As I teach through this book, I truly believe that an understanding of the concepts in Acts is the beginning of spiritual knowledge in the age to which we live. We hear very little about ( dispensationalism ). That simply means that God the Father dealt with mankind in different ways starting with Adam and Eve. For example: In the Garden of Eden; Adam and Eve were instructed not to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That tree is not here today is it? Actually that was the first dispensation. It began with the commandment and ended when Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden.
Jesus Christ was born during the ( dispensation of Law ) That dispensation started when God handed down the commandments to Moses and, ended when Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary. Again, this is another study but, if you would like to research this then, a good place to start is in ( Matthew 27:51 ) ( verse 50 ) says: Jesus, when he had cried with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. Now, notice ( verse 51 ) And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
The veil that he speaks of there was the veil of the temple. The only person that could go behind that veil was the High Priest, once a year. to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. When Jesus Christ gave up the ghost, he became our High Priest. Now, any man or person that has a desire to speak with God the Father can go right up to the very throne of grace and speak directly to the Father; through the blood of Jesus Christ. The age or ( dispensation of law has passed and, now we live in the ( dispensation of Grace.
The book of Acts is that transitional period from the ( Age of Law ) to the ( Age of Grace ). Most people that have any knowledge of scripture realize that Jesus Christ will return at some point. I am looking for his return any day, any minute. The very moment he returns, the ( Age of Grace will end and, another Age will begin. We call it ( Tribulation period ) . I will last about seven years and, there is a reason for that length of time. Again, all this is a whole different study.
Right now, in ( Acts 1:8 ) Jesus Christ, our Savior, the one that gave his life so this age could start and exist is speaking to his apostles and disciples just before he leaves to go and sit at the right hand of the Father, instructing them. This is the last thing that is recorded that he said before he was taken up. ( Acts 1:8 ) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.
I’ve mentioned this verse before but, I’d say we need to see it again here. ( John 6:45 ) It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
I write that verse here to say this: these people were standing there and, heard Jesus speaking but, did they learn what he was saying? Did they pay attention to what he was saying? Would you agree with me that often, even when we read scripture, our mind is somewhere else, even when we sit in Church and the pastor is speaking, we don’t hear what he is saying. Do you agree with that?
I’ll take it a step farther. Even when we read or listen to our pastor. we still don’t allow or won’t allow the very Spirit of God to speak to our hearts and direct our actions or paths. I still contend that ( the most difficult thing you will ever learn to do ) is to hear the Spirit of God and, yield to what he is saying. What he is telling you to do.
Here, in ( Acts 1:8 ) A risen Jesus Christ is speaking to these disciples. In the Old Testament, God the Father spoke directly to men or people. At that time he placed His Spirit upon whom he pleased. It became the responsibility of that person to say what God told him to say and, the responsibility of men to hear that voice. In the gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, God the Son spoke directly to man or people. We see here; God the risen son speaking to people. He is informing them that he is leaving but, just as he said, he would send a comforter to them and, for them to wait for him to come. He also told them in this verse that ( when they had received him ) they would be witnesses to all men.
The next few verse we see where he was taken up and, we have already discussed this but, this is where we need to see what they actually did. However, I want to point out what Jesus said here and, also the way or the outline of how it is to unfold. I’ll confess. If I would have been standing there on that day, listening to Jesus, there’s no way I would have understood all he was saying either. With that being said, we do know this: Jesus Christ came to ( his own people ) and, they rejected him. He came to the Jew first.
I’m going to say something now that ( I believe ) but, I also know that it was all within God’s plan for the salvation of the world. When Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, he was the rightful King Of Israel. He, in that sense, came to Israel or ( his people ) first. Even in ( Verse 8 ) we see that the message is to Jerusalem first, then Judaea, then Samaria, then to the uttermost parts. Even after Jesus Christ has risen, he is instructing them to began their witnessing at Jerusalem, around Jerusalem and go to other people.
