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Author Topic: The Practical Beginning of the Body of Christ
WildB
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By Dr. W. Edward Bedore

The positional beginning of the Body of Christ took place in the mind of God before time began (Eph. 3:9; II Tim. 1:9). The Body of Christ itself remained a secret hidden from man until, in His own time, God initiated the Dispensation of Grace and revealed its message to the Apostle Paul. This was the practical beginning of the Church, which is Christ's Body.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

In order to "rightly divide the word of Truth" (II Tim. 2:15), we must know when the Dispensation of Grace began in order to determine which part of the Bible directly applies to the present dispensation, the Body of Christ, and which pertains to Israel and God's covenant promises. Here, we will be looking at evidence from Scripture that indicates when God interrupted the prophesied Kingdom program and began the Dispensation of Grace.

PAUL'S UNIQUE CONVERSION

Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the Apostle, was a self-righteous, hard-hearted, Christ-rejecting Pharisee when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him as he traveled to Damascus to arrest those who believed that Jesus was Israel's long-awaited Messiah. He had been involved in the murder of Stephen and in the persecution of the Church at Jerusalem (Acts 7:54-58). Now, with letters of authority from the High Priest, he was headed to Damascus to arrest any believers found there (Acts 22:4-5). As he came near Damascus, the Lord Jesus Christ suddenly appeared to him in a bright light and spoke to him (Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-10; 26:12-18).

The how and when of Christ's appearance to Paul on the road to Damascus is important. According to prophecy, Jesus Christ left the twelve apostles on earth as His official spokesmen, first to Israel and then to the nations (Lk. 24:45-48). He was not scheduled to return to earth until coming in power and glory to defeat anti-Christ and take over the rule of Israel and the world (Ps. 110:1-3; Matt. 24:29-31; 25:31-32 ff.). Israel's King was to stay in self-imposed exile in heaven until the appointed time (Acts 3:18-21). His appearing to Saul the blasphemer on the road to Damascus was an interruption of the prophetic program. This is where and when God first dispensed grace under a new and unprophesied program, thus marking the beginning of the Dispensation of the Grace.

ISRAEL'S CRISIS

Israel's leaders had rejected the testimony of the Holy Spirit concerning Jesus Christ and stoned Stephen when he confronted them with their sin. While Israel's leaders of old had persecuted and slain God's prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah, these leaders were guilty of betraying and murdering the Messiah Himself when He did come, and they had failed to keep the Law as well (Acts 7:51-59).

The stoning of Stephen took place about one year after Peter's Pentecostal message (c. AD 31). Peter had charged Israel's leaders with unjustly putting Jesus Christ to death and called on the people of Israel to "repent and be baptized… for the remission of sins" in order to be saved "from this untoward (crooked) generation" (see Acts 2:12-40). The meaning was clear. Those who did not repent of Israel's national sin of murdering the Messiah would be held personally responsible for the crime. They would be accountable before God for His death just as if they were there that day clamoring for Him to be crucified, agreeing that His blood would be on their shoulders (Matt. 22:25). To follow the leaders of the nation would be to follow them into perdition.

The leaders of Israel had rejected God's Son during His earthly ministry to the nation and rejected the testimony of the Holy Spirit through His apostles after His ascension into heaven. When Stephen confronted them with their sin, they refused to listen (Acts 7:57) proving that, just as he had said, they were also guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). They committed the unpardonable sin that the Lord Jesus had warned the nation against (Matt. 12:31-32; Mk. 3:28-29; Lk. 12:8-10). By holding their clothes and consenting to his death, Paul joined the council in killing Stephen (Acts 6:12; 7:54,58; 8:1), thus identifying himself with their sin of murdering the Messiah. His conduct following Stephen's death shows that he joined them not just in principle but also in attitude, thought and deed (Acts 8:3-4; 9:1-2).


Was there room for repentance? Could Paul have turned to the Lord and been forgiven of his sin? Yes, even though Paul was under the same condemnation as the leaders of Israel because he had identified himself with them, he still had the opportunity to find forgiveness by confessing Israel's national sin of not keeping the Law of Moses (resisting the Father), murdering the Just One (resisting the Son), and renouncing the miracles and preaching of God's Spirit-filled messengers as untrue (resisting the Holy Spirit) that Stephen had charged her leaders with (Acts 7:51-53; cf. Acts 5:27-33). He had an opportunity, but chose to trust in his self-righteousness.

Israel's leaders had been presented with overwhelming evidence that Jesus Christ was alive and was both Lord and Christ. With the stoning of Stephen, they sealed their fate. But Paul, who did not have the kind of first-hand knowledge of Christ's earthly ministry that those leaders did, was following them in ignorance (I Tim. 1:12-13). He could have known, and should have known, but chose to follow the way of unbelief.

When Stephen said he saw a vision of the glory of God and Jesus Christ standing at His right hand is when the council members took their fury out on him. They knew that judgment was about to fall on the nation, but refused to admit it. They vainly thought that if they could do away with the messenger they would somehow escape the judgment he proclaimed. The hatred that led to the crucifixion of Christ was based on the response of unbelief. They claimed that they were doing God's will. Paul, in his misplaced zeal for the Law, joined them in persecuting the believers even to the point of leading the effort to destroy them (Gal. 1:13-14; Phil. 3:4-6).

The members of the council responded to Stephen's charge against them by "gnashing at him with their teeth" because of his vision of Jesus "standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:54-55). Then "they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord" (Acts 7:54-57). Rejecting the truth, they carried him out and stoned him to death. Israel's persistence in unbelief had brought the world's rebellion against God to a head and His chosen nation was now leading it. On the prophetic clock, it was time to purge Israel and the world of unbelief through the events of the Tribulation. The time of Jacob's trouble was at hand (Jer. 30:7).

Israel was at a crisis point, and Paul was leading the rebellion against God by becoming its Field Marshal in the persecution of His saints. Unrepentant and on his way to Damascus to imprison believers, Paul was not in a position to be saved under the prophesied Kingdom program. But God, who is rich in mercy, sent His Son to apprehend Paul, His foremost enemy, through grace and initiate a new program through which salvation would be offered directly to all the nations. He took Paul as a prisoner of war, changed his heart, and sent him out as the Apostle to the Gentiles with a message of grace. Under the Kingdom program, the Gentiles would receive God's blessings through Israel. But now the Gentiles would receive God's blessings apart from Israel.


THE DISPENSING OF GOD'S GRACE


Did the Dispensation of Grace begin when Jesus Christ interrupted the prophecy program by leaving heaven to appear to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9ff.), or several years later? To answer this, we will look at the departures from the Kingdom program that took place, Paul's testimony about his commission as an Apostle, and how the transition from the prophesied Kingdom program into the mystery program (Grace) took place.

1. Paul's salvation was not in line with the Kingdom message. We believe that the following list shows that God initiated a new dispensational order at the time of his conversion.

a. Paul was actively persecuting believers (Acts 9:1-2). Under prophecy, those of Israel who scattered the flock were under condemnation (Jer. 23:1-3; Ezek. 34:1-10; cf. Matt. 23).

b. Jesus Christ's appearance to Paul was not in accord with the prophetic message of the Kingdom, which shows Him waiting in heaven until His return to earth in power and glory, when "every eye shall see Him" (Hos. 5:15; Acts 3:19-21; Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:29-30; John 16:7-10; cf. Acts 9:17).

c. The prophesied appearing of Jesus Christ will mark Israel's turning back to the Lord and the people's return to the Promised Land, while His appearance to Paul initiated God's setting aside of Israel in unbelief (Zech. 12:10,14; cf. Acts 13:46; 18:6; 28:28).

d. That Paul was sent specifically to the Gentiles at that time, even though Israel was not yet converted (Acts 9:15; 22:21; 26:17). Prophetically, Gentile salvation was to come through believing Israel's rise (Isa. 60:1-4; Zech. 8:20-23). In contrast, the fall of Israel brought salvation to the Gentiles through the mystery of Grace (Rom. 11:11,15; 16:25-27; Eph. 3:1-9).

e. That, following Paul's conversion, the persecution of the Church in all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria subsided (Acts 9:31). Under the Kingdom program, persecution of believers, especially in Jerusalem, was to steadily increase until Jesus Christ's return to deliver Israel from her enemies (Matt. 24:3-31; Isa. 59:19-21; Jer. 30:3-9).

f. That it was necessary to provide relief aid to the saints in Judea (Acts 11:27-30). Believing that it was imminent, the Kingdom believers had sold their property and pooled their resources (Acts 2:44-45) in order to get through the Tribulation that will precede Christ's return to establish His Kingdom on earth. During the Tribulation, believers will not be able to buy or sell on the open market (Rev. 13:16-17). But, by the time the collection had been taken, it had been fifteen years since Peter had first offered the Kingdom to Israel by announcing that the "the great and notable Day of the Lord" was at hand (Acts 2:14-21ff). What happened? The Tribulation did not come because the Lord had interrupted the prophetic Kingdom program when He appeared to Paul. Now, after many years, their resources were gone and a famine was coming. If the prophetic timetable had not been delayed, the Tribulation would have already taken place and Jesus Christ's Kingdom established on earth by this time.

The foregoing list of things that took place following Paul's conversion provides compelling evidence that there was a major departure from the prophecy program at that time. God dispensed grace instead of wrath. This unprophesied dispensing of grace initiated a new Church, the Body of Christ, which over the next several years would grow even as the existing Kingdom Church would wither and finally die out.

A MAJOR DISPENSATIONAL CHANGE

After Paul's conversion, Peter was sent to Caesarea by the Lord to share the gospel with Cornelius, a Roman centurion. This event confirms that a major program change was taking place. The events of Acts chapter ten are generally thought of as simply the opening of the door of salvation to the Gentiles and that God did this because Peter still didn't understand that the gospel was to go to all nations. This is true, but not for the reason generally assumed. We should note here that what took place was not according to the Kingdom Gospel that Peter and the eleven had been commissioned under. The Apostles knew that the Gospel was to go to all the world, but not in the manner it did because what took place was outside of the realm of prophecy.

Peter and the eleven were charged with making disciples of all nations (see Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16). The Bible is clear that the Gentiles were included in the Kingdom program (Isa. 49:5-6). It is equally clear that in the Kingdom the Gentiles will be under the spiritual and legal authority of Israel (Isa. 42:5-6; 49:22-23; 60:2-3; 61:5-6; 62:1-2; Zech. 8:20-23). That the Lord told Peter to eat unclean animals and to eat with uncircumcised Gentiles was the same as telling him that the Kingdom Commission he was laboring under was being rescinded. During the Millennial Kingdom, the terms of the Mosaic Law, with some modification, will be in effect. This includes the civil statutes, the religious rituals and the moral code contained in the Ten Commandments. Included will be circumcision and the prohibition of eating unclean animals.

It is assumed that because the Apostle Paul says that the believer is "not under the Law, but under Grace" (Rom. 6:14) that the Law has been completely abolished, but this is not true. It is true that the "handwriting of ordinances" contained in the Law have been taken out of our way in the Dispensation of Grace, but it is equally true that they will be in force during the Millennial Kingdom. The difference between the Dispensation of the Law (from Moses to Christ) and the Dispensation of Righteousness (the Millennial Kingdom era) is that Israel will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit and supernaturally enabled to keep the Law in the Kingdom (see Jer. 31:31-323; Ezek. 11:18-20; 36:24-28).

