My Field Trip to a Mid-Acts Dispensationalism Conference

I recently spent two days at a weekend Bible Conference teaching and defending mid-Acts dispensationalism.  I was invited by an old friend, whom I call Polly, the same one that sparked the debate I blogged about in 2013.  I will call the teachers Jack and Dan.  Dan said we should refer any questions to Jack, who seemed to be the senior teacher.

The mid-Acts dispensational doctrine holds that Paul was such a distinctive apostle that his epistles are written distinctively “to” modern believers, the body of Christ.  All of the Bible may be “for” us to learn from, but we need not and should not be directly concerned about passages like John 15:6 (“remain in me and I will remain in you”), or 2 Peter 3:13 (“looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells”), or James 2:26 (“faith without deeds is dead”).  They nickname their doctrine “right division,” citing 2 Tim 2:15 KJV (“rightly dividing the word of truth”) in support of their elaborate system of distinctions.  They even displayed a large chart behind the teachers, measuring about 4 feet tall by 8 feet wide and displaying their view of world history – past, present, and future – correlated to books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  There was a large yellow highlighted zone between Malachi and Hebrews which they called the “dispensation of grace.”  One could also call it the “body of Christ” zone, or the “Paul zone.”

I expected to attend the conference Friday evening through Saturday evening and planned to keep a low profile during my stay there, mostly listening and making sure to understand their teachings and then choosing which of their points, if any, had the greatest need to be questioned further for clarity or criticism.

At the conclusion of the Friday teachings, I asked each teacher a few minor questions privately, which they were happy to answer.  Though many of their answers seemed to beg further questions, it did not seem important to pursue such answers, and would have taken too long anyway, so I let them go.  I will note, however, that I asked Dan about Galatians 5:19-21 (“acts of the flesh are obvious…those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom”).  I asked who is receiving his warning – the body of Christ (as we would expect in Galatians), or Israel (since it has “kingdom” and “inherit” in it).  He said it was for the body of Christ (modern believers).  So I followed up and asked whether “inherit the kingdom” meant “get to heaven” or “get rewards,” and he chose “get to heaven.”  I then pointed out that their eternal security doctrine holds that works are completely irrelevant to people getting to heaven.  So he concluded that the passage is just talking about the believers’ fleshly behavior, whereas the believers, themselves, would still get to heaven.  I let him go at that point.

On Saturday morning I thought of two minor questions in response to what the first teacher (Jack) taught.  However, as soon as the second teacher (Dan) began to teach, I heard him say that in Galatians there were “two gospels,” one for Paul and one for Peter.  I had never heard even a rumor of a Christian saying such a thing before, and it seemed very odd when considering that the previous teacher had preached so emphatically from Galatians 1:6-9 that there is only one gospel, that any other gospel is no gospel at all, and that it is super important to get the gospel right.  It became clear to me that I had a question that justified and even necessitated a critical inquiry – or perhaps inquisition – about this matter during Q&A time, where everyone could hear it.  Fortunately the group Q&A was coming up in about three hours.  So I set aside my two lesser questions and focused on asking the right question and follow-up questions.

When Q&A time came I asked Jack something like this: “Alright, so this morning we heard from Galatians 1 that there is one gospel and that there are curses for those who preach another gospel; and Galatians 2 says that even Peter needed to be rebuked for not keeping in line with the gospel.  But then this morning I heard something that kinda rocked my world.  The other teacher (Dan), if heard him right, said that there were ‘two gospels.’  I’m wondering if you could clear that up.”  Jack, the primary teacher and Q&A responder, said something like, “Well that was Dan’s comment, so,” and looking at Dan in the front row, added, “maybe you’d like to answer that one.”  As I remember it, Dan, without hesitation, started talking about a “gospel of the circumcision and a gospel of the uncircumcision,” phrases which are, in fact, found in Galatians.  At some point – perhaps with some help from Jack (I can’t remember) – Dan finished by saying something like, “Nowadays there is only one gospel” (presumably since the other gospel allegedly died off with the alleged “little flock” of believing Israel that began believing before Paul – a doctrine hardly convincing to me, but unworthy of debating under the circumstances).  So I followed up with, “But what about in the days in which Galatians was written?  Was there one gospel or two back then?”  Jack (the senior teacher) immediately interjected his own answer of “No,” apparently disallowing Dan to give a predictable “Yes” answer.  So Jack proceeded to give a fine-sounding affirmation that there was one gospel in a way as to affirm my observations and apparently to keep Dan from committing verbal heresy.  I had no further questions.  Interestingly, a seemingly loyal mid-Acts audience member followed up with, “I’m confused,” and I think he proceeded to explain that he thought the other teacher (Dan) had already established a two-gospel doctrine in support of “right division,” and now this two-gospel doctrine was apparently being retracted by the senior teacher.  Perhaps he was afraid that this senior teacher was starting to sacrifice “right division” on the altar of right exegesis, and that the theologians might be right after all.

Actually, I did previously sneak in a less important question to follow up on Jack’s assertion during Q&A that the “day of Christ” in 2 Thess 2:2 is good for believers, while the “day of the Lord” in 1 Thess 5:2 is bad for unbelievers and is chronologically distinct from the “day of Christ” in 2 Thess 2:2.  I asked something to the effect that, “If 2 Thess 2:1-2 seems to explain the timing of the ‘coming of the Lord’ to the ‘brethren’ by referring to the ‘day of Christ,’ and if 1 Thess 4:15 – 2 Thess 2:2 likewise seems to explain the timing of the ‘coming of the Lord’ to the ‘brethren’ by referring to ‘the day of the Lord,’ doesn’t the ‘the day of the Lord’ thus appear not only to parallel ‘day of Christ,’ but also to serve the same function?”  (It wasn’t that exquisite, but close enough).  His answer managed to completely miss the point of my question and my exegesis.  He basically answered by restating his chart doctrine, even turning around and putting two hands on the chart about 6 inches apart to indicate that the “coming of the Lord” in 1 Thess 4:15 is separate from the “day of the Lord” in 1 Thess 5:2.

This reminds me of a couple things: (1) Jack did acknowledge at some point that there are some mid-Acts teachers who (in agreement with me) take 2 Thess 2:2 to mean the “day of the Lord,” even though Jack personally insists that modern versions “change” it to say that (even though it’s actually more a matter of Greek manuscripts than versions); and (2) Brian, from the 2013 debate below (Debating Mid-Acts Dispensationalism 4, January 8 at 11:39pm), seems to be just such a mid-Acts teacher, considering the “day of the Lord” references from both 1 Thess 5:2 and 2 Thess 2:2 to be the same thing – “earthly sphere (wrath of God/tribulation).”  Apparently there is a lot of disagreement between mid-Acts teachers on numerous key points like this.  Such disagreement suggests that their system of distinctions cannot withstand biblical scrutiny.  In another example, Dan said Romans 8:1 is about a rewards-type of “no condemnation” for those in Christ “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (KJV), whereas other mid-Acts teachers take that last half (who walk…after the Spirit) out of there (in keeping with other manuscripts) and take “no condemnation” to refer to simply getting to heaven regardless of behavior.  In yet another example, Dan answered a private question about what the Judaizers of Galatians were trying to accomplish.  Dan said it was sanctification, while admitting that others said it was justification. Here and elsewhere I sense that Dan (rather than Jack) tends to be more eager to teach “right division” consistently than to keep things biblical, because “justification” clearly seems to be what Paul considered to be the Judaizers’ objective (5:4; as well as 2:16-17; 3:8, 11, 24).

After the Q&A the conference took a break from about 3pm to 7pm, but I decided I had heard enough, so I went home.  I decided that the “right division” teaching seemed to be creating more problems than it solved.

I am persuaded that the “right division” doctrine has outgrown its foundation.

First of all, there is nothing in 2 Tim 2:15, even in the King James, to promote their mid-Acts teaching.  The verse might at best allow for some kind of division between scripture passages, but only if such division is done rightly.  And even then I think the theologians are right for taking it to mean “dealing rightly and accurately with,” because the Greek word “orthotomeo” means “right cutting” or “straight cutting,” like someone cutting a piece of paper in two equal halves, for fair and equal distribution of paper; one best achieves this by cutting the paper in a straight line, right down the middle, not with curved, angled, or otherwise complicated cuts.

Second, the mid-Acts doctrine never adequately gets off the ground in a biblically reasoned fashion.  It does have a commendable start.  It even taught me something new and interesting about some common terms between Genesis 12 and Matthew 25, namely “blessing” and “cursing.”  The doctrine has a few verses that help its cause, as does every other doctrinal system out there.  Yet none of their verses or combinations of verses come right out and clarify or prove mid-Acts dispensationalism.  This doctrinal system is extensively detailed and thus needs to have equally detailed clarity and proof in the Bible.

Third, and most importantly, when the mid-Acts doctrine is tested against the rest of the Bible for compatibility, it may fit well enough into much of the Bible without problems, as any other belief system can manage.  What really matters, however, is how well the doctrine weathers the most difficult and challenging passages.  The doctrine must either pass the test biblically or be rejected.  Given the above examples of mid-Acts teachers frequently contradicting each other, it is apparently very difficult for them to do justice to the Bible while seeking to uphold their mid-Acts doctrine.  And I still think they murder Matthew 24 by trying to separate it from much of the Thessalonian epistles, despite up to 17 connections I have found between them, including: tribulation; the appearing of Christ along with a trumpet sound; the gathering of the righteous; and the destruction of the wicked, which comes like a thief, so people need to be ready for it.  A doctrinal system must never become so elevated that it becomes an unquestionable guide to interpreting the Bible.

Fourth, mid-Acts teachers make numerous other arguments and appeals as well:

(1) Mid-Acts teachers cite the absence of the term “body of Christ” outside Paul as evidence of his mid-Acts distinctiveness, thus making a plain, simple argument from silence.  Shouldn’t we be more concerned about arguments from what is actually said?  Terms like “Christian” and “church” are present inside and outside of Paul’s epistles.  What if these terms were absent outside Paul, just like “body of Christ”?  Is there any doubt that the mid-Acts teachers would have used this new absence as further evidence for Paul’s distinctiveness?  But because these terms do appear elsewhere, these teachers become conveniently silent as to the commonality of these two terms in Paul and other apostles (Acts 26:28; 1 Pet 4:16; 1 Cor 1:2; Heb 12:23).  (They were not so silent about the commonality of “blessed” and “cursed” in Gen 12 and Matt 25).  If pressed about these common terms, the mid-Acts teachers declare them to be generic terms that can be present in both places without consequence, and I get that!  But why then do they not likewise dismiss their own argument about the “body of Christ” on the same basis – that it, too, can be considered equally generic and inconsequential, and that its absence outside Paul is likewise inconsequential?  I mean, did it never occur to them that “body of Christ” is a phrase that Paul just happens to use more because it suits his unique style?  The other apostles have unique styles as well, which can be enumerated if need be.

(2) Mid-Acts defenders take the order of appearance of Biblical books as divinely inspired and instructive.  Thus the “right division” chart may begin to emerge, because before Paul’s books we see Genesis to Malachi, and after Paul’s books we see Hebrews, James, Peter, John, etc.  The problem with this reasoning is that there is no authority for teaching a doctrine based on the order in which books are assembled any more than there is for interpreting scripture based on the placements chapter and verse numbers in the text.

(3) The mid-Acts doctrine is also promoted based on its alleged ability to help believers resolve contradictions they couldn’t resolve before. Romans 4:2-5 vs. James 2:21-24?  Just admit that it would be a contradiction if written to the same audience, and then reconcile the passages by declaring that they are for different audiences and do so based entirely on the “right division” doctrine.  My fear is that “right division” believers may thus prematurely feel authorized and even obligated to conclude that such passages are, in fact, irreconcilable contradictions apart from their “right division” doctrine.  Perhaps God intended for us to synthesize faith and works a little more, like Philippians 2:12-13 (“work out your salvation…for it is God who works in you”), or maybe interpret “justification” differently between Paul and James.  I fear that resolving the problem of contradiction by appealing to the mid-Acts solution is like trying to eliminate the problem of small racist militias in America by calling in large U.N. armies to help us eliminate them.  The solution may prove worse than the problem.  Likewise, declaring contradictions* between certain passages (*if the passages were meant for the same kind of believers) may thus be worse than simply persisting in trying to reconcile them.  We may find ourselves inadequately concerned with having a faith that works, not to mention being on record declaring contingent contradictions in God’s Word.

(4) As a follow-up to the previous point, there is also a conveniently self-serving aspect to the mid-Acts emphasis on Paul (not that that makes it wrong).  Not only do modern Christians get to accept the free grace of Romans while disregarding the burdens of James, but they also get to believe more confidently in eternal security, because now they can simply disregard scary warnings like Matthew 25:41-46; John 15:4-6; Hebrews 10:29-31; and 2 Peter 2:20-21, while focusing on Rom 8:38-39 and Phil 1:6.  This, of course, dismisses possible support for eternal security offered by John 5:24; 1 Pet 1:23, while downplaying possible difficulties for eternal security in Gal 5:19-21; Col 1:21-23.  Plus, as before, the solution may be worse than the problem in that we may find ourselves abusing grace in ways salvation was never meant to cover (Jude 1:4).

(5) Jack even argued that Saul blasphemed the Holy Spirit by virtue of once “being a blasphemer” (1 Tim 1:13) who opposed Christians who had the Holy Spirit in them (Acts 9:1).  He then argued that Saul must have subsequently transitioned into a new dispensation of grace because he could never have been forgiven for such blasphemy under the previous system (Mark 3:29).  If one is going to claim that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is now forgivable, one either better hope one is right or better play it extra safe and avoid such blasphemy, lest one lose their salvation.

(6) One or more teachers said something to the effect that people just can’t understand the gospel correctly without the mid-Acts teaching.  How serious is this problem?  Can nobody be saved nowadays if they have only John’s Gospel?  Isn’t John’s Gospel notorious for leading more people to faith in Jesus than any other book of the Bible, perhaps even more than all others put together?  Jack repeatedly insisted that “your eternal destiny” depends on Paul’s gospel not only being right, but being right in a way distinct from the message of Peter, James, and John.

