When the Church Began – Hyperdispensationalism; Why It Is Wrong
Hyperdispensationalism is also known as the Grace Movement or mid-Acts dispensationalism). It rejects water baptism, but yet it oddly keeps the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, both of which were mandated by the Lord at the giving of the New Covenant. Hyperdispensationalism teaches two separate gospels, one for the nation of Israel, and one for the “Body of Christ,” meaning the church. It this correct? Anyone? No. Why? Because Scripture does not teach this, nor does it ever even imply it.
I mentioned what we would talk about tonight to Sergio and he went to read up on the subject, though speaking of ultra-dispensationalism, this quote fits very well with the heresy of hyper-dispensationalism. They are simply different forms of the same heresy, and their adherents possess the exact same attitude recorded here.
“…no hesitancy in saying that [ultra-dispensationalism’s] fruits are evil. It has produced a tremendous crop of heresies throughout the length and breadth of this and other lands; it has divided Christians and wrecked churches and assemblies without number; it has lifted up its votaries in intellectual and spiritual pride to an appalling extent, so that they look with supreme contempt upon Christians who do not accept their peculiar views; and in most instances where it has been long tolerated, it has absolutely throttled Gospel effort at home and sown discord on missionary fields abroad. So true are these things of this system that I have no hesitancy in saying it is an absolutely Satanic perversion of the truth” (Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, chapter 1, Loizeaux Brothers, 1938).
One example of the teaching of hyperdispensationalism is provided by Steve Atwood in his sermon “When Did the Church (Body of Christ) Begin.” I don’t know the guy, and I don’t bear him any ill will, except towards his terrible doctrine. His sermon will be used as a basis and beginning for covering the major errors of this heresy. Why is it a heresy? It is because it teaches two gospels, not one. People speak of Calvinism as “heresy” all the time, and yet it is not. The difference? Bad doctrine will not keep someone from salvation.
Heresy is something that proclaims a false gospel, and it will – in fact – keep people from being saved. By proclaiming two gospels, when there is only one, they proclaim heresy. This doesn’t mean they are not saved, but their message can lead to another never coming to the truth of God in Christ, specifically the Jews, in this case. I have a text verse for you from Galatians 1 –
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9
The gospel of Jesus Christ is based upon the Person of Christ. In His completed work, there is one – and only one – New Covenant. When it says in Matthew 4:23 that “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom,” it does not mean that there are two gospels.
It means that He is the Subject of the gospel. His work in fulfillment of the law, including His death, burial, and resurrection is the completion of the basis for the gospel. From there, that one, and only one, gospel message goes forth. The apostles are all clearly united in this message as will be seen as we continue.
The gospel, or Good News, is an extension of the work of Messiah. The Gospel of the Kingdom is one. That there is a literal, earthly, kingdom coming where Messiah rules among Israel does not divide the gospel; it is simply a part of the dispensational model, just as the same gospel was preached to Abraham beforehand as Paul notes in Galatians 3:8 – “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’” The gospel is that of Messiah in any dispensation. A literal kingdom on earth falls under that one gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is obvious on the surface because only in coming to Messiah will the Old Testament promises to Israel be brought about. It is faith in Messiah’s completed work which will bring Israel to the realization of those promises (See Zechariah 12:10-13:1). But, unlike the Gentiles, Israel is a corporate body as well as a group of individual people.
The promises of the kingdom for Israel are both for individuals and for the collective nation. This is obvious from verses such as Hebrews 4:3 which says, “…for we who have believed do enter that rest.” This is written by a Hebrew (certainly Paul) to the Hebrew people, and yet he admits that they who have believed have entered into the promised rest. However, in verse 4:9, speaking of Israel the collective, it says, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” There is one gospel being worked out in individual Jews, and that same gospel is to be worked out in the nation of Israel.
The entire problem with this false doctrine, this heresy, could be resolved with one simple teaching application. Anyone?
That is taking the book of Acts as it is to be rightly analyzed – as a descriptive account of history, not a book of prescriptive doctrine. Hyperdispensationalism fails to do this, and they fall into the same error as other major teachings, such a Pentecostalism, the Church of Christ, and countless others.
Just as Joshua is a historical record of what occurred in Israel, and not a book of prescriptions, so Acts is a historical record of what occurred. Using Acts as a prescriptive book of doctrine leads to confused theology, and it diminishes the importance of the prescriptive epistles which follow it.
Mr. Atwood begins his sermon by citing 2 Timothy 2:15,16 –
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.”
He then gives a chart of the breakdown of Scripture titled “Rightly dividing the Word of Truth 1:33.” Such a title is wholly unnecessary. Nobody in their right mind would purposefully wrongly divide the Word of Truth, and to post such a title immediately makes the claim that his way is that proper way, when in fact, he wholly misuses Scripture in the next 25 or so minutes.
