Our word “Church” is from the Greek “Kurios”, translated several hundred times, “Lord”. Why the translators used the word “Church” we do not understand, for it has caused much confusion and misunderstanding. The Greek word, from which the word “Church” is translated “Ekklesia”, This word “Ekklesia” is found 118 times in the New Testament Scriptures, translated 85 times, in the singular, “Church”; 35 times, in the plural, “Churches”; and three times “Assembly”. The word “Assembly” is used in Acts 19:32, 39 and 41. The Greek word, “Ekklesia”, means “Called-out”, and suggests a called-out company, or a gathering, or an assembly. Thus we can see the unfortunate translation, “Church.” It would have been far better had the word “Ekklesia” been translated, “Called-out” or “Assembly”, all 118 times.
THE FIRST CHURCH
In Acts 7:38 Stephen spoke of the “Ekklesia”, or “Church”, “in the wilderness.” He was referring to Israel’s pilgrimage through the wilderness, about 1490 B.C. Surely the Israelites were God’s “called-out” people. He called them out of Egypt. He led them into Canaan. They were still the “Ekklesia” of God years after their pilgrimage was over, when they were worshipping Jehovah in the temple at Jerusalem. This leads us to ask the question; “how about the seventy souls out of the loins of Jacob more than two hundred years before the Israelites were in the wilderness?” Were not the seventy souls of Exodus 1:5 God’s “Called-out?” Two hundred years before this some of God’s people were in the household of Abraham. Genesis 17:4 to 14. One of the four churches referred to in the New Testament Scriptures is the “Church in the wilderness.”
THE SECOND CHURCH
In Acts 8:1 we read of “the Church which was at Jerusalem.” In that Church there were only Jews. Acts 11:19. In referring to that Church, Paul said, “I persecuted “the Church of God.” Galatians 1:13. The Church in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, was the Church of God. Before the day of Pentecost there were one-hundred-twenty souls in the upper room. They were the Called-out of God. Acts 1:15. To a called-out company the Lord on earth had said some months before the day of Pentecost, “Fear not little flock.” Luke 12:32. They were called-out. To them He said; “if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the “Ekklesia.” Matthew 18:17. This leads us to this question, “did the Church of God which Saul of Tarsus persecuted begin on or before the day of Pentecost?” The Post-millenarian’s answer to this question is, that the Church of God began before the flood. Some Bible teachers believe that the Church of God began with John the Baptist. Some Premillenarians teach that there was a Church of God before the resurrection of Christ, but that the New Testament Church of God began when the Lord Jesus breathed upon His apostles, saying “receive ye the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22.
Other Premillenarians—and the majority of them—teach that there was at least one Church before the day of Pentecost; but that a new and different Church of God began on the day of Pentecost. They support their teaching by the words of the Lord Jesus, “Upon this Rock I will build my Church.” Matthew 16:19. They also use I Corinthians 12:13 to support their teaching, “baptized by one Spirit into one Body.” Believers, they claim, could not have been baptized into the Church of God until the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. The believers added on the day of Pentecost, they teach, were added to the Church of God by the work of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:47. Then they claim that the expression “the Church of God” was not used before the day of Pentecost. All of these Premillenarians are Dispensationalists to the extent that they teach that the Kingdom of God was taken from Israel with the death of Israel’s Messiah, in fulfillment of Matthew 21:43 and Matthew 23:34 to 39. They teach that Israel’s national redemption will take place by the coming of the Son of man in power and great glory after God has accomplished His purpose in this age; namely, to build the Church of Christ. Therefore, they teach the postponement of the Kingdom or the suspension of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants that have to do with the restoration of the Kingdom and Canaan to Israel. They teach that when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in all Israel shall be saved. Romans 11:25 and 26. Therefore, they teach that the Kingdom of God which was at hand, in the message of the Lord Jesus in Mark 1:14 and 15, is not now at hand; but will be at hand when the Son of man shall return and fulfill Luke 21:27 to 31. That Kingdom of God is now in abeyance. Since the day of Pentecost the Church of God has been at hand. Therefore, they claim that the Church of God, which began historically on the day of Pentecost, is identical with the Church which is Christ’s Body, mentioned in Ephesians 1:19 to 22.
