Friday, September 18, 2015

Acts 2 (part 1)

Acts 2 is one of the most misunderstood and abused chapters in the Bible. For example, the Charismatics try to use this chapter as a basis to teach that believers should seek "the-baptism-of-the-Holy-Ghost" with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues (2:4). Then there is the so-called “Church of Christ” and other groups that try to use this chapter to teach a sinner cannot be saved without water baptism (2:38). There are a number of false doctrines based on a misinterpretation of Acts 2. The reason for all this confusion is a failure to obey the divine rule of Bible study given in 2 Tim. 2:15. When we rightly divide the word of truth we understand that the present mystery dispensation in which we are living was not even revealed in Acts 2. If the Church which is the Body of Christ began in Acts 2 (as many claim), nobody knew about it at that time because it was a mystery revealed through Paul (Eph. 3:1-13) and he was not even saved until Acts 9. The basis upon which God is building the Body of Christ is the cross of Christ (Eph. 2:14-17) but that does not mean it was revealed at the time of the cross. What takes place in Acts 2 concerns the nation of Israel and their prophetic kingdom program (2:5, 14, 22, 36). 

The Day of Pentecost (2:1) 

The Day of Pentecost was a Jewish feast day. Leviticus 23 outlines the seven annual feasts of Israel that took place in the first 7 months of the year (7 is a key # in God’s dealings with Israel). These feasts have prophetic significance. The first three have been fulfilled (Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firtsfruits). The fourth (Pentecost) began to be fulfilled in Acts 2 but due to Israel’s rejection of the kingdom it still awaits complete fulfillment. The final three also await fulfillment. Here is an overview of the prophetic significance of the last four feasts:
4. Pentecost – On the day after the seventh Sabbath (50 days, "pente" = 50) was the day of Pentecost which was a celebration of the anticipated harvest. On this day two wave loafs with leaven were offered before the Lord. Some say these two loaves picture Jews and Gentiles that were baptized into one body in Acts 2. However, the only Gentiles present in Acts 2 were proselytes to Judaism (v.10). Also, the Body of Christ is not pictured by two loaves but ONE BREAD (1 Cor. 10:17). I think the loaves picture the division of Israel and Judah that will be made one in the kingdom (Ezek. 37:16-23). Notice that Peter says “men of Judea”, “men of Israel”, “all the house of Israel”.  God appointed the day of Pentecost as the day He would begin to pour out His Spirit. This was the baptism with the Holy Ghost that the Father promised and was in anticipation of the Kingdom Age.
5. Trumpets – Took place on the 1st day of the 7th month and pictures the re-gathering of Israel.
6. Day of Atonement – Took place on the 10th day of the 7th month and pictures the salvation of Israel upon the Second Advent of Christ.
7. Tabernacles – Took place on the 15th day of the 7th month and pictures the Kingdom Age.

The Baptism with the Holy Ghost (2:2-4)

The 120 disciples were all with one accord and in one place. At the appointed time Christ baptized them with the Holy Ghost (1:4-5). This did not take place because they tarried and prayed but simply because it was what God planned to do. This pouring out of God's Spirit was for power (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8) and it was in accordance with prophecy (Isa. 32:15; Joel 2:28). This is NOT the same spiritual baptism that Christ revealed to the apostle Paul and by which we are made members of the Body of Christ upon salvation (1 Cor. 12:13).

Baptism with the Holy Ghost            

1. Christ the Baptizer                                    
2. For power                                                  
3. According to prophecy                            

4. Jews and Gentiles distinct                    

Baptism by the Spirit
1. Spirit the Baptizer
2. For salvation
3. According to mystery
4. Neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal. 3:27-28)

What exactly took place when Christ baptized the disciples with the Holy Ghost?
1. A sound from heaven – The sound was “AS of a rushing mighty wind”. Christ associated wind with the Holy Ghost in Jn. 3:8 (see Ezek. 37:1-14). The wind did not fill the house but the sound that was AS wind did. This represented that the Spirit was coming in power.
2. Cloven tongues like as of fire – Again it says AS. Upon each of them sat what appeared as cloven (divided) tongues of fire. This was NOT the baptism with fire (Matt. 3:11-12).
3. Filled with the Holy Ghost – All of them were simultaneously filled with the Holy Ghost (this doesn’t happen today). They were completely under the Spirit’s control as a foretaste of how they will live in the Kingdom (Ezek. 36:24-28). The fullness of the Spirit in Acts is always in the context of signs and wonders (compare with Eph. 5:18-20).
4. Other tongues – This was not jibberish but actual languages that the disciples did not know (compare with when man tried to bring in the kingdom, Gen. 11:1-9).
Tongues are used as a sign gift during the Acts period because of the Jews (1 Cor. 1:22; 14:21-22; 13:8-12). Tongues will be used again in the tribulation period when the gospel of the kingdom is preached by the 144,000 in all the world (Matt. 24:14; Mk. 16:15-18). 
The Response of the Multitude (2:5-13) 

