1-21-18 Lesson 11
Father, we’re grateful for another day, and we’re reminded of the early church in the Book of Acts once the Spirit began His baptizing work they gave themselves to apostolic teaching. So what’s what we’re doing this morning, Father, so I ask that You’ll be with us in that endeavor and I ask that you will change the way we think and more importantly than that, Father, I pray the process of renewal, mental renewal wouldn’t stop there but it would translate into changing the way we live. I know You change the way we think first as a prerequisite for changing the way we live but we just ask that you would do that work in Your people today. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said , Amen.
Let’s open our Bibles, if we could, to the Book of Revelation, which is easy to find, it’s under R, The Book of Revelation, chapter 21 and take a look, if you could at verse 12. If you need a handout just put your hand up. As you know in this class we’ve been studying the doctrine of Ecclesiology which is the study of the church, what does God reveal about the church? And we’re basically at a part in our outline here, Roman numeral V where we’re talking about key differences between Israel and the church. It’s hard to appreciate the church until you distinguish it from Israel. And it’s hard to appreciate Israel unless you distinguish it from the church. We’re really living in a special time where God is doing something unique today in what is called the church. It’s not Israel but it’s something unique.
And those are eight or so differences that we’ve gone over. Here are another six or so differences that we’ve gone over and we’re right down on that list to the New Jerusalem. So notice, if you will, Revelation 21. Take a look at verse 12, it says: “It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.” Verse 14 says, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
So this is yet another distinction between Israel and the church and it has to do with the end. Isn’t that cool, isn’t that neat? That’s the New Jerusalem descending from heaven. I know you want to see that again don’t you. There’s the New Jerusalem, I actually think the New Jerusalem is currently in existence and the reason I think it’s in existence in heaven is it’s described with the present tense verb in Galatians 4:26. [Galatians 4:26, “But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.”]
But we know from the Book of Revelation that when God creates the new heaven and the new earth that New Jerusalem which is in heaven, which is not fit to descend now upon a corrupted earth, will descend one day on a brand new earth because the New Jerusalem is in heaven and heaven is holy so the New Jerusalem will come to the earth one day and I think you have a description of it in Revelation 21 and really chapter 22. If you look at Revelation 21:16-17 it describes this New Jerusalem, “The city is laid out like a square as long as it was wide, He measured the city with a rod and found it to be fifteen hundred miles in length and as wide and as high as it is long. He measured its walls and it was 144 cubits thick by man’s measurements which the angel was using.”
So if you take these dimensions literally, and I don’t have any reason why I can’t take it literally, the city that is being described here that’s going to descend to the new heavens and the new earth in the last two chapters of the Bible is about the size of half of the United States of America, roughly. So we’re talking about a huge, huge city.
And it says very specifically that it’s laid out like a cube, as long as it was wide, so I would see it as a giant cube, and what Revelation 21:12-14 talks about is around this cube towards the bottom are three gates on each side, twelve gates total. [Revelation 21:12-14, “It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.  There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.  And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”]
So three gates on one side, three gates on another side, three gates on another side, three gates on the fourth side towards the bottom. It’s interesting that the gates are always portrayed here as being open so people can come in and go at will. And it’s very different than Eden where, you recall, after the fall of man cherubim were stationed at the entrance of Eden to prevent man from reentering. So unlike “lest you eat from the tree of knowledge and live forever,” and you see a description of that in Genesis 3:22-24. [Genesis 3:22-24, “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.  So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.”]
But unlike Eden, which is barred entrance to man this city gates are opened perpetually and people just come and go at will. And one of the things that’s very interesting to note is when you look at these two verses, Revelation 21:12, each gate of the city is named after one of the tribes. Now the tribes are the foundation of God’s work with Israel; if it wasn’t for the twelve tribes we wouldn’t have Israel or God’s work through Israel. So every time you go in and out of this city gate you’re going to look up and you’re going to see a name inscribed there of one of the twelve tribes.
And it goes in Revelation 21:14 and it talks about the foundation so I would assume that there’s twelve foundations, three foundations on each side, and the foundations are named after the apostles. [Revelation 21:14, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”] Now the apostles represent God’s work through who? Israel or the church? The church. In fact, in Ephesians 2:20 we learn that the Lord built the church on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. [Ephesians 2:20, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.”]