At minute 1:48 he says of the four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, that “the doctrine has to do with the nation of Israel.” This is true with the synoptic gospels. He is wrong concerning John. See 1 Corinthians 1:1 & 2 Video in our playlist.
This error is because he fails to understand the layout of Scripture which reveals the dispensational model, and that structure is formed based on the prophecy of Noah over his sons Shem and Japheth in Genesis 9. To explain that would take too long, but you can refer our study on 1 Corinthians 1:1 & 2 in the 1 Corinthians playlist. In short, it is based on Noah’s words which state that Japheth will dwell in the tents of Shem. What is that referring to? Watch the study, learn, and show yourself approved.
At minute 6:00, Mr. Atwood speaks of the Leviticus 23 Feasts, specifically mentioning “the presentation of the two loaves.” Ironically, if he understood the Leviticus 23 Feasts, and what the two loves picture, his entire theology would unravel right there. But instead, he says that “everything about Pentecost was Jewish” 6:13. Is that correct? Anyone?
That is one of the largest errors in the church today – among Hebrew Roots movement people, among reformed theologians, and among the likes of Mr. Atwood. The feasts are never called Jewish Feasts, nor are they called “Feasts of Israel.” They are called what? Anyone? “Feasts of the Lord.”
They were given, as the book of Hebrews says of all of the Leviticus sacrifices and rituals, as parables. Even the dietary laws of Israel, to the last word, point to the work of Messiah. You want to talk about rightly dividing the word. Go read or watch, and understand, the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 from our Leviticus 11 sermons! Give examples.
They only look forward to the work of Messiah, and thus the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of the Leviticus 23 feasts point directly to the work of Christ Jesus on behalf of the gospel. To understand the details of the feasts, verse by verse, and their fulfillment in Christ, please be sure to watch the sermons on the Superior Word YT channel. The fact that these were observed by Israel means nothing. Paul explains their purpose in Colossians 2:16, 17 –
Paul is saying that in relation to the church, and the church’s relation to Christ Jesus. So, obviously, the Feasts are not “Jewish” feasts, but pictures of what Christ would do for the Church in the one and only gospel – the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is evidenced by the hand of Paul. No, not Peter – but Paul – in:
1) 1 Corinthians 5:7 (Passover), “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
2) 1 Corinthians 5:8 (Unleavened Bread), “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
3) 1 Corinthians 15:20 (Firstfruits) “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
4) Ephesians 1:13 (and elsewhere – Pentecost) “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Weeks, or Pentecost, is literally shown to be fulfilled in Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 16:15 –
“Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.”
“I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia…”
The presentation of the two loaves is what those verses are speaking of – one a Jew, one a Gentile, and thus one gospel message. Mr. Atwood failed to take in the whole counsel of God, and he missed what those loaves he spoke of were pointing to.
5) 1 Corinthians 15:47 (Yom Teruah) “The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.”
7) 2 Corinthians 5:7 (Tabernacles) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
The other feast of the Lord, the weekly Sabbath, is said by the author of Hebrews (who is Paul – see the opening statement to my Hebrews commentary) is also fulfilled (as Paul says in Colossians 2:16, 17) with the words, “…for we who have believed do enter that rest.”
All eight Feasts of the Lord are fulfilled by the Lord Jesus and are lived out in the one gospel for Jew and for Gentile – one gospel. They are not “Jewish” feasts. They are Feasts of the Lord, pertaining to the one, and only one Church which is the Body of Christ – Jew and Gentile. One gospel. Hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word” test.
Further, all of the sacrificial system of Israel, its dietary laws, and all other precepts are fulfilled in Christ – as revealed in the words of the apostle Paul, and they pertain to the one gospel of God, found in Jesus Christ. To gain understanding in these and to avoid the heresy of hyperdispensationalsim, you will need to go and watch all 52 of the Leviticus sermons.
And it needs to be understood that all of those feasts, and everything associated with those sacrifices centers on the Lord in their midst, Who is represented by the details of the tabernacle described in Exodus. In order to understand that, you would then need to watch all 105 of our Exodus sermons. In them, you will see the Lord revealed in one, and only one, gospel. But sound theology is not like heresy. It takes a lot of mental effort, and it is, in fact, hard work. Case closed. Hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word” test.
The next comment by Mr. Atwood that is of interest is found at minute 6:39, where he says while speaking of the Jews, “this church was a group of people saved based upon the gospel of the kingdom, that is repentance, water baptism and so forth.”
Mr. Atwood makes his claim based on his analysis from … of all things, the book of Acts. Can anyone in this congregation tell me how the book of acts is presented? Yes, it is a descriptive account of what occurred in the early church. It prescribes … nothing.