Pentecost was one of Israel’s three annual feasts at which every male was required to appear at the sanctuary in Jerusalem (Ex. 23:14-17). A great multitude of Jews were in Jerusalem for the feast days. 
Over 500 years earlier the northern tribes of Israel were scattered by Assyria and then later the southern tribes of Judah were taken captive by Babylon with only a remnant returning to Jerusalem. That is why there were Jews dwelling in every nation under heaven (2:5). These Jews spoke the languages of the nations in which they were born. The apostles preached the wonderful works of God and the multitude heard them in their own language. This was a great miracle! The multitude was amazed and in doubt of what it meant. Others mocked. The apostles now have the undivided attention of the multitude and Peter preaches to them (vs.14-40)


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Basics of Dispensational Truth

The following notes are taken from handwritten notes in the back of my Bible that I have often used in teaching others about right division.
Keys to Bible Study:
1. Believe the scriptures (1Thess. 2:13)
2. Search the scriptures (Acts 17:11)
3. Compare the scriptures (1 Cor. 2:13)
4. Consider the scriptures written by Paul (2 Tim. 2:7)
5. Rightly divide the scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15)
God never changes in His person, principles, and promises (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8) but He does change in His dealings with man. All scripture is profitable for us (2 Tim. 3:16) but in order to gain the profit from God’s word that He has placed in it for us, we must study it His way (2 Tim. 2:15). Notice three things in 2 Timothy 2:15:
1. What we are to do - STUDY
2. Why we are to do it - to shew thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed 
3. How we are to do it - rightly dividing the word of truth 
Note: The modern versions totally mess up this key verse. They change "study" to something like, "do your best" and "rightly dividing" to something like, "properly handling".
All the Bible is the word of truth but we must recognize and consistently maintain the divisions that God put in His word if we are going to understand it. What was truth for Israel under the law may not be truth for the Body of Christ under grace. This is the dispensational approach to Bible study.
A dispensation (biblical word, 1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2; Col. 1:25) is basically a dealing out, distribution, or dispensing of something. It is an administration. Dispensations are not periods of time. Ages are periods of time but dispensations operate within ages. Each dispensation revealed in scripture is marked by 5 things:
1) Divine revelation (which bring clear changes in God’s dealings with men)
2) Human spokesman (such as Moses for the Law and Paul for the Mystery)
3) Human responsibility to the revelation (testing) 
4) Human failure (every dispensation ends in apostasy except the last one)
5) Divine judgment
Dispensations are not "cut and dried" time periods. There is some overlapping in dispensational truth. For example, the dispensation of human government will be in effect until the Kingdom Age. The following outline is an accurate overview of the dispensations revealed in scripture.
1. Innocence (Gen. 1-3)
2. Conscience (Gen. 4-8)
3. Human Government (Gen. 9-11)
4. Promise (Gen. 12-Ex. 19)
5. Law (Ex. 20-Acts)
6. Mystery (Rom. - Phile.)
7. Kingdom (Heb.-Rev.)
In the Bible seven is God's number of perfection and completion and eight is the number of new beginnings. I believe there are seven dispensations in human history and the eighth and final dispensation of which there will be no end is the "dispensation of the fulness of times" (Eph. 1:10).
The main division in the Bible concerns God's twofold purpose which is implied in the very first verse (Gen. 1:1).
1. Heaven - The Body of Christ was planned before the foundation of the world but was hid in God (Eph. 3:9) and kept secret since the world began (Rom. 16:25) until Christ from heaven revealed it through the apostle Paul. The Body of Christ will reign with Christ in heavenly places throughout the ages to come (Eph. 2:6-7).
2. Earth - Israel as a kingdom of priests ruling over the Gentile nations is the subject of prophecy. The Messianic Kingdom that God will establish on the earth has been spoken of by the prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21).
The major theme of the Bible is the King and His Kingdom:
1. OT - promised and prophesied
2. Gospels - proclaimed and rejected
3. Acts - offered and rejected (transition)
4. Pauline epistles - postponed (Body of Christ in spiritual kingdom, Col. 1:13)
5. Hebrew epistles - proclamation resumed
6. Revelation - established

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