Acts 003 – How Firm a Foundation (pt. 1)Acts 1:1-7 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 16, 2022 • Acts
How Firm a Foundation, Part 1
November 16, 2022
Dr. Andy Woods
All right. Well, good evening, everybody. Let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to the Book of Acts chapter 1 and verse 1. And this is our third lesson in the Book of Acts. And we haven’t even started studying the book of Acts yet. But what we did for our first two lessons was sort of lay the foundation and go over the introductory matters to the Book of Acts. And so having completed that, we’re now ready to start our verse-by-verse teaching through the Book of Acts, which we’re going to do this evening. And we’re going to start making our way into Acts chapter one. I was looking at my calendar and next week is the 23rd, right? Is that right? And I’m pretty sure we’re not meeting next week because Thanksgiving’s the next day. So if you show up next week, you’ll think you missed the rapture or something. But we’re going to reconvene on the 30th. And then after that, December 7th. And December 7th is our last study for the fall quarter. So what follows after the seventh is the gingerbread houses. And then we’re off for the holidays and we’ll come back January 11th. So the bottom line is no study next week, but we do have a study on the following week and the week after that. So how is that? Is that clear or is that clear as mud kind of thing? So anyway, with all that being said, notice if you will, Acts chapter one, as you can see on the screen. Hopefully you guys can see it.
There is an outline for Acts chapter one. We have a prologue, verses 1 through 5. Jesus’s ascension verses 6 through 11. That takes place on the Mount of Olives, and then the disciples leave the Mount of Olives and return to the City of Jerusalem verses 12 through 14. And then they have to make a decision because the church needs to start on the right foundation. That’s why I entitled our lessons in Acts chapter 1 “How firm A Foundation.” So they need twelve apostles. The Lord is going to build the church on the twelve apostles, and we only have eleven because of Judas’s suicide. And so they have to make a decision concerning who to replace Judas with. And they replace him with a man named Matthias, verses 15 through 26. And now that the foundation is secure, the Holy Spirit is going to fall in Acts 2 on the new church and the baptizing Ministry of the Holy Spirit will start and the church age will formally begin. So notice, if you will, verses 1 through 5, which is the prologue. And the first thing you see here, verse 1 and the first part of verse 2, is Luke, who wrote Acts, is connecting this book to his prequel, The Gospel of Luke. So notice, if you will, chapter 1 verse 1. Luke writes “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and to teach.”
So notice that Luke uses the first person pronoun “I”. So it’s him- that’s Luke- that’s writing here and writing this entire book. And of course, the first account is a reference to Luke’s gospel. Luke’s gospel, as I’ll show you tonight, is the story of Jesus’s earthly ministry. The Book of Acts is basically the story of Jesus’s ministry, not on Earth, but from the right hand of the Father through the church. And you’ll notice who Luke is writing here to. He’s writing to of this man named Theophilus. Theophilus is who he wrote the Gospel of Luke, to. And now he’s writing to him the sequel to the Gospel of Luke as well. And so both books, Luke and Acts, which really go together, went to this man, Theophilus. Theophilus, as you know, is a name that means “lover of God.” And he is a man most probably struggling with doubt about Christianity because he is a Gentile. And he wants to know, does this all this Jewish- this Jewish religion, the Jewish origin of the church, the Jewish origin of Jesus, is this really for him, too, as a Gentile? And has he believed in the right savior? And by the time you get to the end of these two books, you see clearly that Gentiles like Theophilus and us, I guess, by way of extension, 2000 years later, are clearly contemplated in the mind of God.
You’ll notice in Luke’s Gospel, Luke 1:3, Theophilus is called “Most Excellent Theophilus.” Based on that, we believe he was some kind of Roman official because that expression “most excellent” is only applied to Roman officials in the Book of Acts. You’ll see “most excellent”, the title, applied to Felix, a Roman official. Acts 23:26. And you’ll see the title “Most Excellent” applied again to Felix in Acts 24:3. And then there is a man named Festus, also a Roman official. And the title “Most Excellent” is applied to him as well in Acts 26:25. So clearly Luke was a Roman. Excuse me? Theophilus was a Roman official of some kind. He had come to faith in Christ and he’s concerned. Does Christianity really relate to him, apply to him? Has he believed in the right savior? So the more you can put yourself in the shoes of Theophilus and understand who he is, the more the things that Luke surfaces in his gospel and the book of Acts makes sense. You keep reading there in verse 1 and it says, “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and to teach.” All that Jesus began to do and to teach is in the first account, the Gospel of Luke. So the things Jesus began to do and to teach, that’s a tremendous summary of the contents of the Gospel of Luke.
