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Grace Journal
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A Bible Study and News Periodical

Richard Jordan, Editor

Volume 18 Number 3 Sept./Oct. 2005

Three Pivotal Point

IN THE BOOK OF ACTS

BY: RICHARD JORDAN



There are three pivotal points, three critical milestones, in the Book of Acts which, if properly understood, shed light on the outworking of the purposes of God there recorded. First there is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, then there is the outbreak against Stephen (often overlooked but an event of tremendous significance), and finally the outgoing to the Gentiles through Paul's ministry. Consider each briefly:

THE OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT


Speaking "as the Spirit gave [him] utterance," Peter explained the events surrounding the day of Pentecost by saying:

"...Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
"For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
"But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I WILL POUR OUT OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL FLESH: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
"And on my servants and on my handmaidens I WILL POUR OUT IN THOSE DAYS OF MY SPIRIT; and they shall prophesy:
"And I WILL SHEW WONDERS IN HEAVEN ABOVE, AND SIGNS IN THE EARTH BENEATH; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
"The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:14-21).

Notice carefully the two distinct"I will" statements:"I will pour out of my Spirit...I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath." In other words, God had promised to (1)pour out His Spirit and then (2)send His wrath.

Peter's message very clearly points out that this is exactly the program in place during early Acts. The Spirit of God had indeed been poured out to call the nation Israel to repentance and prepare them for their coming kingdom. Surely the wrath could not be far behind, coming, as it was, to "purge out the rebel" from the wayward nation (See Acts 3:19-24; Ezek. 20:33-38). Thus he exhorts them:

"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).

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was proof that the Lord Jesus had been exalted to the Father's right hand. Having there "received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." But there was more:

"For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, SIT THOU ON MY RIGHT HAND,
"UNTIL I MAKE THY FOES THY FOOTSTOOL.
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (vs. 34-36).

While the outpouring of the Spirit testified to the fact that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah seated at the Father's right hand, it is clear He sat there as a royal exile. But this was only to be temporary. Quoting Psalms 110:1, Peter points out that God the Father had, as it were, said to God the Son, "Come and sit at my right hand in the heavens until it is time for You to return in wrath and in judgment to make Your foes your footstool."

The prophetic order was clear: first the Spirit was to be poured out, then Christ was to return to pour out His wrath upon His enemies. Hence Peter's warning to Israel:

"For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
"And it shall come to pass, that EVERY SOUL, WHICH WILL NOT HEAR THAT PROPHET, SHALL BE DESTROYED FROM AMONG THE PEOPLE" (3:22,23).


Thus the Book of Acts begins with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to gather the "Little Flock," the believing remnant to whom the kingdom was to be given (Luke 12:32). This takes place against the backdrop of warning that God's wrath was on its way, as the stage was been fully set for the tribulation to begin. With this in mind, we move to the next pivotal event:

THE OUTBREAK AGAINST STEPHEN


As Stephen stood before the religious council of Israel, he accused them of resisting the witness of the outpoured Spirit so vividly on display in their midst:

"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, YE DO ALWAYS RESIST THE HOLY GHOST: as your fathers did, so do ye" (7:51).

Their response was that of further resistance and rejection, going so far as to gather a "stoning committee" to silence Stephen's Spirit-filled witness against them. The events which follow are of special significance:

"When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and JESUS STANDING ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,
"And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and THE SON OF MAN STANDING ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD" (7:54-56).

Don't read over this too lightly, for a tremendous change has taken place: At Pentecost, Peter warns them that Christ had sat down in heaven at the Father's right hand until that time came for Him to return in wrath and destroy His enemies. In Acts 7 Stephen sees Christ standing---no longer seated, but now "standing on the right hand of God."

There is only one scriptural explanation for the change in His posture: the time for the outpouring of His wrath had arrived. Our Lord was standing to do what Psalm 110:1 warned He would do: "make His foes His footstool." In the words of Isaiah 3:13:

"THE LORD STANDETH UP TO PLEAD, AND STANDETH TO JUDGE THE PEOPLE."

