There are more than three hundred different denominations, each sustaining a religious program in the name of Christ and the Bible. They are referred to as different “churches”. If each denomination claims to be a Bible church with a Bible program, either they are making false claims or there are many different church programs in the Bible.
Is it possible that by the unanimous positive declaration of all of these differing denominations the Holy Spirit is Divine and infallible, and that as the infallible Author of the infallible Bible He has given to us a Book that is so filled with misunderstandings, mistakes, contradictions and vague and uncertain statement's that this disorderly Book is responsible for the confusion and divisions and sectarianism among Christians? We must decide that the pitiful and deplorable sectarianism among God's people is either due to the Author of the Bible, in failing to give clear and specific instructions for the order and program of the true Bible Church, or to the Christians' inability or unwillingness to give the proper interpretation to those clear and specific instructions. Perhaps we are unanimous in our decision that the mistake is with the fallible interpreters and not with the infallible Author.
But we are also unanimous in our decision that much of God's program for His people from Moses to John the Baptist CANNOT be included, with God's sanction, in His program for His Church during those years FROM John the Baptist to the death of the Apostle Paul.
This leads us to these two questions, "how much of the God-given program of John the Baptist is to be included in the Church program that God gave to the Apostle Paul?" AND, “How much of the program given by Christ to the Twelve Apostles is to be included in the Church program that God gave to the Apostle Paul?”
That John the Baptist and all of the Apostles were true messengers of the same LORD, that all of them spoke with the same Divine authority, but that they proclaimed different messages and presented different programs for different people, no careful reader of the Bible will deny.
If it were possible for us to have an interview with the church leaders and preachers of all of the three hundred, or more, denominational churches in this country, we would learn that all of them would acknowledge that they have eliminated from their church programs many of the religious ceremonies observed, with Divine authority, from John the Baptist to the final revelation of the risen Christ to the Apostle Paul. They neither proclaim to their church‑members many of the God‑given messages of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts, nor include in their church creeds and programs all of the religious programs, the signs, gifts and order of these Books.
In the light of Ephesians 4:3-6 , all Christians should readily admit that since the time that the Epistle to the Ephesians was written, there has been only ONE true Church of Christ; that Church which is His Body. Ephesians 1:19-21 . "One Body." Ephesians 4:4-5 . So with no uncertain dogmatism we can agree and assert, on the authority of the Word of God, that there is but ONE true Bible Church. But we must qualify that statement, and say, "there is but one true Bible Church program for this particular age in which we are living." We may disagree as to when this particular Church, which is His Body, began; but as we search the Scriptures we should not find it so difficult to learn when, in the Bible, the Church program, intended for Christians of today, began.
THE CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS
In Acts 7:38 we read of “the Church in the Wilderness.” That Church was made up of the people whom the LORD had called out of Egypt to go to Canaan. They had a religious program of "meats and drinks, and carnal ordinances and divers washings (baptisms)." Hebrews 9:10 . That religious program was given to them by God. That was imposed upon them UNTIL the time of reformation. God has not given to the Church of the Age of Grace, which is Christ's Body, that program. Colossians 2:12-15 .
To the members of that Old Covenant Church a seventh day Sabbath was given, and several annual feasts, with burnt offerings, peace offerings, meat offerings and sin offerings. But in Hebrews 10:9 we are told that “He taketh away the first that He may establish the second.” In 2 Corinthians 3:7-17 , we are plainly told that ALL of that religious, legalistic program was taken out of the way and abolished with the death and resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ.
All intelligent, spiritual students of the Word of God are agreed that Israel's Old Covenant religious "Church" program is not God's program for the Church which is Christ's Body. Moreover where there has been real earnest endeavor to determine just what should be the program, mission, message and ministry of members of the Body of Christ, the problem for the individual student of the Word and the principal cause for the lack of unity among students and "churches" has been because of the failure, inability or unwillingness to agree as to when and how that Old Covenant program ceased to be God's program for His children; and how much, if any, of that Old Covenant program should be included with the new program for the Body of Christ given to the members of that Body by the RISEN Christ through His Apostle Paul.
