Chapter 5

Apostolic Teaching

Testimony to Jerusalem

Amongst the novel ideas introduced into the Christian Church by dispensationalism is the peculiar notion that the teaching of the apostles after Pentecost was different from the teaching of the Lord Jesus. Broadly speaking, their theology is expressed thus: "Our Lord taught Kingdom truth; Church truth is found in the teaching of the apostles." Listen to some of their own words. Dr. Scofield asserts: "The mission of Jesus was primarily to the Jews…expect, therefore, a strong legal and Jewish colouring up to the Cross…The sermon on the Mount is Law, not Grace . . . THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE ARE TO BE FOUND IN THE EPISTLES, NOT THE GOSPELS" ( R.B. p. 989 ). 

We contend against this novelty as a gross misapprehension of Scripture. It is antagonistic to the unanimous voice of the Christian Church all down the ages. Of this idea, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in dealing with the Sermon on the Mount, says: "There is no teaching in the Sermon on the Mount which is not also found in the various N.T. epistles…There is nothing so dangerous as to say that the Sermon on the Mount has nothing to do with modern Christians" ( "Studies", p. 16/17 ).

Hear a modern dispensational writer: "Christ revealed a few things about the Church, but the main body of Christian truth is found in the epistles, not the Gospels" ( Stanton, "Kept from the Hour", p. 60 ). "Paul was used to reveal the mystery of the union of Christ with His Church ( Ephesians 3:3 ), and the mystery of the Indwelling Christ" ( same ).

We wish to write charitably of fellow-Christians, but in all kindness, we cannot but characterise the above statements as bordering on profanity. Have not these men read John 6, 10 and 15? Here, under the figures of eating and drinking His Flesh and Blood, the Shepherd and the Sheep, the Vine and the Branch's, the Lord taught the fullest unity between Himself and His People; and as for the Indwelling Christ, are these people blind to the unparalleled teaching of ( beside John 6 ) John 14? "He shall give you another Comforter…He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" ( verse 17 ). "He that loveth Me shall he loved of My Father…and we will come and make our abode with him" ( verses 21, 23 ). And what about the matchless words of John 17, "that they all may be one, as Thou Father art in Me, and I in Thee, THAT THEY ALSO MAY BE ONE IN US…I in them and Thou in Me" ( verses 21, 23 )?

Will anyone dare dispute that Paul never taught a greater indwelling than that?

Now this insidious theory is particularly applicable to the coming of the Lord. On this issue the "Kingdom and Church" segregation policy is pursued to the full. The distinction between the teaching of the Lord and that of the apostles is rigorously advanced. So, before proceeding to the actual teaching of the apostles, it would he pertinent to bring before the reader a very important element that unites the teaching of the Lord Jesus to that of the apostles. We ask the reader's earnest consideration of the following:

On the night of His betrayal, the Lord Jesus directed the minds of His disciples to the promised Gift of the Holy Ghost. The physical presence of the Lord would be replaced by the indwelling presence of the Spirit. Among the offices He would perform would be that of the Inspired Teacher. Now observe how the scope of His teaching is clearly defined:

"He shall testify of Me" ( John 15:26 ). "He will guide you into all truth…He will show you things to come" ( John 16:13 ). We feel that the sensible interpretation of this is that the Holy Spirit would show the true meaning of things which, as yet; they had not properly grasped, and that this applied especially to future things such as the Coming. But then notice our Lord's qualifying words: "He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you" ( verse 14 ). Clearly, our Lord states here that the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit would not be different from the doctrine He had taught them, but would simply be an illumination of their minds to the great truths He had declared, some of which they had but dimly apprehended. That this is so, is scaled by His other statement: "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance WHATSOEVER I HAVE SAID UNTO YOU" ( John 14:26 ).

Is not this perfectly clear? Scofield and his disciples tell us to expect different teaching from the apostles from that which is found in our Lord's ministry. But the Lord Jesus tramples on this deception, and tells us that the ministry of the apostles WILL BE A CONTINUATION OF HIS OWN. Through the illumination of the Spirit, they will apprehend the full glory of the things He had taught them, and thus be qualified to "preach the Gospel to every creature…teaching them to observe ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU." ( Matthew 28 ).

And such is exactly the case. The teachings are one, and we are sure that the perfect harmony, nay, identity, of the two ministries, is an overwhelming testimony to the views advocated in these pages.

