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Gleanings From the Book of Acts

The human instrument, the beloved Dr. Luke, used by the Holy Spirit to write the Third Gospel, was the human author of the Acts of the Apostles. It is interesting and instructive, as well as intelligent, to read the two records consecutively. Luke’s Gospel begins with two announcements from God to Israel, through Gabriel; one concerning the birth and ministry of John the Baptist and the other concerning the birth and ministry of Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of Mary.

In these two announcements, and in the message of the Holy Spirit by Zacharias, all three recorded in the first chapter of Luke, John the Baptist was born to turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord God. God visited Israel for national redemption, thereby fulfilling the covenant He made with Abraham and David. And third, Jesus was to save His people from their sins, being born to take David’s throne and reign over the house of Israel forever. “Of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:33.

It is a great mistake to confuse this everlasting kingdom, with Jesus as King, with the Church, or Body, of which Christ is the Head.

By comparing Luke 1:16 to 76 with Acts 28:20 to 28, we learn this truth, that the proclamation of God, in the first chapter of Luke, was to the nation Israel, protected and preserved in their own land, by God’s Covenant with them; and we learn in the closing chapter of Acts, about 63 years later, that the same nation had been, during those intervening years, protected and preserved in the same land by the same Covenant. They were residing in their holy city and worshipping in their temple all during the “Acts” period.

But according to Acts 28:25 to 28, blindness was pronounced upon them and within a few years the judgment of Luke 21:20 and Luke 19:41 to 44 was to be visited upon them.

It is interesting to approach the study of Acts having in mind two statements uttered by Jesus in connection with His ministry of healing granted two Gentiles to whom He ministered during the days of His flesh. “Let the children first be filled.” Mark 7:27. “The children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness.” Matthew 8:12.

During the “Acts” period, through those years of grace extended to Israel, after Christ’s judgments were pronounced upon them, in Matthew 22:7; Luke 21:20 to 24; Matthew 23:33 to 39; Israel, the children, were first being filled. Acts 3:26; Acts 11:19; Acts 13:46; Acts 18:6. Before the close of the “Acts” period the Lord directed Paul to announce the approaching outer-darkness. Romans 11:7 and 8; Romans 11:25. Then came the judgment pronounced in Acts 28:25 to 28, with the statement, “salvation is sent unto the Gentiles.”

We should also bear in mind, as we come to the study of Acts, that the Holy Spirit had been promised. “I will send Him unto you.” John 16:7. John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize with water, but Christ shall baptize you with (in) the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33.

Note John 1:33:

“And I knew Him not; but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”

Let us remember, as we read the first verse of Acts, that nothing has been revealed to anyone, either in the Old Testament Scriptures, or in the earthly ministry of Jesus the Son of man, concerning the Body of Christ. It was not true while Christ was on earth, sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, as it was stated some years later in Romans 10:12, “for there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek.” The Lord, while on earth, referred to the Jews as “children” and “sheep”, and to the Greeks as “dogs”. Matthew 15:21 to 27.

YE SHALL BE BAPTIZED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT NOT MANY DAYS HENCE.

John 1:33:

“And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”

Acts 1:5:

“For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

The eleven apostles had decidedly a unique experience in that they travelled with the Lord Jesus all the time, beginning with the baptism of John, and were eye witnesses of His resurrection. They ate with Him and talked with Him as He showed Himself alive after His death by many infallible proofs.

While they were companying with Him on earth the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Christ was not yet glorified. John 7:39. They could not have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit before the death of Christ. They had to wait until Christ sent Him. They had to obey the Lord and tarry with their companions at Jerusalem for the promise.

John the Baptist preached baptism unto repentance to Israel. Acts 13:24 John said, “Christ, shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” But he did not say when the water baptized Israelites would have that experience. After His resurrection Christ declared to His Apostles that the time of the Holy Spirit baptism would be, not many days hence. This little company of Jews was the only company who were told to tarry for the advent of the Holy Spirit. Tarrying meetings today are unscriptural, unintelligent and unnecessary.

The Holy Spirit has been sent down from heaven. I Peter 1:12. The Holy Spirit is given unto us. Believing the gospel of salvation we are sealed unto the day of redemption by the Holy Spirit, the earnest of our inheritance Ephesians 1:13 and Ephesians 4:30. Believing sinners receive the Holy Spirit by accepting the redemptive work of Christ on the tree. Galatians 3:14.

