Let’s take our Bibles tonight if we could and open them to the Book of Acts, chapter 2. And did you all know we’re continuing our study through the doctrine of the kingdom and we’re sort of in that section of the book I wrote that we’re working our way through, Why Do Some People Believe that we are now in the kingdom? Because we’ve been carefully trying to piece that the kingdom today is in a state, not of cancellation but of postponement. And that’s sort of a minority view today and actually has been a minority view throughout church history. The vast majority of Christians that have lived and died over the last two thousand years have believed that we’re in the kingdom now. Why do they think that? We’re looking at passages really from the Book of Acts right now and specifically Acts 2 and one of the main arguments that’s used is based on Acts 2 and we get more into this specifically in chapter 18 where at the very end here, chapter 17.
But there’s an argument that’s being made that Jesus is now reigning from David’s throne and we went through about six reasons why we do not think Jesus is reigning on David’s throne, rather He’s at the right hand of the Father. Now at the end of chapter 17 I’m sorry to do this to you again but I threw a bunch of quotes from people and one of the reasons I do this is to show you that the warnings that I’m trying to give about Jesus reigning on David’s throne today being a game changer, I don’t want you to think those are just my own personal thoughts. There’s a long line of scholars that are very worried about this idea that Jesus is currently reigning on David’s throne. So there’s developed, I don’t know, since the mid 1980’s a viewpoint at Dallas Seminary called Already-Not Yet, progressive dispensationalism. And basically what they teach is we are already in the kingdom but we won’t be completely in it until Jesus returns. So if you ask them is the kingdom present or is the kingdom future they would say yes, it’s both.
Our perspective is the kingdom is completely future but they believe in what’s called already/not yet. They believe Jesus is reigning on David’s throne now over the church which is Phase A of the kingdom, but He will not actually take His seat on David’s throne until the millennial kingdom which will be Phase D of the kingdom. And it’s very sort of “in vogue” to believe this today. All of the scholars my age are sort of moving in this direction. And what I want to do with some of these quotes, I’ll go through them pretty fast because I don’t want to spend our time on quotes, I want to spend our time in the Bible, but I just want to communicate that this idea that Jesus is now on David’s throne in any sense is something completely new to Dallas Seminary and it’s completely new to our tradition as dispensationalists.
In other words, those that are promoting this want to promote it as a development within our belief system. That’s what they always say, we’re just developing things. And the key question is, is this a development or is this a departure? And I’m of the view that what they’ve done is so radical that it’s actually a departure from the viewpoint that we represent here.
So here’s a few quotes. Here’s one from Stephen Nichols of Master’s Seminary, commenting on this new development called progressive dispensationalism, the already/not yet viewpoint. He says: “Although the progressive dispensationalists are careful to express their commitment to a future for ethnic Israel and a future, literal fulfillment of Israel’s covenant promise, these views concerning the inaugural fulfillment of Old Testament promise, especially that of the Davidic covenant, and the redefining of the present form of the church” and you see, that’s what’s happening, the church really is no longer a parenthesis in between God’s past work with Israel and future work with Israel, that’s how we teach the concept of the church. They’re basically trying to say the church is just a present form of the Davidic kingdom. So Nichols says, “…the redefining of the present form of the church mark an aberration from normative dispensationalism.” That’s our viewpoint. “The consistently held offer, rejection, postponement, and fully future fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom is absent from their teaching.” [“The Dispensational View of the Davidic Kingdom: A Response to Progressive Dispensationalism,” in The Master’s Perspective on Biblical Prophecy, ed. Richard L. Mayue and Robert L. Thomas, Master’s Perspective Series (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2002), 54.]
Now if you’ve been tracking with our study, we’re already in what, Lesson 60, we’ve carefully traced, haven’t we, the offer of the kingdom? Any thumbs up on that, you guys remember that? Rejection of the kingdom, postponement of the kingdom, and then one day in the future tribulation period the kingdom will be reoffered. But if your perspective is the church is now phase A of the kingdom you can’t have an offer and rejection of it, can you? I mean, how can something be offered and rejected if we’re in it now? Do you see that? So the whole framework that we’ve been giving here about the offer of the kingdom to Israel, the rejection, postponement, future offer, all of that is absent in their teaching. So this already/not yet progressive dispensationalism, as much as they want to say it’s very similar or it’s not that much of a change, don’t believe that! It’s a radical, RADICAL departure.
Nichols goes on and he says, “From the perspective of dispensational tradition, the current landscape of progressive dispensationalists appears to be a different terrain. The view of the offer, rejection, postponement, and fully future fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom and the corollary view of the church as something different and distinct is and has been the consistent view of normative dispensationalism.” See, because the kingdom was rejected by Israel we’re in a phase of God’s program today which is not the kingdom at all. So the church is something completely new. But that gets lost in this already not yet system.
