by Paul Benson
(This is PART IV of a series. You can find the former articles here: PART I, PART II, PART III. I thought I was finished with this series on the errors of Dispensational Theology, but seeing how some dismiss the rebuke of that theology by stating: “Yes most Dispensationalists ARE in error; but our own particular tightly-focused Acts 28 slant on Dispensationalism is the real deal!”, I thought I would go the extra mile and show proof that their own little niche is not a safe place either to hide from the truth that ALL Dispensational (aka Separation) Theology is absolutely out of sync with the Scriptures. P.B.)
The New Testament of the Bible gives us not only a firm framework of proper Christian doctrine, but also a vivid history of the activities and beliefs of the early Church. We can see a clear picture of what they believed and taught. It was not a complicated nor convoluted mess of theological ramblings that could only be understood and taught by the ‘Learned Ones’ of their day! It was a simple Gospel that could be easily grasped by the common man.
Dispensationalists claim their theology is totally based upon a ‘historical grammatical interpretation of the Scriptures’; but that claim is little more than hot air and wishful thinking. Their doctrine contradicts both the historical and grammatical context of a great deal of Scripture they claim actually teaches it!
And if Dispensational theory itself is a departure from the simplicity that is in Christ (2Cor. 11:3), then Hyper or Ultra-Dispensationalism is that departure on steroids! The notions of that theological mindset, and the given reasoning behind those notions, have so little accord with either the historic or grammatical aspects of Paul’s writings used to promote it that it boggles the mind anyone could consider it proper.
Here is another comment by John C. that makes that point quite clearly:
Comment by John C.: Thanks for using my point on repentance and baptism. What exactly did you prove? Do you have any idea what hyper/ultra- dispensational Acts 28 theology is about… …What you have shown is that the Acts 9 and 13 people have a problem, but you have not gone into the post Acts Epistles to prove your point. At Acts 28 the gospel of the kingdom had now been preached to Israel in Diaspora and was rejected just as it was rejected in the nation of Israel during the time of the Gospels. Judaism (nation and diaspora) has rejected the offer of the kingdom… … Now, that the kingdom is in abeyance and the Gentile is no longer blessed through Israel, Paul’s “prison” Epistles are now written showing how the Gentile would no longer share Israel’s blessings. Eph 1:3 (10,17,18). From earthly kingdom blessings to all spiritual blessings…no longer through Israel, but directly from God through Christ Jesus by the HS. A new creation is now formed, with the Jew no longer first. The Acts 15 dogmas are revoked. Come on man! Do some study and get your head out of the sand! (LINKS TO FALSE TEACHING WERE REMOVED BY P.B.) God Bless those that get their heads out of the sand. John C.
Although there are certainly many aspects of Acts 28 Dispensational Theology that can be proven to be in error (many of which are apparent in John’s latest comment), I want to address this offshoot of Dispensational theory in a very simplistic manner.
We can easily prove it to be false by simply looking at verses that would definitely had to have been worded differently if it were true that the original Apostles (as well as Paul himself initially) preached an original Gospel that was replaced by another Gospel. Paul’s ‘post Acts’ letters would NOT read the way they do if Ultra-dispensational theory were true!
I have often used this same simplistic method to disprove the notion of a pre-trib rapture by using only one verse of Scripture:
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1Peter 1:13
If the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture were true, and the Church will receive the fullness of grace (which the resurrection/transformation and catching away of the believers will bring us) seven years before the Revelation of Christ, then Peter would not have told us to be looking for that grace at Christ’s Revelation! If the pre-trib theory were true this verse would NOT be in the Bible. Plain and simple.
Since verses such as 1Peter 1:13 are an absolute rebuke of the idea of a pre-trib catching away a Dispensationalist must *’explain away’ these verses to promote their theory with such ridiculous statements as to say the writings of Peter were not for the Christian Church, but only for the Jewish believers.
*Remember: The fairly modern (circa 1830’s) idea of a catching away of the Saints prior to the coming time of great tribulation actually gave birth to Dispensational Theology! John Nelson Darby (in a piece by piece fashion over many years) constructed that theology in defense of his new-found belief in a pre-trib rapture. Dispensational Theology was literally fabricated to explain away the contradictions to pre-trib theory Darby found in the Scriptures!
So let’s focus ourselves upon Paul’s ‘prison epistles’, and see if there is any indication or not that a new ‘grace Gospel’ (for the Body of Christ) was now being promoted that superseded (replaced) the supposed Kingdom Gospel (for the Jewish nation) that had been preached up until that time.