And the Gospel of Luke records what Christ began to do. That’s how you have to understand the earthly ministry of Christ. The earthly Ministry of Christ, which lasted around three years, was wonderful. But it was just the beginning. When Jesus ascended He began to work through the church and the ministry that He began to do He continues to do through the church in the Book of Acts. And He’s continuing that ministry right now through you as a member of the church. He’s doing his ministry now through the body of Christ, through the individual Christian and then corporately the body of Christ. So what’s your read about in the earthly ministry of Christ is really just the beginning. Have to start to see the continuing Ministry of Jesus through the church. And Luke just records the beginning. Acts records what He continues to do right up to the present hour, 2000 years later. So the Book of Acts is what Jesus is continuing to do through the church. And you go down to verse 2 and it says, “until the day when he was taken up to heaven.” So when did the earthly Ministry of Jesus officially end? What was the termination of Jesus’s earthly ministry? What was what was the termination of the Gospel of Luke? It’s the Ascension. Christ’s ascension is going to be repeated here for us in chapter 1. But it was already recorded back in Luke 24:50-51.
Where it says, “and He,” That’s Jesus, “…led them out as far as Bethany. And lifted up His hands and blessed them. And while He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried into heaven.” That’s the ascension. So the moment the Ascension happened is the moment the earthly ministry of Jesus ended. But the Ministry of Jesus really didn’t end. It just started because now He’s ministering through the church as recorded in the Book of Acts. So you see this sort of connection in the first two verses to Luke’s gospel. And notice you go into the second half of verse 2 down into verse 3, and you have a ministry that Jesus did for forty days in between His resurrection and ascension. So before He ascended, He had a ministry to the apostles for about forty days after He rose from the dead. And you see that described second half of verse 2 into verse 3. It says, “After he had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the Apostles whom he had chosen.” Verse 3, “To these He also presented himself alive after his suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of 40 days and speaking of things concerning the Kingdom of God.” So what was this ministry like, this forty day period between His resurrection and His ascension? Well, you see at the end of verse 2 that He supplied orders to His chosen disciples.
He probably continued a lot of the teachings that He was giving them in the upper room discourse before His death. And now that He had risen from the dead, He probably continued a lot of those teachings. And since Judas had committed suicide by this time, Christ’s ministry, for forty days, revolved around the eleven disciples. And verse 3, which we just read, said, “To these He also presented Himself alive after His sufferings by many convincing proofs.” After his suffering- which would be his crucifixion- and his resurrection from the dead He showed Himself alive to the apostles. Now, He started to do that after He rose from the dead in John’s gospel. You’ll see a record of that in John 20:19-26. That’s when he’s even allowing Thomas to touch his hands and his side because his wounds apparently were still visible even in His resurrected body. And then you go into John 21:1-14, and that’s the great scene where Jesus- the disciples have been out all night on the Sea of Galilee fishing. They hadn’t caught a thing. That’s when Jesus says, Throw your net to the other side. I mean, you can imagine what a blow to the pride that is. Lord, we’re the- we’re the professionals. What are you talking about? We know what we’re doing. Well, it doesn’t look like you’re being very effective in your occupation, So just throw your net to the other side.