Under the Mosaic administration, the offerings looked forward to the cross. With Jesus Christ having fulfilled the Law and its types, in the Kingdom these offerings will be memorial in nature, looking back to the cross in honor of what took place there. The dietary laws will be enforced as they are part of the laws and statutes given to Israel by God (Ezek. 44:24). Before the Lord sent Peter to Cornelius, He repealed the dietary ban of the Law on eating the meat from certain animals (Acts 10:9-16). This was so difficult for Peter to accept that the Lord had to show him the vision of the clean and unclean animals three times to make it clear to him that now the meat of all animals was to be considered as clean.

That Cornelius and those with him were uncircumcised when Peter went and ate with them in Caesarea was another breech in the Kingdom program (Ezek. 44:9). Peter knew full well that under his commission he was not allowed "to keep company, or come unto one of another nation" (Acts 10:28a). His acknowledgment that he could no longer "call any man common or unclean" (Acts 10:28b) was not intended to imply that he was beginning to understand the scope of his God-given commission. Instead it was a statement to the fact that he recognized that God was doing something new and highly unusual. After receiving the vision of the clean and unclean animals and being instructed to eat of both, Peter wondered what the vision meant (Acts 10:17a). The answer was given almost immediately as men sent by Cornelius showed up at his door. (Acts 10:17b) and the Holy Spirit told him to go with them (Acts 10:18-23). There is nothing in the prophetic Kingdom program that places Gentiles on an equal footing with the seed of Abraham. In a very real way, Gentile blessings and acceptance into the Kingdom are based on them turning to the God of Israel and how they treat His chosen people (Gen. 12:1-3; Matt. 25:31-36). Prophetically, this is true on both the personal and national levels.

In obedience, Peter went to Caesarea and preached the gospel to Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile, and those with him (Acts 10:24-43). A strange thing happened during Peter's message. The Holy Spirit fell on these Gentiles, astonishing the Jews that had come with Peter (Acts 10:44-45). Peter then had them baptized and stayed with them for a time before returning to Jerusalem (Acts 10:46-48).

An important fact is that the Holy Spirit came upon these Gentile believers before Peter finished his message (Acts 10:44). It is significant that, up to this point, Peter had given a brief history of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry and preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ to them. When he said that "through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins", the Lord interrupted him by sending the Holy Spirit "on all them which heard the Word" (Acts 10:43-44). While he undoubtedly had a full Kingdom message in mind, he did not get to the part about repentance and baptism for the remission of sins as he had on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:37-40).

Up to this point, this message was compatible with Peter's Kingdom gospel and the Grace gospel preached by Paul (I Cor. 15:3-4). We believe that at this point God intervened by saving Cornelius and those with him who believed and placed them into the Church, which is Christ's Body. Because the Kingdom program was already being superseded by the Dispensation of Grace, God's purpose in saving these Gentiles was to prepare Peter and the other Kingdom leaders to accept both Paul and his message as being from the Lord. When confronted by those in Jerusalem because he had gone "into men uncircumcised and didst eat with them" (Acts 11:1-3), he explained why he did what he did by telling how God had specifically sent him there and what took place, saying "what was I, that I should withstand God" (Acts 10:17). We know that Peter only came to an understanding of "why" this took place when he later learned about the purpose of the Dispensation of Grace from Paul (Gal. 2:1-10; cf. II Pet. 2:15-16). The timing and the manner in which Peter was sent to Cornelius provides strong proof that the Dispensation of Grace began with Paul's conversion and that the fading away of Israel had already begun. A major dispensational change had to have taken place for Peter to have been sent to Cornelius in the manner and at the time that he was.

THE JERUSALEM COUNCIL

When a controversy over circumcision in the Gentile churches arose in Antioch, Paul, Barnabas, and other leaders went to Jerusalem for a hearing before the apostles and elders of the church there (Acts 15:1-2). After much disputing, Peter took the floor and reminded them how God had used him to bring salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 15:3-11). These leaders then listened to what Paul and Barnabas had to say about how the Lord was using them among the Gentiles (Acts 15:12). James then stood up and defended their ministry to the Gentiles, insisting they not be put under the Law of Moses (Acts 15:13-21).

Our point here is that in referring back to the events in Acts chapter ten to defend Paul's ministry, Peter knew something new took place when the Lord sent him to Cornelius and that it related to Paul's message and ministry to the Gentiles. James, the apostles, the elders, and the whole church agreed and sent letters of acknowledgment to the believing Gentiles in Antioch and the regions of Syria and Cilicia asking only that they "abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication" (Acts 15:22-29).

That they specifically sent letters to the Gentile believers in the regions of Syria and Cilicia confirms that Paul's early ministry was the same then as it was at this time (Acts 15:23; cf. Gal. 1:18-21; Acts 9:26-30; Tarsus is in Cilicia).

PAUL'S OWN TESTIMONY

When giving his testimony, Paul often connected his salvation experience to his call into the ministry and the message he preached. This shows that Paul received the call to his ministry as the Apostle to the Gentiles at the time of his conversion and began receiving special revelation of the doctrines of grace shortly thereafter.

Acts 21:37-22:22: Here Paul has been rescued from the Jews who were trying to kill him because he was falsely accused of bringing a Gentile into the Temple. When the Roman commander allowed him to speak, he began by recounting how he persecuted the Church and was saved by the Lord Jesus Christ while on his way to Damascus. As instructed by the Lord, he went on to Damascus and met Ananias, who gave him a message from the Lord. In this account, Paul adds some details not found in Acts nine. In chapter nine, we find the Lord Jesus telling Ananias through a vision that Paul was "a chosen vessel" who was to bear His name "before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" and that he would suffer for His "name's sake" (Acts 9:15-16). But it does not tell us that Ananias told Paul this. However, in Acts twenty-two, Paul specifically tells us that Ananias did relay a message from the Lord to him. "And he (Ananias) said, the God of our fathers hath chosen thee (Saul), that thou shouldest know His will and see that Just One and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard" (Acts 22:14-15).

In chapter nine, Paul's commission is stated as being to "the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel", which is the opposite order of the Kingdom commission given to Peter and the eleven (see Acts 1:6-9). In his testimony, Paul simply says that he was sent to be "a witness unto all men" of what he had already seen and heard (Acts 22:15). That it is condensed to "all men" in this account infers that his commission made no distinction between the Jews and Gentiles. This could never be said of the Kingdom commission, which emphasizes Israel's covenant position as God's chosen people. The Kingdom message rests on the fact that God would send the Messiah to deliver Israel from her Gentile enemies and forgive her of her iniquity (Jer. 23:1-6; 31:31-34; etc.).

Paul then tells his hearers about what took place when he returned to Jerusalem three years after his conversion (cf. Gal. 1:17-18). He went into the temple to pray, went into a trance, and had a vision of the Lord who said to him, "make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning Me" (Acts 22:17-18). Paul protested, thinking that hearing about how God had changed him from a "persecutor" into a "proclaimer" of Christ would cause the Jews to consider what he had to say. The Lord's response was to command Paul to leave Jerusalem as He was sending him to the Gentiles (Acts 22:19-21). When Paul mentioned the Gentiles, the Jews began calling for his death and the Roman soldiers took him into their barracks for safety (Acts 22:22-24).

Our point here is that Paul was defending his God-given ministry to the Gentiles by showing its relationship to what the Lord told him in Damascus through Ananias and three years later in the Temple at Jerusalem. Obviously, he intended that his audience understand his calling into the ministry by the Lord in the same context as the ministry that he was involved in at the time he was speaking to them. In other words, Paul was saying that his present work among the Gentiles was directly related to him having been sent as a witness to "all men" at the time of his conversion, and that the Lord re-asserted this to him the first time he returned to Jerusalem three years after his conversion.

Acts 26:1-32: In this passage we find Paul being held in Caesarea where the commander of the Roman garrison had sent him because of a plot against his life (Acts 23:12-35). He was in prison over two years (Acts 24:27).

Eventually Paul had an opportunity to give his testimony before King Agrippa II, a great-grandson of Herod the Great (Acts 25:1-26:32). First, he reviewed his past life as a Pharisee (Acts 26:2-5), then defended himself by stating that what he was being charged with was in line with God's promise to Israel concerning the resurrection of the dead (Acts 26:6-8). He used this same defense before the council in Jerusalem and before Felix (Acts 23:6-10; 24:10-21). The charges brought against Paul by the Jews evidently concerned his claim that Jesus, who had been put to death, was alive (Acts 25:18,19). Paul was preaching the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord for the forgiveness of sins for both Jews and Gentiles and showing that the Jesus he preached was the same Jesus who is the Messiah of Israel (cf. Acts 26:21-23).

He was not saying that he was preaching the exact same message as Peter and the eleven, but that the foundation of his message was foundational to the Kingdom message as well. All of God's redemptive purposes are dependent on the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fact of His death, burial and resurrection. Apart from Christ and His "love work" of the cross there is no good news for man. Jesus Christ as Redeemer and the promise of a physical resurrection are essential to the hope of believers of every dispensation. This is true whether or not they had precise revelation as we do in the present Dispensation of Grace or if it was still veiled as in the types and shadow of the Law as it was in the time of the Old Testament. Peter and Paul preached about the same Jesus Christ but as representatives of different dispensations. Thus, there were differences in the details of their respective messages.

Paul then told how, in misplaced zeal, he had been engaged in persecuting believers (Acts 26:9-12; cf. Gal. 1:13-14; Phil. 3:4-6) when the Lord Jesus Himself appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:12-15; cf. 9:1-5). Here he adds some information about his conversation with the Lord at that time that is not found in the other accounts of this history changing event.

In Acts nine and twenty-two, it is simply stated that the Lord told Paul to "arise, and go into the city (Damascus), and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 9:6; 22:10). But here, in his testimony before Agrippa, Paul gives us a fuller account of what Jesus said to him that day. "But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear (reveal) unto thee; delivering thee from the people (Israel), and from the Gentiles unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me" (Acts 26:16-18). We learn several important things from this account.

First, Jesus Christ appeared to Paul for the express purpose of making him a minister (v. 16a). As Paul's ministry was that of the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13), it seems evident that this is where he received his calling to that office (Acts 9:15; cf. Rom. 1:1; I Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1,15-16; II Tim. 1:10-11).

Second, the Lord appeared to Paul that he might be an eyewitness to the fact of His resurrection (v. 16b; cf. I Cor. 15:1-8). Paul not only saw the risen Christ but, like the twelve, he also received his commission as an Apostle directly from Him (Gal. 1:11-12; Tit. 1:3; cf. Lk. 6:12-16; cf. Matt. 10:1-2; Lk. 9:1-2).

Third, the Lord did not reveal everything He had for Paul all at one time but would progressively reveal the details of the message that He sent Paul to proclaim (v.16c).

Fourth, the Lord promised to deliver Paul from those who sought to harm him, both of the Jews and of the Gentiles (v.17a). Many instances of this being fulfilled are found in the Scriptures (II Tim. 3:11; cf. Acts 13:44-52; 14:1-20; etc.).

Fifth, the Lord commissioned Paul to go to the Gentiles at that time (v. 17b; cf. Acts 9:15; 22:12-15).

Sixth, Paul's mission was to offer salvation to the Gentiles through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 18).

Seventh, that Paul obeyed this vision and took his message to the Jews and the Gentiles (vs. 19-20).

Eighth, that it was "for these causes", that is for preaching the message he received that day on the road to Damascus to Jew and Gentile alike, that the Jews had tried to kill him (v.21; cf Acts 21:27-28).

We recognize the fact that there is some difficulty in reconciling the order of events given in verse 20 with the record of Paul's activities that are found earlier in Acts and in his epistles. However, that does not change what is clearly stated in verses 12-18. Paul was commissioned to go to the Gentiles right there on the road to Damascus. Note that the message he preached in Damascus he also preached to the Jews and the Gentiles.