And by the way, how many times to you lay a foundation? Anybody in construction would tell you that you lay a foundation one time. So the Lord had these special instruments that he used to begin the church and Jesus, of course, is the cornerstone in the metaphorical temple. So He’s the stone that goes in first and if you understand the cornerstone, and Ephesians 2 talks about Jesus as the cornerstone, as does 1 Peter. [Ephesians 2:20, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.” 1 Peter 2:6, “For this is contained in Scripture: BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’” ]
And the corner stone is what you measure all the other stones by and you determine if everything is in correct alignment based on the cornerstone. So Christ is the cornerstone and then the foundation stones are the apostles. So had it not been for God’s work through the apostles we wouldn’t have a foundation for the church.
And it’s interesting to me that throughout eternity you can go in and out of this eternal city and you look at the gate and you’re reminded of a tribe which reminds you of Israel and you look at the foundation and you’re reminded of an apostle, which would remind you of who? The church. So Israel and the church are so special to God that God, to my mind, is bringing a perpetual reminder to them throughout the ages and you’re reminded of those two great works of God representing different parts of the entrance and exit, the gates and the foundation every time you go in and out of the city.
There’s a lot of people that just deny that Israel and the church are different and they like to support their argument and go over to Revelation 21 and 22 because it talks about all of us being in one place and at one time, but it’s interesting to me that God, even though that’s all true, even though we’re all in our resurrected state we’re called to perpetually remember what He did through Israel and the church. And Israel and the church are so distinct in the mind of God that they weren’t separate gate names versus separate foundation stones. So that would be another kind of key difference between Israel and the church. In the New Jerusalem the gates represent Israel, the foundations represent the church.
Another difference between Israel and the church is how do you become a member? And I’m not talking about Sugar Land Bible Church where you fill out a membership application; I’m talking about in God’s universal program how do you become a member? How exactly do you become a member of the Jewish nation, the Hebrew nation, Israel? Well, the reality of the situation is to be Jewish, to be a Hebrew you have to be physically born into it. So you have to be a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Being a descendent of Abraham is not enough because, remember Abraham impregnated Hagar, Genesis 16, and from Hagar came the Ishmael line and don’t call Ishmael’s descendants a Jew or they’ll probably kill you if you do that. You can’t just be a physical descendant of Abraham because Ishmael’s line is a descendant of Abraham; you have to be a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
So the word Israel, or Israelite in the Bible is a word that we would call a technical word. A technical word is a word that always means the same thing everywhere it’s used. So every time you see the word Israel, Old Testament or New Testament, it’s mentioned about 2500 times, something like that, in the Old Testament; it’s mentioned 73 times in the New Testament. It always refers to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There’s a lot of people today that want to be Jewish, they want to be Hebrew, but the reality of the situation is unless you’re from the line of those three patriarchs you don’t qualify. So you get into Israel through physical birth only.
How do you become a member of the church? You become a member of the church only through spiritual birth. That’s why Jesus in John 3 said unless the man is born from above or born again he cannot see or enter the kingdom of God. [John 3:3, “Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”]
Now 1 Corinthians 12:13 tells us that we have all been baptized into Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. [1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”] So it doesn’t matter what denomination they are, it doesn’t matter if their Metho Catha Bapterian or a Bapticostal Fundamatic or whatever they are, the fact of the matter is if you’ve never been spiritually born you’re not a member of God’s church.
So this is a very interesting point to make because if you understand this it will shape your whole eschatology, the study of the end. It was John Walvoord (who was a great eschatologist) who said your eschatology has more to do with your ecclesiology than anything else. So this becomes a key difference between Israel and the church. You can be an Israeli but not be born again. So within Judaism there are two kinds of people; unbelieving Jews and believing Jews. So within Judaism you can have believers and you can have unbelievers. That’s not how it is with the church. In the church you have to be a believer or you were never baptized in the Holy Spirit and brought into the body of Christ.
You say well what does that have to do with eschatology? Well, if you believe what I just said there your whole pretrib rapture is built. What is God doing in the tribulation period. He is bringing unbelieving Israel to faith. That’s one of His goals, probably His primary goal. And He is going to purge off, Zechariah 13:8-9, He’s going to purge off unbelieving Jews. You see that in Zechariah 13:8-9, you see it in Ezekiel 20:33-44, that’s one of the great purposes of the tribulation period is God is separating believing Jews from unbelieving Jews.
[Zechariah 13:8-9, “It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it.
Ezekiel 20:33-44, ““As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you.  I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out;  and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face.  As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord GOD.  I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant;  and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the LORD.  “As for you, O house of Israel,” thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Go, serve everyone his idols; but later you will surely listen to Me, and My holy name you will profane no longer with your gifts and with your idols.  For on My holy mountain, on the high mountain of Israel,” declares the Lord GOD, “there the whole house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land; there I will accept them and there I will seek your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your holy things.  As a soothing aroma I will accept you when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered; and I will prove Myself holy among you in the sight of the nations.  And you will know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the land which I swore to give to your forefathers.  There you will remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the evil things that you have done. Then you will know that I am the LORD when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your evil ways or according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel,’ declares the Lord GOD.’”]