And they, of course, caught so many fish they couldn’t even haul the net in, as you know the story. And then Jesus says, come have breakfast. And they’re eating together on the shore there of the Sea of Galilee. And so that’s the kind of ministry that’s going on. And that’s what Luke is referencing when he’s showing them many infallible proofs that he really it really was Him, and He really did rise from the dead. And apparently that kind of ministry continued on for about 40 days. Many proofs. What does many proofs mean? It means compelling signs. There are probably, when you count them up, somewhere between ten to eleven post-resurrection appearances that Jesus made. Many of them to His own hand-picked disciples, showing them that what I said happened. And that’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated about Christianity, the Bible. I’ve always been the type of person that needs evidence and facts and truth. I can’t just believe something just because someone tells me it’s true. And what you’ll discover is you get into the Bible is the Bible has within it built in proofs. You know, it’s historical accuracy. It’s archeological accuracy. It’s transmission down through the ages. You know, it comes out so far ahead compared to other works of antiquity at the time. One of the great proofs of the Bible is the object of evidence for the empty tomb. Attorneys like Frank Morrison, who wrote a book called Who Moved the Stone.
Simon Greenleaf- would be another- looked into the resurrection, and they found that the case for the empty tomb, only explainable through the Resurrected Christ, was a case that was more powerful than any case they had ever made before a jury. And they came to faith, you know, as a result. There’s the evidence for the historicity of Jesus. There’s the evidence of fulfilled prophecy. There’s the evidence that many of the prophecies the Bible makes about the end time are starting to materialize, even in our own day. There’s the evidence of how superior a belief system is creationism as compared to evolution. And you can just go on and on through all of these different infallible proofs. And if you’re the type of person that needs evidence and you start looking into it, you’ll see that God does not let you down at all. God gave the intellect and the mind. He’s the one that created it. So it stands to reason that He would appeal to it. At the end of the day, He does call us to trust Him. But the faith that we have in Jesus is by no stretch of the imagination a blind faith. It’s not some kind of leap into a dark chasm or a dark cavern. It’s a faith that’s firmly grounded on verifiable facts. And so this is the kind of thing that Jesus was doing here with these disciples.
He was showing them after His sufferings many convincing proofs. And this spanned about a forty day period. And it says there in verse 3 that he was talking to them about the kingdom of God. It says, “appearing to them over a forty day period and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Now, at first that sounds kind of strange. I mean, why- of all the topics to get into- why talk about the kingdom? The kingdom is that coming thousand year time period when all of the Old Testament prophecies related to planet Earth- they’ll beat their swords into plowshares and all of those kinds of prophecies that we have looked at in this church. We looked at them most recently in our study of the Book of Zechariah. We believe that there’s an earthly kingdom coming. I mean, why would he of all the things to talk about, why would he talk to them about the basileia? Which is the Greek word for kingdom. And the answer is they’re Jewish. That’s why he’s talking to them about the kingdom. And you have to think the way a Jewish person thinks back in the first century or you can’t make any real sense of what Jesus is focused on during this forty day period. All of these people are Jewish. We’re not even going to have a Gentile convert into the church until Cornelius is saved in Acts 10. And the church won’t start becoming predominantly Gentile until Paul leaves the borders of Israel and goes out on his first missionary journey into southern Galatia beginning in Acts 13. So everybody in the early church is Jewish. And what is a Jewish person thinking? A Jewish person who understands Hebrew scripture understands that King and Kingdom are horse and carriage. They always go together. You see that in Isaiah 9:6-7. Christmas is coming up. This will be on all your Christmas cards. And it says, “Therefore, a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us.” And what’s the next line? “The government will rest upon his shoulders.” That’s the kingdom. Verse 7 of Isaiah 9 is a description of the kingdom. It says, “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and uphold it with justice and right and righteousness from then on and forevermore.” So a Jewish person is wondering, well, if you’re the Christ, the Messiah, where’s the kingdom? Because the book of Isaiah says they go together. So where is it? I mean, how come Rome is still ruling over us and how come your own nation- the nation of Israel, just rejected you? And Jesus’s answer to them is the kingdom is in a current state, not of cancellation, but of what? Postponement. That’s what He’s trying to explain to them. Now, your average gentile may not have that question on their mind, but the folks that he’s immediately ministering to in this forty day period, that’s what they’re wanting to know.
