This video is presented by Curt Crist, pastor/teacher of ‘Welcome To Grace Ministries’: welcometograce.com
The Bible used is a King James Bible (KJV A.V. 1611). The King James Bible is NOT copy-right protected! It can be downloaded for free at: http://www.bibleprotector.com/KJB-PCE-MINION.pdf
Complete notes below, watch the bible study and read along. Enjoy!
Jews, Paul and the Law 2
Join us for ‘Welcome to grace’, where we will discover together the distinctiveness of Paul’s Apostleship, through the rightly divided word of truth. Now, join pastor and Bible teacher Curt Crist, as we explore the unsearchable riches of Christ!
What brought us to the book of Acts was Paul’s statement in;
Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
2 Timothy 3:10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
2 Timothy 3:11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
We’re to follow the Pauline pattern, and that pattern set out for us. We’re to follow Paul in the pattern that he sets out for us here concerning his life, knowing full well that in many of the ways that Paul lists for us, many of the ways we can look at Paul’s life, Paul followed the life of Jesus Christ. The difference being that Christ came in connection with God’s plan, program and purpose with the nation Israel, and the physical piece of property. We often call that the kingdom; the earthly kingdom program. We know that in light of Israel’s fall, the mystery/secret was revealed to the apostle Paul. God had a purpose and plan in mind for the Gentiles; an age of grace, concerning the heavenly realm. Christ came to die, to be buried and to rise again for the sins of men. Paul didn’t do those things, so we’re not following Paul in that pattern. The focus of Christ’s life and ministry while on earth was the nation Israel, so we call that the earthly kingdom program, you might also hear me refer to that as the bride of Christ program. While the apostle Paul, on the other hand, was given by the ascended Lord of glory, a ministry pertaining to the Gentiles. We might call this the body of Christ program. Don’t be caught up in some of the terminology and let it confuse you, just understand there are two programs, and we’ve got to understand the difference in those two programs of God and the bible. One dealing with a literal nation which was blessed and chastised literally. We’re a heavenly program, and a spiritual organism called the body of Christ, and our citizenship is not the earth, but in heaven. Understanding the distinctions in these two programs opens the bible up to us, so that we can understand what’s happening. So the direction of ministry was different when it came to Jesus and when it came to Paul, but when we listen to Paul, when we learn from Paul, we’re learning from Jesus Christ himself, as Christ spoke from heaven, not from earth. These are Christ’s words that Paul is speaking!
Christ came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel, when Christ was on the earth. It was pertaining that earthly nation, that earthly program, to confirm those earthly promises made to the fathers of that nation, concerning a kingdom that will be set up here on planet earth. Christ will be governing with the 12 apostles affiliated with Israel (Matthew 19:28). Paul was called to be the apostle of the Gentiles, in connection with God’s plan and program pertaining to the heavenly realm, the place of our citizenship according to our apostle. Now we understand that Jesus Christ was the utmost example when it came to some of these things Paul lists here; long-suffering, charity, patience. Jesus Christ endured persecutions and afflictions far beyond what Paul did, even though when we look at Paul’s life we say; “how can anyone suffer more than the apostle Paul?” I believe our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did so at Calvary.
According to prophecy and the kingdom program, Christ had to die, be buried and rise again in order to take his rightful place on the throne of David, so his death, burial, and resurrection did pertain to the prophetic program. Christ suffered untold ways as we said. Paul was never made to be sin for anyone, so we’re not worshiping the apostle Paul. We’re recognizing the position that God gave to Paul, concerning his Gentile apostleship with the message that God had kept secret from ages and generations. Paul certainly suffered for the sake of the message that he preached concerning the cross. I think you could preach the cross all day long, and folks won’t have much of a problem. However, if you preach reconciliation and the accomplishments of the cross; what was accomplished by that cross work of Christ, you’ll run into problems from unbelievers, Christians (“lost believers”), believers, even rightly dividers, so it’s not a popular message. Our ascended Lord of glory revealed God’s purpose, for Paul, to Ananias in Acts 9:15-16:
15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
Understand when Paul tells us to be followers together of him, and he makes that statement three different times, he’s not telling us to elevate him above Jesus Christ, or to even place him on a par with Jesus Christ, in our minds. That would be the last thing the apostle Paul would want any of us to do. We’re simply to understand that Paul is the apostle to whom the ascended Christ gave the dispensation or house rules, because that’s what the word dispensation really means, concerning the age of grace. Paul conducted his life and his ministry in connection with those house rules, so he’s telling us that when it comes to life and ministry in the age of grace, Paul has set an example for all grace age ambassadors to follow.