(7) Mid-Acts teachers often ridicule most theologians for never grasping the “right division” doctrine while they also commend those who do accept it for doing so by “simple faith.”  I think this “simple faith,” however, is really just simple make-believe.  I’m sorry, but there is still no complete authority for their “right division” doctrine, whether from clear scriptural teaching or even from any claim to personal, divine revelation.  The “right division” teachers make some fine Bible observations and begin to build arguments, but then supplement their case by appealing to benefits of their “dispensation of grace,” plus maybe a little preaching of fear to those who doubt “right division,” insinuating that failure to accept the doctrine might mean they are still being legalistic and may not even be saved yet, even though I thought past salvation was not to be questioned based on present doctrinal matters as long as one’s gospel was originally believed in accordance with certain “right division” favorite verses, like Eph 2:8; Rom 5:8, etc.  These were some of my favorite faith verses when I learned them as a youth at a Presbyterian Church, and the Church of the Nazarene which I now attend totally uses these verses to teach simple faith and present assurance of salvation, just like what I heard at mid-Acts conference.  Beyond that, why worry?

Having said all that is above, I realize that God has mysterious ways and that it is conceivable that the “right division” doctrine be right after all.  I may simply be too much of an armchair theologian, while their people may be mysteriously blessed with a simple faith which I am simply denied.  Even so, I don’t feel the need to join their church, because I accept the same gospel they preach when it comes to getting saved, so by their standards I should be saved, period.  If God raptures me before the tribulation, I’ll get off easier than I thought.  God’s in charge of how he deals with Israel, Jews, Gentiles, and believers of all kinds.  What I believe about them won’t make much difference to me.  I do know that I dislike how the mid-Acts teachers advised folks to “separate” from churches that reject “right division.”  Honestly, the safer thing to do, in my opinion, would be to separate from the “right division” churches, because their doctrines are self-serving to the point of endangering their souls, as I argued above.  They, more than almost any other group I’ve come across – even more than JW’s – have fallen into the persuasion that they know something special when they really don’t (1 Cor 8:2).  And if one can pardon the punch line: They didn’t have an idol at that conference; but if they did it would be that “right division” chart to which they referred frequently in response to Bible difficulties.

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Debating Mid-Acts Dispensationalism 6

Robert – January 18 at 9:05pm

Since I advocate continuing in the faith to remain saved, you asked me, “how much continuing is acceptable?” God does not tell us that, so I guess we don’t need to know and I guess God will patiently and lovingly take care of that. The difficulty you raise is a personal one, not a biblical one. I say trust God to keep you secure when you’re living your life, and just avoid putting God to the test by denying Christ as your Savior. Continue in the faith like that, and you should be fine.

 

“Adam’s innocence was inherent to his creation.” Yes, and his creation was a gift. My analogy stands. (And straw man arguments are actually where you misrepresent your opponent’s argument to make it look weak and easy to knock down, kind of like where you accuse me of “work work work, earn that salvation by what you do and not by what Jesus DID.” I’ve been on record since January 5 saying something much different: “We must simply continue believing in Jesus and let him take care of our fruit-bearing.”)

 

Look, I don’t oppose eternal security. Please, keep it. And if you decide to “go on and on,” you can begin with direct exegetical engagement of my posts from January 13. Otherwise I’m quite content to rest my case and get back to focusing on more important matters. The jury can decide for themselves on our eternal security debate.

 

And what are these more important matters?

 

What concerns me most is dispensationalism and how it may be affecting your understanding of the relationship between Matthew 24 and the Thessalonian epistles. We know that a person’s highest belief controls their other beliefs. For instance, many Muslims say that the Bible is “the word of God” but they do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God or that he died for our sins. Why? Because their “higher belief” is in the Koran, which rejects these Bible teachings. So rather than rejecting the Bible altogether, they must twist the Bible into agreement with their higher book, the Koran. It’s always the lesser belief that gets twisted for the sake of the higher belief, never the other way around.

 

I fear that you may likewise be allowing your high belief in dispensationalism to have too much control over your belief in the Bible, because I think you have been interpreting the Bible into agreement with your dispensationalism from the start. I will try to explain this as I respond to your remaining four posts from January 8.

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Robert – January 18 at 9:07pm

Response to your 5th & 6th posts from 1/8/13 * Acts 9 * Body of Christ

 

I do appreciate your explanation about Acts 9 and why you choose this for the start of what your “dispensation of grace.” I can’t say I find it clearly biblical or logically compelling, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Sometimes Bible truth does not present itself in a straightforward or logically compelling manner straight from Bible texts but must be discerned or revealed to us by divinely authorized interpretations by apostles, prophets, or possibly by Jesus Christ himself. Of course, dispensationalists don’t believe in that kind of “divine intervention” nowadays, last time I checked (Interactive Timeline, Triangle Bible Church, Dispensation of the Grace of God, 3:08-3:20). So I don’t know by what authority dispensationalists can know any of this. At best, they have spent lots of time pursuing Bible-honoring theories that will best fit the biblical data with the least amount of difficulty. Maybe they’ve found it this time. Maybe that’s God’s plan. I still find the whole system’s foundation weak and its difficulties heavy.

 

I do not find a dispensational “mystery” being “first revealed” to Paul on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, only that God chose him to preach to the gentiles (Acts 9:15; Acts 22:21; Gal 1:15-16). So Paul has a special gentile ministry. Of course, he still preached to Jews until Acts 28, and Peter still preached to gentiles in Acts 10, and many apostles have tombs in distant nations.

 

I was intrigued by your argument that Jesus was “sitting” until God made his enemies his footstool (Psa 110:1, etc.) and then “standing” in Acts 7:56. But I don’t think this “standing” proves that the “until” part has ended and therefore “Jesus was about to pour down His wrath.” Jesus will be seen again “sitting” while he is “coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt 26:64). His standing in Acts 7:56 need not be anything beyond his honoring of Stephen before his Father and the angels (Matt 10:32; Luke 12:8).

 

So there is no need to explain why the wrath of God did not suddenly come around Acts 7-9. The reference to Romans 11:25 and “until the fullness of gentiles has come” is a respectable guess if you must seek to fill such a void. But the void, itself, is still elusive to me.

 

Post 6 * Body of Christ

 

I had been noticing that you and others prefer the term “body of Christ,” and I appreciate your clarification of why. Terms like “church” and “Christian” do apply beyond those who receive Paul’s gospel preaching (Acts 7:38; Matt 16:18; 1 Pe 4:16). So naturally you explain that these terms extend beyond the “body of Christ.”

 

Well, I believe that “church” and “Christian” do NOT apply outside the “body of Christ” any more than Peter’s gospel was different from Paul’s. There is only one true gospel (Gal 1:6-9). Paul confronted Peter because Peter and his church (or congregation) “were not acting in line with the gospel” (Gal 2:11-14). Their gospel was one, just like their Lord, faith, and baptism (Eph 4:5). So when “quarrels” arose between Christians following Paul, Apollos, or Cephas (Peter), they were told to be united because Christ is not divided (1 Cor 1:10-13). I think that “Christ” (v. 13) means “body of Christ,” and that followers of Paul and Peter are to be “united” accordingly (v. 10). In fact, Ephesians 3:6 connects the mystery, the gospel, the body, the gentiles, and Israel as follows:

 

“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 3:6)

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Robert – January 18 at 9:10pm

Response to your 7th & 8th posts from 1/8/13 * day of the Lord * trump, trumpet

 

Your 7th post gives a splendid key by which to dispensationally interpret the Bible, but does not begin to document any of its claims biblically. It is not enough simply to say, “Which sphere reclaiming is being addressed can be determined from the context.” Appealing to context requires citing and explaining that context. In the end you separate the two “day of the Lord” references found in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:2 from the “day of the Lord” references found in the other four verses, and you designate these two Thessalonian references for the tribulation saints, not the body of Christ.

 

Before I fully address these Thessalonian passages, I will first clear up some related matters you brought up in your 8th post about the words “trump” and “trumpet.” There you said:

 

“Mathew and Paul are speaking about two different events. Mathew is talking about the 2nd Advent return of Christ after the great tribulation (Daniel’s 70th week), whereas Paul is talking about the pre-trib rapture.

Where you’re getting confused is you’re not keying in on what 1 Cor 15:52 says, it says ‘the last trump’ not the last trumpet. A trump is the sound a trumpet makes, and at that event (the rapture) at that trumpet last trump the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (concerning the body of Christ).

Mathew 24:29-31 is describing a different event with a different sound of a trumpet or ‘trump’.”

 

As for the word “trump,” there may be some ancient English distinction between “trump” (as a sound) and “trumpet” (as an instrument), but currently “trump” is an obsolete word, and more importantly both ‘words’ come from the exact same Greek root word ‘salpigx’ (feminine noun, often transliterated ‘salpinx’). Therefore the term “trump, trumpet” (see Vine’s) is one word in Greek, and should remain one word in English. So when I say “trumpet,” I refer to both the instrument and its sound, because they’re effectively inseparable.

 

My big question for you is: Why do you say, “Mathew 24:29-31 is describing a different event with a different sound of a trumpet or ‘trump’.”? Where is this “different sound” you speak of? Surely it is not in Matthew’s word “great” [megales]. Surely all these trumpets are great. I suspect, rather, that you find this “different sound” in the textual variant of Matt 24:31 which features the word “sound” [phones]. After all, the TR manuscript (used in the KJV) has “sound” in Matt 24:31 but not in 1 Corinthians 15:52:

 

NU and TR Greek texts of 1 Cor 15:52 read:

‘en – te – eschate – salpiggi – salpisei,’ which means

‘at – the – last – trump(et) – [it] will [make a] trumpet [sound].’

 

The NU Greek text of Matt 24:31 reads:

‘meta – salpiggos – megales’; which means

‘with – a trumpet – great.’

 

The TR Greek text of Matthew 24:31 features the word “sound” as well:

‘meta – salpiggos – phones – megales’; which means

‘with – a trumpet – sound – great.’

 

Even if the TR got it right and the word “sound” is true to the original, this would do nothing to establish a different event. Again, no trumpet is worth mentioning unless it’s making a sound, and no such sound can exist apart from its trumpet. They are effectively inseparable. That’s why the Greek word is the same for both.

 

So again, my big question for you is: Why do you say, “Mathew and Paul are speaking about two different events,” and, “Mathew 24:29-31 is describing a different event with a different sound of a trumpet or ‘trump’.”? It is no answer to simply refer to your doctrine and say, “Mathew is talking about the 2nd Advent return of Christ after the great tribulation (Daniel’s 70th week), whereas Paul is talking about the pre-trib rapture.” You still have not explained why your doctrine is true in the first place to any degree approaching the simpler biblical message to the contrary. That is my central concern in these posts.

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Robert – January 18 (edited) at 9:52pm

Response to your 7th & 8th posts from 1/8/13 * day of the Lord * 2 Thess 1:6-10 & 1 Thess 5:9

 

As before, I will address the two Thessalonian “day of the Lord” references, right after clearing up one more objection you raise:

 

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

 

You also claimed in your 8th post that:

 

“The tribulation mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 is the suffering the body of Christ endures from the lost world, being rejected and persecuted for standing up for correct Pauline grace doctrine. Don’t confuse it with the tribulation connected with God’s wrath (Jacob’s time of trouble etc). The body of Christ is not appointed to that God’s wrath tribulation:

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

-1 Thessalonians 5:9”

 

First, you are not distinguishing between being appointed to God’s wrath and suffering man’s wrath. You don’t have to be raptured out of the very presence of God’s pouring out of wrath on others in order to be delivered from his wrath. Remember Noah’s flood, the escape from Sodom and Gomorrah, and the plagues on Egypt. God’s people have a history of “being there” in the midst of God’s punishments of others without suffering that punishment themselves. Now, God may intervene and miraculously protect us from man’s wrath (Daniel in the lion’s den, and the fiery furnace story), or he might just let us get tortured to death (Luke 21:16; Heb 11:37). But he assures them that “But not a hair of your head will perish.” (Luke 21:18)

 

Second, you are implying a rather odd scenario in which Christ comes at the start of the tribulation, turning it around on the tribulators, bringing “fire” and “everlasting destruction” on the wicked, being glorified in his holy people, and being accompanied by angels – only to do it all again some years later. Your dispensational assertion of “Jacob’s time of trouble” doesn’t help; it only begs further explanation (again, my central concern in these posts). How does God bring “everlasting destruction” on the disobedient “on the day he comes” while leaving behind so many to suffer the tribulation and go through a later judgment day to suffer ultimate judgment? I’m guessing you’ll say that some of them escape that first judgment.

 

Third, I find it a little odd that you would appeal to 1 Thess 5:9 for the body of Christ’s eternal security when you also said that 1 Thess 5:2 is not for the body of Christ. I sense this is another dispensational switch-out here, like you asserted in Romans 11:13-25, as if Paul went Peter on us for a spell. The truth is 1 Thess 5:9 is indeed for the body of Christ and his readers are called “brothers” throughout the epistle (4:1,10,13; 5:1,4,12). But does 1 Thess 5:9 keep the body of Christ out of the tribulation? Again, they can be ‘in’ the tribulation but not ‘of’ the tribulation. They can suffer man’s wrath while being spared God’s wrath.

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Robert – January 18 at 9:20pm

Response to your 7th & 8th posts from 1/8/13 * day of the Lord * 1 Thess 5:2

 

1 Thessalonians 5:2

 

4:15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 4:17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 4:18 Therefore encourage each other with these words. 5:1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 5:2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 5:3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 5:4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. (1 Thess 4:15-5:4 NIV)

 

One of the greatest disputes I have with you on anything is your claim that 1 Thessalonians 5:2 is not for the body of Christ. Here is how I read the passage:

 

(1) Paul calls his audience “brothers” continually throughout chapters 4 and 5 (4:1,10,13; 5:1,4,12). By all appearances they are one audience, the body of Christ (an audience in which Paul specializes).

 

(2) The Thessalonian body of Christ looks forward to “the coming of the Lord” (4:15). This involves the trumpet call of God (4:16) and the rapture (4:17). This is Paul’s DESCRIPTION of the event.

