Did You Know That?

Posted in: 2007
By Tom L. Ballinger
Mar 8, 2008 - 5:16:33 PM

May 17, 2007


Chapter One

It has been said that “The Acts of the Apostles” is the battleground for dispensational truth. I would certainly agree. Shallow students of the Word, as well as causal readers, believe “The Acts of the Apostles” is an early history of the “Church.” These folks believe it was a time when amazing things happened because of the faith exhibited by believers. They equate it to the “Church,” today, and wonder why the “Church” has lost Its punch, or impact—they reason that it must be because today’s believers don’t have the faith of those of the early First Century.

This is the sad tale of Christianity today. The key to unlocking the Truths of the Word of God lies in an enlightened understanding of 2nd Timothy 2:15. “The Acts of the Apostles” gives a Divine account of the most unique, thirty-plus years in the history of mankind. This period has been unmatched in previous history and has not been duplicated since the Acts Period closed. The Acts Period was a foreshadowing “of the world to come” (Heb. 2:5 and 6:5), to wit, the Kingdom of God. The time covered by the Book of Acts can be referred to as The Pentecostal Dispensation. It contained Truth which related to the past, from 29 A.D. until 62, or 63 A.D. It was also preparing a people for the coming Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). There are many truths which relate only to “The Acts of the Apostles.”

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, the primary message of salvation was the Gospel of the Kingdom? The Kingdom Gospel was the message which Jesus Christ taught, heralded, and preached throughout His three-and-a-half-year ministry to the circumcision (Rom. 15:8). This was the very same gospel heralded by the Apostles. Their message did not differ from that of the Lord Jesus. Their preaching was a continuation of which was “first to began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him” (Heb. 2:3).

The proclamation of the “so great salvation” message of Hebrews 2:3 was connected, vitally, to the Kingdom. To believe the Gospel of the Kingdom warranted the believer to enter the Kingdom when it was manifested in the earth. To be “saved,” during the Book of Acts, meant that the believing ones would live during the pre-Parousia Kingdom of God. They would enjoy the blessings of a regenerated earth and the glorious reign of Christ from heaven.

During the Acts Period, different terms were given to various aspects of the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” Terms which were originated by the Holy Spirit, like, the Gospel of God (Rom. 1:1), the Gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16), the Glorious Gospel of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4), the Gospel of the Circumcision (Gal. 2:7), the Gospel of the Uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7), and the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24). All of these were sub-heads under the Gospel of the Kingdom of God/Heaven.

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, the Lord Jesus Christ, for forty days, spoke to His disciples of the “things pertaining to the Kingdom of God?” (Acts 1:3). He did not speak to them about His “Coming” (i.e., His Parousia). It would have been foolish for Him to have spoken about His Parousia because the issue at hand was the Kingdom of God. His disciples had asked Him, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?”(Acts 1:6). They didn’t inquire about His Parousia. The Parousia of Christ, to wit, His 2nd Coming will be the consummation of the Kingdom (Matt. 24:3).

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, one-hundred-twenty Jews were gathered in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:15)? They all had believed the message delivered by John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ, “Repent ye; for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:1. 4:17). They were obeying their Lord Jesus who had told them not to depart from Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high (Acts 1:4, Luke 24:49). The promised endowment, by way of the Holy Spirit, came like a mighty, rushing wind on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3). Those Jews did not cease being Jews because of their newly generated faith.

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, the Jews in the upper room were Jews of the dispersion? They were “Jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). They were in Jerusalem to observe the Holy Days. Three-thousand gladly received the Word on that day. All of them being Jews—not one Gentile in the bunch.

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, the salvation Kingdom message was promised to every Israelite? This promise (Acts 2:39, 10:36, 13:26) lasted from Pentecost until the end of the Book of Acts. This message was based upon the fact that Jesus Christ was the “Son of the Living God.” He was presented as the object for their faith. The Gospel of the Kingdom could only be proclaimed by a believing Israelite who was Divinely commissioned, or authorized to do so. It seems that every believing Jew, during the Acts Period, received this commission to herald the salvation message to other Jews. The message may have come to them for only one person, but there could be no preaching the Kingdom Gospel unless they were commissioned to do so by Christ; “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:14-15).