There are some Scriptures that seem to support the teaching that the Church of God began on the day of Pentecost and that that Church of God is the same as the Church which is Christ’s Body, mentioned in Ephesians and Colossians. Yet there are some Scriptures that seem to disprove both facts; that is, the one fact that the Church of God which Saul persecuted began before the day of Pentecost, and the other fact that the Church of God of the day of Pentecost is not identical with the Body (Church of Ephesians 1:19 to 22.) Let us consider them
Read the words of the Lord Jesus, in Mark 1:14 and 15: “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” It was at hand for Israel; because their King was at hand. Whether or not we believe that the Body of Christ began historically on the day of Pentecost or some years after, Premillenarians are agreed that the Kingdom of God that was at hand in 30 A.D. was not the Body of Christ mentioned in 64 A.D., in Ephesians and Colossians. According to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ to Israel, “the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you.” Matthew 21:43. Now, if that Kingdom of God had been taken away from Israel before the day of Pentecost, there might be Scriptural proof that the Body of Christ began historically on the day of Pentecost. But the fact is, that the same Kingdom of God that was offered to Israel while the Lord Jesus was on earth was again offered to the same Nation after Pentecost. Acts 3:19 to 22. In Matthew 8:1 to 11, the Israelites were “Children”. Mark 7:27. In Matthew 23:34 to 39 the Israelites were “serpents”. In Acts 3:25 the Israelites were “Children”. Quite a transformation from “Children” to serpents, and from “serpents” back to “Children”. In Matthew 16:20 the Messengers of the Messiah were no longer to witness to the Nation that Jesus was their Messiah. But in Acts 2:32, the Messengers of the Messiah were witnessing to Israel that Jesus was their Messiah; “Let all of the House of Israel know.” The “these days” of Acts 3:24 referred to the same Israelitish Kingdom of God that was at hand in Mark 1:14 and 15. Yes or no? If yes, did the “these days” of Acts 3:24 refer to the Body of Christ of Ephesians 3:6, about which days no prophet ever spoke or wrote?
According to Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit did not come to form the Body of Christ, but for Israel’s blessing in their land. Read Joel 2:18 and Acts 2:16. According to that same message, Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead to be the Head of the Church which is His Body, but to sit as King and Messiah on David’s throne. On that throne the Messiah and King will be the “Son of Man.” Matthew 25:31 to 34. Some months after the day of Pentecost Stephen saw the Messiah standing in heaven as the “Son of man”. The Lord Jesus is not the Son of man to the members of the Church which is His Body. No one can prove by the Word of God that the Nation Israel had been set aside, as a nation, or that the Kingdom of God had been taken away from them at the time Stephen saw the heavens opened and the Son of man standing. Acts 7:51 to 56.
We have taken too much for granted, without diligently studying the Word of God. In what respect was the Kingdom of God taken away from Israel, in the seventh chapter of Acts, that it was not taken away when Jesus was in their midst on earth? The Lord had to go to the cross in fulfillment of the Scriptures. How could He have gone to the throne of David before He went to Calvary, and have fulfilled the Scriptures? What Scripture prevented His return to establish His Kingdom after His sacrifice? The answer to this is; that the Body of Christ was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4 . . . Ephesians 3:11 and II Timothy 1:9. So then this question, what was the difference between the Kingdom of God, offered to Israel before the day of Pentecost, and the Kingdom of God offered to Israel after the day of Pentecost? In the one case Israel was sinning against the Son of man. That was to be forgiven them. Matthew 12:31 and 32. For the forgiveness of than sin Christ on the cross prayed for them. In the second case, after Pentecost they were sinning against, or resisting, the Holy Spirit. That was not to be forgiven them. In the one case the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of the heavens, was being offered to them while their Messiah was on earth, Jesus of Nazareth the man approved of God in their midst by signs. Acts 2:22. In the other case the Kingdom of God was being offered to them after God had made that same Jesus both Lord and Christ and had raised Him up to be a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance unto Israel. Acts 2:32. Acts 5:31. Repentance on the part of Israel meant the Kingdom of God restored unto Israel. Acts 3:19 to 26.