 

(3) Then Paul immediately addresses their concerns about the TIMING of the event by telling these “brothers” that “about times and dates we do not need to write to you” (5:1). These “times and dates” are still referring to the aforementioned “coming of the Lord” (4:15).

 

(4) Paul’s stated reason for saying, “about times and dates we do not need to write to you,” is that “the day of the Lord” is going to “come like a thief” anyway, meaning they’re not supposed to know (5:2).

 

(5) Even though these “brothers” do not know the “times and dates,” they will still avoid being unpleasantly “surprised” by this day because they are “not in darkness” (5:4-5). Then Paul encourages them all the more to “keep watch” [gregoreo] (5:6).

 

Here is my main point:

 

In view of points 3 and 4, “the day of the Lord” becomes just another term for “the coming of the Lord” (4:15). The reason he did not write these “brothers” about “times and dates” of their long-awaited “coming of the Lord” (4:15) is precisely because the “day of the Lord” would come like a thief anyway. The terms are used interchangeably here and mean the same thing.

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Robert – January 18 at 9:26pm

Response to your 7th & 8th posts from 1/8/13 * day of the Lord * 2 Thess 2:2

 

2 Thessalonians 2:2

 

2:1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2:2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 2:3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for [that day will not come] until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Th 2:1-3 NIV)

 

As with 1 Thessalonians 5:2 above, I have another great dispute with you take on 2 Thessalonians 2:2 and how you separate the body of Christ from “the day of the Lord.” Most of the scriptural observations and arguments are the same as with 1 Thess 5 above, only stronger this time. Here is how I read the passage:

 

(1) As with point 1 above, Paul again refers to his readers as “brothers” repeatedly (1:3; 2:1,13,15, etc.). The first and second chapters are addressed to his brothers in the body of Christ.

 

(2) As with point 2 above, Paul writes to these brothers “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him.” (2 Th 2:1). This is Paul’s DESCRIPTION of the event. Verse 1 establishes three things in common between the 2 Thess 2 and 1 Thess 4 audiences (besides being Thessalonian):

(a) Being called “brothers” (1 Th 4:13);

(b) Anticipating the Lord’s “coming” (1 Th 4:15);

(c) Anticipating their “rapture” and/or “gathering” (1 Th 4:17)

Oh, and I almost forgot: Paul said “OUR being gathered to him,” thereby including himself in the prophetic forecast he gave to his brothers. And Paul was in the body of Christ.

 

(3) As with point 3 above, Paul addresses their worries about the TIMING of the event (2 Th 2:2). False prophecies and reports had “alarmed” some folks that the day had “come” or was “at hand.”* And this day is “the day of the Lord” (2 Th 2:2).

 

(4) Paul’s stated reason as to why they need “not be unsettled or alarmed,” is that “the day of the Lord” will not come until “the man of lawlessness is revealed” (2 Th 2:2-3).

 

Here is my main point:

 

In view of points 3 and 4, the alarms of the audience about the “day of the Lord” were precisely why Paul responded to them “concerning the coming of our Lord.” Within one sentence (2 Th 2:1-2) Paul logically equated “the day of the Lord” with “the coming of our Lord,” just like he did in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 above.

 

Neither 1 Thess 5:2 nor 2 Thess 2:2 refer to a day beyond the scope of the body of Christ, exemplified by Paul’s brothers in Thessalonica. Both of these “day of the Lord” references are synonyms for “the coming of the Lord” (1 Th 4:15; 2 Th 2:1). And this coming of the Lord is clearly for the body of Christ (1 Th 4:15), including Paul (2 Th 2:1).

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Robert – January 18 at 9:35pm

Matthew 24 & the Thessalonian epistles * 17 connections

 

In view of my above arguments over the Thessalonian epistles, I now list the 17 connections I’ve found between Matthew 24 (etc.) and the Thessalonian eschatology concerning the body of Christ. Some connections are better than others. But together they work pretty hard against the distinctions of dispensationalism.

 

#1. Christ’s Coming [parousia] (Mt 24:3,27,37,39 & 1 Th 4:15; 2 Th 2:1,8).

#2. Deception (Mt 24:4,24 & 2 Th 2:10).

#3. Persecution (Mt 24:9 & 2 Th 1:4).

#4. Perseverance (Mt 24:13 & 2 Th 1:4).

#5. Abomination of Desolation / man of lawlessness (Mt 24:15 & 2 Th 2:3,8,9).

#6. Tribulation [thlipsis] (Mt 24:21,29 & 2 Th 1:6-10).

#7. False Signs and miracles (Mt 24:24 & 2 Th 2:9).

#8. Christ’s Appearing [phaino/epiphaneia] (Mt 24:30 & 2 Th 2:8).

#9. Clouds (Mt 24:30 & 1 Th 4:17).

#10. Power (Mt 24:30 & 2 Th 1:7 (powerful angels)).

#11. Angels (Mt 24:31 & 1 Th 4:16; 2 Th 1:7).

#12. Trumpet [salpinx] (Mt 24:31 & 1 Th 4:16 (as well as 1 Cor 15:52)).

#13. Rapture [harpazo] / Gather(ing) [episynago(ge)] (Mt 24:31 & 1 Th 4:17; 2 Th 2:1).

#14. The day unknown / like a thief (Mt 24:36,42-44 & 1 Th 5:1-2).

#15. Keep watch [gregoreo] (Mt 24:42-43 & 1 Th 5:6)

#16. Destruction [Lu 17:27//Mt 24:39 & 1 Th 5:3; 2 Th 1:9)

#17. Christ’s Revelation [Lu 17:30//Mt 24:39 & 2 Th 1:7).

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Robert – January 18 at 9:41pm

Response to your 8th post from 1/8 * 1 Peter 1:23

 

You say that being “born again of imperishable seed” (1 Peter 1:23) is not for the body of Christ but for a “little flock messianic church” and about “a new Israel being born out of apostate Israel.” You cite Romans 9:6-8 as referring to the “seed” of Abraham being the believing remnant of Israel (and not the body of Christ).

 

Yeah, I still don’t see any positive reasons for reading 1 Peter as anything but an epistle to Christians. The “gospel” was “preached” to them (1:12), and there is only one gospel, the one Paul preaches (Gal 1:6-9), and even Peter must conform to it (Gal 2:14).

 

Romans 9:8 states that “the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” The “promise” appears to be the same “promise” that comes by grace through faith in Romans 4:16, whether for Jew or gentile:

 

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” (Ro 4:16)

 

And Galatians adds:

 

“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:29)

 

If there is some dispensational distinction to be made here, some hidden Christianity outside the body of Christ, some seed according to God’s promise different from that of Paul’s gospel, it is really going to great lengths to hide itself behind the lines of the Bible. One would need some kind of God-given apostolic gift of knowledge in order to see it.

 

Or one could just have a lot of faith in dispensationalism.

 

“The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.” (1 Cor 8:2)

 

I say keep it simple and be careful not to go beyond what is written.

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Debating Mid-Acts Dispensationalism 5

Robert – January 10 at 11:25pm

Lengthy posts require lengthy responses. I’ve finished responses to three of eight. This could take through the weekend. But what I’m learning is well worth the time. I’ll send all eight together.

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Robert – January 13 at 10:30pm

I have finished my responses to your first four posts. I will post what I have, and then begin working on responses to your remaining posts.

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Robert – January 13 at 10:30pm

Response to your 1st & 2nd posts from 1/8/13 * faith * works * gifts * inconsistency

 

You can have your opinion about my needs to purge out a little legalism. I find peace well enough through depending on Christ apart from eternal security.

 

You claim that my “dependence on God’s patience and love has an enduring works based theme to it.” If you are referring to my ‘keeping the faith’ campaign, this cannot be true, because faith is not works. Rather, faith is how we receive the promise of salvation by grace: “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace” (Ro 4:16). ‘Keeping the faith’ is no more “works based” than having faith in the first place.

 

You argue that Christians “cannot sin away their salvation because they didn’t do anything to earn the free gift of salvation.” By that logic Adam and Eve could not sin away their innocence because they did nothing to earn the free gift of innocence. Gifts are not permanently kept just because they are freely given.

 

Then you add, “and they [Christians] don’t do anything to earn the keeping of the free gift of salvation. If they had to it wouldn’t be a gift.” But faith is not about “earning.” Staying saved by ‘keeping the faith’ is no more meritorious than getting saved by faith in the beginning.

 

You expand the second argument with a car wash analogy and a definition of “gift” in order to reason that “presents” are not really “gifts” if they come with “obligations.” But even free gifts can be thrown away, abandoned, or destroyed by the recipient. Again, the analogy proves nothing regarding eternal security.

 

Your 2nd post responds to my cry of “inconsistency” in your standards between grace-based Pauline Christians and endurance-based tribulation saints. You reason that the latter had “the proper sacrifice” that “made them right with God,” whereas Christians have only Christ’s sacrificial grace through faith and therefore “salvation from hell as a PRESENT POSSESSION that cannot be lost or taken away ever!” This answer is intriguing, but it still depends on dispensational distinctions, which I still don’t find biblical. Moreover, I don’t believe that anybody was or ever will be “made right with God” or “justified” by works of the law:

 

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (Ro 3:20)

 

“For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.” (Gal 3:21)

 

You also echo a previous argument, “salvation from hell as a PRESENT POSSESSION…cannot be lost or taken away ever!” Again, a present possession does not guarantee your future keeping of that possession, as explained above.

 

As for my use of John and 1 John, I was only borrowing the expressions as poetic inspiration to articulate my ‘keep the faith’ position. I knew you considered these books irrelevant to the Christian life. I got that, so I based my actual arguments on Paul alone.

 

I am going to wait until my next post to discuss your comments on 2 Tim 2:13 (2nd post, 1/8) together with your later comments on 2 Tim 2:12 (4th post, 1/8).

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Robert – January 13 at 10:32pm

Response to your 2nd & 4th posts from 1/8/13 * 2 Tim 2:11-13

 

Your 2nd post cites 2 Tim 2:13 in defense of eternal security. Translations vary:

 

“If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” (KJV)

“if we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself.” (ASV)

 

(I’ll accept the translation “believe not” for this discussion, although I think the evidence greatly favors “are faithless.” I have written paragraphs explaining why, if you want me to post them.)

 

Your argument here is that “even if they abandon and deny Christ He can’t deny himself (eternal security based on nothing but what Christ did).”

 

Your 4th post repeats and expands the argument. First you take “deny Christ” to mean “abandoning Paul’s grace doctrine.” Then you take the phrase (“believe not”) from verse 13 to be just another reference to “deny Christ,” as in verse 12. Here is your entire paragraph:

 

“Here’s what’s going on: If we have believed, we died and were raised in Him, thus have received the eternal life of Christ. If we grow in Pauline doctrinal maturity and suffer rejection for proclaiming it, we will receive reward in heaven. If we abandon the doctrine, the wholesome words given to Paul for us by the revelation of Jesus Christ (i.e. deny Christ) we will suffer loss of reward in heaven. However, even if we deny him (by abandoning Paul’s grace doctrine, which is what makes us mature and qualified for our reward), because our life is His life, He can’t deny us our everlasting life because that life is His (Himself).”

 

After studying your paragraph very carefully, I now provide my own interpretation of what I think you are really saying, using [your own words]:

 

12. If we deny him [by abandoning Paul’s grace doctrine], he will deny us [rewards in heaven].

13. If we [deny him], he remains faithful, for he cannot deny [us our everlasting life because that life is] himself.

 

Maybe others will be persuaded by this dual application of “deny him,” but I am not. It seems plain to me that “deny him” and “believe not” are distinct phrases because they have distinct meanings. Their consequences certainly are distinct – “he will deny us,” as opposed to “he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” Besides all that, the attempt to tie our eternal life to Christ’s own life is just another dogmatic rationale for eternal security. Christ cannot deny himself, but he can deny us.

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Robert – January 13 at 10:35pm

A response to your 3rd post from 1/8/13 * 1 Cor 15:2 * Col 1:21-23

 

Your first five paragraphs touch on biblical variation of word meanings as something that requires discernment and right dividing. All this builds up to your sixth paragraph, which says: “You have to contextualize when Paul is talking about justification and when he’s referring to sanctification.”

 

Then you apply this to 1 Cor 15:2. This verse reads:

 

“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

 

You claim that the phrase “you are saved, if” boils down to “you are sanctified, if.” You arrive at this understanding by reasoning that Paul clearly established the eternal security doctrine by virtue of his alleged doctrinal “precedents” on “justification” found in the “context” located in Romans 1-5. (Plus some of the usual accusation that I’m bringing in other epistles and gospels to muddy the waters, and that I’m teaching something evil and satanic.)

 

Here are three responses:

(1) Romans 1-5 is not “context” for 1 Cor 15:2, nor does Romans enjoy any doctrinal precedence over other epistles just because it appears first in the canon of Paul’s epistles. Besides, 1 Corinthians was probably written before Romans anyway.

 

(2) The eternal security teaching is neither found in Romans 1-5 nor implied by the doctrine of “justification,” as I’ve explained elsewhere.

 

(3) If there is any “context” here, it is 1 Cor 15:1-11. This is Paul’s review of “the gospel” (v. 1) that he “passed on to you as of first importance” (v. 3) about how “Christ died for our sins” (v. 4) and that “this is what you believed” (v. 11). Believing the gospel that is preached as of first importance is not about sanctification and treasures in heaven; it’s about salvation and getting to heaven at all.

 

Colossians 1:21-23

 

As with the previous text, you contend that our being “presented holy…if we continue in the faith” only concerns sanctification. Your only discernible argument revolves around the word “unreproveable” (v. 22).

 

While this word involves sanctification, it is not our job to be found “unreproveable.” It is Christ’s job to present us as such. And he will present us unreproveable if we do our job: continue in the faith. And this “faith” is not a “work of faith” or some other code for sanctification. As before, it is connected to “the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, which was preached…” (v. 23). Again, it sounds like the gospel of faith that gets people to heaven. Continued faith is our job, presentation holy and unreproveable is Christ’s job.

