FIRST—CHRIST’S MESSAGE TO ISRAEL
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Matthew 12:31 and 32.
SECOND—STEPHEN’S MESSAGE TO ISRAEL
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye.” Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:51 and 56. Stephen, “full of the Holy Spirit”: “Jesus standing.” Verse 55.
THIRD—PAUL’S MESSAGE TO ISRAEL (20 years later)
“Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed (resisted) themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads: I am clean: from HENCEFORTH I will go unto the Gentiles.” Acts 18:5 and 6.
At the time Jesus spoke to Israel concerning their sin against the Son of man, as well as later on when Stephen and Paul spoke to the same Nation, the Gentiles were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, alienated from the life of God, dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:11 and 12, Ephesians 4:18 and 2:1. All of their sins at that time were unpardoned. They had not sinned against the Son of man. They were far off, and by grace, they were brought nigh by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:7 to 16. A convicted Gentile might resist the Holy Spirit and refuse to be saved by grace through faith; but at the time Jesus warned Israel not to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Matthew 15:24 and Matthew 10:5. The messages of Jesus, Stephen and Paul, quoted above, had no application to Gentiles; only to God’s Nation.
However, it is quite interesting to observe that Jesus’ warning to Israel, recorded in Matthew 12:31 and 32, was spoken in between His messages to two Gentiles; the centurion of the eighth chapter of Matthew and the Greek of the fifteenth chapter. To the centurion Jesus said, “Great Faith”; “The CHILDREN of the Kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness.” Matthew 8:11 and 12. To the Greek Jesus said, “Great Faith”; “Let the CHILDREN first he filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.” Matthew 15:26 to 28. Mark 7:27.
So as we follow Israel’s history from the message of Christ, to the messages of Stephen and Paul, we shall learn that the CHILDREN (Israel) were first filled; then the CHILDREN were cast out; then the dogs received the CHILDREN’S bread. In the eleventh chapter of Romans, written about thirty years after Jesus warned Israel (Matthew 12:31 and 32), is recorded the “casting away” of Israel. Romans 11:15. Outer darkness is pictured in verse eight; “God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear” . . . . “Let their eyes he darkened.” (Romans 11:10) . . . . “Blindness in part is happened to Israel.” (Romans 11:25). “Through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles.” (Romans 11:11) “Gentiles have now obtained mercy through their (Israel’s) unbelief.” (Romans 11:30) Let us also observe that following Jesus’ warning (Matthew 12:31 and 32) He spoke of Israel’s outer darkness and casting away in Matthew 13:14 and 15, quoting Isaiah 6:9 and 10: “Hearing, not understand; Seeing, not perceived . . . Their eyes they have closed.” Let us follow Israel’s history from Jesus’ warning in Matthew 12:31 and 32, to Paul’s “HENCEFORTH” of Acts 18:6, keeping in mind Matthew 13:14 and 15 (Quotation from Isaiah 6:9 and 10) and Paul’s final message to Israel in Acts 28:25 to 28 (Quotation from Isaiah 6:9 and 10). Acts 7:51, Acts 13:36, Acts 18:6, Romans 11:8 and 25 are very closely related to Acts 28:25 to 28 and to Isaiah 6:9 and 10.
After Jesus warned Israel in Matthew 12:31 and 32, and after He told the Gentile, “the CHILDREN must first be filled,” it seemed as though Israel, as a nation, had sinned away their last offer or privilege from God, and the time of their casting-away had arrived; for Jesus said in Matthew 16:20, to His disciples, “that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ (Messiah).” But something happened, for Paul, more than twenty years later, was doing that very thing when he gave forth his “HENCEFORTH”; that is, he was testifying to Israel that Jesus was Christ (Messiah). Acts 18:5 and 6. What happened to cause the Lord to change His mind and the message of His disciples? Surely this is a very interesting question. In seeking for the answer it is interesting and instructive to go from the “HENCEFORTH” of Luke 12:50 to 52, and “FROM THAT TIME FORTH,” Matthew 16:20 and 21, to the “HENCEFORTH” of Acts 18:6 and the “HENCEFORTH” of II Corinthians 5:16; reading Acts 18:6 in connection with Romans 11:8 and 25 and Acts 28:25 to 28. The changes indicated by these “HENCEFORTHS are very suggestive.
