The Church Age – Beginning: Mystery Doctrine
God's Plan for the Ages – Dispensations Lesson #18
July 29, 2014
"Father, we are so grateful for Your grace in our lives. It is Your grace that gives us everything we need to face whatever situation or circumstance that comes our way. Father, we know that You are in control of the details of life and even when we are obeying You there is no guarantee that everything will go great and that everything will be wonderful. And as we look at this young doctor who is serving with Sudan Interior Mission and serving in Liberia; we pray that You heal him and that he would have the right care and You would strengthen his body to throw off this virus. Father, we know that even if you don't that his death would be to Your glory and to honor You, and we pray that You might use that in a magnificent way. And may he be a real example to each of us on what it means to serve You and just to put our life in Your hands that we might go forward serving You and recognizing that You will take care of us and that no matter what happens, even if it means physical death, we are just instantly absent from the body and face to face with You. Father we pray for us in this congregation. We pray that You would keep us focused upon Your Word. Father, we pray for those of Camp Arête. We pray that would be a positive and tremendous week of ministry there and that the teens will be very responsive to that which is being taught. And Father, we pray that we might be able to focus on Your Word as we continue our study of Your plan for the ages. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."
XV. Dispensation of the Church continued
Okay, tonight we continue our study on dispensations focusing on and continuing to focus on the Church, focusing on the Church Age. Last time we talked about the main Scripture that is covered in the Church Age.
A. Scripture: Acts 2:1-Revelation 3
B. The Key Person: Apostle Paul (but not the only person)
C. Name for Dispensation: Church Age or Age of Grace
I want to add something to that. There have been some dispensationalists in history who have identified the Church Age as the Age of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit's dispensation. I think that is important for us to notice because the primary distinctive of this Church Age, that which makes it the Church Age, is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which we looked at last time in Acts 2. I think that is an important thing. We will come back to stressing that, but not all dispensationalists focus on that. Some will focus on the grace aspect as being the key element. I think it is the Holy Spirit aspect that is the central element for the Church Age but we will get there eventually.
D. Responsibilities, which is to utilize the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses, to be ambassadors for Christ; to grow to spiritual maturity; and to serve the LORD in everything that we do.
E. Basic Test in the Church Age is whether or not we will walk by the Spirit and fulfill the mission that God gave to the Church to be a witness for Jesus Christ.
F. Failure comes by the end of the Church Age as the Church will become apostate. False doctrine will dominate the Church and it will no longer have the impact it should have on those around it and will fail in its witness and testimony.
G. Grace – there will be grace in the Church Age in that the Church will not go through the judgment that will follow the Church Age. All Church Age believers will be raptured before the Tribulation, a doctrine known as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. We will get into that when we get to the Time of the Tribulation.
Slide 3: The Parameters of the Church Age
H. The Parameters of the Church Age: Acts 2
1. We saw that the Church began on the Day of Pentecost in AD 33 and this is described in Acts 2.
I spent the time pointing out that when the Holy Spirit descended, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that descended upon the Apostles in Jerusalem that is described in Acts 2, when they came out speaking in languages they hadn't learned, that the question was, are these men drunk? What is going on? These are unlearned, unlettered Galileans, how can they speak all of these different languages and how can we understand them? And the apostle Peter answered the question with this extensive quote from Joel 2, which focuses on the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit at the end of the Tribulation period as the Great Day of The Almighty occurs. At that time, when the God, the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, returns in judgment to the earth. We will get into all the details of that when we get into the Tribulation. But it is at that point when the King, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ takes His rightful place as the Son of David, as the Ruler over Israel and establishes His Kingdom on the earth at that particular time. That is when, as we've studied in past, that is when the New Covenant is fulfilled; that is when the Davidic Covenant is fulfilled and part of the New Covenant is this outpouring of God the Holy Spirit.
