Dispensationalism - The Unfolding of the Mystery
The Unfolding Of The Mystery
Mr. Stam tells us:
The nation Israel, with all her shortcomings, was once the only bright spot in a dark world. God had promised that through her, as Abraham's multiplied seed, the other nations should be blessed (Gen. 22:17,18). Ruth, the Moabitess, and others like her, found shelter under the wings of God by coming to Israel (Ruth 2:12).
The author makes a statement in which he refers to the promise to Abraham's seed spoken of in Gen. 22:17+18 and states that this is in reference to the nation of Israel. We find however as we compare scripture with scripture that this seed speaks not of the nation Israel but of Christ. Gal.3:16 "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one. And to thy seed which is Christ.
Now note the verses spoken of in Gen. "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy SEED as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of HIS enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
As we go through the life of Abraham we see that God made two covenants with Him, one concerning Christ and one concerning Isaac. In Gen.12: 2+3 we see God making a promise to Abraham. This promise entails several things:
1. Abram shall father a great nation.
2. Abram shall be blessed and his name made great
3. Those that bless him will be blessed and those that curse him will be cursed
4. All of the nations of the earth will be blessed through him.
Note, all of this promise concerns Abraham primarily and not his seed.
In Gen. 12:7 we see that God promises the land to Abram's seed and again in verses 14-16 with the promise of them being numbered as the dust of the earth. Note also in Gen.15: 5; 17:7+8 the promise of land and numbers but there is no mention of the world being blessed through Abraham's seed. Even in 18:18 the Lord prior to telling Abraham of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah states that the nations of the earth will be blessed through HIM, not the nation that is to come out of him. As we go on we see, even when God spoke to Isaac, there was no mention of the nation Israel as becoming a blessing only that it would multiply and be blessed for Abraham's sake Gen.26:24.
CHRIST AND CHRIST ALONE IS THE ONLY SEED OF ABRAHAM TO WHOM BEING A BLESSING TO ALL OF THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH, IS PROMISED.
As we look at the scripture the writer uses in John 4:22 we see Christ telling the woman of Samaria that salvation is from the Jews, or of the Jews, meaning that the nation of Israel was (because of the obedience of Abraham) the tool God used to bring about the birth of the coming Messiah. In I Cor. 13:10 Paul tells us that when that which is perfect is come that which is in part shall be done away. We see this transformation happening even as Christ spoke to the Samarian woman in verses 21+23- as He tells her that the hour is coming in fact now is that true worshipers of God will need not go to Jerusalem or to the mountain to worship but that the temporal earthly type will be fulfilled by the eternal spiritual promise.
We see this change throughout the New Testament:
1. The temporal Levitical priesthood found its eternal fulfillment in the priesthood of Christ. Heb.7
2. The temporary earthly tabernacle and its temporal ordinances eternally fulfilled by Christ. Heb.9:1-13
3. The earthly temporal nation of Israel as God's people reaching its true fulfillment as the eternal body of Christ in the church. Matt.|21:43 + IPet.2:9.
4. The sinful seed of Abraham through the flesh being fulfilled by the spiritual seed of Abraham through Christ. Rom.9:6+7, Gal.3:6-9 & 26-29.
5. The city of Jerusalem made through the actions of human builders attaining its perfection in the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God. Gal.4:25+26.
All of these, and many more, show us a truth of the Word of God that the writer of this book and many other Bible teachers of today seem to forget. CHRIST IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. MATT.5:17. The physical incomplete types of the Old Testament point us to the spiritual completeness of Christ. Many theologians of today try to reverse this concept and make the Old Testament in its incompleteness the final desire of God, when in fact we are told in the New Testament that Christ is the perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament. Since we can find no scripture in the New Testament that tells us of an earthly reign of Christ in bodily form, or the establishment of earthly Jerusalem and the nation of Israel as a supreme power in the world, (even in Rev.20 there is no reference to the reign of Christ being on the earth, it does state that those who are beheaded for the witness of Jesus lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years but it does not say where this reign occurred) the dispensationalist must remove the New Testament from being the explanation of the Old and place it off by itself, telling us that :
1. Although Christ came to set up an earthly kingdom He was thwarted in his attempt by a bunch of stiff-necked humans.
2. He put the nation of Israel on the back burner for the time being and concentrated on the rest of the world.
3. Instead of Christ then fulfilling the law and the prophets he abolishes them for the time being, bringing salvation to his people through grace instead of the Old Testament sacraments.