“By viewing the present form of the church as an inaugural stage of the Davidic kingdom with Christ seated on the Davidic throne in heaven, the progressive dispensational position has distanced itself from this distinguishing feature of dispensationalism. The distinguishing feature of dispensationalism, i.e., the consistent distinction between Israel and the church, is all but absent. Consequently, the legitimacy of calling Progressive Dispensationalism part of the dispensational tradition is questionable.” [Stephen Nichols, “The Dispensational View of the Kingdom: A Response to Progressive Dispensationalism,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 7 (Fall 1996): 238.]
So basically what’s happening is these new guys have come along and they want to be called a dispensationalists also, progressive dispensationalists. But how do you call someone a dispensationalist when they reject the tenants of dispensationalism? It’s like someone wanting to be called a Baptist but they don’t believe in full immersion in water. Or they don’t even believe baptism is an ordinance to be practiced in the church. Well, you don’t get the title Baptist just because you want it; you get it because you represent the views of being a Baptist.
It’s the same with this mindset that’s going on with progressive dispensationalism. They want the title but when you actually look at what they teach they’re no longer teaching dispensationalism. They no longer believe in a consistent literal approach to the whole Bible. They really don’t believe in different programs for Israel and the church. They don’t believe in the offer, rejection, postpone-ment, reoffer of the kingdom. All of that disappears. And they really don’t believe the church is sort of a break in God’s program with Israel, or a parenthesis, yet they want the title dispensational.
And by the way, they’re really fuzzy on the rapture. They’ll pay it lip service but the whole basis of believing in a rapture, a pre-trib rapture is believing that Israel and the church are different. In the tribulation period God is dealing with Israel again so the church can’t be here. But if you’re kind of fuzzy on that and you’re not really seeing a clear distinction between Israel and the church, you get kind of fuzzy on the doctrine of the rapture. So these folks almost never will talk about the rapture although they might pay it lip service in private conversation. I had several of them for classes I took from them and the only time I ever remember them mentioning the rapture was never in a public lecture or anything like that, it was always when I went up and asked them questions privately, then they sort of reluctantly acknowledge, yeah, we still sort of believe in a pre-trib rapture. But it becomes sort of a backburner issue rather than what I think it should be, a front burner issue.
Here’s a quote from Robert Lightener, a long time professor at Dallas Seminary, criticizing progressive dispensationalism. He says, ““Many who are classic dispensationalists—and even those who are not dispensationalists at all—question why those who no longer believe in the foundational essentials of dispensationalism still want to be part of the dispensationalism family. This is truly something not yet revealed.” [Robert Lightner, Last Days Handbook (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 211.]
So you’ll notice I am quoting these guys, these older professors, I’m showing you where in their books they said these things and so I don’t want you to think I’m up here just inventing things. The concern I have about progressive dispensationalism has been sounded also by many other people of far more greater weight and reputation that myself. That’s why I’m showing you these quotes, not to bore you with a bunch of quotes.
Lightener goes on and he describes progressive dispensationalism as “The term used by those who still wish to be called dispensationalists but who do not believe some of the basic essentials of dispensationalism. They do not believe God has a program for Israel and one for the church. They believe that Christ is presently on the throne of David in heaven and the Davidic kingdom is being fulfilled now in part.” [Robert Lightner, Last Days Handbook (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 233.]
See, Lewis Sperry Chafer never believed anything like that when he established Dallas Seminary. Charles Ryrie never believed anything like that. John Walvoord never believed anything like that. J. Dwight Pentecost never believed anything like that. But here come these third generation scholars all of a sudden believing all these things and they want the title “dispensational” and they want to argue that they’re just developing dispensationalism. The fact of the matter is they’re not developing anything, they’re departing; they’re departing from something. And the Scripture warns us over and over and over again about doctrinal departures. Look at the state of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, I mean, all of those schools started as Bible believing schools and today they’re about as far from believing the basic tenants of the Bible as you can get. And this is sort of the direction I think that progressive dispensationalism is moving in.
Now Robert Lightner, in the Conservative Theological Journal, has a whole article on this. And I wanted to share these quotes with you because I think he really captures the idea. “Progressives,” that’s progressive dispensationalist, “Progressives are very set on finding various periods within the history of dispensationalism where there have been changes made or developments. They like to talk about the initial period. They like to talk about the classical period and the essentialist or revised period.” And then he says, “I personally do not wish to get involved in that kind of breakdown of category. I do not think that is genuine at all. I think that this is an attempt to pave the way for their defense of their own system. What they’re really wanting to say is that since dispensationalism has changed from year to year or decade to decade, why get so excited about this new change that we are introducing?” [Progressive Dispensationalism,” Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 11 (March 2000): 47–49, 54.]
