Truths Unique to the Acts Period

Posted in: 2010
By Tom L. Ballinger
Mar 17, 2010 - 10:45:06 AM

March 17, 2010
Divine Records are set forth in the Word of God. These Divine Records are Truth. What we believe must be in harmony with them and must be understood in the light of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
We will set forth twenty Divine facts as they relate to the Acts Period and the believers during that time. A clear understanding of the facts makes it abundantly unambiguous that the Church, during “The Acts of the Apostles,” was vastly different from the Church of the Mystery. Truth that belongs to a past dispensation should not be interpreted, or read into the present dispensation.
    1.      In Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after Passover, one hundred-twenty Jews were gathered in the upper room (Acts 1:15). They all believed that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah and the Son of God. This truth was given to them by the Father in heaven (Matt. 16:17). They had heard the words of the Son of God and witnessed the miracles He’d performed, resulting in the Father enlightening them. They did not cease to be Jews because of their newly generated belief.

    2.      Those who heard the Word on Pentecost were “Jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). They had been the dispersed ones (the Dispersion) who were back in Jerusalem to observe the Holy Days. The three-thousand who became believers on that day (Acts 2:41) were “Jews, devout men.” They continued, as such, even after they believed (Acts 2:46). The blood of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob flowed through their veins. The one-hundred-twenty had to be in the blood-line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    3.      The saving message of God was sanctioned to every Israelite (Acts 2:39, 10:36, 13:26). This sanction for the Jews lasted from the Day of Pentecost until      Acts 28:28. The message was based upon the fact that Christ Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and the Son of God. He was presented as an object for their faith. This “salvation” communication could be heralded by any believing Israelite who was commissioned by Christ to do so. He, only, commissioned those who were in the blood-line of the three fathers. This commission consisted of the Word of God coming to a man as a message intended for another, or others. An example of this was John the Baptist; “the Word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Luke 3:2-3). It seems that every believing Jew in the Acts Period received this commission. The message may have come to them for only one person, but there could be no preaching apart from having received the Divine commission to do so. “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).

    4.      According to the Companion Bible’s reckoning (Appendix 180) for eight years after Pentecost, the gospel was proclaimed, only, to the Jew. No one was authorized to speak the gospel to anyone else. If a Gentile overheard the gospel as it was being preached only to Jews, as Cornelius certainly had (Acts 10:37), it was, still, NOT FOR HIM. However, the Lord Jesus Christ gave Peter a special assignment to go to the household of a Roman Centurion, Cornelius; a God-fearing, devout Gentile (Acts 10:9-16). This represents the only Gentile who Peter went to in his entire ministry. He had no authorization to speak the “salvation-message” to anyone else outside of Israel. Peter was not God’s commissioned one 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 charge to go to the Gentiles which began about 6 to 9 years later.

    5.      Upon his conversion, Cornelius did not become a bearer of the gospel to the Gentiles. He did not forsake his military-commission and career in order to return to Rome to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. He may have wished to do so, but he was forbidden because he didn’t have a Divine commission. If he had such a commission, it would have made him, not Paul, God’s certified one to the Gentiles.

    6.      The Lord’s purpose and program during the Acts Dispensation was that everyone with a sound mind, who was of  Israelite-heritage, should hear the salvation-message and have one personal opportunity to believe that Jesus Christ was their God-Anointed King and believe in Him as their Savior     (Rom. 15:19-21). Not only that, but they, also, believed that it would be Him Who would deliver “the promises made unto the fathers” (Rom.15:8).

    7.      Believers who made up the Christian community switched their allegiance from earthly kings and potentates to another King—the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian communities, scattered all over the Roman Empire, made up the new nation which Christ was forming: “the Israel of God.” They were awaiting the restoration of Israel’s long-promised Kingdom. The Divinely Commissioned Heralds proclaimed “another king” (Acts 17:7). Paul was accused of doing so and never denied it.