Now in Joel 2 Joel describes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as involving a number of different features. He (Joel) said that God prophesied that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh, your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams, and the spirit of prophecy will be upon everyone. Well that didn't happen. Of all of the things described by Joel none of them transpired on the Day of Pentecost. What took place on the Day of Pentecost was that the Apostles spoke in languages they hadn't learned. Tongues is never mentioned in Joel 2. So when Peter says, "this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel." What he means by this, if you go back and you remember those four categories I taught about how Old Testament passages are used in the New Testament when you have this fulfillment language; that the third category was that something in the Old Testament, a situation, an event, a person, is applied to something in the New Testament. There is only one point of difference. The difference between a type and an application is that in a type there are many features that are parallel; but in an application there is only one feature that they have in common. So that the point of the quote, the fulfillment statement, is that this is like that. All Peter is saying is that this is the same kind of thing that God promised the Holy Spirit would do at the time of the Day of the Lord. So we should not be at all surprised about this. Then he went from there to give the gospel. So this is when the Church began. It has to do with this outpouring of God the Holy Spirit.
2. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is what forms the Church. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit according to Matthew 3:11 was yet future. According to Acts 1:5, which Jesus spoke just before He ascended to go to heaven. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was yet future
Slide 4: Acts 1:5
Acts 1:5 "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized [future tense] with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
It didn't begin with Adam. You don't have this spiritual Church as far back as Adam. You will run across that if you read very much. You will hear people say that, but the Church did not begin with Adam. It didn't begin in Abraham's tent. It didn't begin in Abraham's home in Ur of the Chaldees or in his tent in the Promise Land. It didn't begin with Moses on Mt. Sinai; the Church began on the Day of Pentecost with the arrival of God the Holy Spirit. This is the scene in Acts 2.
Now I have asked you to turn to Acts 2, but as background for that I want to read to you from Matthew 3:11. In Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist is talking. John the Baptist is down by the Jordan River where he is preaching a message, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And he is calling upon those who have repented to indicate this change by water baptism. And then he says to them, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me (which is a reference to the Messiah) is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Now when he says "He will baptize you" he uses a future tense verb. A future tense verb means that something is going to have to happen in the future, but it is not happening now. It is something that is a future event. So in Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist says, "This baptism by the Holy Spirit is future. Indeed he quotes almost verbatim what John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:11. He says, "For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be (future tense) with the Holy Spirit not many days from not." Showing that by April of AD 33 the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, had not yet occurred. It had never occurred before this in all of human history.
Slide 5: 1 Corinthians 12:13
"For by one Spirit we were all baptized [past tense] into one body – whether Jew or Greeks, whether slave or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit."
1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul addressing the Corinthian believers who were as carnal and as messed up as any group of Christians could ever hope to be; and he said, "we have all been (past tense) baptized by the Holy Spirit. That includes every single believer. So between Acts 1:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit took place.
Slide 6: Acts 11:15-17
Acts 11:15, "And as I [Peter] began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.
Acts 11:16, "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' [Acts 1:5]
Acts 11:17, "If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"
Acts 11:5-17, as Peter is describing to his fellow Apostles in Jerusalem what had just happened when he took the gospel to Cornelius, the Gentile in Caesarea by the Sea, the Roman centurion that when they believed they received the Holy Spirit. And Peter said it happened when they believed just as with us at the beginning, emphasizing "the beginning." One of the reasons I am stressing this by way of review, is because there are numerous theological groups: Covenant theology, Lutheran theology, Roman Catholic theology, just to name a few that look at the Church as a generic term that describes all believers from Adam forward. All the Old Testament (OT) saints were part of the Church; all New Testament saints are a part of the Church. They view the OT as primarily the Jewish Church, and this was in Church history when some of the early fathers got distorted on this. They started looking back to the OT as the frame of reference for the Church Age. They didn't understand this distinction between Israel and the Church. That faded by the second to third century. And they looked back as their pattern to the OT and as a result of that they adopted priesthood and you had what became the Roman Catholic Church that identified the pastors as priest, so you had the introduction of the priesthood.