But what happened at that critical juncture? Why wasn't the wrath poured out? Why even yet hasn't Christ returned to subdue His enemies and establish His kingdom? These questions find their answers in Paul's subsequent ministry:

THE OUTGOING TO THE GENTILES


The explanation for the delay in the outpouring of God's wrath is found in Romans 5:20's declaration that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."

At the very moment when the prophetic clock had reached the hour of judgment, God in His grace interrupted the prophetic program by ushering in an unprophesied program--a previously unknown purpose called "the mystery," a purpose which had been "kept secret since the world began" but which now was to be made known (Rom. 16:25,26, Eph. 3:1-9).

Thus, while in Acts 7 we see Christ standing at the Father's right hand ready to return in wrath and destroy His enemies, in Acts 9 we see Him reach down and save (rather than destroy) the very leader of the world's rebellion against Him. And more: not only does He save Saul of Tarsus by His grace but He then sends him forth--no longer to be Saul the opponent, but now to become Paul the Apostle. He thus says to Ananias:

"...HE IS A CHOSEN VESSEL UNTO ME, TO BEAR MY NAME BEFORE THE GENTILES, AND KINGS, AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL" (Acts 9:15).

Paul's own account of His commission from Christ is equally clear:

"...And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
"But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I HAVE APPEARED UNTO THEE FOR THIS PURPOSE, TO MAKE THEE A MINISTER AND A WITNESS BOTH OF THESE THINGS WHICH THOU HAST SEEN, AND OF THOSE THINGS IN THE WHICH I WILL APPEAR UNTO THEE" (Acts 26:15,16).

Thus Paul goes forth as "the Apostle of the Gentiles" --a new apostle sent forth with a new revelation concerning a new program and a new dispensation, "the dispensation of the grace of God."

The prophetic program was based on salvation and blessing going to the Gentiles through redeemed Israel (Gen. 22:18, Isa. 59:20-60:3, Luke 24:47, Acts 3:25,26, etc.). We see Paul going to the Gentiles, however, not in fulfillment of the prophetic order, but in spite of Israel's rejection and unbelief.

Although Israel had rejected her Messiah both in His incarnation and resurrection, God had a secret purpose to accomplish through Christ which was then revealed to and through Paul. Just as the prophetic clouds of judgment lay heaviest on the horizon, God in His infinite grace and manifold wisdom interrupted prophecy--that which had been "spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began"--in order to usher in His secret purpose--"the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began."

Far from being the fulfillment of the prophesied Pentecostal program, the outgoing to the Gentiles under Paul's ministry was the result of the new, secret program revealed to and through him. Hence he writes:

"I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather THROUGH THEIR FALL SALVATION IS COME UNTO THE GENTILES, FOR TO PROVOKE THEM TO JEALOUSY.
"Now if the FALL OF THEM BE THE RICHES OF THE WORLD, AND THE DIMINISHING OF THEM THE RICHES OF THE GENTILES; how much more their fulness?
"FOR I SPEAK TO YOU GENTILES, INASMUCH AS I AM THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES, I MAGNIFY MINE OFFICE" (Rom. 11:11-13).

CONCLUSION


These three pivotal events demonstrate Luke's purpose in the Acts record to present the fall of Israel and God's reason for sending salvation to the Gentiles through Paul and apart from Israel and her program.

Rather than setting forth, as is commonly supposed, a pattern for us to follow in the dispensation of grace, the Book of Acts explains why the program that was begun in its early chapters has passed away. It demonstrates how God interrupted that program just at the point when prophecy called for His wrath to be poured out by inaugurating a new program of "grace and peace." It confirms historically the declaration of the epistles of Paul that the fulfillment of prophecy has for the present given way to the unfolding of the secret purpose of God's grace--all revealed through the message committed to Paul by our ascended Lord from heaven's glory.

"Banners of Blessing"


At the heart of genuine spiritual growth and maturity is faith resting on the objective truth of our identification in and with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scripture speaks of four key events in our Savior's redemption work which constitute what has been called "Banners of Blessing" in the life of every child of God. Let's mark them closely:

1. Believers are united to Christ in His Death --and thus are free from sin's mastery.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me..." (Gal. 2:20).
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?"
"Knowing that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
"For he that is dead is freed from sin" (Rom. 6:3,6,7).