4. There will come again a time when these sacraments, which we read in the Word of God were only a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, will be reinstated and innocent animals will once again be slain and the laws, which Peter called a yoke of bondage, (Acts 15:10), will once again be necessary to please God.
5. Since there is no New Testament, or for that fact Old Testament, basis for this theory gaps amounting to almost 2000 years must be placed between verses of the Old Testament which speak of Christ's coming and His glorification as King.
6. We must then make up charts and determine whether a verse of scripture fits into the church, the nation Israel before the church, a so-called seven year tribulation period, a millennial reign, or a new heaven and earth.
7. Instead of Christ's work at the cross of Calvary being seen as the final act of God against sin we must look to the nation Israel and what happens in the Mid East.
8. The body of Christ, the church, must fail in its work on the earth. This in itself brings a slur against the name of Christ, because, as we have already seen, the complete work of the church depends not on any human factor but solely on Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit.
Christ's cry " It is finished" on the cross of Calvary becomes a lie because 60% of the law and the prophets which he said he came to fulfill are left unfulfilled.
Mr. Stam tells us:
These means of approach to God, while they indicated that Israel was no better than the Gentiles, gave them, at the same time, a distinct advantage over the Gentiles--and a great responsibility toward them.
Israel was not to keep these blessings to herself, for God had said to Abraham: "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 22:18).2 They were to be the agents, not merely the objects of God's blessing.
The Word and the worship of God were committed to Israel that through her the Gentiles might find God. As we saw earlier Gen. 22:18 is in reference to Christ according to Gal.3:15+16. The question still remains, was Israel the nation to be a blessing to all nations or was the nation Israel to be separate from all nations? As we study the Word of God we see the children of Israel given the edict to destroy all men, women and children of all the nations which dwelt in Canaan land. This hardly seems like a call to bless all nations. Although this seems barbaric God had a very good reason for doing this. Israel as a nation had not received the Holy Spirit of God, Christ's atoning work on the cross was still in the future physically speaking, and because of this Israel as a nation was no match against Satan and the idol worship of the day. Even though the law was read to them, they still had no understanding nor could they ever understand unless given the knowledge of the scriptures by the Spirit of God which was only given to a select few. Moses in Duet. 32:28 calls them a nation void of council, neither is there any understanding in them. To be sure any gentile who desired to come under the protective umbrella of Israel was given this privilege, but under certain conditions as we see in Ex. 12: 48. He must be circumcised and keep the Passover as well as all the law of the Israelites as we see in vs.49.(also note Lev.24:16, Num.9:14; 15:14-16 & 29-30; 35:15, I Kings 8:41-43). In other words he must forsake his gods and give honor to the God of Israel. We see this happening in the case of Ruth in Ruth 1:15+16. But nowhere in my study of the scriptures do I see where Israel was called out to be a blessing to the nations around her, rather she was called to be a particular people out of whom some day would arise a Savior who would be a blessing to all of the nations of the world through His body the church.(Gal.3:13+14). Even the scripture the author uses in Isa.56:6,7 refers to the coming kingdom under the reign of Christ.
Mr. Stam tells us:
John's ministry was to bring Israel back to God, and so make the way smooth for the coming King. The cry was:
". . . Pepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.
"Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth" (Luke 3:4,5).
John labored earnestly to fulfill his mission. His ministry reached into every department of Israel's national life. He dealt with "the people," with the tax gatherers, with the soldiers (Luke 3:10-14). He dared to send the proud Pharisees and Sadducees away, calling them a "generation of vipers," asking them: "Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" and saying: "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Matt. 3:7,8). He even entered the court of King Herod, rebuking him for living with his brother's wife "and for all the evils which Herod had done" (Luke 3:19).
But with all this Israel as a nation did not repent. Indeed, the great reformer was "shut up in prison" (Luke 3:20) and finally beheaded (Matt. 14:10) by Israel's wicked and licentious king--a crime which would hardly have been tolerated had there been a real reformation in the nation.