They talked about having an altar in the front of the church; and that terminology has even slipped into certain churches that are not Roman Catholic. You have many evangelical churches, Baptist churches, Presbyterian churches, Episcopal churches will have an altar at the front. An altar is a place where a sacrifice was. I always wondered where the altar was when I've been in churches like that. Clerical vestments became part of the uniform of the clergy, the priest. They had a temple like buildings. They referred to the ordinances of the church as sacrifices and sacraments. All of that kind of terminology reflected a view that there was continuity with OT Israel as the Church of the OT and with OT priestly function as if that were to continue into the NT. They failed to understand this distinction between the body of believers before the Cross and those after the Cross. So this is important to understand and how this has impacted things.
Slide 7: The Parameters of the Church Age
Now the third point that I pointed out last time and I want to get into some new material this time is the third point that the Church is future and not yet present when our Lord spoke in Matthew 16. So I want you to turn in your bibles to Matthew 16:13. This is a critical passage because up to this point the Lord doesn't use the word "church." Now you have the word EKKLESIA used in a nontechnical sense in talking about an assembly but not in terms of the Church until you get to particular situation. I want to just look at the passage a little bit. I want to read it and then I am going to give you some background so you can understand the passage. This is one of those, I think, wonderful, fun passages that when you understand the historical geographical background to the passage "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"
Matthew 16:14 So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
Slides 8-9: Geographical maps showing location of Caesarea-Philippi
Now as we look at that where is Jesus? Basic questions of observation that we went through in Bible Study Methods: who, what, when, where, and how. Where was Jesus? He is in Caesarea Philippi. Now Caesarea Philippi is not the Caesarea where Cornelius was. That was called Caesarea Maritima or Caesarea by the Sea. This is Caesarea Philippi. Obviously, it is named for a Caesar that is why it has the name Caesarea in there, but it is a different location. It is as far north in Israel as you can be and I will show you the map in just a minute.
Matthew 16:15-17, "And he (Jesus) starts quizzing His disciples, well who do people say that I am? What are they guessing? And then He says, well "who do you say that I am? And Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, or the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven;' " indicating that spiritual truth is only perceptible when God reveals it to us.
Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus said to him, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
I want you to notice that this is a passage where a lot of the mythology about Peter and the Golden Gates, having the Keys to Heaven, the keys that the Pope has. This is what this comes from but when we actually look at the passage we'll see that all the tradition built up around Peter is completely bogus and doesn't have anything to do with what the Roman Catholic Church claims that it has to do.
Slide 9: Location Map
Now let's get into a little background. Here is a better map. This map gives you a little bit of a perspective. We are going to go with this map. Don't you think that maps a little clearer than that map (Slide 8) or do you like that one better? You like the second one better? Alright, for those of you that are going to go to Israel and some of you who have been to Israel, we are going to go back to this location this year in November, to Caesarea Philippi; and this is located where the red circle is up in the far north of Israel. This is the Sea of Galilee. This whole area that we see in this map is basically the region of Galilee north of Samaria. This is the Esdraelon Valley down here on the lower left or the Valley of Megiddo. This little ridge line that runs from northwest to southeast here is the ridgeline of Carmel; and about where I have my arrow there is where Mt. Carmel is located where Elijah did battle with the priest of Baal and the Asherah. So Jesus conducted most of His ministry around the Sea of Galilee here, and on this particular occasion they traveled north and this is about 20 miles to Caesarea Philippi. No this Caesarea, as I said, is to be distinguished from Caesarea Maritima, which is not on this map, but its about 20 miles south of Dora over here on the lower left hand corner right on the Mediterranean Sea.
This is Caesarea Philippi and it had another name; you probably cannot read it from where you are sitting. Underneath that it has the alternate name of how it is known through most of history. It says Panias because it was named for the Greek god Pan, but it is usually known as Banias because in Arabic you don't have a 'P' sound, a hard labial; you just have a soft labial, so they pronounce it Banias. So that is how it has come to be called Banias. Now this was considered to be the name of the Greek god Pan and one of the unique features; there are two unique geological features here that we need to pay attention to and it helps us to understand that what the Lord is really doing here is not only do we have a play on words but He is also playing off of the scenery, playing off the geological attributes here. And that is that there is a huge enormous rock escarpment and at the base of it there is a deep chasm. Now that deep chasm is known as the grotto of the god Pan; and that is a little sign that they have there at the National Park. That they would have sacrifices there for Pan and that this was one of the entry points to Hades.