So this is sort of how part of the game is played. They try to find disagreements amongst traditional dispensationalists, and there are some. Dwight Pentecost, for example, didn’t believe everything that Lewis Sperry Chafer taught. Lewis Sperry Chafer taught two new covenants, Dwight Pentecost believed in one new covenant. And so the progressives come along and they say aha, look at these traditional dispensationalists made some changes, so therefore since they made some changes people shouldn’t get upset about the radical changes that we’re making. See that.
But you see, the differences between J. Dwight Pentecost and Lewis Sperry Chafer were basically microscopic. I would kind of analogize it this way, and I think Lightner does this in his article, those kind of changes are like moving furniture around in a house. Well, the couch should be over here and we’ll but the coffee table over there, and you make some minor changes, why don’t we put in some new wall paper. But what progressive dispensationalists are doing is they’re not moving furniture around in a house; what they’re doing is they’re damaging the foundation the house is built on. See that? Because dispensationalism comes from a commitment to a literal approach to the whole Bible and once you do that that’s how you start to see differences between Israel and the church all of these very important things.
So kind of the deception is well, there was some changes in years gone by and so don’t pay attention to our changes, and Lightner’s point here is that the changes in years gone by were microscopic; the changes that are being made today are of a foundational fundamental variety.
Lightner goes on and he says, “Our change is just like the other changes,” repeating their mantra. “Dispensationalism has always had various people believing certain things about it within dispensationalism. There has been change; therefore, this is just another one of those changes. However,” Lightner says, “I do not believe the changes are the same at all. To be sure, dispensationalists have always differed, Dr. Walvoord differs at points with Dr. Chafer, Dr. Chafer differs at points with Dr. Ryrie, Dr. Ryrie with Dr. Pentecost….” And that was sort of [can’t understand word] when I was there taking classes from these older guys and trying to figure out where they disagreed with each other because their disagreements were very small. Lightner says, “but the core beliefs of dispensationalism have not changed since Darby.” [Progressive Dispensationalism,” Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 11 (March 2000): 47–49, 54]
Darby really was the first to sort of formalize and codify dispensationalism. Yeah, there’s little changes in the furniture of the house here and there but the foundation has always been the same. That’s what Lightner’s point is.
He goes on and he says, “The core beliefs involved are what Ryrie calls the “sine qua non,” you say well what is that? Are you speaking on tongues up there, what’s “sine qua non,” mean? Sine qua non is a Latin expression and it means without which there is nothing. And it’s Charles Ryrie that really developed what’s called this sine qua non of dispensationalism. And to be a dispensationalist what do you have to believe? Do you have to agree with everybody on every little thing? No, that would be an impossibility, but here are three things you have to believe in: Number one, you have to believe in a literal approach to the whole Bible, Genesis to Revelation. In other words, you take things literally whenever possible, unless there’s a clear figure of speech or metaphor or something like that. So literal whenever possible, not just in the gospels, not just in the Book of Romans, but in the book of Genesis, in the Book of Revelation, in the Book of Daniel, etc. And you approach the whole Bible that way.
And once you move in that direction you start seeing very fast that Israel means Israel and the church means the church. And they are two trains on totally different railroad tracks, meaning that God has a separate program for Israel and He has a separate program for the church. Now a lot of people are greatly offended by that idea, what do you mean God has two programs, one for Israel and one for the church, aren’t we all one people of God? Well, as you look at nature do you see variety in nature? I mean, as you look around this room aren’t we all different, don’t we all have different personalities, don’t we all have different DNA. I mean, we all have different finger prints. I mean, there’s seven billion people on this planet, I don’t think anybody’s fingerprints are exactly the same are they?
Or you look at all of the snowflakes that have ever fallen in human history, my understanding is when you look at all of those snowflakes under a microscope no two snowflakes are identical. So isn’t God a God of variety? I mean, don’t we have male and female? Isn’t that diversity there? Don’t we have good angels and fallen angels; I mean, doesn’t God have one program for the good angels that never fell, two-thirds of them, and then He’s got a different program for the fallen angels that did fall, one-third of them, with Lucifer. So when you look at the variety in God in the Bible and in nature what’s the big deal of having a separate program, one for Israel and one for the church? I mean, that shouldn’t be any big deal at all.
And we start to see those two programs when you start becoming committed to the fact that the whole Bible is literal. So foundation stone number one in the sine qua non, without which there is not, meaning if you take away one of these things dispensationalism doesn’t exist anymore. Foundation stone number one is a literal approach to the whole Bible. Foundation stone number two is Israel and the church are separate programs. And then what’s foundation stone number three? It’s what’s called the doxological purpose of God. Anybody know what doxa means? Glory! God works in history to do what? Glorify Himself. God doesn’t even work in history to save people primarily; now that’s part of His love and His mercy but even the salvation of souls, who gets the glory when a soul gets saved? God does!