These words are recorded in Luke 16:16 , "the law and the prophets were until John (Baptist); since that time the Kingdom of God is preached." Now, there are Christians, men and women who really love the LORD and His Word, who tell us that the Holy Spirit has taught, in this Scripture, that the Law economy (Dispensation) closed with John's announcement, "repent, for the Kingdom of the Heavens is at hand." Matthew 3:2 . The Bible declares that "the law was given by Moses but Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." John 1:17 . Then if the Dispensation, or Age, or Economy, of Grace began when John the Baptist introduced Jesus to Israel, and if the Church, which is Christ's Body, began then and there, there is no company of Christians in the world carrying on a Bible Church program. Also, inasmuch as the Scriptures plainly declare that the LORD Jesus Christ was made under the law, that He was circumcised, that His custom was to go to the Jews' synagogue on the Jews' Sabbath, that He observed the feasts that God gave to Israel, that He instructed worshippers to obey the law of Moses and observe the ceremonies of Judaism, we can hardly respect the judgment or opinions of those who would have the Law “out of the way” before the death and resurrection of the Son of God.
But the confusion among Christians, who are students, is largely due to the fact that much of the Old Covenant religious program is found in the Book of Acts. Many Christians who have diligently searched the Scriptures, or followed human leaders, have decided that the Church which is Christ's Body began on the day of Pentecost. They have been required to acknowledge that much of Israel's religious program WAS included in the program of that Church which they have decided began on the day of Pentecost. But is this correct?
For some reason and at some time and place along the line the Christian churches have dropped much of the program, as to the message and practice, authority and power, gifts and credentials, not only of the Apostles, before and after the death of Christ, but of the other first century Church-members who were contemporaries with those Apostles.
Surely every Faithful servant of the LORD wants to obey the Word of the LORD, and no Faithful, obedient servant of the LORD will purposely eliminate from his Christian program any message, gift or ceremony that today Scripturally belongs to the Church which is Christ's Body. But the practices of church fathers before or since the Reformation cannot be accepted as Divine authority for the adoption of a Scriptural Church program.
If there are any church leaders today who have the right to arrange the program for the ministry, message, and practice of the Bible Church, they surely know that it must be strictly in accordance with the Bible. A Bible Church program should be a Bible program.
So then we come to this question; "where in the Bible is the program for the Bible Church of 2011 to be found?" For some reason, the LORD, made choice, that by the mouth and pen of the Apostle Paul, His truth concerning the Church, which is His Body, should be made known.
This Apostle to the Gentiles died about 67 A. D., shortly after he wrote his last epistle, 2 Timothy. The events of Pentecost, recorded in the second chapter of Acts, occurred about half way between the birth of the LORD Jesus and the death of the Apostle Paul.
Intelligent, spiritual students of the Word, who have sought diligently to know the Scriptures, have been compelled to note some differences between the program of the LORD during the "Book of Acts" period and His program for His Church as stated in the Epistles which the Apostle Paul wrote AFTER the "Book of Acts" period closed; namely, 1 Timothy, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Titus, and 2 Timothy.
In trying to definitely determine just what God does require of the Church, which is Christ's Body, for this day in which we live, so that believers can give forth a sane, spiritual, Scriptural, testimony for the risen LORD and maintain a Scriptural Church order and program that will please the One who is the Head of His own Body….No intelligent, spiritual student of the Word of God would think of placing special "inspiration" emphasis on any special portion of the Holy Scriptures, but instead be obedient to 2 Timothy 2:15 and other such Divine instructions.
This makes it imperative that such students should place special "DISPENSATIONAL" emphasis on special portions of the Scriptures.
There are no "inspirational" differences among true members of the Body of Christ; only "dispensational" differences. All Christians should be willing to admit, without argument, that they are members of the Church which is His Body; and therefore, without argument, should admit, that there are in the last seven Epistles written by the Apostle Paul the specific instructions to and for the members of the Body as to the program for the Dispensation of Grace committed to the Apostle Paul for the Gentiles, to them which were afar off and to them that were nigh. Ephesians 3:1 and Ephesians 2:17 .
This, however, is not our problem; for we can see this pure message of Grace and this clearly defined Church program in these last seven Epistles. But we also know that our Church program for today is to include some of the messages of the prophets of the LORD before the advent of Christ, some of the messages of Christ and His Apostles during His earthly ministry, and very much of the program of the Church during the "Book of Acts" period, which includes the messages and ministry of Paul and other saints given forth before Paul became the prisoner at Rome. BUT, HOW to eliminate from the Four Gospels, the Book of Acts, The Epistle of James, the Epistle of Hebrews, the Epistles of Peter, and the Apostle Paul's earlier Epistles, (Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans), that which will NOT fit into the final program outlined for the Church which is Christ’s Body, is our most difficult task!
