4. Dispensationalism - So Called Great Commission
The So Called Great Commission
On pages 169-178 the author takes his stand against other dispensationalists who have not, in his opinion, divided God's Word to the extent that it must be cut. Since I cannot accept dispensationalism in any degree, I will bypass this section and go to page 178 where the author begins a section in which he claims there are three commissions given by Christ.
According to the chart on page 168 they are as follows:
Mr Stam tells us:
1. The Great Commission- to the Hebrew nation alone- the kingdom proclaimed.
2. The Greater Commission- To all nations beginning at Israel- the kingdom offered.
3. The Greatest Commission- To all without distinction- The kingdom postponed.
As we go through the verses connected with these three commissions I believe one thing will be brought clearly to light through the Word of God. There were actually only two commands or commissions given by Christ. The first was given to proclaim the kingdom as at hand to prepare the hearts of the chosen seed of Israel for the coming kingdom and the second was given after the kingdom was established on the earth, in order that it be furthered to all the world. The scriptures, as we will see, teach clearly that the commissions given by Christ were given only that the prophesied kingdom of the Old Covenant be established according to the scriptures.
With this thought in mind we will look at what the author calls "A Great Commission" found in Matt.10. As we look at this commission we will do a verse by verse study in order to understand its context, its meaning, and how it fulfills Old Testament prophecy concerning it. Since this commission parallels the one given to the disciples and the seventy in Luke 9- 10 we will look at both simultaneously. The author makes a valid point when he states that Christ's ministry was not to the Gentiles, while he was on earth, but rather to the house of Israel. (Matt. 15:24) This fulfills all Old testament prophecies which state that the kingdom would be established in Israel and branch out from there to the rest of the world. Where he makes an error, according to the scriptures, is this; THE KINGDOM WAS FIRST TO BE ESTABLISHED IN ISRAEL THROUGH A REMNANT, THE KINGDOM WAS NEVER PROPHESIED TO BE ESTABLISHED IN ISRAEL THROUGH THE ENTIRE NATION.
Beginning the passage in Matt. 10 we will see this brought out. "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
In these verses we see the command to go only to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel".
According to the scriptures, who are the lost sheep? Is Christ referring to the entire nation or only to a portion of the nation of Israel? If we look a little farther in the scripture we will see that the reference is not to the entire nation but only those who will accept the truth. John 10:22-28, John 8:41-47 We also see that some of the cities of Israel are going to reject those that are coming to them, Matt.10:14-23. In the account spoken of in Luke 10 there is no command given to go only to the lost sheep of Israel, however we can see in verse 1 that Christ sent them "two by two before His face into every city and place, whither he himself would come." since Christ only went to the "lost sheep of Israel" the implication is that these seventy went only to the cities of Israel. However it is interesting to note that the Lord also went to Samaria (Luke 17:11, John 4:4) so perhaps the seventy went there also.
Another thing to note is the message: Matt. 10:7, "And as ye go, preach, saying. The kingdom of heaven is at hand." and Luke 10:9, "And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." In both instances the message is a preparatory message, the kingdom of heaven or God is at hand or nigh unto you. Prepare yourselves to receive it. Note that the Messianic kingdom is not yet established, its presence, though near, is still in the future at the time this commission is given by Christ. We can also see in these verses that signs were to be given as proof that this indeed was the true kingdom, the kingdom which would prevail over the force of sin in the world. These signs were the miracles which the disciples performed as they went from city to city.
Note what Christ says in Luke 10:19-20 after the seventy returned with their good report, "And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and OVER ALL THE POWER OF THE ENEMY; and nothing shall by any means hurt you." These were the outward signs that the disciples of Christ gave as proofs of the kingdom. It seems they were not given so much as a means to draw the sheep as they were to condemn those who rejected Christ, Luke 10:10-16, Matt.10:14-15. The hope of the believer was found in the fact that his or her name was written in heaven, Luke 10:20.
What we as believers need to realize is that membership in the kingdom of God does not deal with our physical shortcomings, it deals with our spiritual shortcoming. The power over Satan and the power over the enemy is the power over sin and death. This power seen in a temporary physical sense during the time of Christ, is fulfilled in the life of the believer in an eternal spiritual way, this is why the miraculous signs faded away after the kingdom of heaven was established on the earth. I Cor. 13:8-10, Isa. 54:11-17, John 6:44-47. Note especially Isaiah 54: 15, the terror and the oppression shall gather together against God's children, but since thy are not by the Lord's hand, they will fall. We see oppression and terror all around us today but they can and will not gain the victory over God's children, He has defeated them at the cross.
Think of the weapons (vs. 17) that have been raised against the church, the axe, the guillotine, the gladiatorial arena, the stakes and fire have all been used to destroy the kingdom of God and, though they are no longer used as weapons of war, the church continues to march on. Think of the heretics and false witnesses which have testified against the church, throughout time they continue to speak in an effort to destroy the kingdom, but they die, and their very words condemn them to a Christless eternity in Hell, while the church marches on. Such has been the case in past history and such will be the case until Christ returns. All weapons and tongues that rise against Christ and His body will be destroyed but the Church is eternally established. Note also in these passages that the disciples were given a taste of eternal life (Luke 10:19). Physically speaking, during the time of this commission, the disciples had the power, even over death, given to them. This power was not necessarily continued until the kingdom came because we see in Christ's promise to the disciples (Matt. 16:28) that only some not all of them would not taste of death until they saw the Son of God coming in His kingdom.