 

Like it or not, you and Dillow both interpret these passages the same, seeing a secondary meaning of salvation in 1 Cor 15:2 and a secondary meaning of faith and/or unreproveability in Col 1:21-23. I’m not persuaded. Maybe others will be.

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Robert – January 13 at 10:37pm

 A response to your 4th post from 1/8/13 * Romans 11:13-25 (especially v. 22)

 

“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” (Ro 11:22)

 

You argue that Romans 11:21-24 is not a warning to Christians but a “warning to the lost gentile world that this dispensation of grace, this time of amnesty is temporary,” and you provide reasons.

 

I do recognize a kind of timeline theme here, starting in Romans 9, about how God’s favor (simply put) used to be for Jews, and then transferred to gentiles during the Christian age, and may yet transfer back to Jews if Christians or professing Christians get “cut off” through unbelief. But this timeline theme does not take away from the evidence that Paul is still writing to contemporary Christians and giving them real time warnings with real consequences, eternal or otherwise.

 

You said Romans 11:13 was “addressing the lost gentile people of the nations, essentially a warning to the lost.” But why the lost?? Paul wrote this epistle to contemporary Christians (1:7) and called them “brethren” throughout the epistle (1:13; 7:1,4; 8:12; 10:1; 11:25; 12:1; 15:14,15,30; 16:14,17). When Paul writes to “you gentiles” (11:13), he is clearly writing to the same “you” he knows to be Christian (1:7; 6:14; 8:11; 11:25; 12:1) and to the same “gentiles” that he knows to be saved just two verses earlier:

 

“Salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” (Ro 11:11)

 

There is zero evidence that “you” or “gentiles” switched meaning from saved to lost two verses later.

 

Romans 11:19-20 further affirms their salvation by ‘granting’ that they were “grafted in” and telling them, “you stand by faith”:

 

“But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.” (Ro 11:20)

 

Paul (apostle to the gentiles) said, “You stand by faith.” This is absolutely no way to speak to unsaved people. Yet, you insist otherwise:

 

“Paul tells these lost people to FEAR. Contrast this to Romans 8:15 where he talks to saved people, members of the body of Christ:

For ye have NOT received the spirit of bondage again to FEAR; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

 

The “fear” in Romans 8:15 proves nothing. Everybody knows that biblical “fear” can be good or bad. Christians avoid bad fear (Ro 8:15; Phil 1:14) but practice good fear:

 

“perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1);

“submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Eph 5:21);

“working out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).

 

This good fear is clearly what Paul had in mind here:

 

“…thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear.” (Ro 11:20)

 

His Romans 11:20 audience seems to share ‘standing by faith’ in common with his 1 Corinthians 15:1 audience:

 

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” (1 Cor 15:1)

 

As for Romans 11:21-24 you insist that “cut off” is a “warning to the lost gentile world that this dispensation of grace, this time of amnesty is temporary.” And again, the evidence is all against you. Verse 22 itself bears out their salvation by the words, “provided you continue in his kindness.” What kindness? Salvation. Continue how? Stay in it.

 

You claim that in Romans 11:25 “Paul switches back to addressing saved people = members of the body of Christ (BRETHREN).” Rubbish. There is no sign of any dispensational switch-back here. Again, Paul calls his readers “brethren” from start to finish, and it is only sensible that he is continually speaking to his Christian brethren in verses 13, 20, and 22 as well. Christians who “stand by faith” are told to “continue in his kindness” or else be “cut off” (Ro 11:20, 22).

 

Honestly, it would be easier and more respectable for you to simply acknowledge that Romans 11:22 is for Christians as you did with 1 Corinthians 15:2; Colossians 1:23; 2 Tim 2:13, and then interpret “cut off” as “loss of reward in heaven.” At least that’s how Dillow defended his eternal security teaching. He took all four warnings that way.

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Brian – January 16 at 12:16pm

You’re not going to be able to progress until you can purge out your inclination to want to perform for your salvation. The flesh naturally wants to perform because it’s prideful and thinks it has something to offer. Don’t let that propensity corrupt your thinking. That’s just not how God is operating today. Today salvation is through grace. That’s why in Romans chapter 3 Paul says “But NOW the righteousness of God WITHOUT the law is manifested”, prior to that righteousness was achieved with the law BUT NOW it’s achieved through grace alone by faith alone.

 

Whether you wanna say “keeping” or “continuing”, it’s the same thing as “abiding”, “enduring”, and “overcoming”, and these are works. For Israel these are necessary for salvation, for righteousness in God’s eyes in Israel’s works based, performance based acceptance program (the law) but now righteousness WITHOUT the law is manifested. In Israel’s law program, sanctification/maturity/growth/life change is connected, inseparable from their justification/salvation from hell. This is not the case for God’s people today: the body of Christ. Today you have to learn to separate justification from sanctification. In the dispensation of GRACE justification/salvation from hell is not contingent upon sanctification/maturity/growth/life change.

 

Until you can get this, the most basic and fundamental doctrine for God’s people today (the body of Christ), everything is gonna be off kilter. It’s like the race starts and you’re running in the wrong direction, no matter how much work and effort you put forth, you’re going the wrong way which makes the effort of no profit.

 

You’re stuck in no eternal security zone, relying on your performance for salvation instead of Christ’s performance on the cross. Again, keep your fingers crossed and hopefully things will work out, hopefully you’ll keep the faith, hopefully you’ll continue, hopefully you’ll endure to the end, work work work, earn that salvation by what you do and not by what Jesus DID. That’s dead reckoning.

 

As far as this “keeping the faith campaign” you’ve created, what you’re doing is kidnapping a Bible term (2 Timothy 4:7) and you are imposing a meaning on the term that God (through Paul) never ascribed to this term.

 

The term keeping the faith as it is used in the Bible is a work. It’s a work of sanctification that is NOT required for justification/salvation from hell. Keeping the faith is doctrine for the body of Christ to continue in doctrinal maturity in order to receive reward (therefore meritorious), the crown of righteousness spoken of in the very next verse.

 

This Bible term “keeping the faith” already has it’s own meaning, so don’t apply a new one to it. The concept you are forcing upon the term is the enduring to the end work to make saving faith perfect, performance based, short account system of Israel. This concept does not apply to anyone today because today people are saved by grace, not by works.

 

 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

-Ephesians 2:8-9

 

 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

-Romans 4:5

 

Adam’s innocence was inherent to his creation and was not a gift; you’re comparing apples to oranges (straw man argument).

 

Analogies only go so far otherwise you would just say what you’re analogizing. Nevertheless the point of my car analogy was that a gift is not a gift if you must continually earn it. Then you added your amendment to my analogy: that you can give away your gift (which is just arminian works based religion). The problem with that is that God won’t take back that gift even if you don’t want it, you’re stuck with it whether you like it or not:

 

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

-Romans 11:29

 

Anyway, until you get the legalism purged out you’re gonna be stuck in Galatianism and we can talk about Bible verses indefinitely to no avail because your running in the wrong direction.

 

So I could go on and on and address all your questions but what you really need to do is deal with your arminian legalism, Lordship salvation issues. How much life change is enough, how much continuing is acceptable? What determines this? How do you quantify it? The question is intriguing to you because you don’t have an answer for it because there is no answer because no amount is enough because your performance isn’t acceptable for salvation. Only the free gift of grace is. Think about it.

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Debating Mid-Acts Dispensationalism 4

Robert – January 7 at 4:02pm

Anyway, you may be busy writing a response, or you may be waiting for me to write something that needs responding to. In case it’s the second one, I have a proposal. I will conclude with four quick challenges to dispensationalism, and you can respond as you please. You can have the last word, and the audience can decide for itself.

 

(1) The “trumpet” that follows “immediately after the tribulation” (Mt 24:29-31) cannot come after “the last trumpet,” which happens at the “rapture” (1 Cor 15:52; 1 Th 4:16-17).

 

(2) “Tribulation” ends for the church and “everlasting destruction” begins for those disobeying the gospel “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven” and is “glorified in his holy people” and is “marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.” (2 Th 1:6-10)

 

(3) Believers who are reconciled by Christ’s death need to continue in the faith in order to be presented holy (Col 2:11-13).

 

(4) Peter’s audience was “born again” of “imperishable seed” (1 Pe 1:23). A pastor of a mixed Messianic congregation – the same pastor who first recommended Dillow’s eternal security book to me – argued for eternal security based on this single verse when I asked him about the doctrine. He just assumed 1 Peter was for Christians.

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Brian – January 8 at 2:52pm

I’m sorry about the delay in my response to you Robert, the weekends are the busiest time of the week for me and some tasks that required my immediate attention have spilled into the beginning of the week. I have answers for all the issues you’ve brought up and I’ll post my response soon. Have a good vacation and when you get back please read my response and let’s indeed continue this discourse toward the goal of magnifying what is the truth of God’s word and having that be the final authority.

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Polly – January 8 at 7:09pm

I am thoroughly enjoying. I hope others are too!

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Brian – January 8 at 11:23pm

It’s encouraging that you’re starting to see how Lordship salvation (all Calvinists and Arminians are guilty of this, no exception) can creep in and you don’t even know how much it’s effecting your understanding until you honestly examine it. That being said, you’re getting closer to the truth of pure grace + no works but you still have a little bit of legalism that needs to be purged out. The culprit is again, the lack of separating the prophetic law program of Israel from the hidden wisdom mystery program for the body of Christ given to and delivered by Paul alone. You keep wanting to apply the doctrine of the four gospels and the Hebrew epistles to yourself so the leaven of legalism is leavening your whole lump. Even just a little bit of arsenic in the purest of water will still make it poisonous and the law does that to grace when you mix it; the law brings death in that it makes the grace gospel justification of none effect and it brings functional death to your sanctification process (your work of faith and labour of love).

 

The main issue you need to deal with is that you still haven’t resolved your “how much life change is enough” dilemma and therefore are still demanding a works based performance requirement for salvation from hell.

 

Your concept of dependence on God’s patience and love has an enduring works based theme to it. Members of the body of Christ are to rely and depend on eternal security, for peace and for a platform to move on in maturity. A member of the body of Christ (someone who has trusted the shed blood of Jesus Christ as payment for their sin) cannot sin away their salvation because they didn’t do anything to earn the free gift of salvation and they don’t do anything to earn the keeping of the free gift of salvation. If they had to it wouldn’t be a gift.

 

If I gave you a present but then told you that if you wanted to keep it you’d have to come thank me for it by washing my car every week without fail for the rest of your life or I’d take the gift back, that wouldn’t be a gift. You would be earning whatever I gave you by washing my car.

 

However, if you were so thankful for the gift that you chose under no obligation to come wash my car, then the gift would still be a gift.

 

You have to get this into your thinking: a member of the body of Christ cannot do anything to separate himself/herself from eternal life. The old life in Adam is gone and and the new life (Christ’s life) exists in it’s place. The old life is gone, crucified with Christ, dead and buried. A member of the body of Christ can’t lose their eternal life anymore than Christ can lose His! That’s the unsurpassable most high level of God’s amazing grace!

 

Dillow and all these “scholarly men” as well as the vast majority of Christendom don’t understand grace because of some combination of the satanic lie program/policy of evil (don’t underestimate the ability of satan to deceive) leveled against them mixed with their pride of life. There can also be an aspect of adhering to the culture and course of this world because people don’t wanna rock the boat. It’s a hard pill to swallow that most of the world has been deceived which keeps a lot of people from excepting the truth, but let the truth be the truth because that is God’s will:

 

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

-1 Timothy 2:3-4

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Brian – January 8 at 11:23pm

YOU ASKED: If it would be “evil and satanic” for Christians to suffer a system where “You will never know if you’re going to heaven or hell until you die so keep your fingers crossed,” then why would it NOT be so evil for OTHERS to be subjected to the “short account system of Israel” where “they have to vigilantly and continually seek forgiveness, endure until the end and that’s what 1 John 1:9 is about”? That which is “evil” for us is perfectly fine for them?

 

THE ANSWER: There is no inconsistency here. Israel had sacrificial provisions to deal with their sins under the mosaic law. If they sinned, they did the proper sacrifice and that made them right with God. They could know at any given time if they were right with God or not because the had the law as a measuring stick to judge “how much life change is enough”. We not being under the law don’t have the law as our measuring stick to judge “how much life change is enough”; instead the body of Christ has something even better: atonement, complete and final forgiveness for sins, salvation from hell as a PRESENT POSSESSION that cannot be lost or taken away ever!. As for the little flock believing remnant of Israel during the great tribulation will flee from Jerusalem and the temple where the sacrifices were made so there are legal doctrinal provisions afforded to them to know where they stand at any given time (their short account system) and that’s what 1 John and the Hebrew epistles are laying out.

 

Continued belief in Jesus is not a requirement for salvation today, again that’s works based Lordship salvation. You trying to apply doctrine from John and 1 John to you. That doctrine is for the messianic church, little flock, believing Israel of God not for you or me or anyone today in the dispensation of grace.

 

2 Timothy 2:13

If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

 

Because every member of the body of Christ is in Christ, their life actually is the life of Christ even if they abandon and deny Christ He can’t deny himself (eternal security based on nothing but what Christ did).

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Brian – January 8 at 11:24pm

As for Paul you have to understand that Paul often uses the same word for different concepts as well as different words for the same concept and you have to use the context to discern the information being presented. For example the Mystery and the appearing are the same concept with two names and yet they are both terms that represent many concepts (multiple points of the mystery etc.). Salvation is a word used to describe different concepts (salvation from what etc.), reconciliation is another fine example (reconciliation from what etc.).

 

God does this in His Word because through the holy spirit these things seemingly hidden to the natural man are revealed to the spiritual man:

 

Proverbs 25:2

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.

 

This is a theme with God and it’s why Jesus spoke in parables etc.