And they eventually built temples there under Herod the Great and at the near the end of his reign it was brought in and incorporated as part of his empire. Under Herod Agrippa they built a temple there and named it for the Roman emperor Augustus. So it is called Caesarea just as Herod had named Caesarea after Caesar after Augustus before. So Herod's son Philip calls it Caesarea Philippi. Herod had named it honoring Caesar because he had rescued it a couple of times. So the cave was thought to be entry to Hades and in this artist depiction of what it looks like. You can see that here is the temple built to Pan; here is the opening that you see behind it. People would come in and make sacrifices and throw those into the chasm.
Now here are a couple of stalwart men who are charging the gate of hell! We always take time to do that when we go on one of those trips. So now you've got an understanding of the historical background and the geological features that help us to understand what is going on here.
Slide 14: Matthew 16:13-14
So Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi. He is right here on this spot and He asked His disciples the question, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" That question is important because Jesus is identifying Himself with a title that is a ascribed to The Messiah in Daniel 7. In Daniel 7 there is this depiction that at the end of days that the Son of Man will come forward and God the Father will give him the authority to come to the earth. The Ancient of Days is God the Father and the Ancient of Days gives this commission to the Son of Man to go and establish His Kingdom on the earth; and He comes to the earth and He destroys the kingdom of man that has had several manifestations over history: the Babylonian period, then the Persian period, and then the Greek period, then the Roman period, and each of these successive empires carried on certain traits from previous empires and then added new features to them and so collectively they represent the kingdom of man, man doing the best he can to establish utopia on the earth.
Man has always tried to establish utopia upon the earth. One of the manifestations of that is socialism and socialism thinks that government can solve the problems of man. They can only solve problems that they can identify, but they can't identify or understand the real problem that man has, which is always related to sin. And until you can solve that problem you can't establish a utopic empire or utopic kingdom. And so because Jesus solved the sin problem and was Himself without sin, when He returns He will be able to establish a perfect Kingdom upon the earth. So when He asked this question He is self-identifying with The Messiah. Jesus isn't someone that the disciples came along and thought so much of that they ascribed deity to Him. He clearly understands that He is The Messiah. So He says, "Who do men say that I the Son of Man am?" So they said some say John the Baptist. John the Baptist had already been executed by this time; that he had resurrected. Some say Elijah and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.
Slide 15: Matthew 16:15-16
And then Jesus said to them, well "who do you say that I am?" And "Peter answered and said, 'You are The Messiah [ha Meshiach].' You are the Anointed One. Peter gets it. He is identifying Jesus as the promised and prophesied Messiah from the OT and that He is "the Son of the living God." Notice how Peter makes the transition from Son of Man to Son of the living God. Now we have studied this in the past; that these phrases "Son of Man" and "Son of God" are Hebrew idioms. The way in which they (the Hebrews) would describe someone, certain characteristics about someone as they would say they were the "son of the…" and then the noun would be the characteristic. So if someone was a murderer they wouldn't just say "you're a murder" they would say "you are the son of a murder." If someone was a thief, they would say "you are a son of a thief." They are not saying that their father was a thief, but that they are the product of that characteristic or that quality. So when you see Jesus called the "Son of Man" it is emphasizing His humanity. That He is fully human. When He is called the "Son of God" it is emphasizing His deity; that He is full deity. So in this passage we have Jesus affirming His humanity and Peter affirming His deity. We have the hypostatic union here. Jesus is the God-Man.
Slide 16: Matthew 16:17-19
So now that Peter has correctly identified Who Jesus is Jesus says, "Blessed are you Simon Bar-jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you," This isn't human viewpoint. This isn't something that you derived on your own, "but My Father Who is in heaven." Jesus attributes, not this is important for understanding the Matthew 16:19. Jesus is attributing priority to heaven, not priority to man. Everything starts in the mind and the plan of God works itself out in human history. So Simon didn't just generate this on his own; this is part of God's plan from eternity past and it is the Father Who in heaven Who has revealed that to Peter.