So, the way for our Lord was made anything but smooth.
If we accept the premise of this writer then we must admit to the failure of the Holy Spirit of God. The reason I make this statement is simple, if John failed then the Holy Spirit failed because John was led to act and speak through the working of the Spirit which indwelled him from birth. Let us search the scriptures and find out exactly what the work and the call of John the Baptist was. Read Luke 1:13-17 to see what Zacharias was told concerning his future son. "But the angel of the Lord said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, EVEN FROM HIS MOTHER'S WOMB." And many (note many not all or not even Israel as a nation) of the children of Israel shall be turned to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Was this accomplished according to the Word of God or did Holy Spirit through John fail? Did many rejoice at his birth and did Zacharias have joy and gladness? Read Luke 1:57-64. Was John filled with the Holy Spirit and abstain from all alcoholic beverages? read Luke 1:80, Matt.11:18, Luke 7:34. Were many of the children of Israel, through his preaching turned to the Lord and prepared for the Lord's coming? read Luke 3:8-18; Matt.3:1-6 Look carefully now at Luke 1:17 the reading may be somewhat confusing in the King James version where it states "And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias." In the Greek the verse would be seen to read as follows and he (John the Baptist) shall go before him (the Lord) in the spirit and power of Elias.
Did John go before Christ? read John 1:6-7, 15, 30-31. Did John come in the spirit and the power of Elias? read Matt.11:|13+14, some will say, ah yes but he was Elias only if the people would accept him as such, for this reason we must look at other scriptures to substantiate that John was indeed the promise of Elias, as seen in Malachi 4:5+6, read Matt.17: 11-13, Mark 9:11-13. In each of the afore mentioned passages we see that John the Baptist was not a failure, he, through the power of the Holy Spirit did accomplish all that he was sent to accomplish and indeed turned the spiritual ministry of those who followed him, over to the Lord. (John 3:24-30; 10:40-42). As we look at Luke 3:5+6 do we see where John is telling the people to make the way for the Lord smooth or is the message that John is proclaiming, the fact that all the obstacles that stood in the way of the entire world seeing the salvation of God will be removed. If we look closely at the scripture we will see it is the latter. Using the picture of terrain John in fulfillment of Isaiah 40: 3-5, tells his followers that the entire world is going to witness the salvation of God not just those at Jerusalem. Many obstacles blocked the paths of travelers in the days of Isaiah and John, obstacles which are present in our day also but not to the degree as they were seen in Biblical times. These obstacles which prevented the traveler from seeing his destination were mountains, deep valleys, and turns or crooked bends in the road. In a spiritual sense these could be realized in the idol worship and sin of the world which kept men from coming to an understanding of the salvation God had in store for his people. All of these hindrances would be removed from God's elect through the enlightening action of the Holy Spirit, because of the atoning work of Christ at the cross and in his victory over the grave. Because of this action of Christ and the work of the Spirit of God no one in the world is hidden so deep in the valley of sin or confronted by such a mountain of spiritual depravity or walking on a path so crooked that he or she can not be shown the salvation of God through the enlightening power of the Holy Ghost. The writer not only states that John failed in his ministry but Christ also failed to bring about repentance in Israel.
Mr. Stam tells us:
He had to take up the cry where John had left off. Nor was the response to our Lord's message any more satisfactory than the response to John's.
There are many scriptural errors which are made to arrive at this conclusion and many questions must be asked and answered from the scriptures in order to arrive at the truth.