Why does God have to have a time in history where He separates believing Jews from unbelieving Jews? It has to do with the nature of the nation of Israel where you can be a believing physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or an unbelieving physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, because within Israel you can have believers and unbelievers. So God in the tribulation period is purging off the rebels and He, after He brings the remnant to faith He’s purifying them. See that?
So Israel has to go into the tribulation period because of its nature, whereby God has to purge believers from unbelievers. And just dot down Zechariah 13:8-9 you’ll see it and then Ezekiel 20:33-44, you’ll see it there as well.
Now compare that to the church; can you have an unbelieving member of the church? You cannot! You can have an unbelieving member in a local church and that’s not what we’re talking about here; we’re talking about the spiritual church, the new man. So since it’s impossible to be an unbelieving member of the church there is no need… watch this very carefully, to put the church into the tribulation period to purge off the rebels, to separate believer from unbeliever, because if you’re a member of the church you already are a believer.
But that’s not how it works with Israel. With Israel you can be a believing Jew or an unbelieving Jew so this time of distress is necessary for God to separate believing believer from unbeliever. That’s why there are so many statements that Paul makes, like in Romans 9:6 where he says not all Israel is Israel. [Romans 9:6, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;”] And he’s drawing a distinction there between a believing Jews and an unbelieving Jew and the purpose of the tribulation period is to purge off the rebels and purify the believing remnant. You don’t have to do that with the church because everybody that’s a believer is already a member of the church. Are you with me on that?
So people that want to push the church into the tribulation period, and there are many out there trying to do this, they misunderstand a foundational fundamental ecclesiological truth and a reason why Israel and the church are different. It has to do with entrance, and I’ll say a little bit more about that on my final point on this list; maybe we’ll get to it but maybe we won’t, at least today.
So another difference related to the New Jerusalem, Israel is the gates and the church is the foundation. Another difference relates to entrance; you get into Israel through physical birth; you get into the church through spiritual birth.
Now here’s another list and we’ll see how far we get on this list, I doubt we’ll finish it today, but this point has to do with the governing principle. How was the nation of Israel governed? Through what body of truth? And how is the church governed? Through what body of truth? Well, Israel is primarily governed through the Old Testament Law. You say what’s the Old Testament Law? It’s the Sinai revelation, it’s the Mosaic Code that God gave to the nation of Israel. So it would include the books of Exodus and Leviticus and then about forty years later Moses, around the ripe old age of 120, repeats the same information, mostly found in Exodus and Leviticus, for the benefit of the new generation about to enter Canaan because remember their parents had all died off in the wilderness because of the disciplinary hand of God.
So Deuteronomy is… and that’s what the name Deuteronomy means, Deutero means second, nomos means law, so we call it the book of Deuteronomy second law, not because God gave the Law a second time but Moses is restating the information in the book of Exodus and the book of Leviticus for the next generation. I like talking about Deuteronomy because that’s really what ministry is; ministry is not inventing new truth, it is taking ancient truths and applying them in a fresh way for a new generation. And that’s what Deuteronomy is and the original source of the Law is the book of Exodus and the book of Leviticus.
The whole nation of Israel was governed by that legal system, so when prophets showed up and called wayward Israel back to obedience they filed what’s called a rib, that’s a Hebrew word and it is a covenant lawsuit and I think you’ll see references to this, if memory serves, around Hosea chapter 6, if I’m not mistaken, but it’s in the Book of Hosea where God says to his people through Hosea, I have a case, a rib, a lawsuit against you. And what the prophet does then is spell out all the ways Israel is violating the legal system that they have been given, because the nation of Israel was governed by a legal code. Do you see that?
Now how about the church; what legal code, if any, are we governed by? Well, the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 6:14, “you are not under law but under” what? “under grace.” So we are under a legal code that looks similar to the Mosaic Law at certain points but it’s not the Mosaic Law. The technical names for the legal code we’re under would be the law of Christ, you’ll see a reference to that in Galatians 6:2. [Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”] Sometimes it is called the law of the spirit, you see a reference to that in Romans 8:2. [Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”]
And it’s primarily revealed in the epistles, you read through… and there’s hints of it that Jesus indicates are coming in the Upper Room Discourse, which I’ll talk about in just a second, but you read through our legal code and you say wow, that sounds a lot like Israel’s legal code. We have ten commandments in Israel’s legal code and what do we have in ours? We have nine commandments. So don’t murder, don’t steal, the only thing that’s left out from ours that Israel didn’t have is which commandment? The commandment about the sabbath. So you can look at our system and then you can look at Israel’s system and you can see a lot of similarities and so people think aha, we’re still under the Mosaic Law. But Paul very clearly tells us that we’re not under the Mosaic Law, we’re under grace, not law. So what system exactly are we under? We’re under the law of the Spirit, we’re under the law of Christ which looks similar to Israel’s system but it’s an entirely different system.