 

Again, Paul’s books are canonically arranged progressively in regard to doctrine (from milk to meat). Paul establishes the doctrine of justification (eternal salvation from the penalty of sin) in the first 5 chapters of the book of Romans and everything after that until his last epistle is concerning sanctification (growing in maturity to be an effective and useful member of the body of Christ). Paul sometimes references the eternal security of the believer but as far as doctrine, from Romans chapter 6 on it’s all growth and maturity through sanctification and that growth or “life change” is NOT a requirement for salvation. You need to separate Justification (the one time eternal salvation from the penalty of all of one’s sins: past, present, and future) from sanctification (growth in maturity). When you say a believer is responsible, if by that you mean growth in maturity is a requirement for salvation, that is a works based acceptance program and not grace = Lordship salvation legalism.

 

You have to contextualize when Paul is talking about justification and when he’s referring to sanctification.

 

This is what’s going on in 1 Corinthians 15:2 (If you hold firmly to Pauline grace doctrine than you will be saved from the false doctrine [the satanic policy of evil] that attacks the grace message of Paul and as a result won’t suffer functional death of your sanctification/maturity process).

 

The focus of 1 Corinthians 15:2 is sanctification based not justification based and you can know this from the context (ask: “saved” from what?). Again, Paul sets the president of eternal security (justification) early on in the first 5 chapters of Romans but if your taking doctrine meant for the messianic church, little flock, believing Israel of God, the doctrine found in the four gospels and the Hebrew epistles and are mixing it all together with Paul’s epistles in a big mulligan stew, Paul’s president is going to become muddy and unclear because you’re mixing law with grace.

 

***Colossians is a high level Pauline doctrinal book and 1:21-23 is likewise in regard to sanctification. Let’s examine it:

 

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

 

22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

 

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

 

Paul’s goal is to build up saints suitable for reward at the judgement seat of Christ. Do you see the word “unreproveable” there? to be reproveable is to need reproof. The Corinthian epistles and Philippians are epistles of reproving. What Paul is saying is he wants the members of the church (B.O.C.) of the mystery message given to him to be a pattern for, to finish the curriculum he’s given them, to finish their course and receive a full reward. Unreproveable is the essence of being approved:

 

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

i.e. do the work of faith, become mature as to receive your reward at the judgement seat of Christ.

_________________

Brian – January 8 at 11:25pm

Let me address you concerns regarding Romans chapter 11:

 

The respective themes of Romans chapters 9, 10, and 11 are Israel’s past, present, and future. What Paul is talking about in Romans 11 is how Israel’s program will be brought back in (their future) when the gentiles stop receiving the gospel of grace free gift of salvation (the fulness of the gentiles [verse 25]). At that point the rapture happens and the prophetic program of Israel starts up again.

 

Romans 11:13 : For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

 

-That’s Paul addressing the lost gentile people of the nations, essentially a warning to the lost.

 

Romans 11:20 : Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but FEAR:

 

-Paul tells these lost people to FEAR. Contrast this to Romans 8:15 where he talks to saved people, members of the body of Christ:

 

For ye have NOT received the spirit of bondage again to FEAR; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

 

As for Romans 11:21-24, these verses are a warning to the lost gentile world that this dispensation of grace, this time of amnesty is temporary; now is the time for salvation. The point is: since God has (albeit temporarily) turned away from even the chosen people of Israel, how much easier will it be for God to stop striving with a lost rejecting world that He never had any agreement with.

 

Romans 11:25 : For I would not, BRETHREN, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

 

-Paul switches back to addressing saved people = members of the body of Christ (BRETHREN).

 

As for 2 Timothy 2:11-13

11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:

 

12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

 

13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

 

Here’s what’s going on: If we have believed, we died and were raised in Him, thus have received the eternal life of Christ. If we grow in Pauline doctrinal maturity and suffer rejection for proclaiming it, we will receive reward in heaven. If we abandon the doctrine, the wholesome words given to Paul for us by the revelation of Jesus Christ (i.e. deny Christ) we will suffer loss of reward in heaven. However, even if we deny him (by abandoning Paul’s grace doctrine, which is what makes us mature and qualified for our reward), because our life is His life, He can’t deny us our everlasting life because that life is His (Himself).

 

Keeping the faith (2 Timothy 4:7) is adhering to Pauline doctrine, it’s a requirement to receive reward but NOT a requirement for salvation from hell.

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Brian – January 8 at 11:25pm

I wanted you to watch that interactive timeline just so you would have a little bit more clarity of where I’m coming from as far as when and where in the Bible the things I’m addressing are going down from a mid-acts dispensational perspective.

 

Acts 9 is the start of the dispensation of grace (which is part of the wisdom hidden in God = the mystery) because that’s when it was first revealed to the person God chose to reveal it to: Paul. No body new about this wisdom hidden in God until it was revealed to Paul by the revelation of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul continued to receive progressive information via revelations/appearings from Jesus throughout his ministry.

 

We can know that Jesus was about to pour down His wrath from Acts 7 where Stephen saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God. Prior to that He was seated at the right hand of the Father.

 

In prophecy when He stands up to usher in the wrath:

 

The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. -Psalm 110:1

 

See also: Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42-43, Acts 2:34-35, Hebrews 1:13, Hebrews 10:12-13

 

He didn’t pour down his wrath though. Instead, in the very next chapter you’re introduced to a new character, someone never mentioned in prophecy: Saul of Tarsus (Paul), and in the chapter after that God raises up Paul to be His chosen vessel to tell the world why He has temporarily suspended His wrath and will be long-suffering until the fullness of the gentiles comes in and He resumes His prophetic program with Israel. When He does resume the prophetic program of Israel, it’ll jump right back to where it left off (God’s wrath/tribulation).

_________________

Brian – January 8 at 11:38pm

An invaluable tool that will help you rectify a lot of your program blending issues is the understanding that their are three different God ordained churches in the Bible:

 

In the Bible there are three houses or edifices with three different builders yet the main creator/builder being God.

 

1.) The Mosaic Church (the house that Moses built):

 

Hebrews 3:1-5

 

 1Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

 

 2Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

 

 3For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.

 

 4For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

 

 5And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;

 

Acts 17:37-38

 

37This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.

 

 38This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

 

2.) The Messianic Church (the house that Jesus built):

 

Hebrews 3:6

 

6But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

 

Matthew 19:15-18

 

15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

 

 16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 

 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

 

 18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

 

The Messianic Church is called “the little flock” in the gospel of Luke:

 

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

-Luke 12:32

 

3.) (B.O.C.) The Mystery Church = the body of Christ (the house that Paul built):

 

1 Corinthians 3:9-10

 

9For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

 

 10According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

 

Colossians 1:18

 

18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

 

Foot note: All the churches are of God as Paul states referring to both “their” Messianic church and “our” Mystery church which both call upon the name of Jesus Christ:

 

1 Corinthians 1:2

 

2Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s: (<— a reference to both churches)

 

The term Christian was a derogatory term used by the lost world for those who named the name of Christ (both the little flock messianic church and the church the body of Christ). Peter makes mention to the pejorative in the midst of a dissertation on the suffering the little flock is enduring, the suffering heaped upon them by the lost world.

 

The only church currently on the scene today is: the church, the body of Christ. Early on in the Acts period there were members of both the B.O.C. and the little flock but as the prophetic program of Israel diminished due to the rise of the dispensation of Grace, those little flock members eventually died off but they will be resurrected into their EARTHLY kingdom after the 2nd Advent of their messiah Jesus Christ.

 

A mistake you are making which is leading to a lot of your confusion is a common mistake made by the world and ironically is a part of the satanic lie program used as a measuring stick to determine the truth! How messed up is that!? The world today (including the apostate catholic and protestant [Calvinists and Arminians] churches) much like the lost world during the time of Peter and Paul’s (separate) ministries (But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) -Galatians 2:7-8) lumps the messianic church and the B.O.C. under one blanket term (the aforementioned pejorative “Christians”). That misunderstanding is sadly the standard for the vast majority of people. You’ll notice I use the terms body of Christ and little flock etc. to distinguish the separate groups.

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Brian – January 8 at 11:39pm

Another huge asset for you in regard to proper Biblical understanding is to have the proper definition and description of what is: “The day of the Lord”.

 

Helpful tips:

 

The day of the Lord is a term to describe the reclaiming of the two spheres (the heaven and the earth [powers, principalities, mights, thrones, dominions]) from satan and his fallen angel cohorts by Jesus through His agencies (the body of Christ for the heavenlies and believing Israel for the earth).

 

The day of the Lord is built up of many events. The day of the Lord is the necessary events building up to as well as the culmination when Jesus Christ receives His reigning over the heaven and the earth through His two agencies. For the heavenly sphere the kickoff is the rapture. For the earthly sphere what initiates the day of the Lord, or the kickoff is the covenant the man of sin/antichrist makes with apostate Israel (discussed in Daniel and Revelation).

 

The reclaiming of the heavenlies was part of the mystery kept hidden in God before the world began and so the details concerning the heavenly aspect of the day of the Lord are not discussed in the books outside of Paul’s writings.

 

However because of the confusion around this issue due to lack of spiritual maturity and the attack on Pauline doctrine by the satanic policy of evil, Paul discusses both aspects (heavenly and earthly) of the day of the Lord or sphere reclaiming in his writings (specifically Corinthians and Thessalonians). Which sphere reclaiming is being addressed can be determined from the context.

 

1 Cor 1:8 = heavenly sphere (specific event: [BEMA] judgement seat of Christ)

 

1 Cor 5:5 = heavenly sphere (specific event: [BEMA] judgement seat of Christ)

 

2 Cor 1:14 = heavenly sphere (specific event: [BEMA] judgement seat of Christ)

 

1 Th 5:2 = earthly sphere (wrath of God/tribulation)

 

2 Th 2:2 = earthly sphere (wrath of God/tribulation)

 

2 Ti 4:8 = heavenly sphere (specific event: [BEMA] judgement seat of Christ)

 

*Heavenly sphere events involving the body of Christ, earthly sphere events not involving the body of Christ.

 

Just for clarification to whomever may read this: the (BEMA) judgement seat of Christ is the heavenly ceremony where Jesus will either give or deny reward to members of the body of Christ depending on their faithfulness to the grace doctrine of Paul.

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Brian – January 8 at 11:41pm

Alright, now let me address your 1,2,3,4 points:

 

(1)

 

Mathew 24:29-31

 

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

 

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

 

31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

 

VS.

 

1 Corinthians 15:52

 

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

 

AND

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

 

16 For the
Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

 

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 

Mathew and Paul are speaking about two different events. Mathew is talking about the 2nd Advent return of Christ after the great tribulation (Daniel’s 70th week), whereas Paul is talking about the pre-trib rapture.

 

Where you’re getting confused is you’re not keying in on what 1 Cor 15:52 says, it says “the last trump” not the last trumpet. A trump is the sound a trumpet makes, and at that event (the rapture) at that trumpet last trump the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (concerning the body of Christ).

 

Mathew 24:29-31 is describing a different event with a different sound of a trumpet or “trump”.

 

(2)

 

The tribulation mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 is the suffering the body of Christ endures from the lost world, being rejected and persecuted for standing up for correct Pauline grace doctrine. Don’t confuse it with the tribulation connected with God’s wrath (Jacob’s time of trouble etc). The body of Christ is not appointed to that God’s wrath tribulation:

 

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

-1 Thessalonians 5:9

 

Please note: the salvation in this verse is not salvation from hell, but salvation from the wrath of the tribulation via the rapture.

 

(3) ***Colossians 1:21-23

 

I already answered this up-top; these verse are about sanctification not justification (sanctification/maturity/growth/life change is not a requirement for salvation from hell).

 

(4)

 

1 Peter 1:23

 

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

 

This is doctrine for the little flock messianic church. The born again references in John 3 and 1 Peter 1 are about Israel being born again as a nation. Israel out of Jacob, a believing remnant, new nation of Israel being born out of apostate Israel (Jacob).

 

Paul breaks down this info about Israel in Romans 9:6-8

 

6 For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

 

7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

 

8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

 

There’s the physical (corruptible) seed of Abraham vs. the (incorruptible) seed of faith that will separate believing Israel from apostate Israel that Peter is referring too. Just being a descendent of Abraham won’t save a Hebrew in the prophetic program of Israel (like the faithless religious Pharisees). They will have to perform a work to make their faith perfect (sanctification/maturity/life change required for salvation from hell for them), their justification contingent upon their sanctification, enduring until the end (short account system).

 

By the way, that seed of faith of Abraham (having faith in what God tells you is necessary for salvation) translates into salvation for the body of Christ too, the difference is the body of Christ have their atonement, salvation from hell as a present possession (eternal security) through faith alone in Christ alone and therefore unlike Israel, the body of Christ doesn’t need to add a work to be saved from hell because they already are, having eternal security.

 

I look forward to your response. I’d rather keep this discussion going if you don’t mind. The audience of this exchange isn’t the judge or the final authority, the scriptures, the word of God is.

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Debating Mid-Acts Dispensationalism 3

Robert – January 2 at 10:31pm

Okay, that took about 10 hours.

 

If I may summarize the debate at this point:

 

I claimed that there are 17 points connecting the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, etc.) and the Thessalonian prophecies (1 Thess 4 – 2 Thess 2), two of which simply cannot be duplicated to two events.

 

You claimed: (1) That your Bible verses establish dispensationalism; and (2) That dispensationalism, in turn, prohibits any event-connection between these the two passages.

 

I have responded to your texts and found no evidence of dispensationalism present in any of them. Dispensation means job or administration. All apostles had a job to preach grace through faith to Jew and Gentile during the gospel era, which they did and to which their epistles bear witness.

 

Therefore your basis for denying the 17-point connection has been found wanting, and the laws of probability and of noncontradiction are back on the table with little to stand in their way.

 

So if that is the case, and if the other apostles were equally Christian and preached the same gospel, I see no reason to hold back from citing 2 Peter 3:10-13:

 

“10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

 

I hope you find some comfort in that. Like Paul in Thessalonians, Peter tells Christians about “the day of the Lord” in connection with the word “coming [parousia],” asserting that Christians look forward to it and hurry it along. And like Paul, Peter connects it to destruction, not just of the wicked, but of the world by fire. These Christians look forward to both a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. They don’t appear interested in a period of years in heaven before that. They are like the Christians of 2 Thess 1:7, who find “relief [from tribulation] when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire…” Whether Peter or Paul, their gospel and their view of the end times appear to have the same content and the same audience.