Slide 17: Matthew 16:18
Matthew 16:18, Jesus goes on to say "And I also say to you that you are Peter," this is where He has a paronomasia, a pun, a play on words. "I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."
Now here we have the setting. They are right there in front of this huge rock escarpment with this opening that goes who knows how deep; that is considered to be the opening to Hades. And so Jesus is not only going to introduce a little pun on the Greek word PETROS and the Greek word PETRA, but He is also playing off of the scene that they are seeing in their background. And He is saying, the "gates of Hades" and they are right at the gates of Hades. "The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." Now this is the visual play that we see here in this picture.
Slide 18: Matthew 16:18 continued
And then in this slide I am pointing out the two different Greek words. You have Peter, literally PETROS in the Greek. That is his proper name. His Aramaic name was kephas, there is the sibilant 's' would be indicated by a sigma. But it is in Aramaic. It is indicated by a 'k' so it is pronounced kephas. PETROS means a small fragment of a stone or a pebble. And so it is something rather insignificant; just a little piece of gravel, pea gravel that get stuck in your sandal. And so He says, "You are PETROS and on this rock" and He shifts to a feminine noun. PETROS was a masculine noun. He shifts to the feminine form PETRA, which refers to a large rock or a boulder. And so by shifting gender He's indicating that there is significance to what He is saying. He's not going to be talking about Peter the man; He is talking about something else when He uses the term "rock." It is on this "rock." What is this massive, substantive rock that He is going to build His church? And then He uses a future tense verb there saying I will build it indicating it is not present now. I am not building it now. It is not in existence.
Slide 19: SHEOL, HADES
See this is one of the things that separates dispensationalism from all other Christian theologies. It is because everybody else thinks that God started building the church with Adam. But Jesus comes along and says "I will build My church." It is yet future. He hasn't started yet. The church is completely distinct from Israel. "I will build My Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." Now we have to understand a little bit about something of what Hades is because there is a lot of confusion in English language between HADES and the word HELL, which doesn't have any correlation to anything biblically. That is a world that derives from Old English and possibly some ancient Scandinavian language and was used to translate the Greek word HADES. But HADES was a location where the dead went in the OT. And in Luke 16 indicates that there is a place where the dead go that is identified as HADES. It, HADES, is comprised of two places, PARADISE, otherwise known as Abraham's Bosom. And this is the location of the OT dead. There is a Great Gulf that is fixed between one side of HADES and the other side.
Slide 20: HADES/SHEOL
On the other side we have a place called TORMENTS, which is where the OT unsaved went, as indicated in the story of Lazarus and the rich man. In TORMENTS, this is where the unsaved went and it is a place of fiery torment. It is not the Lake of Fire. That is another location. TARTARUS is a place where the fallen angels who interfered with the human race in Genesis 6 are now in bonds of darkness; they are in chains of darkness. Incidentally, when you are reading Russian history and you read about the TARTARS that come from the east; that was the term they used for the Mongrels and they were such demons in their fighting that they were like the demons of TARTARUS so they became known as the TARTARS That is where that term came from. So on one side you have OT believers; on the other side unbelievers from all the dispensations where they go.
After the Cross, according to 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, PARADISE was taken by the Lord Jesus Christ to heaven. So He had the keys of Hades. But Jesus is not talking about the keys of HADES in this passage. He is talking about the keys to heaven. Jesus had the keys to HADES and He went down and He unlocked and took PARADISE to heaven. The OT saints did not go to heaven until after the Cross and then PARADISE was moved to heaven according to these passages, 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7. Now all that is left is TORMENTS and that is where the unsaved go and of course TARTARUS.
Slide 21: Matthew 16:19
Now the next verse that we see after the statement that Jesus will build the church I the future and "the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" because Jesus Christ controls HADES and the church is the Body of Christ. In Mathew 16:19 He says, "And I will give you", speaking to Peter, but it doesn't exclude the rest of the Apostles. "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Now keys are that which opens a lock and secures entry into a location. The key that secures entry into heaven is the gospel, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. And it was the responsibility initially of the Apostles to go throughout Israel and Judah and to proclaim the gospel. So this was the key to getting into heaven. Now the phrase "kingdom of heaven in Matthew always refers to the future millennial kingdom. It doesn't refer to some mystery form of the kingdom today. It refers to those who want to be in the kingdom of heaven in the millennial kingdom need to trust in Christ as Savior. And then you will be in the kingdom. You will be there when Jesus Christ returns either as those who were still OT saints until the Cross or until after the Day of Pentecost it would be Church Age believers.
