning of Stephen laid down their clothes at the feet of Saul, who in Acts 8 consented (approved) unto his death.  Saul was one of the most villainous of the Christian haters. Look at Acts 8:3:  As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

In the beginning of Acts 9 you will find more evidence of Saul’s passion against the followers of Jesus.  He presents himself before the High Priest and asks for authority to seek out these people, intent on having them brought back to Jerusalem for execution. This is how Paul described himself after he was saved. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. (Acts 26: 10-11)

Saul was a zealot for the traditions of the Jews and was very vocal against those who questioned the veracity of the Jewish religion.  Look at his own words in Galatians 1: 13-14:  For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.  You can see that being zealous for a cause may not be a good thing.  As a matter of fact Paul said as much in his letter to the Romans.  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (Romans 10: 1-2)

There are far too many zealots for God who do not have the knowledge of Pauline truth.  Saul, the zealot for the law, became Paul, the zealot for Christ.  But Paul spent many days and nights in one-on-one conversations with the Lord.  As you read the Scriptures you will see that Paul had many revelations from the Lord concerning his job and the words he would teach.  Some of those revelations had been hidden in Old Testament Scripture, others had been hidden in God.

How much do you know about the mystery revealed unto Paul?  How much do you know about Paul, period?  Did you know that apart from the Pauline epistle you would never find salvation by grace?  Too many professing Christians want to enjoy the liberty of grace but insist upon practicing the restrictions of the law. Is there any wonder why there is so much confusion in the churches today?

Saul: Confronted by Jesus

Saul left for Damascus with letters of authority against the followers of Christ, but he never presented those papers to the priests at Damascus. Before reaching his destination he was blinded by the light of God and heard the voice of God: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9: 4-6)

Saul, the persecutor of Christians, had met the God-Man, Jesus Christ, whom he opposed.  He didn’t ask who He was; Saul knew it was the Lord talking.  He was never the same again.  Neither will you be, if you have truly met the Savior face-to-face.   Perhaps you are one of those people that discredit Paul’s teaching.  Are you truly a child of God?  You cannot be if you do not believe the Gospel committed unto Paul. Why not trust Christ right now?  He will save you if you accept what He did, died for your sins, was buried and raised up for your justification.

The Lord did not tell Saul that things were going to be easy from that point on; He told Ananias he was going to have to suffer.  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. (Acts 9: 15-16)

And suffer he did.  He constantly had to defend his apostleship and the message revealed to him to preach.  Denominationalists look upon preachers of Pauline truth as though they were a cult.  But it doesn’t matter what they think, the Jewish leaders thought the same thing, but Paul persevered and so must we.  Our job, like Paul’s, is:  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (Ephesians 3: 9)

Paul’s Apostleship

He was not the twelfth apostle, as some suppose; but he was an apostle chosen of God.  And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. (1 Corinthians 15: 5-8)

This apostle, chosen of God, was given a message which was different from the message God had given the twelve.  But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.  The twelve were called during Christ’s earthly ministry and Paul was called after the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord.

Paul: Sent to the Gentiles

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: (Romans 11: 13)

Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. (1 Timothy 2: 7)

Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (2 Timothy 1: 11)

As an apostle, sent to the Gentiles, he was given revelations concerning the mystery. The Greek word musterion is translated mystery twenty-seven times in the New Testament, twenty of them in the epistles of Paul, three in Matthew, Mark and Luke, and four in Revelation.

The Mystery Hid in Scripture

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: (Romans 16: 25-26)

Why did God have to hide something in Scripture?  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2: 7-9) God hid the fact that through His death he would destroy Satan, who had the power over death. (Hebrews 2: 14)  Also the death of Jesus would be a sacrifice for the sins of the world. (Hebrews 9: 26)

These above facts were either not known, or not understood by the 12 apostles, but they were revealed unto the apostle Paul.  If the 12 obtained any understanding of these facts, they would have gotten them from Paul; for when Jesus mentioned His death to the disciples they did not know what He was saying, as is seen in the following:

And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and [of] the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. (Mark 8: 31-33)

And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. (Mark 9: 9-10)

And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. (Mark 9: 30-32)

Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. (Mark 10: 33-34)

Why didn’t the twelve understand?  Why did they not believe the Lord?  They did not believe because the Lord was not ready for them to believe.  They did not see what Old Testament Scripture reveals to us today because the meaning was hid from them at the point in time.  And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.  (Luke 18: 34)

Today, we preached that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again and that our sins are blotted out the moment we trust the completed work of Christ. Peter and the others did not preach that.  This is what they preached:  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. (Acts 2: 38)  There is not one word in the passage that talks about Christ’s blood for remission of sins or for blotting out of sins.  Why?  It was a secret that would be revealed unto Paul, and Paul is not saved until Acts 9.

The Pauline Epistles emphasize atonement for sins through the blood of Christ.  Look at it:  “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1: 5-7) The preaching of the cross is all Pauline. 