In this day of grace no one has Divine authority for either tarrying or praying for Holy Spirit sealing, anointing, or baptism. As eternal life is the free gift of God and salvation solely and wholly by grace through faith without works so is the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Surely we shall not be foolish enough to think that a Christian today can have an experience corresponding with the experience of the Twelve. They were disciples of Christ before His death, before He ascended to heaven and sent down the Holy Spirit. They were saved in the days of Christ’s earthly ministry, when Israel was sinning against the Son of man. They were saved before the new dispensation was ushered in on the day of Pentecost. We have been saved since the close of the Book of Acts, since the days or years of grace the Lord extended to Israel after they had killed the Prince of Life and committed the unpardonable sin by blaspheming and rejecting the Holy Spirit.

The devout Jews from every nation under heaven, on the day of Pentecost, did not have to wait forty-two minutes for the Holy Spirit after they had received water baptism, although the Twelve Apostles had to wait about forty-two months. The believers in the city of Samaria had to wait several days after Philip baptized them with water before they could receive the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands. Acts 8:12 to 19. Perhaps all of them were Jews. Acts 11:19.

The twelve Jews whom Paul met some years later in Ephesus did not experience Holy Spirit baptism at the time they received their first water baptism. “Believing, received ye the Holy Spirit?” Acts 19:2. Note their answer in the verses following. We must not seek for such experiences. The message and order for us is different, though the same Holy Spirit. Water baptism is not a prerequisite to Holy Spirit baptism in the message of pure grace proclaimed in the closing years of Paul’s ministry to. the Gentiles.

At first, the Holy Spirit, in the “Acts” period, was God’s witness to Israel that Christ was the Prince of Life, killed by them and exalted by God to give repentance and remission of sins to Israel. Acts 5:26 to 34.

WILT THOU AT THIS TIME RESTORE AGAIN THE KINGDOM TO ISRAEL?

However much or little the student of the Word of God may today be interested in this question, surely he should be able to appreciate the interest of Christ’s disciples at the time the question was asked, immediately before He ascended to heaven.

Let us bear in mind that they had neither the slightest intimation nor yet even a vague knowledge that they were to become members of the Church, which is called, in Ephesians, the “Soma” or “Body of Christ”. That glorious truth was not revealed until some years later. Their minds were saturated with kingdom truth and their hearts were filled with the kingdom hope of Israel. Their Messiah on earth had proclaimed His earthly Messianic kingdom, and He had sent them forth with the proclamation of that kingdom long promised to their Nation by the prophets which God had for centuries sent unto their fathers.

We read in Luke 22:25 to 30, that these Twelve, for their faithful discipleship, were promised a place in the kingdom at the table, with the Lord, to eat and drink with Him and to sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Accordingly, their minds and hearts were centered on the fulfillment of this promise. They were concerned as to the time that they would come in to the realization and enjoyment of the promised reward.

There are some theologians today who tell us that those disciples of the Lord were ignorant of the real significance of the kingdom which Christ had been proclaiming. They say that those disciples should have spiritualized the language of the Saviour and interpreted His words figuratively rather than literally. According to their explanation, the only kingdom that Christ offered was a spiritual kingdom, and the throne of that kingdom was the individual’s heart. They also teach that the present-day premillennialists are making the same mistake in that they believe that the same Jesus, who was once here on earth, is coming back in power and great glory to occupy a throne on earth, and actually reign as King over a visible kingdom.

However, let us observe that the Lord did not intimate to His disciples that their hope of the restoration of the kingdom of Israel was unscriptural. They were walking in the development of an unrevealed program which was before them. If we have a more sure word of prophecy, surely we know, that during this present dispensation of grace while the Body of Christ is in the making, the Lord has postponed the Messianic kingdom, promised many, many times by the Old Testament prophets. To deny that God will yet restore the kingdom to Israel is to deny the plain teaching of the Word of God. The One who was the King of the Jews is now on a different throne, as the Head of the Church. But He will surely come to take David’s throne as the Prince of Peace; then the government will be upon His shoulder. The kingdom will be restored . again to Israel.