Twenty-seven years after the death of Israel’s Messiah there was an “election” of Israelites. But Israel, the Nation, was to be set aside until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. Romans 11:7 and 8 and 25 and 26. When did this election of Israelites begin? Certainly before the day of Pentecost. While the Lord Jesus was in the flesh in the land of the Jews individual Israelites were saved. Whether or not they were born into the Kingdom of God or became members of the Church of God, there was something more than an offer of salvation, or entrance into the Kingdom of God, to individual Israelites. The proclamation of the Kingdom by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus and the Twelve and the Seventy, while the Saviour was an earth, was for the Nation. When the Lord said, “the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you”, He did not mean that individual Israelites would not be permitted to enter into the Kingdom of God. No, He meant that the Kingdom of God which was offered to the Nation, and which shall yet be given to that Nation, would be taken away. While the Lord Jesus was on earth He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Matthew 15:24. He was confirming to Israel God’s Kingdom promises. Romans 15.8. Messages concerning the Body of Christ were not messages of confirmation; but messages of revelation. They were not preached by the Lord Jesus on earth. The Israelites saved while the Lord was on earth did not become members of the Body of Christ mentioned in Ephesians and Colossians. But the question is, “would it be unscriptural to speak of that company of saved Israelites as the Church or a Church of God before Pentecost?” Did the little flock constitute an “Ekklesia?” If not, would we call them “the Kingdom of God”? Is there any name by which they might collectively be called? Were not all Israelites the children of the Kingdom? Matthew 8:11. The children of the Kingdom were not cast into darkness until after Acts 13:46.
The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, in fulfillment of Joel’s Kingdom prophecy concerning Israel’s Kingdom and Land, did not make the saved company of Israelites the One New Man of Ephesians 2:15. Just as before the death of the Messiah, individual Israelites continued to be saved, or enter the Kingdom of God, on the day of Pentecost and thereafter. Just as before the death of Christ, God was still dealing with the Nation Israel on Kingdom grounds; presenting to them the message of that Kingdom spoken by the mouth of Moses, Samuel and all of Israel’s prophets. Acts 3:21 and 24.
Perhaps, the most difficult task for the Bible student is to learn just When, during the Book of Acts period, the Lord ceased to deal with Israel, as a Nation, on Kingdom grounds. Certainly in the year 46 A.D., when the Apostle Paul said, “seeing ye have put it from you, Lo, we turn unto the Gentiles”, he was not saying that God would withdraw from individual Israelites the privilege of becoming members of His Church, Acts 13:46. He was there dealing with the Nation, as He was in Acts 28:25 to 28. With Acts 28:25 to 28 we have a most radical change in the program of God. With that judgment God began to withdraw spiritual authority and Church leadership from Israel and to usher in a period of Gentile favour wholly independent of Israelitish covenants, promises, rites and religion; and to reveal His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus concerning the One New Man and the heavenly position and blessings of the members of the Body of Christ chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. There is a decided difference between the Kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world, of Matthew 25:34, the restitution to Israel spoken by the prophets since the world began, of Luke 1:70 and Acts 3:21, and the purpose of Christ given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, of Ephesians 1:4 and II Timothy 1:9. We must not confuse the Kingdom promises with the eternal purpose of God concerning the position of saved Gentiles in the Body. One was the subject of prophecy; the other was unknown to the prophets; hid in God. Ephesians 3:3, 5, 8 and 9.