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, for eight years after Pentecost, the Gospel was proclaimed only to the Jew? No-one was authorized to speak the gospel to anyone else. Even if the gospel had been overheard by a Gentile as it was being proclaimed to only the Jews, as Cornelius certainly had (Acts 10:37), it was still not for him. The Lord Jesus gave Peter special orders to go to the household of the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, who was a God-fearing, devout Gentile (Acts 10:9-16). This represented the only Gentile Peter went to in his entire ministry. [The Roman Church, incidentally, has Peter as their first Pope].

The Apostle Peter was never commissioned by God to go to the Gentiles. That was Paul’s job (Rom. 11:13). This one act of Peter’s was to prepare the Jewish believers for Paul’s commission to the Gentiles which began about six years later.

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, Cornelius never became a preacher of the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Gentiles? He may have wanted to be one. But, he was never authorized to be a preacher. He did not cease being a Roman solider in order to be a preacher of the gospel. Authorized preachers were required to have been Divinely called. Had Cornelius been commissioned to do so, it would have made him, not Paul, God’s authorized agent to the Gentiles. Not like today; then, God actually authorized or commissioned men to herald the gospel. God does not call men into the ministry in the Dispensation of Grace. Men may claim He does; they may even believe they have answered His call, but they deceive themselves. When the Pentecost Dispensation ended with the close of the Book of Acts, Christ Jesus did give, or provide gifted men to the new Church, which is His Body—He gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11).

These gifted men were to perfect men for the work of the new ministry and to edify the believers (body of Christ) coming out of the Acts Period—the purpose being that all believers would come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, “unto the perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). This was never accomplished as 2nd Timothy clearly indicates. Since this was not attained, the Lord Jesus has not set a leader in the Church, which is His Body. No-one is called into the ministry today!

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, the Lord’s program was that every responsible person who was a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob should hear the salvation message of the Kingdom of God? Each descendent was to have one, clear-cut opportunity to believe that Jesus Christ was their Messiah and Savior (Rom. 15:19-20).

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, believers who made up the Christian communities switched allegiance from earthly kings and potentates to another King—the Lord Jesus Christ? Christian communities scattered all over the Roman Empire made up the new nation Christ was forming—the Israel of God. They were awaiting the restoration of Israel’s promised Kingdom. The Divinely commissioned heralds proclaimed “another king” (Acts 17:7). Paul was accused of doing so and never denied it.

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, the Jews had a dispensational advantage over the Gentiles? What advantage did the Jew have over the Gentile? This was the question the Apostle Paul examined when he wrote Romans 3:1-2, “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God” NIV. That is to say, the Jew had not only been entrusted as the keepers and the amanuensis’s of the Word but, also, as heralds of the Word of God. This was a very special, dispensational advantage the Jew had over the Gentile.

Because of this advantage, the Gospel was sent to the “Jew first” (Rom. 1:16). Wherever the Apostle Paul went, he followed the Divine plan of going to the Jew first.

“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,” (Acts 17:1-2).

Paul’s manner was to go to the Jew first. Paul and Barnabus went to the Jew first in Salamis.

“And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: …” (Acts 13:5).

When Paul and Barnabus were at Antioch in Pisidia, they went to the “stock of Abraham” with “the word of this salvation …”(Acts 13:26), then, when they rejected the Word, Paul and Barnabus spoke the following to the Jews at Antioch:

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you[the Jew]: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46).

The two Apostles, then, went to the Gentiles in Antioch. Many use this text as proof that the Church began in Acts 13 with the turning to the Gentiles. This was just a local “turning.” The Jew was still first and had the dispensational advantage. This advantage lasted until Acts 28:28.

