Andy Woods The Coming Kingdom
3-29-17 Acts 3:19-21 Lesson 12
If we could take our Bibles and open them to Acts 3, verse 19. Does anybody need a handout? Let me, if I could, just sort of review where we’ve been. We’re continuing to study the Doctrine of the Kingdom and trying to figure out first and foremost what does the Bible say about the kingdom. So we started in Eden where God reigned over a man, Adam, and he reigned over the creatures for God and that’s really the kingdom that God established through a man, which was lost (as you know) in Genesis 3. Man started listening to the animals, he became too much of an animal activist I guess, and rebelled against God, and the kingdom was lost at that point. So really what’s happening in the Bible is God is putting the process in place, or the wheels in place to restore what was lost in Eden where God reigns over a man.
We know by the time we get to the calling of Abraham that He’s going to work His program through a particular nation, the nation of Israel. And it’s at that time that the nation of Israel is given the Abrahamic Covenant, which has three blessings which are land, seed and blessing. And Israel is the what of those blessings? Not the possessor but the owner, and can anything alter that? No! Six hundred years later God, at Mount Sinai, enters into another covenant with the nation of Israel through what’s called the Mosaic Covenant, which is conditional. The Abrahamic is unconditional, the Mosaic is conditional. So if the condition is met Israel becomes the what of her blessings? The possessor, or enjoyer.
And we continued further on in the biblical history where the kingdom is actually divided. This basically takes place after the reign of Solomon and the north is swept away by the Assyrians and the south remains. Now of the two which is the most important, north or south? The south, because which tribe is in the south? Judah. And going all the way back to Genesis 49:10 God said the kingdom program is coming through Judah. [Genesis 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”]
Judah is taken into captivity by the Babylonians and that’s what starts the times of the Gentiles. The times of the Gentiles is the period of time where the kingdom is totally gone from the earth. Remember it returned in limited form in the days of Moses, only over Israel but once the Shekinah glory of God leaves the temple, even that limited form of the kingdom disappears and during the times of the Gentiles the nation of Israel has no king reigning on David’s throne, and the nation is being trampled down by various Gentile powers.
And that’s the significance of Daniel’s visions. And Daniel is very clear, he says don’t expect the kingdom to come (you know, the stone cut without human hands) don’t expect that to manifest itself until the antichrist’s empire is over. Once the antichrist’s empire comes and goes, which is yet future, then the kingdom will come. So we’re not living in the kingdom age now because the antichrist’s kingdom has never been present, has it? It’s yet future.
So we’re living in a period of time where the kingdom is not in cancellation but in postponement. And this is where God begins to use the Old Testament prophets as artists, if you will, they get out their paint brushes and they give you a tremendous picture of what the kingdom is going to be like one day. And we went through several of their prophecies; it’s really a wonderful time period.
So the nation of Israel, or Judah, finally comes back out of Babylonian captivity in what’s called the post exile, they return into the land. They’re in the land for about four centuries and Persia comes and goes, Greece comes and goes, Rome is in place, and lo and behold who shows up, in the New Testament? Jesus Christ, and He presents to the nation of Israel what’s called the offer of the kingdom. So if Israel at that time had complied with the offer of the kingdom then Israel would have not just been the owner but the what? Possessor of her blessings and the kingdom would have come to the earth. So that’s the significance of the expression early in the gospels, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is” what? It’s “at hand,” it doesn’t mean it’s hear, it means it’s right within your grasp.
So the gospels are basically tracing how that offer was turned down. And that takes place in what we’ve been talking about the last couple of weeks, something called the rejection of the offer. Why did the nation of Israel reject the opportunity of multiple generations and turn down the offer of the kingdom? Two reasons; they were all about politics and not about spirituality so they liked the teachings of Jesus as long as they could apply it to overthrowing Rome, but when He got into the Sermon on the Mount type teachings and he began to disclose that the kingdom is not just about having one’s stomach filled with food and political freedom but it’s about moral requirements and spiritual requirements. The Jewish people, who were ready to take Him by force and make Him their king, whether he wanted it or not, beforehand, but by the time He starts talking about these ethical things they’re really not interested in what He has to say.
And the second reason they missed the kingdom is the reason people miss the gospel today; they pursued it by self-righteousness, whereas anything God gives it’s always on the basis of what? Grace through faith. And they weren’t really wanting to receive it, if you will, on God’s terms. So the offer is rejected.
Now question number 2, what was the turning point. What chapter of the Bible did the nation of Israel reject the offer of the kingdom? Matthew 12. Matthew 12:24 is the hinge verse and that’s the verse where they attribute Christ’s miracles to who? Basically to Satan. [Matthew 12:24, “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.’”] So they couldn’t deny His miracle, He had performed several obvious miracles right in their midst and rather than deny it which they couldn’t they just said the devil did that miracle.