THE THIRD CHURCH
In the study of this third Church mentioned in the New Testament Scriptures we can appreciate the unfortunate and obscure translation of the word “Ekklesia” to the word “Church”. Read Acts 19:32, 39 and 41. “The Ekklesia was confused”. “In a lawful Ekklesia”. “He dismissed the Ekklesia.” Who dismissed the Ekklesia? A heathen judge. Who made up the Ekklesia? There were several saints there, but the Ekklesia was an unruly mob of lost heathen. What a Church! As the word “Church” comes from the word translated Lord, “Kurios”, we know that mob should not have been called “Church”. The word Ekklesia is properly translated “Assembly” in the three verses. Suppose such an unruly mob had gathered in Jerusalem while the Lord Jesus was on earth, could they not have properly been called an Ekklesia? Certainly. Then was the word “Ekklesia” added to the Greek language because a company of saved Israelites was to be called “the Church of God” on the day of Pentecost? (Certainly not. If a mob of heathen could have been properly called an Ekklesia or an Assembly before Christ died, then a company of God’s redeemed people could have been called an Ekklesia of God, or a Church of God, while Christ was on earth.
Well, of one thing all students of the Word of God are sure; that is, that the Church which is the Body of Christ is not a building made of inanimate stones or other inanimate material. The Church which is the Body of Christ is a building made up of sinners saved by pure and unadulterated grace, without religion. Acts 2:8 to 22.
THE FOURTH CHURCH
“In Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the upper-heavenlies, or super-heavenlies, . . . . and gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:19 to 22. “They two shall be one flesh; This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” Ephesians 5:31. “In other ages was not made known to the sons of men. . . . That the Gentiles should be joint-heirs; of the joint Body.” Ephesians 3:5 and 6. “To make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God.” Ephesians 3:9.
Is the Holy Spirit, in these verses in Ephesians, speaking of a Church of God, or the Church of God, which began before or on the day of Pentecost?
The generally accepted answer to this question among Premillenarians is, that the Church of God began historically on the day of Pentecost and that that Church of God which then began is the same Church of God called in Ephesians and Colossians, the “Body”. This teaching is supported by Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians. First Corinthians was addressed “unto the Church of God.” In I Corinthians 12:13 we read that “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks.” The argument is, that the Church of God of the first chapter is the Body of the twelfth chapter; and that the Body of I Corinthians 12:13 is identical with the Body of Ephesians and Colossians. Another verse of Scripture used to support the teaching is Ephesians 2:20: “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner.”
Whether or not Premillenarians believe that the Church of God began on the day of Pentecost and that that Church of God is the same Church or Body of Ephesians and Colossians, they are agreed that the Body of Christ did not begin historically until Israel, as a nation, was set aside; and they should be agreed that the Body of Ephesians and Colossians was not in fulfillment of any promise that God made to Israel by the mouth of all of His holy prophets since the world began. If Israel was set aside, as a nation, on the day of Pentecost, then undoubtedly the Body of Christ began historically at that time, if not before. If Israel was not set aside until after Stephen saw the Son of man standing in heaven, or until after Acts 13:46, then it is more than doubtful that body of Christ began historically on the day of Pentecost or before. Therefore, it seems rather important that we search the Scriptures diligently to learn when the Lord set Israel aside. To be sure, the Lord on earth said to Israel, “your house is left unto you desolate.” Matthew 23:38 and 39. At that time He addressed them as a generation of vipers and as serpents. But after Christ prayed, “Father, forgive them”, God spoke to them in great mercy and addressed them, not as serpents, but “ye are the children of the covenants.” Acts 3:25. God wot that ye did it in ignorance. Therefore, repent. Acts 3:17. This was to “every one of you”, to “all the house of Israel.” Acts 2:38 . . . Acts 3:26 and Acts 2:36. Their house was not yet desolate. Their temple stood in Jerusalem and for years after Paul was converted God permitted him to become a Jew to the Jews. Surely God delayed the execution of the judgment pronounced upon the house of Israel, in Matthew 21 and 23 and 25. It was in the year 60 A.D. that God wrote by the pen of Paul to the Romans concerning the setting aside of Israel, not on the day of Pentecost, but after the thirteenth chapter of Acts; perhaps, not definitely until Acts 28:25 to 28. Israel’s house was no more desolate in the thirteenth chapter of Acts than in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. Were the natural branches any more cut off in Acts 15:1 to 19 than they were in Matthew 23:34 to 38?