We shall begin our examination of apostolic teaching with the Acts. We remind ourselves that the author is the writer of the third Gospel. His opening words confirm what we have said above. He introduces his second book by saying, "The former treatise have I made of all that Jesus began both to do and teach." So this record is simply what Jesus CONTINUED to do and teach through His servants. Here then are the truths the apostles presented to their hearers, and in which the first Christians were instructed. Need it be said that we shall search the pages of the Acts in vain for any trace of those peculiar ideas that we have from time to time listed as part and parcel of the dispensational scheme? Tabulate them—Secret Rapture, Jewish Tribulation, two or three resurrections and judgements, a 1,000 years Kingdom, etc., etc.; then read the Acts and see how many times they are mentioned. It is necessary to impress this point, for if these things were "surely believed" by the Early Church, some reference to them would be found in the many magnificent expositions of Christian doctrine found in this book. Dispensationalists are fond of "significant omissions". Well, there are enough here to satisfy them for a lifetime—and to shatter the delusion they propagate.

Dispensationalists may counter with two arguments. Firstly, they may contend that the Acts is an historical record, not a doctrinal treatise. We answer "It is both". Let the reader peruse the great addresses recorded therein, and he will find some of the finest doctrinal treatises in the N.T. The second argument is that these "truths" ( Tribulation, Remnant, Kingdom, etc. ) relate chiefly to Israel, and therefore it is not to he expected they would find a place in the teachings that accompanied the establishment of the Christian Church. There are several answers to this evasion, but the surest is that the whole setting of early Christianity was against the background of the nation of Israel. The latter appears on every page; her leaders are confronted again and again, at Jerusalem, Caesarea and Rome. The charges brought by them against the apostles relate entirely to the relationship of the latter to the things of Israel. Now we ask this all important question: is it conceivable that if the apostles held the doctrines of pre-millennialism, with all the glories the hold out for Israel ( let the reader examine the multitudinous notes of the Scofield Bible on this point to get some idea of the extent ) that they would never have uttered a word regarding them in their thirty years contact with the nation? To ask the question supplies the answer. The apostles no message to give Israel other than that which they had for the Gentiles—repentance and faith, with a present salvation foretold by the prophets, and a Judgement Day to come. And it is for the doctrines of first century Christianity, as opposed to the theories of the 19th century, that these pages contend.

We now proceed to examine the statements in the Acts relative to our subject, coming first to Acts 1:6.

"When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him saying, 'Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?' "

We feel this Scripture requires care rather than dogmatism. We observe that the Lord refused to gratify the spirit that prompted the question, thus counselling the student to a watchful approach. We discern no such attitude in Scofield's approach. He tells us ( p. 1147 ):

"Forty days the Lord has been instructing the apostles 'of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God', doubtless, according to His custom, teaching them out of the Scriptures. One point was left untouched, viz., the TIME when He would restore the Kingdom to Israel; hence the apostles' question."

We wonder when will men learn to look carefully at what the Scripture actually says, and not indulge in flights of imagination, jet-propelled by their beloved theories? That Christ had LEFT ONE POINT UNTOUCHED is pure conjecture, born of a prophetic obsession. But there is a still more dangerous conjecture in Scofield's statement, for he assumes, without a shred of evidence, that our Lord's forty days' instruction "in the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God", involved teaching that a future earthly Kingdom, with Israel supreme, would be established by Christ. THERE IS NOT THE SLIGHTEST HINT THAT THIS WAS SO. On the contrary, the whole tenor of our Lord's post-resurrection ministry is a rebuttal of this carnal idea. Once again we ask the reader, search carefully through the records of our Lord's ministry during those forty days ( recorded in the four Gospels ), and see if you can find any trace of "the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel" according to the idea of pre-millennialists. The search will he futile. Then why draw a conclusion about that ministry which is completely unsupported by what the Spirit saw fit to record?

The finest summary of that ministry is found in the matchless 24th of Luke, including the Emmaus story. I believe it was Russell Lowell who said that, if ever any story carried in itself unquestionable evidence of divine inspiration, it was this one. Luke 24 must he a nightmare to futurists. Look briefly at some of the things it affirms: 

1. Verses 25, 26

The theme of "all the prophets" was "that Christ should suffer these things, and enter into His Glory". The Messianic glory was not something following the Second Advent, but something that immediately followed His Great Atonement.