So once it gets to that point it’s very clear that the hardness of the nation’s heart amongst the leaders is so hard, so stone-cold that they’re not going to receive this offer of the kingdom. And so that shifts the whole ministry of Christ from public ministry, chapters 1-12 to what? Private ministry where He’s now training the apostles for the age of the church which is on the horizon, that the apostles really know almost know nothing about; it’s an era of time that we’re living in now that the gospels hardly hint at and we really wouldn’t know much about it had it not been for the Apostle Paul.
So this is a chart, if you will, that outlines the Gospel of Matthew and right there in the middle is the hinge; right there in chapter 12 is when everything shifts. There are certain chapters in the Bible that are like that, they turn everything. One of those chapters is 2 Samuel 11 where David is having success, success, success, success but then in chapter 11 he commits adultery and murder and the rest of the book he’s having oppression and if you didn’t understand what happened in chapter 11 or if that was sort of ripped out of your Bible you would have no hinge to explain the difference in content between the beginning of 2 Samuel and the end of 2 Samuel.
Another hinge chapter is Numbers 13 and 14 where God is leading the first generation out of Egypt to Canaan and then all of a sudden there’s perpetual failures and God is banishing the first generation and starting to work with the second generation but what happened? Where’s the hinge? Numbers 13 and 14 is the hinge. If you didn’t have Numbers 13 and 14 you couldn’t explain the different content in the two halves of the Book of Numbers. The Book of Matthew is that way and if you don’t understand Matthew 12 you don’t really understand why the shift happened beginning in Matthew 13 through the end of the book. So Matthew 12 is BIG!, all in caps with an exclamation point after it. It’s huge what’s happening in Matthew 12.
Now one of the subjects I wanted to get into is this subject: was the kingdom, that’s what we’re going to deal with this evening, was the kingdom reoffered in the book of Acts? And that’s why I had you turn to Acts 3:19-21 where there’s a school of thought that says yes, the kingdom was turned down in Matthew 12 but in the book of Acts the kingdom just kept getting reoffered. And according to this line of thought it kept getting reoffered to Israel right up until A.D. 70 when the Romans finally pushed Israel out of her land.
So people that believe in a perpetual offer of the kingdom in the book of Acts will quote Acts 2, Joel’s prophecies about the coming of the Holy Spirit. They will quote Acts 3:19-21 that says this, Peter is speaking to the Jewish leaders in early Acts, ““Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;  and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,  whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” So they say look, this is an offer of the kingdom, it says “repent” does it not, and if Israel repents the times of refreshing are going to come, which is the kingdom, and Jesus is going to be sent back from heaven to rule and reign on this earth and once that happens we will have the restoration of all things as spoken by the prophets.
Now the restoration of all things is a bid deal because you remember in Acts 1 the apostle said this. “So when they had come together they were asking Him” this is just before Christ ascended, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel.” And so they’ll camp on this word restoration of the phrase restoration of all things and they’ll basically say this is in essence a re-offer of the kingdom; it’s the very offer of restoration that Jesus spoke about in Acts chapter 1.
So this reoffer of the kingdom idea is an area that reasonable minds can disagree on. For example, some of my heroes, Dr. Toussaint, who I dedicated my book to, who probably taught me more about the kingdom than anybody else, he held to a perpetual reoffer of the kingdom in Acts. And Dr. Alva J. McClain, who Dr. Toussaint got a lot of his ideas from according to Dr. Toussaint’s own admission, if you read his book The Greatness of the Kingdom, he talks about how the kingdom kept getting reoffered in the book of Acts right up until A.D. 70.
Now there is a movement outside of our traditional dispensational circles called hyper dispensationalism sometimes it’s called ultra-dispensationalism; there’s different varieties of it but the main tenant behind it is the church age, the age of time we’re in now, did not start until the ministry of the Apostle Paul. So the whole idea is Paul is really the first one that understood the age of the church and so he’s the only one that was given the mystery of the church. There’s lots of problems with all of these things I’m mentioning and I’m only bringing this up to show you some of the voices that are arguing for an ongoing offer of the kingdom.
So the church really doesn’t start until Paul, and so they start the church in Acts 9, some would start it in Acts 13 when Paul went on his first missionary journey. Some very strong ultra-dispensationalists like the late E. W. Bullinger starts the church in Acts 28. So they don’t take the traditional dispensational normative view that we embrace here that the church started in Acts 2. And I’ll be showing you in this course why the church, I believe, started in Acts 2; I might even get into some of that tonight.