To recap let’s remember that Dispensationalists claim there are two separate Gospels. One for national Israel that promises them a physical inheritance here on Earth. This ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ (as they call it) was supposedly what Jesus taught his disciples and commissioned them to go into all the world and preach. It was supposedly not intended to bring salvation to anyone but the Jews (and their proselytes).
And the Dispensationalists propose God instituted an entirely different ‘Gospel of Grace’ for the Body of Christ that promises them a spiritual inheritance in Heaven. They claim that the writings of the original Apostles (the Gospels, the writings of Peter, James, Jude, and John, as well as Hebrews and Revelation) were not addressed to the Christian Church, but only to the Jews.
Although the Dispensationalists cannot agree on exactly when this supposed ‘dispensation of Grace’ (as well as the Body of Christ itself) actually came into existence, they all pretty much agree we are only to follow the doctrines presented by the Apostle Paul in his letters to the Church. And that the Body of Christ is a separate entity with a separate destiny than the ‘flock of God’ that received the Kingdom Gospel preached by the original twelve Apostles and Christ himself.
The ‘Acts 28’ Hyper-dispensationalists go a step *farther and state that the new ‘grace gospel’ did not actually come into being until Paul received it by divine revelation during his lengthy prison captivity, and it can only be found in his later writings; or what some refer to as his ‘prison letters’ (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Titus, Philemon, and 2 Timothy).
*As I said before this working ahead of theory by the Hyper-D’s is an honest attempt to get beyond the obvious problems (ignored by the moderates) that arise as Dispensational theory conflicts with Scripture. But instead of resolving conflict they are actually just straying farther from the truth of the Bible.
But regardless of when a person might think this supposed ‘dispensation of grace’ started, and the supposed new ‘Grace Gospel’ began to be preached, there remains the crucial question:
Do the Scriptures themselves, in either a historic or grammatical manner, support this Dispensational ‘out with the old gospel and in with a new gospel’ idea?
You can carry on endlessly about man’s theories and theologies; but is there ANY indication in the Bible that the early Church preached one Gospel message and then a time came where a different one began to be preached and followed? Wouldn’t we see evidence of this change? Wouldn’t there have been some kind of a general notification of this upgrade; or a warning that the former was no longer valid?
I mean think about it folks! When something becomes faulty or obsolete, and needs replaced with a new model, isn’t a notice of recall only fitting and proper? How many times in life have we witnessed that very thing?
Historical grammatical interpretation?
Do we see any such thing in the grammar used by Paul, or in the personal histories of the believers he wrote his later letters to, as in regard to a new Grace Gospel that superseded a supposed Kingdom Gospel? No, we do not! In fact we see something quite different. What we see is a confirmation in Paul’s later writings of that very Gospel which was formerly preached by him and the other Apostles!
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; 2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 1Timothy 1:1-3
Paul left Timothy instruction to the Body of Christ that they were to teach no other doctrine than that which he had taught! Is there any indication Paul ever rescinded that charge, and told Timothy to now teach a new gospel? NO! You will find no such a thing in the writings of Paul! In fact he later again told Timothy to stay with what he had already been taught!
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2Timothy 3:14 -15
Did Paul tell Timothy to abandon his former beliefs and embrace a new Grace Gospel that replaced a former Kingdom Gospel? No, he exhorted Timothy to CONTINUE in those things he had formerly learned! And notice Paul did not claim a new insight he got in prison was necessary to come into saving faith. He said you could get that wisdom from the Scriptures themselves (which in Timothy’s day were the Old Testament writings)!
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:12-13
Remember here that Paul is in prison (where he, according to the Hyper-D’s, supposedly got his ‘new gospel’) now writing to the Ephesian believers, which he had formerly ministered the Gospel to, about when they FIRST trusted in Christ. He calls the message they had formerly received the ‘word of truth’ and ‘the Gospel of their salvation’!
Doesn’t sound like he is presenting a new Gospel to me; how about you?
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philippians 1:3-6
Does it sound like Paul, writing from his captivity, was presenting to these believers a different Gospel than the one they had been fellowshipping in ‘from the first day’? No, he was expressing thanks to God for the fact they were continuing on in that Gospel they had originally embraced! And that the work begun in them from the first day would be performed until the day of Jesus Christ.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4:9
The words ‘learned, received, heard, and seen’ are ALL past tense! Paul is speaking of the Gospel had taught in their midst in times past! This exhortation from jail instructs the Philippians to continue to follow after what they had formerly learned from Paul in both word and example. No changing of the guard evident here either!