The fundamental error of almost all unsound New Testament theology is found in evaluating the book of Acts incorrectly. Pentecostalism? The book of Acts. The Church of Christ? The book of Acts. Hyperdispensationalism? Yes, the book of Acts. Mr. Atwood, and all hyperdispensationalists make the fundamental mistake of evaluating the book of Acts in a prescriptive manner. The book of Acts is 99.7236% descriptive. And the percent that is prescriptive is only prescriptive based on the words of Jesus which are found in the book, or words which are superseded at a later date when Paul’s writings were completed.
Mr. Atwood, as all hyperdispensationalists, fails to understand this, and he takes – particularly – Peter’s words out of their intended context because of this. The five main rules of hermeneutics are: Anyone? 1) Is it Prescriptive, 2) is it Descriptive, and 3, 4,& 5) Context, Context, Context.
In failing to maintain the intended context of the book, and in applying the words of Peter in a prescriptive manner, hyperdispensationalists run directly onto the heresy highway by proclaiming not one, but two gospels. That will continue to be revealed as we go on. When evaluating context, one needs to determine who speaking, to whom they are speaking, the reason (surrounding circumstances), etc. Hyperdispensationalists fail to do this and they thus destroy the context.
His next erroneous comment is at minute 6:55 – “…you are going to see that the church that Paul begins (that Christ begins with Paul rather) is something new; it is something altogether different that you find previous to the apostle Paul.” He states this because he has formed a hermeneutic which is based on a prescriptive reading of the book of Acts, and a misunderstanding of what Paul means when he speaks of the mystery which has been revealed to him.
Again, at minute 8:17, Mr. Atwood (speaking for hyperdispensationalists everywhere) says, “everything about Pentecost was Jewish; it was a Jewish feast day; it was the last days for Israel, not something new, not the birth of the church.” He says this after citing Acts 2:16, 17, and Acts 3:19 –
“But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.”
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
He is incorrect. Joel was prophesying of a time when collective Israel was given the opportunity to accept or reject the work of Christ. It will again be revealed just prior to the return of Christ because – as Paul says, “Jews request a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22).
The term “last days” is explained by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1 as referring to the duration of the church age. The feasts of the Lord are not “Jewish.” They are “Messiahish,” to coin a phrase. Christ had just then been crucified, fulfilling the Feasts of the Lord and ushering in a New Covenant which includes Gentiles, and which is based on the one and only gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ.
And further, Amos is cited by James in Acts 15:16, 17. He first very clearly points out in Acts 15:15 that “God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.” He then says –
‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things.’ Acts 15:16, 17
It is perfectly clear from this that they did not believe it was the “last days” for Israel. The context of Amos is that God would exile Israel while the Gentiles assumed the leadership role in the church. That is seen, perfectly clearly, in Amos 8:9, 10, which we will now read. They knew this was coming and they understood that the last days encompassed the entire church age, just as Paul indicates. They are in one accord, and there is one – and only one – gospel for Jew and Gentile. At minute 9:37, Mr. Atwood says, “What Paul had, the doctrine Paul had for the church, was not according to prophecy.” Then he cites Ephesians 3:1 – “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles.” He claims that prophecy is for Israel, but that the revelation of the mystery is for the Church which is the Body of Christ, meaning Gentiles.
But he fails to explain several things. First, Paul says that the mystery is revealed, as it says in Ephesians 3:5, “to His Holy apostles and prophets.” I have a difficult question for you – “How many apostles is Paul?” Anyone? Well, if you can count with one finger, then you know that it is a mystery revealed to more than one apostle.
The use of the plural indicates that all of the apostles had this revealed to them, and that is just what Peter and the others learned in Acts 10 & 11. The only difference between Paul and the other apostles – Peter in particular – is that they went to who? To the Jews. Paul was designated to go to the Gentiles. And that explains what the mystery is – another point that Mr. Atwood fails to grasp, and yet which is revealed by Paul, first in 1 Corinthians 2 –
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:7-10
He says the mystery was not known to the rulers of this age. This means both Jew and Gentile rulers – both participated in Christ’s crucifixion. This portion of the mystery was that Christ is God. If they had known this, they would not have crucified Him – obviously. But Christ had to die in order to atone for sins. If the mystery had been revealed, this would not have occurred. This isn’t a “Paul” mystery. It is simply a mystery which Paul explains. Thomas proclaimed Jesus “God” in John 20:28.
Secondly, Paul says – explicitly – that the gospel is the mystery in Ephesians 6:19. This is speaking of the one gospel of Christ’s incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection. That is the exact same gospel that Peter, James, John, and all other apostles proclaimed.