So you ask them, well if the church really didn’t start until Paul then what in the heck was Peter doing in the first nine, ten chapters; what was he preaching. I mean if Paul was really the first one to understand the gospel then what in the world was Peter doing in early Acts? What was he preaching in Acts 2? What was he preaching in Acts 3? And the response is Peter was still offering the kingdom to Israel. So this is where you get into this idea that there are actually two gospels being offered; Peter is continuing to offer the kingdom to the nation of Israel because he didn’t understand the gospel yet even though the Holy Spirit came upon him. And Paul is really the only one that understood it and Paul was taken into Arabia to be taught by the Lord and so Peter is preaching the gospel of the kingdom to Israel and Paul is really the first one to begin the church and Paul is really the first one to give the gospel of grace and preaching that. So that’s why this rubric, or this framework of a continuing reoffer of the kingdom in Acts is a big deal because it plays very prominently I the thinking of ultra-dispensationalists or a hyper-dispensationalist.
And I wasn’t going to get too deeply into hyper dispensationalism, maybe we can do that some other time, but one of the things that causes the whole thing to unravel is when Paul was taken into Arabia, as recorded in the book of Galatians, and he was taught the gospel by God Himself in the desert of Arabia, when Paul came out of Arabia, does anybody remember where he went? The first place he went was Jerusalem and the reason he went to Jerusalem is he wanted to make sure that what he received in Arabia aligned with what the apostles in Jerusalem were preaching. And Paul makes a point of this very strongly in Galatians 1 and Galatians 2. In Galatians 1 he wants you to understand that he got his gospel from God but the way God works is if God gives you a direct revelation about something it’s going to line up with His truth that He has revealed in Scripture or to other people. So Paul marched right into Jerusalem, he even went and sat with Peter, and Paul is very clear in the book of Galatians that they added nothing to what Paul. The only thing they told Paul to do was just remember the poor, Galatians 2:10, which he was happy to do anyway. [Galatians 2:10, “They only asked us to remember the poor– the very thing I also was eager to do.”]
So there is no such doctrine, as far as I can tell, that Paul and Peter are preaching two different gospels. We can get more into that during Q & A if you want to. But at any rate, in hyper-dispensationalism or ultra-dispensationalism and even in traditional dispensationalism there is this idea that Peter just kept on offering the kingdom and the kingdom just kept getting offered in the book of Acts and it kept getting offered right up until A.D. 70.
So the $20.00 question that we’re going to try to answer tonight is this: was the kingdom, which was faithfully preached up until Matthew 12, was that same offer of the kingdom, did it continue to be extended all the way through the book of Acts? And I believe that the answer to that is no and since this is an area of confusion and an area where people have asked me a lot of questions on it I want to give you ten reasons why I don’t think the offer of the kingdom was preached by the apostles in the book of Acts. In other words, after Matthew 12 the offer of the kingdom is withdrawn. It will not reappear in the book of Acts, it will not reappear until the tribulation period itself. So the gospel that Peter is preaching is the exact same gospel that we preach today; it’s the gospel of personal salvation.
Real quickly, on hyper dispensationalism the hyper dispensationalist makes a big issue out of the fact that the mystery, which is an unknown truth, was only given to Paul; it wasn’t given to the rest of the apostles. And if you’ll leave your place here in Acts 2 just for a moment and go to Ephesians 3:5 I want to show you something that causes this whole hyper dispensationalism idea to really unravel. Ephesians 3:5 says, “which in other generations was not made known?” he’s speaking of the mystery, “was not made known to the sons of men; it has now been revealed to His holy” what’s the next word? “apostles.”
Let me ask you a basic question: is the word “apostle” singular or plural there? It’s plural so therefore the mystery, although Paul is the one that taught on it the most and may even had the best comprehension of it, yes that mystery was given to Paul but it was also given to the apostles (plural). So therefore they all understood the mystery and that’s why when Paul came out of Arabia he presented himself to the apostles in Jerusalem and they didn’t add anything to what he was saying.
So there isn’t any real doctrine that Paul taught one thing because he’s the only one that understood it and Peter was teaching something different. So Ephesians 3:5, in addition to the early book of Galatians really causes the wheels to kind of fall off the hyper dispensationalism parade, if I can put it that way. Probably the most popular preacher and teacher today on hyper dispensationalism in the world is a guy named Les Feldick; have you ever heard of him? He’s got a TV show, he’s got a very engaging style, he’s really down to earth, he’s kind of sitting in a classroom format and people are out there taking notes. And Les Feldick has a lot of good things to say but he will pound the hyper dispensationalism, that Peter and Paul were teaching different gospels and the true church didn’t start until Paul and so forth.
So having said all that let’s go back to this reoffer of the kingdom idea. Was the kingdom reoffered in the book of Acts? No, I don’t think it was and let me give you ten reasons. The first reason I don’t think the kingdom was reoffered in the book of Acts is because the King was what? Absent! Where is Jesus in the book of Acts? On the earth? He’s in heaven, isn’t He, because of the what? It starts with an A… ascension which happens in which chapter of the Bible? Acts chapter 1. And one of the things to understand about the offer of the kingdom is king and kingdom are like horse and carriage in the Bible. You can’t have a kingdom without the king present. You see this in the Old Testament, it says, [Isaiah 9:6] “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  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 to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.”