THIS SAME JESUS SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER

“YE MEN OF GALILEE, WHY STAND YE GAZING UP INTO HEAVEN? THIS SAME JESUS WHICH IS TAKEN UP FROM YOU INTO HEAVEN SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO INTO HEAVEN” Acts 1:11.

Here we have one of the very clear, definite statements that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth. In Luke 21:27 to 31 are recorded the words of the Son of man that He is to return in power and great glory with His angels, for Israel’s redemption; and then their Kingdom will be at hand.

In Hebrews 9:28 the statement is made, “so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; so unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” This too was addressed to the Hebrews.

In Zechariah 14:1 to 4 we have the sure word of prophecy that the Messiah and Deliverer of Israel is to return to this earth, and His feet shall yet stand on the mount of Olives.

According to Matthew 24:9 to 29, the Lord Jesus is to come to this earth after Israel has been plunged into the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble. But Jacob shall be saved out of it. Jeremiah 30:7 to 11. When the Son of man comes to the earth He will not find faith on the earth. Luke 18:1 to 8.

The coming of the Son of man to earth, the second coming of Jesus, should not be confused with the calling on high of the members of the Body of Christ, according to Philippians 3:11 to 22. At the time the Head of the Body shall call His members to be with Him, to appear with Him in glory, there will be much faith on the earth. The Body was described as the mystery not made known to the sons of men in other ages. Israel’s tribulation was made known to the sons of men in other ages. Therefore, the calling on high of the Body of Christ will precede the coming again of Jesus for His people Israel.

Acts 1:16

“THIS SCRIPTURE MUST NEEDS HAVE BEEN FULFILLED.”

“MEN AND BRETHREN, THE SCRIPTURE MUST NEEDS HAVE BEEN FULFILLED, WHICH THE HOLY GHOST BY THE MOUTH OF DAVID SPAKE BEFORE CONCERNING JUDAS, WHICH WAS GUIDE TO THEM THAT TOOK JESUS.”

“FOR IT IS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF PSALMS, LET HIS HABITATION BE DESOLATE, AND LET NO MAN DWELL THEREIN: AND HIS BISHOPRICK LET ANOTHER TAKE.” Acts 1:16 and 20.

Note how, in the first chapter of Acts, “the Scripture must needs be fulfilled.” The Scriptures were being fulfilled in the second chapter and in the third chapter and in the tenth chapter and in the fifteenth chapter. In the last chapter of Acts Paul, in Rome, was speaking to a company of Jews concerning the fulfillment of Scriptures. “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” Acts 28:23.

By the pen of David, God foretold the fall of Judas and the selection of his successor. This is the only case of apostolic succession in the Bible. Let us remember that the ministry of the Twelve was concerning the fulfillment of the Scriptures. This is in contradistinction to the ministry of Paul designated in Ephesians 3:8, “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” that ministry concerning which Israel’s Old Testament prophets were silent.

In the Book of Acts we read of the prophecy of David, the mouth of David, the throne of David, the Covenant of David, the sepulchre of David, the Seed of David, the sure mercies of David, and the tabernacle of David.

“THAT HE MIGHT GO TO HIS OWN PLACE”

“THAT HE MAY TAKE PART OF THIS MINISTRY AND APOSTLESHIP, FROM WHICH JUDAS BY TRANSGRESSION FELL, THAT HE MIGHT GO TO HIS OWN PLACE.” Acts 1:25.

Now let us read this verse, omitting, “from which Judas by transgression fell.” Hear it: “That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, that he might go to his own place.”

Another was to take the bishoprick of Judas. Judas was numbered with the Eleven for several years. But he had the place temporarily. The place belonged to another. It was Matthias who went to his own place.

Judas was the son of perdition, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. He was a devil when he was chosen. There is not a word to support the false teaching that he was a saved man and then lost his salvation. Because the coming “man of sin” is to be the “son of perdition”, some Bible teachers teach that Judas will be brought from his “own place” to be the Antichrist. They claim that Judas is not with other lost men but in his own special place; the place that God prepared for his keeping, until he is revealed as the “man of sin”. This is only speculation, if not a ridiculous vagary. It seems more likely that the meaning of Acts 1:25 is that Matthias went to his own place, which the Scripture’s foretold he would do.