And thirdly, Paul explains what the mystery of this gospel is in Ephesians 3. This is not (not!) a complicated verse either. He says that the mystery which is revealed is “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.” In other words, there is one body, and only one. That is “the mystery – that Gentiles are included in the one body with the Jews.” It is not two gospels, but one.
Messiah’s work for Israel (of whom he is referring to) is the same as Christ’s work for the Gentiles. They are one, and only one, body because there is one, and only one gospel. Paul is simply the apostle to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:8, etc) as Peter is the apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:7) – bearing the same message.
This is evident first from 1 Corinthians 4, where Paul says, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Who is Paul speaking of when he says “us?” Anyone? All one needs to do is to turn back one page and to the last verses of that chapter, to verse 4:1 –
“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 3:21-23
Who is Cephas? Anyone? Cephas is the apostle Peter. Paul, Apollos, and Cephas were all on the same page, they all were stewards of the mysteries of God, and they all proclaimed the same gospel. This is more evident from what occurs in Galatians 2:11-21, which we will now turn to and read.
Peter had a moment of failing in the flesh and he departed from the one, and only, gospel. That is what precipitated the Council of Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15 and which establishes one, and only one, church. Peter, after learning his lesson, went so far as to warn against hyperdispensationalists and their false teaching of two gospels when he said –
“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:14-16
No! Peter was on the same page, and he preached the same gospel, to the Jews as Paul did to the Gentiles. It is a gospel which has been twisted by many, including hyperdispensationalists – to the detriment of the body of Christ, which is the church – Jew and Gentile.
At minute 10:13, he says, “Listen, you cannot find in prophecy that there was going to be a time when God would save Jew and Gentile in one body by the gospel.” This is a hugely deceitful statement by introducing the words “in one body.” Christ’s work is for both Jew and Gentile. To divide what He has done, when it is explicitly said that He would save both Jew and Gentile through Christ is a poor way of analyzing what He promised, in advance. Further, if you simply take Mr. Atwood’s words and turn them around, you come to exactly the same conclusion:
“Listen, you cannot find in prophecy that there was going to be a time when God would save Jew and Gentile in two bodies by the gospel.” See, it doesn’t work that way either.
The reason is because that IS the mystery. That God was going to save the whole world, defeating the devil and bringing about salvation for all, through one gospel. That IS the mystery. Mr. Atwood, try Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:5, 6, which we will now read. In these verses, and elsewhere, He said He would save the Gentiles… He just didn’t say how. Now we know with the mystery revealed.
In minute 13:11, speaking of Paul, Mr. Atwood then says, “He brings in the gospel of God, the program has changed and today we are living in what is called a parenthetical program.” It is true that this is a parenthetical program – as revealed in rightly grasping the prophecy of Noah upon his sons, Shem and Japheth.
But it is wholly incorrect that Paul brought in the gospel of God. There is one, and only one gospel, brought in by Jesus. Paul simply revealed the same mystery in writing that the other apostles had to learn by experience and which they then confirmed in Acts 15.
In their conclusion, they cite the words of Amos 9, confirming that, in fact, the Gentiles are being take out as a people for the name of the Lord, and only then will Israel again be visited when they call on the Lord through the one – and only – gospel. This is why the focus goes from Peter (Acts 1-12) to Paul (Acts 13-28). In order to understand this, you need to understand how Noah’s prophecy sets the entire prophetic scenario of the coming ages and dispensations. Something hyperdispensationalists have no idea about.
Mr. Atwood then says at minute 14:41, “During that ministry, Peter was preaching exactly what Jesus Christ had taught him to preach. What was that? It was the gospel of the kingdom and it was the great commission.” In this, he is saying that the gospel of the kingdom is not the gospel of the church. This is entirely wrong as is evidenced by Acts 1 –
“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8
And this is exactly what they did, as the book of Acts reveals, in exactly that order – Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth – in that order. The “kingdom” being referred to by the apostles, and which Jesus completely skipped over in His answer, is the literal, physical kingdom where He will rule among Israel after they have received the one and only gospel.
The mandate was not understood by them, obviously, because they had to almost be forced into speaking to Gentiles. And even after the Gentiles were received, they still couldn’t believe it, but they did accept it as it clearly says in Acts 11.
It was Paul, properly trained in Old Testament theology, who was able to properly communicate the message to the Gentiles. Not because of a different gospel, but because he had an understanding of the true, and only, gospel – the mystery of Gentiles being brought into the commonwealth of Israel. Again, go review Acts 10 & 11; and Galatians 2 – among other such passages).
At minute 15:30, Mr Atwood states that salvation of Jews is based on repentance and water baptism as is recorded in Acts 2:38. This is incorrect. He is taking those verses as prescriptive, and he is failing to account for the reason for Acts 2, 8, and 10. Again, to understand why these various accounts differ, one needs to watch the Romans 6:3-4 study in our Romans playlist.