This is what ( I believe ). God the Father, in the body of Jesus Christ gave the Nation of Israel every chance possible to except Jesus Christ as their Messiah, as their rightful King. Even after Jesus was resurrected, if you will study at least the first nine chapters of Acts, the message is still to the Nation of Israel. ( Acts 13:46 ) Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
All the way to this point, the Nation of Israel still had the opportunity to, as a nation, except Jesus as their Messiah and King but, I believe, at this point, it’s too late. Why is this significant? Just as an humble Bible student, I want to try and show you the significant value of this however, what really stands out to me is that it’s not taught to us in our local Churches. In my heart, education and understanding is the most powerful tool it is. I’m not talking about a college degree or higher education but, I’m speaking of the ability of a teacher, a pastor, these types of people using everything spiritually at their disposal to bring the word of God to light in the hearts and minds of the people they say they love. I believe this can happen in a spirit filled Church and, with simply praying, studying and desiring to know what God has in store for those that love him.
I want you to know, I have the greatest love and respect for the Nation of Israel. I know that God will grant them every promise that he promised them. However, that doesn’t change what the word of God teaches and how it all came about. That is something that God’s children, in his Churches needs to understand for their own spiritual future and how they stand before God. I want to give you an example. If you, as a child have normal intelligence and your parents send you to good schools with good teachers, all for free, no cost to you but, you refuse to listen or learn, then whose fault is that?
However, if the teachers are no good and, your parents don’t care then, whose to blame? In a spiritual sense, God the Father is the teacher. He sent his Spirit to live in the heart of every believer and, he even sent pastors, with that same spirit within them to be the spiritual teacher. Now, if the teacher will not listen to God the Father and, teach what he demands, whose to blame? The problem with that is, although the teacher might be to blame, who is it that is truly hurt? Aren’t the children left in darkness because of our unconcern?
Just as a simple man with a passion to teach scripture, what kind of person would I be if I leave you in darkness? What kind of person is it that doesn’t give his all for someone else? If I teach kindergarten and, I don’t do all I can to prepare you for the first grade, what does that make me? Even if you, as my student, loves me because I fed you candy the whole year, are you better off for my neglect?
Now, let’s get back to the verse. When Jesus gave instruction for his apostles and disciples to be witness to the world, wasn’t he speaking to me as well? Even as we go through the book of Acts and, we see mistakes that these people made, does that grant me the right to make the same mistakes or, should I learn from what I am taught in the New Testament? I say, I should learn from what I can learn from the Spirit of God from the whole counsel of God.
God the Father told Abraham back in ( Genesis 12 ) that he was going to make him the father of a great nation. He did just what he said he would do. Abraham had one son after the promise; Isaac. Out of his loins came forth the Nation of Israel. From the birth of Israel to the beginning of the New Testament or the death, burial and resurrection of Christ was around 2000 years. That means that God dealt with His chosen people ( Israel ) in different ways and at different times for all those years. ( Hebrews 1:1 ) God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Now, look at the next verse: ( verse 2 ) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds,
This book, the book of Hebrews, is written to the children of Israel, it’s also a blessing to us because it’s in the word of God. God, here is telling them he has spoken to them in different ways and at different times. The problem is; they would not heed to what he desired for them to do. In the days, just before this book was written , he even tells them he spoke to them by his son, they still didn’t hear or seek God’s will. So, where are they now?
I stated that, even after the resurrection of Christ and, we even read a verse that verifies that Jesus Christ still was willing to allow the Nation of Israel to have one more chance to seek after his will and be obedient to his call however, they still refused. When I speak of this: I speaking of Israel as a nation, not individuals. God’s desire was to have the whole nation to be obedient to him, to follow him.
Look at this verse in the gospels: ( Luke 14: 16-18 ) Then he said unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: ( 17 ) And sent his servants at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. ( 18 ) And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him. I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
If you finish reading these verse, they all made excuses; so what did the man do? Look in ( verse 23 ) And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
Do you realize that from the very beginning of the Nation of Israel they could have possessed the whole world? All they had to do was to listen to and obey God the Father. Here, in these verses we see that; they would not, therefore God turned to the Gentiles. Whosoever will can come.