2. Verse 27

Going right through the O.T., "Moses and all the prophets", our Lord spoke only "of Himself". He said not a word about the Jewish nation. What a contrast to futurists who see "the Jew" on every page. 

3. Verse 44

A striking statement: "These are the words which I spake unto you WHILE I WAS YET WITH YOU, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and in the prophets and in the psalms, concerning Me." Here our Lord affirms that the great prophetic promises of the O.T. HAD NOW BEEN BROUGHT INTO FRUITION, and this was in line with His own earthly ministry. 

4. Verse 47

Shows that the great blessing for Israel was, not an earthly Kingdom, but the forgiveness of sins. This was to he accompanied with the wonderful blessing of "the Promise of the Father" ( verse 49 ). This was the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. How was this "the promise of the Father"? I suggest what seems the most rational interpretation throughout the O.T., there was a great line of prophetic promise of a Day when God would visit His People with the fullness of His Spirit. It was spoken of as "waters", "rivers", "showers" and "floods" ( see Isaiah, Ezekiel and Joel ). The WHOLE BODY OF THESE PROMISES CONSTITUTED THE "PROMISE OF THE FATHER", and this was now to be the portion of the New Israel.

This, then, was the substance of the forty days' ministry. But a further point emerges; at the close of this momentous ministry, He sends them forth "into all the world". He defines clearly what their ministry is to be; "teaching them…all things whatsoever I have commanded you" ( Matthew 28:20 ). When we turn to the Acts, we are assured they had faithfully preached "the kingdom of God" ( 20:25; 28:23-31 ). We have no option but to conclude that this apostolic ministry was based on what He had taught during the forty days—and what He had commanded them to preach. Then where, in the whole of the teaching of the apostles, is there any declaration that earthly Israel was to be restored to a Kingdom of unparalleled splendour? The absolute silence can be fairly interpreted on no other ground than that our Lord gave no such teaching, and Scofield's assertion that He did so, and "left only one point untouched", is a dispensational dream.

In the light of this, what is the correct understanding of Acts 1:6? We feel the following is the most. satisfactory, and the fairest in the light of the rest of the apostolic record. The Forty Days' ministry of O.T. exposition, Messiah's sufferings and glory, the fulfilment of the promised blessings for Israel, and worldwide evangelisation, was over. Very evidently, the Lord HAD MADE NO REFERENCE TO THE NATION OF ISRAEL, and hence the apostles, being Israelites, full of the zeal of their fathers, were puzzled. Probably they remembered His statement that "the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to another nation." It may be that the identity of this nation had not yet been properly grasped by them, as it was after Pentecost. ( Footnote ) Hence their question, asked as Jews not yet fully emancipated from earthly ideas, as to whether Israel was to return to her former glories. The Lord's answer was gentle and suggestive, evidently intended to TURN THEIR HOPES AWAY FROM AN EARTHLY KINGDOM TO THE GREAT TASK THAT LAY AHEAD, "to receive power…to be witnesses…unto the uttermost part of the earth." The whole incident is crowned by the Ascension of the Lord, and the "two men" proclaiming the great Hope, "This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." This was to be the object of their hope as they evangelised the world—not an earthly Kingdom, but the heavenly Advent.

We wonder if, in the minds of the apostles, this incident and teaching represented a strong parallel to part of the Olivet discourse. It is worthy of consideration:


Matthew

Acts

1. This Gospel of the Kingdom.

"The things of the Kingdom of God".

2. Preached in all the world for a witness.

Witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth.

3. Then shall the end come.

This same Jesus shall so come.



Acts 1:11. 