Paul’s manner was to go to the Jew first throughout “The Acts of the Apostles;” even as late as Acts 28:17. He never deviated from this. Here, he was in Rome and called the chief Jews of Rome to meet with him. It was here, in Acts 28:28, that the Apostle Paul pronounced the momentous setting-aside of Israel:

“Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it” (Acts 28:28).

With this announcement, the Jew lost all of his previous advantage. He no longer had a priority over the Gentile. The weight of Dispensation Truth is centered on this proclamation.

It was very shortly after the pronouncement of Acts 28:28 that the Dispensation of the Mystery burst upon the world-scene, unexpectedly. The setting-aside of Israel took the world and its “god” by total surprise. The loftiest Truth in all of God’s Word was not revealed until Paul could say he was a “prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles” (Eph. 3:1).

It is a Divine imperative that we realize that the epistles written during “The Acts of the Apostles” take on the character of time—signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit abounded. The Epistles of the Apostle Paul, written during the Acts Period, must be understood in this light. Otherwise, confusion and error will prevail. Therefore, allocate Romans, I & II Corinthians, Galatians, I & II Thessalonians, and Hebrews to the Acts Period. It is essential to rightly divide Paul’s Epistles.

Tom L. Ballinger


Chapter Two

Perhaps, ninety percent of all the confusion and contradiction which exist “in the Christian church world” are the result of ignoring the factual character of the thirty-to- forty year period which “The Acts of the Apostles” covered. There are those who are trying to live as if the same administration and Divine purpose exists, today, as it did during the Acts Period. By so doing, they, of necessity, deny the true character which prevailed between Acts 2 and Acts 28. Again, as in the last issue, we’ll examine some Biblical facts.

Did you know that, during the Book of Acts, the chief characteristic of the Acts (Pentecostal) Dispensation was that Jesus Christ designated and commissioned men to go forth, at His direction, speaking a Christ-inspired message? Each word spoken was Divinely given to them each time they spoke, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matt. 10:19-20).

Christ further instructed the Twelve in Luke 12:11-12, “And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”

The Spirit also empowered Paul with the same Divine enablement, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).

Did you know that, during the Book of Acts, each time they spoke the Christ-inspired message, the hearers heard it in their own language? The word which the “commissioned men” spoke was always confirmed by miraculous signs that followed (Heb. 2:4) and when anyone believed, his faith was endorsed and confirmed by signs (Mark 16:17). This was the unvarying principle of the Acts Period. The honest student of the Word must agree this is not God’s method, today, and hasn’t been since Acts 28.

Six-hundred-fifty years before the birth of Christ, Habakkuk said, anticipating the dispersion of Israel among the nations, “Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you” (Hab. 1:5). His prophecy still awaits final fulfillment, yet, there should be no doubt that there was a precursory fulfillment in the Acts Period. Paul’s words proved the case, “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you” (Acts 13:40-41).

The Israelites who lived during the Pentecostal Dispensation (Acts Chapter 2 through 28) not only heard what the Lord was doing; they saw with their own eyes what He was doing (Acts 2:33). The Jews, whether in Palestine, or among the nations, were the objects of and witnesses to this work of God. His actions have been unparalleled in human history. The thirty, or forty year period stands apart and is different from all other periods of Divine activity. A careful, prayerful, and serious study needs to be given.

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, the Lord appointed certain men to be rulers (archon) over the local churches? This Truth is of paramount significance in understanding truth for today. The believers were instructed to “recognize those who are over you in the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:12). The Apostle Paul exhorted the saints in Hebrews 13:7 to “remember them that have rule over you,” and to “obey them that have rule over you” (Heb. 13:17). We also read in Hebrews 13:24, to “Salute them that have rule over you.” In Romans 12:6, Paul told the rulers of the Church of God to rule with diligence. None of this is present truth. This was truth for the previous dispensation and should not be dragged into the present dispensation. The Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head has only One Ruler—Christ Jesus Himself. There are no Divine authorities between us and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Did you know that, during the Book of Acts, a spiritual gift which is never talked about, today, was in operation during the Book of Acts—the “Gift of Government” (1 Cor. 12:28). The “Gift of Government” was imparted to the rulers of the churches; thereby, enabling them to have a supernatural gift to govern righteously. None of this is truth for today. It was truth for the past dispensation and should not be read into the present dispensation.