I Corinthians 15:9-10: In chapter fifteen of I Corinthians, the Apostle Paul forcefully presents the importance of Christ's resurrection to the Gospel of the Grace of God. First, he reminds the Corinthians that they were saved and have their standing before God through the Gospel that he preached to them (I Cor. 15:1-2). His concern was that they had been influenced by those who denied that Christ was raised from the dead and that believers would be resurrected. He points out that the gospel that they had believed and been saved through was based on the facts of Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (I Cor. 15:3-4). His point is that if they were saved through faith that Christ was raised from the dead, but it wasn't true, their faith in Christ was pointless, or "in vain" (I Cor. 15:2,12,18). The believer's assurance only comes from the fact that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead (I Cor. 15:19-22ff.).

Second, Paul explains that the twelve Kingdom Apostles were eyewitnesses to the fact of Christ's resurrection, as were more than five hundred other believers, including James, the Lord's half-brother (I Cor. 15:5-7). And last, Paul claims that he himself also saw the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:8-10). Even though Paul was not qualified in any way to be an apostle, the Lord graciously appeared to him on the road to Damascus and commissioned him as the Apostle of Grace (I Cor. 15:10; cf. Gal. 2:9; Acts 9:15-17; 22:11-15; 26:14-18). The grace which was bestowed upon Paul is shown to be directly tied to his having personally seen the risen Christ. Note the statements from the Acts record; "Jesus that appeared unto thee" (Acts 9:17); "that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard" (Acts 22:14-15); "for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness..." (Acts 26:16ff.).

Galatians 1:6-2:10: In his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul defended his grace apostleship and message against that of the Judaizers, who had come in preaching a corrupted gospel that mixed Law with Grace. He makes it clear that his message was not the same as the message committed to the Apostle Peter.

Establishing the fact that his apostleship was not conferred on him by any man or group of men, but by Jesus Christ Himself, whose authority comes through the Father (Gal. 1:1), Paul expressed his dismay that the saints in Galatia were so quickly turning away from the Gospel of Grace to a perverted message that was not good news at all (Gal. 1:6-7). He told them that anybody who came to them with a message that was different than the one he had preached to them should be considered as one who is under condemnation (Acts 1:8-9). His motivation was not to please men but to serve the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:10).

Paul then states that he received his message directly from the risen Christ as well (Gal. 1:11-12; cf. v. 1:1). That he specifically says that he received it "by the revelation of Jesus Christ" tells us that his message was not already known by men but directly revealed to him by the Lord Jesus. It is on this important point that the rest of the epistle is based.

Paul goes on to remind the Galatians of his former conduct as a zealous Jew (Gal. 1:13-14). He had tried to destroy the Church, but in God's time He had called him by His grace for the purpose of revealing his Son in him that he might preach Christ among the Gentiles (Gal. 1:15-16a). After being called, Paul did not consult any man about the message he would preach and did not go immediately to Jerusalem, which was the seat of the apostles' authority. Instead he went to Arabia and then returned to Damascus (Gal. 1:16b-17). It was not until three years after his conversion that he went to Jerusalem to meet with Peter (Gal. 1:18). Some of the details of this visit are found in Acts 22:17-21. Paul met with Peter and James at this time (Gal. 1:19) and then went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia, remaining unknown to the churches that were in Judea (Gal. 1:19-22).

Paul qualified everything he was writing with the statement "Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not" (Gal. 1:20-22). He nailed down the fact that he received his message from the Lord Himself and was not preaching the Kingdom Gospel that Peter and the other apostles preached. That the churches in Judea only heard that this former persecutor was now preaching the faith that he attempted to destroy (Acts 1:23-24) does not mean that he was preaching the Kingdom Gospel, but that he was preaching Christ. Of course, they assumed that he was preaching Christ according to prophecy because that was the only message that they knew anything about at that time. Note that Paul does not give us any other information to go along with this series of events other than that the Gospel he preached was given to him by the Lord. What he is defending is this special revelation and the fact that he received it before he ever met with any of the Kingdom apostles.

Fourteen years after his conversion, Paul went a second time to Jerusalem where he met privately with Peter, James, and John, the chief leaders in the Church there. We should note here that this was not the conference of Acts fifteen which was held during Paul's third trip to Jerusalem and was a public meeting with all the apostles and elders rather than a private one (Acts 15:1-6ff.). Also, if the Acts fifteen meeting had taken place before Paul wrote this letter to the Galatians, he would have referred to the official ruling by the Jerusalem council by all the apostles and elders concerning circumcision (Acts 15:23-24). During this visit, Paul explained the Gospel message that he was already preaching to these men so they would not undermine it because of a lack of understanding (Gal. 2:1-2). That he refused to have Titus circumcised and strongly withstood the false teachers (Gal. 2:3-4) at this time tells us that the Grace Gospel was already being proclaimed and that the Body of Christ was already in existence. Paul's refusal to allow the demands of the Law to be imposed on Gentile believers was to make sure that "the truth of the Gospel might continue" (Gal. 2:5). He was defending his Christ-revealed message of Grace to keep it from being corrupted by mixing it with the Law. We do not know when Titus became a believer, but we know that it was before the time of this meeting, which was sometime before Paul's first apostolic missionary journey (Acts 12:25-13:3).

Paul made it clear that James, Peter and John "added nothing" to his knowledge, that is they did not teach him anything concerning the Good News about Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:6). Instead, the opposite was true. They learned from him about how God had commissioned him with the Gospel of the Gentiles (the uncircumcision) just as Peter was with the Gospel of the Jews (the circumcision) (Gal. 2:6-8). Recognizing that the Gospel of Grace was particularly given to Paul, Peter, James and John agreed to limit their ministry to preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Jews while Paul was to go to the Gentiles with the Gospel of Grace (Gal. 2:9-10).

The message that these men endorsed was the ministry and message the Lord had charged Paul with at the time of his conversion, and by then he had already been laboring under it for fourteen years. There is no doubt that in this passage of Scripture that Paul is defending his God-given message of Grace and Apostolic authority. It is important to note that he does not mention having received another commission or message between Galatians 1:16 and 2:1. His authority to rebuke Peter to his face (Gal. 2:11-14) and proclaim justification apart from the Law is found in Galatians 1:11-16.

Philippians 3:1-11: Paul warned the saints at Philippi against the Judaizers who would mingle Law and Grace by imposing the rite of circumcision on them if given a chance. He tells them to beware of these evil workers and points out that those who have trusted Christ alone and are not trusting in the works of the flesh are the true circumcision (Phil. 3:1-3; cf. Col. 2:13-14). If anyone ever thought they were right with God because of the fleshly works of the Law, it was Paul. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a zealous Pharisee who persecuted the Church (Phil. 3:4-6). He declared that his self-righteousness based on his ability to keep the Law of Moses simply was insufficient and so he rejected it all as rubbish and turned to Christ alone that he might gain the righteousness of God though faith (Phil. 3:7-9; cf. II Cor. 5:21). The result being to personally know Christ and experience His resurrection power in his life as he was being conformed into Christ-likeness through his new identity with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Phil. 3:10-11; cf. Rom. 6:1-11).

As we have seen, Paul makes it clear that he was saved and commissioned when Jesus Christ appeared on the road to Damascus. Here he tells us that he turned from every thing that he had thought made him in some way acceptable to God in favor of faith alone in Christ alone that he might be found righteous in God's sight. This obviously took place when the Lord Jesus appeared to him while he was involved in persecuting the Kingdom believers as he mistakenly thought that his zeal in doing so commended him to God (Phil. 3:6a).

If Paul had been saved into the Kingdom Church and then later transferred into the Body of Christ, he would not have made the claim that he renounced all of the things that we find listed in this passage. Under the Kingdom program, there is a distinction between the Jews who are of "the commonwealth of Israel" and therefore "children of the Covenants of Promise", and the Gentiles, who are not (cf. Eph. 2:11-12). As we have noted earlier, in the Kingdom circumcision will be required, and the Law, with some revisions, will be kept by believing Israel. It is true that in the Kingdom program salvation is still essentially through faith in Christ, but the Jews will have a place of authority over the Gentiles because of their covenant relationship with God. So, along with circumcision, Sabbath keeping, water baptism and many other elements of the Law will be kept to demonstrate the reality of their faith in Christ. None of this is true of the Dispensation of Grace. Paul's Hebrew identity in itself would not make him acceptable to God, but he could not renounce it as worthless under the terms of the Kingdom program. Again we see that Paul's message of Grace is directly related to the time of his conversion on the road to Damascus.

I Timothy 1:8-17: In this letter to Timothy, Paul gave this young pastor instructions and encouragement to stand strong in the faith. He explained that the proper use of the Law today is to convict the ungodly of sin (I Tim. 1:8-10) in accord with the Gospel message that had been committed to his trust (I Tim. 1:11). He then voiced his thankfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ, who enabled him to do the ministry He had called him to (I Tim. 1:12). Before being placed into the Gospel ministry, Paul says he had been "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious" man, but through the "exceeding abundant" grace of the Lord he had obtained mercy (I Tim. 1:13-14). As we have already seen, this change in Paul's life took place at the time the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus.

Paul emphasizes what he says next by preceding it with the statement, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation" (I Tim 1:15a). This tells us that what follows is significant and we should pay close attention to it. First, we read that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (I Tim. 1:15b). The incarnation of the Son of God was for the purpose of reconciling lost humanity to God. This is an inter-dispensational truth that we must always keep in mind as we study our Bibles and seek God's will for our lives.

Second, we read that Paul considered himself to be "chief", or the foremost, of sinners (I Tim. 1:15c.). Of course, he wasn't the first sinner, because that distinction belongs to Adam (Rom. 5:12; I Cor. 15:21-22) and there were many generations of sinful men and women that came and went between the time of Adam and the time of Paul. So what did Paul mean when he said that he was the "chief" sinner? I believe that the next verse explains it. "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting" (I Tim. 1:16).

Paul is simply stating here that the reason God showed him mercy in saving him was for the express purpose of using him to demonstrate His patience by using Paul as the prototype, or pattern, of those who from that time on would believe on Christ and receive eternal life (cf. II Pet. 3:15). The patience demonstrated is that, instead of pouring out His wrath on a God-rejecting world in the Tribulation, the Lord interrupted the prophetic program by graciously showing mercy to His foremost persecutor and saving him in Gentile territory apart from the requirements of the Kingdom Gospel. Even though he wrote this letter over thirty years after his conversion, Paul was compelled to give praise to his Savior when he wrote about what He had done on his, and our, behalf. "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen" (I Tim. 1:17).

II Timothy 1:6-12: In his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminds him that God has not given believers "the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Tim. 1:6-7) and that because of this he had no reason to be "ashamed of the testimony" of Jesus Christ or of Paul, the Lord's "prisoner" (II Tim. 1:8). Instead of being silenced by those who reject the Grace Gospel and the distinctive nature of Paul's apostolic ministry and message, Timothy was admonished to be willing to suffer for the Gospel, trusting in the power of God to see him through. This is God's will for believers today just as it was for Timothy when Paul penned this letter almost two thousand years ago.

Paul then goes on to remind Timothy that when we become saved we are also called to holiness according to God's own purpose of grace. Although this was God's plan even before the time of Creation, it has only now been revealed through "the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel" (II Tim. 1:9-10). We believe that the "appearance" of Christ referred to here is his appearance to Paul when he was saved on the road to Damascus and "appointed a preacher and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (II Tim. 1:11; cf. Acts 9:15-17; 22:14-15; 26:16-18; I Cor. 15:8-10; I Tim. 2:5-7). Again we find Paul linking his Christ-given ministry and message directly to the Lord Jesus' appearance to him on the road to Damascus.