1. What was the reason for Christ's coming to the earth?
a. Some tell us it was to establish his kingdom on the earth. Matt.2:2
b. Some tell us it was to be the Savior of Israel. Matt. 1:21
c. Some tell us it was to be the Savior of the world. John 3:17
The dispensationalist will have us believe that a and b are different than c. In order to make their theology work they must say the first was not accomplished due to the rejection of the nation Israel. But that the second was put into effect because Israel was not yet ready for the kingdom. Let us think about these accusations in light of the Sovereignty of God. If as the dispensationalist tells us, the first was unable to be accomplished then God is not sovereign but must rely on the actions of his creation for the outcome of His prophecy. The omnipotence of God then ceases to exist because, although Christ tells his disciples in Luke 9:27 that some of them shall not taste of death until they see the kingdom of God, it does no rest upon His ability to carry out the prophecy but rather on the acceptance of sinful man. If we take this view of scripture than God's omniscience is also destroyed because though He thought and He decreed that the kingdom would be set up, it wasn't, therefore God doesn't really know the outcome of history. If however we look at it in the light of God's true sovereignty we see that all that God ordained did come to pass. The action of Christ in His death, burial and resurrection does not eliminate for the time the kingdom on the earth, but rather it establishes it. Christ and Christ alone as we have seen before brings about the kingdom and its existence does not rest upon the actions of men but the action of Christ. This is what we see in Rev. 5:1-13, the fact that Christ, the lamb of God, offered Himself up for the sins of the world establishes the kingdom in the world. Unfortunately the dispensationalist fails to see that Rome was not the hindrance to establishing the kingdom of God, it goes much deeper than this. The establishment of the kingdom rested not on the victory over human forces it rested on the victory of Christ over sin and death. And once this victory was seen the kingdom was established in the hearts of God's people.(Acts 5:30-32)
Mr. Stam tells us:
And thus Israel, rather than heeding Christ's call to repentance, actually persuaded Pilate to have Him nailed to a cross, where, writhing in pain, He suffered shame and disgrace for their sins.
All this, of course, had not taken God by surprise. Indeed, He had predicted it.
May I state He also planned it and carried it out.
Mr. Stam tells us:
Thus Israel responded to God's three gracious calls to repentance by three brutal murders: those of John the Baptist, Christ and Stephen. And mark well that their guilt increased with each successive murder. In the case of John the Baptist they permitted it; in the case of Christ they demanded it; in the case of Stephen they committed it. They had turned a deaf ear to the Father (through John), to the Son Himself, while on earth, and to the Holy Spirit (through the Pentecostal believers). They had resisted the Father before Christ's coming; they despised Christ Himself while He was among them; they blasphemed the Holy Spirit after Christ was gone. Now there was no excuse. They had committed the unpardonable sin, of which the Lord had warned them (Matt. 12:31,32).
Again we see that for the third time the writer bases the coming kingdom not on the action of God but rather on the action of man. Nowhere in the scriptures do I see this doctrine being taught. Throughout the Old Testament prophecies the establishment of God's kingdom is not seen to rest upon the actions of men of the action of God.( Isa. 1:21-26, 2:4,17-22, 4:2-6, 6:1-13, 10:10-23, 11:1-16,) are just a few of the verses in Isaiah which, like all of the Old Testament, speak of the establishment of the kingdom as resting on the will of God and not the will of man). Christ in His proclamation to Peter states in Matt.16:17-19 that He alone will build the church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. In John’s gospel 6:37 Christ makes this statement "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I shall in no wise cast out."
Where in this verse do we see the establishment of the kingdom resting on the actions of man? In Matt. 4:17 "Christ says repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Not the kingdom will come if you will allow it. In verse 19 Christ tells the disciples, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Again the completion rests not on the actions and desires of men but of God. Even the words "Follow me" are not issued as a request but as a command and we know from scripture that the action which resulted in their following Christ, did not hinge on their desire but the desire of the Father, for we read in John 6:70 That the choice of disciples rested not on them but on the desire of Christ. and again in 17:12 "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in the world, I kept them in thy name, THOSE THAT THOU GAVEST ME I HAVE KEPT, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled."
Even in the entire sermon on the mount an action is needed which far exceeds that of man's righteousness in order to please God for we read in Matt. 5:20 "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Christ states that the Divine standard of life is to "Be ye therefore perfect as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matt.5:48 an action that is unattainable, except through the work of the Spirit in the life of the believer. Read through the Gospels and you will see that the Lord states time and time again that only those who do the will of the Father who is in heaven will be able to enter the kingdom of God. And that the only ones who can possible know what the will of the Father is, are those to whom it has been revealed by the Son.^ Matt.11:25-27.
The dispensationalist may make this statement, Ah, yes but do not the scriptures in many places tell us that we must believe on the Son of God to have eternal life, and is this not an action of man toward the Father? As we look at these scriptures one question must be answered. Is belief a prerequisite to salvation or is belief a by-product of the regenerative work of Christ in the believer's life? If it needed prior to salvation then it becomes an act of righteousness by man and Titus 3:5 becomes a lie. If, however, belief is an action of the Holy Spirit in a man's life after regeneration all scripture flows together in perfect harmony, and belief, (instead of being an action needed for salvation) becomes a proof of the Spirit that we indeed are saved.