So, where does that leave Israel? That is, more than likely a question most people never even consider. God promised Israel that they would inherit the earth. God the Father will keep that promise. As I write these things , we must remember that, even as individuals; what we do for Christ is choice. That is a fact now and, always has been whether we are talking about Israel, the Church or simply an individual. I realize that all we see, in every situation is all within the spectrum of ( God’s unfolding plan ). However, that does not mean that we don’t have a choice. God put opportunities out in front of us and we still have to make a choice. I understand that God already knows the outcome before we even make a decision, but that’s because he is God. Do you realize that nothing has ever occurred to God? He already knows the answers and exactly how the end results will be.
When God began to unfold the plans for this world; he already knew what people would do. When, in the beginning he placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he new what they would do but, the choice was there’s to make. History is a great teacher. If we don’t look at what has already happened then, our ignorance will play a great part in what we do know. That is the reason I feel compelled to write and teach all this in the verse we are looking into in ( Acts 1:8 ). If we can grasp the opportunities Israel had and, also see where she will end up because of her choices then we can learn as people not to make the same mistakes.
I believe one of the greatest tools of Satan in this world today is ignorance. If he, by whatever means; can keep men from teaching truth then the very fact that we are ignorant and unaware of what God expects of us will put us and,many other people in a bad place when we stand before God. Therefore, I’m going to take the time to show you this picture before we move on and, watch the ( Church age ) unfold right here in the ( Book of Acts ).
Just how important is ( flesh ) to God the Father. That is, the flesh you and I live in or the flesh of a whole nation or, the flesh of the Church, the body of Christ? Jesus Christ also, was a body of flesh. A significant point here is that Jesus Christ completely yielded his body to the will of God. From the very beginning that is what God wanted ( in the body ) of the nation of Israel. A body; totally yielded to his will.
So, to answer the question about the importance of flesh to God the Father would be to say that flesh is only importand to him as it yields itself to his will. If any body of flesh will not do that, then it’s of no value to God the Father. The Nation of Israel, the body that God choose to do his will, to fulfil his desires to this world refused to listen to what he said. However, God had made promises to that nation. God always keeps his promises. That fact is and, always will be true. God made promises to Israel, he made promises to the Church and, he also made promises to those that believe, being part of the Church, the body of Christ.
At the point that we are studying, the Church is just beginning. At this point Israel, as a nation is being, what I would call ( being placed on a shelf for a season ). ( Romans 11:25 ) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.( 26 ) And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: ( 27 ) For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. ( 28 ) As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for you sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. ( 29 ) For the gifts and calling are without repentance.
I wrote all that to show you that God hasn’t forgotten Israel. They were cut off, so to speak that we as memebers of the Church might be grafted in. At the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as far as God the Father is concerned; ended a stage. Look at at this verse: ( Daniel 9:24 ) Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. ( 25 ) Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troubleous times.
These weeks mentioned here are periods of seven years. so, seven weeks is ( 49 years ). A score is ( twenty years ) three score would be ( 60 ) and two weeks. If you add this up it is ( 69 weeks ) This means ( one week ) is left. The last week is what we call ( tribulation period ). I will occur at the end of the Church age which actually has no time period other than in the mind od God the Father.
In ( Acts ), we are looking at the end of one age and, the beginning of another. As we see this transformation, even after Jesus Christ was taken up in ( Verse 9 ). The point is the Nation of Israel still had the first opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ after the resurrection of Christ and, after he was taken up to sit at the right hand of the father. Now, we are speaking of Israel as a nation, not as ( individual Jews ). Today the message is to ( whosoever will ) let him come.
From the very beginning, its always been a message and a willingness to surrender your flesh to the will and voice of God. The word of God is all about that picture. Look at this verse: ( Romans 9:13 ) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. The whole picture we see here is about that one concept. God the father does not actually hate any person. It’s about what is first and what is last. If you look at it from your own personal experience it becomes easier to understand. I was born in my flesh first, then I was born of the spirit. God deals with the Spirit man in me. We could change and say; ( My flesh has God hated but, my spirit he loves.