It is by this "baptism into death" (Rom. 6:4) that God deals with our sin nature. Christ dying for us paid the debt of our failures, our sins. This is more. Here is Christ dying as us and us dying with Him. It is the latter that deals with the root of our sin problem, just as the former deals with its fruit.

As wonderful as it is to have our sins forgiven and the burden of guilt removed, we must have more--else we continue in bondage to sin's slavery. We need freedom--liberation--from "sin's gauling fetters." And that too is ours by "baptism into death...for he that is dead is freed from sin."

Beause we are "crucified with Christ," our old man is crucified with Him. Sin's authority has been broken and we no longer are under its dominion--sinning because we were sinners.

"But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
"Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."
"For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
"What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
"But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life" (Rom. 6:17,18,20-22).


The only answer for sin is death, "for the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). Thus our identification with Christ in His death "breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the prisoner free."

Sin may not be out of "calling distance," but believers are free from its authority and dominance--free not to answer "the call." Living in this freedom, of course, is a matter of faith, which reminds us that our co-crucifixion with Christ also separates us from the realm of the Law:

"For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law but under grace" (Rom. 6:14).

The performance-based-acceptance program of law no longer holds sway in our lives. We are now under the authority of the free-gift program of grace, resting and rejoicing in all that God is free to do for us because of the merits and accomplishment of His Son (Rom. 7:4-6).

Sin has been successfully and completely dealt with by the cross-work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our co-crucifixion with Him sets us free from sin's dominion and authority, as well as the Law system, for "the strength of sin is the law" (I Cor. 15:56). Thus death--our ruin--has been made the very means of our triumph through Jesus Christ our Lord!!

2. Believers are united with Christ in His Burial --thus "putting away" our old identity in Adam and all that it stands for.

"Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death..." (Rom. 6:4).
"Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead" (Col. 2:12).

Burial has to do with a "putting away," as in Genesis 23:4, where we read of Abraham's desire to "bury my dead out of my sight." As Miles Stanford put it, "There, in Christ's Tomb, we see ourselves as dead unto Adam and all he represents."

Notice closely that this "baptism into death" is the "operation of God," not a pastor or priest. It is defined in I Corinthians 12:13 thusly: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." In other words, this is a spiritual transaction, a spiritual identification of the believer with Jesus Christ and is the mechanics of all positional truth.

3. Believers are united with Christ in His Resurrection --and thus filled with His life, His resurrection life!

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" (Col. 3:1; see also Rom. 6:4, Eph. 2:4, Gal. 2:20, Col. 3:4, etc.).

It is this "newness of life" that now animates, energizes and enpowers us as we simply reckon ourselves to be "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 6:11).

In our co-resurrection with Christ we have been given a new life with a new nature The old life is not changed but rather exchanged for that which is altogether new (II Cor. 5:17,18). Forever freed from our former relationship to the first Adam, our Father wants us now to see ourselves from His point of view
--new creatures in Christ Jesus. This is our current, real, actual identity. We are safely and forever on resurrection ground in Him who is our life! Galatians 2:20 should be read here!!

4. Believers are united with Christ in His Ascension --thus sharing His position at the Father's right hand.

"And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6; see also Col. 3:1-4).

Having identified us with His Son on the cross and in the tomb, the Father not only raised us up from the dead to walk in newness of life but He has also positioned us in Christ Jesus at His own right hand--the right hand of fellowship and authority!

We are "joint heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17) and participants with Him in His authority in the heavenly places (Col. 1:16-18). Sin is dethroned, Satan is a defeated foe and "Christ is our life!"

It is now ours to occupy by faith the position in which our Father has already placed us. My friend, honor Him and His rightly divided Word of truth by standing in your totally adequate and exclusive position in our glorified Head at the right hand of the Father.