Mr. Stam tells us:
The Gentiles had long before rebelled against God at the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:3,4), "even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge" (Rom. 1:28). For this God finally "gave them up" (Rom. 1:24,26,28) and scattered them over the face of the earth (Gen. 11:9). Now Israel had joined the rebellion and God would give them up and scatter them too.
Even the casual student knows the nation of Israel was not in existence at the time of the tower of Babel and in fact the ancestors of Abraham were as much a part of this plan to reach God as any others involved. The Hebrew language itself is probably a by-product of the confusion of languages which occurred at Babel, so how can the writer differentiate between Jew and Gentile when at this point the Jewish nation was still a part of the Gentile world?
Mr. Stam tells us:
It is sometimes supposed that the scattering of the Jerusalem disciples to Judaea and Samaria was in fulfillment of the "great commission," as recorded in Acts 1:8. The very opposite, however, is the case. These disciples had not left Jerusalem in response to any command of our Lord. They had fled for their lives. And the twelve apostles, the very ones our Lord had commanded to go from Jerusalem to all the world, stayed at Jerusalem!
The writer makes many statements in this one short paragraph which I can find absolutely no scriptural or historical basis for. It is true that the Christians were persecuted at Jerusalem, and many theologians believe this persecution was God's way of causing them to return to their own countries that the gospel would go to all the world. The writer, however, says that the disciples did not leave by any command of the Lord but rather in fear of their lives. Where in the scriptures do we read that God was going to send the disciples into all the world without the use of persecution?
Again as has been the case throughout the entire book the author tries to convey to his readers that the will of man can negate the will of God. We know from the scripture that the promise of tribulation was given to all of those who follow the Lord, (John 15:18+19; 16:33, I Thess. 3:4) so each of the early believers knew what awaited them if they preached the gospel. Being under the control of the Holy Spirit though, they had no choice, they had to proclaim the message which they knew to be true, and for this reason the world (Israel included) hated them and persecuted them. The command of God from the beginning was "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel." If tribulation was the cause of this action taking place, so be it. The end, in this case, justifies the means.
The writer also makes the claim in this paragraph that the 12 apostles stayed at Jerusalem.
He probably makes this assumption based on Acts 8:1, where concerning the primary onslaught of tribulation against the church this verse states, "And Paul was consenting unto his death (Stephen). And at time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." But why he presumes and states as fact that the reason the apostles stayed was to set upon 12 physical thrones (Matt.19:28) is stated nowhere in these verses. In fact the reason for the apostles staying in Jerusalem would probably have more scriptural basis in the following reason.
We see as we look at Acts 5:42- 6:7 that the church was in Jerusalem, Jerusalem was not only its point of origin, up until the persecution it was its only place of existence. The 12 apostles were called to be the ruling head of the church (pardon me for taking the literal spiritual meaning of Matt.19:28) and therefore their calling was to be the governing body which studied the scriptures in order to edify the body. When the body was dispersed as we see in Acts 8:1 the apostles probably stayed because in all actuality Jerusalem was still the hub of the gospel or the home church so-to-speak. The Jewish believers although dispersed still needed the keys or authority of Christ (Matt 16:19) that had been given to guide them through the apostles.
We see this throughout the book of Acts. When there was division over some doctrine (especially concerning circumcision) the body at Jerusalem always made the final judgment and handed down their decision which was followed by the other believers. (Acts 11:1-18; 15:6-30; 21:17-26) However when the church began to grow into congregations which needed leadership in these cities the 12 left Jerusalem taking with them the authority of the Holy Spirit which they then gave to these missionary works (Acts 8:14-17). And as time passed almost all of the apostles made long missionary journeys and the largest percentage of them died in other lands doing exactly what the Lord commanded them to do "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel."
