IX ECCLESIOLOGY Doctrine of the Church or the Teaching of the Church

The word Church (called out assembly) is made up of all who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior (Old and New Testament). The Universal Church, refers to all believers in eternity who are saved and those who are and still to be saved in this world today. All saints are members of the eternal Kingdom of God, and the Body of Christ today can refer to the church either as a whole or when the believers are meeting together, Ephesians 1:22,23, this is today's program where God is calling men to salvation. The Dispensation of Grace started in the mid Acts, the historical account found in chapters, 8-13 and the program will be completed at the rapture. Whenever speaking or studying the word church in the Bible, one needs to ask which church, in what dispensation are you reading about or teaching. (The words, the called out assembly, is equivalent to the same Greek word for church, and used even for other types of assemblies in scripture,  Acts 19:32,39; also the word is used for the church or assembly of believers in the Old Testament before, Acts 7:38; then used to describe believers after Jesus Christ's resurrection, Acts 20:17). The New Covenant was implemented at, Acts 2, and is not to be confused with a dispensation. A dispensation is not 'a covenant and a covenant' is not a dispensation.

There are some names which clearly describes accurately the church of today:

  1. The Dispensation of Grace, Ephesians 3:2 or
  2. The Dispensation of Equality, Ephesians 2:11-22, and
  3. The Body of Christ, Ephesians 1:22-23; Col.1:18

I. The New Covenant became operational at Pentecost, it fulfills the first stage of the redemptive covenant looking forward to the Deliverer. The New Covenant is the redemptive completion of the provision for humanity's eternal salvation, Galatians 4:4-7.

A. There are five phases relating to the New Covenant's beginning, I Corinthians 15:1-11; Act 1;2:1-6:

  1. First, the coming of the Messiah of Israel being born of a virgin.
  2. Second, the life and death of Jesus Christ.
  3. Third, the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ.
  4. Fourth, He was seen by witnesses of the facts.
  5. Fifth, the implementation, the coming of the Holy Spirit which indwells the believer permanently, making the New Covenant operational.

    B. The New Covenant completes the Old Testament (Covenant). The blood covering of the old covenant was a sacrificial animal for sin, beginning and recorded in Genesis 3. The animal sacrifice was only temporary, waiting for the complete forgiveness through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Hebrews 9:11-15; Romans 5; Genesis 3:21. The Lord took those who believe Him to heaven from paradise at His resurrection which included all those who died believing before that time, Ephesians 4:8-10, Psalm 68:18; I Thessalonians 4:16, I Corinthians 15:12-24.

    C. Israel as God's Nation was ordained the stewards who were to be the dispensers of the New Covenant, but failed in the Dispensation of Promise as the old testament prophecies foretold they would, Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 3:17-26. After the Nation of Israel's failure, the 70th week of Daniel was to be carried out in the world, to bring in the Dispensation of the Kingdom in which King Jesus would reign on the throne of David, Daniel 9:24, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 7.

    However, God revealed a New program and made all humanity equally responsible. This new ordained instrument, in now the stewardship which was a mystery, the church, identified as the body of Christ, He would work redemption. This new organism's made-up is all believing humanity that would be the stewards to the rest of the world. Today's program for believers will end with the rapture, believers caught up to Heaven and those who are not saved will be left behind going into the seven-year Tribulation judgment. The Seven-Year Tribulation is where God goes back and finishes the prophetic judgment which was postponed.

    Today's dispensation is called by different names, the Dispensation of the Grace of God, the Mystery Dispensation, the Dispensation of Equality, and the parentheses dispensation, (or overlaid dispensation). These names all describe an aspect of the dispensation which makes it uniquely different from all the other dispensation, Ephesians 3:9 the word fellowship should be translated dispensation of the mystery, Ephesians 1:1-3 - dispensation of grace, Romans 3:22; Ephesians 2 - the dispensation of equality, and Romans 11; Acts 13:46-47; 18:5-6, 28:20-28 - parentheses/overlay dispensation.