The Mystery Hid In God

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (Ephesians 3: 8-9)

In Ephesians 3, we see that Paul was given:

  1. A Gentile ministry (3: 1)
  2. The Dispensation of Grace (3: 2)
  3. The Mystery (3: 3)
  4. The mission to proclaim to the Gentiles the grace ministry (3: 6-8)
  5. The job of revealing what had been hid in God (3: 9)

Paul received the Mystery and passed it on to other apostles and prophets of the day.  The Mystery is mentioned twelve times in the Prison Epistles:

The mystery of His will (Ephesians 1: 9)

The mystery (Ephesians (3: 3)

The mystery of Christ ((Ephesians 3: 4)

The fellowship of the mystery (Ephesians 3: 9)

A great mystery (Ephesians 5: 32)

Them mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6: 19)

The mystery….hid from ages and generations (Colossians 1: 26)

The mystery among the Gentiles (Colossians 1: 27)

The mystery of God (Colossians 2: 2)

The mystery of Christ (Colossians 4: 3)

The mystery of the faith (1Timothy 3: 9)

The mystery of godliness (I timothy 3: 16)

If you study these passages of Scripture you should notice:

  1. The church the Body of Christ comes to the forefront.
  2. This formation of the Body in this new dispensation signifies completeness in Christ and fullness for the Gentiles.
  3. The mystery came about after having a revelation from God. God chooses to whom He imparted that revelation.
  4. Paul was a chosen apostle with a special ministry, communicating his revelations to a select group of people during a specific period of time.

The Mystery Concerning the Gentiles

Perhaps you are wondering, “What is the importance of this Mystery and it’s implications for the Gentile?  Are Gentiles treated any differently today than they were in A.D. 33 or B.C. 40?”  Those are good questions and there are Scriptural answers.

We have already seen the Jews considered the Gentiles to be second class citizens, they were often referred to as “dogs.” (Matthew 15: 26)  God had chosen the Jews to be a peculiar treasure. Psalms 135: 4: For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself and Israel for his peculiar treasure.  In God’s eyes, they had an advantage; that is why he gave them the law.  Romans 3: 1-2: What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

In Paul’s early ministry, he acknowledged the gospel of Christ was to the Jew first. Romans 1: 16: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. …Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.  (Acts 13: 16-17; 26)

After having read the verse above, I see:

  1. The Jew definitely had an advantage at one point in time.
  2. The Jewish proselytes (Gentiles who had been circumcised) also had an advantage.
  3. Salvation was sent to the Jew first, and those who feared God. (Gentiles)

Being a Gentile during Old Testament days and in Matthew – John, meant one was at a disadvantage.  God gave the promises to the Jews.  If a Gentile was to receive the promises, he would have to renounce his pagan ways and be circumcised.  Even then, upon entering into the Synagogue, he was relegated a seating position behind those who’s birthright was Jewish.  The Gentile was alienated because of their birthright.

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2: 11-13)

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Colossians 1: 27) What is the riches of the glory of this mystery among Gentiles?  Redemption!  If a Gentile refused to fear God, do works of righteousness and become a circumcised proselyte, he had no hope and was without God. But the mystery concerning the Gentiles provided hope.  When Israel became Loammi God revealed the mystery concerning the Gentiles.  The Gentiles would become the chosen ones to spread the good news of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the remission of sins.

And so, the Dispensation of the Grace of God is all about Gentiles being the favored of God.  Israel had to be set aside before this dispensation could begin.  With the diminishing of the roll of the Jew in spreading the gospel came the rising of the Gentile. Now that Israel has been set aside, temporarily, God could show grace to every Gentile, those who blessed Israel and those who did not.

FACT:  In this dispensation, whether or not you bless Israel or curse Israel has no bearing upon your relationship with God.  Genesis 12: 1-3 does not apply in this Age of Grace.  It did at one point in time, but not today.  Jewish people can be saved today, but they have to go against their religious leaders and believe Christ has come and that He alone can guarantee them an inheritance with God.

The foundation laid by Paul is the only acceptable way of salvation for the 21st Century.  If you are basing your salvation on the foundation laid by Peter, you are in for a rude awakening.  Peter is not the Rock upon which God will built His church in this dispensation.  Christ is the Rock, whether in this dispensation, past dispensations or future ones.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16: 17-18)

There is a religious organization that has based their entire doctrinal position based upon Peter as the rock for the formation of the church.  They believe that Peter was the first leader, and the church of the verse above is the Catholic church.  They err! When shown 1 Peter 2: 4-8 they can never give a satisfactory answer.  Look at the verses:

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

The chief cornerstone contained in the Scriptures was Jesus Christ, not Peter.  Anyone who will believe on Christ, not Peter, shall not be confounded.  Jesus is the rock on which the disobedient stumble. It is Jesus who is the rock of offense, not Peter. 

If an entire religious order has been formed believing Peter is the founding father, the cornerstone, the rock, it cannot afford to change that position even though they know their founders made a mistake.  Change is not going to happen for this religious persuasion.  Why?  Because they would have to admit that they were wrong.  They would lose credibility and probably lose members.  So what can they do?  They will continue covering up and teaching a lie.