We know when the Council at Jerusalem convened in 50 A.D. that Peter, Paul, John, Barnabas, and Titus were present, perhaps all of the other apostles were too, but scripture and history are both silent on this point. Acts 15 and Gal. 2. We can, however, go through church history and follow the trails of the 12 to see if they stayed in Jerusalem as the writer states or left on missionary journeys:
Peter- Peter was the head of the church in Jerusalem and as stated by Paul in Gal.2:7 was entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised just as Paul was entrusted to with the gospel to the uncircumcised. For this reason Peter, more than any of the other disciples, should have stayed in Jerusalem, yet we see that his first epistle written to the believers in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia,
Asia, and Bithynia (I Pet.|1:1) was not written from Jerusalem but rather from Babylon (IPet.5:13). Although the Word of God contains no basis for this tradition of the church, all of the early church writers proclaim that Peter was martyred in Rome being crucified head-down. So we can see from the scripture and the writings of the early church fathers, that Peter did not stay in Jerusalem as the writer states.
Andrew- Andrew as we see from John 1:35-40 was originally a disciple of John and after witnessing John's proclamation, "behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world," began to follow the Lord and in turn brought his brother Peter to the Messiah. Although nothing else is known of him from the Word of God after Acts 1:13, the apocryphal Acts of Andrew, which are believed to be writings of Andrews travels and miracles, state he went to
Pontus, Bithynia, Thrace, and Macedonia as well as Greece which was referred to as "his own allotted district." And these same writings declare that he suffered martyrdom by crucifixion in Greece. Other writers state he suffered martyrdom in Italy, but nowhere do we read that he stayed in Jerusalem.
James the son of Zebedee, known as James the Great,- This is the only apostle whose martyrdom is mentioned in the Bible in Acts 12:1-3, and although we know his death occurred at or near Jerusalem, some early historians of the church tell us he made missionary journeys as far away as Spain.
James the son of Alphaeus, known as James the Less- Little is known about this apostle except for his call (Matt.10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15) and his presence in the upper room (Acts 1:13). Therefore it would be an argument based on something about which the scripture and history are silent to state whether or not he ever left Jerusalem.
John- Known as one of the pillars of the church along with James and Peter. We know from study of the Word of God that John did not remain in Jerusalem. He wrote the book of Rev. while on the Isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:9), Early church fathers tell us that the other four writings he made were penned in Ephesus where he is said to have lived to an old age and died a natural death.
Philip- Philip the Apostle spoken of in the Gospels is a different person than Philip the evangelist who was one of the seven appointed by the apostles to oversee the ministries of the church at Jerusalem spoken of in Acts 6:5, and also in 8:6 and 21:8. However Philip the apostle is, according to church tradition, said to have been crucified head-down in Hierapolis, which is located six miles north of Laodicea and ten miles west of Colossea.
Bartholomew - Although church tradition falls far short of perfection, Bartholomew is said to have been a missionary, Given credit for travels to Armenia, Phrygia, Lycaonia, Mesopotamia, Persia, and India.
Thomas- Thomas also was know by early historians of the church as a missionary who traveled to such places as India and Mesopotamia.
Matthew- Eusebius said that Matthew first evangelized among Hebrews and then among other peoples- (This sounds a lot to me like he was heeding the call to preach the gospel in the order Christ commanded).
Judas (not Iscariot)- John 14:22, or Thaddeus Matt.10:3, Mark 3:18- Again little is known about the life of this apostle except the passages mentioned above.
Simon the Zealot- He too is mentioned only in Luke 6:15, Mark 3:8, and Matt.10:4. In all probability he received his name from being a Zealot, a fanatical group who opposed the reign of the Roman empire in Jerusalem.
As we have seen all of the 12 about which anything is known did not stay exclusively in Jerusalem but made Jerusalem their "home base" taking missionary journeys to all parts of the known world as the church was established there by other believers. And in a real way the claim that the writer makes on
Mr. Stam tells us:
It was natural, of course, for the believers at Jerusalem to flee when the fearful persecution broke out, but how shall we regard the conduct of the twelve apostles in staying there?
Were they delinquent in their duty to evangelize the world? The Scriptures answer plainly that they were not. The reason the twelve stayed at Jerusalem was because the kingdom, in which they were to have twelve thrones (Matt. 19:28), was to be established at Jerusalem, and blessing and salvation was to flow from there to the ends of the earth; hence their work there was not yet done.