We have already referred to this text in the above section. It only remains to observe that we feel it teaches that the Lord's Coming will he physical and visible. Dispensationalists love to stretch it to all sorts of wild meanings that are not in the text. We believe that when drawing teaching from an incident or parable, it is wise to discover the main principle intended—and leave it there. Attempts to extract "further truth" usually result in extravagances. In an earlier chapter, the writer referred to meetings addressed by an eminent dispensational teacher. At one meeting, the text before us was the theme. This "stretching" process was adopted, so the thought was presented that "as Jesus ascended from His own, not from the ungodly, so He will come just for His own." The reader will see the obvious manoeuvring to fit the Scripture to a theory. The writer put this question to the speaker: "Why not press the 'analogy' still further? The Lord ascended from just a small group of His own, not the whole company. (There were, at least, over 500—1 Corinthians 15:6) Therefore, He will return to only a small company." There was no reply. This same speaker also dwelt on the thought that "as He went in a cloud, so He will come in clouds", and quoted in support, "Behold He cometh with clouds". The writer sought to remind this gentleman that, had he completed the text ( Revelations 1:7 ), it would have dispelled his "Coming-only-for-His-own" idea, for John added, "and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him." Clearly, if Acts 1:11 is the Coming for the Church, and Revelations 1:7 is quoted to support "the cloud idea", then Acts 1:11 and Revelations 1:7 are one and the same event, incorporating saved and unsaved.

Pentecost

We now come to the greatest day in God's dealings with men since He "triumphed gloriously, and threw the horse and his rider into the Sea". The unparalleled glory of this Day will never be rivalled till 

"He comes in Power and Glory from on High". 

With the coming of the Redeemer into this world, the great Messianic Covenants began to be fulfilled, as shown in Luke 1 and the first ministries of John and the Saviour. The Kingdom was "at hand". On the Cross the Covenant was scaled with the King's own Blood, and the foundation laid for "the Kingdom which cannot be moved"; "the Kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world", and secured by the Blood of the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world". 

When He rose from the dead, the Great Proclamation of the Kingdom was made. As already shown, the Divine Decree had set the King upon the Holy Hill of Zion. Now the next great act in the establishment of the Divine Kingdom is to take place. 

Two years earlier, in that crisis hour of Revelation, when the Lord announced His Messiah-ship, the building of the Church, and the ministry of that Church to open the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven ( Matthew 16 & Mark 9 ), He made a transcendent promise. Listen to His words: 






"There be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the Kingdom of God COME WITH POWER " ( Mark 9:1 ). 

The Day of Pentecost was the fulfilment of that promise. The Covenant enthronement of the King which had taken place in heaven was confirmed on earth by THE INAUGURATION OF THE KINGDOM IN A MIGHTY DISPLAY OF ROYAL POWER. Listen to what Peter says. After declaring ( verses 30,31 ) the Resurrection was the fulfilment of the Covenant to set a Man on David's Throne, he followed with this thrilling statement: 

"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 … therefore, let all the House of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Messiah" ( 2:33, 36 ). 

This is nothing else but a declaration that Pentecost was a mighty demonstration on earth of what had already taken place, in heaven; the Kingdom had indeed "come with power". 

Let us now consider further this great event. First, verses 16-21. 

A pet theme of dispensationalists is that the Church does not appear in O.T. prophecy. Scofield, apparently troubled by alarming N.T. assertions, qualifies it by adding the word "corporately" ( p. 71 1 ). it is difficult to decide what he means. it appears to be an attempt to obscure the force of the N.T. application of O.T. prophecies to the Church. Here is one, in this magnificent passage, where Peter identifies the first great event in the Pentecostal Church with O.T. prophecy. Indeed, one of the outstanding characteristics of the Acts is how the apostles, under the promised illumination of the Spirit, continually identified the events of early Church with the great Kingdom prophecies of the O.T. Coming to this passage we turn to Scofield's notes, and are immediately struck with the confusion of dispensationalism's "rightly dividing the Word". In a Footnote he says, "A distinction must be observed between the "Last Days" when the prediction relates to Israel, and "the Last Days" when the prediction relates to the Church." Then he adds: "The Last Days as related to Israel are the days of Israel's exaltation and blessing, and are synonymous with the Kingdom Age." 

But in one statement Peter jettisons both these ideas, for in quoting and applying Joel's prophecy, he 

1. Identifies Israel's Last Days with the Church; and
2. He informs us that the promised blessing, far from being for a future age, was being fulfilled now in the Church.

We have indicated before that the N.T.. teaches that "The Last Days" are this final age of Time, when God, having spoken in various ways in former ages, now speaks in His Son. This is His Final Voice; He has no other, therefore, these must, of necessity, be "the Last Days". 

Turning to the prophecy itself we behold the irreverent mix-up of dispensationalism. The first twenty-seven verses of Joel 2 are divided into sections by Scofield, with relative headings. These inform us that the events described are. 