CONCLUSION

Because there is a clear break in the prophetic Kingdom program in the events of Acts chapters nine and ten, and the Apostle Paul consistently refers to the time of his conversion on the road to Damascus in the same context as his apostolic ministry and message of grace, we believe that the Dispensation of Grace began with Paul's conversion and that the Church, which is Christ's Body, began at the same time. Paul, being both a Roman citizen and a Jew was representative of the nature of the Body of Christ in which Jew and Gentile are seen as one body or "one new man" in their identity with Christ (see Eph. 2:14-16; cf. Gal. 3:27-28; Col. 3:11).

If it is important that we know when the Dispensation of Grace began, and we believe that it is, then there should be strong Scriptural indicators that direct us to that point in time. We believe that we have shown from the Bible that these indicators do exist and they point us to the record of the Apostle Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus as the benchmark that identifies the beginning of the Dispensation of Grace. The testimony of the inspired Word of God, both in the book of Acts and in Paul's letters, tells us that Jesus Christ's appearance to Paul at that crucial time in Israel's history is the turning point that marks both Israel's fall and the birth of the Church which is His Body.

Questions or comments for Dr. Bedore should be addressed to him directly at: Berean Bible Institute, P.O. Box 587, Slinger, WI 53086, or by e-mail at: bbi@bereanbibleinstitute.org. This article is an abbreviated version of a longer article that you can have upon request.

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When Did The Church Begin?

Introduction

Reformed/Covenant Theology teaches (with some variation in details) that the Church is made up of the elect of all ages, and therefore the Church must have begun with the first person who was saved. This is the common view, although some begin the church with the nation Israel. In either case, Reformed men are unanimous in teaching that the Church was present in the Old Testament period. This is illustrated by the headings found at the top of The Thompson Chain Reference Bible in the book of Isaiah: "God's mercy to the Church" "God avengeth His church" "His great mercies to the Church" "The church comforted" "The restoration of the Church" "The church exhorted" "God will comfort His church" "The prophet's zeal for the church" "Confession and complaint of the church" etc.

Reformed/Covenant men stress that throughout all history there is but one people of God, and that these saved people comprise the Church.

Dispensationalists teach that the Church is a unique body of believers that began on the day of Pentecost and will be removed from earth on the day that Christ comes for His own (the rapture). It is made up of both Jews and Gentiles united together into one body and enjoying equal status in the body of Christ (Eph. 3:5-6). This is the “one new man” of Ephesians 2:15 and the “one fold” of John 10:16.

Others hold to differing positions as to when the Church began. Some Baptist groups believe that the Church began with John the Baptist or at some time during the Lord’s earthly ministry. Others begin the Church years after Pentecost (some in Acts 13 and others in Acts 28).

The answer to the question of when the Church began is important and has many theological ramifications. It is not a difficult question to answer. The Scriptures pinpoint the beginning of the Church in a very simple and clear way, as we shall now seek to demonstrate.

The Key Argument from Scripture

Spirit Baptism

The key passage on Spirit baptism is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13—“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.” The “one body” spoken of in this verse refers to the Church (see 1 Cor. 12:27-28; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:30-32; Col. 1:18), and Christ is the Head of this body. Spirit baptism is defined in 1 Corinthians 12:13 as that work of God whereby believers are baptized (immersed, placed) into Christ’s body, the Church. How then does a believer become a member of the body of Christ? It is by Spirit baptism.

The key to when the Church began is this: If we can determine when Spirit baptism first began, then we will know when the church began. When did God first baptize believers into His body? When were believers first placed into the body of Christ? To answer this is to determine the day on which the church began.

Spirit baptism was first predicted by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11 (and in the parallel passages: Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33):

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost (Spirit), and with fire” (Matt. 3:11).

John’s baptism was a water baptism (“I baptize you with water”); Christ’s baptism would be a spiritual baptism (“He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit”). The “fire baptism” is for the unsaved and this is yet future (see Matthew 3:12). Notice the phrase, “He shall baptize you with (Greek-en) the Holy Spirit.” The verb “shall baptize” is in the future tense, indicating that Spirit baptism had not yet taken place when John the Baptist spoke these words. John was predicting that it would happen in the future, but he did not predict exactly when it would happen. Notice also that Christ is the Baptizer. He is the One who would place believers into the body of Christ. He is the One who would build His church. Christ is also the Baptizer in 1 Corinthians 12:13, as will be shown later.

In Matthew 16:18 the Lord Jesus said, “I will build My Church.” The future tense of the verb indicates that the building of the Church had not yet begun when Jesus said these words. He did not say, “I have built My Church.” He did not say, “I am building My Church.” No, the building project had not yet begun and thus the Church was yet future. At the time Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 16:18 the Church had not yet begun.

Today Christ is building His church. He is adding to the church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:47). But the question is, when did this building program first begin?

In Acts 1:5 the Lord Jesus predicted that Spirit baptism was still future:

“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5).

According to our Lord’s prediction, Spirit baptism had not yet taken place yet, though it would soon take place. No one had yet been immersed into the body of Christ. Thus, the Church could not have begun prior to Acts 1:5. When Jesus spoke the words of Acts 1:5 His death and His resurrection had already taken place, and yet Spirit baptism had not yet taken place and the church had not yet been formed. But the announcement of Acts 1:5 was very significant because Jesus said that Spirit baptism would take place “not many days hence” (not many days from now). This means that it would happen soon, in a matter of days. Indeed, as we shall learn, it happened just ten days later on the day of Pentecost.

The Day of Pentecost and the unique events that took place on that day are described in Acts chapter 2. In this chapter Spirit baptism is not specifically mentioned. It is not until Acts chapter 11 that we are specifically told that Spirit baptism took place on the day of Pentecost: “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning [on the Day of Pentecost]. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 11:15-16). Based on the clear statement of this passage we know that Spirit baptism first took place on the Day of Pentecost. It was then that believers were first placed into the body of Christ. It was then that the Church began.

But someone might raise an objection and say, “The Spirit baptism mentioned in Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:5 is different from the Spirit baptism mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:13. In Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:5 Christ is the Baptizer, but in 1 Corinthians 12:13 the Holy Spirit is the Baptizer. As we read the English Bible this seems to be the case, but the Greek construction of Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:5 is practically identical to that of 1 Corinthians 12:13, as the following chart illustrates.

All four of these passages are talking about the same baptism, and the Greek construction in all four passages is closely equivalent, as the following literal rendering reveals:

Matthew. 3:11 He (Christ) shall baptize you with (in) Holy Spirit

Acts 1:5 You shall be baptized (by Christ-Matt. 3:11) with (in) Holy Spirit

Acts 11:16 You shall be baptized (by Christ-Matt. 3:11) with (in) Holy Spirit

1 Cor. 12:13 We all were be baptized (by Christ-Matt. 3:11) with (in) one Spirit into one body

The order of the words in 1 Corinthians 12:13 has been altered in order to show that the same Greek construction is used. In the King James Version the Greek preposition en is translated “By one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13) which has led some to wrongly conclude that the Spirit is the Baptizer. But the passage should be understood in this way: “With (en) one Spirit were we all baptized [by Christ] into one body [the body of Christ, His Church].”

Not only did Christ place us into His body, but He also immersed us in the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist made this prediction: “I indeed baptize you with water . . . He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 3:11). What does it mean to be baptized or immersed with (in) the Holy Spirit? The following Scriptures help to shed light:

“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 Cor. 12:13).

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which [the word ‘which’ refers to the Holy Spirit] He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:5-6).

“. . . having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33).

“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly [innermost being] shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:38-39)

Praise God, the Comforter has come! The promise of the Father has been given! Spirit baptism began at Pentecost and continues throughout this present age whenever a person believes on Christ.

Other Arguments from Scripture

1. Pentecost, a Day Specially Marked.

If Pentecost marked the beginning of the Church, then this was indeed a significant day and we should expect that day to be specially marked. This is exactly what we find.

Pentecost was specially marked by the Comforter’s coming as predicted by the Lord Jesus in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14:16-17,20,26; 15:26; 16:7-8,13). After the resurrection, the disciples were told to sit still and wait (tarry) for the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49 and Acts 2:4). This promise of the Father was nothing less than the coming of the Spirit and it was clearly associated with Spirit baptism (see Acts 2:4-5). So the Day of Pentecost was specially marked by the coming of the Comforter.

Pentecost was also a day that was specially marked by supernatural signs. There was A SOUND LIKE A MIGHTY RUSHING WIND (Acts 2:2) and "wind" in Scripture can be symbolic of the Holy Spirit (see John 3:8). The Comforter had come! There were TONGUES AS OF FIRE (Acts 2:3) sitting upon each of the believers, indicating that God was doing a special work which involved each and every believer. There was also "SPEAKING IN TONGUES" (see our book, God’s Gift of Tongues for the significance of tongues speaking on the day of Pentecost). These supernatural signs indicated that God was doing something very special on this most unique day!

Pentecost was a day specially marked by Spirit baptism as we have already studied. It was also marked by two great distinctives which were predicted by Christ in John 14:20.

"Ye in Me" BAPTISM (see Gal 3:27, Rom 6:3)
"I in You" INDWELLING (see Gal. 2:20; 1 Cor. 6:19-20)

This twofold relationship was distinctively different from what the Jews had known in the previous dispensation. God was in the tabernacle and in the temple in a special way, and in the future God will manifest His glory in the millennial temple. But today God is dwelling in a body of believers (1 Cor. 3:16; Col. 1:26-27). The Church is "the house of God" (1 Tim. 3:15), His unique temple (Eph. 2:19-22). The Lord Jesus indicated that these realities would begin to take place "at that day" (John 14:20), at Pentecost!

Pentecost is a day that is especially marked out because Peter refers to it as "the beginning" (Acts 11:15). This is highly significant. Pentecost, according to Peter, was the beginning of something. No other day in the book of Acts is referred to as "the beginning" except Pentecost. What began on this day? What first happened on this day? According to Acts 11:15, Pentecost was the day when the Holy Spirit first came ("the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning"). According to Acts 11:16, Pentecost was the day when Spirit baptism first took place. Spirit baptism is that unique work of God whereby believers are baptized or placed into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). Since Spirit baptism first began on the day of Pentecost, then this must be the day when the body of Christ, the church, was formed.

2. Foundational Men (Eph. 2:20).

"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone" (Eph. 2:20).

The “apostles and prophets” mentioned in this verse are the New Testament apostles and prophets (see Eph. 3:5 and 4:11). These verses are not referring to the Old Testament prophets, and obviously there were no apostles in the Old Testament. The New Testament prophets and apostles were foundational men. When a building is constructed the foundation is laid first. If the Church had its beginnings in the Old Testament period then we might expect the verse to say something like this: “And are built upon the foundation of Abraham and Moses and David and the Old Testament prophets, etc.” However, the verse does not say this. If the Church began at Pentecost then we would expect the apostles and New Testament prophets to be foundational because God’s new revelation came through these men (Eph. 3:4-5).

3. The Church Must be Post-Resurrection and Post-Ascension.

According to Ephesians 1:19-23 the Father gave Christ to be the Head of the Church, but He did this only after the resurrection and ascension. The Church cannot exist apart from its Head. The Head of the Church is the glorified, exalted, risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the Church could not begin until after the ascension. Compare also John 7:39.