    1. The parentheses age describes the insertion or overlay of today's program coming between or overlaying the Nation of Israel prophetic fulfillment of the 70th week of Daniel, Romans 11:7-10 cf. 25-29. God inserted the dispensation of today which separates this prophetic program of Israel that is part of the mystery revealed to the apostles. The Apostle Paul wrote todayís dispensation, and it is preventing the seven-year tribulation period to begin. After this dispensation is completed, do to failure of believers and permeation of wickedness of non-believers, the prophetic tribulation will take place bringing completion, Romans 11:25-27; II Thessalonians 2:5-8 cf. I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

      Part of the mystery of this dispensation is the continuous judgment on the Nation of Israel called 'Time of the Gentiles', Luke 21:24.  The Time of the Gentile judgment ends with Christ Jesus literally returning to earth and the remnant Nation of Israel restored to God's chosen in the time called 'The Day of the Lord' this follows the last of two phases of the Time of the Gentiles, Zephaniah 1-3 (The dispensation of today I Thessalonians 4:13-18, and the tribulation period or 70th week of Daniel, also call the time of God' wrath on earth, Revelation 20), Zephaniah 3:15,20; 3. The actual Time of the Gentile began in the Old Testament when the Nation of Israel went into captivity, first Israel's Northern then Southern tribes.

    2. The mystery dispensation describes the feature in today's administration that it was hidden in God and not revealed until the Nation of Israel's failure by not accepting their ordained responsibility, Romans 11:13, 25,26; 16:25,26; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26.

    3. The dispensation of equality expresses the truth that all are responsible to God and one race is not held up over the others. We are called to respond to Christ Jesus on an equal operating field, Ephesians 2:14-22; 3:6; Colossians 1:27; Romans 10;11-13.

    4. The name which the Apostle Paul used was the dispensation of the Grace of God, Ephesians 3:2. The context of the passage in Ephesians encompasses all the thoughts that the others describe.

    D. The historical events which took place after the coming of the Holy Spirit are as follows: the offer given to the Nation of Israel to repent as a nation, Act 3, shadowed by the Nationís rejection as the ordained nation, Acts 4-7, and finally by rejection the Holy Spirit with the stoning of Steven. Instead of going into the 70th week of Daniel, the judgment prophesied in the Old Testament, you see it postponed with the insertion of the mystery dispensation which begins the transition, Acts 8-13, (this is where one program start coming to an end [in this case it will only be temporally stopped] and a new program beginning, taking the place of the old). By the end of the Acts period (Note 28:28), the old program or dispensation is overlaid completely by the new dispensation.

    The transition begins were Israel losing their stewardship temporally as the dispensing Nation of the New Covenant and temporally losing their privileged position.  This brings the historical shift from the Nation of Israel to the mystery dispensation, parentheses age, or the Dispensation of Grace into operation. The transition into this dispensation comes historically with the saving of Saul in, Acts 9. God changed Saul's name to Paul by Acts 13:9. Paul is ordained by God to be the apostle of this dispensation, Acts 9:15-17;13:2,9; Romans 11:13; Galatians 2:8; II Timothy 1:11.

     

    The dispensation of today, the Dispensation of Grace as seen through the transition period:

    1. It was given to Peter in a vision by our Lord in, Acts 10 and the salvation of Cornelius.
    2. Confirmed as God's program to all apostles at Jerusalem, Acts 15.
    3. Implemented to the Gentile world by the Apostle Paul, Acts 13:45-49; Ephesians 2,3. (note many of the events were overlapping each other between, Acts 8-12.
    4. Then given and explained to Paul by our Lord directly by revelation, Galatians 1:11-2:10 and written by Paul (Recorded in his twelve books of the Biblical New Testament, (Romans through Philemon).

    E. The Church today (the called out assembly) is called the Body of Christ (equality of all based on the cross and the finished work of Christ or New Covenant). Every believer today has the responsible to carry out the operational functioning of God's program, I Corinthians 5:16-21. Believers are to express out verbally the message of salvation to humanity and live reconciled to God through Christ Jesus our Lord, II Corinthians 5:18-22. The stewardship, the church today, the Body of Christ is God's ordained instrument today that is to carrying out this dispensation through a local church as individuals united by the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4:4-16, Romans 1:16; 10:14, 15.

      Two Notes:
      Daniel's prophecy says that there would be an interval between the sixty-ninth week and seventieth, 9:26. Daniel's prophecy also lets Israel know the conditions that they would be living under as God's chosen people, Daniel 9:26-27, but does not reveal the mystery as given through Paul.

    Peter's profession and our Lord's response, Matthews 16:18 that a church would be established against which the gates of Hell will not prevail also does not reveal this dispensation as found after the Nations rejection of responsibility. Also, in the Lord's earthly ministry He presented the church (the universal called out assembly) in mystery form in the parables of, Matthews 13 and the Lord's prophecies also telling of the Nation of Israel's problems which Daniel prophesied in the Old Testament, Daniel 9:26; Matthews 24; Mark 13; Luke 22, but does not disclose the mystery as found after, Acts 7, prophecy tell God's love for Gentiles, but the mystery shows equality with the Jews a new ordain institution.