Here is a sensible question: “If Israel was set aside with the death of Christ, if the Kingdom of God was taken away from Israel with the death of Christ, why did God’s messengers say to Israel, “to you first”? Acts 3:26 and Acts 13:46. Why were no Gentiles saved until eight years after the day of Pentecost? Acts 11:18. Why was it unlawful for an Israelite apostle to go to a Gentile with the message until Peter’s housetop vision? Acts 10:28. Surely we know, with but little study, that the dispensation of pure grace for Jew and Gentile alike did not begin with Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost. No messenger of grace today would preach to an unsaved Gentile, “repent and be baptized for the remission of sin,” Acts 2:38. Neither would he preach to any one Acts 3:19 to 21.
The teacher who has the Body of Christ begin historically on the day of Pentecost has for the program of that Body all of the program of the Book of Acts period, from Pentecost until Paul reached Rome. But they find very little of this program in the Body of Christ today, except in the counterfeit. They have no Scriptural explanation for the absence of the signs and visions and miracles and ceremonies that were practiced by the authority of the risen Christ during the thirty years after His death? They should either be recovered or explained away by an intelligent application of the Scriptures rightly divided, which is difficult, if not impossible, if the Body of today and the Pentecost Church of God are one and the same. We have either a different Church today with a different sphere of blessing or the same Church with such a different program that it might as well be a different Church.
Let us carefully compare Amos 9:11 to 15 with Acts 15:14 to 17, and we shall learn that God by the mouth of His holy prophet told Israel that there was to be a called-out company of Israelites and Gentiles; and we shall also learn that Peter and James declared that the Church of God of the Book of Acts was the called-out company to whom Amos referred. A study of the first chapters of the Book of Acts should convince us that Peter and the Eleven were preaching to none but Israelites, “none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:” And then Peter said, “God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.” Acts 15:7. This referred to Peter’s message to the Household of Cornelius; “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His Name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:43.
Some years after Peter’s ministry to the Gentiles the Apostle Paul wrote: “I am the apostle of the Gentiles.” Romans 11:13. And about that same time it was agreed that Peter and his associates should preach the “circumcision” gospel to the circumcision. Galatians 2:7 and 9. It is no easy matter to understand Galatians 2:7 to 9 in the light of Acts 15:7; unless we can learn in the Scriptures that the risen Lord gave Paul a message and ministry for the Gentiles that superseded His commission to the Twelve. Paul was the prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ for the Gentiles with the dispensation of grace and with the mystery among the Gentiles. Ephesians 3:1 to 9. Colossians 1:27. Peter preached to Israelites and Gentiles the “traceable” riches of Christ. The Apostle Paul finally preached to Gentiles the unsearchable (untraceable) riches of Christ. Ephesians 3:8. The word translated “unsearchable” really means “not to be tracked.” Included in the “not-to-be-tracked” riches of Christ was the Body referred to in Paul’s last Epistles as “the Mystery”.
In the second of Acts believers were added to the Church of God. They were all Israelites. About eight years later the first company of Gentiles was added. Acts 11:18. If the called-out company of Acts 15:14 to 17 referred to the Jews and Greeks of I Corinthians 12:13, baptized by one Spirit into one Body, then the one Body of I Corinthians 12:13 can hardly be identical with the Body of Ephesians 3:6. Membership in the Body of Ephesians 3:6 was a mystery not made known to the prophets of Israel, whereas the saved company of Acts 15:14 to 17 was prophesied in Amos 9:11 to 15.