4. Jew and Gentile United Together in One Body.

The Church is a unique organism. In the Church, the body of Christ, Jews and Gentiles are united together in one body, and they are on an equal basis (Eph. 3:6). The saved Jew is not superior to the Gentile and the saved Gentile is not superior to the Jew. Out of the two God has made “one new man” (Eph. 2:15). In fact, in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Col. 3:11; Gal. 3:28). Such a situation never existed in the Old Testament period and such a situation will not even exist in the millennial period (see Zechariah 8:23). Thus the Church could not have existed in the Old Testament period and the Church age must conclude prior to the millennium.

5. The Temple of God.

In Ephesians 2:21-22 the Church is said to be God’s temple, the “habitation of God through the Spirit.” See also 1 Corinthians 3:16. In the Old Testament period, God had a tabernacle and God had a temple, but neither of these was a body of believers indwelt by the living God. This indwelling of a group of believers is true only during this present age, from Pentecost on.

6. One Body . . . One Baptism.

In Ephesians 4:4-6 we learn that the Church is “one body” and in connection with this “one body” there is “one baptism.” This one baptism is Spirit baptism, that special work of God whereby the believer is baptized into Jesus Christ and into His body. Christian baptism (water baptism) is symbolic of this “one baptism.” Since Spirit baptism did not begin until Pentecost, the Church did not begin until Pentecost, even as we have already studied. It is significant, therefore, that Christian baptism, the symbol of Spirit baptism, was first practiced on the Day of Pentecost. It is indeed a “Church ordinance.” Since there was no Spirit baptism or Christian baptism in the Old Testament period or in the days of Christ’s public ministry, it is obvious that the Church was not in existence in those days. That John’s baptism was different from Christian baptism is evident from Acts 19:1-5; compare Acts 18:24-26.

7. The Gifts that Pertain to the Church.

In Ephesians 4:7-12 we learn that Christ has given certain gifts to His Church. These gifts are actually gifted men (verse 11). It is significant that these gifts were not given prior to the ascension of Christ. Therefore the Church could not have been in existence prior to the ascension because His Church could not function apart from these necessary and needed gifts.

8. Paul Persecuted the Church.

In three places we learn that prior to his conversion Paul persecuted the Church of God (Gal. 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:9; Phil. 3:6). Therefore the Church must have been in existence prior to Acts 9, which gives the account of Paul’s conversion. This refutes the view which says that the church began in Acts 13 (or some would say in Acts 28). Also Acts 13 and Acts 28 were not specially marked as was Acts 2 (Pentecost). Both Acts 13 and Acts 28 were significant TURNING POINTS (from the Jews to the Gentiles-Acts 13:46 and Acts 28:25-28), but neither of these chapters marked the STARTING POINT.

Romans 16:7 may be significant in light of this teaching. Paul sends his greetings to saints whom he declares were "in Christ before me." If being "in Christ" means the same here as in Galatians 3:28 ("neither Jew nor Greek, etc,"), then the church must have begun prior to Paul's conversion.

For other helpful discussions about when the Church began, see Renald E. Shower’s book, There Really Is a Difference--A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology, Chapter 15 (published by the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry), Charles Ryrie’s book, Dispensationalism, Chapter 7 (published by Moody Press) and The Glory of the Ages by David Dunlap.

Conclusion

This paper has demonstrated from the Scriptures that the Church of Jesus Christ is a unique body of believers which was first formed on the Day of Pentecost, not long after Christ died and rose again and ascended to heaven. This fact strikes a fatal blow to one of the pillars of Reformed/Covenant Theology, namely the doctrine that the Church is made up of the elect of all ages and that the Church was existent during the Old Testament period. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist—these were all godly saints, but they were not members of the Church which is His body.

The fact that the Church began at Pentecost also protects against extreme dispensational teaching which has the Church beginning in Acts 13 or Acts 28. Because they misunderstand the significance of Pentecost, other doctrines are adversely affected. Some teach that the Lord’s Table is not for today, while others teach that water baptism is not for today and still others teach that the Great Commission is not for today (or different combinations of these views).

May the “God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory . . .give unto [us] the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that [we] may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Eph. 1:17-19).

http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/dispen/begin.htm

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Then how do you reconcile these two fit your theory?

John 20

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

The one body text was none existent until Paul.

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That is all.....

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WildB
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"The fact that the Church began at Pentecost also protects against extreme dispensational teaching which has the Church beginning in Acts 13 or Acts 28. Because the ultradispensationalists misunderstand the significance of Pentecost, other doctrines are adversely affected. Some teach that the Lord’s Table is not for today, while others teach that water baptism is not for today and still others teach that the Great Commission is not for today (or different combinations of these views). "

Dispensationalists are very clear to understand Peter and the Last days speech at Pentecost.

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That is all.....

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Carol Swenson
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quote:
Originally posted by WildB:
Then how do you reconcile these two fit your theory?

John 20

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

The one body text was none existent until Paul.

If there are not two experiences of "receiving the Holy Ghost", and if there is only one experience, then why did Jesus say, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" in John 20:22? Did they not receive the Holy Ghost when Jesus said that?

The answer is "No."

The disciples did not receive the Holy Ghost when Jesus breathed on them in John 20:22. Jesus was speaking prophetically about what would occur on the day of Pentecost. Otherwise they received the Holy Ghost after they received the Holy Ghost, and that is nonsensical. Jesus often spoke prophetically of the Holy Ghost baptism, and did not imply it was available for experience the moment He told of it. Here is one explicit example.

John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet [given]; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

He spoke in terms as though it was then-present. But we see an explanation in parentheses saying this referred to the Spirit which was not yet given.

In John 20:22, Jesus was speaking of their need to receive the Holy Ghost, and His breath upon them signified the breath of life that God gave to Adam that He might become a living soul. On the day of Pentecost, the "mighty rushing wind" was the fulfillment of these prophetic words of Jesus.

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Carol Swenson
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quote:
Originally posted by WildB:

Dispensationalists are very clear to understand Peter and the Last days speech at Pentecost.

I know
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WildB
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This is true there is no such thing as a second blessing.

But the wording in acts is And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost

Being filled is not the same as being baptized.

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That is all.....

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Carol Swenson
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You can't be filled until AFTER you are baptized with the Spirit. But being filled with the Spirit doesn't mean that we are vessels and the Spirit is a substance poured into us. To be filled with the Spirit is like being filled with joy; to be filled with the Spirit means to be under His influence. Being baptized and being filled can happen at almost the same time.

Besides, Jesus said:

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. (John 16:7)

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WildB
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This is true and one cannot be baptized by the Spirit unless they have heard.


Romans 10
1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!


16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

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That is all.....

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And that brings us back to the church
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WildB
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the Body of Christ.

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That is all.....

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Carol Swenson
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Yes. That started on Pentecost.
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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by Carol Swenson:
Yes. That started on Pentecost.

The Jewish half.

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Carol Swenson
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I agree, but Peter also welcomed the first Samaritans and the first Gentiles into the church.

Acts 8:14-17
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 10:44-46
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

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WildB
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Sorry No Gentiles at Pentecost.

"An important fact is that the Holy Spirit came upon these Gentile believers before Peter finished his message (Acts 10:44). It is significant that, up to this point, Peter had given a brief history of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry and preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ to them. When he said that "through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins", the Lord interrupted him by sending the Holy Spirit "on all them which heard the Word" (Acts 10:43-44). While he undoubtedly had a full Kingdom message in mind, he did not get to the part about repentance and baptism for the remission of sins as he had on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:37-40).

Up to this point, this message was compatible with Peter's Kingdom gospel and the Grace gospel preached by Paul (I Cor. 15:3-4). We believe that at this point God intervened by saving Cornelius and those with him who believed and placed them into the Church, which is Christ's Body. Because the Kingdom program was already being superseded by the Dispensation of Grace, God's purpose in saving these Gentiles was to prepare Peter and the other Kingdom leaders to accept both Paul and his message as being from the Lord. When confronted by those in Jerusalem because he had gone "into men uncircumcised and didst eat with them" (Acts 11:1-3), he explained why he did what he did by telling how God had specifically sent him there and what took place, saying "what was I, that I should withstand God" (Acts 10:17). We know that Peter only came to an understanding of "why" this took place when he later learned about the purpose of the Dispensation of Grace from Paul (Gal. 2:1-10; cf. II Pet. 2:15-16). The timing and the manner in which Peter was sent to Cornelius provides strong proof that the Dispensation of Grace began with Paul's conversion and that the fading away of Israel had already begun. A major dispensational change had to have taken place for Peter to have been sent to Cornelius in the manner and at the time that he was.

THE JERUSALEM COUNCIL

When a controversy over circumcision in the Gentile churches arose in Antioch, Paul, Barnabas, and other leaders went to Jerusalem for a hearing before the apostles and elders of the church there (Acts 15:1-2). After much disputing, Peter took the floor and reminded them how God had used him to bring salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 15:3-11). These leaders then listened to what Paul and Barnabas had to say about how the Lord was using them among the Gentiles (Acts 15:12). James then stood up and defended their ministry to the Gentiles, insisting they not be put under the Law of Moses (Acts 15:13-21).

Our point here is that in referring back to the events in Acts chapter ten to defend Paul's ministry, Peter knew something new took place when the Lord sent him to Cornelius and that it related to Paul's message and ministry to the Gentiles. James, the apostles, the elders, and the whole church agreed and sent letters of acknowledgment to the believing Gentiles in Antioch and the regions of Syria and Cilicia asking only that they "abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication" (Acts 15:22-29).

That they specifically sent letters to the Gentile believers in the regions of Syria and Cilicia confirms that Paul's early ministry was the same then as it was at this time (Acts 15:23; cf. Gal. 1:18-21; Acts 9:26-30; Tarsus is in Cilicia)."

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That is all.....

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quote:
Sorry No Gentiles at Pentecost.
True, but Peter's message to the Gentiles was still before Paul.

I like Stam, and I have nothing against the Berean Bible Society. I don't agree with everything they teach, but I can say that about a lot of denominations. And I really, really love Paul. So my debate isn't about being negative or judgmental.

It's about when the church started, that's all.

Paul was subject to the Jerusalem council, so that's another reason to think the church started with Peter in Jerusalem. Also, Peter was the rock upon which Jesus said He would build His church.

Acts 15:22-23 (NASB)
22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas—Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren, 23 and they sent this letter by them, "The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings.

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WildB
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K bb later time 2 hit the woods.

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k
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becauseHElives
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Carol , that is completely another Gospel....you don't see that!

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Strive to enter in at the strait gate:for many, I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. ( Luke 13:24 )

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oneinchrist
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Hello Wild B,
Your posts states:

An important fact is that the Holy Spirit came upon these Gentile believers before Peter finished his message (Acts 10:44). It is significant that, up to this point, Peter had given a brief history of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry and preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ to them. When he said that "through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins", the Lord interrupted him by sending the Holy Spirit "on all them which heard the Word" (Acts 10:43-44). While he undoubtedly had a full Kingdom message in mind, he did not get to the part about repentance and baptism for the remission of sins as he had on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:37-40).


Wild B, I hope that you do not look at this one account(with your cited dispensational reasoning) as proof that repentance is not necessary. Cornelius is noted in Acts 10:2 as a "devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always." It is apparent that Cornelius was already humbled(with a repentant heart) before God and he was also ready to receive the new message from God.

Now when the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his band it was not to prove that repentance wasnt needed, but it was to confirm(witness) the truth of Peters words about Jesus.

So it is an important fact that the Holy Spirit fell on the gentiles AFTER Peter preached Jesus.