For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: Colossians 1:5-6
Here Paul (again speaking from prison) speaks to the Colossians about the message which they had heard before. He called it the ‘truth of the Gospel’, and said it had caused them to ‘know the grace of God in truth’! They had already heard the Gospel of Grace that brings salvation! That is the one and only Gospel! If Paul did not get the true Gospel of Grace until his captivity in prison then why would he be referring to the former message he preached as the real deal; instead of denouncing it as an obsolete gospel that has now been replaced? Come on John C., let’s get it right!
If you study the ‘prison letters’ of Paul you can clearly see, not a replacing of what Gospel had been preached, but a firm re-endorsement of the Gospel preached from the beginning!
Again I assert that if the claims of the ultra-Dispensationalists were true the Word of God would NOT read as it does. That is a plain fact! It would have been worded in a different manner. The Hyper-D theory that the dispensation of grace, and preaching of the new Gospel of grace, did not begin until Paul’s prison experience is so completely out of sync with the Scriptures! How could anyone not see that?
About now is when the ‘moderate’ Dispensationalists will chirp in and say: ‘Well, we don’t believe in the hyper-D’s theory that the dispensation of grace didn’t begin until Paul’s ‘prison revelation’! It began upon his conversion! That is when the Church began and the Gospel of Grace got started.’ But, that teaching also is proven bogus by the Word of God!
Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Romans 16:7
Even Paul himself stated here there were others in the Body of Christ before him! In fact all saved after the Cross, Jew and Gentile, are the Body of Christ! Dispensationalism flat out denies the reality of just what makes one a part of the Body of Christ. Christ’s Body is comprised of all those whom he indwells! Jesus promised to come and live inside his followers! They, Jew or Gentile, ARE the Body of Christ; which according to Colossians 1:24 absolutely IS synonymous with the Church!
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:16-18
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. John16:13
This promise of the indwelling Spirit of God was given by Jesus not just to the Jewish nation (as Dispensationalists claim) but is available to all who would follow him! And we clearly see the full scope of this promise, and its fulfillment, in the Scriptures if we just take the dispensational blinders off our eyes and look for it.
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. Acts 1:4
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. Acts 2:33
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Acts 2:39
The promise of the Holy Ghost was given to Gentile as well as Jew. The words: ‘to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call’ do not mean just for the Jewish believers! All means all.
And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. Acts 10:45-48
These Gentiles had placed their faith in Jesus, been saved, filled with the Holy Ghost, baptized in water, and welcomed into the Flock by the Apostle Peter, and also *taught by him for many days! Anyone who says the Gentile believers did not join the same group (the Church, the Body of Christ, the assembly of believers – call it what you will) as the Jewish believers is quite out of touch with the truth of the Scriptures!
*This further rebukes the notion that the original apostles taught a Gospel of the Kingdom (for Jews) that was different than the Gospel of Grace for the Gentiles. Here we have Peter exercising authority over and teaching the Gentiles; and as we saw in an earlier article of this series Peter recommended the teachings of Paul to his own disciples (2 Peter 3:14-16)! In fact, in that passage it is clear that both Peter and Paul were writing to the same people! Just because the Gospel is sometimes presented in different fashions (according to the background of those hearing it) does not mean different Gospels with different promises and different destinies are being preached! Paul said he would become ‘all things to all men’ to reach them with the Gospel of salvation. Does that mean Paul preached a new and different gospel to each of them? How ridiculous would that thinking be? Again I say that if you think Peter and Paul were preaching two different Gospels to two different peoples you are following some wacky out-to-lunch theology; and not the true teachings of the Bible!
The Best Approach To Understanding The Bible!
I was once listening to a Dispensational theologian speak on that particular theology (of man), and though I cannot remember his name I cannot forget his words. They absolutely floored me!
He said: ‘Well, we do admit that Dispensational theory is not a perfect fit to the Scriptures; but it is the best framework we have to approach and understand the Bible! It’s the best thing we have to work with!‘
I thought: ‘Good grief buddy! How could you be so far off base?’
Dispensational Theology says the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, including the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost, were only for the Jews! How utterly foolish could one be to seek understanding of the Scriptures through the admittedly flawed theories of man; and to brush aside the promise of our Lord that the Holy Spirit would guide into all truth those who will humble themselves and seek for his wisdom?
The enlightenment of the Holy Spirit is ‘the best thing we have’ to approach and understand the Bible. And He does not teach Dispensational Theology! That bogus bunch of bat-scat is not from God. Period!
God help us to side-step the theology of man, and seek him through the avenue of learning he has appropriated for us!
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