I’ve already stated that the Nation of Israel will inherit this earth and, Jesus will be the King. The member of the body of Christ, born again believers, ( the Church ) will live in a place suspended between heave and earth. The city of gold. We can read about that place in ( Revelation 21 ).
I realize this can be seen as very deep and, it is but, to simply read over a verse like this and not study it out, not seek to find answers to these things would be sin on any teacher’s part. Any person that is born again will have a passion to learn this just like I, as a teacher. I can’t say I can understand it all but, I can teach what I know and, you can build on what I teach.
Let’s look at this verse and we’ll close this segment out. ( Matthew 28:18-20 ) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. ( 19 ) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: ( 20 ) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
When we look at these verses and also the verse we are studying where Jesus is telling Jews to ( go and teach all nations ). In ( Acts 1:8 ) he also points out that he wants them to teach in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
These people, Jews, were people that were taught that it was all about them, Jesus was their King. What do you think they thought about this command? We are leaving one ( dispensation ) going into another. I can see how this would be hard to comprehend for any people. While studying, and watching scripture unfold; there are at least eight different dispensations or, different ways that God the Father dealt with mankind. We can see those things in scripture. The dispensation of grace, which is the Church age or, the age we live in at the present is ( in my mind ) the fifth dispensation with at least two more to be seen.
I’ll try and bring this to a close by saying this. As we go through the book of Acts we’ll see a transition from God dealing with the nation of Israel to the same God calling all men to be saved. Which, in reality; has always been by faith. Even in the Old Testament if someone other than a Jew believed God by faith, then God excepted that. For instance; Niether Noah or Abraham were Israelites but, they both believed God.
My passion in all of this is to open the spiritual eyes of those that might read it. Now for some two thousand years we been experiencing the calling out of the Church. It started in ( Acts 2 ) Are we not facing the same mindset that Israel fell into. Israel believed that ( Just because ) they were Jews, that made them God’s people, as far as being where God wanted them to be. Today many people believe that ( Just because ) they join a Church, that puts them where God desires for them to be. Both mindsets are wrong. While both are important parts of God’s plan for salvation, it’s the change in the heart that God is looking for.
One other point to think about and we will move on. It’s always the ( second born ) or birth that matters to God the Father. For instance; Adam was first but, it was that second Adam that God honored which is Jesus Christ. ( 1 Corinthians 15:45 ) And so it is written, The first man Adam was aliving soul; the last Adam was a quickening spirit. We are the very same way. We are born in our fleshly bodies and, them we are born of the spirit of God. The same picture is within the creation of Israel and then the Church. Both are inportant parts of God’s handy work. In essence, the Church was able to be born because of the nation of Israel. As an individual, God’s spirit has a vessel because of my flesh. However, without our willingness to allow God’s Spirit to work through any vessel then what good is the vessel. Israel is no good to God unless that nation allows God to speak through it. The Church is no good unless it allows God to be seen in it. I, myself, am worthless to God the Father unless I allow God the Spirit to speak through me. That is the whole picture in a nutshell.
So, again; where will Israel end up? I’ve already stated that the Nation of Israel will inherit the earth and, the body of Christ, ( the Church ) will live above the earth in a city made of gold. The earth will be the footstool of God. I’ll show you a couple of verses.
( Mark 12:36 ) For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
( Acts 7:49 ) Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what house will you build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
Again, that place of rest was offered to the Jews first. Even in the beginning of the Church age, it was to the Jew first. This earth was going to always be ( God’s footstool ). Jesus said: I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. ( John 14:3 )
Jesus was not only talking to Israel there but to whosoever allows his spirit to work through their flesh. Can you see, it’s not about The Nation of Israel, The Church building, or even the flesh we live in. It’s about a vessel that chooses to allow God to speak through it, whatsoever that might be.
It is actually no end to the study of that concept however, it was to Jerusalem first, then Judaea,then Samaria and, the uttermost parts of the earth. So, we shall move on to ( Acts 1:9 and beyond ).