Israel had been given a different set of house rules called the law. Those folks were to conduct themselves in accordance with the house rules given to them. God never dealt with the Gentiles according to a law contract, so the customs differed between Jews and Gentiles. As we read the Bible we we must understand that in order to make sense out of what we’re reading, it’s important that we know that the purpose of Christ’s earthly ministry was an earthly program, concerning earthly promises; a land (a piece of real estate on this earth) and a special nation to whom that land was given, and a kingdom to be set up in that land. When you hear the kingdom of heaven, it’s not talking about heaven, but a kingdom designed in the heavenly realm, operating and functioning one day right here on planet earth. The purpose of Christ’s heavenly ministry, to and through the apostle Paul, concerns the church called Christ’s body, and it pertains to the place of our citizenship, which is heaven, so we’ve never been promised the earth as an everlasting possession. Believing Israel of time future has been given that promise. We’ve not become the assumers and the full fillers of that earthly program. Israel is never been promised heaven. Heaven is our home according to scripture. We are not going to be ruling over the 12 tribes of the house of Israel, and we are not going to be sitting under the ruler ship of the 12 apostles as they govern Israel, according to prophecy (Matthew 19:28). We’re going to govern the angelic realm according to our apostle Paul, and a ruler ship will be conducted from the place of our citizenship right there from heaven.
Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
While many things are similar in the two programs of God; the earthly and heavenly, many things differ and it’s the study of the entire bible with those differences and distinctions in mind, that help us to understand what’s going on. We’re to understand and appreciate those differences, that’s what rightly dividing the word of truth is all about, it’s what makes the bible come alive. It makes it such an exciting book, and it makes sense to us as we study, which is what makes it exciting. This is what we’re doing as we examine the book of Acts. The change from God’s plan and program with the nation Israel to his plan and program for the body of Christ, takes place in the book of acts. That account is there, although you will not see it in acts chapter 2, where many folks look for it today. Something new happened there, the Holy Spirit came and rested upon the folks there. They were Jewish; folks of the Jewish program who were attending the Jewish feast day of Pentecost. God did indeed set his program with Israel aside, but only for a time; pushed it off into the future, he postponed it, in order to begin something brand-new. Not until Stephen delivered God’s indictment of unbelief upon that nation that rejected their messiah, and Stephen pointed it out. What did they do to Stephen? They stoned him. Who had consented unto Stephen’s death? Our apostle Paul, who was called Saul at that point in time, and then Saul was converted on the road to Damascus. It was the same year, but i believe it was Paul on his way to Damascus from that stoning, when he was converted. God called out a new apostle; Paul, in a brand-new program and made him the apostle of the Gentiles, and he committed to that apostle the house rules concerning the age of grace. That’s why Paul called it the dispensation of grace.
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Paul was an ambassador of a message, we are to be ambassadors of that same message. Paul called it the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). It was in and through Paul, that God would reveal what God had been keeping secret all along, and that’s the fact that God had a program in mind for the Gentiles, in spite of Israel’s fall. That was indeed a secret. Rather than coming through her rise, which is prophetically proclaimed, God would conduct the work among Gentiles, who God would bring to himself through Israel’s fall in this new apostle; the apostle Paul
Romans 11:12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
God has a plan for them. God has not decided to do away with that plan, and make us the assumers and fulfillers of it. God is returning to that plan, their fullness will come in, but not until God has completed his program for today, through the body of Christ. God is going to return to his program with Israel, when our program is complete. That will take place when we are called up; when the ambassadors are called home, prior to God declaring war on a Christ rejecting populace. The purpose of Paul’s ministry, during the acts period, can be summed up very clearly:
Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
Romans 11:14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
While God was through for a time dealing with Israel as a nation, God was not through dealing with individual Jews who would come to Christ through Paul’s program. Those who had not become members of the kingdom/earthly program, because they had not accepted the messiah ship or the deity of Jesus Christ. Now Paul is trying to reach some of these folks, and provoke them through jealousy, how better to say it that they could now be saved, according to Paul’s gospel.