And that’s why He’s explaining this reality that the kingdom is going to come, it’s just in a state of postponement. The very first and earliest gospel that we have was written- and this is the opinion of the church for like 2000 years. This was a unanimous opinion. This didn’t get second guessed until the higher critical movement in Germany in the 19th century. Prior to that, prior to German liberalism, all the church fathers, all of the church believed that Matthew was the first gospel. Because Matthew was the first gospel, Matthew was written, we believe, while the church was still Jewish. And if you understand that, you’ll understand everything in Matthew’s gospel. You have to think like a first century Jewish Christian to understand Matthew’s gospel. So Matthew has three purposes. Because those Jewish people, Hebrews, that had believed in Christ, like Theophilus, for other reasons were doubting whether Jesus was the Messiah. Because they want to know if You’re the king, where is the kingdom? In fact, if you talk to a very devout Jewish person today, they’ll basically ask you that question. I went through law school and I had access to a lot of Jewish professors and Jewish students and I would try to show them Isaiah 53, which I think is a very clear prophecy about 700 years in advance about Jesus and I would say this is in your own Bible. Why don’t you believe Jesus is the Messiah? And the answer was, there is no shalom. Shalom means peace. At first it confused me because when we use the word peace, we’re talking about peace with God, peace in the heart. That’s not what they meant by it. They meant political, governmental peace. Why is the nation of Israel still being bullied by terrorists? That’s what they meant by shalom. And so their question to me was the same question that Matthew deals with that Christ is dealing with here as He’s interacting with the disciples. If Jesus is the King, where is the kingdom? So everything in Matthew’s gospel, the first gospel, is set up to deal with that issue, those issues. Matthew was written to explain that the Jesus in whom the Jewish Christians had believed was indeed the long awaited Messiah. That’s why Matthew’s gospel starts with Christ’s genealogy connecting Jesus back to David and then Abraham. But then Matthew wrote to explain why the kingdom had been postponed even though the king had arrived. The problem wasn’t the king. The problem was the nation that rejected the offer of the kingdom. And then Matthew is written to explain the interim program of God, that would be the church age, that will exist on the Earth during the kingdom’s absence. And so everything in Matthew’s gospel is going to revolve around that.
And when Christ is ministering for forty days, they have the exact same question. And that’s why during this forty day period, he’s speaking to them concerning the basileia or the Kingdom of God. I think what He’s telling them is, don’t worry about it. The Kingdom is on schedule. The Kingdom program is not in a state of cancellation, but it is currently in a state of postponement because national Israel rejected me. And it’s going to take the events of the tribulation period to bring national Israel back into the fold so that the kingdom could come. And then you go down to verses 4 and 5, and this is where He starts to explain what God is going to do in the interim while the kingdom is not present. God has a different program in mind that they didn’t understand. So you start to see the promise of the Holy Spirit there, beginning in verse 4. It says, “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from me.'” So don’t leave Jerusalem until you receive what the Father had promised. Now, what exactly had the Father promised that also they had heard from Him? It’s the promise of the Holy Spirit. So back in Luke, the prequel, chapter 24 verse 49, it says, “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of my Father upon you.”
Now, that’s speaking of the Spirit’s ministry that’s going to take place a chapter later in Acts 2. “but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” So when he talks about the spirit promise from the Father, it’s a reference back to Luke 24:49 where Jesus says the Father has promised you the Ministry of the Holy Spirit that will actually clothe you with power from on high. Jesus says, You heard about this promise from the Father and you’ve heard about it from me. Now, where did Jesus tell them about the Holy Spirit? Well, He told them about the Father’s promise in Luke 24:50-51, which I just read. But he had taught them extensively about the Holy Spirit and the new ministry that He would have on the day of Pentecost. He had taught them all of that in the upper room. So if you want to read Christ’s promises of the coming Holy Spirit, you can read John 14 versus 16 through 26. You could read John 16:7:13, where the apostles are very upset that Jesus is leaving. He kept saying, I’m leaving, and that freaked them out. And it’s in John 16:7-13, He says that, you know, it’s actually to your advantage that I go. Because if I go, the Holy Spirit will come and will be- not on you as He was many times on people in the Old Testament.
