I’m sure you have probably heard the statement that the book of Acts is a historical book that tells how the church began and carried on its work. Maybe you even feel strongly this is correct. You would feel this way because you have most likely heard many people make this statement or have read it in books written by very smart people. As the title of this blog says, let’s state some very obvious things for you to consider. The book of Acts opens with a church (a called out assembly) already in place and one better that that, it is the assembly chosen and built by Jesus himself. To make up for this problem theologians that don’t take a literal approach to scripture will then use cute stories like the “boat” analogy. This analogy states that the church was built by Jesus and then “launched at Pentecost”. People sit in pews all across America and believe these stories because they sound good. The main problem with this false story is that you are NOT in view in the beginning of the book of Acts. You as a gentile are not view in the book of Acts till AFTER Paul gets knocked off his donkey in chapter 9. In Acts 1:6 the subject is the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. The oft quoted and so misunderstood 2nd chapter is VERY CLEARLY addressed to Israel in verses 5, 10, 14, 16, 22, 30 and if we tried a little harder we could probably find plenty more references to things pertaining to Israel. If Acts 2 is the birth of the church you are a member of why does much of Christianity not believe the signs and wonders are still happening? Why have you not sold all you possessions? Why I must ask you is the Holy Spirit not striking people dead when they fudge on their financial decisions? Why are prison doors not being opened in China, Saudi Aribia and other countries where Christians are being held captive? I understand this makes a good lyric for the gospel music singers, but the doors are STILL LOCKED and the Christians are still there suffering. Why is it that Peter says:
Act 5:29-31 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Why do you still stubbornly hold to church tradition and claim this is your church and these words are for you? Either these words are correct and belong to Israel or you are denying the actual words in scripture to claim something for yourself. There is no other option. When confronted with the ACTUAL WORDS of the Bible, Christianity acts just like the Jews at Stephens defense before his accusers in chapter 7:8 and “always resist the Holy Ghost” Is this not the case? If scripture is clear and also different than the tradition you believe, are you still resisting that which the Holy Ghost wrote?
It is not till chapter 9 that Paul is told he will be sent to you. You can’t take what is given to Paul and force it backward into Israel’s program no matter how bad you want to. This is the cause of all the confusion today. Acts is NOT a history of the birth of the church, it is a history of the FALL OF ISRAEL. Why do the disciples continue to follow the law throughout the book? (Acts 21:20) Why does the church at Jerusalem follow Paul around and tell Paul’s converts they must follow the law? (Acts 15.) Why do the disciples continue to preach only to Jews?
Act 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
The sad thing is that most of Christianity does not pay any attention to these things. They are content to not worry about the things they don’t understand. These questions are NEVER ASKED much less answered. We would rather worry about the church softball league and the cantata coming up more than the actual words that you are relying on for your future in ETERNITY. You might blindly trust your pastor this much but just remember this:
Rom 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Your pastor will not be standing with you when you are giving account of YOURSELF and your method of PERSONAL Bible study. You will give account of yourself. Church tradition says Acts is the beginning of the church. The words themselves in the book of Acts and your Apostle Paul deny this. You would think this would be enough for Christians to reject tradition and start believing the Bible. Sadly in most cases you would be wrong. It is too much today to ask Christians to believe the words alone in the Bible, when people who claim to know better explain the words away to prop up whatever agenda they are selling. In today’s churches, stating the obvious is set aside to make room for tradition.
In this life it is very easy to become secure in the fact that we are surrounded by many people of the same opinion. This security comes from the feeling that we must be correct because we are surrounded by so many people that believe the same thing. We look outside our group and wonder how people could not believe as we do. So, we decide that we are correct and fail to challenge or investigate our beliefs. This is the position I was in for many years. It’s easy to put your trust in the study of others and the knowledge other people seem to have. We tend to believe what the people teaching us believe. I feel this is the state of the vast majority of Christianity today. They don’t study the Bible. They are content to attend church several times a week and consider this enough “study” to feel confident in their choice of denomination or group. You might have heard the adage that 10% of the people in a church do 90% of the work. The adage you should pay more attention to is that 90% of preaching covers about 10% of the Bible. I grew sick of the fact that preaching is usually full of analogies, stories, and emotional jargon to tug at your heart. I became frustrated that the 90% of the Bible we never heard about is full of information and doctrine that many times does not line up with the few verses we hear recited week after week. But when you are sitting in a large sanctuary filled with people who all believe the same way, you can calm these feelings of doubt. If you had any clue about how little the people sitting in the pews with you really knew about the Bible based on PERSONAL STUDY, you would change your opinion very quickly. Friend, sitting in church week after week being told what to believe IS NOT STUDY. Reading an occasional book on prayer or some other common topic IS NOT STUDY. Pretending your current beliefs and interpretation of the Bible are correct because you are surrounded by people that think the same way is a false sense of security. Jesus himself walked the earth for 3 years preaching a literal interpretation of the OT prophecies about himself and his group of followers is called the “LITTLE FLOCK” of Israel. The vast majority of Israel, many of whom knew the scriptures themselves failed to believe Jesus himself. The apostle Paul who was called by Jesus himself and given a revelation of the mystery to dispense to the world at the end of his life concludes that there are few left that still believe what he is preaching. We can find other examples, but you get the idea. Christians today look around them and see the crowds in their church and feel security in numbers. This IS NOT the example left for us in scripture. Jesus had few followers that believed his message. Paul ultimately had few believers that believed his message. I contend that today there are very few people that believe everything the Bible has to say. They believe the 10% that supports their current beliefs. This is the 10% they hear preached and taught over and over Sunday after Sunday. When teachers get beyond the common verses, they teach them with a slant and use them to prop up whatever their chosen position is. Why not use the Bible interpreted just as Jesus and Paul did? Jesus and Paul believed the Bible literally just as it was written. Jesus and Paul left it alone. Jesus and Paul left Israel what belongs to Israel and did not steal verses that don’t belong to them. Friend when you start taking verses for yourself that the Bible applies to other people you can then make the Bible teach just about anything you want. THIS IS the position of Christianity today. This is why your kids leave the church! Their own personal lift experience teaches them that many of the things they were taught in church don’t work. This is why when your preacher teaches a lesson on prayer that he eventually has to teach a lesson on “When God doesn’t answer your prayer.” If prayer was taught properly from a Pauline perspective, you would not need excuses. Stop looking around at the crowd of people in your sanctuary or denomination and start looking into the Bible yourself to find out why there is so much you have never heard taught. Start following the example Jesus sent to you, the Apostle Paul. There were 12 Apostles for the 12 tribes, and 1 apostle for the “one body” of Christ. This simple logic has the power to open the bible up for you. Chances are this simple logic IS NOT taught in your church. We would rather look around us at the large numbers and get our security from that.
Steve Schoenberger is a student of the Bible and the teacher at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship, A Mid-Acts Dispensational Bible church teaching the Bible rightly divided according the the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul