Monday, December 10, 2018

Church Dispensationally Considered

It is imperative in rightly dividing the word of truth that we understand what the Bible teaches about the church. The word “church” occurs 77 times in the KJB and 37 times in the plural for a total of 114 references. There is no need to run to the Greek to understand the word (ekklesia), for its definition is clear when you study the English word as it is used in the KJB. It is a special Bible word that refers to an assembly called out by God in every reference except one. Nowhere in the Bible is it used in reference to a denomination or a building.

In Acts 19, the KJB translators translated the Greek word ekklesia as “assembly” three times instead of “church” because it is not referring to God’s church (v.32, 39, 41). In putting “assembly” instead of “church,” the KJB makes a doctrinal difference between an unruly union mob and an orderly congregation of God’s people. However, they translated a different Greek word (hierosulous) as “robbers of churches” (Acts 19:37). The modern versions say “temples” instead of “churches.” I believe the Spirit of God led the translators to say “churches” in order to teach us that buildings in which people worship idols would be known as churches. There are many so-called churches today that are not really God’s church because they are preaching a false gospel and teaching false doctrine. Satan has counterfeit churches (mystery of iniquity).

If we study the word “church” as it used in the Bible without trying to prove any preconceived ideas, and we just let the Bible say what it plainly says, as we compare scripture with scripture, we will learn that are different churches that exist in different dispensations. The context determines which church is being referred to. It is great blunder to assume that the word church is used exclusively for this present age. That is why I shy away from using the term “Church Age.” Dispensationalists like Scofield, Larkin, Chafer, and Ryrie emphasized the difference between Israel and the Church. However, Israel was, and will yet be, a church.

Failure to recognize the different churches in the Bible will lead to doctrinal and practical problems. There is much bad doctrine about the church because of a failure to rightly divide the different churches in the Bible. For example, that is why some think there is only a local and visible church and that you must be water baptized to be a member of it. The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1646 says that, “the church is a company of VISIBLE saints, called and separated from the world by the Word and Spirit of God, to the VISIBLE profession of the faith; being BAPTIZED into that faith” (Article 33).

The church that God is building in this present dispensation (from salvation of Paul to the rapture) is made up of all those who believe the gospel of the grace of God. Immediately upon salvation we are baptized by one Spirit into one body (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:13). All believers in this present age are members of "the church, which is His body (Eph. 1:15-23). This church could not exist before the ascension of Christ, otherwise it would have been a headless body! The word “church” is used nine times in Ephesians, and in every case it is referring to the one true and spiritual church that God is building in this present age.

Consider some distinct truth from Ephesians about the church God is building in this age:
1. Christ is the Head (1:22-23; 5:22-33)
2. Heavenly calling and position (2:5-7)
3. One NEW man, neither Jew nor Gentile (2:11-18)
4. Mystery hid in God (3:1-12)
5. Unity of the Spirit (4:1-6)  

The members of the Body of Christ should assemble together locally, if at all possible, for the work of the ministry (one Body, many local churches). The local church is a visible representation of the Body of Christ in a community. The apostle Paul started local churches and wrote epistles to local churches (Phil. 1:1). The local church is an assembly of believers that is organized according to the order set forth in Paul’s epistles. We must not require more of people than God does to be part of our local church. There is not one instance of the apostle Paul requiring water baptism for church membership. He does not even mention water baptism in the pastoral epistles!

By comparing spiritual things with spiritual, we learn there are different churches in the Bible.

1. There was church in the wilderness (Acts 7:37-38). That church was very different than the Body of Christ! They were baptized unto Moses (1 Cor. 10:1) and brought under the covenant of Law. They were an earthly people with earthly blessings and an earthly inheritance. There was certainly a difference between Jew and Gentile in that church. Throughout the OT we read about the “congregation” (363x’s, see Ex. 16:1-4).

2. There is a kingdom church in prophecy (Ps. 22:22; Heb. 2:12). This cannot be the church which was a mystery hid in God. The church in prophecy is the church Christ spoke of in His earthly ministry (Matt. 16:13-28). Israel will be called out of the nations and assembled in their land (Ezek. 11:17; 36:24-28). They will be the "church of the firstborn" under the new covenant (Heb. 12:18-29).

3. There was a “little flock” of believing Jews in the earthly ministry of Christ that was called out of apostate Israel (Matt. 18:15-20). They were called out by believing the gospel of the kingdom. Repentance and water baptism were required to be part of that church. It was called the “church at Jerusalem” in the book of Acts. The 3,000 Jews that repented on the Day of Pentecost were added to a church that already existed (Acts 2:36-47). They were “in Christ” (on this side of cross all are either in Adam or in Christ, 1 Cor. 15:22) and were a “church of God.” It was the church that Saul of Tarsus persecuted and “wasted” (no one can waste the Body of Christ). The events of early Acts concern what was spoken by the prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21). The kingdom church was phased out through a transition after God raised up the apostle Paul.

4. There will be churches in the future tribulation period (Rev. 2-3). The seven churches are representative churches of the tribulation saints (John writes from a future standpoint, Rev. 1:10-11). The seven letters deal with the problems they will have to overcome in order to obtain the promised blessings of the kingdom (e.g. 2:7, 11, 26). The whole book of Revelation is sent to the seven churches for their instruction (1:3-4; 22:16).

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Word and the word

The scripture gives many of the same titles, attributes, and works of the Lord Jesus Christ to itself. There is an inseparable bond between the incarnate Word of God and the inspired word of God. One is God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16), and the other is God manifest in a Book (2 Tim. 3:16). Therefore, to attack one is to attack the other, and to exalt one is to exalt the other.

"That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Cor. 1:31)

"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:" (2 Thess. 3:1)

Titles and Attributes:

"His name is called THE WORD OF GOD” Rev. 19:13
“the sword of the Spirit, which is THE WORD OF GOD:” Eph. 6:17

"the WORD OF LIFE” 1 John 1:1
"Holding forth the WORD OF LIFE” Phil. 2:16

“that HOLY thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” Lk. 1:35
“Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the HOLY scriptures” Rom. 1:2

 Christ said, "I am... the TRUTH” John 14:6
Christ prayed, "Thy word is TRUTH” John 17:17

“He is the Rock, his work is PERFECT” Deut. 32:4
“The law of the LORD is PERFECT” Ps. 19:7

“Thou art of PURER eyes than to behold evil” Hab. 1:13
“Thy word is very PURE” Ps. 119:140

Christ said, "I am the LIGHT of the world” John 8:12
David said, "Thy word is a LIGHT unto my path” Ps. 119:105

Christ is called, "FAITHFUL and TRUE” Rev. 19:11
"These words are TRUE and FAITHFUL" Rev. 21:5

“Jesus Christ, who is the FAITHFUL witness” Rev. 1:5
"Holding fast the FAITHFUL word” Titus 1:9

“the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” 2 Pet. 1:1
“the word of RIGHTEOUSNESS” Heb. 5:13

"I am the LIVING BREAD” John 6:51
"Man shall not LIVE by BREAD alone, but by every word of God” Luke 4:4 

"To you which believe, He is PRECIOUS” 1 Pet. 2:7
"Exceeding great and PRECIOUS Promises” 2 Pet. 1:4

"His Name shall be called WONDERFUL” Isa 9:6
"Thy Testimonies are WONDERFUL” Ps. 119:129

"Christ, the POWER OF GOD” 1 Cor. 1:24
"The Gospel is the POWER OF GOD” Rom. 1:16

"Thou art GOOD, and doest Good” Ps. 119:68
"GOOD is the word of the Lord” Isa. 39:8

"Him that is FROM THE BEGINNING” 1 John 2:13
"Thy Word is true FROM THE BEGINNING” Ps. 119:160

"From Everlasting to EVERLASTING Thou art God” Ps. 90:2
"The righteousness of Thy Testimonies is EVERLASTING” Ps. 119:144 

"The Lord shall ENDURE for ever” Ps. 9:7
"The Word of the Lord ENDURETH for ever” 1 Peter 1:25

"Christ ABIDETH for ever” John 12:34
"The Word of God...ABIDETH for ever” 1 Peter 1:23

Christ a "TRIED Stone” Isa. 28:16
"The word of the Lord is TRIED” Ps. 18:30

Works:

"BORN OF God” 1 John 5:18
"BORN...by the word of God” 1 Peter 1:23

"BEGOTTEN...by...Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:3
“BEGOTTEN...through the gospel” 1 Cor. 4:15

“He is also able to SAVE them to the uttermost” Heb. 7:25
“the engrafted word, which is able to SAVE your souls” Jam. 1:21

"The Son QUICKENETH whom He will” John 5:21
"Thy Word hath QUICKENED me” Ps. 119:50

"Christ hath made us FREE” Gal. 5:1
"The Truth shall make you FREE” John 8:32

"The Blood of Jesus Christ...CLEANSETH us from all sin” 1 John 1:7
"YE are CLEAN through the Word which I have spoken” John 15:3

"SANCTIFIED through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” Heb. 10:10
"SANCTIFY them through THY TRUTH. Thy word is truth” John 17:17

"Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us WISDOM” 1 Cor. 1:30
"The Holy Scriptures...able to make thee WISE unto salvation” 2 Tim. 3:15

"Striving according to His working which WORKETH in me mightily” Col. 1:29
"The Word of God which effectually WORKETH also in you that believe” 1 Thess. 2:13

"The Lord TRIETH the Righteous” Ps. 11:5
"The word of the Lord TRIED him” Ps. 105:19

"Christ may DWELL in your hearts by faith” Eph. 3:17
"Let the word of Christ DWELL in you richly” Col. 3:16

“And Jesus KNOWING THEIR THOUGHTS said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” Mk. 9:4
“the word of God… is a DISCERNER OF THE THOUGHTS and intents of the heart” Heb. 4:12

“God shall JUDGE the secrets of men by Jesus Christ” Rom. 2:16
“the word that I have spoken, the same shall JUDGE him in that day” Jn. 12:48

"Out of His mouth goeth a sharp SWORD” Rev. 19:15
"The word of God...is sharper than any twoedged SWORD” Heb. 4:12

Church Dispensationally Considered

It is imperative in rightly dividing the word of truth that we understand what the Bible teaches about the church. The word “church” occurs...