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8. Dispensationalism - Peter and Paul as Builders

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Dispensationalism

Peter and Paul as Builders

 

The writer begins the following comparison with the verses of scripture in which we see the confession of Peter that Christ is indeed the promised Messiah and the promise to him, by Christ, that upon this belief Christ will build his church (Matt. 16:13-19) and Paul's confession of the same in I Cor. 3:10-15.

He then attempts to divide the scriptures in such a way that they will fit his theology.

He begins in the footnote on page 145 by stating the following:


Mr. Stam tells us:
"i.e., the kingdom (kingdom is placed in italics since it is not found in the scripture but must be added to the scripture to make the authors point valid) church, not the church of this dispensation. This is clear from the fact that in the next verse Peter is given the keys of "the kingdom of heaven" and also from the fact that "the church which is His body" was then still a mystery "hid in God" (Eph.3:1-11)."


What the author is trying to convince the reader is this; Christ has two bodies of followers. An earthly body made up of the entire saved nation of the Jews and Gentiles which are saved through the teaching of the Jewish people. And a heavenly body of followers made up of Jews and Gentiles.

Does this presumption have any scriptural support?

Let us first understand the reason why I substituted the word BODY for the word CHURCH. This is done on the authority of I Cor. 12:27-28 where the words are used interchangeably, Also Ephesians 1:22-23 states clearly that the church is the body of Christ. Are there then two bodies or two churches seen in the Word of God or is there only one? We need only look at a few scriptures to show the error of the writer in his belief of a dual church or body of Christ. Romans 12:4-5, I Cor.10:17, I Cor. 12 the entire chapter, Eph.2:11-16, all speak of a single body of Christ, not of an earthly body made up of Jews and Gentiles and a heavenly body made up of the same. In fact there is not a single scripture in the Old or New Testament which speak of two separate bodies, only two covenants (discussed earlier) made to one body, the elect of God.

The dispensationalist may tell us that the scriptures point to two separate bodies, but this is a non Biblical interpretation. Throughout the Word of God we see reference made to one kingdom, (Matt.8:11-12) one body, (I Cor.12:12-13) and one church, (Matt. 16:18) made up of all believers from the time of Adam. (Heb.12:22-23) It is never stated that Christ has a different earthly body and a heavenly body. This presumption is only arrived at through false human deduction.


Mr. Stam tells us:
We know, however, that Israel as a nation rejected Christ and the building of the Messianic church could not go on to completion.  Messiah, the Foundation and Corner Stone was rejected and the building, even today, lies in ruins.  Thus God is showing Israel that her house will not stand unless she recognizes Jesus as His Son and her King.


The writer again makes man the controlling power in the universe. He makes God dependant upon the actions of men for the establishment of His kingdom. The Word of God refutes this notion clearly. Psalms 118: 22-23 brings to light the total sovereignty of God, a concept which the author, through his statements, denies repeatedly. "The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of the corner. THIS IS THE LORD'S DOING; it is marvelous in our eyes." The building of the kingdom did not rest upon its acceptance by the nation of Israel, the building of the kingdom was the Lord's doing. Its start and completion rested on His finished work at the cross of Calvary. Look at Matt. 21:42 and you will see that Christ himself makes the declaration that He is the corner stone which is refused. Does He then state that the building will not be built because of the refusal? Look at verse 43, "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." THE KINGDOM SHALL STILL BE BUILT IT, IT RESTS NOT ON MAN TO BUILD BUT ON GOD.

The nation of Israel was not the builder, it was only the inhibitor of the kingdom of God. Since it did not fulfill the agreement set forth in the lease it was evicted from the kingdom and the kingdom was given to a nation (the church- I Pet.2:9) who would be able to fulfill the lease, not under their own power, but because they were lead by the Spirit of God. Read Acts 4:11-12 and you will see the same picture, Christ's rejection by Israel as a nation did not spell the doom of the Messianic Church, instead it established it according to the fulfillment of the scriptures. Salvation of the world did not hinge on the obedience of Israel it hinged on the obedience of Christ. The writer needs to take his eyes off of man and place them on Christ who is the author and the finisher of salvation.


Mr. Stam tells us:
Meanwhile God is building another house, or at least another part of the great compound structure referred to in Eph. 2:21,22.  The building of this house, the church of this age, was a secret which Peter and the eleven knew nothing about when they followed Christ as king and offered His kingdom to Israel at Pentecost.

The plans and specifications for the building of this church were committed to Paul by the glorified Lord Himself. 