My home state, I don’t know how proud I am to admit this any more, is the great state of California, out there on the West Coast, and I moved, my wife and myself moved to the Promised Land, Texas, around the end of 1999 so our residency changed. Now if I commit a crime, like theft, I can look back at the California legal system and say you know what, thievery or stealing is illegal in California; thievery or stealing is also illegal in the state of Texas. But if I steal something in Texas where am I going to be tried? California? NO, I’m going to be tried in the state of Texas. I probably wish I were tried in California because they’re a little bit more lax than Texas is, but the reality of the situation is if you break a law in Texas you’re not going to be tried in California even though California has similar laws on the books. See that? Because California and Texas are legal systems which look the same at some junctures but they’re totally different systems.
And that’s basically what we’re under related to the law of the Spirit, the law of Christ, New Testament revelation. And it’s kind of funny when you talk like this, there’s a lot of people that will call you antinomian; anti means against, and nomos means the law. And so if you tell people we’re not under the Mosaic Law they throw a word at you, called antinomian, and they try to create a strongman argument that you don’t care about morals, you don’t care about the Ten Commandments, and the reality is that’s just a silly accusation to make against our view because we do care about morals, we do care about ethics. We just go to the right parts of the Bible to define what’s normative for the Christian in the present age. I don’t wander back to the Law of Moses and try to find things that I want to bind Christians by.
So our governing principle, the governing principle for Israel was the Law, the governing principle for the church is… I have New Testament there but that may be a little too broad, it’s primarily the epistolary literature revealing the law of the Spirit or the law of Christ. Now this if you understand this it’s going to clear up a lot of confusion because every once in a while you hear a pretty good sermon on tithing. You guys ever heard one of those? And they will quote Malachi 3:8–11, which says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,” and God says “test Me now in this” and see if I will not pour out so great a blessing upon you that you do not have room to receive it.
[Malachi 3:8-11, “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.  “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!  “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.  “Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the LORD of hosts.”]
So the preacher gets up and he talks about Malachi 3 and it’s a pretty good fund raising device actually. The problem is the Christian is not today bound by what Malachi is emphasizing regarding the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was a covenant that God gave to Israel and part of that covenant is blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. So if Israel obeyed her covenant God, through covenant obligation was materially obligated to bless Israel. So their crops would be bountiful, they would lend and not borrow, they would go out and fight their wars and they would win. And that’s Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Then the opposite is true, verse 15-68, if the nation of Israel disobeyed the covenant, and this is what the prophets were all worked up about under God, if the nation of Israel disobeyed the covenant then the opposite would be true, their crops would be cursed, they would basically borrow instead of lend, they would go out and fight and they would lose because that’s the type of system that the nation of Israel was under.
So when the prophet Malachi, who some call the only Italian prophet in the Bible, Mah-lah-che, Malachi actually means my messenger, so when Malachi is talking about “bring your whole tithe to the storehouse” what he’s saying is go back to the Mosaic Law and if you back to the Mosaic Law in terms of obedience, in terms of your finances, then God under the Mosaic Covenant is covenantally obligated to bless you materially.
So for a pastor or a teacher or a fund raiser to directly apply that verse in terms of governing the church is to put the church back under the Law and here I’m talking about the Mosaic Law, and when you hear people doing that it should raise some red flags because Paul tells us very clearly, Romans 6:14, we’re not under Law, we’re under grace. [Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”]
I love the Book of Malachi, I love the Book of Deuteronomy, I love all of those books and all of those concepts and all of those ideas but here’s the thing to remember: all Scripture is for us but not all is Scripture is about us. And this is sort of the mistake that people make when they use these verses that apply to the Mosaic Law and dangle them out to people as if God is somehow covenantally obligated to do those things today. That same law that tells you to bring your tithe to the store house, first of all where is the store house? It’s not First Baptist Church of Houston. It’s your “tithe to the storehouse” is the temple. Now that’s kind of hard for us to follow today because Israel has no what? No temple.