So notice, “unto us a child is born” that’s talking about who? Jesus, and right after it starts talking about the kingdom. In other words, the kingdom was in a state of imminent expectation as long as the king was on planet earth; once he leaves that changes. You see this in early Luke also which says, [Luke 1:32] “…. Most high the LORD God will give Him” that’s Jesus, “the throne of His father, David.” See that.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and ever and His” what? “kingdom will have no end.” Now notice how this verse connects “king” and “kingdom” because who was present in early Luke? Jesus Christ Himself. The opportunity to enthrone Christ and receive the kingdom was right there.
And that is the way God structured the Mosaic Covenant. Remember, it’s the Mosaic Covenant that gives the condition by which Israel is to receive the kingdom and their primary condition is you shall set a king over you who whom the Lord your God” what? “chooses.” So Jesus is in front of them, they have a chance to enthrone Him, the offer of the kingdom is present through that transaction but once He leaves the earth there’s no king to enthrone any more, is there? And that’s why the offer of the kingdom starts to get rescinded.
And even Acts 3 which is the verse they all use to say this was an offer of the kingdom… I’ll explain Acts 3 in just a moment, but it says very clearly in this verse that Jesus Christ is where? In heaven; heaven has received Him. And without Jesus Christ on the earth there can’t be an authentic offer of the kingdom.
The second reason that the offer of the kingdom I don’t think is being re-extended in the book of Acts is because of the irreversible language found in the gospels. You get the impression that when the nation of Israel rejected the offer of the kingdom in Matthew 12 that was very permanent what they did. In fact, it was so permanent you don’t get the idea that they could have turned back the clock any more than the generation that panicked because of the giants could have turned back the clock.
For example, over in Matthew 12:31-32 it indicates that that generation had committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. [Matthew 12:31-32, ““Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”] They had committed the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Now in the soteriology class that I was teaching on Sunday morning I don’t interpret that as personal, I interpret that mostly as national. So there’s very strong language of irreversibility there, so you get the idea that the nation had gone too far.
Notice, if you will, Matthew 21:43, Jesus says, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you” who’s the “you”? Israel, “and given to a people producing the fruit thereof.” Now the “people producing the fruit thereof” is a distant Israel, in the future. But doesn’t that look irreversible to you, the kingdom is going to be taken away from you. I mean, why would Peter show up and say just fooling, here’s the offer again. It doesn’t make any sense in light of this irreversible language.
In the parable of the wedding feast, which is describing rebellious Israel in the first century, Matthew 22:7 says, “But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.” Now what event do you think that’s speaking of? A.D. 70. So A.D.70 is coming whether you want it or not at this point, because the penalty of the curses for the rejection of the offer of the kingdom. Again that’s language that it can’t be reversed. And so you see this irreversible language in the gospels and therefore it really makes no sense for all of that language to be reversed and suddenly the offer of the kingdom is back on the table again.
Number 3, there has been in the Gospels a new and undisclosed age as a result of Israel’s rejection of the offer of the kingdom has already been revealed. In other words, not only is it clear that the nation of Israel had gone too far through irreversible language but God has gone one step further and already disclosed what’s going to happen in the interim. What’s the interim? It’s the period of time that we’re going to start talking about next week that we’re living in now. We will discover that Jesus has already outlined that period of time through eight parables in what is called the inter-advent age. What’s the interadvent age? It’s the period of time that we’re living in now between the two advents of Christ, now that the offer of the kingdom has been rescinded.
In the parable of the minas in Luke 19 Jesus has already said that He’s entrusting people with certain things that they’re to manage on His behalf and He’s going away for a long time. Luke 19:11-27, the parable of the minas talks about that. He’s going away for a long time and He’s not coming back until a lengthy age has elapsed and then He’ll hold people accountable for what they did with what He has entrusted to them.
Beyond that you get into what is called the Olivet Discourse, which was given on the Mount of Olives, which is really a description of the tribulation period, and He’s already articulated that the birth pangs, now why are these called birth pangs? Once the tribulation period begins it’s like a woman about to give birth; the contractions become more and more intense, and the distance or time between the contractions gets shorter and shorter and shorter until the birth happens. So in the same way once the tribulation period starts the earth starts going through contractions. Jesus calls them birth pangs, John in the book of Revelation calls them the seal judgments and when you study Matthew 24 what you’ll discover is these birth pangs have to happen before the kingdom can come. Birth pangs leading to the birth of what? The birth of the kingdom at the end of the tribulation period.
What am I trying to get at? Jesus, through these birth pangs and by describing the interadvent age has not just shown through irreversible language that the offer is off the table but He’s already hinted at or started to describe this vast period of time that we’re in now, which must transpire before the kingdom can come. And so for Peter to just show up and offer the kingdom again would erase all of these things that I’ve mentioned here.