But He will be- you just said it- in you. For how long? Forever. That’s a new work of the Spirit that you don’t find in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit in Old Testament times came upon people for a season. And the Holy Spirit could leave people. The Holy Spirit left Saul, for example. And Jesus says to the apostles or the disciples in the upper room, when I leave don’t panic. It’s to your advantage that I’m going. Because when I go, the first thing I’m going to do at the Father’s right hand in My high priestly ministry is I’m going to send you the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is going to be inside of you forever. In John 15:26 He had taught them about the Spirit. It says, “When the helper-” that’s the spirit. The Greek word is paraklētos, the one who comes alongside to assist. “When the helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.” So when He says, don’t leave Jerusalem until you receive the Holy Spirit which the Father has promised and I’ve told you about. Those are the different areas of the Scripture just in The Passion Week. Where those promises can be found. And when the Holy Spirit comes, He’s going to start doing things very different than you’ve ever seen before.
And you see that described in verse 5. “For John,” that would be John the Baptist, “baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Now, who was John? John the Baptist, Jesus said, was the greatest of all of the Old Testament prophets. There was nobody greater. And John baptized people in water in the Jordan to identify with John’s message where he was calling national Israel to repentance. And what Jesus is saying to the disciples during this forty-day period is there’s going to be a different kind of baptism. This will not be a water baptism. This will be a spirit baptism. And so He is identifying when the baptism of the Holy Spirit will start. Paul the Apostle describes the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And he says in First Corinthians 12:13, “For by one spirit we were all baptized…” Past tense. “…into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” So baptism- it’s important to understand this doesn’t always mean water. The verb baptiso means to identify. Water baptism is an outward symbol of an inward reality. But what does it symbolize? It symbolizes the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For the moment, a human being- it doesn’t matter who they are, it doesn’t matter if they’re slave or free, Jew or Greek, republican or democrat- that one’s hard to say, isn’t it- rich or poor, American or un-American.
Any human being on planet earth that puts their faith in Christ for salvation is taken by the Holy Spirit and connected to Christ’s body called the Church. And so this is a brand new ministry that is going to start. What does he say here? “not many days from now.” What is he referring to? He’s referring to the day of Pentecost when this ministry would start beginning with Peter’s sermon there in Acts chapter 2. Now over in Acts 11:15-16, this happened to a Gentile, Cornelius. A Gentile believed in Christ and he was baptized by the Holy Spirit the way I’m explaining it. And the Jewish leadership of the church was shocked. How in the world could a Gentile get saved? So they had a big meeting about it. That’s actually the first Jerusalem Council in Acts 11. The council meeting in Acts 15 is really the second Jerusalem Council dealing with a second issue. How are all these Gentiles are getting saved? Do we put them under the law of Moses to join the church? That’s being handled in the Second Jerusalem Council. The first Jerusalem Council is can a Gentile really be baptized in the Holy Spirit? And over in Acts 11:15-16, the church says, yes, it can happen because what happened to Cornelius happened to us at the beginning on the day of Pentecost.
Acts 11:15-16 in the first Jerusalem Council, it says. “And as I began to speak,” Peter is talking, “the Holy Spirit fell upon them…” That’s Cornelius and his entourage, all Gentiles. “just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remember the Word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” In other words, Peter in Acts 11 is repeating what Jesus just said in Acts 1:4-5. Of course, a Gentile could get saved, because what happened to Cornelius happened to us in Acts chapter 2. And Jesus is now explaining for the very first time a brand new ministry that’s about to take place called the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. National Israel is moving off into discipline, having rejected their King at His first coming. God is now doing a completely new work called the Church Age. The church age will start with the baptizing Ministry of the Holy Spirit. That ministry will take place only for Jewish Christians who have trusted in Christ and have rejected the message of first-century Israel that Jesus was not the Messiah. Any Jew that says, You know what, I think my nation got it wrong. I think Jesus was the Messiah, and I’m trusting in Him for my salvation. Beginning on the day of Pentecost, they start getting baptized in the Holy Spirit. The body of Christ has started, and the Holy Spirit at the point of faith is taking people and identifying them with Christ’s new body called the Church.