And beyond that, when he says bring the whole “tithe to the storehouse” he’s not even talking about ten percent of your money; he’s talking about twenty-three and a third percent of your money because the nation of Israel had three tithes. It’s like a tax system that you would expect in an government. The first two are annual and the last one was collected every three years. So basically when he says bring the whole tithe to the storehouse he’s saying don’t bring ten percent, bring twenty-three and a third percent. And by the way, you don’t show up on Sunday because under the Mosaic Law what was the Sabbath? Saturday. So it’s interesting when people quote Malachi 3 they quote parts of it but they don’t, for some reason, put the church under all of it. See that?
And you cannot do that with the Mosaic Law. You cannot pick what parts govern and what parts don’t because the Book of James, chapter 2 and verse 10 says if you’re guilty of part of the Law you’ve stumbled over what? stumbled over the whole thing. [James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”]
The moment I put one little pinky under the Law I’m obligated to do all of it, which means show up on Saturday, and by the way, if you don’t show up on Saturday, Numbers, I think it’s 15, says I have to take rocks and throw them at you, to the point where you’re a corpse, you’re dead. [Numbers 15:32-36., “Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day.  Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation;  and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him.  “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.’  So all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.”]
So why aren’t following that part of it. And this is the maize you get into when you put the church under part of the Law, yet people tell you that if you don’t do this you’re antinomian. Well, they’re antinomian because they’re leaving out parts of it and including others. And we are not antinomian because we believe very strongly in the New Testament Law of Christ.
Here is another example of confusion that takes over when you put the church under any part of the Law, and I love patriotic preaching, by the way; I’ve given some patriotic sermons myself. I love giving patriotic sermons, I love listening to patriotic sermons but around the 4th of July someone is going to crack open 2 Chronicles 7:14. You guys know that verse. You probably know it by heart, we don’t even have to read it, it might even be on your refrigerator at home. Does anybody know it by heart, I don’t have to turn there. Pat knows it, go ahead Pat, “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Now I’ve heard politicians quote this and the politician that I was listening to quoting this and I won’t mention his name, you’d all know who I was talking about… nobody that goes here by the way. But they quoted the verse perfectly but unlike Pat they left out this little clause, “turn from their wicked ways.” Gee… just a minor omission?
So what people do on 4th of July is they grab this verse and they preach it and they make it sound as if America is the covenanted nation and we need to get back to God in America. And believe me, you know me well enough that I believe all these things about America and America’s Christian heritage and the need for us to get back to our basics, fundamentals and all of that stuff. But what I’m against is people misusing the Bible to accomplish whatever agenda they’re trying to accomplish. And what they’re saying is if we do X, Y and Z then God is obligated to heal their land and they defined the land as what? The United States of America. See that? The problem is the only nation in the history of mankind that has a covenant with God is Israel. That’s why Psalm 147:19-20 very clearly says, “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.  He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them.”
So the Law through the Mosaic Covenant was only given to one nation, the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel is the only nation that has ever existed in the history of the world that has a covenant with God. People say well, the United States of America has a covenant with God. Well, to determine whether that is true I would have to have some kind of extra biblical revelation, wouldn’t I? Which I don’t have, because the Bible doesn’t mention the United States of America, saying we have a covenant with God. Now people quote the Mayflower Compact where our forbearers came here very early on and they said this land that we’re entering exists for the propagation of the Christian faith, the Mayflower Compact, a famous legal doctrine in American history. Well you see, that is America’s covenant to God and America’s covenant obligations to each other. See that? That is a manmade covenant. That’s not what Israel has, Israel has no manmade covenant, they didn’t make a commitment to God. God spelled out the conditions of the covenant to them.
So Israel’s covenant goes from God to Israel; our covenant here in America (assuming we even have one) goes from man back to God. See the difference there. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says if My people will honor the terms of the Mosaic Covenant then I will… Malachi says I will pour out a blessing so great that they don’t have room to contain it. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says I “will heal their land.” [Malachi 3:10, “’ Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.’” 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”]
The land there is the land of Israel and the healing is not gosh, we need to get out of this recession here in America, gosh we need to get rid of abortion here in America, gosh, we need to need to get rid of pornography here in America, that’s not what it’s talking about at all. It’s talking about Israel going back into obedience and God being now obligated to bless Israel in terms of her crops, in terms of her being the person that loans rather than the person that goes into debt and in terms of winning rewards.
So you take a passage like Malachi 3 and 2 Chronicles 7 and you have to be thinking of Israel’s legal system and you have to be thinking really of the Mosaic Law and you have to be thinking of Deuteronomy 28. So America is NOT Israel. The closest I could ever come to arguing that America is Israel is the letters USA appear in the word Jerusalem in a row; other than that I don’t have any biblical authority for putting the United States or any other Gentile nation under the Mosaic Law because Psalm 147:19-20 are very clear that the Law was only given to the nation of Israel.