We’ll watch as Paul conducts three apostolic journeys, remember in each area Paul visited he went to unbelieving Jews first, and then he went to Gentile proselytes to Judaism, people steeped in the law. Remember these were extremely religious; devoutly religious, but they were not kingdom saints in that they had not believed in Christ as Messiah, much less that he was the son of the living God. They knew not that he had risen again. These people were Jewish and they were religious, but they were lost. They were just like Saul had been prior to his encounter with Christ, on the road to Damascus. Paul did not go to Jewish kingdom saints. Some people assume, because he went to the synagogue everywhere he went, he was going to preach to the kingdom believers. Paul didn’t find kingdom believers in the synagogues. Who did Paul find there? Pharisees. He found people devoutly religious, sincere in many cases, but lost, so Paul didn’t go to the synagogues to find Jewish kingdom saints, to convert them into his program. He went to the Jews for the purpose of relating to them that gospel which he preached among the Gentiles, and also to win those lost Jews to his program; the earthly program having been set aside. Paul preached among the Jews and he preached among the Gentiles, and those people would become, as we’re going to see, part of the same grace age assembly. Paul would also have to explain some things to these people, these Jews that had now become grace age believers, in connection with who they were as members of the body of Christ. He’s going to have to explain some thing in his epistles written during that time, and this took place in the book of acts.
How do we know that the apostle Paul did not try to convert Jewish (kingdom) believers, that he would run across, into body of Christ saints (make them something that they weren’t)?
Romans 15:20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:
He had his own foundation to lay, it was Jesus Christ, but not according to prophecy, but mystery.
Paul wasn’t building the earthly kingdom program. He was called to fulfill God’s purpose concerning a heavenly program, so Paul went to unbelieving, and therefore lost, Jews and proselytes to Judaism first. That was his first aim. His message to these folks began at the point where Israel had stumbled, and that would be the deity and messiah ship of Jesus Christ Israel had not accepted who Christ was, so Paul’s testimony always began there with these folks. Christ had been crucified, buried and risen from the dead, and thus that fulfilled their scriptures that talked about Christ. Paul could prove that Christ was the promised messiah through that resurrection, and pointing back to what was promised to Jesus Christ. That should’ve proved conclusively to those folks, who knew their scriptures that Christ, was indeed the promised messiah; the son of the living God. If they would believe that Christ was the messiah risen from the dead, they would be ready for Paul to take them further, and upon believing Paul’s message they, just like Paul, would be members of the body of Christ. Someone asked why would Paul go to the Jews first? Some folks have come to the mistaken conclusion that because Paul went to Jews first, God was still dealing with his favored nation first. If that be the case, their conclusion would be that the body of Christ is not the focus of the book of acts at all, because Paul knew nothing they would say of the mystery or of the body of Christ until after acts 28. We can see how they could come to that conclusion, when you see Paul quoting the law in those six epistles he writes during that acts period. He quotes the law, people are honoring feast days, during that time. We see the miraculous taking place during that time, we see water baptism taking place, during a portion of that time, so it’s easy to see how folks can look at the book of acts after Saul’s conversion and say “we don’t think that pertains to the body of Christ at all”. They want to take us all the way to acts 28, and say that’s when the body of Christ began. Acts 28 is way out in Paul’s ministry, some 30 years, but they say “well why not 30 years? Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, so why wouldn’t God give Israel another opportunity to get their earthly kingdom, until the end of Paul’s ministry?”. If that’s the case, we can throw out Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and say that those books are not to us. I believe they’re definitely to us, and probably the most misunderstood book in the bible is the book of acts, so God is not giving to Israel, through the apostle Paul, another opportunity to get their earthly kingdom, that’s not what it’s about. Those who’ve adopted that scenario have missed the purpose of what Paul is doing and what is taking place in the book of acts. They’re looking at what was happening there, while they’re missing the point of why what was happening there was taking place. As Paul states in Romans, his purpose for going to the Jew first was not to extend the offer of the earthly kingdom program, but to provoke some of the unbelieving individual Jews to emulation. Rather than being a Gentile