That the different churches (denominations) have ELIMINATED from these writings parts of the messages, ministries, and ceremonies as they have pleased in preparing their church creeds, and that they have arbitrarily and promiscuously SELECTED parts from the Four Records of the earthly ministry of the LORD Jesus and from the "Book of Acts" period such messages and ministries, such ceremonies, signs, and gifts as they have decided should be included in their established man-made creeds and requirements for church membership and Christian fellowship, no careful observer should dispute.
Now, I need you to PAY ATTENTION, while it is true that sectarianism among truly saved people, who are seeking to be Scripturally orthodox, is due to differences of interpretations or differences of emphasis given to certain Scriptures….It is also true that this deplorable sectarianism is due to "how much" or "how little" of God's program in the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts and the "Book of Acts" period has been incorporated in the various denominational doctrinal platforms and church creeds, with little or no explanation or attempt to apply the "dispensational" principle set forth in 2 Timothy 2:15 .
Some of us have, no doubt, dealt with members of a sect of Christians whose slogan might be called "Back to Jesus." They go back to the earthly ministry of the LORD Jesus for their church program….for their marching orders, for their message, and basis of fellowship. Their orders are from Him as declared in His Kingdom program to the Seventy: Luke 10:1-11 . Here I want to quote verses: 1, 4, 9 and 11:
"After these things the LORD appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come….Carry neither purse, nor script. nor shoes: and salute no man by the way….And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you….Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you."
Now, this sect also accepts the Kingdom program of John the Baptist, and the commissions which Jesus of Nazareth gave to His Twelve Apostles.
The Christians who are identified with this particular sect are conscientious, earnest, devoted people; and they are almost unanimous in their testimony that after years of experiment their program is satisfactory and practical and their ministry has been blessed of the LORD. Who is to contradict them Scripturally? Their program does away with the salaried pastor. Who can say that they have not a Bible program given by Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever? It was a Christ given Bible program. However, is it Christ's program for today? Do not the church programs of orthodox Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, etc., differ altogether from the program of this particular sect? Why do all of these orthodox groups claim that they are carrying on Bible programs and yet their programs vary.
When and why did the disciples of the LORD Jesus Christ cease to include in the program of the Christian Church so many of the commandments and orders, messages and ministries committed by the LORD to His servants, such as: "he that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise", "baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins", "blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth", "if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off", "leave there thy gift before the altar", "give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away", "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect", ,but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses", "strive (work laboriously) to enter in at the straight gate", "shew thyself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded", "sell that ye have, and give alms"?
Certainly no child of God will permit any man, or any group of men, to take away from him one single spiritual blessing or lesson contained in God's Book. But most assuredly he should seek the definite guidance of the Holy Spirit to know whether it is written TO him and about him.
There are three distinct periods set forth in God's Word, even if we pay no attention to the subdivisions of these periods. "From Adam to Moses….until the law." Romans 5:13-14 . "The Law was added till the Seed should come." Galatians 3:19 . He blotted "out the handwriting of ordinances….took it out of the way; nailing it to His cross." Colossians 2:14-15 . "In other ages NOT MADE KNOWN to the sons of men; that the Gentiles should be joint-heirs in a joint-Body." Ephesians 3:5-6 .
So the three general divisions of the Bible, the periods that must be recognized, if we would know how to interpret and apply the Word of God, are:
"From Adam to Moses"
"From Moses to Christ's Revelation to Paul"
"From Christ's Revelation to Paul until the LORD shall return for the members of His Body."
Other periods are to follow, but without recognizing these three general divisions from Genesis to 2 Timothy, that is, to the death of the Apostle Paul, we WILL remain in confusion on earth.
Individual saints in every economy (Dispensation) can be, and should be, governed by certain instructions all through the Book given for the purity and righteous conduct of the people of God. But to give to the members of the Body of Christ the truth which God intended only for His people during a DIFFERENT economy is to be unspiritual and unintelligent. Not to mention un-dispensational.
Until part 2. Stay tuned!
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” Acts 16:31 , while there is still time!
So There You Have it!
Spread this message to everyone you know, far and wide. The time is short
Grace be to you and peace, from God: our Father, and The LORD Jesus Christ.
In The LORD Jesus Christ,
The Lion and Lamb Ministry
Pastor David Picos, D.D.
Minister and Ambassador for Christ in the Ministry of Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20 )
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