So what then are we under? We are under a system that is entirely different but it looks similar to Israel’s system at certain points. To find out what’s normative for the church you don’t go to the Mosaic Law, or the Old Testament Prophets to discover it; you go into the New Testament, primarily the epistolary literature.
Now here is how the Reformed camp, and by Reformed camp I mean people that say we’re still under the Mosaic Law, here’s basically how they argue. They say well, the Mosaic Law had three parts to it: number 1, there was a ceremonial part of it that had to do with the animal sacrifices. Number 2, there was the punitive part of it, that had to do with stoning to death, sabbath breakers, homosexuals, people that practice witchcraft, kids that smart off to their parents, (now that last one might be worth bringing back… no, just kidding!) But they take the ceremonial and then they say well here’s the punitive section of it. And you say well what about the Ten Commandments, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery; they say that’s the moral section.
And this is what John Calvin argued; John Calvin said well the first two parts of it are gone and the only part that remains is the moral section. What is the problem with that? The Law is a take it or leave it enterprise; if you go under any part of the Law, even the Ten Commandments as they’re revealed in the Old Testament, not the New Testament, the epistles, but the Old Testament, you have to come back under all of it. You don’t have the privilege of carving out the third of it that you like and chucking the two-thirds that you don’t like.
Beyond that, when you read the law of God, and I would encourage you to read it, I mean, God gave it, all Scripture is for us although not all Scripture is directly about us. Amen. When you read through the Mosaic Law Moses never says okay you all, here comes the moral part, ready? Boom, boom, boom, boom. Okay you all, here comes the civil or punitive part of it, boom, boom, boom, boom. Oh, and here comes the sacrificial part of it, boom, boom, boom, boom. That is an artificial division of God’s Law. God’s Law is never set up in that three part categorization that John Calvin came up with.
So all of that to say you can’t go under any part of the Mosaic Law in terms of something being directly binding on a Christian today because we’re under a different system that looks similar at some points but it’s different. So we are under the law of Christ in the New Testament primarily the epistles. So Israel and the church are governed by different foundations. See that? They’re governed by different sources. And so that becomes a really key issue to keep in mind because it will save you from a lot of mistakes of putting yourself under 2 Chronicles 7:14 and putting yourself under Malachi 3:8-11, etc.
Here is another difference; what is our relationship to the Holy Spirit today versus what the nation of Israel had in Old Testament times, primarily. And by the way, the dispensation of Law goes right through the Gospels and ends, really I would argue in Acts 2; that’s when God started something new through the church. So Jesus was born under Law, Galatians 4:4. He hints many times of a new age that’s coming. I think He’s doing that in the Upper Room Discourse, John 13-17. But if you study the life of Christ what you have to understand is Jesus is the end of that system. Why? Why does it have to work that way? Because He’s the only one that could ever keep the Law. Right! So God has to show that the only one that could ever keep this perfectly was Jesus Christ. So that’s why the dispensation, or the age of the Law has to continue through the life of Christ.
But what is our relationship to the Holy Spirit versus what happened in the prior age? There are three major differences and I have them listed here. Number 1 relates to when do we receive the Holy Spirit. Number 2 relates to how long is the Holy Spirit inside of us for? And the third is who exactly is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. So we can go through these one by one.
When did people receive the Holy Spirit in the Gospels during the ministry of Christ and in Old Testament times? Well, frequently what happened is the Spirit of God came upon people after they were already believers. For example, in the Book of Exodus, chapter 31 and verse 3 it talks about how the Spirit of God came upon the tabernacle workers giving them special abilities with carpentry and things like that, to build the tabernacle. [Exodus 31:3, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship,”]
Now obviously these people were already believers in the Lord because these are the people that had put the blood of the Passover Lamb on the doorpost and consequently had gotten out of Egypt. This was the generation that is mentioned in the hall of faith, Hebrews 11. And there’s no doubt in my mind these people are all saved, but what you see is the Holy Spirit comes upon people subsequent to personal salvation, oftentimes to equip them for a certain task, like being a king, or building the tabernacle.
Now compare that to today. What’s normative today? When exactly does the church age believer receive the Holy Spirit. They receive the Holy Spirit at the point of faith. So there is no subsequent giving of the Spirit as normative after a person is already a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 8:9 is very clear on this; it says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Him.”