If seen in the context of the chapter, this verse does not state this at all. Look back at verses 5-6 and you will get a clear view of the point Paul is making in this chapter. He is not speaking of the church as a whole but rather, he is referring to the work at Corinth. The problem he is addressing can be seen by looking at vs.1-4. The believers at Corinth were choosing sides, so-to-speak. Some were saying, in effect, I am more spiritual because I follow the teachings of Paul, another would say I am a follower of Apollos. Paul then makes the statement that although he began the work at Corinth (or laid the foundation for this assembly), Apollos provided the spiritual nourishment to keep it going (or he built upon the foundation Paul laid at Corinth), but God was the actual force behind the whole operation. It was the Spirit of God operating through human tools to build this part of the universal church on the foundation of Jesus Christ vs.11.

Paul, though used to build this section, was not the tool used to build the entire church. This can be clearly seen in Eph.2:20. The plans and the specifications for the building of the church were given to the prophets and the apostles. Paul was one of the tools used (being an apostle) but he was only one of many. The church at Jerusalem was begun by Christ using those in the upper room Acts 2: 37-47, The church in Ethiopia was begun through the work of Philip, in fact in Acts 8:40 we see Philip preaching through all the cities between Azotus and Caesarea. According to Gal. Paul saw no difference between his gospel and his church and that of the 12, note Gal.1:13, he makes it clear he persecuted THE CHURCH OF GOD, in verse 23 he states he preached THE SAME FAITH WHICH ONCE HE DESTROYED. So we see that even Paul does not agree with the writings found in this book.


Mr. Stam tells us:
Before that time men were expected to trust in Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God," the King to reign as God on David's throne.  But with the raising up of Paul Israel's rejection of Christ was assumed and we trust the rejected King as our glorified Lord and Savior. 


Three remarks concerning this statement:

1. What is the difference between trusting Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and trusting Christ as our glorified Lord and Savior? He is both and to believe He is one is to believe He is the other.

2. Peter believed that Christ was reigning on the throne of David, Acts 2:30-31.

3. Israel’s rejection, as a nation, of Christ was seen long before Paul was raised up. Matt.10:16-23


Mr. Stam tells us:
Peter and Paul, then, both built upon the same foundation, but whereas the millennial church will be built upon our Lord as Israel's Messiah, the church of the present dispensation is built upon Him as the glorified Head of the body, rejected on earth, but exalted far above all, at God's right hand in heaven.


Our difference of opinion concerning these views rests mainly on our interpretation of the scripture. We need to make the decision for ourselves, through the study of God's Word, whether the exaltation of Christ at the right hand of God is in fact the exaltation of Christ on the throne of David, or whether these are two different events separated in time by thousands of years. If we look at the New Testament as the basis for explanation of Old Testament prophecies and Christ as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets ( Matt.5:17-18; 11:13, Rom.10:4, Gal.3:24, Acts 3:21-24) we will agree that Christ's reign in heaven fulfills the prophecy concerning His reign on the throne of David. If, however, we believe that the Old Testament and New Testament are different books, written to different peoples, concerning different bodies or churches, which deal with Christ in different positions of authority (unfortunately there is no scriptural basis for this point of view) we will see the second interpretation as acceptable.

Regardless of which interpretation we are lead to accept the author still errs when he makes the remark that Christ, during this dispensation, will be rejected on the earth but will be accepted during the millennium. Men are accepting Christ, at the present time, throughout the earth, and according to the dispensationalist even during the millennial reign there will be rejection of Christ by many who will be raised up by Satan in the "little season" to oppose Him.


Mr. Stam tells us:
This distinction is clearly brought out by a comparison of Acts 2 with II Tim. 2.

In the former passage Peter declares that God has raised Christ from the dead to sit on the throne of David (Acts 2:29-36).  In the latter passage Paul exhorts Timothy:


Where is the throne of David that Peter speaks of in these verses? The exact same place as the one Paul tells Timothy about. See Acts 2: 30-31


Mr. Stam tells us:
Peter's ministry, indeed, was accompanied by miraculous signs which "vanished away" during Paul's ministry,


Thus far in his commentary the author has failed to produce scripture that support his "vanished away" theory. I suppose he believes, if he says it enough times, it will register as truth even though it isn't.


Mr. Stam tells us:
 but who would sigh for "Pentecostal power" when he has come to know the power of Christ's resurrection? (Eph. 1:19,20, Phil. 3:10).


I often sigh for the "Pentecostal Power"  even though  I have come to know the power of Christ's resurrection. Wouldn't it be wonderful in our day to see the portals of heaven and God's grace on the masses bringing them to salvation?


Mr. Stam tells us:
It is this message which Satan hates so bitterly and opposes so viciously that Paul suffered trouble for it as an evil doer, even unto bonds.  And little wonder!  It had seemed that with Israel's rejection of Christ all hope for the world was gone; that man had made his own salvation impossible; that God's promises had failed.  And then came the revelation of the mystery! 


Where in the entire writ of God's Word can the author find scripture to back up this claim. He gives none because there is none.