during the earthly kingdom program, and having to convert to Judaism, now in the age of grace the unbelieving Jews have to come through Paul’s gospel to Christ. Paul had hoped these unbelieving Jews, seeing the interest that his message would have among the Gentiles, might want what the Gentiles are being given, and he might be able to reach a few of those Jews. The Jews had the responsibility, and it had been their responsibility of making God’s name great among the Gentiles, or the nations. That had been their responsibility in the first place, but the failure of that nation had been evident. They had not made God’s name great, they had rejected their messiah, how can they make God’s name known to anyone? Paul knew that Israel had been set aside nationally, that wasn’t a surprise to our apostle. Remember he had spent some three years in Arabia, with the ascended Lord giving him revelations pertaining to that ministry among the Gentiles, that God wanted Paul to have, in light of Israel’s blindness. Paul loved his kinsmen after the flesh, he always wanted to reach these unbelieving Jews. He was a Jew, they they were his people, so he wanted to reach these people with his gospel. There’s evidence of scripture that Paul thought the rapture of the body of Christ would take place before he drew his last breath, and that God would get back on course with what he was doing, with Israel. Here we are some 2000 years later, it is still not the case. God is still dealing a super abounding grace, in an age of grace. Everywhere Paul went, loving the Jews as he did, he went to unbelieving Jews first. Perhaps he could provoke some of them to jealousy, through the instrumentality of the Gentiles. He would use the Gentiles, who were interested in his message, as his way to make them jealous. If the Jews could see that, maybe they would listen to Paul.
Where would Paul find these religious, yet lost Jewish folks? The most likely place would be the Jewish synagogues. That’s where the religiously minded were found in Paul’s day. Where could we say that the religiously minded in the age of grace could be found? In what we call church. Of course we know that the church stands for the body of Christ. The church of this age is the body of Christ, and it’s not a building, but the religiously minded can be found in what is often called church buildings and that’s where they listen to a message that’s mixed. I think it’s the gospel being preached, according to the apostle Paul, by ministers of righteousness confusing what Paul’s doing with that earthly kingdom program.
Acts chapter 13:3-14:28: Paul’s first apostolic journey. To Asia.
We found Paul in Antioch Pisidia, as this journey starts to really take shape. Understand there are two Antioch; Antioch Syria and Antioch Pisidia. Remember from our previous sessions, the Gentiles were interested in what Paul had to say. Some of the Jews were beginning to follow Paul, but the vast majority of the Jews were filled with envy, contradicting and they blasphemed. That resulted in Paul and Barnabas being driven out of Antioch Pisidia.
Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
Paul had sought out the Jews first in Asia, but the blindness that had come upon Israel nationally manifested itself very quickly among these Asian Jews. The same thing took place in Iconium, where the unbelieving Jews there stirred up the Gentiles, to the point of a riotous assault being made upon Paul and Barnabas, with a plot to have those two stoned to death. Once again Paul had to flee for his life (he was always fleeing for his life), his next stop on this first journey was Lystra. Did it get any better for Paul in Lystra? Paul was stoned in Lystra, and they dragged him out of the city. They examined him and deemed him to be dead. Don’t miss the fact that once Paul had first gone to the Jews, to see if he could save some of them, he was free in his mind in that area to go to the Gentiles. Don’t look at Paul’s three statements “lo, we turn to the Gentiles” and say that that means that Paul really didn’t do that until after that third statement. He kept making that statement throughout the book of acts. He makes it in acts 28, so the folks who would take us to ask 28 for the beginning of the body of Christ, would say “see he made the statement three times, he finally made up his mind, he’s going to the Gentiles in acts 28”. He went to the Gentiles after each time that he made that expression; “i’m turning to the Gentiles”, but he made that expression in three different areas, and those are the times he went to the Gentiles. Grace assemblies were established at that point in time.
Acts 14:20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
A lot of folks say “he wasn’t dead, Paul had just fainted”. I suppose if you were stoned to death by executioners (those who were expert in how to stone a person to death, and then examine them to make sure they were dead), i just don’t think you would just stand up and going down to town and start preaching the gospel, but Paul did. I actually believe Paul is the one he’s speaking of called to the third heaven. Many miraculous things; the dead were being raised, had taken place.