God’s Son made under the law, sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, was a minister of the circumcision. Galatians 4:4. Matthew 15:24. Romans 15:8. His ministry to Israel was one of confirmation; that is, confirming what Israel’s prophets had foretold. Romans 15:8. That referred also to a message of salvation for Gentiles. Romans 15:9. The ministry of the Twelve, before and after the death of their Messiah, was also a ministry of confirmation. Hebrews 2:2 to 5. To Israel Paul likewise preached “none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come.” Acts 26:22. “That Christ should be the first to rise from the dead and show light unto Israel and the Gentiles.” Acts 26:23. So the Apostle Paul had a ministry of confirmation, or “traceable” riches of Christ. But he had another ministry, about which Israel’s prophets knew nothing. He preached among the Gentiles the “untraceable” riches of Christ, concerning the dispensation of the mystery, which God would have all men to know; since He revealed it to and through Paul. Paul had a two-fold ministry; one of confirmation, and one of revelation. Otherwise we could never reconcile Acts 26:22 and Ephesians 3:8 and 9; the “none other things of Israel’s prophets” and the mystery hid in God from the beginning of the world; the “traceable” and “untraceable” message. Who could learn of the “dispensation of the grace of God” or of the “dispensation of the mystery” by reading Israel’s Old Testament prophets or the Four Gospels or the Book of Acts or even the first six Epistles from the pen of Paul?
As we said, Premillenarians are generally agreed that the Body of Christ did not begin until Israel was set aside, as a nation. The disagreement is concerning the time of that setting aside, or as to when the Lord cast the children into darkness, according to Matthew 8:11. As you carefully study the Book of Matthew and the Book of Acts, can you truthfully say that God sent any more judgment upon Israel in the Book of Acts than he did in Matthew? All can see that He did after the “Book of Acts” period, but not during it. Those who disagree with their Premillenarian brethren that Israel had been set aside when the day of Pentecost was fully come are called “Ultradispensationalists.” Some Ultradispensationalists teach that Paul wrote several Epistles before Israel was set aside, and in those Epistles he referred to an “Ekklesia”, a called-out” people, Israelites and Gentiles, which was the subject of prophecy. They teach that Paul wrote several Epistles after Israel was cast into darkness generally called his “Prison” Epistles, including Ephesians, Colossians and II Timothy; and that in those Epistles he referred to an Ekklesia” about which no prophet of Israel wrote. That “Ekklesia” is called “the Church which is His Body”. That Church was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Let us search the Scriptures diligently to see whether these things be true. This teaching suggests “The Book of Acts” Church and the “Body” Church. To which of these Churches did the Lord Jesus refer when He said, “upon this Rock I will build my Ekklesia?” The reason why we feel sure we can correctly answer this question is because outstanding Bible teachers among Fundamentalists have decided it for us. To which Church did the Lord Jesus refer in Matthew?
The Book of Matthew is a Book of signs and ceremonies; a message concerning the Kingdom, Matthew is very largely a Jewish Book. But how about the Book of Acts? Seven strictly Jewish words, found 86 times in the Book of Matthew, are found 250 times in Acts. The honest, open student of the Word of God will find no more radical change passing out of Matthew into Acts than he will passing out of Acts into Ephesians, Colossians and II Timothy. Signs and ceremonies and Judaism pass out of Matthew into Acts and go through Acts, all the way; but they do not pass from Acts to Ephesians, Colossians and II Timothy. They are missing; they have ceased; something has happened.
What happened to John the Baptist and the other saved Israelites who died while Jesus of Nazareth was a man in the midst of Israel? They certainly were not members of the Body of Christ mentioned in Ephesians. To this all Premillenarians are agreed. Were they members of some Church of God? If Israel was set aside when the Lord said to them, “your house is left unto you desolate”, and if the kingdom of God was then and there taken from them, and if the Body of Christ did not begin until fifty days after Christ arose from death, to what company of saved Israelites did the thief on the cross belong? Was he not in the same Church of God to which the thousands were added some weeks later? And concerning the 120 in the upper-room, were they not members of a Church of God while the Lord was in their midst as a man? Did they become members of a new and different Church of God on the day of Pentecost? Surely they were a saved group before the death of their Messiah and they were a saved company after His death. But if any one of them had died before the day of Pentecost, he would have died outside of the Church of God, according to our Premillenarian brethren who teach that the Church of God, began on the day of Pentecost. All of us should agree that he would not have died as a member of the Body of Christ mentioned in Ephesians; but we are by no means agreed that they were not members of a Church of God.