With love in Christ, Daniel

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barrykind
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In Acts 7:38, Stephen used the word “church” in reference to the time of Moses. I understand that the word “church” translates the Greek word ekklesia, which means “called out ones.” Most people I talk to say the church began in the New Testiment times. But aren’t the Hebrews the “called out people” of the Old Testament (cf. Deut. 7:6-8), the people God called to himself? Doesn’t the Bible’s vocabulary of “church” help refute Dispensationalism’s assertion that the church is an entirely distinct entity from God’s people in the Old Testament?

“When Did the Church Begin?”
Ra McLaughlin says:
October 4, 2009 at 3:06 AM
First, please let me respond with some general comments on vocabulary, etymology and meaning. Then I’ll try to apply those ideas to the specific issues you raise.

It’s true that the etymology of the word ekklesia, translated “church” in most Bibles, means “called out.” But a word’s meaning is determined by its use, not by its etymology. The etymology often agrees with a word’s use, which is why it can be helpful to look at etymology. But as often as not, there are significant differences between a word’s etymology and its meaning.

For example, when in English we say that someone is “courteous,” we rarely mean that he or she exhibits the patterns of behavior that typically characterize a royal court. Instead, we simply mean that the person has a gracious manner and observes common forms of etiquette. The ideas of “courtesy” and “courtliness” are related, and were perhaps originally identical, but they are no longer one and the same. So, it is better to define terms on the basis of the ideas they represent, and the manner in which they are used, rather than on the sole basis of etymology.

That being said, with regard to the Greek word ekklesia, its etymology actually can be helpful in some ways. The word is a compound formed by putting a preposition (ek) meaning “out” in front of a noun (klesis) that means “summons” or “invitation.” And this corresponds fairly well to the way the word is used in Scripture. Generally, it identifies an “assembly” of people. It does not primarily refer to those that God has “called” or “set apart” unto himself, but rather to a gathering or meeting of individuals for any purpose. Now, this is not to say that the biblical writers did not see special meaning in the term as a word play, and prefer it for that reason. But the word was not commonly used in the first century to identify those who had been “called out of the world.” Instead, it was broadly understood to refer to those who had been “called to the meeting.”

It’s not hard to see how the meaning of “meeting” or “assembly” derived from the word “call.” Even in English we speak of “calling” meetings to order and of “calling” for an assembly. In the biblical vocabulary, those who attended the assemblies were “called out.” Now, this was true whether or not there had been an actual summons or invitation sent out. Any gathering could potentially constitute an assembly, including regular scheduled meetings that required no invitation (much like modern church services). So, in this sense, “church” is a generic word meaning “assembly.” And of course, there have been assemblies all throughout history.

But theologians often use the word “church” as a technical term that refers to “God’s people,” without reference to them even being assembled. The word is sometimes used this way in the Bible, so it is not completely foreign to Scripture. But the important question is not “Is the word used this way in the Bible?” but “Is this idea true to Scripture?”

We have many technical theological terms that never appear in the Bible, we have some that are used in the same way the Bible uses them, and we have some that are used in different ways than the Bible uses them. This can be confusing when we are not familiar with the technical use of the term, which probably means that theologians should take greater care in choosing their words. But the question of accuracy and truth should be determined by what any given theologian “means” rather than by the specific words he uses.

In the Reformed tradition, it is common to speak of God’s people at all times as the “church.” We sometimes distinguish between the “Old Testament church” and the “New Testament church.” And we have no aversion to applying the term “assembly” or “church” to God’s special covenant people, regardless of the word’s etymology.

But even within the Reformed tradition, there are those who prefer to use the word “church” to refer only to the “New Testament church.” This is not because they believe there were no assembly and no calling by God in the Old Testament. Rather, it is because they want to distinguish clearly between people groups in the Testaments, and because they believe that there are substantive differences between the two groups. They agree that there were assemblies at all times, and that God has always had a special people whom he has called to himself. But they prefer, for pedagogical reasons, to use the word “church” to refer only to the New Testament age.

With regard to Dispensationalism, the better responses to this error focus on the meaning of its theology rather than on its vocabulary. In my experience, a fuller understanding of the way biblical and theological vocabulary works helps one spot the errors of Dispensational teaching. Often, poor theological arguments rely on “slight of hand,” where arguments about vocabulary are used to distract from substantive issues, or where a theologian equivocates on the use of a particular term (n.b., those who make these errors rarely do it on purpose).

For example, consider this false statement, “The word ‘church’ is used differently in the Old and New Testaments, therefore God’s people in the New Testament are different from God’s people in the Old Testament.” I have heard well-meaning Christians make this argument. The argument is false in several ways, and could be addressed in a number of manners. But the response that gets to the heart of the issue is this: “Yes, the word ‘church’ is used differently. That is because the Old Testament uses different words to identify the people of God than the New Testament uses. But regardless of their differences in vocabulary, both Testaments identify the people of God as a unified group in all ages.”

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

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The HEART of the issue is truly the issue of the HEART!
John 3:3;Mark 8:34-38;James 1:27

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Carol Swenson
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quote:
Originally posted by becauseHElives:
Carol , that is completely another Gospel....you don't see that!

What I see is that this topic is about when the church started. I'm sorry, but I have no idea of what you are talking about.
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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by oneinchrist:
Hello Wild B,
Your posts states:

An important fact is that the Holy Spirit came upon these Gentile believers before Peter finished his message (Acts 10:44). It is significant that, up to this point, Peter had given a brief history of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry and preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ to them. When he said that "through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins", the Lord interrupted him by sending the Holy Spirit "on all them which heard the Word" (Acts 10:43-44). While he undoubtedly had a full Kingdom message in mind, he did not get to the part about repentance and baptism for the remission of sins as he had on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:37-40).


Now when the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his band it was not to prove that repentance wasnt needed, but it was to confirm(witness) the truth of Peters words about Jesus.

So it is an important fact that the Holy Spirit fell on the gentiles AFTER Peter preached Jesus.

With love in Christ, Daniel

I think not. The Spirit visibly sealed Cornelious,
A UNCIRCUMCISED GENTILE as a SIGNAL/SIGN to Pete for the conformation of the NEW DISPENSATION OF GRACE, GOD was ushering in.

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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by barrykind:
In Acts 7:38, Stephen used the word “church” in reference to the time of Moses. I understand that the word “church” translates the Greek word ekklesia, which means “called out ones.” Most people I talk to say the church began in the New Testiment times. But aren’t the Hebrews the “called out people” of the Old Testament (cf. Deut. 7:6-8), the people God called to himself? Doesn’t the Bible’s vocabulary of “church” help refute Dispensationalism’s assertion that the church is an entirely distinct entity from God’s people in the Old Testament?

“When Did the Church Begin?”
Ra McLaughlin says:
October 4, 2009 at 3:06 AM
First, please let me respond with some general comments on vocabulary, etymology and meaning. Then I’ll try to apply those ideas to the specific issues you raise.

It’s true that the etymology of the word ekklesia, translated “church” in most Bibles, means “called out.” But a word’s meaning is determined by its use, not by its etymology. The etymology often agrees with a word’s use, which is why it can be helpful to look at etymology. But as often as not, there are significant differences between a word’s etymology and its meaning.

For example, when in English we say that someone is “courteous,” we rarely mean that he or she exhibits the patterns of behavior that typically characterize a royal court. Instead, we simply mean that the person has a gracious manner and observes common forms of etiquette. The ideas of “courtesy” and “courtliness” are related, and were perhaps originally identical, but they are no longer one and the same. So, it is better to define terms on the basis of the ideas they represent, and the manner in which they are used, rather than on the sole basis of etymology.

That being said, with regard to the Greek word ekklesia, its etymology actually can be helpful in some ways. The word is a compound formed by putting a preposition (ek) meaning “out” in front of a noun (klesis) that means “summons” or “invitation.” And this corresponds fairly well to the way the word is used in Scripture. Generally, it identifies an “assembly” of people. It does not primarily refer to those that God has “called” or “set apart” unto himself, but rather to a gathering or meeting of individuals for any purpose. Now, this is not to say that the biblical writers did not see special meaning in the term as a word play, and prefer it for that reason. But the word was not commonly used in the first century to identify those who had been “called out of the world.” Instead, it was broadly understood to refer to those who had been “called to the meeting.”

It’s not hard to see how the meaning of “meeting” or “assembly” derived from the word “call.” Even in English we speak of “calling” meetings to order and of “calling” for an assembly. In the biblical vocabulary, those who attended the assemblies were “called out.” Now, this was true whether or not there had been an actual summons or invitation sent out. Any gathering could potentially constitute an assembly, including regular scheduled meetings that required no invitation (much like modern church services). So, in this sense, “church” is a generic word meaning “assembly.” And of course, there have been assemblies all throughout history.

But theologians often use the word “church” as a technical term that refers to “God’s people,” without reference to them even being assembled. The word is sometimes used this way in the Bible, so it is not completely foreign to Scripture. But the important question is not “Is the word used this way in the Bible?” but “Is this idea true to Scripture?”

We have many technical theological terms that never appear in the Bible, we have some that are used in the same way the Bible uses them, and we have some that are used in different ways than the Bible uses them. This can be confusing when we are not familiar with the technical use of the term, which probably means that theologians should take greater care in choosing their words. But the question of accuracy and truth should be determined by what any given theologian “means” rather than by the specific words he uses.

In the Reformed tradition, it is common to speak of God’s people at all times as the “church.” We sometimes distinguish between the “Old Testament church” and the “New Testament church.” And we have no aversion to applying the term “assembly” or “church” to God’s special covenant people, regardless of the word’s etymology.

But even within the Reformed tradition, there are those who prefer to use the word “church” to refer only to the “New Testament church.” This is not because they believe there were no assembly and no calling by God in the Old Testament. Rather, it is because they want to distinguish clearly between people groups in the Testaments, and because they believe that there are substantive differences between the two groups. They agree that there were assemblies at all times, and that God has always had a special people whom he has called to himself. But they prefer, for pedagogical reasons, to use the word “church” to refer only to the New Testament age.

With regard to Dispensationalism, the better responses to this error focus on the meaning of its theology rather than on its vocabulary. In my experience, a fuller understanding of the way biblical and theological vocabulary works helps one spot the errors of Dispensational teaching. Often, poor theological arguments rely on “slight of hand,” where arguments about vocabulary are used to distract from substantive issues, or where a theologian equivocates on the use of a particular term (n.b., those who make these errors rarely do it on purpose).

For example, consider this false statement, “The word ‘church’ is used differently in the Old and New Testaments, therefore God’s people in the New Testament are different from God’s people in the Old Testament.” I have heard well-meaning Christians make this argument. The argument is false in several ways, and could be addressed in a number of manners. But the response that gets to the heart of the issue is this: “Yes, the word ‘church’ is used differently. That is because the Old Testament uses different words to identify the people of God than the New Testament uses. But regardless of their differences in vocabulary, both Testaments identify the people of God as a unified group in all ages.”

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Barry Barry Barry you try so very hard.

Riddle me this Batman...

When was the term "body" used.

Now stop your sillyness.

[rapture]

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That is all.....

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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by becauseHElives:
Carol , that is completely another Gospel....you don't see that!

Dale you are no longer worth of a response from Me,

For you have a FORM of Godliness but your denial of the POWER of GOD is no longer sillyness 2 me.

But a very serious misguided soul issue.

Repent while the day is yet called day.

[Frown]

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oneinchrist
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Hello WildB,
Your response to my post said:

"I think not. The Spirit visibly sealed Cornelious,
A UNCIRCUMCISED GENTILE as a SIGNAL/SIGN to Pete for the conformation of the NEW DISPENSATION OF GRACE, GOD was ushering in"

The spirit "visibly" sealed Corelius? What do you mean "visibly?"