Mr. Stam tells us:
Paul was not self-important in calling himself the "master-builder" of the church of this dispensation.  He makes it clear that this position ,was given to him "according to the grace of God." Indeed, he always associates his unique position with the grace of God, for his conversion and commission was the supreme demonstration of that grace (See Rom. 1:5, 12:3, 15:15,16, I Cor. 15:9,10, Gal. 1:15,16, 2:9, Eph. 3:7,8 and I Tim. 1:12-16).


Every verse above (read them and you will see) speaks of the presentation of the SAME GOSPEL given to DIFFERENT PEOPLE GROUPS.


Mr. Stam tells us:
Moses was the master-builder of the tabernacle.  God gave him the plans and specifications for it, and said: "See . . . that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount" (Heb. 8:5).
As Moses represents the law, Paul represents grace.  Paul too was a master-builder, for to him God committed the plans and specifications for a greater building, "an holy temple," the church which is Christ's body.  Step by step the details were made known to him by direct revelation so that, as "a wise [intelligent] master-builder," he had the right and responsibility to outline them to us, the builders.  


Go if you will to I Corinthians 3:9-10 and see Paul declares himself as laying the foundation for the church at Corinth only! He never states he is the master builder of the foundation for the entire church, only Christ has that authority see vs.11. When seen in context Paul is putting forth the truth that the Church at Corinth has noone to praise or place in high authority for their salvation but Jesus Christ.


Mr. Stam tells us:
They have taken Petrine material and built it upon the Pauline foundation.  They have talked about "building the kingdom" and have tried vainly to carry out the so-called "great commission." They have taken water baptism, tongues, healings and signs of the times from another dispensation and have brought them into the dispensation of the grace of God after God has caused them to "vanish away," until the church is so confused and divided that few know what to believe.


Notice not one word of the above paragraph is found in the Word of God. Perhaps the author of this book should read Revelation 22:18-19. We can see that he has no fear of adding to the Word of God in order to make a false presumption seem truthful. Perhaps if he took this passage of scripture at face value he would not be as brazen in the distorting of scripture. It must be admitted that he has done more than his share to divide and confuse the church but we can be thankful that many in the church still accept the Word of God for what it says and know what to believe.


Mr. Stam tells us:
This comes from taking too lightly the apostolic anathema of Gal. 1:8:


To be sure both this author and Christians who disagree with him preach the same Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our difference is not in the preaching of the gospel (which Paul refers to in this verse) it is in the origin of the gospel. He believes the gospel originated with Christ and was first given to Paul. We who differ believe it originated with Christ and was first given to Adam.


Mr. Stam tells us:
Are our spiritual leaders unaware of the condition of the church or have they forgotten that they will give an account to God for their workmanship when the building is inspected?


It seems as though the author of this book has done just that.


Mr. Stam tells us:
Surely God is not to blame for the present condition of the church.  The builders are to blame.  Instead of preaching the Word rightly divided, they have fed their congregations with milk and music.  Some catchy phrase, some striking verse from here or there or anywhere, regardless of its context; this, along with some sort of entertainment, is made to do for what should be intelligent and spiritually powerful preaching of the Word.  And the majority of Christians have been fed on this sort of diet for so long that they are spiritually sick--so sick that their leaders feel justified in continuing the light diet indefinitely.
It is often argued that souls are being saved, but will the builders of the church never awaken to the fact that hands raised or people coming forward do not measure the success of their work?  Will their work abide?  That is the question.  Not does it receive public approval, but will it abide the divine inspection?
Too often spiritual leaders have applied Paul's warning in I Cor. 3:10-17 to Christian conduct in general, while the passage deals specifically with the builders and their workmanship in the erection of the church.  The result: look at the church-- yes, even the Fundamental, Bible-believing church.  Examine it carefully and see whether the building is in sound condition.  See whether it is composed mostly of "gold, silver, precious stones," or of "wood, hay and stubble." And then ask yourself what the great divine Inspector will say to the builders when He examines their workmanship.
Many an evangelist, many a preacher, who enjoys prominence and popularity today will weep in that day, to see his work go up in flames. 


Perhaps he should be reminded of Paul's attitude in Phil.1:15-18, Paul's main concern was that Christ and His Gospel was being preached. Our faith is built on the fact that Christ accomplished our redemption on the cross and rose victorious over the grave. These arguments that we as "pious", "spiritual", individuals have with each other have nothing at all to do with our salvation or the spread of the gospel. God uses His precious Word and the Holy Spirit to accomplish this and His Word goes forth convicting men's hearts, whether it be from the pulpit of a dispensationalist who sees Christ in a future physical reign or the nondispensationalist who sees Christ as reigning now as He will always reign, on the right hand of the Father in heaven.

The foundation of the gospel is secure, the finished building is also secure. Although in this life it is often intermixed with the thoughts and desires of man, the finished product (the gold, silver, and precious stone) will shine forth in all of its glory when the wood, hay and stubble of humanistic thought has been burnt off.

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