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Brian – January 3 at 4:32am

First off, the doctrine of Paul is referred to as the Mystery (Rom 16:25) and so I pointed out various points of this Mystery (dispensation, apostle, gospel, bodies, doctrine, body) and with the exception of destiny (simply a word to describe a concept much like the use of the words rapture or trinity) all of these are Biblical terms. I think it was quite obvious that I wasn’t saying that the word Mystery and the individual words related to what the mystery revelation entails appear right next to each other in the Bible. By saying Mystery dispensation, or Mystery Apostle etc. the sentiment is obviously: the dispensation of grace pertaining to the revelation of the mystery etc.

 

All of your claims and complaints can be explained dispensationally and I could go systematically addressing all of them but that would more than likely only put us back in the never ending grass fire rabbit trail situation; maybe you have some particular issues you feel are worth me addressing? Something you think I don’t have an answer for?

 

There is a satanic policy of evil against the truth of God’s word and because of this, there are plenty of pretty convincing satanically inspired forgeries when it comes to ways to understand the scriptures. There are many false interpretations of the Bible but only one correct one. In the pursuit of efficiency, I think it would be easier and more helpful to present to you the things that won’t harmonize with your position and that can only be rectified when rightly dividing the scriptures dispensationally. I don’t wanna bog you down with an avalanche of verses, so I’ll just give you a few examples that are no problem when considered dispensationally but when not, contradict each other…

_________________

Brian – January 3 at 5:56am

First, probably the most important one; the original protestant reformer: Martin Luther said he would give all his earthly possessions to the man who could reconcile this issue for him:

 

James 2 verses:

 

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

 

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

 

24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

 

VS.

 

Galatians 2:16 -Written by the apostle to the gentiles (us) PAUL

 

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

 

James says faith without works is dead but Paul says the opposite; that our works and deeds are NOT to be used as the evidence or the measuring stick of our faith. Paul points to the inner man and not the outer man (judging justification via the outer man leads to legalism and lordship salvation).

 

Sadly the majority of Bible students and churches get this seeming contradiction dead wrong and try to explain it away with faulty man’s wisdom of words, like “what James REALLY means is: it’s not faith plus works, it’s faith THAT works” or some similar garbage semantic gymnastics trying to wrestle the scripture into saying something it doesn’t say.

 

The answer is: these two divergent statements are BOTH true! They don’t contradict each other though, because the audiences are different.

 

When it comes to the book of James pay close attention to the very first verse: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

 

Who is this epistle to? The twelve tribes. This is a book to and about Israel and their program which DOES involve works as James 2:24 attests to.

 

However in Romans 3 Paul says BUT NOW the righteousness of God WITHOUT the law is manifested. (the law = works)

 

Israel’s program demands works to be right with God and they get remission of sins (like a cancer that goes into “remission” but can come back) until their national day of atonement (Zec 12:8-13:1) where they receive forgiveness for their sins. Members of the body of Christ already have their atonement and forgiveness of sins as a present possession (Rom 5:11).

 

Here’s the works based gospel of the kingdom for Israel: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. -Acts 2:38

 

Sadly, people who don’t rightly divide use this Acts 2:38 verse as a gospel message for today even though it is works based and contradicts Paul’s gospel.

 

Check this out:

 

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. -Mat 6:14-15

 

vs.

 

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. -Eph 4:32

 

In Mathew you have to forgive to be forgiven (works) but in Ephesians you forgive because you have already been forgiven (grace/eternal security).

 

Here’s the big issue with the apostate religion of Christianity vs. the free gift of salvation through the Pauline grace gospel of the Bible (in Paul’s epistles) found only by studying the Bible with the proper grace based mid acts dispensational view:

 

All christian (protestant) churches are in actuality, at the root, basically either one of two shrouded denominations: Calvinist (a theology created by John Calvin) or Arminianist/Arminian (a theology created by Jacobus Arminius) at some degree, whether they wanna come out and say it or not. The problem is Calvinism and Arminianism are both wrong and they both promote works and nullify grace because they blend the two programs.

 

Calvinism = You’re saved by trusting Christ plus no works and are therefore part of the elect (people God randomly chose to save) so you can’t lose your salvation but if your life doesn’t look a certain way (i.e. works!) maybe you’re not part of the elect after all and therefore are not saved.

 

Arminianism = You’re saved by trusting Christ plus no works but if your life doesn’t look a certain way (i.e. works!) you must not have truly believed after all and therefore are not saved (or you can choose to no longer want your salvation and willfully give it up and go back to being lost).

 

Both of these theologies are false and they trample on the grace of God.

 

The truth is that you are saved by grace (justification) by trusting the shed blood of Jesus Christ as the full payment for your sin and this is despite what your life looks like afterward (that’s a sanctification or maturity issue). You don’t do any work of the law to earn salvation nor do you do any work of the the law to earn the keeping of your salvation. Salvation is given out once, in one lump sum not doled out incrementally. Only Pauline Grace can tell you for sure that you are going to go to heaven and not hell and guarantee you eternal security FOREVER. No other way of understanding the Bible can make that statement because when you blend Israel’s works based program with the grace program for the body of Christ you mix law with grace which makes grace no more grace. It’s kinda like how putting even a little bit of red paint into white paint will make it no longer white, you can’t mix it and keep the paint white.

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Robert – January 3 at 10:16pm

After your post this morning, I am persuaded that your primary personal concern is not so much to convince people of how obviously distinct Paul’s epistles are from the others, or how obviously distinct Matthew 24 is from the Thessalonians. These are just related doctrines that you can rally in support of something more important to you. You want deliverance from responsibility to live the Christian life.

 

I appreciate your concern about the difficulty between James and Paul over grace and works. But you seem to conclude that these epistles are contradictory unless, as you believe, they are for different audiences, meaning different time periods, as you indicated previously. And now you must depend on dispensationalism to prove true, lest you be found denying inerrancy.

 

Supposing these epistles are irreconcilable: This would only prove the need for a solution; it would not prove that dispensationalism is that solution. People could likewise invent a reverse dispensationalism, citing how works-based Paul was (Rom 8:13-17; Gal 5:21; 6:8; Phil 2:12) and how grace-based the other Apostles were (Acts 15:7-11; 1 John 4:15; 5:1; 1 Pe 1:2,23; 2 Pe 3:18). In fact, 1 Pe 1:23 says: “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” He said “born again.” Thus 2 Peter is clearly written for Christians, not some post-gospel, post-grace remnant. “Grace and peace be [theirs] in abundance” (v. 2).

 

The same is true about the epistle of James: The 12 tribes were contemporary, not in the distant future. They were Christian Jews, not unbelieving Jews. Sure, James is more works-based than the average epistle; but again, you can find passages in Paul that you would consider works-based if you found them elsewhere (Phil 2:12; Rom 8:13-17; Gal 5:21; 6:8). Is James written to Israeli Christians? Yes. Is James written to a post-Christianity remnant? No.

 

As for Acts 2:38, I think you’re saying that Jews, and Jews only, were “baptized for the remission of sins.” The problem is that there are other favorite proof-texts of baptismal regeneration that appeal to the epistles and experiences of Paul (‘the apostle for us gentiles’ – Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27; Col 2:11-13; Acts 22:16). Baptism was also ordered for gentiles (by Peter, for what it’s worth – Acts 10:45-48), presumably as an “appeal” to God for a good conscience (1 Pe 3:21 NRSV; see also Vine’s Dictionary). And the Galatians were largely gentile, and Paul wrote them: “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal 3:27). There is no justification for believing in a radically different standard between Jew and gentile concerning baptism. (Church of Christ people generally have a tough time answering Romans 10:9-10.)

 

You also contrasted Matt: 6:14-15 with Eph 4:32, but there is no real conflict here. If you are forgiven, then you are supposed to feel like forgiving others (cf. Lu 7:47); but if you will not forgive, then you are all the more inexcusable for it, because you knew what it was like to sin and find mercy, so why deny other sinners the same mercy? Are you better than they? God expects a little return on his investment. He’s not asking too much. He wants people to actually belong in the kingdom.

 

Minor quibbles about Calvinism and Arminianism: They are theologies, not denominations. And it is Calvinists, not Arminians, who say, ”You must not have truly believed after all and therefore are not saved.” Neither man invented the movement named after him, but sought to recover what they thought was original Christianity. I just think Arminius did a better job of it.

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Robert – January 3 at 10:18pm

I don’t find Arminians to be “trampling on the grace of God.” Perhaps they trample on your definition of grace; but the truth is that the God who gives grace expects fruit in return. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded” (Lu 12:48). God doesn’t want to simply justify us, but he wants us to grow in his grace, to work out our salvation as he works it in us (Phil 2:12-13). His burdens are not beyond reason.

 

As long as God is good, grace and responsibility are not incompatible. In fact they nurture us to maturity:

(1) We are saved – “We died to sin” (Ro 6:2).

(2) So we have grateful motivation to try to stop sinning – “how can we live in it any longer?” (Ro. 6:2);

(3) And an obligation – “Therefore do not let sin reign in our mortal body so that you obey its evil desires” (Ro 6:12).

(4) And a responsibility – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ro 6:23) & “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Ro 8:13-17) & “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21).

(5) If you screw up, he is patient, forgiving, and disciplining – “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pe 3:9) & “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9; cf 2:2) & “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” (Heb 12:10).

 

I greatly appreciate your desire to defend assurance of salvation; in fact that’s why I am not a Calvinist. So when I was reading “Reign of the Servant Kings” and saw Dillow dismantle lordship salvation, I was thrilled. But when he tried to explain away the conditional security interpretation of the biblical warnings, claiming they taught only temporal consequences for failure, I could hardly believe what I was reading. He claimed two kinds of salvation, two kinds of justification, two kinds of life “in Christ,” two kinds of eternal life, and two kinds of book of life – always claiming one eternal kind based on faith, and another temporal kind based on works (and all choice, since he was also a Calvinist). Geisler made the same distinctions and referred to Dillow often in “Four Views on Eternal Security.” But Dillow (and probably Geisler) both stopped short of believing in two types of lake of fire. They had to switch to Plan B, Perseverance of the Saints at some point, right? Not Arlen Chitwood, however. He even believes in two kinds of lake of fire and two kinds of gehenna (Mt 5:22), one of which Christians will face, for a time. Witness Lee’s Bible, the NT Recovery Version, likewise indicates a temporal kind of gehenna in Mt 5:22, if I remember right.

 

Dispensationalists believe in more distinctions than I can keep track of. And now I think I know why. They have distinct apostles with distinct epistles, all in conjunction with two distinct programs governing baptism, perseverance, and security. Baptism for the remission of sins is for Jews, not us. Perseverance in the faith and through Matthew’s tribulation is not for Christians either, only for those of the Jewish program; God would not subject us to that. We have eternal security saving us from responsibility to keep the faith, and later we will have a pretrib rapture to keep us out of the tribulation altogether.

 

I could get used to that kind of deliverance from responsibility, getting so dependent on it that I start believing that I need it and building side doctrines to protect it. I could make mountains out of molehills, overplaying Paul’s specialty in gentile ministry, and overemphasizing the fact that Matthew 24 was not written by Paul. Of course, in turn I would have make some molehills out of mountains, like the 17 counterexamples to the theory separating Matt 24 from Thessalonians, as well as all those nagging factoids about all apostles clearly writing as Christians to fellow Christians, even Jewish Christians, in tribes. Eternal security must be defended, and if it starts looking like a house of cards, it must be defended more aggressively. I may recognize the need to temper my dispensationalism to some mid Acts position because the other two did not conform to the Bible. But I won’t temper it in light of other difficulties if they would threaten me with responsibility to live the Christian life. I would rather make the Bible conform to my dispensationalism than be threatened with something like that.

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Brian – January 4 at 5:36am

You have a lot of points of confusion so I’ll address some in a hope to help you understand dispensationalism correctly. The confusion stems from all the false teaching out there that bombards the world (satanic policy of evil) and sadly that lie program is so pervasive that it has become the standard by which truth is measured! Again, I don’t wanna overload you so I’ll touch on some in a general sense and if there are some that I don’t address that you have a particular interest in, let me know and I can expound on them for you. Foundationally, I do indeed want to first establish the importance of worksless grace because that’s the foundation Paul the wise masterbuilder builds all this upon. Please check out that link to the interactive timeline I posted so we can at least be a little closer to the same page of understanding the mechanics of the mod-acts dispensational position.

 

If by “deliverance from the Christian life” you mean to not be under the performance based acceptance programs of works (religion) pushed by Arminianism and Calvinism then yes, I want nothing to do with that because it’s satanic.

 

God is gracious and merciful in all dispensations, He didn’t have to provide a means of salvation for anyone, whether Israel, pre-Israel, or the Body of Christ, but God did because He is gracious and merciful. Wherever you find yourself in history, all God calls you to do is to have faith in what He tells you is necessary for salvation. For the pre-Abrahamic people of their day a sacrifice was required (sacrifice required of Cain and Abel etc.), For Israel it was the law contract/covenant they agreed to at Sinai; there are specific requirements for the saints during the tribulation (found in the gospels and the Hebrew epistles) as well. However, only in the dispensation of Grace given to Paul do you see pure grace as the standard. Israel had provisions for when they committed sins in the form of sacrifices. Again never until Paul does anyone receive salvation, atonement as a present possession, they all have to endure in good works. Israel’s doctrine is all focused on law and performance and enduring for salvation. With Paul, the focus is overwhelmingly grace, grace, grace so your idea of “reverse dispensationalism” as you called it wouldn’t work.

 

Paul’s books are canonically arranged progressively in regard to doctrine (from milk to meat). Paul establishes the doctrine of justification (eternal salvation from the penalty of sin) in the first 5 chapters of the book of Romans and everything after that until his last epistle is concerning sanctification (growing in maturity to be an effective and useful member of the body of Christ). Paul sometimes references the eternal security of the believer but as far as doctrine, from Romans chapter 6 on it’s all growth and maturity through sanctification and it is NOT a requirement for salvation.