Number 4, and a lot of people miss this: the word “kingdom,” the Greek word basileia, is found 45 times in Luke’s Gospel; that’s a lot of usages, isn’t it? Why is it found 45 times in Luke’s Gospel? Because at that time Jesus was on the earth and the offer of the kingdom was being extended. Luke is the prequel; what’s the sequel he wrote, called the book of Acts. I’m bringing this up because is the kingdom being reoffered in the book of Acts? How many times is the word “kingdom” used in the book of Acts? Not 45 times, a mere 8 times, so we get 45 usages in the Gospel of Luke when the King is present and then when the King is gone the word kingdom, the Greek word basileia is only mentioned a mere eight time. Why the shrinkage? Because the offer has been given, rejected and rescinded and we’re now in a new age of time when the kingdom is not being reoffered. And what people will do is they’ll find those eight usages of the word kingdom in the book of Acts and they’ll build their whole theology around these eight usages.
For example, at the very end of the book of Acts it says this: “He” that’s Paul, “stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness and unhindered.” People say aha, there it is, He’s reoffering the kingdom in the book of Acts. Does that verse say He was offering the kingdom? Does it say “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand?” NO, he was just teaching the full counsel of God’s Word, which is not just what Jesus will do at His first coming but what He will do at His second coming. He was just having a Bible study; if he had had the book of Revelation at that time (it hadn’t been written yet) he’s probably have just been doing a Bible study on the book of Revelation. It doesn’t say that He’s offering the kingdom.
And there’s about eight usages in the book of Acts where this happens and that’s a very different usage compared to the 45 times the word is used in Luke, the prequel, where the offer of the kingdom is right there on the table.
Number 5, the expression “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” which is so prominent in the Gospels, how many times do we find that expression in the book of Acts? Zero! You remember how the kingdom was offered by John the Baptist, Matthew 3:2, “Jesus,” Matthew 4:17, the apostles, remember He said go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel with this message? Matthew 10:5-7, the seventy. [Matthew 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Matthew 10:5-7, “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;  but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.]
And they kept saying over and over again, “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” That’s what John the Baptist taught. Jesus shows up after John the Baptist and says “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus sends out the twelve and gives them the same message, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The seventy go out, “the kingdom of God has come near to you.” You get to Matthew 12 where the offer is rejected and the phrase disappears.
And guess what? It never appears in the book of Acts. The phrase, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” is not found in the book of Acts, it’s not found in Acts 2, everybody is trying to build this doctrine of a reoffered kingdom in Acts 2, the phrase “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” is not found in Acts 2. In fact, the word “kingdom” is not even found in Acts 2 nor is the word “kingdom” found in Acts 3. Instead what is Peter saying in Acts 2, “be saved from this” what? “perverse generation.” What’s the perverse generation? It’s the nation that rejected the offer of the kingdom that is now under the disciplinary hand of God. See that? He’s not offering the kingdom here, He’s saying come out from that perverse generation.
And what happened is God did a miracle and 3,000 people got saved which is very small potatoes compared to the over a million people that potentially could have been saved at this point on the day of Pentecost. Now I don’t think any of these ten reasons I’m giving seals the deal but when you put all ten together you’ve got a pretty strong case that the kingdom is not being reoffered in the book of Acts.
Number six, to place the offer of the kingdom in the book of Act is to unnecessarily comingle kingdom truth with church age truth. What is the book of Acts all about? It is about the birth of the church and its growth. I don’t have time to get into it this evening but I’ll be showing you from these Scriptures here that the church started in Acts 2. How do I know that? Because that’s the only place in the book of Acts where the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit began; the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit takes the child of God at the point of faith and identifies them with Christ’s body. Paul explains that in 1 Corinthians 12:13. [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 all you’ve got to figure out then to discover when the body of Christ started is to figure out when the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit started because that’s the ministry that takes the child of God and identifies them with Christ’s body, the church. Once that ministry starts that’s when the body of Christ starts; the ministry (as I’ll be showing you) started in Acts 2.
So what is the book of Acts about? It is not about the kingdom. The issue of the kingdom has already been settled in Matthew 12; we’re now into something completely different that God is doing which is the birth and the growth of the early church. That’s what the book of Acts is about; how the church started and how it grew numerically, geographically and ethnically. It grew numerically as Luke gives us progress reports; he says 3,000 were added, then 5,000, and he keeps giving us a number showing us that the church is progressing. And then the church leaves Jerusalem and goes all the way to where? Rome, that’s geographic progression. I mean, is that the offer of the kingdom? No, the offer of the kingdom was only given to which nation? Israel. The book of Acts is talking about things happening in Rome.