When Romans 13:1-7 is read in the light of the unquestionable truths set forth above, we can easily see that the “higher powers,” mentioned, referred to men commissioned by the Lord to exercise government over the new nation, the “Israel of God.” These men with Divine authority were ruling during the Book of Acts. Romans 13:1-3 says “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” Every believer was to be submissive to these “higher powers.” These were the Divinely appointed men who had the higher authority, to wit, the authority from God to rule and govern. Let it be said, again, that their authority to rule, or govern came from God. They had the Divine right to rule over the new “Commonwealth of Israel.” Those who governed in the Roman Empire, as well as other human governments were not designated by God, but by men. If this distinction is not made, you would have to accept the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings to rule. Or, said another way, if the context and time of the writing of Romans is not observed, then, anyone who is in governmental authority is ordained by God to do so. Preposterous! To say that the “higher powers” applied to civil powers would make perfect saints out of all who governed. The Bible does not teach ridiculous things.

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom, whether it be the Gospel of the Circumcision, or the Uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7) with their shades of meaning, was always done by men commissioned by the Lord (Rom. 10:15). The message they spoke was always spoken by Divine inspiration (1 Cor. 2:13), every word of it was the Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13), it was the absolute truth (2 Cor. 13:3), it was not memorized and repeated over-and-over, nor, was it written down. It was always fresh from God each time it was spoken. It varied each time to meet the exact needs of those who heard it. These variations were inspired by God and were not made up by the heralds. Simple fishermen spoke God’s inspired message, as well as the educated.

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, there was no need for any message, inspired by God, to be translated because it was always spoken in the mother tongue of the one for whom it was intended. The gift of tongues during “The Acts of the Apostles” was a meaningful reality (Acts 2:6,8,11). This is not present truth. Today, foolishly, many believe that speaking in “jibberish,” is “speaking in tongues.”

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, that is, from Acts 2 to Acts 28, the proclamation of the Gospel was always confirmed to the audience by evidential miracles (Mark 16:20, John 14:12, Acts 2:43 and 5:12, Rom. 15:18-19, 1 Cor. 1:6, and Heb. 2:4). This does not happen today. Christian snake handlers are not Divinely protected. As believers, we are not supernaturally immuned from poison. We are not raising the dead, nor, laying hands on the sick, or curing their illnesses. Has a “Divine Healer” ever cured a person of Type I Diabetes? If right division of the Word of Truth is not observed, error reigns!

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, which, historically, is a most unique period, a man was given only one chance to hear and believe the gospel (Acts 13:46)? The God-ordained messenger never spoke it twice to the same people. He did not go over ground which he had already covered (Rom. 15:20-21). The Gospel was, at once, either a “savor of life,” or a “savor of death” to all who heard it (2 Cor. 2:16). If a man didn’t immediately believe the God-commissioned man proclaiming a God-inspired testimony, the truth of which was confirmed by signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost (Heb. 2:4), there was nothing more that God would do. This is not truth for today.

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, it was a time when the faith of a believer was always accredited and confirmed by the Lord? “These signs shall follow them that believe” was the guarantee Christ had made (Mark 16:17). And they did, “Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; So that ye come behind in no gift …” (1 Cor. 1:6-7). In plainer words, there were no secret believers. The life of the Acts Period believer was not “hid with Christ in God” as ours is today (Col.3:3).