Peter preaches on this in Acts 2, and it happens to 3000 people. And it’s been happening to people ever since. It happened to me in 1983. It happened to you whenever you trusted Christ as your Savior. And by the time you get to Acts 10, it’s very clear that it’s happening to the Gentiles because the Gentiles are getting saved. That’s why Paul says “we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greek, whether slaves are free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” What happened to Cornelius, Peter says at the first Jerusalem Council meeting, is exactly what happened to us in Acts 2 in fulfillment of Christ’s words- that you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now. You move away from the Prologue into the Ascension where the disciples still do not get it. They’re still thinking kingdom. When is the kingdom going to come? They’re not understanding that something new is happening of the church age while the kingdom is in postponement. So verses 6 through 11, the description of the ascension, they ask a question. “So when they had come together, they were asking Him.” Acts 1:6, “saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?'” They’re just they’re not on the same page that He’s on.
He’s talking about something new that’s going to happen beginning on the day of Pentecost while the kingdom is in postponement. They’re wanting to know when the kingdom is going to come. Why would they ask that question? I believe it’s an intelligent question that they asked. Because Jesus back in verses 4, and particularly in verse 5, started talking about the Ministry of the Holy Spirit. When the kingdom comes, the Spirit is going to be spread all over the world. So when He was talking about the Holy Spirit, they thought it was the Kingdom. When He was talking about the Holy Spirit, in His mind, He’s talking about the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit that’s going to take place while the kingdom is in postponement. But the reason they ask this question is Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel because you just got finished talking about the Holy Spirit. And we know from Hebrew Bible that the Spirit is going to be spread over the whole Earth when the kingdom comes. Ezekiel 36:24-26 describing the kingdom. It says, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.”
That’s why they thought the kingdom was coming as He was talking about the Spirit and every prophecy. They knew the spirit is going to be unleashed on planet Earth once the kingdom arrives. They’re probably thinking Zechariah 12:10, which is another kingdom passage. “I will pour out on the House of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit…” and here He’s called the spirit of Grace. Ezekiel 39:28-29, another Kingdom Passage. “Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer.” Talking about the regathering of the Jews into their own land and the kingdom age. “I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ declares the Lord.” So verse 6, Lord, are You bringing in the kingdom now? Because You just got finished talking about, verse 5, the Holy Spirit. And we know from Hebrew Bible that the Spirit is dominant in the Kingdom. So the apostles did not understand that Acts 15 is dealing with a unique age. That they knew nothing about or very little about, called the Baptizing Ministry of the Holy Spirit, which inaugurated the church age. So that’s why Jesus responds the way He responds in verse 7.
He said to them- who’s them? The disciples. “It is not for you to know times or the epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” Now, watch this very carefully. He never says to them, What is the matter with you guys? Don’t you know there isn’t going to be a kingdom? I mean, don’t you know that the kingdom is going to exist from this point on in spiritual form? He never rebukes them for their understanding of the kingdom. He keeps the same definition of the kingdom that they already had in their minds. What He rebukes them for is their lack of understanding of the timing of when the kingdom will come. He never corrects them. Oh, there’s not going to be a kingdom. You guys have had it wrong all this time. What He corrects them for was their lack of understanding concerning the time in which the kingdom will come. Because apparently the kingdom is going to be preceded by a different age of time- dare I use the d-word- a dispensation called the church age, characterized by the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ. And once that age is over, then the kingdom will come. So He doesn’t redefine the kingdom. He simply corrects them on their misunderstanding concerning the timing of the kingdom. That’s why He says, “It is not for you to know the times.” The Greek word for time is chronos, where we get the word chronology.
“It is not for you to know the times,” The NASB says epochs. Some of your Bible English translations say seasons. So, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons. What He’s saying is, it’s not a matter of “if”. It’s just your off concerning “when”. You’re wrong about “when”. You’re not wrong about “what”. You see this because this it’s a big deal. Because many times in your Christian life you’ll be under teachers that misconstrue this. And they make it sound like Jesus corrected the disciples on the “what” question. Jesus did not correct the disciples on the “what” question. He corrected the disciples on the “when” question. It says here, “the Father has set by His own authority.” The father has picked the time in history for the kingdom to come but it is not for them to know when because the kingdom is in a state of postponement. Now when you get into this issue, the kingdom, there’s three ways it’s handled. The first way it’s handled is by unbelieving Jews. You ask them, Why don’t you believe Jesus is your Messiah when Jesus is clearly predicted in Isaiah 53? They’ll say there’s no shalom on the earth. And what they mean by that is, Jesus failed to bring in the kingdom. That’s why Jewish people in unbelief do not take Jesus as their Savior because they believe He failed to bring in the kingdom.