 

At the time James was written it was specifically written to the messianic church (what Luke calls the little flock) that were alive at that time. Had the dispensation of grace not occurred, the doctrine in James would have served as their doctrine through the tribulation. The dispensation of grace did however happen and when it ends with the fulness of the gentiles (the rapture), God will resume his program with Israel again and the James doctrine will serve a remnant of believing Israel that will be raised up at that time through the tribulation who will also be members of that little flock.

 

The water baptism (a Leviticul law ceremony) of Israel is different than the one baptism for the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit which is a dry baptism that happens only once at the moment someone trusts the shed blood of Jesus for forgiveness of ALL of their sins, past, present, and future (they were ALL future from Calvary).

 

You said “God expects a little return on his investment” and “God who gives grace expects fruit in return”; if you are insinuating that this fruit and/or return on His investment (in the Mat 6 case the work of forgiving others) is necessary for salvation from hell, that is a works based acceptance program and not grace = Lordship salvation legalism.

 

Arminianists do say that if your life doesn’t look a certain way you had a false conversion or you’re backsliden (works, works, works); I went to an Arminian church for years and heard it many times.

 

Arminianism tramples on the free gift of salvation by grace because it requires an outer man life change as evidence for salvation; circuitous as it may seem, that is works based salvation.

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Brian – January 4 at 5:37am

You said: “As long as God is good, grace and responsibility are not incompatible. In fact they nurture us to maturity”… You need to separate Justification (the one time eternal salvation from the penalty of all of one’s sins: past, present, and future) from sanctification (growth in maturity). If by responsible you mean required for salvation in regard to growth in maturity, that is a works based acceptance program and not grace = Lordship salvation legalism.

 

Let’s say if hypothetically a change of life in the outerman was necessary for salvation (shudder to think), the problem is: how do you judge how much life change is enough? Who is the judge of that? If only God knows for sure than you can never know for sure if you’ve born enough fruit! You will never know if you’re going to heaven or hell until you die so keep your fingers crossed. That is evil and satanic!

 

Salvation from hell comes by trusting the shed blood of Jesus for forgiveness of ALL of one’s sins, past, present, and future (they were ALL future from Calvary); if even one sin is left unforgiven you’re doomed. Therefore why would you pray for forgiveness for sins that have already been forgiven, that’s redundant and unnecessary. Unlike the grace program for the body of Christ, in the short account system of Israel they have to vigilantly and continually seek forgiveness, endure until the end and that’s what 1 John 1:9 is about.

 

There are indeed consequences beyond the temporal for a member of the body of Christ not maturing but that effects reward and has absolutely no affect on the Body of Christ member’s eternal salvation from hell.

 

Today (in the dispensation of grace) God is long suffering with his judgement. As for the blessing/reward for a body of Christ member’s faithful service, God will give them that at the (bema) judgment seat of Christ and contrastingly, the member of the body of Christ who chooses not to faithfully serve will in turn suffer loss of said reward at that time (Phil 4:17, 2 Tim 4:8, 1 Cor 3:12-15, 2Tim 2:12-13).

 

There is one hell and one lake of fire but in the dispensation of grace no one who has trusted the shed blood of Jesus for forgiveness of sins (i.e. a body of Christ member) will ever go to either.

 

Indeed there are a lot of distinctions in the Bible especially concerning the differences between the law program of Israel and the grace program for the body of Christ. The Word of God is absolutely the most robust and involved subject one can study but if done rightly it is also the most prosperous. It’s a lot of work (Paul calls it the work of faith) and that’s why 2 Timothy 2:15 is so crucial:

 

STUDY to shew thyself APPROVED unto God, a WORKMAN that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

Our flesh wants to perform because it’s prideful and thinks it has something to offer God to make him owe us salvation in exchange for the works of the flesh, but in my flesh dwells no good thing and Gods is a debtor to no man. The trick is to rest in God’s grace and stop trying to perform for salvation from hell, until that can be accomplished any work, labor of love eternally profits you nothing.

 

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I [Paul] am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that IN ME FIRST Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should HEREAFTER believe on him to life everlasting. -1 Timothy 1:15-16

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Robert – January 5 at 1:10pm

I had to look up “lordship salvation” again, and I discovered (to my dismay) that it isn’t just for Calvinists. I learned its meaning wrongly more than a decade ago, and have been misapplying it ever since. So, yes, “lordship” can also apply to Arminians (though not all of them, as discussed below).

 

I’m at a fork in the road today. In my last post, I probably appeared to teach “lordship salvation,” opposing eternal security like it’s the devil. The truth is, I actually like eternal security. It refuses to back load the gospel like old Calvinism does, and it avoids the difficulty you mentioned about “how much life change is enough.”

 

My problem is not with eternal security per se, but with personal or theological dependence on it, especially when done with inconsistency. As for dependence: If we can depend on God’s love and patience, then we need not depend on eternal security. And as for inconsistency: If it would be “evil and satanic” for Christians to suffer a system where “You will never know if you’re going to heaven or hell until you die so keep your fingers crossed,” then why would it NOT be so evil for OTHERS to be subjected to the “short account system of Israel” where “they have to vigilantly and continually seek forgiveness, endure until the end and that’s what 1 John 1:9 is about”? That which is “evil” for us is perfectly fine for them? I cry “inconsistency.”

 

But like I said, I’m at a fork in the road today. I could persist in justifying a “lordship” (but patient) God who judges us based on our fruit, and would find much support in Paul (Ro 6:23; 8:13-17; Gal 5:21). However, I’ve decided to take a more agreeable path, which I will simply call “keeping the faith.” (I actually do believe in this at the end of the day, but also try not to test God by treating grace like license.)

 

My term “keeping the faith” goes like this: Jesus did not say, “Bear fruit and I will remain in you.” He said, “Remain in me and I will remain in you“ (John 15:4). It is not our job to bear fruit but to remain in him (1 John 2:24-28). We must simply continue believing in Jesus and let him take care of our fruit-bearing, which he will do: “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit” (John 15:5).

 

Now, I understand that you may disregard this teaching from John 15:1-6 and 1 John 2:24-28 because it’s not from Paul. I get that.

 

Paul did write this, however:

 

“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (1 Cor 15:2).

 

Apparently these “brothers” had “received” Paul’s “gospel” and “have taken [their] stand on [it]” in verse 1, but their faith may count for nothing if they don’t take it to the finish line.

 

Paul also wrote this:

 

“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation–23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (Col 1:22-23).

 

Their reconciliation through Christ is established fact. Their being presented holy, however, is still subject to the condition, “if you continue in the faith.” They must keep the faith, or they won’t be presented holy when it counts.

 

In Romans 11:20-22, Paul indicates that Christians can be “cut off” like branches just like Israel was through unbelief. Verse 21 says:

 

“For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”

 

(Perhaps Paul had John 15:1-6 in mind when he wrote that?)

 

Anyhow, 2 Tim 2:11-13 may help us end on a balanced note:

 

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

 

Here is my understanding of the saying: If we have believed, we have entered new life. If we grow in Christian maturity, we will gain treasures in heaven. If we abandon Christ as Savior, he will abandon us on judgment day. If we fail in the Christian life but keep hope in Christ, he keeps us.

 

In short: (1) gain of heaven; (2) gain of treasures; (3) loss of heaven; and (4) loss of treasures (for those still going to heaven).

 

Keep the faith; keep it simple; keep it biblical. That’s my approach to justication by faith, New Testament unity, and the end of the age.

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Robert – January 5 at 2:42pm

And I just noticed that I overlooked the first of your two recent posts before responding to the second. Fortunately I do not feel that the first one calls for much response.

 

I clicked timeline link again. It did acknowledge that Jew and gentile are alike in our current era. That answers one of my nagging questions, or at least I think it does. It mentioned Acts 9 as the start of the gospel era, though did not mention which verse, or why, and did not demonstrate how they can know that God was about to bring the day of wrath at that time. Like you, it also called dispensation a “program,” which is at least better than calling it a “time period.”

 

That timeline may be a fine visual clarification of your dispensational view, but it only rallies verses to corroborate its view, rather than fully demonstrating the view from those verses. And it does not answer hard questions. It seemed to put “the day of the Lord GOD of hosts” at the end of the tribulation, but I’m still left thinking that Christians on earth expect to see “the day of the Lord” (1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor 1:14; 1 Th 5:2; 2 Th 2:2; 2 Ti 4:8).

 

I think it was designed to convince people who are ripe for accepting dispensationalism or reinforce them therein. I do not think it was designed to convince people who have biblical reason to think differently already. That will take a lot more explanation.

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Debating Mid-Acts Dispensationalism 2

Robert – January 2 at 9:53am

Well thank you for that extensive response. I will try to respond as soon as my schedule permits.

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Polly – January 2 at 10:05am

Thank you Brian for the detailed response. I am gonig to print it out and put it in my bible for future discussions. I do hope and pray that everyone reading this post will look into these verses and believe what they say. It will change your life, your inner man.

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Robert – January 2 at 10:56am

I do hope, Polly, that you will print mine as well, for a challenge if nothing else. I will list them more explicitly if I must, but for now I will just say to read Matthew 24, plus Luke 17:27,30, and then read 1 Thess 4 through 2 Thess 2 and look for all 17 of them. I have literally drawn the lines on paper connecting the dots, if anyone is interested.

 

And the discussion is far from over. It has only been promoted to a debate with two sides providing scripture. So stay tuned.

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Robert – January 2 at 10:57

Brian, before I start responding, I must ask a clarifying question. Perhaps I don’t know my dispensationalism well enough, but when you speak of Paul’s epistles and Israel’s mosaic law program being distinct, are you basically saying that Paul’s epistles are relevant only before the rapture, and that Peter’s, James’, and John’s epistles are relevant only after?

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Polly – January 2 at 11:49am

Will do Robert.

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Brian – January 2 at 2:21pm

Yes that is correct. This interactive timeline should help you get a better understanding of this dispensational position: http://trianglebiblechurch.org/timelinechart.htm

TRIANGLE BIBLE CHURCH , RIGHT DIVISION , BIBLE DOCTRINE , RALEIGH NC , PASTOR TEACHER MARK NEWBOLD ,

http://www.trianglebiblechurch.org.

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Polly – January 2 at 2:34pm

Hey I haven’t seen that particular chart I’m going to check it out too. Thanks!

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Brian – January 2 at 2:38pm

The interactive feature is really cool and helpful.

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Robert – January 2 at 10:26pm

“How I figure” my argument based on 17 points of connection this: ‘Seventeen points of this nature are not to be dismissed lightly.’ The probability of a meaningless coincidence is about 1/65536, basically zero. The question, then, is: Did God intend two events with 17 points of inevitably misleading similarity? If he did, somebody needs to demonstrate this in the Bible with clarity that exceeds whatever clarity the 17 points can provide us. Moreover, some of these 17 points cannot be explained away by claiming duplication without violating the law of noncontradiction. The no trumpet can occur after a truly “last trumpet” (1 Thess 4:16 & 1 Cor. 15:52, followed by Matt 24:31). And surely the wicked cannot be destroyed both at a pretrib gathering (1 Th 5:3; 2 Th 1:9; 2:1) and again at a posttrib gathering (Mt 24:31,39).

 

This is a fair summary of my case so far. I said somebody needs to provide a strong argument that God has ordained two separate events in spite of my above arguments. And you have since provided an avalanche of verses in hopes of accomplishing this.

 

Now, to respond to your Bible texts.

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Robert – January 2 at 10:27pm

 Re: (1) “Mystery Dispensation” (a nonbiblical term)

1 Cor 9:17: “dispensation of the gospel committed unto me” — “Dispensation” means stewardship or administration. It is Paul’s job to preach to Jew and Gentile (9:20-21), which he did until near the end of Acts. Peter likewise preached to Jew and Gentile (Acts 2:38; 15:7). A dispensation is a job, not a period of time, just in case anyone thought otherwise.

Ephesians 3:1: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles” — Perhaps you meant to include verse 2: “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward” — As below (Col. 1:25), it is Paul’s administration, his job to dish out the grace of God to people. It is not a time period, but a job.

Colossians 1:25-27: “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” — First, “dispensation of God which is given to me” means “God’s job for me.” The mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Those before Christ did not see it. Peter was a little slow seeing it (Acts 10:14), but he got it eventually (Acts 10:44-48). All apostles got it eventually: preach the Gospel to Jew and Gentile.

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Robert – January 2 at 10:28pm

Re: (2) “Mystery Apostle” (a nonbiblical term)

Acts 9:15: “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.” — Yes, but so was Peter: “After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: ‘Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe’.” (Acts 15:7).

Romans 11:13: “the apostle to the Gentiles” — Yes, not just the prophet, teacher, or table waiter. He was their apostle. But again, he was not the only one (Acts 15:7).

1 Cor 14:37: “the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” — Yes, he had apostolic authority, as did the other apostles.

Gal 2:7-9: “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter” — This is not the whole story. Again, Peter was appointed by God to preach to Gentiles (Acts 15:7), and Paul preached to Jews to the end of Acts almost. Just as surely as God had manifestly appointed Peter (and others) to preach to the Jews before, now God has just as surely appointed Paul (and others) to preach to Gentiles.

Even if, at some point that I’m not aware of, God told each man to specialize on one group – Peter on Jews, Paul on Gentiles – that still wouldn’t change the fact that they were preaching to contemporary audiences for their Christian salvation. And Peter found some success at that, according to 1 Peter 1:23.

There is nothing here to support the system of dispensationalism.

1 Timothy 2:7: “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle…a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity” — As before, maybe he specialized in it. But Peter also preached to Gentiles, and both men preached salvation by grace through faith, something we practice before the rapture.

2 Timothy 1:10-11: “life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” — I see a pattern of specialization emerging. Great. But the same objection stands: Peter also preached the gospel, as did the other apostles.

Titus 1:3: “But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour” — Paul is God’s preacher, but not the only one.

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Robert – January 2 at 10:28pm

Re: (3) “Mystery Gospel that Saves” (a nonbiblical term)

Acts 20:24: “I…testify the gospel of the grace of God” — As did Peter.

Gal 2:7-9 — As above, both Peter and Paul were appointed to preach the Christian gospel to Jews and Gentiles, regardless of specialty. And that they did, as seen in each of their epistles.