Read first Matthew 16:20 and 21: “From that time forth.” What? The death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Hitherto, the disciples had been testifying that Jesus was Messiah. But no more. Matthew 16:20. Hitherto, “peace on earth”. Luke 2:14. Henceforth, “no peace on earth.” Luke 12:50 to 52. Peace on earth is in connection with Jesus as Israel’s Messiah, on the throne of David. Luke 1:31 and 32. Isaiah 9:6 and 7. But “HENCEFORTH”. What? “I have a baptism to be baptized with.” Luke 12:50 and 51. What baptism? The death baptism of Christ. Then in the last twelve chapters of Luke no more waterbaptism. Why? The answer is John 1:31 and Matthew 16:20. “That Jesus might be manifested unto Israel, came I with water baptism.” “That they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ.” If they are to resume that message, then they are to resume water baptism; but not before. “John (Baptist) did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Mark 1:4. That message was for Israel. Acts 13:24. It was to Israel that Christ was to be manifested. And He was manifested to Israel up to Matthew 16:20 and Luke 12:50 to 52. “From that time forth” the Son of Man must be delivered and be crucified. Matthew 17:12 . . . Matthew 20:18 and 28. Jesus spoke of His approaching death as His baptism.
Israel was going to sin against the Son of man. They were going to put Him to death, or have Him put to death. But Jesus had said that sin against the Son of Man would be forgiven. After He said that, He said, “The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Matthew 21:43. When was that Kingdom taken away from Israel and to what nation has it been given? There are more than five hundred nations represented in the Body of Christ. Jesus had said, “Let the CHILDREN first be filled.” Now, that the Kingdom was to be taken away from them, had they been filled? Some months after the death of the Son of man, Peter, in the Name of the Lord, said to Israel, “Unto you first.” Acts 3:26. Some years later, Paul, in the Name of the Lord, said, “it was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you.” Acts 13:46. If the Kingdom of God was taken away from Israel, how are we to account for the fact that all of the three thousand of Acts 2:41, and the five thousand of Acts 4:4, received into the Kingdom of God, were Israelites? If the Kingdom of God was taken away from Israel, why did the disciples of Jesus preach to none but Jews only for seven or eight years after the baptism of Christ into death? Acts 11:19. Why did Paul say, in the year 60 A.D., “to the Jew first?” Romans 1:16.
The Nation Israel did sin against the Son of Man, and that great sin was forgiven them: and the Kingdom of God was not taken away until after they had for years sinned against the Holy Spirit resisting, opposing, and blaspheming Him. “A blindness judgment was then pronounced upon that nation. And is still there. But Israel will be saved.” Romans 11:26. Ezekiel 36:21 to 31 will be fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God will be given to a nation, bringing forth the fruits thereof. The Lord used very plain language in Matthew 21:43, “The Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you (Israel).” What an unmerciful judgment He pronounced upon Israel in Matthew 23:33 to 38! But in Acts 3:17 what a message of mercy in the words of Peter, “And now brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it (killed the Prince of life), as did also your rulers.” What brought about such a change? And then what? A new offer to Israel. The Kingdom of God was offered them. Acts 3:19 to 21. “Repent Israel, and Jesus will be sent back for the restitution of all things.” That is the purpose for which He was born and for which He was raised Read Luke 1:31 and 32, 67 to 77, and Acts 2:25 to 31. Luke 1:70. Again, the question, what changed the Lord’s mind, or caused Him to extend His offer of the Kingdom this side of Jesus’ death baptism? Surely it was the prayer of the Son of man in the hour of death; “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. The father forgave. Now the disciples could again testify to Israel that Jesus was Christ (Messiah); the Kingdom could again be offered to that Nation. So, the Twelve apostles, on the day of Pentecost, reminded Israel of the Prophecy of Joel concerning their Kingdom, and the Prophecy of David concerning their King, and closed by saying “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36. And then what? Water baptism unto repentance. For what? That Christ might be made manifest unto Israel, baptizing with water. John 1:31. And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38. Jesus had been exalted to be Israel’s Prince and Saviour; the Holy Spirit was the witness. Acts 5:32. Now, as long as the disciples were to testify to Israel that Jesus is the Christ, water-baptism was in order. Twenty years later Paul so testified. Acts 18:5. Then many Corinthians believed and were baptized. Acts 18:8.