FACT:  The foundation and cornerstone of the real church, whether it is the Church the Body of Christ or the physical church centered at Jerusalem, is Jesus Christ the Lord. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3: 11)

So then, what is Paul speaking of in 1 Corinthians 3: 10?  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

Paul says:

  1. I have laid the foundation
    1. What is it?
    2. What is it for?
    3. To whom does it concern?
  2. He cautions us to take heed on how he builds on that foundation.

Paul laid a foundation upon Christ, and that foundation is for the erection of a temple: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3: 16) That temple is you and me – the Church the Body of Christ. The foundation is not the gospel, for the gospel was laid out in Old Testament Scripture. So the foundation that Paul laid, with Jesus as the cornerstone of the temple, has something to do with the order of resurrection. Look at the following verses.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1: 18)

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. (1 Corinthians 15: 22-25)

In the Corinthians passage, you will notice a definite order of resurrection: Christ and they that are Christ’s at His coming.  First, Christ comes in the air for the Body of Christ, and second, He comes back to earth for Israel. Then the end comes when he puts all enemies under his feet and all the lost will be resurrected to stand in judgment.

The fact that Jesus was coming again was no secret.  Israel was waiting to be restored. But the fact that He would come for the Body of Christ before He came to restore Israel was a mystery, a secret hid in God.  That is why Paul said: Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: (2 Timothy 2: 7-8)

Peter spoke of Christ being resurrected to sit on David’s earthly throne.  Paul spoke of Christ being resurrected to sit at the right hand of the Father – a heavenly throne.

Did Peter and Paul preach the same gospel? No, they preached the same Christ, who is the chief cornerstone for both messages, but they preached differently concerning the resurrection.

Peter – Prophecy                                                                        Paul – Mystery

1) Gospel of the circumcision (Gal. 2: 7-9)                    1) Gospel of the uncircumcision (Gal. 2: 7-9)

2) Sent to baptize (Mark 16: 14-18)                                   2) Not sent to baptize (1 Cor. 1: 17)     

3) Baptism was for remission of sins (Acts 2: 38)          3) Remission of sins and blotting out of sins

    The blotting out of sins is future (Acts 3: 1921)             is by the blood of Christ the moment one   

                                                                                                               Believes. (Eph. 1: 7)

4) Ministry to Jews all over the world (Acts 1: 8)          4) Ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 9: 13-15; 26:15-17)

5) Message at Pentecost to Jews (Acts 2: 14-38)         5) Taught his believes to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Cor. 11: 1)

6) Pentecost, the beginning of restoration and               6) Last days for Gentiles concerns apostasy,

    Revival for Jews (Acts 2: 16-21)                                          not revival (2 Tim. 3: 1-5; 4: 3-4)

7) Preached Christ resurrected to sit on David’s           7) Preached Christ resurrected to sit at the

    throne on earth. (Acts 2: 25-31)                                         right hand of God in heaven (Eph. 1: 20)

8) Earthly inheritance (Jer. 23: 5; Mat 5: 5)                   8) Heavenly inheritance (Eph. 1: 3; Col. 3: 1-2)

 

Differences Between Prophecy and Mystery        

Prophecy concerns Israel, the Old Testament prophets, the teaching of Jesus and Peter.

  1. It concerns a literal kingdom on earth. (Jeremiah 23: 5)
  2. It had been prophesied “since the world began.” (Acts 3: 21)
  3. Israel will be the dominant nation. (Isaiah 60: 12)
  4. All people will follow Israel’s lead for they know she is the chosen of God. (Zechariah 8: 23)
  5. Christ returns for Israel to the earth. (Zechariah 14: 4)
  6. Christ prepares twelve men to proclaim the start of restoration. (Acts 1: 6-8)

Mystery

  1. This concerns a group of people with a heavenly inheritance (1 Cor. 12: 12, 27; Eph. 1: 3; 2: 6; 4: 12-16; Col. 3: 1-3)
  2. It was chosen in Christ before the world began, but kept secret since the world began. (Eph. 1: 4; 3: 5-9; Rom. 16: 25-26)
  3. There is one authoritarian figure and everyone is equal. (Rom. 10: 12; 11: 32; Eph. 2: 16-17)
  4. Israel will not be the avenue of blessing because she is Loammi; Gentiles will be blessed because of Israel’s fall. Rom. 11: 11-15; Acts 28: 27-28)
  5. The mystery is about setting our affections on heaven and not earth. (Col. 3: 1-3; Eph. 1: 3)
  6. The Lord prepares Paul to proclaim the mystery. (Eph. 3: 1-9; Col. 1: 24-27)

The saddest thing I have observed in the thirty plus years I have been in the ministry is the limited knowledge professing Christians have about the Word of God.  Most do not realize what God has given them. They take grace for granted. They think the dispensation of grace has always been in existence. That is not so.  Why do you think God chose the Body of Christ before the world began but chose to keep it a secret until He revealed it to Paul? Answer: to show His grace and so that Christ could be head of the body, which would be His fullness. And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1: 22-23)

Once the body is complete Christ will be complete and the restoration of Israel can resume and be completed.  Elijah will return and the full restoration will have begun.  But until the rapture of the Church the Body of Christ, the restoration for Israel will not start.