Now maybe you guys could ask me this in Q and A or maybe I could just answer it now; there is a temporary delay in the giving of the Spirit in Acts 8 with the Samaritans, but that is a situation that we would call a transitional problem in the Book of Acts. There are certain things happening in the Book of Acts that are not normative in the age of the church. For example, how many of you own homes? I think most people here are home owners or close. If you own a home then you’ve violated the Book of Acts, right? Because the early church sold all their homes in Jerusalem and gave the proceeds to people that wanted to stay in Jerusalem to learn apostolic doctrine.
So obviously there are things happening in the Book of Acts that we don’t say is normative today. One of the things that happened in Acts 8 is the Spirit of God did not come upon the Samaritan believers until the Jerusalem apostles came from Jerusalem to lay hands on the Samaritan believers. And you say well why did God delay the giving of the Holy Spirit at that point? You have to understand the Hebrew Samaritan conflict; these were two people that hated each other’s guts. The Samaritans had their own religious system on Mount Gerizim, they wouldn’t even go down to Jerusalem to worship.
There was religious hatred, there was racial… talk about racial tension today, I mean, I think we’ve got the best book on how to fix racial problems, it’s called Acts 8. You have religious tension and that’s why when Jesus goes into a Samaritan village, James and John, John the love apostle, says Lord, shall we not call down fire from heaven and consume these people? [Luke 9:54, “When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”’] That’s not exactly a very loving thing to say. Why did he say that? Because he hated the Samaritans and the Samaritans hated the Jews.
And that’s why when Jesus is ministering in John 4, not just to a woman, because women were treated very low on the social structure in Christ’s day, but a Samaritan… I mean, Jesus, what are You doing? You’re ministering to the wrong gender and the wrong race. Why did the disciples say that? Because of the Samaritan Jewish conflict.
So in that instance once those in Samaria believed and became part of the church the apostles had to come from Jerusalem to lay hands on these people so the Spirit could be given to them. Why is that? Because if the Lord had not done it that way you know what you would have had in the age of the church, right out of the gate? You would have had two churches. You would have had a Jerusalem church, which was already functioning, and you would have had a Samaritan church. And that same rivalry and racial and religious hatred would have continued right on into the age of the church, and that’s contrary to God’s plan for the church because Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all” what? “one in Christ Jesus.”
So in that instance the Lord delayed the giving of the Holy Spirit, in that case, but it’s not normative throughout the age of the church. Romans 8:9 says if you do not have the Spirit you do not belong to Christ. [Romans 8:9, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”] The moment you trust in Christ is the moment your body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit.
So in Old Testament age people received the Holy Spirit many times after they were saved. That’s not how it works today. Even with the Samaritan example that’s not what’s normative; that was a single occurrence for a specific reason. And the Book of Acts is filled with those kind of things. This is why you cannot define what is normative today from the Book of Acts. And this is our difference of opinion with the charismatic movement because they anchor everything in the Book of Acts. Now we love the Book of Acts but we see the Book of Acts as a historical book where all kind of things are happening that aren’t normative today.
If you want to identify something as normative today you can’t just find it in the Book of Acts, you’ve got to also find it where? In the epistolary literature. The second difference is how long is the Holy Spirit in people for? In the prior age the Holy Spirit could come upon someone for a task and then the Holy Spirit could leave. 1 Samuel 16:14, that’s what happened to Saul. [1 Samuel 16:14, “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.”] And please don’t get caught up in this mindset that Saul was not a believer. He was disobedient but he was a believer; he was the first king of the united kingdom, and in certain parts of his life God used him greatly. He didn’t end well.
Psalm 54:11, what does David pray? Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. [Psalm 54:11, “Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”] Why would David pray that? Because in the prior age the Holy Spirit could come upon people temporarily for a certain task.
Now is that how it works today? Does the Holy Spirit come and go? Not at all. Jesus hinting at our age said this in the Upper Room, John 14:16-17, He says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you” for how long? “forever;” that blew their minds, I mean, the Spirit of God is in me forever as a Christian? That’s true. And then He defines who this helper is,  “that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you forever.” The Holy Spirit in our age does not come upon people temporarily, He’s in people forever.
The worst thing that you could to, therefore, as a Christian related to the Holy Spirit is not to get rid of the Spirit, you can’t do that, but you can stifle His influence in you through unconfessed sin. You can quench the Spirit, you can grieve the Spirit, but since the Holy Spirit is a permanent possession you cannot lose the Holy Spirit. Now that’s different than in the prior dispensation, the Spirit could come and the Spirit could go. And I was in a youth group where used to sing Psalm 51:11 as a song, “take not Thy Holy Spirit from me” we would sing. And then you start to kind of grow in your Bible knowledge and you say well why were we singing that? Why don’t we sing… I don’t have any musical ability but why don’t we… you could do this Chris, you could work on this in your spare time, why don’t we turn John 14:16-17 into a song and sing that. And people that don’t understand the Israel/church distinction frequently go to the wrong parts of the Bible to define what is normative today.