It Became A Proverb


In his book, The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, E.D. Hirsh, Jr. points out: "No one in the English speaking world can be considered literate or properly educated without a basic knowledge of the Authorized Version of the Bible." Thus we continue our list of illustrations of the fact that we often use Scriptural "sayings" without even knowing it:

1. "Butter him up" --to speak insincere words to gain advantage. "The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart" (Psa. 55:21).

2. "Blood Money" --to conspire for money against the life of another. "I have betrayed the innocent blood" (Matt. 27:4; 26:15).

3. "Handwriting on the wall" --a condition wherein present circumstances suggest future consequences. See the case with Belshazzar in Daniel 5:5, 24-28.

(To be continued.)

NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS


WHITMAN HOLLOW (TN) BIBLE CHURCH HAS A NEW PASTOR: Our friend and fellow soldier Alan Ragan (an '05 Grace School of the Bible grad) has been called to succeed Brother Darryl Mefford as pastor of this special assembly. WHBC has a long history of holding forth a testimony for the message of grace. With the untimely homegoing of their founding pastor, these saints have rallied to the work and pressed ahead. Their annual October Bible conference (October 14-16 this year) will feature an array of speakers from across the southeast--as well as the editor. Pray for Brother Ragan and his wife Natalie as they settle into the ministry. WHBC is located just outside of LaFollette, Tennessee. You can contact Pastor Ragan at (865)696-7016 or by email at alanragan@comcast.net.

OAK PARK, ILLINOIS HAS A NEW GRACE CHURCH: Westside Grace Ministries is now meeting at the Oak Park Arms, 408 S. Oak Park Ave, Oak Park, IL each Sunday at 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. WGM is a new church-plant of Chicago's Shorewood Bible Church--South , which itself is a daughter church of Shorewood Bible Church , where the editor is Senior Pastor. The mother and grandmother churches had the privilege of ordaining Michael McDaniel to the pastorate of the new assembly in May. Mike graduated from Grace School of the Bible in April, 2005 and has been working under the mentorship of Pastor Arthur Johnson for several years. We are excited to have another grace church in Chicagoland--we have at least 150 more to go! For more details, contact Pastor Michael A. McDaniel at (708)287-0071 or by visiting www.WestSideGrace.com.

PLANTATION, FLORIDA HAS A NEW GRACE CHURCH: After beginning as a Bible class in Randy and Debbie Scharf's living room, today First Grace Church is a living reality! Meeting at the Plantation Presbyterian Church, 901 NW 70th Ave. Plantation, Florida, they enjoy the teaching ministry of Pastor Glen Canel (another '05 GSB grad). For those in or visiting the Fort Lauderdale area, you can contact Pastor Canel at (954)815-5855 or at www.learngrace.com.

ROSEVILLE, MINNESOTA HAS A NEW GRACE CHURCH: Twin Cities Grace Fellowship held its first service September 4 and is moving forward under the capable leadership of Pastor Ron Knight. Twin Cities area residents looking for a church where the Word is taught rightly divided and the message of grace is clearly proclaimed can contact Pastor Knight at (612) 308-3939 and attend services at 165 S. Owasso Blvd, Roseville, MN.

HURRICANE KATRINA RELIEF EFFORTS are on- going in many circles. We have contact with a number of grace believers in the areas stricken by this disaster. If you would like to contribute toward this need, you can do so by calling our office at (888)535-2300 and placing your donation on your VISA, MasterCard or AmExp cards. You can also send gifts through Grace Impact Ministries, P.O.Box 97, Bloomingdale, IL 60108. If you are aware of grace believers who are in need, we would also be happy to hear from (or about) them.

THE LITTLE PROGRAM THAT COULD: Our weekly TV program, Forgotten Truths, continues to be aired over DirectTV channel 321 at 11:00 p.m.(CT) on Saturday. Although often at the point of having only a couple weeks of needed funds to keep going, it seems that at just the right moment the help arrives. Thanks to so many who are being helped by these studies and even those who can't see them but know they are there, we are able to keep them going. Do pray each Saturday evening for this broadcast, will you? And if you'd like to help with expenses, mark your gifts for Forgotten Truths.