And then Jesus uses an idiom here that we find in rabbinic literature; and basically this idiom refers to rabbinical authority to accept or reject someone. He says, "whatever you bind on earth" that would be accept, whatever you accept on earth. What would be their basis for accepting someone on earth? Their faith in Christ; whatever you accept on earth and then it says, "will have already been bound in heaven." That is probably the best way to do it. In other words, God's plan precedes human action. It doesn't exclude volition. It is just simply stating that God in His omniscience already knows all the knowable and God in His omniscience has knows who will trust in Christ and who will not. And God in eternity past declared that whoever believes in Christ as Savior will be saved. God the Father has already determined who would be bound and who would be loosed. Those who would be bound would be those who trusted in Christ as Savior. Those who would be loosed would be those who rejected Christ as Savior. So Jesus is simply expressing the authority of the Apostles in terms of accepting and rejecting on the basis of the pre-determined criteria of God, which is the belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And so here we see that when He talks about the keys of the kingdom that "whatever you bind on earth will already [have been bound] in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will [have been loosed] in heaven."
Slide 22: Acts 4:10-11
Now we go back to the play on words in Acts 16:18. You are Peter the small tiny pebble and on this rock; what rock is that? There have been various interpretations of the rock. Some have suggested that this rock refers to Peter's recognition that Jesus is The Messiah. That is somewhat acceptable. There are some other unacceptable interpretations of the passage, but the best way to understand it is that the rock that Jesus is talking about is Himself. In Acts 4:10 Peter is once again preaching. This is his third message, "Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified," talking to the Sanhedrin, "whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole." That is the man that he and John had healed. "This" referring to Jesus "is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone." So here Jesus is viewed as the chief cornerstone.
Slide 23: 1 Peter 2:4-6
Peter again quotes from the OT dealing with this same passage in 1 Peter 2:4-6. "Coming to Him" that is coming to Christ. Peter says "as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones." The church is viewed as a construction of stones. Each believer is another stone put in place. The cornerstone is Jesus Christ. The foundation, as we will see in a second, are composed of the Apostles and Prophets. And then we have the construction of the church. Each individual believer is a living stone.
1 Peter 2:6, the bottom verse, "Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion, A chief cornerstone, elect," that just means chose or the select One, "precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame."
Slide 24: 1 Corinthians 3:11
1 Corinthians 3:11, Paul says, "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
Slide 25: Ephesians 2:20-22
And then we come to Ephesians 2:20, now this helps to transition into the next point. Ephesians 2:20, at the conclusion of Ephesians Paul ahs been teaching that in the past before the cross, there was a wall of separation between Jew and Gentile. But the cross broke down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile as well as the wall of separation between man and God. But it wasn't until the cross that Jew and Gentile could come together. That shows that covenant theology hasn't read the Scriptures very well because they maintain that the church is the body of all believers, Jew and Gentile, from Adam. But what Paul says in Ephesians 2 is that there is a wall of separation between Jew and Gentile until the Cross. Now as he concludes that he says, "Having been built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets." So the Apostles and Prophets are the foundation of the church. By prophets here he doesn't mean OT prophets. He means NT prophets, those who had the gift of prophecy in the NT. People like Mark. Mark wasn't an apostle. He was an associate of Peter. Mark wrote the gospel of Mark as one who had the gift of prophecy. Luke is another one who was not an apostle. He was the associate of an apostle. As a writer of Scripture he would have had the gift of prophecy. It is possible that James writes the Book of James, not an apostle in the sense of the 11 and Paul, but that he had the gift of prophecy; Jude as well. These non-apostolic writers of the NT would have been prophets. Paul says that the foundation for the church are the apostles and the prophets. But Jesus Christ Himself, being the chief cornerstone in Whom the whole building, using the imagery of a building of all believes of all believers through out the church age being fitted together grows into a holy temple in the LORD; in Whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit..