And then how the church changed in terms of its composition, ethnically, from an offshoot of Judaism into a body that’s where the Gentiles are predominant. So all the way through the book of Acts what’s happening is the ethnic complexion of the church is changing from Judaism that’s becoming hardened against the gospel to Gentile domination. And people get very confused about that and they say well when the church became Gentile that’s when the church started. NO! The church started when what ministry started? The baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. That’s how you figure out when the church started. The body of Christ is going in Acts 2, it has nothing to do with the change of the ethnic complexion of the church which Luke documents for it but that’s not the factor you look at to determine when the church started. You don’t try to figure out when did Paul get saved to determine when the church started. You don’t try to figure out when did the church become Gentile, predominantly? Those are non-issues; the issue is when did the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit begin. And I’ll be showing you very clearly that that started in Acts 2.
And see this is why Jesus is trying to change the thinking of the disciples. Remember what they said in Acts 1, beginning in verse 4? “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised,” what’s the gift the Father had promised? The Holy Spirit. “‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me.”  “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”’ They’re not thinking in terms of the church, they know very little about it, they’re thinking all about the what? the Kingdom. What did Jesus say?  “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;”’ don’t worry about the kingdom, that’s all going to come one day, you focus on what God is doing now which is not the reoffer of the kingdom to Israel but it’s the birth and growth of the what? The church. That’s why he changes their focus. He says,  “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Now was the offer of the kingdom to the remote parts of the earth? No, it was only to national Israel. He’s talking about something totally new now where the church is going to start in Acts when the Spirit comes; this takes place in Acts 1. When did the Spirit come? Acts 2. So they’re still thinking kingdom, kingdom, kingdom, he’s trying to transition their thinking away from the kingdom, which is a dead issue by this time, to what God is doing now, which is the work of the Holy Spirit through the church.
So sort of my concern is people, I think, are not understanding what the book of Acts is about, to read all of this kingdom stuff into the book of Acts… that’s not what the book of Acts is about. That issue has already been taken care of in Matthew 12; that’s a done deal. The issue is what is God doing new in the church age that began in Acts 2, that’s been going on for the last 2,000 years.
This takes us to number 7, why the kingdom was not reoffered in Acts. The timing of the kingdom has already been fixed by the Father’s authority. Isn’t that what Jesus said to the disciples. [Acts 1:6] “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’” What did he say?  “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has” what? “fixed by His own authority;” the kingdom is going to come one day to and through Israel, largely in the events of the great tribulation period and when the kingdom comes it has already been fixed. So they rejected it in the first century and God has already fixed a time in the distant future when the kingdom will come. And what He’s getting at here is don’t worry about that right now; focus on what God is doing, which is the birth and growth of the church.
So to make Acts 2 and Acts 3 a reoffer of the kingdom is to say oh, all that stuff that the Father has fixed it by His own authority, just fooling, Jesus really didn’t mean that, you can have it right now. Well, if they can have it right now in Acts 2 and 3 why does Acts 1 say the coming of the kingdom has already been fixed by the Father’s authority?
Number 7, what was Peter doing in the book of Acts? What is Peter doing in Acts 2? Is he offering the kingdom? No, he’s preaching the gospel. You remember the difference between the kingdom Gospel that was offered to Israel, (“gospel” just means good news) and the personal gospel? The kingdom gospel is found in early Matthew; the personal gospel you start to read about in John’s Gospel and in Acts. The target audience for the kingdom gospel is the nation of Israel. The target audience for the personal gospel is all nations. The kingdom gospel offered national salvation; the personal gospel offers personal and individual salvation. The kingdom gospel always portrays Jesus Christ as King; the personal gospel always portrays Him as what? Savior. The kingdom gospel says the kingdom is imminent. The personal gospel has nothing to do with that. The kingdom gospel, if Israel had accepted it the kingdom would have appeared but the personal gospel relates to the building of the church.
Do you guys recall this chart? The Scriptural foundation of the kingdom gospel is the condition of the Mosaic Covenant. The personal gospel is all about the personal plan of salvation, that Abraham believed, it’s developed in John’s Gospel. The kingdom gospel was preached in the early Gospels and will be preached in the tribulation period. The personal gospel has been preached since the fall of man and it’s being preached right now in the church age. The kingdom gospel is not being preached today but the personal gospel is. The kingdom is not available today but the personal gospel is. The Synoptics, remember what Synoptic means? Similar look, s-y-n means similar in Greek, and optic, you recognize that word as in optometrist, ophthalmologist, it means eyes or look. The Synoptics are Matthew, Mark and Luke, because they follow the same plot structure. Which is the non-Synoptic gospel? John. The Synoptics ae all about the kingdom gospel. What’s John’s Gospel all about? The personal gospel. The kingdom gospel does not mention the cross, the atonement of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the ascension of Christ, the coming of the Holy Spirit or the forgiveness of sins.