    II. The Local Church as an organization is made up of saved members who have been water baptized by immersion for public identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, Acts 2:41; Romans 6:1- 4, Ephesians 4:5.

    A. The purpose of the Local Church is:

    B. For a local church to exist there must be a functional leadership made-up of Elder and Deacons.

    The word Elder, Pastor or Bishop refer to the same person. Titus 1:5-7 uses Elder in verse five and Bishop (or overseer used in the NIV) in verse seven; also in Acts 20:28 Paul addresses the elders of Ephesus, Ac. 20:17. Paul admonishes them to feed or to pastor the Church of God, Acts 20:28. He also points out that they are overseers or bishop (the same word).

    C. The qualifications of the bishop are found in I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11; I Peter 5:1-4. This officers responsibility is as:

    a. Overseer, Acts. 20:28; Philippians 1:1.
    b. Shepherd, the flock, Acts 20:28.
    c. Feed the flock, I Peter 5:1-4.
    d. Preach the Word, II Timothy. 4:2.
    e. Leads in spiritual matters, I Timothy 4:1-6.
    f. Example to the flock, I Peter 5:3.
    g. Do the work of an Evangelist in the absence of one, II Timothy 4:5.

    D. Deacon qualifications are found in, I Timothy 3:1-13; Acts 6:1-8:

    1. They must be qualified to hold the office, I Timothy 3:8-13.
    2. Their duties are to serve the saints and help the Bishop, Acts 6:1-8.
    3. Their duties include spiritual responsibilities, Acts 6:5,8 cf. 8:5.

    III. The local church's head is Christ, Ephesians 5:23 and the authority of the church are the Scriptures, II Timothy 3:10-17. Where God's will is not specified in the Word, the membership of the Church has authority to make decisions as they submit and follow the Spirit's guidance, Romans 13. The church must meet the needs of its members, Acts 4:32-5:11; James 2:14-26 exercising loving discipline, I Corinthians chapter five cf. II Corinthians 2:5-11; I Corinthians 13 and separated from all that is contrary to Scriptural truth, II Corinthians 6:14-7:1.

    The local church follows a congregational form of government. The authority resides in the membership to:

    1. Appoint officers, Acts 14:23; 6:1-8,
    2. Send missionaries, Acts 13:1-4,
    3. Discipline, I Corinthians 5:1-13,
    4. Judge between brothers and sisters, I Corinthians 6:1-8.

    IV. The mission of the church is to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, II Corinthians 5:18-21 and make disciples according to the teachings stated above. The believers are to be representatives of Jesus Christ wherever or whatever their "niche" of life takes them, II Corinthians 5:11-21 telling of the message of reconciliation. The citizenship of the believer is heaven, Philippians 3:20.

    Cooperation without the sacrifice of Biblical standards is required of all believers and separation is necessary when Biblical standards are at stake.

    A. Cooperation:

    1. Common work, Romans 15:26; Galatians 2:10; III John 6-8,
    2. Advance mutual interests, II Corinthians. 1:1,
    3. Help in advice, Acts 15,
    4. Help through finances, II Corinthians 8:1-6,
    5. Promote good government, Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1.

    B. Separation necessary when issues of God is in question:

    1. Between church and state, Acts 5:27-29; 4:8-22,
    2. From individuals or movements characterized by unbelief and apostasy, II Corinthians 6:14-16,
    3. From brothers who walk disorderly, II Thessalonians 3:6, I John 5:16,17,
    4. From the world, I John 2:15-17,
    5. From false teachers, II John 7-10.

    Distinctive characteristics that have been identified as a true Christian:

    • Born again membership, by repentance, accepting Jesus Christ's work on their behalf (salvation not by one's own works), faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and believing Jesus' deity or the Godhead of one God,
    • Autonomy of the local church, the called out believers uniting together,
    • Stewardship of believers, believers with the responsibility with proclaiming the message of reconciliation,
    • Two church offices, elder, deacons,
    • Independent local church, independence from other churches and denominations,
    • Separation of church and state, separation from a church government and God supreme over both,
    • Two ordinances, the Lord's supper and baptism,
    • Security of the believers, regeneration is eternal, once Born again you cannot lose your salvation because it is not dependent on you, but on Christ Jesus and His finished work.