Whenever the Holy Spirit falls on anyone.....Jew or Gentile.... it is God confirming His Word. It is the "spirit witness" that Jesus is indeed risen and exalted to the right hand of God.

When Peter witnessed the gentiles receive the Holy Ghost, he knew then(with certainty) that salvation was being offered to the gentiles as well as the Jews.
But what is this "new dispensation of grace that you speak of?" Does it mean something other than God granting salvation to gentiles?"

With love in Christ, Daniel

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can we chat tomorrow? i have been in the woods all day.

very tired....

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That is all.....

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oneinchrist
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Sure. Get some sleep.
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quote:
Originally posted by oneinchrist:
Hello WildB,
Your response to my post said:

"I think not. The Spirit visibly sealed Cornelious,
A UNCIRCUMCISED GENTILE as a SIGNAL/SIGN to Pete for the conformation of the NEW DISPENSATION OF GRACE, GOD was ushering in"

The spirit "visibly" sealed Corelius? What do you mean "visibly?"

Whenever the Holy Spirit falls on anyone.....Jew or Gentile.... it is God confirming His Word. It is the "spirit witness" that Jesus is indeed risen and exalted to the right hand of God.

When Peter witnessed the gentiles receive the Holy Ghost, he knew then(with certainty) that salvation was being offered to the gentiles as well as the Jews.
But what is this "new dispensation of grace that you speak of?" Does it mean something other than God granting salvation to gentiles?"

With love in Christ, Daniel

Pete did not know for certainty , he was being prepared for this dispensation of Grace, to be reveled by Paul. Later confirmed!

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That is all.....

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oneinchrist
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When you have more time, and you are not so tired........please explain to me about this "new dispensation of grace" that you keep speaking of.
How is it different than the "old/former?" And how does it apply to us?

With love in Christ, Daniel

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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by oneinchrist:
When you have more time, and you are not so tired........please explain to me about this "new dispensation of grace" that you keep speaking of.
How is it different than the "old/former?" And how does it apply to us?

With love in Christ, Daniel

Gives you authority and power to move the throne.

2 help baseball fans.

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That is all.....

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oneinchrist
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"Gives you authority and power to move the throne"

Seriously WildB.......do you expect me to understand what that means without some sort of explanation?

I think you really are tired.....all that fresh air......LOL

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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by oneinchrist:
"Gives you authority and power to move the throne"

Seriously WildB.......do you expect me to understand what that means without some sort of explanation?

I think you really are tired.....all that fresh air......LOL

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

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becauseHElives
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The Practical Beginning of the Body of Christ....

when all those gathered together waiting on the promised were filled with the Holy Spirit the Body of Christ became a reality and the Church age of Grace began!

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Strive to enter in at the strait gate:for many, I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. ( Luke 13:24 )

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quote:
Originally posted by becauseHElives:
The Practical Beginning of the Body of Christ....

when all those gathered together waiting on the promised were filled with the Holy Spirit the Body of Christ became a reality and the Church age of Grace began!

and your scripture for this teaching?

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oneinchrist
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Good morning WildB,
Would you please answer these questions of mine so I can get a fuller understanding of what this "new dispensation of grace" is all about.


How is it different than the "old/former?" And how does it apply to us?

Just citing one passage in Hebrews and making a short statement about "authority and power to move the throne" does not help me to understand this "new dispensation of grace". Please answer more plainly being specific to the 2 questions above.


With love in Christ, Daniel

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becauseHElives
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WildB, you would do well in reading all the chapter to see what is being said....

you say I am dening the power of Yahweh....

I know that is not so because I understand what Grace is......

Grace is Yahweh power in any individual to overcome sin in the everyday temptations of life...

Grace is the power of Yahweh in the heart to live separated lives from the evil of this world....

Grace is not just unmerited favor...

--------------------
Strive to enter in at the strait gate:for many, I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. ( Luke 13:24 )

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becauseHElives
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Acts 2

1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

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

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

5And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

7And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

8And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

9Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

10Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

12And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

13Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

14But 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:

15For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

16But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

17And 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:

18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

19And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

20The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:

21And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.


the first Pentecost was the Law written on tablets of stone (DEATH)...the fulfillment of Pentecost was the writing of the Law on the heart (life)...

The Church began on Pentecost

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Strive to enter in at the strait gate:for many, I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. ( Luke 13:24 )

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quote:
Originally posted by becauseHElives:
Acts 2

1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

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

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

5And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

7And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

8And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

9Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

10Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

12And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

13Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

14But 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:

15For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

16But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

17And 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:

18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

19And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

20The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:

21And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.


the first Pentecost was the Law written on tablets of stone (DEATH)...the fulfillment of Pentecost was the writing of the Law on the heart (life)...

The Church began on Pentecost

When this LAW was written on YOU/YOUR heart did your tongue clovenize as the mighty wind blew about and did you began to speak with other tongues all at once?

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quote:
Originally posted by becauseHElives:
WildB, you would do well in reading all the chapter to see what is being said....

you say I am dening the power of Yahweh....

I know that is not so because I understand what Grace is......

Grace is Yahweh power in any individual to overcome sin in the everyday temptations of life...

Grace is the power of Yahweh in the heart to live separated lives from the evil of this world....

Grace is not just unmerited favor...

Yet you post on any ways.

Riddle me this?

How does one judge another about instructing other's, with meeknees when grafted into the tree of opposition?

Definition of OPPOSE

1
: to place over against something so as to provide resistance, counterbalance, or contrast
2
: to place opposite or against something
3
: to offer resistance to
— op·pos·er noun
Examples of OPPOSE


The governor opposes the death penalty.
The change is opposed by many of the town's business leaders.
The group opposes the mayor and is trying to find a candidate to run against her.
You've opposed every suggestion I've made.
He met the man who will oppose him in the next election.
These two teams opposed each other in last year's playoffs.
We're hoping we can get more senators to oppose the legislation.

The Becausehelives oppose,s The Gospel of Grace because it takes the power away from the Curse of the LAW.

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quote:
Originally posted by oneinchrist:
Good morning WildB,
Would you please answer these questions of mine so I can get a fuller understanding of what this "new dispensation of grace" is all about.


How is it different than the "old/former?" And how does it apply to us?

Just citing one passage in Hebrews and making a short statement about "authority and power to move the throne" does not help me to understand this "new dispensation of grace". Please answer more plainly being specific to the 2 questions above.


With love in Christ, Daniel

Morning my friend.

The Dispensation of Grace
Mystery or Prophecy?

By Cornelius R. Stam

We have often insisted that while the prophets "testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow," they knew nothing of the present period of grace which lies between our Lord's suffering and His kingdom glory.

"The dispensation of the grace of God," we read in Ephesians 3, was "a mystery" only made known "by revelation" to Paul, some years after the rejected Christ had returned to heaven. In verse 5 he says that "in other ages" it was "not made known." In verse 8 he calls it "the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God." In Romans 16:25 he says it was "kept secret since the world began." In Colossians 1:26 he insists again that it was "hid from ages and from generations."

But there are still thousands of sincere believers who do not see this. They think that the prophets predicted the reign of grace as well as the reign of Christ. Thus they lose some of the joy of that great surprise of grace which God planned for sinners "before the world began" (II Tim. 1:9), but "kept secret since the world began" (Rom. 16:25).

One of the Scriptures which troubles them most is I Peter 1:10: "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you." They say that this proves conclusively that the dispensation of Grace was prophesied beforehand and was no mystery at all.

But here again we must distinguish between grace in a dispensation and the dispensation of Grace. Peter is not speaking of the reign of grace here, but of the grace that will prevail during the reign of Christ. This is clear from the 13th verse, where he exhorts his Jewish Christian brethren, "Hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Remember that like Christ on earth, Peter was a minister of "the Circumcision" (Rom. 15:18; Gal. 2:7). His message to the believing Jews had the kingdom reign of Christ in view.

The prophets had clearly predicted that God would judge the world for rejecting His Son and would enthrone Christ in spite of them. He did not do this immediately, however. In matchless mercy, He deferred the judgment and offered salvation to all who would receive it as a free gift through the merits of Christ. And so, while Christ is not yet reigning, grace reigns. "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign" (Rom. 5:21).

An over-abounding grace is the outstanding characteristic of God's dealings with man in "this present evil age."

When Saul of Tarsus became the leader of an organized rebellion against Christ, God in love reached down to save him, choosing him as the very agent through whom He would proclaim grace to a lost world.

Listen to his testimony and his message:

"Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, but...the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant" (I Tim. 1:13,14).

"Not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many" (Rom. 5:15).

"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Rom. 5:20).

"In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence" (Eph. 1:7,8).

"Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24).

"And God is able to make all grace abound unto you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Cor. 9:8).

"For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God" (II Cor. 4:15).

Do you wonder why we say that an over-abounding grace is the outstanding characteristic of God's dealings with man in "this present evil age"? Surely grace is reigning. Otherwise the thunders of God's judgment would roll and He would bring in the reign of Christ.

Though, in his first epistle, Peter told the believing Jews to "hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ," he later learned something of that greater grace which God was to manifest in deferring the judgment of the nations and the reign of Christ, and, as we shall see, he learned it from Paul.

As Israel refused to repent and Christ did not return, some began to cry "Where is the promise of His coming?" (II Pet. 3:4).

Peter now answers this beautifully. He says "Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." And note, this is not a lame explanation offered today at the close of the age of Grace. This statement was made at the dawn of the age.

Peter goes on, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count [it], slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Pet. 3:8,9 cf. I Tim. 1:16 "all longsuffering"). So the delay must not be counted slackness on God's part, but longsuffering, and since "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," this delay might continue for any amount of time, even though the signs of the last days had already begun to appear (Acts 2:16,17).

How did Peter know this? He certainly didn't find it in prophecy.

Before we quote the significant closing words of his epistle let us remember Paul's word in Ephesians 3:1-3. "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...."

How beautifully this harmonizes with the closing words of Peter's second epistle! He tells them not to count the delay slackness, but says "...account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you" (II Pet. 3:15). No wonder he says in the closing verse "But grow in grace!"

Peter has learned why "the revelation of Jesus Christ" is being delayed. May we learn it too. God is waiting because of "His great love," because He is loathe to judge.

How long He will continue to wait we cannot tell. We can only say to the unsaved, "We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain....Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:1,2). And to the saved, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:15,16).

THE MEANING OF GRACE AND HOW THIS AFFECTS US

Ask the average believer what the Bible word "grace" means, and he will doubtless reply "unmerited favor."

Actually, however, grace is much more than this.

Subjectively, it is that loving attitude, or disposition, on God's part, from which all His kindness toward us flows.

Objectively, it is all the kindness that flows from His love toward us.

Thus we read in Ephesians 2:2-6 that we were "the children of disobedience" and therefore "by nature the children of wrath, even as others."

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,

"Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

"And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."

Note: This passage begins with those who were "children of disobedience" and "children of wrath" and, saving them "by grace," gives them a position in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus!

God's grace to us as sinners was great indeed, for:

"In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His [God's] grace" (Eph. 1:7).

But now, having given us a position in His beloved Son, God's grace goes out to us in still greater measure.

Ephesians 1:6 declares that God has "made us accepted [Lit., "engraced us"] in the Beloved." "The Beloved"! What a name for the Son of God's love!

Beholding us in Christ, God loves us and delights in us more than any father ever delighted in his son, or any grandfather in that precious grandchild.

Thus, while in Ephesians 1:7 we read that we have "redemption...the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace," in Ephesians 2:7 we see these riches of grace increased to us "exceedingly," now that we occupy a position "in the Beloved":

"That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace...."

How?