THANKS FOR YOUR FINANCIAL HELP, especially during the summer months. Like most ministries, summer time is the most difficult financial season of the year for us. The regular expenses continue, with the inevitable unexpected things popping up. We have no large financial reserves to draw from, so we truly thank God daily for those who help by their regular--and often sacrificial--giving. This is truly a campaign to get the Word out. Thanks for being a part of the ongoing effort "to make all men see."



New study on


Philemon:
The Capstone of the Grace Life

BY RICHARD JORDAN


Study the book of Philemon from a new perspective. Discover why it is exactly the right book to be the final epistle of Paul found in the Bible. Learn how the grace life is designed to be put on display in your life. Uncover special insight for some of the "hard questions" of daily life. All this and more in the shortest of Paul's epistles.


TITLES:
The Capstone of Grace
God, Christ and Us
Christ, Us and Others
Grace Alternatives To Traditional Thinking

Cassette, CD or DVD: $15

ORDER FROM:
The Grace Journal

P.O.Box 97

Bloomingdale, IL 60108

Call (888)535-2300 to use VISA, MasterCard or AmExpress




More music by Marvin Taylor


Look What the Cross Has Done!


Marvin Taylor again thrills our hearts with his beautiful singing and clear grace-oriented message as he performs twelve more gospel songs. The title song is another original by Marvin and once again the mix includes old time favoites. If you enjoy good gospel singing, done "southern style," you will want this for your enjoyment and edification.

TITLES:
Look What the Cross Has Done
A Picture of Matchless Grace
He Set Me Free
God Leads Us Along
The Finishing Touch
You Can't Get Blood From a Turnip
That I Could Still Go Free
I Just Love Old People
Thankful
Glorious Freedom
The Battle Song
Heaven's Jubilee


CD or Cassette: $15
ORDER FROM

Marvin Taylor
15244 Mulberry
Southgate, MI 48195

or

The Grace Journal
P.O.Box 97 Bloomingdale, IL 60108

Call (888)535-2300 to use VISA, MasterCard or AmExpress



Join us for a


Fall Bible Conference

November 11-13, 2005

LOCATION:
Mid-Acts Grace Fellowship
3862 Indian Ripple Road
Beavercreek, Ohio
(Just one mile east of I-675)


Richard Jordan will be speaking Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 10:00 and 11:15 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. as well as Sunday at 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. Our Daily Bible Time broadcast is aired in the Dayton area over WGNZ radioand we want to especially invite listeners to attend these meetings. All of our readers, of course, are welcome too! Everyone will find warm fellowship among grace-hearted saints. For further details, contact David Reid at (937)429-3273 or by email at dwreid_kjv@yahoo.com.


BRING YOUR BIBLE AND A FRIEND!



SPURGEON ON THE BIBLE


Extrolling the value of the written Word of God in a sermon titled, "The Last Words of Christ on the Cross," the famed English preacher Charles H. Spurgeon declared, "Our Authorized Version will never be bettered, as I judge, till Christ shall come."

While we do not always agree with Spurgeon, on this point we say a hearty, "Amen!" For those who have not yet grasped the importance of this basic issue we recommend the following:


The Providential Preservation
of the Bible

BY RICHARD JORDAN

Four cassette or CD album: $12.50

ORDER FROM:
The Grace Journal
P.O.Box 97 Bloomingdale, IL 60108

or call (888) 535-2300 to use VISA, MasterCard or AmExpress


I'm trusting in Christ,
my Saviour Divine.


I callHim "My Saviour"
for I know He is mine.


I met Him at Calvary,
where He suffered and died;


By faith I received Him
and He came in to abide.

--Pastor J. C. O'Hair

The Grace Journal is the offical voice of Grace Impact Ministires, a non-profit organization supported by the gifts of Christian friends. Our mailing address is P.O.Box 97 Bloomingdale, IL 60108. Credit card orders and donations can be made by calling (888) 535-2300. Information requests and questions may be directed to our office during normal business hours either at the above address or by calling (630) 529-0520.