If it could have been that such a radical change could have taken place on the day of Pentecost, as is taught by our Premillenarian brethren who say that the Church of God began then, and if it is true that the “Kingdom of God” saved people from before Pentecost could have became “Church of God” saved people on the day of Pentecost, why could not an equally radical change have taken place with the close of the Book of Acts period and the saved people of the Church of God have become members of the “Body Church” of the post-Acts Epistles? Certainly the Scriptures show that just as radical a change took place at the close of Acts as took place in the Second Chapter of Acts.
The Premillennial brethren, who teach that the Church of God began on the day of Pentecost, teach that when Jesus was on earth He offered to Israel that literal physical Messianic Kingdom that was to be, and is to be, established on this earth, according to the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. There are many chapters in Isaiah, Zechariah Micah, Jeremiah, Daniel and the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh chapters of Ezekiel that speak of “these days”. They spoke of the same Kingdom “these days” as are mentioned in Acts 3:25. Acts speaks of the very same Kingdom on earth that Christ announced in Mark 1:14 and 15. The very same Kingdom is spoken of in Amos 9:11 to 15 and Acts 15:14 to 18. In fulfillment of the Scriptures, the builders rejected the Stone. As the Kingdom offer was rejected, the attitude of Israel caused the Lord to withdraw the offer and postpone the Kingdom and change His program and build the One New Man before He would lay His hand the second time to restore the Kingdom to Israel. If Israel had received their King and Kingdom, would there not have been the fulfillment of Joel 2:1 to 18 and Amos 9:11 to 15? Certainly. Then if Amos 9:11 to 15 is a Kingdom promise, what has that prophecy to do with the One New Man of Ephesians 2:15? Did not Israel’s attitude toward God’s offer after the Holy Spirit came to witness to them again cause God to postpone fulfillment of the Kingdom program of Acts 15:14 to 17 until after He has made the One New Man of Ephesians 2:5. There is no more Scriptural proof that Jesus Christ would have taken the throne of David, if Israel had repented before His death than that He would have taken that throne if Israel had repented within a few years after His death. Christ was prophesied for that purpose. Isaiah 9:6 and 7. He was born for that purpose. Luke 1:29 to 33. He was resurrected for that purpose. Acts 2:25 to 30. He shall return for that purpose. Acts 15:15 and 16. Israel rejected the King and the Kingdom in Acts as well as in Matthew.
Did not the Body of Christ begin after that rejection? Does Acts 15:14 to 17 refer to the Body?
Surely Amos and the other prophets of Israel did not prophesy concerning the present position of Christ in the super-heavenlies, far above principality, power and dominion, and that present position of the members of His Body, seated in and with Christ in the super-heavenlies, described in the Body message in Ephesians 1:4 and 1:19 to 22 and 2:5 and 6. It is not so difficult to see that the “Body” Church of Ephesians 1:19 to 22 differs from the Church of Acts 15:14 to 18, when we study together carefully Amos 9:11 to 15, Acts 15:14 to 18 and Ephesians 3:5 to 11. Amos prophesied Gentile salvation with Christ on David’s throne. The Epistle to the Ephesians speaks of Gentile salvation with Christ and His Body seated, not on David’s throne, but in the super-heavenlies. Of this Body Amos never spake a word. Neither did any other prophet before Christ came, or while He was on earth; nor did the Twelve in their ministry to the House of Israel during the Acts period.
Be a true Berean and let the Holy Spirit lead you to diligently search the Scriptures, and you will rejoice in the two “Buts” in the Second Chapter of Ephesians, “But God who is rich in mercy for the great love wherewith He loved us”; and “But now in Christ Jesus”. How wonderful is this message of pure grace; saved, sealed and seated, all of grace and all by grace, on the basis of the shed blood of Christ, without religion, legalism, ceremony or ordinance. “They two shall be one flesh. I speak a mystery concerning Christ and the Church.”
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