Slide 26: The Parameters of the Church Age
Notice the emphasis on God the Holy Spirit's role in conduction with building the church and in inhabiting the church. This leads us to the next point. The next point in understanding the parameters of the church; we are still dealing with the emphasis on when the church began; because the bone of contention between dispensationalist and non-dispensationalists is that the dispensationalists argue that the church does not begin until the day of Pentecost. Jesus spoke of it as future. The coming of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, baptism of the Holy Spirit, was spoken of as future by both John the Baptist and Jesus in Acts 1:5, and yet by the time we get to Acts 11 it is already completed reality. Okay, Why didn't they expect this? It is said to be something completely new. The church is said to be a "mystery", a mystery, a previously unrevealed truth. That is what mystery means. It doesn't mean a "who done it." It is not talking about a murder mystery or some other kind of suspense novel to try to figure it out at the end. The term "mystery" related to previously unrevealed truth. So in the OT there is no prophecy related to the church. There is no indication that there would be anything coming along that would come after Israel; that would come alongside of Israel as another people of God. So the Church is said throughout the NT to be a "mystery."
Slide 27: Romans 16:25-26
We will look at these verses in a minute. A mystery is something hidden in the past but now revealed. The Church was never revealed in the OT. So, let's see how Paul talks about this.
Romans 16: 25, "Now to Him Who is able to establish you according to my gospel." This verse comes at the end of Romans as Paul is giving his final parting benediction. "To Him Who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, So he defines it very clearly, that the revelation related to this mystery was not disclosed for ages. It was kept secret. It was in the mind of God from eternity past, but He did not disclose it or reveal it to humanity in previous ages.
Slide 28: Romans 16: 25-26 continued
Romans 16:26, he says, "but now" watch that particle "now" it is very important "now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets," see the prophets there cannot refer to OT prophets because the mystery doctrine wasn't revealed by OT prophets. So he is saying "it is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets." This would be NT prophets. "according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to the obedience of faith." The word translated "secret" is the word SIGAO meaning to keep silent. It is a perfect passive participle, which would indicate that it should be translated "the revelation of the mystery, which has completely been kept secret." It is a completed action in the past, but it is no longer reality.
Slide 29: Ephesians 3:1-3
Then the next major passage we look at is in Ephesians 3:1ff. I want to read this to you and then I am going to make some points, some observations related to this mystery. Clearly what we see, listen to this as we read through this passage. What Paul is saying is that there would be a period of time in which believing Jews and Gentiles would be co-equal heirs of God's blessing. They would be equal members of the same body and equally partake of God's promises in Christ. Something that he had just talked about was not present prior to the cross.
So he says, "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles if indeed you have heard of the stewardship. What is another word for "stewardship"? Administration or dispensation. They all mean the same thing. I think the King James translates it "if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of God's grace, which was given to me for you." This is another passage whereby people's basis for calling this a dispensation of grace. It was given to Paul specifically. That is why he is called the Apostle of Grace. "That by revelation there was made know to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief." So he has talked about this before, but this is where he gives a little more content to it.
Slide 30: Ephesians 3:4-5
Paul says, "By referring to this," in verse four, "when you read you can understand my insight into previously unrevealed doctrine about Christ. That is what "mystery" means, previously unrevealed doctrine about Christ, "which in other generations." That would be up until this time. "in other generations was not made known to the sons of man." They did not know about it in the OT. They didn't know about it until Jesus first mentions it in Matthew 16 and then through the Apostle Paul, the distinctiveness of what God was doing in this church age became known. So he says, "in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now"; notice that word "now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets." That is not talking about OT prophets. It is real easy to think that in Ephesians 2:20, when Paul talks about Apostles and the foundation of the church that the prophets he mentions there go all the way back to the OT prophets. But it is clear in all these passages throughout here that he is using the term "prophets" in terms of the NT gift. So "it is now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit, Ephesians 3:5.