Even our salvation is subsumed under God’s overarching purpose which is to glorify Himself. And that’s what makes you a dispensationalist. Now you can disagree with somebody on when the Gog/Magog war happens in dispensationalism, there’s a lot of different views on that but that’s not the defining characteristic of a dispensationalist. You have to believe these three things: a consistent literal approach to the Bible leading to separate programs for Israel and the church, and God in both of these programs is glorifying Himself, the doxological purpose of God. And should I have a heart attack and drop dead (I’m not planning on doing that) and you have to get a new pastor and you’re trying to figure out where that potential pastor is on this issue, you ask him what his believes are on the sine qua non. Do you believe in the dispensational sine qua non or don’t you, because that’s going to tell you if he’s within our theological tradition or not.
And so Lightner goes on and he says, “First, Ryrie proposed that the sine qua non, the least common denominator, the most basic beliefs, involve a distinction between God’s program with Israel and His program with the Church. The first distinction is one part of the sine qua non. A second would be that the view of the distinction between those two programs is based on a” what? “a literal hermeneutic” now do you see that fourth to the last word there, see the word consistently? “…consistently applied to Scripture.” [Progressive Dispensationalism,” Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 11 (March 2000): 47–49, 54.]
I can’t emphasize that word “consistently” enough because everybody that’s a Christian believe in literal interpretation somewhere or else they wouldn’t even be an orthodox Christian. They would be in the camp of liberalism. So everybody somewhere believes you’ve got to be literal with Jesus and He died on a cross and rose from the dead. So all Christian traditions are literal somewhere. But you see, what makes our belief system unique is we’re literal everywhere. I’m just as literal in the Book of Revelation as I am in the Gospels and I don’t invent a new method of interpretation (that’s what that word hermeneutic means there, interpretation) just because I’m in one part of the Bible or the other. So it’s not enough to ask somebody do you believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. You have to ask them do you consistently believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible? So that’s part two of this sine qua non.
Lightner goes on and he says, “The third sine qua non is that God has introduced these various economies—dispensations—in the history of time so as to bring the most glory to Himself. God’s major purpose in the world as He implements His sovereign plan is to bring glory to Himself. Certainly, there are other purposes but dispensationalists” going all the way back to Darby, “have always believed the overriding one is for God to bring glory to Himself.” Now watch what Lightner says here about progressive dispensationalism, which is this new idea that everybody is trumpeting today. Lightner says, “In progressive dispensationalism all three of these basic essentials, which Ryrie pointed out and that have been believed from the beginning of the dispensational emphasis, have been rejected.” [Robert Lightner, ““Progressive Dispensationalism,” Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 11 (March 2000): 47–49, 54]
So what do you call progressive dispensationalism? You can’t call it… I don’t there’s dispensationalism anymore because it’s outside the sine quo non. They do not believe in a consistent literal approach to the whole Bible. They do not believe that Israel and the church represent separate programs. And if you don’t believe these things how in the world could you call yourself a dispensationalist? This is the warning that Lightener is giving here in this article.
He goes on and he says, “At least two of them, have been categorically rejected. Namely, a distinction between God’s program for Israel and the Church has been blurred, and the concept of a literal, consistent, interpretation has been replaced by a complementary hermeneutic.” Now if you go back into our series we did some teaching on their complimentary hermeneutics which is very different than the literal hermeneutic that we practice here. “The third has been rejected, the glory of God as the primary purpose of God. It has been replaced by a Christological salvific purpose. The salvation of sinners has been the primary purpose of God, progressives say. So it is a salvific purpose rather than a doxological, glory to God purpose that includes salvation.” [Progressive Dispensationalism,” Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 11 (March 2000): 47–49, 54.]
And his point is let’s just go through the sine quo non and let’s look at what the contemporary progressive dispensationalist (so-called) are doing with each of those elements, and they basically have rejected all three.
Lightner goes on and he says, I think that progressive dispensationalists have made this classification of initial, classical, and essential in order to simply argue that there have been these spurts of growth, development, and change; therefore, their view is just another change.” So what these guys love to do is they like to find all these differences of opinion between Chafer and Pentecost and Ryrie and Walvoord and they say those guys did some changes so don’t really pay attention to the changes that we’re making. But you see, the point that Lightener is making here is the changes that existed between Ryrie, Walvoord, Pentecost, Chafer, etc. were within the sine qua non. See that. I mean, nobody was challenging the sine qua non when these different changes or tweaks were happening. What’s happening here is the sine qua non itself is being challenged.
So Lightener says, it’s the difference between moving furniture around in a house versus attacking the foundation the house is built on. That’s his point. He says, “I want to categorically reject that thesis because I think there is a world of difference between various differences within the system and altering the foundation of the system. I liken the three essentials, or sine qua non, as the foundation upon which dispensationalism rests. You can’t be a dispensationalist without these essentials, in my opinion.” [Progressive Dispensationalism,” Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 11 (March 2000): 47–49, 54.]