What does the personal gospel mention? All of the above. Look at that last one for a minute. The kingdom gospel is not going to mention the cross, the atonement, the resurrection, the ascension, the Holy Spirit or the forgiveness of sins. As you go through the offer of the kingdom, as presented by John, Jesus, the Twelve, the disciples, repent, repent, repent for the kingdom of God is at hand, do you see any language here about the cross? None. The resurrection, none! The atonement, none! Forgiveness of sins, no reference to it all. The same with the way Jesus preached it. You don’t even start to get a glimpse in Matthew’s Gospel of Jesus paying the penalty for our sins until you get beyond He offered the kingdom to Israel and the rejection of that offer. The Twelve are never sent out to preach forgiveness of sins. The seventy weren’t sent out that way.
What’s Peter talking about in Acts 2? Look at Acts 2:23-24. The word “kingdom” is not found here. You tell me what Peter is talking about. “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you” what? “nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.  But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” Do you see the word “kingdom” in here? Do you see the words “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” in here? You don’t see that. What’s he preaching here? Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead. Is he preaching the kingdom gospel or the personal gospel? It’s quite obvious he’s preaching the personal gospel.
He goes on in Acts 2 and he says, “he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,” now did John the Baptist ever preach about the resurrection of Christ? He didn’t. “”he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of Christ that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY.  This Jesus God raised up again,” that’s the resurrection, “to which we are all witnesses.  Therefore having been exalted to the” where? “right hand of God,” the kingdom gospel couldn’t be offered here because Jesus is in heaven at the Father’s right hand. He’s not imminently present for Him to be enthroned. “… and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit,” did John the Baptist and the early guys, offering the kingdom, did they ever talk about the Holy Spirit? Not really. “He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”  “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
 “Peter said to them repent… “oh-oh, “and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the” what? “forgiveness of” whose sins? “your sins;” as an individual, there’s nothing national here at all, this is all about you as an individual, it’s the exact same gospel that I try to preach, if God allows me, every Sunday morning. Now what about this word “repent”? People get very confused about the word “repent” and they try to say well, repent, that reminds me of “repent, the kingdom of God is at hand,” therefore Peter must be preaching the kingdom gospel. Well, what does repent mean? It means change of mind, doesn’t it? When you change your mind you are going away from what you have been trusting in to what you are trusting in now. When the word “repent” is used that way it is speaking of trust, which becomes not an antonym for believe but a synonym. When Peter used the word “repentance” all he was doing there was he was using a synonym for the word repent; that’s all he was doing.
And people get kind of bent out of shape about this too, in Acts 2:38 “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;’” and people say look at that, that’s a works gospel there because he says I’ve got to get baptized to get my sins forgiven. May I just say to you that that’s a mistranslation. The Greek word there is eis, the Greek word translated “for” is the Greek preposition eis, which can be translated not for but because of. How do I know that? Because that’s how it’s used in Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented” here’s eis, which can be translated because of “ the preaching of Jonah….” In other words, they repented because of the preaching of Jonah.
And if you understand eis in that manner the whole problem with Acts 2:38 disappears. What Acts 2:38 is saying is this: “Peter said to them repent and each of you be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” not for the forgiveness of your sins but “because of the forgiveness of your sins. Doesn’t that change the meaning there? Why do I get baptized? Because my sins have been forgiven. Amen! I don’t get baptized to get my sins forgiven, that is a mistranslation of the Greek word eis and it’s tragic that so many Bible translations translate that word “for” when it should read (I believe) “because of.”
I bring this up because people will camp on the word “for” and they’ll say aha, that’s a different gospel, it’s some kind of works gospel, it must be the offer of the kingdom and I don’t believe that that’s true at all. I believe what Peter is doing in Acts 2 is he’s preaching the gospel, he’s telling people to believe it, now he’s using the word “repent” which means change of mind, when you stop trusting in whatever it was you were trusting and trust exclusively in Christ, have you believed or have you repented? The is yes. The moment you trust in Christ you’ve automatically changed your mind. That’s how repentance should be understood in Acts 2. And he’s not saying you have to get baptized so your sins will be forgiven; he’s saying get baptized, eis, because your sins have been forgiven. So what Peter is doing in Acts 2 is he’s just preaching the normative gospel that we preach today; he’s not offering the kingdom at all here.
Well, what are you going to do with Acts 3, that’s the dead ringer isn’t it? In Acts 3:19-21 what is Peter doing? Let’s go back to Acts 3:19, “Therefore repent” he’s speaking to Israel, “and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;  and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,  whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” Now people that believe the gospel of the kingdom is being re-preached in Acts will gravitate toward this verse.