The next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. Paul was not a quitter!
Acts 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
The faith: The message and the the form of sound words Paul taught.
Kingdom of God: The overall ruler ship of God, and now we’re learning about that heavenly ruler ship. This is not the kingdom to be set up on planet earth (the kingdom of heaven), don’t read that into this passage. This is the kingdom of God; the overall reign and rule of God in the universe. The focus is not the earthly kingdom at this point in time. That program had been placed on hold.
Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
Elders in every church (that’s churches plural): throughout the out calling Paul appointed elders. It wasn’t multiple elders in every little home church. These home assemblies had someone in charge, each home assembly had a a mature person, in what Paul had already taught at that period of time we also know that God was revealing to grace age prophets what was happening in the age of grace, so elders were appointed in regard to the out calling.
According to what we read in the first journey, Paul and Barnabas established numerous grace age home churches in Asia. Keep in mind assemblies in Paul’s days, were usually home fellowships.
Paul’s second apostolic journey took place after the Jerusalem council (acts 15:40-18:22). Remember the Holy Spirit prohibited Paul from preaching in Asia on his second apostolic journey. We see he went to Asia on the first one, and he was going to go through Asia on the second one, but the Holy Spirit won’t let him stop there to preach the gospel. This is where we came across the the account of Lydia, the Gentile proselyte to Judaism, in the story of Paul being lashed and cast into prison. This is where we read of Paul’s and Silas’s encounter with the philippian jailer (acts 16). It was during this same time period, that grace assemblies in Philippi and Thessalonica were being established. I told you earlier, Paul was going to unsaved Jews (unbelievers, but devoutly religious) who had been affiliated with the law program, and steeped in that law program. He was also going to Gentiles who had proselyted to Judaism during that period. Paul never taught those who were familiar with the law, to forsake the law or the customs associated with that law program. Sometimes we think that once the body of Christ began, when Paul began to win over these unbelieving Jews, he taught them to do away with everything they’ve heard under that law program. Paul never taught that, he never went against the Jewish conscience, so Paul himself kept the Jewish feast days. However, while not teaching those familiar with the law and the customs to forsake the law, Paul did teach that righteousness would not come through that law keeping. Of course that was true even in Israel’s program, while Israel’s program was in effect. They were not getting their righteousness through their law keeping, but Paul is explaining that that was meant to lead them to Christ.
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ [the anointed]
4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
Consorted: meaning spent time in the company of, or association with, Paul and silas. They would’ve learned a lot. Can you think of being on this earth today, and being able to walk with Paul, spend time in his company?
You have to look to see whether that’s talking about Greek speaking Jews or Gentiles. Speaking about Gentiles in acts 17:4.
With Paul wasn’t good news, everywhere he went, always followed by the precise opposite, when it came to the Jews he was seeking? In spite of God’s program with Israel nationally having been set aside, Paul is winning some of the Jews. We see that, that was his desire, but notice right on the heels of the good news of verse four, we find that huge three letter word that opens verse five; BUT.