Acts is a historical record, and it is not to be taken as prescriptive. There is one, and only one, gospel. The events at Pentecost required Peter’s statement for a specific reason. Anyone? They had just crucified the Lord, who was prophesied in their own Scriptures. They HAD to repent of this.
If you understand what the Greek word metanoeó means, to change one’s mind, you would understand that they HAD to repent. Baptism was required as a public acknowledgment that they were aligning with the Lord and against the leadership of Israel. It is the same reason why it says this in Luke 7 –
“And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” Luke 7:29, 30
Peter’s words required repentance and baptism for exactly this reason. It doesn’t prescribe it for any Jew – not one – beyond that point. This is evident because in Acts 18:24-28 Apollos did neither and yet he had the Spirit based on faith, despite only knowing the baptism of John. Ooops. He then spoke to Jews in Acts 19:1-7, saying nothing of repentance, and he, in fact, argues against repentance because that was the purpose of John’s baptism.
But! He did baptize them into Jesus, after which they received the Spirit. None of these are prescriptive, all are different in what occurs, and each is given to reveal God’s working out the New Covenant differently based on the surrounding circumstances. The accounts are only historical and descriptive. Case closed. Hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word test.”
At minute 18:25, he says, “Paul was given a new gospel.” False and heresy. Paul’s gospel was spoken to both Jews and Gentiles. In Acts 13, he speaks only to Jews, and he gives the exact same gospel to them that Peter gave to them, summing up TO THEM (JEWS) that “everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39). Ooops! The entire account can be reviewed in Acts 13:16-41. There is one, and only one gospel.
At minute 18:34, he says, “Paul recognized that the nation of Israel was no longer God’s chosen people. In Romans 11, you see Peter is preaching to get Israel saved; Paul is preaching with the understanding that Israel is not going to be saved.” Then he cites Romans 11:13-15 and says, “Peter didn’t believe that the reconciling of them was going to be the casting away of the world. Peter believed that the salvation of them was going to be the reconciling of the world. … And Peter believed that had Israel been saved then they would go out as a kingdom of priests and evangelize the world, and they would carry out the great commission.”
This highly convoluted statement disregards what sharing the gospel is. Does anyone know what sharing the gospel is? Anyone? It is a priestly function. Thus, both Peter & Paul, and any other person who shares the gospel is performing a priestly duty. In Romans 15:16, Paul speaks of the grace given to him by God –
“…that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
The word “ministering” is the Greek word hierourgeo. It means to minister as a priest. The NASB and other versions rightly translate this as “ministering as a priest the gospel of God.” In other words, the act of sharing the gospel is a priestly function. This dispels the hyperdispensationalist view that when Jesus refers to “having made us kings and priests to His God and Father,” it is only speaking of Israel. That is a false analysis based on their false gospel.
At minute 21:06 Mr Atwood says to “compare Acts 2 with Luke 24:47.” And, so we will –
“Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’” Luke 24:46, 47
Atwood is saying that Jesus’ words of Luke 24:47 match Acts 2, where Peter says to repent, thus proving this is a different gospel. What does Paul say in Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:9&10; 2 Corinthians 12:21; & 2 Timothy 2:5? Anyone? He says, “Repent.” Just because Jesus says that repentance and remission of sins is to be preached, does not mean repentance is required for salvation.
It is a requirement for right living after remission of sins. All preachers are to preach repentance because of the remission of sins. This is what Paul states in his epistles and it is in accord with Jesus’ words of Luke 24:47. “Repent” means to change one’s mind.
Peter was telling the people of Israel to change their mind about what they had just done to Christ. Any person who has been given the gospel and rejects it must – by default – repent of that in order to be saved. They “change their mind about what they have already decided upon.” Any person saved is expected to repent afterward of their sin. They will not lose their salvation if they don’t, but it is expected. 1 Corinthians 5 gives an example of someone who fails to do this.
At minute 21:59, Atwood says, “Today salvation is not by repentance and water baptism.” That is a fallacy known as a category mistake. Nobody who believes in salvation by grace through faith believes this. Rather, those things are mandated as acts of obedience. Paul mandates that we repent of sin, but it does not change our salvation if we do not.
Acts 15:10, 11, though not prescriptive, call the Gentiles “disciples,” and clearly refers to them as being on the same page and in the same gospel as those Jews in the council of Jerusalem. The mandate for baptizing disciples, given by Jesus after His establishment of the New Covenant and the ONE gospel of grace, stands. It is disobedience to the Lord to teach that Gentiles are not commanded to be baptized. It is not a salvific issue, but it is an issue of obedience to the Lord’s command.