So they’re waiting for somebody else to do it. The second way this issue of the Kingdom is dealt with is by reform theology, sometimes called covenant theology, replacement theology. Sometimes it’s called Amillennialism. Sometimes it’s called post-millennialism. Most Christians, by way of denominational affiliation, are sitting in Kingdom-now churches. And what that crowd will tell you- Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist. I mean, you just go right on down the line. I’m not talking about the individual people, mind you, because some of you are saying, well, I know my friend that’s a Lutheran and a Presbyterian, and we agree on this and that. I’m talking about the leadership. What the leadership will tell you is that Jesus succeeded in bringing in the kingdom. It’s just here in spiritual form. It’s not literal. Jesus is reigning in your heart. And so obviously you have to take all of the kingdom passages and rewrite them and make them non-earthly but heavenly. So one crowd, the Jews- unbelieving Jews- will say Jesus is not the Messiah because He failed to bring in the kingdom. Another crowd within Christendom will say Jesus actually succeeded in bringing in the Kingdom. The kingdom is just here in spiritual form. What we teach at Sugar Land Bible Church is neither of those. We teach what we would call postponement theology. In other words, Jesus was indeed the King. And yes, it’s true, He didn’t bring in the kingdom but the Kingdom program has not been canceled, rather, it has been postponed.
So we take all the kingdom promises literally. They’re just not here yet. They’re in a state of postponement. Jews will say, Jesus failed so we reject Him as our savior, our King. Replacement theology-type mindset will say, Jesus succeeded. The kingdom is here in spiritual form. And so they just rewrote all the kingdom passages. What we teach at Sugar Land Bible Church and as dispensationalists is neither of those are correct. The kingdom is postponed. It’s not here now. It will be here, but it’s not here today. And when it comes exactly the way it’s written in the Old Testament will be a reality on planet Earth. But God never leaves the Earth without a witness of Himself. What He is doing today, what He’s been doing the last 2000 years is the body of Christ, the church age, the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit which is not to be confused with the kingdom. And by the way, the church, as it exists now, is not plan B. Because people in the replacement theology crowd- there’s another name for this belief that we’re in the kingdom and spiritual form. Sometimes it’s called realized eschatology. Sometimes it’s called inaugurated eschatology. I mean, they’ll tell you that Jesus is on David’s throne now in heaven, orchestrating a spiritual kingdom. And what we’re basically teaching is something very, very different. We’re teaching postponement theology. We’re teaching the church age, which is not to be confused with the kingdom.
What the realized eschatology people will say is, Oh, you believe the church is an afterthought. You believe God said, Oh shucks, my Kingdom program didn’t work in the first century. What am I going to do? I’ve got sweaty palms. Poor God, what am I going to do? What am I going to do? Oh! I know- I’ll start the church. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. Whew! I’m glad I came up with something. That’s what they think we teach. When the reality is, I don’t think you can find a single dispensationalist that’s ever taught something like that. Tommy Ice said that one time in a Pre-trib study article. He goes, I’ve been a dispensationalist for 35 years. That was back in the year 2000; so just add a few decades on to that. And I’ve never heard any dispensationalist articulate that belief. But they actually believe we think the church is plan B. We do not think the church is plan B. The reason we do not think the church is Plan B is because of Ephesians 3:11, where Paul is describing the mystery nature of the church. And he says, “This,” the church, “was in accordance with,” what purpose of God? “eternal purpose, of God, which He carried out in Jesus Christ our Lord.” The church was always the eternal plan of God. God knew what would happen.