Think about this statement for a moment. The kingdom of God was first established at Jerusalem. The disciples did receive a hundredfold inheritance as Christ claimed they would. Not in the temporal blessing that this writer so desires but in the eternal. An inheritance that would last forever and never be destroyed. From Jerusalem this newly established kingdom headed by the apostles of Christ flowed to the utmost parts of the earth.
Mr. Stam tells us:
According to prophecy God's response to the world's rejection of Christ was to be the outpouring of His wrath. He was to make Israel (and so the Gentiles) willing in the day of His power. Israel, with the Gentiles had declared war on Him and His Anointed One; He would make a counter-declaration, as it is written:
"Why do the heathen rage, and the people [OF ISRAEL, see Acts 4:25-27] imagine a vain thing?
"The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying,
"Let as break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
"HE THAT SITTETH IN THE HEAVENS SHALL LAUGH: THE LORD SHALL HAVE THEM IN DERISION.
"THEN SHALL HE SPEAK UNTO THEM IN HIS WRATH, AND VEX THEM IN HIS SORE DISPLEASURE" (Psa. 2:1-5).
"THE LORD SAID UNTO MY LORD, SIT THOU AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES THY FOOTSTOOL.
"THE LORD SHALL SEND THE ROD OF THY STRENGTH OUT OF ZION: RULE THOU IN THE MIDST OF THINE ENEMIES.
"THY PEOPLE SHALL BE WILLING IN THE DAY OF THY POWER . . ." (Psa. 110:1-3).
These words of David are the consistent testimony of Old Testament prophecy. Was the judgment now to fall?
No, it was against the dark background of man's failure and sin that God was now to reveal the riches of His grace.
Again both of these verses of scripture were fulfilled in the gospel of Christ.
In Psa.2 we see the feeble attempt of the kings of the earth to thwart the establishment of the kingdom of God in the world. They want nothing to do with it because its establishment will bring about the demise of their power and sway. What is the answer to them from God? He laughs at them. How can mere mortals prevent the establishment of the kingdom which is founded upon the shed blood of Christ and His victory over the grave? Not even the gates of Hell can prevail against it! To be sure they are in derision, they attempt to destroy it through persecution and persecution only tends to make it grow stronger. In their humanistic understanding they cannot even fathom how this kingdom could have taken root in the first place seeing as how it is based on foolishness I Cor. 1:18-21.
Look through the pages of history and see the onslaught of the world against the establishment of the church. As the song-writer so aptly puts it kingdoms wax and wane but the church continues to march on. Why? Because it rests on a foundation which is eternally secure, that being the finished work of Christ, the gospel of Christ. To be sure, at times it seems as though the kingdoms of the earth have great power but their defeat has been sealed through the work of Christ. Who, as we can see from verse 6 of this chapter, has received his kingship not through the will of man but rather through the desire of God.
The writer makes the mistake of thinking that God must bring a catastrophic world-wide punishment in this life to those who oppose Christ.
Study the scriptures closely and you will see that the wrath of God is held in reserve until the final judgment when the punishment for rejection of Christ will be seen in the eternal separation of the sinner from God in Hell. NOTHING CAN BE MORE DEVASTATING AND HORRIBLE THAN THIS JUDGMENT OF GOD AGAINST SIN, BECAUSE ANYTHING WHICH HAPPENS IN THIS WORLD IS TEMPORAL AND WE ESCAPE IT THROUGH DEATH, BUT THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM ETERNAL DEATH.
See: Col. 3:1-6, I Thess. 5:9.
God's wrath or anger against His children is often felt by the church in the world, but the all-inclusive outpouring of his wrath against the sinner will not be felt until final judgment against sin, at the return of Christ.
As we look at the second scripture the writer quotes we see essentially the same thing, Christ's finished work on the cross was all that is necessary for the defeat of sin. Look at the beautiful way God makes this declaration in verse 1. "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The work of Christ was completed at Calvary, through this finished work all of the enemies of Christ have been defeated. Nothing else needs to be done and Christ now sits at the right hand of God the father waiting for the final judgment. Because of his eternal sacrifice at Calvary, the rod of His strength continuously streams from the throne of God piercing men's hearts and causing them to see their utter helplessness and depravity in light of the perfect life and sacrifice of Christ. Certainly they make attempts to overthrow this kingdom but Christ still rules even as the scripture says "In the midst of thine enemies" and he continually calls out a people for his name, who, even in the midst of adversity and tribulation, are willing to follow Him as Lord and Savior.