I believe that what Peter is doing here is he is outlining the condition that will be met in the distant future by the nation of Israel before the restoration of all things can occur and “times of refreshing” will come. He’s not offering it right there to experience these things now; he’s saying in the future this is what’s going to have to happen if you’re ever going to get the kingdom. And it’s identical to what Jesus says at the end of Matthew 23:37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her, how often I have wanted to gather you together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings but you were unwilling.  Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!  For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say,” what? “‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” You have to publicly acknowledge Me as the Messiah is what Jesus is saying here.
See, Matthew 12 has already occurred, by the time you get to Matthew 23 he’s outlining the condition in the distant future through which the condition will be met and the kingdom will come to the earth. That’s why Matthew 23 is followed by Matthew 24. You guys with me on that? Matthew 24 is a description of the great tribulation which is the circumstances by which the nation of Israel in the future will meet that condition. Do you follow? So Jesus at the end of Matthew 23 is not reoffering the kingdom; He’s just giving the condition that the nation must meet for the kingdom to come, which we know eschatologically will take place in the great tribulation period. Peter, think of the end of Matthew 23, Peter in Acts 3, when he’s speaking to the unbelieving Jewish leadership is telling them the exact same thing.
And then finally number 10, people say well what about the miracles? I mean, aren’t there miracles in the book of Acts? Yes there are. Aren’t there miracles in the Gospels? Yes there are. Weren’t the miracles in the Gospels there to authenticate the offer of the kingdom to Israel? Yes they were. Therefore aren’t the miracles in the book of Acts to authenticate the fact that the offer of the kingdom kept getting re-extended in the book of Acts? The answer is no. The miracles in the Gospels are for a different purpose than the miracles in the book of Acts.
Miracles in the Bible have a tendency to cluster around time periods when God is doing something totally new. So you have miracles taking place very extensively in the time of Moses because God was doing something new through the giving of the Law. That’s why they’re called signs; the signs confirm that what is happening now is of God. Miracles take place extensively in the time period of Elijah and Elisha because God is raising up a new office called the prophet, because now we have kings and these kings have a tendency to run off the rail. The northern kingdom had zero good kings, the southern kingdom only had eight. So God has to raise up prophets to call wayward kings back to the Mosaic Law and so the miracles confirm that new office.
Miracles are very extensive in the ministry of Christ because finally the Messiah is showing up and what is He offering to Israel? The kingdom. But then we’ve got a lot of miracles taking place in the book of Acts, don’t we? Why are those miracles there? They’re not there because the kingdom is being offered again to Israel; they’re there to authenticate something brand new that God has raised up called the church. And the best I understand it the next signs and wonders movement on the horizon is the kingdom of the antichrist, where there are going to be counterfeit signs and wonders that Satan is going to perform around his man of the hour, the antichrist. That’s why I’m always a little bit nervous with Christians that are looking for the next signs and wonders movement when prophetically I understand the next signs and wonders movement is coming from the devil.
So my point is the miracles in the book of Acts really have nothing to do with the kingdom being reoffered to Israel; they’re there to authenticate the new program God is doing called the what? Church. Hebrews 2:2-4, towards the end of the verse talks about these signs and wonders. God confirmed it to us, “testifying to them by both signs and wonders and by various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His will.” [Hebrews 2:2-4, “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty,  how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,  God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.:]
These signs and wonders that are spoken of here are to confirm the church, not the continuing offer of the kingdom to national Israel.
So you take these ten reasons, no one argument seals the deal but ten of them taken cumulatively I think have a pretty good argument to be made that the kingdom is not being re-offered in Acts; the King was absent, the language in the Gospels around Matthew 12 is irreversible, a new age of time in the Gospels has already been disclosed where the kingdom will be absent. The word “kingdom” is hardly mentioned in the book of Acts. The expression “repent for the kingdom of God that is so prominent in early gospels is not found in the book of Acts. The story of the book of Acts is the church and the new ministry that’s been raised up called the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Father has already fixed the time when the kingdom will come. So why would Peter violate that by offering the kingdom now? What’s Peter doing in Acts 2? He’s preaching the gospel. What’s Peter doing in Acts 3? He’s laying out the condition that the nation must meet for the kingdom to come. Well why do we have miracles in the book of Acts then? Not to authenticate the continuing offer of the kingdom like we had in the gospels but to authenticate the new thing that God is doing that we’re still involved in today called the church.
Anyway, maybe that clears up some confusion, maybe it makes you more confused but we’re leaving the rejection of the offer of the kingdom. We’ve asked and answered the question why did Israel reject the offer of the kingdom. What was the turning point? And was the kingdom re-offered in the book of Acts? To number 3 I would say no. Next week we’re moving into chapter 9 of my book where we’re going to learn about this new age of time that is disclosed, that we’re living in today. Just because the kingdom is not here doesn’t mean God is not active. God’s doing a lot of stuff, it just is not the kingdom. What this new age of time is about is described uniquely or differently in everything we’ve read about concerning the coming kingdom. Okay, I’ll stop talking.