Unfortunately, those hyperdispensationalists who are saved will lose rewards for failing to be obedient to the Lord’s command of baptism. And those hypers who teach this false doctrine will have to stand before the Lord and give an account for their false teaching.
Romans 2:4 says, “the goodness of God (meaning His grace) leads you to repentance.” Repentance is an expectation of salvation, not a requirement for it. As evidence of this, what was the response of the Jews who contended with Peter in Acts 11 when he explained why he went to Cornelius’ house in Acts 10? Anyone?
“Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” Acts 11:18
Was there any note of repentance in Acts 10 at Cornelius’ house? No. None. Here, let’s read Acts 10:34-44. They heard the word, they believed, and they received the Holy Spirit. After this, they were baptized, according to, and in obedience to, the word of the Lord. Hyperdispensationalists not only mishandle the word, but they actively work against Christ’s prescription, which is to be baptized. That is the command of the Lord, to which their heretical teaching is disobedient.
At minute 22:08, Atwood laughingly says, “Today, you are not required to lay your possessions at the apostle’s feet.” That is an absurd and irrelevant comment. That was never required. Those who did so did it voluntarily, as explicitly stated by Peter in Acts 5:4. Case closed. In this hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word” test.
At minute 24:15, Atwood tries to divide the gospel of Paul from that of Peter. In 2 Corinthians 5:18 which speaks of the ambassadors of Christ and the ministry of reconciliation. Who is he speaking of? It is found in 2 Corinthians 1:19 – Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. But who then does Peter refer to in 1 Peter 5:2? Silvanus.
Same message, same reconciliation, same ambassador. In 1 Peter 5:13, Peter then greets the people again – along with Mark. This is the same Mark who carried the same gospel with Paul and Barnabas, and who is cited by Paul in 2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 1:24, and etc. Case closed. In this hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word” test.
As a summary of the nature of there being one, and only one, gospel, we see that the Church is the body of Christ as is made explicit in Ephesians 1:22, 23 –
Ephesians 3 then demonstrates that the body of Christ is of the Jews, and Gentiles, and that they share in that same body –
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” Ephesians 3:1-6
It is that simple. How anyone can miss that is utterly astonishing. It demonstrates a very, very poor handling of Scripture and a lack of scholarship on their part to put forth this heresy.
If one understands the structure of the book of Acts, following the hyperdispensationalist model, one would have three gospels (or more), not two as they claim, and not one as the Bible teaches. Acts 2, 8, 10 would imply THREE gospels using their lack of logic.
Hyperdispensationalism’s logic breaks down in Romans 10:9, 10. It is claimed by some of them that those verses apply only to Jews because Paul is speaking of Jews there. If that is so, then it contradicts what they claim about the supposed “gospel of the Jews” of Acts 2:38. Further, if it applies to both Jew and Gentile – (as it does!) and as is obvious from the singular pronouns used – then it still destroys their analysis. Again, hyperdispensationalism fails the “rightly dividing the word” test.
Hyperdispensationalism destroys any meaning of the words of 1 Corinthians 1:12, 13 –
“Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
The answer is “No, Christ is not divided, nor is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul lumps himself in with all of the other apostles, demonstrating as clearly as can be seen, that they all proclaimed the same gospel. It is a gospel which includes the mystery revealed to them that Gentiles would be fellow heirs and of the same body with the Jews –
And again in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 –
“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”
And again in 1 Corinthians 4:9 –
“For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.”
The words of Galatians 2:11-21, that we already read, tie Peter, and what he was doing, in with the one and only gospel. Again, anyone who reads those verses, and who cannot make this connection, has absolutely no discernment in biblical context. There is one gospel, and only one.
The church started with the New Covenant. There is one covenant, and only one. The Jews simply missed it as a nation. But there is one church. This extremely bad doctrine tries to divide what happened with the Jews and what happened with the Gentiles. That is heresy. There is one church, and only one.
When they say that “prophecy belongs to the Jews, and the mysteries belong to the church,” they completely abuse Scripture in order to come to this conclusion, as we have seen. It is a failed system which arises out of a faulty hermeneutic, which comes out of an incorrect analysis of the purpose and meaning behind the book of Acts.
The stewards of the mysteries are the apostles, including both Peter and Paul as we saw in 1 Corinthians 4:1 and which is explained by the previous verses as Paul, Apollos, and Cephas (meaning Peter), and referring to all of the apostles.
The Land promise, and the promise of the Kingdom during the millennium, is to the Jews. That is correct, but that it will still be under the one covenant, is obvious on the surface. Christ died once, He ushered in one New Covenant, and His body is the church, of which is comprised of (as we have seen) both Jew and Gentile.
To say that what happened at the beginning with Peter and the Jews wasn’t a part of the church, is to say that they are not under the same covenant as we are.