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, after Peter visited the house of Cornelius, Paul was the only man commissioned by the Lord to herald His salvation-message to Gentiles. Paul began at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:46-47). He always went to the Jew first and to the Jew primarily (Acts 13:46, Rom. 1:16, Acts 17:1-2). If, on his journeys, he entered a town with no Jews in it, he kept going (Acts 17:1). During “The Acts of the Apostles,” there were thousands of heralds carrying the salvation-bringing pre-Parousia Kingdom message of God to every Israelite (Acts 11:19), but only one herald taking it to the Gentiles and, this, only after he’d fulfilled every obligation to his own people.

The children of Israel were likened to being “as the sand of the sea.” Notice, “Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved” (Rom 9:27). The remnant was to make up the new nation which God was forming during the Acts Period. For thirty or forty years, the Lord sifted through and tested every grain of sand that made up all of Israel. He searched for the gems that would shine forth the moment they heard the message and saw its confirmation. The gems will have a special place and perform a special service in the day when He makes up His jewels (Mal.3:17). The jewels are the remnant He searched out; they are the repentant ones who will become the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), or the “Commonwealth of Israel” which Paul mentioned in Ephesians 2:12.

By contrast, it can be said that the Church over which Christ is the Head will be the Crown Jewels of His universal Empire which will be convened when 2nd Timothy 4:1 becomes a reality. We dare not confuse the Appearing (the Epiphaneia) of His Kingdom with His Personal Coming (the Parousia) at the consummation of the Kingdom Era. If we cannot distinguish between the two, how can we earn the “crown of righteousness” as mentioned in 2nd Timothy 4:8?

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his Appearing [Epiphaneia].”

The “crown of righteousness” will be awarded to those who LOVE (agapaoo) His Appearing. That is, according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “Agapaoo – to welcome with desire; to long for, 2 Tim. 4:8.” The standard “Ho-Hum” Christian attitude, insisting that “the appearing” is the Second Coming, will earn nothing but shame—an ashamed workman!

Did you know that, during the Acts Period, the new nation, “the Israel of God,” was being formed, and it operated as an independent nation in the earth while their King was enthroned in Heaven. Jesus Christ used His designated ones to administer His Government to which believers were submissive. At the time, Israel, according to the flesh, was subjugated to Rome. However, the Lord’s Living Jewels, at the time (His new nation), functioned independently from earthly governments. This was a big reason for the persecution that arose for Christians—they had another King. Gentiles who believed Paul’s message were like the “mixed multitude” which left Egypt with Moses; they were satisfied to be associated with this new commonwealth, even as aliens (Eph.2:12). However, when the revelation of the Mystery was revealed to Paul, as the prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Gentiles were assured they were no longer aliens, but that they were made nigh by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13), and became fellowheirs and of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ by this new Gospel.

At the close of the Book of Acts, God accomplished everything He set out to do. He had finished His work but cut it off until a later time. Israel had heard the Word and saw the works of God (Rom. 10:18). The “Israel of God” had been discovered (Gal. 6:16). The remnant had been established (Rom. 11:5). A definite company from among the Gentiles had been called-out for His Name (Acts 15:14). Everything was set for the full establishment of the manifest Kingdom of God upon the earth (Rom. 13:11-12). But, it did not come. When Acts closed, He suspended this phase of His program and ushered in a purpose that had never been revealed before.

When Paul made his Divinely-inspired message in Acts 28, he ended it by declaring the salvation-God message, which had been authorized for Israel, was taken from them and was to be authorized to the nations (Gentiles), and “they will hear it.”

The end of the Pentecostal Dispensation occurred at Acts 28:28. The Bible Mountaineer must determine what things came to an end, what things carried through, and what new conditions and circumstances came into being. It is obvious that the unique conditions and circumstances, set forth, came to an end. That a new dispensation began is evident. The words of Acts 28:28 are of the utmost importance, “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”

When the Apostle Paul penned the following words, it is apparent to those who have had the eyes of their understanding enlightened that he began his second ministry which brought in a new dispensation, “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:1-8).

Tom L. Ballinger