Mr. Stam tells us:
The first intimation of God's purpose concerning the dispensation of grace was the salvation of Saul, the chief of sinners, and the leader of Israel's --yea, the world's--rebellion against Christ (I Tim. 1:13-16).
To him the Lord revealed what He could not yet reveal to the other apostles when He gave them their great commission: i.e., that Israel would be set aside and salvation sent by grace to all directly through the crucified, risen, exalted Christ.
The writer implies in this statement that the omnipotent God of the universe is handicapped, limited, he says, to the point where He is denied the ability to transmit to the twelve apostles that the grace of God would be sent to all through the crucified, risen, exhaled Christ. He also makes the statement that Israel has been set aside, I see no where in history where Israel has been set aside. The gospel went first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles according to Paul in Rom. 1:16. The nation Israel has always been presented with the truth of the gospel, even today Jewish people are being saved and are returning to their people with the proclamation that Christ is the Messiah.
The fact of Israel’s disbelief as a nation does not mean she has been set aside but the action of her disbelief is proof positive that the gospel of Christ is still being presented to her, for you cannot reject something unless it has been offered to you.
Mr. Stam tells us:
One of the first lessons Paul learned was that God was to conclude Israel, along with the Gentiles, in unbelief. He, like the twelve, would have launched his ministry from Jerusalem but when, after His conversion, he returned there, the Lord appeared to him and said:
"Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: FOR THEY WILL NOT RECEIVE THY TESTIMONY CONCERNING ME" (Acts 22:18).
Again, as has been the case throughout this book, the writer finds it necessary to twist scripture to prove his point. He states, contrary to the Word of God, that Paul was admonished not to launch his ministry from Jerusalem, when in fact we can see that Paul's ministry was launched from Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-30) As we can see from these verses Paul was accepted by the apostles in Jerusalem after the testimony of Barnabas vs.27, Paul then went about in and out of Jerusalem proclaiming the gospel vs.28+ 29 until the Grecians were stirred up against him at which time he was sent BY THE APOSTLES FROM JERUSALEM TO CAESAREA AND TARSUS vs.30. We also see that Paul was commissioned to bring aid to the elders at Jerusalem (Acts 11:29+30) during the great famine which engulfed Judea. In chapter 15 Paul went to the elders at Jerusalem in order to gain a ruling concerning circumcision (Acts 15:1-4) so we see that he not only received his commission from the elders at Jerusalem, he also acknowledged their leadership in the church. The verse the writer uses does not in any way deal with Paul's being accepted by the elders at Jerusalem
but rather it deals with his ministry to the unbelieving Jews at Jerusalem. In fact if you compare Acts 22: 17-21 with Acts 9:29 you will see that the unbelievers at Jerusalem were the tool God used to send Paul from Jerusalem.
Mr. Stam tells us:
Compare this statement with Luke 24:47 and see what God was now doing. He was concluding Israel in unbelief along with the Gentiles. And why? In order that He might offer salvation to all men by grace, solely and directly through the merits of Christ.
"FOR GOD HATH CONCLUDED3 THEM ALL IN UNBELIEF, THAT HE MIGHT HAVE MERCY UPON ALL" (Rom. 11:32).
Thus, through the fall of Israel, salvation was now to be preached to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:11, 12,15). With the raising up of Paul to replace the twelve as "the apostle of the Gentiles" (Rom. 11:13),
Neither in this verse or any other in the Word of God do we see it stated that Paul REPLACED the twelve apostles. These verses state only that he was called to be the apostle of God to the gentiles, NOT A REPLACEMENT BUT AN ADDITION. He also makes the statement in this paragraph that "God began to bring the Jewish religion to an end and to usher in the "reign" of grace." This was not accomplished through the work of Paul but rather through the work of Christ. Christ said I am come to fulfill the law and the prophets. His finished work on the cross of Calvary ended the reign of sin and death and brought to completion all that the law and the prophets foretold.