“The other changes, the differences between how to interpret the New Covenant, for example, and whether or not the Tribulation is another dispensation or a thousand other things such as that,” now here’s his analogy that I stole from him, “I liken to moving furniture around a room. It doesn’t affect the system. In fact, it’s healthy to have differences as to where this piece of furniture belongs and that one, and you may get tired of it being this way, so you shift it. That doesn’t affect the structure of the house. But the dispensational house is built upon the foundation of the three essentials I just named, and progressive dispensationalism is attacking these essentials.” [“Progressive Dispensationalism,” Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 11 (March 2000): 47–49, 54.]
Not Tommy Ice is going to be here Sunday speaking; he’s a dispensationalist, I’m a dispensationalist. Did you know that there are things that I disagree with in Tommy Ice’s views on things, and there are things that he disagrees with, with me? Now he can go his way and I’ll go the Lord’s way… NO, just joking! But for example, the God Magog war, I wrote a whole little book on that, Ezekiel 38 and 39, when does that happen? He’s of the perspective that it happens post rapture pre Daniel’s 70th week. I’m of the perspective that chapter 38 happens with the second seal and chapter 39 happens at the end. And we can have a very lively conversation about that but the fact of the matter is, both of us, even though we might disagree on the timing of the Gog/Magog invasion are within the dispensational tradition because we’re developing our conclusions within the sine qua non? Do you see that?
What’s happening with progressive dispensationalism is the sine qua non itself is being demolished, the foundation upon which dispensationalism rests is being demolished and yet these folks want the title “dispensationalists.”
You know, it’s one thing to have differences of opinion within the system, even with this church, probably on our staff, I think Jim and myself agree on most things, but there are probably things he disagrees with me on and I might disagree with him on but the disagreements are almost microscopic because both of us are developing our conclusions within the sine qua non. Do you see that? So it’s okay to have mild differences of opinion within the sine qua non. The problem is when you start demolishing the foundation of the household, which is the sine qua non, then you’re outside the dispensational tradition. And Ryrie, I believe, was exactly right on when he developed this three part test, and that’s how you can figure out real fast if someone is a dispensationalist or not.
Lightner goes on and he says, “That is a world of difference between any change, any development that has ever taken place since Darby. So, it’s not fair, it’s a misrepresentation to say that here’s another development just like all the other ones. No, it is not like all the other ones.” You again, their point is well, Jim and Andy disagree, Andy and Tommy disagree, they change things around so there’s nothing to see here folks, just go right along, don’t pay attention to the changes that we’re making. And Lightner’s point is that’s an apples and oranges comparison. The disagreements amongst true dispensationalists are within the sine quo non; these guys are attacking the sine quo non. So it’s not fair, it’s a misrepresentation to say that there’s another development just like all the other ones. And when you read progressive dispensational literature they start off their books, one book in particular, where they start pointing out all the differences of opinion amongst dispensationalists. They try to make it sound like well there’s some differences of opinion there so we’re going to introduce some more; there’s nothing to see here folks, move right along. What they’re not telling you is they’re attacking the foundation of the house upon which dispensationalism rests and they’re not telling you that the differences amongst the older guys were within the sine quo non.
So Lightener says, “ It is drastically different from all the other ones because it attacks the foundation upon which the system has been built. That is different from moving the furniture around to different places in the dispensational house, or to carry it through more literally the household, the economy, the stewardship. . . . I am not” Lightner says, “manufacturing these doctrines.” And this is why I’m sharing these quotes, because I think sometimes you all think I’m up here making this stuff up and just sending out warnings that have no merit. I think they do have merit because my mindset is well reflected by other people. “I’m not manufacturing these doctrines, These are the core beliefs of progressive dispensationalism and are at great variance with normative dispensationalism.” [Progressive Dispensationalism,” Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 11 (March 2000): 47–49, 54.]
So what is progressive dispensationalism or anybody that says Jesus is reigning on David’s throne today. They are outside the scope of the dispensational tradition. And I think the last time I was with you I gave you the example of the young youth pastor before we got Gabe that wanted to be a youth pastor here and the youth pastor search committee just loves this guy and he pulled on everybody’s heartstrings and everybody wanted him to be our youth pastor and then we looked at where he was at theologically, what he believed on the sine quo non, and I had to be the bad guy and I had to veto the whole thing because it was very obvious by reading his beliefs that he was outside the sine quo non. And if he’s outside the sine quo non he’s outside the Sugar Land Bible Church doctrinal statement because the Sugar Land Bible Church doctrinal statement is based on the sine quo non.