The third difference relates to who is indwelt exactly. In the prior age not every believer was indwelt by the Holy Spirit. You say well, where are you getting this from? I’m getting it from Joel 2:28 where a prophecy is made that the Spirit one day is going to be poured out on all flesh. [Joel 2:28, “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions.”]
In other words, all of God’s people are going to receive the Holy Spirit and if that was already happening at the time Joel made this particular prophecy everyone would be saying so what? What’s the front page news in that? So the fact that Joel announced such a monumental change indicates that at the time Joel spoke those words not everyone was indwelt by the Holy Spirit. See that? Now compare that to today. Every child of God is indwelt by the Holy Spirit for how long? Forever. At the point of what? Faith. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit we were” what’s the next word, “all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” It mentions “all” twice. So in the age of the church every child of God receives the Holy Spirit and that’s not how it worked in the prior age; not every believer was indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
And we take the Holy Spirit for granted. We assume that what the Holy Spirit is doing today has always been. But when you actually study this in the totality of God’s Word what you start to see is we are very privileged. The Holy Spirit is doing things in our lives today that He has never done in redemptive history. What are those things? Receiving Him at the point of faith, indwelling us forever and indwelling every single child of God. Do you see that?
So therefore you cannot determine the pattern of the Spirit’s work today from the Old Testament and even the Gospels themselves. The only places in the Gospels that give you what’s normative for the Spirit of God today is hints that Jesus makes of the coming age. So John and the Gospel of John is filled with this transition that’s yet coming. It wasn’t operative during the life of Christ but it would be operative beginning in Acts 2. John 7:39 says this: “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” When was Jesus glorified? At the ascension, after His ascension He re-entered glory and His first order of business was to permanently give to the church, to every child of God, the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Back to John 14:16-17, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” forever. That verse right there says there’s a change coming. The time is coming when every believer will be indwelt by the Spirit of God forever. And it’s very interesting in verse 17 when Jesus says this to the eleven huddled in the Upper Room, He says, “but you know Him.” So just because there’s a change coming you should not get the idea that the Holy Spirit was doing nothing in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit is very active in the Old Testament, right there in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God was hovering on the waters. [Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”]
Then the Spirit of God equipped the tabernacle workers for their function. [Exodus 31:3, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship,”] The Spirit came on Saul. [I Samuel 11:16, “Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words….”] And you can go right through the Old Testament and you can see the activity of the Spirit. Jesus says you know Him.
But beginning in Acts 2 He’s going to start doing something different, He’s going to be “with you and in you” forever. So Charles Fienberg, one of the great scholars of the prior generation, was asked at a Bible conference during a question and answer session, is the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Old Testament. He’s an Old Testament scholar. So he stood up to answer the question and he started with Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God hovering on the waters, and from there he went to the Exodus, how the Spirit of God equipped the tabernacle works. And from memory… FROM MEMORY on the spot he went through every single reference to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. And this was before the days of internet and live streaming so the only way I know it happened is people that were there have talked about it. And the more Charles Fienberg talked, and it took him about an hour or two to answer this, the longer he talked the more spellbound the audience became because they were astonished that first of all he could commit all of this to memory, and secondly, they were astonished to learn how frequent the Holy Spirit is in the Old Testament.
So don’t get the idea that the Spirit of God is not in the Old Testament; He’s clearly there, but He begins to do something very significantly different beginning in Acts 2. So therefore I cannot determine what is normative for the Spirit today based on my reading of the Gospels alone in the Old Testament. Acts 1:5 says, “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So you get into early Acts and the Sermon on the Mount and you see big differences.
So are Israel and the church different? Yes, in terms of how the new Jerusalem is described, foundation stones versus gates? Are Israel and the church different? Yes, in terms of who is admitted, who enters. Are Israel and the church different? Yes, in terms of governing authority and governing principles. Are Israel and the church different? Very different in terms of how the Spirit worked with Israel and how the Spirit works with us?
So I hope you leave today feeling privileged! And by the way that’s Paul’s whole appeal to telling the Corinthians to avoid sin, when they were shacking up (if I can use that expression) or sneaking out at night and joining with the temple prostitutes in the pagan temple, Paul says, “Do you now know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”]
And since you’re privileged and the Holy Spirit is within you forever you’re dragging the Holy Spirit into that sin. See? That sort of command universally applied to all of God’s people could not function or could not make any sense in the old covenant dispensation. I talked too long, but I feel badly, I should answer at least one question. [Tape ends]