Slide 31: Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 3:25-26
"To be specific, that the Gentiles," here is the thrust of this section. The Gentiles are joint heirs or "fellow heirs and fellow members of the body." He doesn't yet define the body; "and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship or dispensation from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery." See the content of his preaching is "the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations." That is the second or third time that we have seen that. It was hidden from the past ages or generations. So what we see is that:
1. The mystery revelation reveals that there would be a time when believing Jews and Gentiles would be united together in equality in one body, Ephesians 3:1-6. It wasn't true in the OT. It is only true after the Cross and that is specifically seen in those first six verses, but specifically in verses four and five, specifically five in "other generations was not made known to the sons of man." So this cuts the legs out from under covenant theology, Roman Catholic theology, Lutheran theology, Wesleyan theology, Holiness theology, although some holiness preachers came along and became dispensational; but it cuts the legs out from under anybody who partakes in a replacement form of theology.
2. Paul defines this body as the Church, which is the mystery (Colossians 1:18, 24-27).
This is seen in the parallel passage in Colossians 1: 18 and 24-27. Specifically in Colossians 1:24 Paul talks about the "afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body." So Christ is identified as having "His body, which is the Church." He ties those terms together for us.
Colossians 1:25 "of which" that is of the Church, "I became a minister according to the dispensation" that is how the King James translated it; the administration from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God,
Colossians 1:26 "the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints."
So he defines the mystery hear as the Church. It was never revealed before, never known in the OT is very clear from these passages.
3. This plan that God had is for a unique spiritual body that was composed of believing Jews and Gentiles alike, and that this was clearly God's plan from eternity past. It was in His mind and part of His purpose, Ephesians 3:9-11. Specifically Ephesians 3:11, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus.
So he had to bring Christ into human history, the incarnation, to go to the cross and in fulfilling that purpose, then He could bring into existence the church, but first the cross had to take place.
4. Paul declared that this knowledge concerning the Church had been kept hidden from man in the past ages, Ephesians 3:4-6, 9.
5. Paul states that God did not reveal this until the time of the NT prophets, Ephesians 3:3-5; Colossians 1:26. We just can't emphasize that enough.
These five points really undercut everything but dispensationalism because only dispensationalism sees this clear break between God's plan and purposes for the Church and God's plan and purposes for Israel. And the most distinctive characteristic of the Church is the present of God the Holy Spirit, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the filling of the Holy Spirit.
6. One of God's purposes for revealing this mystery was to show evidence, to give testimony before the angels. This is seen in Ephesians 3:9-10.
Ephesians 3:9, Paul says "and to make all see" that is a pregnant "all", humans and angels, "all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God" there is another way of talking about the fact that it wasn't previously revealed, "has been hidden in God Who created all things through Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 3:10 "to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God" all of the complexity and fullness of God's wisdom "might be made known by the Church," that is you and me, "by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places." Those are the ranks of the angels.
So God is doing something in the church. If you are a church age believer your life is on display as evidence before the angels. One of the things we will get into is the important role the church plays in the angelic conflict. And so this gives us an understanding. How do we know there was no church in the OT?
1. Jesus said it is future, "I will build My church."
2. God the Holy Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit, was prophesied by John the Baptist is future; by Jesus is future in Acts 1:5, but by Acts 11 it was a reality, 1 Corinthians 12 recognizes everyone has been baptized by God the Holy Spirit. We are all baptized by the Holy Spirit and indwelt by the Holy Spirit; and that this was a mystery, something that was never revealed before in the OT and was a complete and thorough surprise. It was not expected, not anticipated, but it is for a purpose of demonstrating the wisdom of God to the angels.
Let's bow our heads together and close in prayer.
"Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to reflect upon these passages which give us such clear understanding of the beginning of the church, the distinction of the church really focused upon God the Holy Spirit and the uniqueness of the body of Christ, this unity of Jew and Gentile as equal heirs in Christ. Father, may we come to recognize that You have really called us into our salvation for an extremely significant purpose and that is to be a testimony to the world and to the angels of Your Grace and of Your Wisdom and help us to come to understand just what that means; that our lives have a purpose and significance that goes far beyond anything that we can possibly imagine. We pray that You will help us to understand that. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."