So to hire someone that’s outside the sine quo non is essentially to hire someone who is an open violator of the doctrinal statement. Someone teaching your youth is a violator of the doctrinal statement. And the temptation within evangelical Christianity is just to sort of look the other way because this guy has such a magnanimous personality and everybody likes him. The problem is if you start trashing or disregarding one part of the doctrinal statement how long do you think it will take until you start ignoring other parts of the doctrinal statement? Virgin birth, Trinity, deity of Christ, and that’s a danger you get into. And when you have sort of the mindset I have on it you’re immediately looked at as sort of a bad guy because you’re pulling the plug on somebody that everybody likes. But I don’t know if that’s our standard in terms of firing people. I mean, do we hire people everybody likes? Is that the goal? I mean, I thought we had a doctrinal statement and we expect it to be taught and protected and we expect all of our teachers to teach within that doctrinal statement.
So I wanted to toss those quotes at you there at the very end just to show you that this issue, we went through six reasons why Jesus is not now reigning from David’s throne, why this is a much bigger issue than most people would think.
We move from chapter 17 and we have a few minutes left, let’s go to chapter 18 of the book, and that’s why I had you turn to Acts 2. And in chapter 18 of the book what I’m trying to expose is how the birth of the church as given in Acts 2 is being used by kingdom now theologians to teach the kingdom was inaugurated in Acts 2. And I think what they’re doing with Acts 3 is unconscionable and I think it’s wrong what they’re doing with Acts 2 because anybody that believes that the kingdom has started, or that we’re in the kingdom, or Jesus is reigning on David’s throne, eventually they’re going to take you to Acts 2 and what I’m trying to do in chapter 18 is expose the misuse of Acts 2. BUT it’s difficult for me to expose how Acts 2 is being misused unless we first study what Acts 2 really means. See that?
So to expose something as a counterfeit you have to compare it to the real and so I just wanted to spend a couple of minutes, we don’t have time, I wish we did, to go through Acts 2 verse by verse but I just want to take you through this outline so that you’ll see what Acts 2 is really talking about. Then when we reconvene and we start looking a the abuses of Acts 2 you’ll have a plumb line to compare it to. It’s like in the banking system, how do they teach you to recognize counterfeit money? They give you real money and you become familiar with its color, its texture, what it looks like, even what it smells like, and then all of a sudden a counterfeit bill goes across your hand and it doesn’t feel right; you immediately detect it as a falsehood because you’re so familiar with the real.
And that’s sort of what I’m trying to do here with Acts 2. If you really see what’s happening in Acts 2 and someone comes along and says Acts 2 is really about the beginning of the kingdom, or the inauguration of the kingdom, you’re going to see it as sort of a funny money that may have crossed your hand that doesn’t feel right. So let’s very fast tonight walk through Acts 2 and see if we can get a handle on what Acts 2 is talking about.
Acts 2, as you probably know, is the beginning of the church, so here’s sort of an outline, there’s two slides here, but verses 1-4 of Acts 2 is The Falling of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, where tongues of fire and so forth appeared over the apostles. And then as you look at verses 5-8 that falling of the Holy Spirit is commensurate with the gift of tongues. Now tongues is not a very good translation; that word is better translated from the Greek “language” or “languages,” as in the word is glossa, where we get the word glossary, and sometimes the word is dialectos where we get the word dialect. So tongues here was the capacity to speak in a known language that you’ve never studied. It would be like if you only spoke Spanish and I only spoke English and then all of a sudden I broke out into Spanish perfectly, even though I’ve never studied Spanish. What would you think? You would say wow, he’s speaking in our own language or glossary or dialect and you would say what? This is a miracle of God.
So “tongues,” the way I’m describing it was how the Holy Spirit got the attention of people as the Holy Spirit was being poured out on the Day of Pentecost as the church was beginning. You have to understand that in the providence of God the nation of Israel had been under the dispensation of the Law for one thousand five hundred years. That’s a long time, isn’t it? And now God is doing something completely different, the age of the church has started, and so how would people know it’s really God changing the rules? Well, He testified to it through tongues or languages the way I’m describing it, because tongues, we know from 1 Corinthians 14, is not a sign for the believer, it’s a sign for the unbeliever. So that’s where tongues comes from in verses 5-8. Suddenly the apostles are speaking in a language that they’ve never learned, that the audience could understand.
And these folks, verses 9-12, came from all over the known world. You see the little map there in the right hand corner, it shows you all the different places that these folks on the Day of Pentecost came from. They came from Libya, Egypt, Arabia, Rome, Asia, Pontus, Cappadocia, Parthia,, Elam, Mesopotamia, which is modern day Iraq, etc. etc. etc. And why were all these people gathered there in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost? Because it was a special feast in Judaism called The Feast of Pentecost. And these Jews who were kind of dispersed throughout the known world were under the obligation to show up in Jerusalem to celebrate this feast, Leviticus 23 told them to do that. It’s just this time around God had a surprise for them, the Holy Spirit had a surprise.