He knew that His nation would reject His Son and He had already eternally purposed to bring the church into existence. It’s just, the church is unrevealed in the Old Testament. Israel’s program is revealed. And the reason I bring that up is because I’m trying to instruct this on postponement theology. And when you go to your reform friends and you say, Hey, I was at Sugar Land Bible Church this evening and I was learning about postponed theology. And they’ll start to laugh at you and say, Oh, you believe the church is plan B? Which is not at all what we’re teaching. Reform theologians- it’s very interesting. We read them- I mean, we pretty much know what they think. We read their books and stuff. They don’t read us at all. I mean, they have all of these mischaracterizations. It’s really poor scholarship to criticize something that you don’t really understand and you won’t even take the time to investigate it. So postponement theology is what we think is the most biblically faithful model to handle this issue of the kingdom. I mean, obviously, the Jewish model, the Hebrew model doesn’t work because they say Jesus failed. So He’s not the Messiah. The problem with the reformed theological model is they say Jesus succeeded, but they just rewrite all of the promises. So if you really want to be faithful to the biblical text and understand the age of time that we’re living in, today is a wonderful age where God is at work through the baptizing Ministry of the Holy Spirit.
But it’s not the Kingdom. And the kingdom will come in fullness one day. That’s the model that best is faithful to the biblical text. And so it’s this mystery age that Jesus is trying to explain to them that the disciples are not understanding. So don’t knock these guys too badly for not understanding. They don’t have a New Testament. They’ve had some veiled sort of descriptions that Christ has tried to give them before He died. But they don’t have a New Testament yet. The Holy Spirit hasn’t even fallen yet on them. And so they’re struggling and they’re struggling with what they knew that had been promised all the way back to the time of Moses- that the Messiah is going to come and there’s going to be the Kingdom. They knew Isaiah 9:6-7. Unto us, a child is born unto us, a Son is given, and the government will rest upon His shoulders. That’s what they knew. They didn’t understand postponement yet. And it’s going to take the Apostle Paul and his conversion and his letters, particularly Ephesians, to really flesh this out and explain what’s happened. So J. Dwight Pentecost writes this passage. Acts 1:6-7. “This passage makes it clear that while the covenanted form of the Theocracy has not been canceled and has only been,” What? “postponed.”
“this present age is definitely not a development of the Davidic form of the kingdom.” We are not in the Davidic kingdom right now. That should be obvious because when you go to Jerusalem, you won’t see Jesus. When He’s ranting on David’s throne in the kingdom, you’ll be able to see Him there. You’ll be able to talk to Him. You’ll be able to go up and shake his Hand. And you only have to give a campaign contribution to do that. That’s how physical and real it’s going to be. But today we’re in the church age where He’s ministering, not from David’s throne on Earth in Jerusalem, not from His own throne, but from the throne of the Father. At the Father’s right hand. Because we are not in the kingdom age. We are in the church age, which is something that God always intended to do while the kingdom is in a state not of cancellation. But what? Postponement? So Dr. Pentecost has it right. This present age is definitely not a form of the kingdom. I mean, it’s a great time to be alive, don’t get me wrong. God is at work. The church is being built. People are getting saved. But don’t confuse it with the kingdom. Once you start calling this age the kingdom, you’ve got to rewrite all the kingdom passages. So you wouldn’t believe how people get this wrong. Here’s John Calvin completely getting it wrong.
Here’s Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible answer man, as he calls himself, completely getting it wrong. And I had to throw in Rick Warren. Rick Warren basically completely gets it wrong and he basically turns this into a lesson of don’t talk about prophecy in the church. Because whenever the apostles asked about prophecy, Jesus changed the subject. That’s his interpretation of Acts 1:6-7 in his runaway bestseller called The Purpose Driven Life on pages 285 and 286. So I was all lathered up and amped up to give you these quotes, but I can’t because it’s already 8:02. And I just got finished talking about literal interpretation. So I guess I’ve got to pay attention to the clock. So I’ll give you these quotes next time and we’ll pick it up there in verse 8 after those quotes. So for next time, you might want to- oh, we’re not going to be here next time, are we? The following Wednesday you might want to read verses 8 through the end of the chapter. So let’s pray. Father, we’re thankful for Your truth, thankful for Your word. Help us to rightly divide Your truth on these important subjects. We ask that You’ll be with us during this time of Thanksgiving and also Christmas that follows. Help us to have Your frame of mind as we go into these important holidays. So we ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen. So if you’ve got to pick up your kids and take off, that’s fine. If anybody wants to do a Q&A, we can do that also.