Acts 17:5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
Paul and Silas would once again have to flee for their lives, as God was proving that blindness in part had happened to Israel nationally, until God’s program with the Gentiles in the age of grace would be brought to completion. As we continue our study in acts, we see the same pattern with Paul over and over again, everywhere Paul goes. According to prophecy regarding the earthly kingdom program, the Gentiles were supposed to come through Israel’s rise. That’s prophecy according to the prophetic program, which much of your bible speaks speaks about. Listen to Israel’s prophet Isaiah, as he foretells the glory of the nation Israel in a future day:
1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
Israel’s prophet Zachariah added to that when he said:
Zechariah 8:23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
God will indeed be with Israel when this day comes! The requirement for all of this to come about, would be for Israel to produce fruit according to the contract under which God had placed her. She would have to produce some righteous fruit. Did she? NO, and that law was given her to show she couldn’t, and that she had to call upon God do that for her. Jesus Christ; Israel’s promised messiah was born. He ministered to Israel for three years, prodding them to produce that fruit necessary to be a holy nation. He was really soliciting from that nation, a confession that they had failed to produce their righteousness through a law contract. The king was present there, but the holy nation/the kingdom of priests, was not. There was nothing holy about Israel; they were very prideful, neither meek nor humble. God hates a proud look the bible says, what’s that all about? Israel was very proud in that they thought their behavior would please God. They thought they could behave sufficiently under that law contract for God to consider them righteous. God wasn’t soliciting from them a list of what they did not do on one day, and what they were able to accomplish on the next. God was soliciting from them a confession that “under the contract we’ve never measured a degree of righteousness which would be worthy of being called a holy nation, a kingdom of priests”. They looked great on the outside, they had all the outward trappings of being Godly people, but according to Jesus Christ they were full of dead men’s bones. Their hearts were inclined away from God and onto themselves, and how good they were, and what they were doing, so in the final year of Christ’s earthly ministry we saw that parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9). The truth of the parable (not given to Israel to understand at that time; they were in unbelief) was that Israel would be given a one-year extension of mercy, to produce that confession that she had not produced thus far, according to her ability to fulfill that contract through righteousness. The one-year extension of mercy didn’t start out very well. What did they do at the outset of that one-year extension of mercy? They crucified the messiah! Would that mean that God would not honor the conclusion of the one-year extension? No, he did indeed honor it. God is a merciful God. What did Christ pray while he was hanging on the cross?
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
They would indeed be given that full one-year extension of mercy. Christ died, he was buried and he rose again. His 40 day remaining ministry on earth to Israel, was when the one-year extension of mercy really began in earnest, we can say. Christ ascended into heaven and Peter picked it up where Christ left off; trying to continue to prod that nation into producing the confession that Leviticus 26:40 called for.
Leviticus 26:40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
There would still be the larger part of a year, for Peter’s ministry to make a difference with Israel as a nation. She could still become that holy nation, that kingdom of priests, prophecy foretells will take place if she would make that confession. Peter speaking with urgency;
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
“Change your minds”, that’s what repent means, this is about “start obeying the law, get back to the law program, start doing this and stop doing that”.
The times of refreshing…from the presence of the Lord: The earthly kingdom being set up.
Acts 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
Well, she didn’t change her mind. Israel as a nation; the religious leadership which was also the governmental leadership (one and the same thing), did not change their minds. They continued in their rejection of the messiah, and in their insistence that they had righteousness in themselves. They hadn’t changed their minds about their ability to produce righteousness through performance. They still thought they could do it, so we are still left in acts with Israel being the focus even after acts 2, which ministers of righteousness are saying is where the church for the age of grace began. Not so! It’s the early going of acts; stephen delivered the stinging indictment upon Israel. The clock was ticking down when that indictment was delivered in acts 7. That one-year extension is winding to a close here, yet they continue in their resistance of their messiah and their refusal to change their minds about their ability to earn righteousness according to performance.
Acts 1-8: The story of Israel’s one-year extension, at the conclusion of which God’s program with Israel, to become that holy nation, hat kingdom of priests, was put on hold. Thus Israel obtaining the land as an everlasting possession, and the promised earthly kingdom to be set up with the 12 ruling on 12 thrones, was postponed, pushed off into the future. With that postponement, God began something new and that brought us to acts 9.
AD 34. Acts 9: The conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus.
Some 10 years after this conversion. Acts 13: Paul was commissioned to go out (Jews first, then Gentiles)
AD 64-65. Acts 28: The conclusion of the book of acts and the end of the acts period.
AD 70: The destruction of the temple.
We see Saul’s conversion takes place in acts chapter 9; he takes Christ at his word on the road to Damascus and something new began right there. God would begin dealing with man in a different and brand-new way, as he called out Paul. It isn’t like a broken railroad track; fewer and fewer people being saved into the earthly program and more and more people being saved into the heavily program. I do indeed see a point in time, in the book of acts, where i can say the body of Christ began. It is the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus! Everybody after that a body of Christ saint?! Yes, indeed, God was dealing differently with men, and that began with Peter. Not with Peter becoming a body Christ saint, but with Peter going to the house of Cornelius. What was Peter told before he went?
Acts 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Acts 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
…’don’t call that unclean which i’ve already cleansed’, and of course the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his household. What did Peter say?
Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
Was that the message of the earthly kingdom program? Don’t say “Peter was preaching, so that’s not a body of Christ saint, that’s a kingdom saint”. No, that’s a body of Christ saint, everyone after Paul was a body of Christ saint. Why? Because Israel’s one-year extension of mercy had run out, with the stoning of Stephen, and the conversion of Saul. The holy nation/the kingdom of priests/the bride of Christ program put on hold, when that extension ran out, and it ran out by the time we come to acts 9. Something new begins; it’s called the body of Christ. Forget the message and forget the messenger, God is dealing differently with men as he did with Cornelius, and Peter was given to witness it. Peter had been and still was a member of the sign nation and sign program, so God gave Peter a sign that he was now dealing differently with men. In acts 15, Peter could stand up and tell those at the Jerusalem council that he had seen God deal differently with men; God was dealing with the Gentiles.
Paul now, in acts 13 (some 10 years after his conversion on the road to Damascus) was sent out to reach these people that Paul wanted to reach, which he said would be Jews first and then Gentiles. He went of to those three areas that we just looked at.
Asia first and then the areas of Greece Macedonia and then finally to Rome.
Paul goes to the synagogue first; unbelieving Jews and proselytes to Judaism, who were steeped in the customs of the law. That’s group number one, he went to them first. Then he went to unbelieving Gentiles, when the majority of Jews would not believe his message, he said “lo, we turn to the Gentiles” and he went to Gentiles in that area, and he taught the same message. The Jews who believed Paul’s message, became members of the body of Christ program. Paul then went to unbelieving Gentiles, and they became members of the body of Christ program. Not kingdom saints mixing with body of Christ saints, as so often believed today, but body of Christ saints who are Jewish, mixing with body of Christ saints who are Gentiles, during this act period. So the first group; the Jews who followed the law and the customs, were the people that Paul provoked to emulation, to come through his gospel and now Paul goes to Gentiles. Now you got a mixed bag church; a grace age church/a body of Christ assembly, and in that assembly you’ve got some Jews. They, their fathers and their granddaddies had known the law. They were zealous of the law, they were steeped in the law, but they were lost, as had Saul been until his encounter with Christ. These folks had an encounter with Paul, became believers and members of the assemblies Paul was establishing during that acts period. Now they’re in the assembly sitting there with all their laws and customs, and now some Gentiles are coming on board, that Paul’s reaching also. Paul has to tell these folks, who are body of Christ saints, how to relate to one another and how to relate to God, given they’re in a new dispensation, age and house ruler ship called the age of grace. Paul writes his six epistles, that were written during that period and for that purpose; Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians. If you read and study those six epistles, in light of the fact that Paul is dealing with the body of Christ assembly, where there are people who have been steeped in the law, along with Gentiles who never had anything to do with the law, and Paul’s telling them how relate to one another and what some of the distinctions are in this program, you’ll understand these early epistles. You’ll also understand why Paul quotes the law, and why you see water baptisms taking place during this early acts account. To those people water baptism had been the confession they were told to make. No one took that confession or their feast days away from them. Paul himself honored the feast days, being Jewish, during this period of time. God would allow no one to reject Paul’s message of grace, based on Paul’s life. They couldn’t look at Paul and accuse him of being a lawbreaker. Paul would indeed have to stand before kings, at the end of his ministry, and he would be accused of teaching the Jews, who were among the Gentiles, to forsake the law of Moses. Paul would say “I’ve never taught contrary to the customs to Moses or the customs of the fathers” (acts 20 and 28).
Understand that when Paul is talking about marriage in Corinth, he’s telling those folks who had been under the law and steeped in the law, how they should relate to one another in marriage. Now, did the great change of grace change anything in regard to marriage? We learned later on in Ephesians, that Paul said our marriages today are to be a picture of our union with Christ, but what did Paul tell those folks? Save for fornication, but what did he ultimately end up with? We’re called to peace; if an unbeliever wants to depart, let him depart. Some folks look at Corinth and say “Paul’s laying down a new law, he has just taken a new law, brought it over to the age of grace, and that’s the unpardonable sin today. If you happen to be someone who is divorced, you’re just useless, God can’t use you any longer because you have a divorce and that’s the unpardonable sin”. You would be surprised how many people there are out there that think that’s the unpardonable sin!