So we have the falling of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of the gift of tongues, verses 9-12 is all of those people groups assembled that were hearing the apostles speak clearly in their own language despite the fact that those apostles had never studied that particular language, and they were saying this a miracle. And what unbelief does is it comes up with natural mystic, naturalistic explanations to explain away the supernatural. I mean, what did the Pharisees ultimately say about Jesus’ miracles? They couldn’t explain them away so they said What? Well, He did those through the power of Satan, in Matthew 12 they said that. [Matthew 12:22, “Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw.  All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?”  But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”]
And would you not call creation a miracle? To me it’s obvious that God exists looking at creation, but here comes unbelief that doesn’t want to submit to God so let’s just develop a naturalistic explanation for creation; let’s say the whole thing is assembled itself over random chance events, over billions of years and we’ll call that what? Evolution or Darwinism. So what is evolution or Darwinism? It’s unbelief that doesn’t want to submit to God trying to explain away the supernatural.
So you have the falling of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of the gift of tongues and here comes unbelief coming up with a naturalistic explanation because they don’t want to submit to the authority of what God is doing here. And what do they say? Verses 13-15, oh, these people are drunk. This tongues is explainable through drunkenness. Now does that make any sense. [Acts 2:13-15, “But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”  But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words.  “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day.”]
Now does that make any sense? I mean, drinking doesn’t make you smarter, if anything it makes your speech slur and you certainly don’t have an ability so speak clearly in a language you’ve never studied. But you know, they don’t want to accept this as a miracle of God so they say it’s drunkenness. So consequently Peter, this is the guy that denied Christ three times now filled with the Holy Spirit that has just descended on him in the first four verses. Now he stands up and he gives, probably the greatest sermon, other than maybe the Sermon on the Mount, right here in Acts 2 explaining to these unbelieving Jews that this is not drunkenness.
And it’s amazing how this fisherman of limited education is able to put together all of these Scripture verses in a powerful apologetic showing people that this is a move of God that’s happening right here; it has nothing to do with some kind of naturalistic explanation like drunkenness. So his first point in his sermons I it’s 9:00 o’clock in the morning. I mean, I’ve had family members, extended, that suffered from alcoholism and things like that and I don’t remember any of them starting drinking at 9:00 o’clock in the morning, it was at least 11:00 but it wasn’t 9:00.
And then from there he starts to quote, verses 16-21, he starts to quote Joel 2:28-32.
[Acts 2:16-21, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;  And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:  And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke:  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.”
Joel 2:28, “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.  I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire and columns of smoke.  “The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.  And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.”]
Now as I’ll explain in chapter 18 I don’t think Peter is saying in Acts 2 that Joel 2 is being fulfilled in Acts 2. I think he’s drawing an analogy of how the Spirit is going to work with Israel in the distant future, in the tribulation period and the millennial kingdom and he’s saying something similar is happening now. He’s arguing by way of analogy and if you want more proof on that the second half of chapter 18 gets into that and I’ll be getting into that in the class.
From there he begins to talk about where the Holy Spirit and these miraculous manifestations that they were seeing actually came from, verses 22-35, and he says the source is Jesus, because Jesus, verse 22, is a worker of miracles when he was on the earth, wasn’t he? And yet where is Jesus now? He’s at the right hand of the Father, and guess what? He’s still doing what? Miracles, He’s doing it from a different place, and that’s how you explain, Peter says, tongues and the coming forth of the Holy Spirit upon the church.
[Acts 16:22-35, “The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods.  When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely;  and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.  But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;  and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.  When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”  And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas,  and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.  And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.  And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.  Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, “Release those men.”]
And then he makes the point that this is the very Jesus that Israel rejected and if you look at verse 23 people ask me all the time, do you believe in election or do you believe in free will? And my answer is yes, because in verse 23 you’ll see both of them together. “This man” that’s Jesus, “delivered by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God,” that’s election, in other words it was always God’s will, God the Father’s will for God the Son to die on the cross but then Peter, right in the middle of the verses says “you,” who’s “you”? The Jews, “nailed Him to a cross by the hand of godless men and you put Him to death. [Acts 2:23, “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”]
So why did Jesus die? Did God the Father plan for Jesus to die or did men kill Jesus through an act of their own free will. And what would the answer be? The answer would be yes! And he’s making a point that Israel nationally is guilty. BUT, you killed Him and guess what happened? Verses 24-29, He rose from the dead.
[Acts 2:24, “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.  For David says of Him, ‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.  ‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE;  BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.  ‘YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’  Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.”]