    8.      The Lord designated certain men to be the rulers over the believers, who made up the Church of God, during the Acts era. The saints were instructed to “recognize those who are over you in the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:12).  Paul exhorted believers, in Hebrews 13, to “remember them that have rule over you” (V.7), and to “obey them that have rule over you” (V.17), and to “Salute them that have rule over you” (V.24). In Romans 12:8, Paul told those who ruled to do it with diligence. We, also, note that a spiritual gift which is never talked about, today, but was in operation during the Book of Acts, was the gift of “government” (1 Cor. 12:28).  None of this is truth for today. It was truth for the past dispensation and should not be dragged into the present dispensation. The Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head has only one Ruler—Christ Himself. There is no one, of authority, between us and Christ Jesus.

    9.      When Romans 13:1-7 is read in the light of the explicit truths set forth above, we can easily see that the “higher powers,” mentioned, refer 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 [the higher powers] 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, during the Acts Period, was to be submissive to the “higher powers.” These were the Divinely Ordained men who had a higher authority than any of “the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12). Their authority to rule, or govern came from God. They had the Divine right to rule over the new “commonwealth of Israel” which was only a prelude of things to come during the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God. 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 earthly 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 ludicrous things. The positive application is made by the Apostle Paul when he posed this question to the Corinthians: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (1 Cor. 6:2).

    10.  During the Acts era, the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God 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 preachers. Simple fishermen spoke it, as well as the erudite.

    11.  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.

    12.  From Acts 2 to Acts 28, the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God was always confirmed to the audience by evidential miracles (Mk. 16:20; John 14:12; Acts 2:43, 5:12; Rom. 15:18-19; 1 Cor. 1:6; and Heb. 2:4). This was a standard occurrence during the Pentecostal times. This does not happen today.

    13.  During the unique period of Acts, a man was given ONE CHANCE to hear and believe the gospel (Acts 13:46). The God-ordained messenger never spoke it twice to the same person. The person only had one chance to be saved. The messenger did not go over ground 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. None of this is truth for today.

   14.  During this time, 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 the signs 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 Epoch believer was not “hid with Christ in God,” as ours is today (Col. 3:3).

    15.  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; and Acts 17:1-2). If, on his journeys, Paul 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 Kingdom salvation message of God to every Israelite (Acts 11:19), but there was only one herald (the Apostle Paul) taking it to the Gentiles and this, only, after he’d fulfilled every obligation to his own people.

    16.  The children of Israel are 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). For forty years, the Lord sifted through and tested every grain of sand that made up “all Israel.” He searched for the gems that would shine forth the moment they heard the message and saw its confirmation. The gems would have a special place and perform a special service in the Day [of Christ] when He makes up His jewels (Mal.3:17). The jewels are the remnant He searched out; they are the repentant ones who became the “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), or the “commonwealth” which Paul mentions in Ephesians 2:12.

    17.  During the Book of Acts, the NEW NATION was formed and operated as an independent nation in the earth while their King was enthroned in Heaven. It was, truly, a Heavenly Nation in the midst of the Roman Empire. Jesus Christ used His designated ones to administer His Government. Believers were citizens of the God-called-out State of Israel.  As such, their allegiance was to their Anointed—the Lord Jesus. At the same time, Israel, according to the flesh, was subjugated to Rome. The Lord’s jewels, His NEW NATION, functioned independently from earthly governments. This was a big reason for the persecution that arose for Christians—they acknowledged themselves to be citizens of an independent State, and had another King—not Caesar. Gentiles who believed Paul’s message were like the “mixed multitude” that 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 “fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ” (Eph. 3:6) by this new gospel. Much more needs to be said, but for now, we will leave that for a later time.

    18.  At the close 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 purpose and ushered in a purpose that had never been revealed before—the Mystery that had been hid from ages and generations  (Col. 1:26).

    19.  When Paul made his Divinely-inspired message in Acts 28, he ended it by declaring that the communiqué “of the salvation of God is sent” to the Gentiles [Nations], and “they will hear it.”

    20.  With Paul’s declaration of this colossal Truth, God “switched-off,” or withdrew all of the supernatural signs, wonders, and miracles. The failure of Christians to recognize this Bible fact has left them vulnerable and wide-open to “giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1).
The end of the Pentecostal Dispensation occurred at Acts 28:28. The Bible Mountaineer must determine what things came to an end, what things are to be carried forward, and what new conditions and circumstances came into being. It is obvious that the twenty conditions and circumstances, set forth in this study, 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;” (Ephesians 3:1-8).