Israel began their unpardonable sin, resisting, opposing. blaspheming the Holy Spirit, who was witnessing that God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ, had exalted Him to be Israel’s Prince and Saviour, shortly after the day of Pentecost. Stephen addressed that Nation and told them that Jesus was standing in heaven. How significant! Stephen saw the Son of man. How significant! While he saw that Son of man, against whom Israel had sinned, and had been forgiven, he said, “ye do always resist the Holy Spirit.” They had sinned against the Son of man; it had been forgiven them. Now, they were sinning against the Holy Spirit: it would not be forgiven them. Israel murdered the Holy Spirit messenger, Stephen, as they had murdered the Son of man. But he prayed very much the same prayer for God’s continued mercy, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Acts 7:60. The Lord again heard, and extended His offer of the Kingdom, instructing all of His servants to observe the order, “to the Jew first.” Why? The CHILDREN must first be filled. Then the CHILDREN would be cast into outer darkness. And many would come from the cast and the west and sit down in the Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Matthew 8:10 to 12. When were the CHILDREN filled? When were the CHILDREN cast out? As one turning-point came with Matthew 16:20 and 21, Luke 12:50 to 52, another with Stephen’s message in Acts 7:51 to 60, so another came with Paul’s ministry in the thirteenth chapter of Acts, which opens with a judgment upon Bar-jesus (child of Jehovah), blindness for a season; the change of Saul’s name to Paul; and the words of Acts 13:46: “lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Undoubtedly you have compared Stephen’s message, in the seventh chapter of Acts, with Paul’s, in the thirteenth chapter, to that company of Israelites in Asia. There’s a close connection. Then compare all of these turning-points with Paul’s “HENCEFORTH” in Europe, recorded in Acts 18:6. Israel blasphemed. According to Matthew 12:31 and 32, they were not to be forgiven. According to Matthew 8:10 to 12, they were to be cast out into outer darkness. According to Mark 7:27, Israel was to be filled. They had been filled; that is, “the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Romans 11:7.
At the time Paul wrote this message of Israel’s rejection, he said, “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.” Acts 20:24. What a difference! Paul had been testifying that Jesus was Christ (Messiah) But note after the significant “HENCEFORTH” of Acts 18:6, he was not “HENCEFORTH” to know Christ after the flesh. II Corinthians 5:16. He was now to testify of the Gospel of the Grace of God. Here we have most decidedly and most definitely the parallel of Matthew 16:20 and Luke 12:50 to 52, when Jesus was not to be made manifest to Israel any longer. Then they were sinning against the Son of man, and He announced His death baptism. The definite turning-point came with Acts 18:5 and 6 and Acts 20:24. The Nation Israel had sinned against the Holy Spirit. It was not forgiven them. They have been set aside as a nation; until the Son of man shall come, according to Luke 21:28 to 32. Then Israel shall be saved and restored to national life. Romans 11:26 and Ezekiel 37:21 to 31. That final setting-aside of the Nation was not announced until Acts 28:25 to 28. But the Epistle to the Romans is the Divine message of rejection and setting-aside. That Epistle is likewise the message of the Grace Gospel. And as there were no water-baptisms between the twelfth and twenty-fourth chapters of Luke, after the Lord had announced His death baptism, until Pentecost and Jesus was not to be manifested to Israel as Christ, so the baptism of the Grace Gospel is death baptism; the believer’s death baptism with or into Jesus Christ. Romans 6:3. After that death baptism is announced, there were no more water-baptisms mentioned. Only the one, holy Spirit baptism, of Ephesians 4:4 to 6: for surely no one but Christ, by the Holy Spirit, could baptize any one into His death. By water baptism no one could be baptized into the death of Christ, or put on Christ, or be baptized into the one body. Galatians 3:27, I Corinthians 12:13. The only death baptisms in the Scriptures are the baptisms of Christ on the cross, Luke 12:51 (Matthew 20:22 and Mark 10:38 refer to same death baptism of Christ), and the baptism of the believer into the death of Christ. Romans 6:3. As Christ’s death baptism was by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14), so is also the believer’s. Water-baptism passed with the manifestation of Christ to Israel. Believers now arc in the upper-heavenlies with Christ, as members of His Body. Perhaps, water baptism shall he in order when Christ in the next age is manifested to Israel.
What sin today is unpardonable? Grace is greater than any or all of the sins of any Sinner, and any sinner, regardless of the quantity or duality of his sins, may be saved by grace on the condition of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work. His death and resurrection.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.