Unfortunately, people look at what Jesus did as somehow only being effectual for one group or another – such as baptism only belonging to Jews. If that is so, then the Lord’s Supper (which predates the mandate for baptism and said nothing of the “nations”) is also only for the Jews. How absurd that is!
Paul outlines the same Lord’s supper in 1 Corinthians 11 that Jesus outlined in the gospels. It is almost word for word what Luke records in Luke 22:19 & 20. As that applies to the Gentiles, because it is recorded for the church in 1 Corinthians 11, then the mandate for baptism, which comes after the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and which is proclaimed from Jesus’ own mouth, also applies to the Gentiles. There is not one instance of a convert – Jew or Gentile – in the New Testament, who was not subsequently baptized after having received Christ Jesus – not one.
Another abuse of Scripture by hyperdispensationists is stating that Galatians 2 speaks of two different gospels. There it says –
“But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles).” Galatians 2:7, 8
That may be the worst hermeneutic yet. First, the words “the gospel” before the words “for the circumcised” are inserted. It is not in the original.
The Greek reads “…that I have been entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, just as Paul of the circumcision.” There is one gospel with two heralds of that one gospel. Secondly, the reason for the division between Paul and Peter wasn’t for the proclamation of a second gospel, but that Paul’s ministry within the one gospel was to the Gentiles. From my commentary on the book of Galatians –
“Having said this, it does not mean that Peter’s ministry was solely one of evangelizing Jews (as was noted concerning Cornelius above), nor was Paul’s ministry solely one of evangelizing Gentiles. There was also not a different gospel transmitted by Peter than that of Paul. Rather, there is, as the Bible scholar Lightfoot notes, “…a distinction of sphere, and not a difference of type.”
This is absolutely certain by Paul’s comments in Galatians as well as Peter’s comments in his second epistle which, for clarity of thought, we will again cite –
“…and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:15, 16
There, Peter cites who? Paul! And when he does, he is in complete agreement with him. Hyperdispensationalism is pure poison.
Hyperdispensationalists use verses like Matthew 15:24 and Matthew 10:16 where Jesus told the apostles to not go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans, but only to the lost sheep of Israel, to prove that there are two gospels. Does anyone know what the problem with that is? Anyone?
That is an entirely different dispensation (law) and it was for the set purpose of His first fulfilling the law which had been given to Israel. It has absolutely nothing to do with the gospel which could only come through the New Covenant in His blood. When hypers use that verse, they then introduce a contradiction into Scripture, because Philip was told to go to who in Acts 8? A Gentile. And Peter was explicitly told to go to who in Acts 10? The Gentiles. As is typical with hyperdispensationalism, it is a complete mixing of apples and oranges to come to a faulty, heretical, conclusion.
Hyperdispenationalists say that in Matthew that Christ told the disciples about how he must suffer and die and rise on the third day, and that in the very next verse says that it was hidden from them, it then must be that they did not know about the death, burial, and resurrection and so their gospel is different than Paul’s, because Paul’s gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection.
I’m not even sure if that deserves a response. It is such a ridiculous claim that only an infant in the faith could come up with it.
First, that was before, not after, Christ’s crucifixion. Of course they didn’t know what He was talking about.
Secondly, the very thing they state in this is the thing Peter later proclaims five times in both Acts and in his epistles as the gospel of Christ. In fact, in 1 Peter 1, Peter mentions the resurrection, the crucifixion, and what that means for the believer, and then he says explicitly, “Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (v. 25).
The problem with hyperdispensationalism, again, lies mainly with their abusive hermeneutics in regards to the book of Acts. It is the chronic problem with most denominations – they are using it as a PRESCRIPTIVE book. It is not. It simply DESCRIBES what occurred. If they cite Acts 2, for example, to say that the Jews are required to be baptized and repent for salvation, they have completely missed what is occurring.
That was a one-time statement, to Israel, for a specific purpose (which I explain in my Romans 6:3-4 study). Almost all denominations fail to take Acts as it is given, as a historical account of what occurred, and as a merely descriptive account. Anytime you listen to a preacher talk about Acts, ask yourself, “Are they citing Acts in this case as prescriptive?” If they are, you can toss that analysis right out of the commentary. In this, you will then stand approved in the context of what is being relayed.
Two more points and we will be done. When Paul says, “my gospel,” in Romans 2:16 and 16:25, that does not mean “a different gospel.” Paul is not claiming authority to the gospel, as if he is its author. Instead, he is claiming authority to it as the herald of the Author’s message.
His commission stands directly from the words of Jesus in Acts 9:15. There Jesus states to Ananais, “…he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” This then places Paul in opposition to any false gospel (such as that of hyperdispensationalism). His word is the authoritative word of God as transmitted through him, just as was the word of the prophets of old. The very fact that Jesus said he was to bear His name before the children of Israel means that it is the same gospel which Peter proclaimed.