"...in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus"!

What a prospect! Through the ages of eternity God will lavish His loving kindness upon us to demonstrate to all the universe "the exceeding riches of His grace"!

THE NATURE OF GRACE

To a young Christian who kept bemoaning his failures and lack of spiritual growth, and wondering how God could love him, a more mature believer responded substantially as follows:

"When I leave here and return to my home I will pick up my little baby girl and put her on my knee. Tired as I am, I will dandle her on my knee and, somehow, looking into that darling face and those pretty blue eyes, I will soon feel rested and refreshed.

"This is strange, in a way, for she does not love me. She doesn't even know what love is.

"She doesn't appreciate my problems and has no sympathy for me. My heart can be burdened with grief or filled with anxiety, and my mind vexed with difficult problems, but she doesn't even know or care. She just keeps gurgling and giggling at the attention I lavish upon her.

"She doesn't contribute one cent toward the needs of our family; indeed, she costs me a great deal of money and will for years to come. Yet I love that child more than I can say. There is no sacrifice I would not make for her; no good thing I would not gladly give her."

Such is the grace of God towards us, His children. It does not depend upon our faithfulness to Him or our appreciation of His love to us. He loves us with an unspeakable love and keeps lavishing upon us "the riches of His grace" simply because we are His children in Christ, the Beloved.

And strangely, is it not precisely this fact that proves to be our greatest incentive to give ourselves to Him in loving service and sacrifice!

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That is all.....

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becauseHElives
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When Did The Church Begin ( the Body of Christ)?

Introduction

Reformed/Covenant Theology teaches (with some variation in details) that the Church is made up of the elect of all ages, and therefore the Church must have begun with the first person who was saved. This is the common view, although some begin the church with the nation Israel. In either case, Reformed men are unanimous in teaching that the Church was present in the Old Testament period. This is illustrated by the headings found at the top of The Thompson Chain Reference Bible in the book of Isaiah: "God's mercy to the Church" "God avengeth His church" "His great mercies to the Church" "The church comforted" "The restoration of the Church" "The church exhorted" "God will comfort His church" "The prophet's zeal for the church" "Confession and complaint of the church" etc.

Reformed/Covenant men stress that throughout all history there is but one people of God, and that these saved people comprise the Church.

Dispensationalists teach that the Church is a unique body of believers that began on the day of Pentecost and will be removed from earth on the day that Christ comes for His own (the rapture). It is made up of both Jews and Gentiles united together into one body and enjoying equal status in the body of Christ (Eph. 3:5-6). This is the “one new man” of Ephesians 2:15 and the “one fold” of John 10:16.

Others hold to differing positions as to when the Church began. Some Baptist groups believe that the Church began with John the Baptist or at some time during the Lord’s earthly ministry. Others whom we consider ultradispensational, begin the Church years after Pentecost (some in Acts 13 and others in Acts 28).

The answer to the question of when the Church began is important and has many theological ramifications. It is not a difficult question to answer. The Scriptures pinpoint the beginning of the Church in a very simple and clear way, as we shall now seek to demonstrate.

The Key Argument from Scripture
Spirit Baptism

The key passage on Spirit baptism is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13—“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.” The “one body” spoken of in this verse refers to the Church (see 1 Cor. 12:27-28; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:30-32; Col. 1:18), and Christ is the Head of this body. Spirit baptism is defined in 1 Corinthians 12:13 as that work of God whereby believers are baptized (immersed, placed) into Christ’s body, the Church. How then does a believer become a member of the body of Christ? It is by Spirit baptism.

The key to when the Church began is this: If we can determine when Spirit baptism first began, then we will know when the church began. When did God first baptize believers into His body? When were believers first placed into the body of Christ? To answer this is to determine the day on which the church began.

Spirit baptism was first predicted by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11 (and in the parallel passages: Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33):

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost (Spirit), and with fire” (Matt. 3:11).

John’s baptism was a water baptism (“I baptize you with water”); Christ’s baptism would be a spiritual baptism (“He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit”). The “fire baptism” is for the unsaved and this is yet future (see Matthew 3:12). Notice the phrase, “He shall baptize you with (Greek-en) the Holy Spirit.” The verb “shall baptize” is in the future tense, indicating that Spirit baptism had not yet taken place when John the Baptist spoke these words. John was predicting that it would happen in the future, but he did not predict exactly when it would happen. Notice also that Christ is the Baptizer. He is the One who would place believers into the body of Christ. He is the One who would build His church. Christ is also the Baptizer in 1 Corinthians 12:13, as will be shown later.

In Matthew 16:18 the Lord Jesus said, “I will build My Church.” The future tense of the verb indicates that the building of the Church had not yet begun when Jesus said these words. He did not say, “I have built My Church.” He did not say, “I am building My Church.” No, the building project had not yet begun and thus the Church was yet future. At the time Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 16:18 the Church had not yet begun.

Today Christ is building His church. He is adding to the church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:47). But the question is, when did this building program first begin?

In Acts 1:5 the Lord Jesus predicted that Spirit baptism was still future:

“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5).

According to our Lord’s prediction, Spirit baptism had not yet taken place yet, though it would soon take place. No one had yet been immersed into the body of Christ. Thus, the Church could not have begun prior to Acts 1:5. When Jesus spoke the words of Acts 1:5 His death and His resurrection had already taken place, and yet Spirit baptism had not yet taken place and the church had not yet been formed. But the announcement of Acts 1:5 was very significant because Jesus said that Spirit baptism would take place “not many days hence” (not many days from now). This means that it would happen soon, in a matter of days. Indeed, as we shall learn, it happened just ten days later on the day of Pentecost.

The Day of Pentecost and the unique events that took place on that day are described in Acts chapter 2. In this chapter Spirit baptism is not specifically mentioned. It is not until Acts chapter 11 that we are specifically told that Spirit baptism took place on the day of Pentecost: “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning [on the Day of Pentecost]. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 11:15-16). Based on the clear statement of this passage we know that Spirit baptism first took place on the Day of Pentecost. It was then that believers were first placed into the body of Christ. It was then that the Church began.

But someone might raise an objection and say, “The Spirit baptism mentioned in Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:5 is different from the Spirit baptism mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:13. In Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:5 Christ is the Baptizer, but in 1 Corinthians 12:13 the Holy Spirit is the Baptizer. As we read the English Bible this seems to be the case, but the Greek construction of Matthew 3:11 and Acts 1:5 is practically identical to that of 1 Corinthians 12:13, as the following chart illustrates.

All four of these passages are talking about the same baptism, and the Greek construction in all four passages is closely equivalent, as the following literal rendering reveals:


Passage
Greek Construction
Matthew. 3:11 He (Christ) shall baptize you with (in) Holy Spirit
Acts 1:5 You shall be baptized (by Christ-Matt. 3:11) with (in) Holy Spirit
Acts 11:16 You shall be baptized (by Christ-Matt. 3:11) with (in) Holy Spirit
1 Cor. 12:13 We all were be baptized (by Christ-Matt. 3:11) with (in) one Spirit into one body



The order of the words in 1 Corinthians 12:13 has been altered in order to show that the same Greek construction is used. In the King James Version the Greek preposition en is translated “By one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13) which has led some to wrongly conclude that the Spirit is the Baptizer. But the passage should be understood in this way: “With (en) one Spirit were we all baptized [by Christ] into one body [the body of Christ, His Church].”

For a detailed discussion of the grammar involved in 1 Corinthians 12:13 see Spirit Baptism and 1 Corinthians 12:13.

Not only did Christ place us into His body, but He also immersed us in the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist made this prediction: “I indeed baptize you with water . . . He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 3:11). What does it mean to be baptized or immersed with (in) the Holy Spirit? The following Scriptures help to shed light:

“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 Cor. 12:13).

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which [the word ‘which’ refers to the Holy Spirit] He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:5-6).

“. . . having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33).

“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly [innermost being] shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:38-39)

Praise God, the Comforter has come! The promise of the Father has been given! Spirit baptism began at Pentecost and continues throughout this present age whenever a person believes on Christ.

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Strive to enter in at the strait gate:for many, I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. ( Luke 13:24 )

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Carol Swenson
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quote:
Originally posted by becauseHElives:
Carol , that is completely another Gospel....you don't see that!

If you think that then why did you post exactly the same article that I posted?
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becauseHElives
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Carol, you misunderstood the direction of my question!

was not disagreeing with you ....I was talking about the Bearen theology.....I can not believe you do not see that though very subtle, the Bearen Bible Society /WildB are teaching Another Gospel...

sorry you misunderstood...

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Strive to enter in at the strait gate:for many, I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. ( Luke 13:24 )

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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by becauseHElives:
Carol, you misunderstood the direction of my question!

was not disagreeing with you ....I was talking about the Bearen theology.....I can not believe you do not see that though very subtle, the Bearen Bible Society /WildB are teaching Another Gospel...

sorry you misunderstood...

Repent While the day is yet called day.

IT IS CLEAR 2 ALL YOUR SILLYNESS!

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That is all.....

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Carol Swenson
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When Paul used the expression "another gospel" in Galatians, he was talking about legalists.

becauseHElives, the BB Society teaches some things I don't agree with, and most other denominations also teach things I don't agree with. But if you're going to make statements like that about the Berean Bible Society, or anyone else, you need to prove your point or you won't be believed.

This is what they say

quote:
We are not the wild-eyed radicals that the theological media tries to portray us as. We are in agreement with the overwhelming majority of traditional dispensationalism. Our two primary points of disagreement are that we see the Body of Christ starting with the conversion and call of the Apostle Paul and that water baptism is not a requirement for this dispensation.

http://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/articles/1011392439.html


Okay, there are different beliefs about baptism. That doesn't make them another gospel unless they say it's required for salvation.

Secondly, I believe the Church started at Pentecost and the Gentiles were added later.

They believe it was not really the Body of Christ UNTIL the Gentiles were added because Paul's special revelation, his mystery, is that Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ with no difference. Until Paul, even after Peter's experiences, the Jews and the Gentiles were separated, like two different bodies.

Why is that so terrible?

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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by Carol Swenson:
When Paul used the expression "another gospel" in Galatians, he was talking about legalists.

becauseHElives, if you're going to make statements like that about the Berean Bible Society, or anyone else, you need to prove your point or you won't be believed.

This is what they say

quote:
We are not the wild-eyed radicals that the theological media tries to portray us as. We are in agreement with the overwhelming majority of traditional dispensationalism. Our two primary points of disagreement are that we see the Body of Christ starting with the conversion and call of the Apostle Paul and that water baptism is not a requirement for this dispensation.

http://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/articles/1011392439.html


Okay, there are many, many different beliefs about baptism. That doesn't make them another gospel unless they say it's required for salvation.

Secondly, I believe the Church started at Pentecost and the Gentiles were added later.

They believe it was not really the Body of Christ UNTIL the Gentiles were added because Paul's special revelation, his mystery, is that Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ with no difference.

Why is that so terrible?

Dam BigC you are one wild woman when rightous wraft gets in your kitchen.lol

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That is all.....

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becauseHElives
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Carol what is so terrible is that the Bearen Bible Society reject Yahshua's teaching as pertaining to salvation!

not to mention the other New Testament writers all under the direction of the Holy Spirit...

yes the B B Society have some good teaching but that which is wrong teaching makes them very, very dangerous!

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Strive to enter in at the strait gate:for many, I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. ( Luke 13:24 )

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Carol Swenson
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Thanks, Wild One, I think. What is wraft?
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WildB
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quote:
Originally posted by Carol Swenson:
Thanks, Wild One, I think. What is wraft?

Dam righteous anger

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That is all.....

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