    V. The dispensational interpretation of the Scriptures is not a movement. It is important for a clear understanding of the Word of God! Dispensational study gives understanding of interpretation, so to handle the Word of God correctly. Dispensational understanding opens up truth so not to mix God's program for today with other programs of the past and future programs. The dispensational approach to the Bible is not a movement or a disease, but it is the study of the administrations of God throughout history and identifies them.

    Though God never changes, He has changed His method dealing and operation with humanity from one dispensation to another. Salvation has always been by God's grace, faith has always prerequisite for one's believing application. Faith in the promised One, Jesus Christ has always been applicable; the Old Testament saints looking forward to Christ and New Testament saints look back to the cross. However, there are differences in the responsibility in which the people were to live at various points in human history. God has demonstrated in providing different dispensations to show humanity their absolute failure to meet God's holy requirement and standards apart from His grace. 

    1. There are seven dispensations:

    1. Innocence, Genesis 1:28,
    2. Conscience or Moral Responsibility, Genesis 3:7,
    3. Human Government, Genesis 8:15,
    4. Promise, Genesis 12:1 the chosen family, Israel,
    5. Grace, or Equality, or the Church His Body, Acts 9-13; 16:5-16; Ephesians. 3:2,3; Ephesians 5:23,
    6. Earthly Kingdom, Revelations 20:4,
    7. Eternal, Ephesians 1:10 Fullness of Time, Ephesians 1:10 or Eternal Kingdom after the 1000 years, or at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, Revelation 19:9.

    2. There are seven governing principles which operate in a dispensation and can bring about possible change:

    1. Universal Principle which Transcend all dispensations,
    2.
    Each dispensation has a beginning with governing rules and principles,
    3. Rule that changed from one dispensation to another,
    4. The Institution chosen and responsible to carry out Godís dispensation,
    5. The sin and failure of the dispensation which brings the final judgment of God,
    6. The Transition from one dispensation to the next dispensation.
    7.
    The Judgment and consequence on the world.

    The church is not to be viewed as the same as the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven.

    3. The Kingdom of God is:

    1. The sphere or realm in which the sovereignty of God is acknowledge and His will or desire obeyed,
    2. This includes all of God's redeemed and all of God's angels.

    4. The Kingdom of Heaven:

    1. Relates to the offer of the earthly kingdom to Israel,
    2. The reign of Christ in the Millennium and
    3. The eternal fulfillment after the Millennium
    4. The coming together of Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Time, Ephesians 1:10.

    (The church today, the Body of Christ, refers to the dispensation of God which started with Israel's rejection and ends with the Rapture.)

    The rapture of the Church ends this dispensation where as the Second Coming relates to the earthly position when Jesus Christ touches the earth ending the Dispensation of promise and the beginning of the dispensation of the Kingdom.  

A. The Rapture of the Church relates to Him coming in the clouds. 

  1. He will not touch the ground.
  2. The Rapture is instantaneous and will be done by taking believer out of the world.
  3. It will be an event where Jesus will call those who have received Him as personal savior up in the clouds to be with Him, I Thessalonians 4:13-18
  4. Both those who have died before and those living will take part in this event.
  5. In the Rapture the event relates to the revelation which was a mystery revealed to the Apostle Paul after his conversion, I Corinthians 15:51-57; I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
  6. Their bodies will be transformed into spiritual bodies and will not reproduce children, I Corinthians 5:15:50; II Corinthians 5:1-8.
  7. All saints of the Old Testament and the New Testament, (up to the Rapture) will be resurrected and receiving the rewards that Christ will give and they will rule, II Corinthians 5:9-11; I Corinthians 3:9-16, and reign with Him in the Kingdom, I Corinthians. 6:2,3.

B.   In the second coming His feet will touch the Mount of Olives and He will begin his reign on earth, Zeckariah 14:4

  1. It is called the Second Coming, He literally comes to earth the second time, whereas the first time His coming was His incarnation, Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 19;20
  2. People will see it as stated in, Acts 1:9-12.
  3. He comes in judgment and separates those who respond during the tribulation the believers and the dammed, Matthew 24;25:32.
  4. Those who are not His are cast into Hell and those who responded to him in the tribulation will go into the millennial reign with Christ Jesus.
  5. Those who go into the millennial reign will have natural bodies and reproduce children to populate the earth.


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