Paul is writing to folks who had been under that law and he’s telling them, now they’re under grace and that they’re not under that law. Did they cease doing the law? No, they were to use the law and use it lawfully.
In Corinth, what did they tell Paul they were doing? Observing the feast of the passover. Were the Jews supposed to observe the feast of passover? Absolutely they were, it was a perpetual covenant for them. They weren’t to stop observing the feast of passover, but what does Paul tell them? “this isn’t the Lord’s table what you folks are doing”. Is he establishing a new ritual for the body of Christ? No, he’s telling those Jews “let us keep the feast with sincerity and truth”. It was never put on the Gentiles to begin with, but Paul kept it. So you understand what is taking place, when you understand that Paul is dealing with Jewish members of the body of Christ, steeped in the law. It was tied intricately to their consciences, and Paul would never injure their consciences. Paul was a pharisee of the pharisees. Paul kept the law, but he knew that his righteousness before God wasn’t based on his law keeping, so he’s teaching that. In Galatians he’s telling them that no man is going to be justified through law-keeping. In Thessaloniki he’s having to explain the difference between the second coming and the rapture. Why? Because these folks knew about a promised second coming of Christ, and there will indeed be a second coming of Christ. The capstone of Paul’s epistles; Ephesians , Philippians and Colossians were written from prison, at the very end of Paul’s ministry. If you understand who he is writing to in those early epistles, you’ll understand why he’s saying what he’s saying, and why he is quoting the law. He did it for those folks, in the assembly who would be Jewish, so they could relate to it. Paul never took that law away from them.
The kingdom saints, on the other hand, began dying off as time went on and on. There came a time, AD 70, when the temple was destroyed, and the people who had been born under that kingdom program could see the futility of what they were trying to do, to start with. They should’ve seen it early on. The kingdom saints were just marking time, they were just waiting for the return of Christ. They thought that Paul’s program would be finished and that God would return and set them at the head of the class once again. It didn’t take place and here we are, some 2000 years later. 2010/2011 and God is still not finished with the age of grace! I think it’s marvelous that he’s given us that much time to be ambassadors of the ministry of reconciliation. Come to understand what the ministry of reconciliation is, and see how well it is accepted 2000 years later, and i think you’ll find that it is not accepted today any better than it was accepted back when Paul preached it. Thankfully we’re not running for our lives today, when we tell people, but from the response of some of the folks, you tell you think you might have to run for your life because they don’t like it very much at all. When Christ died for our sins, something happened to the sins he died for; your sins, my sins, the world’s sins were put onto our Saviour, and God judged them there. God’s justice was carried out when our Saviour bore our sins. Salvation has been been accomplished for everyone, there is no saving work to be accomplished for anyone today. If you’re praying for a lost loved one to come to Christ, the answer is given to you in scripture; you are the ambassador. If you’re praying for them, go to them and tell them the ministry. Christ is saying “i have already done my part, the other part is on you, you’ve become the ambassador”. Well, you say “I’ve done that, I’ve gone to them and i failed. They refused to listen to me”. Understand right up front there’s a pride problem there. This is family and there’s pride in play somewhere, so have somebody else take them the message. Don’t cease in your efforts to get them the message of reconciliation, because somewhere in their life, and most often through ourselves, they’ve come into the message of ministers of righteousness. They think that they’ve got to be good enough, make the right kind of commitment before God will accept them, they’ve got to turn from their sins…there’s a lot of things in people’s minds they think they must do or be willing to do, in order to get God to make a decision to save them, when he made that decision to die at Calvary. That decision has been made, God had it in mind all along, and the salvation work has been accomplished. It is matter of men accepting it or rejecting it today, it’s as simple as that. The gift has been offered, the gift stands there, and it is been given to men to accept or reject.
Thank you for joining with us in your endeavor to discover the truths in God’s Word. Pastor and teacher Curt Crist and the entire fellowship of Welcome to Grace Ministries, would like to thank you for your support of this ministry of Grace. If you’re enjoying the teachings and want to share with others, please write us at: Welcome to Grace Ministries, P.O. Box 90, Penrose, North Carolina 28766. You may call us toll free at 877-770-7098 or visit us on the web at http://www.welcometograce.com. Again, thank you for joining us, and we look forward to hearing from you.