Tom: In this our Understanding the Scriptures segment, we are beginning the Book of Acts. This is actually our third week. We’ve gotten as far as Chapter 1, verse 6.
Dave, the Book of Acts really has to do—it’s a record of the spread of the gospel from pretty much the day of Pentecost until Paul’s arrival in Rome. But we started out with the Gospel of John and now we’re in the Book of Acts. Do we have some method to our madness here?
Dave: Well, of course, this is the order in the Bible; that’s a good reason. Acts follows John. John’s gospel, I think, is the clearest understanding of the gospel: why Christ died, why He came, who He is, and the call to discipleship. We’ve been quoting from John 8, for example: “If you continue in my word, you are my disciples indeed.” We also quoted in that earlier segment from chapter 15: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. I’ve called you out of the world,” and so forth. So the Book of Acts is the establishment of the early church, how the disciples made disciples, and how these disciples themselves have made disciples, and how the early church began to function—those whom the Lord raised up to be leaders and so forth. So I think it’s a natural progression.
Tom: Verse 6, jumping right in here, “When they therefore were come together,” that is, the disciples in the early church at the time just before the ascension of Jesus, “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”
Now, Dave, are they still thinking that Jesus at this particular time is going to set up His kingdom on earth? They’re going to get the Romans off their backs? What do you think?
Dave: It sounds like it. We know that they were confused about the kingdom, when it would be established. We know that John the Baptist was confused. John the Baptist, an amazing man, filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb. As a fetus, he leaped with joy when he heard the voice of Mary announcing that she was going to be the mother of the Messiah, the one that John the Baptist would be the forerunner of, preparing the people for Him.
Tom: Dave, that’s amazing—a little aside here. That had to be spiritual, because a fetus is not really equipped….
Dave: Of course.
Tom: …to understand that.
Dave: Yeah, right. So John the Baptist was an amazing man. He knew who he was. He knew his calling to prepare the way for Christ. He said, “He who sent me baptized with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou seest the Spirit of God descending like a dove and abiding on him, the same is he. And I saw and bear witness this is the Son of God,” okay?
And yet from prison, he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Art thou he that should come? Or look we for another?”
So he had doubts. How could he possibly have doubts? Well, because the kingdom wasn’t being established right then. The disciples were always—well, I shouldn’t say always, but often arguing who would be the greatest in the kingdom? “Oh Lord, we want one to sit on your right hand and the other on your left.” The mother of James and John pleaded with Jesus for that favor. They thought the kingdom would be established at any moment. They thought that’s why Christ came. Well, He said to them, “I’m going to go away, and prepare a place for you.” So He went away. In John 16, He said, “a little while,” but after three days, He comes back to them, and they probably thought this is what He meant. He was going to go away and now He’s come back, and so they say, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Well, that’s a very interesting Scripture, because we have people today who think that the church is supposed to establish the kingdom. So right away, that idea is taken care of. “Lord, wilt thou establish, wilt thou restore the kingdom?” So if a kingdom is going to be restored, it will have to be by the Lord.
Furthermore, it’s not to the church. “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” So naturally these people teach replacement theology. They teach that the church has replaced Israel. I’m trying to think of the man’s name over there in the South, Atlanta, Georgia…
Tom: Earl Paulk?
Dave: Earl Paulk wrote a book—just for connection here, let’s go to Chapter 3:19, this is the sermon Peter is preaching: “Repent ye therefore, (verse 19) and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord….”
Now, the Lord is going to do this when He returns. This comes about by His presence. “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you…” You see, there’s a little seeming confusion—not confusion, but what’s going on here?
Dave: Talking about the Lord, and he…and then there’s Jesus—it’s like Zechariah:12:10: “They will look on me whom they have pierced and they will mourn because of him.” But Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” So you’ve got two persons here, only there seems to be a little distinction between them. One is the Father and the other is the Son. But notice what it says in verse 21, “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
So the kingdom dominion teachers—and you have a lot of them again on TBN, Paul Crouch sounds like it himself. I remember seeing him say, declare on TBN, “We’re going to take over the air waves and we’re going to do it by force if we have to.” And that was following a conference. You would remember it, Tom, that they had thousands of people show up, and it was in Phoenix, and it was titled, “Take It by Force,” and they took this from Joshua. “Every piece of”—and that was their key verse—“Every piece of land that your foot stands upon, I have given that to you.” “So we’re going to go in and we’re going to conquer the land,” and, you know, in those days, it was very popular—I remember they had a whole musical about “if my people.” It was called “’If My People,’ called by my name will humble themselves and so forth, I’ll heal their land. Seek my face and pray and so forth.”
Well “my people” there, that’s from 1 Chronicles:7:14—this is in Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple. “Well, my people,” God says, “those are the Jews. I will heal their land.” That’s Israel, and yet they were taking this as a promise for Christians in America. And if we would just pray and humble ourselves, God would heal America. That’s not right, and the conference was titled, “Take It by Force.” We Christians are going to take over the world, and then when we’ve established the kingdom, Jesus will return and rule on the throne over this kingdom.
It’s very clear, “Lord wilt thou (Acts:1:6), wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel,” not to the church, and then here as we read in Acts:3:20-21 and so forth. Earl Paulk wrote a book titled Held in the Heavens Until, and the thesis of the book was Jesus is held in the heavens until we have set up the kingdom. And we’ve got to become little gods. We’ve got to act like we’re little gods, and we’ve got to take over this world for Jesus, and only then will He return.
No, notice what it says, read it again. Verse 21, “Whom the heavens must receive (until the church has taken over the world? No.) until the times of restitution of all things….” When it is time. “Lord wilt thou at this time…” No, this is not the time. Well, when it is the time for all to be restored—that is, the full restoration of Israel back in the Promised Land, with Christ ruling on the throne of His father David—when the time of restitution has come, then Christ, who alone can restore this, He will return to intervene in the midst of Armageddon, rescue Israel, destroy the Antichrist, and Christ will set up His kingdom on the throne of His father, David.
So that’s a long time to spend on verse 6 Tom, but I don’t know how else we could do it.
Tom: Yeah. Dave, I think it’s an interesting intro to next week’s program when we begin “Four Programs of Purpose,” looking at Purpose Driven Life, seeker friendly and so on, because there are aspects of what you talked about in this new thrust in the church, the church growth movement. I think our listeners will be interested to see the connections, some of which we’ll present next week.