The message then, as we have seen, is given to prepare hearts for the receiving of the kingdom of God, and to seal the fate of those who will reject the coming kingdom. The ones to whom it is preached are not seen as the entire nation of Israel but only the lost sheep or the elect of God in the nation of Israel. These are the two major differences between the commission given for the pre-establishment of the prophesied kingdom and the commission given for the furthering of the prophesied kingdom. There are similarities, however, in both commissions:
1. In both commissions the power to do the work was from God (Matt.10:1, Luke 10:19, Acts 1:8.)
2. In both commissions those who were going out were to be dependent on the Lord to meet their needs (Luke 10:4, Matt.10:9-10, Phil.4:19). In fact the phrase, "For the workman is worthy his meat or his hire" is seen throughout both (Matt. 10:10, Luke 10:7, I Tim.5:18).
3. In both the commission was given to the same group of people.
It is also my belief that both facets of the commission are seen in Matt 10. The pre-Messianic vs. Matt 10:1-15 and the building of the kingdom in verses Matt 10:16-39.
My reasons for this thought are as follows:
1. We see the cities being in subjection to the apostles in Matt 10:11-14 In Matt 10:16-23 we see the apostles being in subjection to the authority of the cities.
2. In the pre-Messianic commission the power was given over sin and death in a physical sense Luke 10:17-19 In the post-Messianic commission the power was seen over sin and death in a spiritual sense- and the disciples once again experienced the ravages of physical pain and death Matt.10: 22-23, 28
3. The power of the Holy Spirit which according to John 16:7 was not to come until Christ departed is seen in Matt.10:20 as the power behind the disciples.
4. Much of the physical suffering that the disciples were to endure according to Matt. 10:16-23 occurred after the ascension of Christ and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom on the earth.
5. In vs.38 the cross is mentioned as a type of the suffering that the disciples of Christ were going to have to endure because Christ Himself endured it, therefore, in order for the disciples to suffer in like manner, Christ must suffer first.
On page 181 the author states that what he sees as the second commission is a further development of the first, the second being the commission found in Acts 1:8, which I fully agree with. My only problem is that, according to the scriptures, where does he see the third commission. I do not see the different commission mentioned in II Cor.5:16-19 that the author does. In fact if we look closely at the author's argument we will see that the scriptures state no difference, only the bringing to completion of the prophetic message of the Old Testament.
Paul tells us in II Cor. 5:16 "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more." This is direct fulfillment of Christ's own words found in John 16:7-8, The action of knowing Christ no more after the flesh shows the completed work of Christ in sending the Holy Spirit to "reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment". It agrees completely with the words of Paul in Rom.11:32 "For God hath concluded them (the Jews) all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.
For the moment set aside all commentaries, all reference Bibles, and solely with the use of a concordance and the Holy Word of God, search out the scriptures which speak of the second coming of Christ. What you will see is not the resumption of Old Testament sacraments. You will not see it stated that at the return of Christ the nation Israel is given a second chance to receive Christ as a nation. What you will see is the culmination of the kingdom of God and the complete eradication of sin in the world.
THE WORK OF CHRIST WAS TO DESTROY THE POWER OF SIN AT THE CROSS, THUS ESTABLISHING THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN ON THE EARTH, THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS TO CONVICT THE HEARTS OF MEN, JEWS AND GENTILES ALIKE, THUS CAUSING THE KINGDOM TO GROW.
ONCE THE KINGDOM HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND ALL OF CHRIST'S SHEEP ARE SAFELY WITHIN THE FOLD, CHRIST WILL RETURN, NOT TO START OVER, BUT TO RECEIVE WHAT IS ALREADY HIS AND DESTROY THAT WHICH CAME BETWEEN HIM AND HIS PEOPLE.
This is all that the Word of God tells us, now is the day of salvation (II Cor 6:2). There will be no second chance for Israel or the rest of the world. When Christ returns the second time it will be for the world's judgment not its salvation.
Note carefully the scripture the writer uses in II Cor. 5:16, It states very clearly in this verse that we will never again know Christ after the flesh. As we can see in the following verse this does not apply only to the flesh of Christ but also to the flesh of the believer, NO FLESH CAN INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD, NO FLESH CAN EVER SEE GOD. SIN PREVENTS THIS. OUR FLESH MUST BE DESTROYED IN ORDER FOR OUR SPIRIT TO ENJOY THE TRUE FELLOWSHIP THAT WILL BE ENJOYED IN THE COMPLETED KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. WE MUST BECOME NEW CREATIONS BEFORE WE CAN ENTER INTO THE NEW JERUSALEM.
This is the complete fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. A people, redeemed from all nations beginning at Jerusalem, through the shed blood of Christ are drawn to know their Savior through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They, in turn, are commanded to preach the gospel to all the world, that the kingdom of God may be established on this earth in the hearts and lives of others. Then that final day will come when the Spirit of God convicts the final child of God, draws him to his Savior, saves him and Christ returns to destroy the old and create the new unblemished heaven and earth.