Now what text does he use to demonstrate that Jesus rose from the dead. He uses Psalm 16:8-11 about how My Holy One will not see decay and that’s not talking about David even though David wrote that because we can go to David’s tomb right now and see, he’s not out of the grave. This was a prophecy about Jesus. [Psalm 16:8-11, “I have set the LORD continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely.  For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.  You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” ]
And then he explains verses 30-32 that Jesus is the heir to David’s throne and he quotes Psalm 132:11. Now he’s not, and here’s the disagreement that we’ll be getting into, he’s not saying He’s on David’s throne now. What he’s saying is the one that the nation of Israel rejected and turned over to Rome for crucifixion was their own Messiah; that’s what he’s saying. And that’s why he’s quoting Psalm 132:11 and Acts 2:30-32.
[Acts 2:30-32, “And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE,  he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY.  This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.” Psalm 132:11, “The LORD has sworn to David A truth from which He will not turn back: ‘Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.’”]
Now he’s not, and here’s the disagreement that we’ll be getting into, he’s not saying He’s on David’s throne now. What he’s saying is the one that the nation of Israel rejected and turned over to Rome for crucifixion was their own Messiah; that’s what he’s saying. And that’s why he’s quoting Psalm 132:11 and Acts 2:30-32.
And where did this Jesus go? He ascended, verses 33-35 [Acts 2:33, “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,  UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.’  Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ– this Jesus whom you crucified.”]
And where is He now? He’s not on David’s in Jerusalem, He could have been had Israel accepted Him, but where did He go? At the right hand of the Father. He’s not on His own throne, which is on earth. He’s on who’s throne? The Father’s throne. And what passage does He use to substantiate that point? Psalm 110:1 which is probably the most quoted Old Testament psalm in the New Testament and probably in the whole Bible. It says, “A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand” what’s the next word, “Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” So Jesus is there at the right hand of the Father waiting to be dispatched back to the earth at the end of the tribulation period after Satan is evicted.
And then Peter gets to his conclusion. What’s the point he’s trying to make? Verse 36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both LORD and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” [Acts 2:36] In other words, these miracles that you’re seeing via the Holy Spirit and via tongues that you’re trying to explain away, these things are very real; they are coming from the miracle working Messiah that you, Israel, rejected. That’s where they’re coming from. That is the source of those miracles. In fact, they’re the first activity of Christ’s high priestly ministry at the right hand of the Father.
Do you realize what he’s doing here? This is the guy that denied Christ three times. This is the guy who was intimidated when a little slave girl came up and said He was one of them. He is now standing in front of a mass audience on a very important feast within Judaism essentially saying that Israel had it all wrong in rejecting Christ. He’s still alive, He’s at the right hand of the Father, and this is where the spiritual activity that you’re seeing is coming from.
And if you look at verse 37 it’s amazing what the Holy Spirit did with His words, because it says, “Now when they” that’s the unbelieving Jews, “heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” I mean, they were just torn apart when they heard this because they recognized that their own nation got it wrong in the rejection of their own King.
So Peter gives them an exhortation, verses 38-41 and this is where he tells them to repent, and what does repent mean? Change your mind, metanoeō is the Greek word, meta is change, noeō as in notion or mind, change your mind.
[Acts 2:38, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.’  And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’  So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.”]
Change your mind about what? Change your mind about what Israel just did with Jesus. Go from being a Christ-rejecting Jew to a Christ-accepting Jew. A synonym for that is to believe or to trust in Jesus Christ. That’s the point that he’s getting at here. And this is a guy that walked out on the water and sunk, remember that? And this is also the guy whose mouth was used as an instrument of the devil in Matthew 16 where Jesus said “get behind Me Satan.” [Matthew 16:23, “But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”]
Now as he’s filled with the Holy Spirit and he opens his mouth and weaves together all of these Scriptures, he’s got verses 38-41, three thousand conversions. [Acts 3:38-41, “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”  And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”  So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”]
So the church just went from twelve to three thousand, with one sermon, from a guy that most people would say is unqualified for ministry because of his prior failures. See, that’s what a Spirit-controlled person is able to do under God’s direction. And so now what do these three thousand people do? Well, they have their first church meeting and you have a description at the end of the chapter, verses 42-47 what these three thousand people started to do.
[Acts 2:42-47, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.  And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;  and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.  Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”]
Now we think three thousand people is a lot, and it is, but keep in mind there were probably around a million people in Jerusalem around this time for this particular feast day, Josephus tells us. So Israel, as a whole, did not get regenerated here, that comes later in the tribulation period. But certainly a believing remnant now exists and this is how the church started. And then you have the activities of the early church, verse 42 through 47. If you’ve been following along with us in our Ecclesiology series on Sunday mornings we use that as a basis for what churches ought to be doing in terms of activities.
So that is what Acts 2 is about. It’s not about starting the Davidic kingdom. And yet as I’ll be showing you in this series, now that you know the truth, people are going to warp these chapters and make it sound like the Davidic kingdom started and it’ll be easier for me to expose the counterfeit of that now that you know what Acts 2 is really about.
So I’m going to stop talking at this point.