Romans 16:25: “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” — This mystery is good for preaching to Jews as well.

1 Cor 9:17 — Nothing new to respond to here.

Romans 2:16: “God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” — Amen. And it’s not just Paul’s gospel.

Romans 15:20: “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation” — Nothing new here. Paul and Peter preached the same Christian gospel.

1 Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” — And yet he did baptize, for what it’s worth.

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Robert – January 2 (edited) at 10:35pm

Re: (4) “Mystery Agency” [and Re (5) below] (nonbiblical terms)

1 Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” — This contributes nothing. Peter and others still wrote their epistles to Christians concerning salvation.

Ephesians 2:13-16: “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” — I see no point for dispensationalism here. It sounds like old distinctions are a thing of the past, at least for salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” — This lends nothing to any distinction between Peter’s and Paul’s epistles.

Galatians 6:15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” — Ditto. No dispensationalism here.

Ephesians 1:22-23: “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” — Ditto. Zero points made.

Ephesians 3:6: “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” — Dispensing with old distinctions, at least for salvation.

Colossians 1:24: “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” — Zero.

 

And due to technical glitch, I must add the Fifth response here as well:

 

Re: (5) “Mystery Revelation/Doctrine (the Curriculum for the Dispensation of Grace)” (nonbiblical terminology)

Romans 16:25 — (Quoted above) Yes it was secret for ages, but all apostles preached the same gospel of grace through faith.

Ephesians 3:4-5: “4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5Which 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” — It was revealed to “his holy apostles,” all of them. Paul is nothing special here, quite the contrary.

Colossians 1:25-27 — No response needed I haven’t already given.

1 Corinthians 2:6-8: “6Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” — Does not change anything. It’s revealed now, to all apostles, for all people to receive.

Colossians 4:3-4: “3Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” — Nothing new. No sign of dispensationalism here.

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Robert – January 2 at 10:29pm

 Re: (6) “Mystery Bodies (Our Glorified Celestial bodies vs. Israel’s Glorified terrestrial bodies):” (nonbiblical terminology)

Philippians 3:20-21: “20For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” — It does not say that this excludes Jewish tribulation saints, regardless of arguments. The mystery in Ephesians 2:13-16 makes Jewish and Gentile salvation in Christ by faith. As such, we should not naturally expect distinction between Jew and Gentile in the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:51-53: “51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” — Again, ditto. Paul, a Jew, believed in one Lord over both Jew and Gentile. No dispensational distinctions here.

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Robert – January 2 at 10:29pm

Re: (7) “Mystery Destiny (Our Vocation in the Heavenlies):”

Ephesians 1:3: “3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” — No distinction present, no need to respond.

Ephesians 2:6: “6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” — Someday, that is. Anyhow there is no hint at dispensational distinction between Christians or tribulation saints here.

Ephesians 3:9: “9And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” — Nothing about heaven or dispensationalism here.

1 Thess 4:13-18: “……17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” — Great. It also speaks of our “gathering” to him (2 Th 2:1), just as Matthew 24 says the angels will “gather” the elect at the end of the tribulation. No distinctions are offered, and I gather there’s not much room for them anyway.

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Debating Mid-Acts Dispensationalism 1

Polly – December 31, 2012 at 6:16pm

Right division is making the distinctions in the bible that God has made!

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Robert – January 1, 2013 at 2:15pm

What would be a good example of one of these distinctions?

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Polly –  January 1 at 3:54pm

Israel and the Body of Christ

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Robert – January 1 at 4:54pm

Yep, many of us get that distinction. However, God also makes connections. In fact I’ve found about 17 connections between the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, etc.) and the Thessalonian epistles, including: the coming, appearing, and revelation of Christ; tribulation; deception; persecution; false signs and wonders; perseverance by the righteous; an abomination of desolation / man of lawlessness; a loud trumpet; a gathering of the righteous; destruction of the wicked on an unknown day that will come like a thief, complete with clouds, angels, power; and an admonition to keep watch / be ready. So I recognize the Thessalonian passages as Paul’s commentary on Matthew 24, etc., connecting many dots between the great tribulation and the need for Christians to watchfully endure it.

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Brian – January 1 at 5:20pm

Because God is the author of both, there are indeed doctrinal similarities between Israel’s prophetic (declared) program and the Mystery (kept hidden) program for the body of Christ, however Matthew and Paul’s writings are to different audiences. To not make that distinction (blend the two programs) leads to confusion and error; the most dangerous error being the mixing of law with grace, which makes grace (the only means of salvation today) of none effect. The dispensation of grace as Paul calls it, is a parenthetical interruption of Israel’s mosaic law program and the doctrine in Paul’s epistles (Romans through Philemon) are separate, distinct from Israel’s doctrine; you can’t mix the two program’s doctrines because they don’t harmonize. When this dispensation is over (fullness of the gentiles be come in) Israel’s program will resume and the doctrine of the gospels and Hebrew epistles will be back in effect. Paul explains this in Romans chapter 9, 10, and 11 which is a description of Israel’s past, present, and future.

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Robert – January 1 at 8:16pm

First, we do not know that they are written to different audiences. Jesus spoke to “his disciples,” who became the first Christians, who were still called “disciples” 26 times in the Book of Acts. There is no clear biblical basis for interpreting the Olivet Discourse audience as a post-Christian audience. I am not blending two programs but recognizing the 17 points indicating a single program. True confusion comes, rather from the attempt to imagine two distinct events, separated by a few years, each bearing 17 points of dangerously misleading “similarity.” How many second “comings” of Christ can there be? How many visible “revelations” or “appearings”? How many times will he bring “powerful angels” and “clouds” when he comes on “clouds” to “gather” his people? How many times will he bring “destruction” on the wicked when he comes? How many times will he come “like a thief” with people not expecting him? Woudn’t a secret rapture make it pretty predictable that he would come again 3.5 or 7.0 years later, thus ruining the thief’s surprise the second time?

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Robert – January 1 at 8:16pm

Even if one must imagine a 17 point coincidence between two events, one still must explain how the trumpet of Matt 24:31 can happen some years after “the last trumpet” of 1 Cor. 15:52. One must explain how the Christians of 2 Thess 1:7-10 will be delivered from their “tribulation,” not when they leave the earth for a few years to be with Jesus, but “on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed,” because they “believed [the apostles’] testimony to [them].” Biblical Christians hope for “the day of the Lord,” which “will come like a thief” – “the day of God,” which will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire” (2 Peter 3:10-12).

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Robert – January 1 at 8:16pm

The New Testament has much more to say about what Christians hope for (Titus 2:11-13; 1 Tim 6:13-14; 1 Cor 1:7; 1 Pe 4:13). If someone can provide an argument with better biblical clarity, that is very welcome. But until then, I never find more than presumption on the other side of this argument – a presumption to have some prophetic insight because they are dispensationalists or charismatics or something. Paul warns that “The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know” (1 Cor 8:2), and says, “Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Cor 4:6). So my question until he comes, is “How do you know about this distinction, this ‘parenthetical interruption’ you say Paul speaks of”?

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Robert – January 1 at 8:17pm

There is no need to believe in radically different dispensations, one that’s all about law and works, followed by another that’s all about grace and little-to-no responsibility, followed by another where saints must persevere to the end, all as if God’s standards for mankind change often. Christians are saved by grace just like Abraham, and Christians must persevere to the end just like anybody before them (2 Thess 1:4; Col 1:22-23; John 15:1-11; 1 John 2:24-28; 1 Cor 15:2). Christians must go through hardships to enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22), working out their own salvation as God works in them (Phil 2:12-13), and bearing the same responsibility as the Jews before them, and possibliy after them, to remain in God’s vine, lest they be cut off (Romans 11:17-24). ‘Christian responsibility’ is a fundamental New Testament teaching, and the true danger lies in casting off that responsibility to times past or future, reckoning it to be something for others, not for us.

How do Matthew 24 and Christian eschatology “not harmonize”? I would like a list of disharmonies that rivals my list of 17 connection demonstrating harmony.

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Brian – January 1 at 11:06pm

I run into this problem a lot with people who do not rightly divide the scriptures dispensationally. I can put out all of these little grass fire questions you have but that doesn’t really help you put it all together, so you would just be left more questions. This is because the origin or starting point of your Biblical understanding is off so any concept built on that foundation is going to be equally off. You need to go back to the correct foundation and start from there; all the answers to all your questions will then fall into place. This foundation is the Mystery of God’s grace given to Paul. It’s a new and distinct message given to Paul through the appearing of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (described in Acts 9). Paul continued to receive this new and distinct doctrinal information from Jesus throughout the rest of his life and ministry. Paul’s epistles talk about things that were never prophesied and were in fact kept hidden until revealed specifically to Paul alone. You need to ask yourself: Why is Paul in the Bible? If Jesus already had 12 Apostles why did he need to raise up Paul on the road to Damascus and make him the Apostle to the gentiles? Start there with an open and logical mind and you’ll find the answers to your questions.

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Polly – January 1 at 11:22pm

Very well said Brian

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Brian – January 2 at 12:04am

Bryan Ross put together a great document which explains the logic behind having the correct Pauline dispensational understanding of the Bible. There are things that differ between the two programs that won’t harmonize unless you understand and magnify Paul’s office and apostolic authority.

Click to access The%20Logic%20of%20Grace.pdf

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Robert – January 2 at 8:53am

As I anticipated, that response is laced with presumption. Yes, the “origin or starting point” is essential in all reasoning. But your starting points, though numerous, are still unverified. Why should “rightly dividing” indicate dispensational distinctions? Where is this “new and distinct message given to Paul through the appearing of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (described in Acts 9)”? Where is this “new and distinct doctrinal information”? Where does it provide biblical clarity to trump the connections I have already documented? Why build a case on such subjective speculation about “why” Paul is in the Bible? Your starting points are lacking true starting points; they are merely assumptions seeking validity by their large numbers. If it only takes “an open and logical mind” to “find the answers,” then it should not take much for someone to explain them for me. But you do not, because you know that your appeal is subjective and undocumented. I’ve delivered strong scriptural reasons, but you have passed dispensational judgment in the NAME of reason. Stand and deliver! Have a ready answer for the hope you have. Mine already provided.

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Brian – January 2 at 9:00am

How do you figure? Because you’ve pointed out terminology similarities between Mathew and Thessalonians?

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Brian – January 2 at 9:05am

I will post the doctrinal information unique to Paul’s epistles with references…

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Brian – January 2 at 9:06am

1.) Mystery Dispensation (Dispensation of Grace):

 

1 Corinthians 9:17

17For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

 

Ephesians 3:1

1For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

 

Colossians 1:25-27

 25Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

 26Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

 27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

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Brian – January 2 at 9:06am

2.) Mystery Apostle:

 

Acts 9:15

15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

 

Romans 11:13

13For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

 

1 Corinthians 14:37

37If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

 

Galatians 2:7-9

7But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

8(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

9And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

 

1 Timothy 2:7

7Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

 

2 Timothy 1:10-11

10But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

11Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

 

Titus 1:3

3But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

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Brian – January 2 at 9:07am

3.) Mystery Gospel that Saves (by Faith without works) (Gospel of Christ):

 

Acts 20:24

24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

 

Galatians 2:7-9

7But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

8(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

9And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

 

Romans 16:25

25Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

 

1 Corinthians 9:17

17For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

 

Romans 2:16

16In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

 

Romans 15:20

20Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:

 

1 Corinthians 1:17

17For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

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Brian – January 2 at 9:07am

4.) Mystery Agency (Body of Christ):

 

1 Timothy 3:16

16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

 

Ephesians 2:13-16

13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

Galatians 6:15

15For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

 

Ephesians 1:22-23

22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

 

Ephesians 3:6

6That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

 

Colossians 1:24

24Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

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Brian – January 2 at 9:07am

5.) Mystery Revelation/Doctrine (the Curriculum for the Dispensation of Grace):

 

Romans 16:25

25Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

 

Ephesians 3:4-5

4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

5Which 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;

 

Colossians 1:25-27

25Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

26Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

 

1 Corinthians 2:6-8

6Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

7But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

8Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

 

Colossians 4:3-4

3Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

4That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

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Brian – January 2 at 9:08am

6.) Mystery Bodies (Our Glorified Celestial bodies vs. Israel’s Glorified terrestrial bodies):

 

Philippians 3:20-21

20For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

 

1 Corinthians 15:51-53

51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

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Brian – January 2 at 9:08am

7.) Mystery Destiny (Our Vocation in the Heavenlies):

 

Ephesians 1:3

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

 

Ephesians 2:6

6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

 

Ephesians 3:9

9And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

 

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

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Debating Mid-Acts Dispensationalism: Introduction

The following was started by a facebook post by Polly (not her real name) celebrating God’s “distinctions” in the Bible. Sensing some overreaching doctrinal assertions, I asked her for clarity. Before long, her friend Brian (not his real name) took over her side of the discussion. A long debate emerged. He said he was a mid-Acts dispensationalist. I had to learn just how extensive this system of Bible interpretation is, especially how it singles out Paul’s writings as the only writings relevant for modern day Christians, the body of Christ, whereas the rest of the Bible is for everyone else, especially people who miss the alleged pretrib rapture.

 

While engaging this issue, somewhat sharply at times, I decided to bring the believer’s security into things, just as another way to challenge his system of distinctions. I probably shouldn’t have done this, not because it didn’t go well (I think it went splendidly) but because it was unnecessary and a little off-topic, and put the more important eschatology debate in jeopardy. So near the end I closed the salvation topic and focused on the numerous connections I had asserted earlier between Matthew 24 and Thessalonian Christian eschatology. He did not reply to this last barrage, not because he had no arguments, but probably because he had addressed many of the matters earlier and had given signs of growing weary of the lengthy debate. I think I clearly destroyed all his previous arguments so completely that it would have taken weeks to respond and a miracle to respond rightly. But I think he may have responded further if we hadn’t spent so much time earlier on salvation. A lesson for next time.

 

So what follows is a debate between one or two mid-Acts dispensational pre-tribulationalists and a mostly Wesleyan-minded post-tribulationalist, me, robert2031.

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