Romans 1:11 says Paul’s hope was to “impart some spiritual gift that you may be established.” He said this to Jew and Gentile. In Romans 16:25, he notes that it is the Lord who in fact is able to so establish them. And this is, as he says, “according to my gospel.” In other words, it is speaking of the doctrines which were set forth in Romans, written by him. This gospel is entirely Christ centered: We were predestined for salvation, because God foreknew us (Romans 8:29); our calling is of the Lord (Romans 8:30); salvation is of the Lord (Romans 10:9); justification is of the Lord (Romans 3:24); sanctification is of the Lord; this came through the work of the Holy Spirit who testifies to the work of Christ (Romans 15:16)); and glorification is of the Lord (Romans 8:30).
As I said, Paul speaks to both Jew and Gentile in that one epistle (see Romans 2:17 (Jew) and Romans 1:13 (Gentile), etc). Every one of these precepts belongs to both Jew and Gentile. It is one gospel and only one.
Finally, as Revelation ends the Bible, I will devote ten seconds to the hyperdispensationalist claim that “Revelation 1-3, and especially the seven letters to the seven churches) is not directed to the Gentile-led church which is under the Gentile’s gospel, but that it is directed to the Jew under the Jew’s gospel.” The claim is that all of the symbolism in those chapters is “Jewish” symbolism and has nothing to do with the church.
Yes, as nutty as that sounds, this is what they teach. I’ve already shown that Paul highlights all of the Feasts of the Lord, revealing that their fulfillment is in Him. I have shown that all of the symbolism of the dietary laws finds its fulfillment in Him. The same is true with every detail of what is found in Revelation 1-3.
It all points to Christ. He is what the ancient types looked forward to. That is why Moses was told concerning the details of the tabernacle and its implements, “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:40).
The reason for the Old Testament symbolism is because there is a heavenly reality to which those things pointed. That reality is Christ. To understand this, you will need to watch all of the Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers sermons, but you will have spent your time far more wisely than getting caught up in the ridiculous, heretical, anti-semitic teaching known as hyperdispensationalism.
The seven letters were written to seven Gentile churches, and they carry the symbolism of Christ that John revealed to them, just as Paul did in his letters.
I have a friend who has struggled with this heresy. When I explained to him that it is Christ’s fulfillment of these types and shadows in Christ, as Colossians 2:16, 17 says, which completes the Old Covenant and which is then revealed to all – Jew and Gentile – in the New Covenant, he said this –
“It’s like a light bulb went off Charlie after talking to you. It has to be one gospel that gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection, of Jesus Christ. And although the Old Testament foreshadows these things coming, even if the 12 apostles didn’t fully understand that gospel or see the gospel clearly it’s the same gospel that Paul was teaching. The only difference is that Paul had the further Revelation given to him as well as a few other things in his ministry such as the rapture but it’s the same gospel. Everything is summed up in Jesus Christ. It’s all about him. It’s his righteousness,… his shed blood, his fulfillment of everything. I understand this.”
Good job Mark! That is absolutely it. Paul’s revelation was simply that this gospel includes – in totality – the Gentiles. The others weren’t trained in the law, and thus they had no way to process this. This is why Paul was selected. He was a fully trained Pharisee that could make all of the connections that the other apostles lacked.
Today, you have been given a lot of information, and I am not going to address this issue again, in part or in whole. I simply got tired of people sending me one verse at a time and asking me to explain it for them. Scripture tennis is a pointless exercise. If you remember this one thing, you will be through with this ridiculous heresy – Acts is not a prescriptive epistle. It is a historical account of what occurred.
When someone preaches a sermon and they use the events of Acts in a prescriptive manner, then ignore what you heard. That person has improperly handled Scripture and you can reject his analysis. Stick to Paul during this dispensation, but remember that what Paul teaches in his epistles is in perfect harmony with the words of the other epistles of the other apostles. The church began with Christ completing the work set out for Him to accomplish.
When He sent the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the church – the one and only church with one and only gospel – began, thus fulfilling that feast, the final Feasts of the Lord to be fulfilled. Each time a person comes to Christ, they receive the same Spirit that was given on that day. They have their Pentecost moment, and thus the church for them, as individual members, begins.
If you want a copy of this talk, it is available on the Superior Word website in written format, or I can email it to you as well.
I would ask two things of you before we close. The first is to study to show yourself approved, which includes leaving behind the heresy of hyperdispensationalism, and two, if you have never called on Christ through the one and only gospel, today is the day to do so. Call on Christ, and be reconciled to Him through His shed blood.