1. Preparation for Armageddon ( verses 1-10 );
2. The Battle ( verse 11 );
3. Repentance of the Remnant ( verses 12-17 ); and
4. Appearance of the Lord to Israel ( verses 18-27 ).
    Then comes verse 28: "It shall come to pass AFTERWARDS, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh, etc.". This means after the events previously described in the chapter. But how can this be? These events, according to Scofield, are yet in the future. But Peter asserts that the outpouring that comes "after" them happened ( or began happening ) on the Day of Pentecost. Therefore, logically, the events prophesied in Joel 2 cannot have any reference to future experiences of earthly Jewry because they relate to God's dealings with them before Pentecost. 

    But futurists are not put off with such apostolic simplicity; they are after "the deep things"; and there are plenty of theories round the corner to meet any emergency. So we are given some wonderful information by Dr. Scofield: "Joel 2…has a partial and continuous fulfilment during the last days which began with the first advent of Christ; but the greater fulfilment awaits the last days as applied to Israel" ( p. 932 ). 

    So now you have it. If we read the N.T. aright, the Church of Jesus Christ is the most wonderful thing God ever produced in His dealings with fallen mankind. It is the great object of His wisdom, love and power. But not according to Dr. Scofield. Has God given His Spirit in blessing to the Church? Well, says Scofield, it is only a country village revival compared with what Israel will get in the millennium. The Church may have the "droppings" but "the showers" are for, the poor Jews". 

    We have before had cause to refer to the God-dishonouring character of dispensationalism. Here it is again. Not only so, but it is an insult to apostolic understanding of the O.T. According to his contention, Dr. Scofield understood the O.T. better than Peter, for, when the latter expounded the Joel prophecy, HE GAVE NOT THE SLIGHTEST HINT THAT IT REFERRED TO A BLESSING FOR THE JEWISH NATION IN A FUTURE AGE, when actually, this was the real meaning of the Scripture. In fact, according to Scofield, Peter was guilty of a glaringly false appropriation of Scripture blessing to which he had no right. Dispensationalists, valiant in their defence of Israel, constantly assert, "THAT blessing has nothing to do with the Church; it belongs to Israel." Well, here is such a case. Scofield most carefully sets it out as the blessing that follows the Tribulation Armageddon and the setting up of the millennium. And here is Peter, "pinching" what belonged to Israel, and bringing it forward 2,000 years. Moreover, he excludes all possibility of any Jewish fulfilment because in verses 19-21 he asserts that this blessing is to continue ONLY DURING THIS DAY OF SALVATION ( "Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved" ) which will end with the Day of the Lord and the winding up of this present creation. 

    We put it to the reader that Peter's explanation leaves no room for any earthly millennium. 

    The Davidic Covenant—Acts 2:29-36 

    An interesting feature of the O.T. to which we would like to draw the reader's attention is that of the double line of Messianic prophecy. As the prophets saw the vision of the glory that was to come, the truth came in two ways. Sometimes it was of the King and His Kingdom, whilst at other times it was of Messiah's People, sharing in the Covenant blessings. And when we come to N.T. Scriptures that expound the O.T. prophets, they often take up both lines in order that by the double application, they may enforce the truth of their message. We see this in Acts 2. In the first section, already dealt with, Peter deals with a prophecy from the line that describes the blessing of Messiah's People. Then he turns to the theme of Messiah Himself, and it is of the same arresting character as the first. As in the first section the apostle declared that God's Covenant blessings for His People were now being fulfilled, so in the second section HE LEAVES HIS HEARERS IN NO DOUBT THAT THE GREAT MESSIANIC COVENANT WITH DAVID WHEREBY HIS THRONE WOULD BE EVERLASTINGLY SECURED HAD BEEN FULFILLED IN THE PESURRECTION OF JESUS MESSIAH. 

    This is the only logical meaning of Peter's address; otherwise it makes complete nonsense. We invite the reader to come to this Scripture with a mind divested of preconceived ideas and theories. Let him try and place himself amongst the crowd of Israelites who listened to Peter, "devout Jews out of every nation under heaven". Let him try and identify himself with the passionate hopes that dwelt in, the hearts of these men—the greatest hopes that had ever throbbed in a human breast, viz., that God would conquer death and establish an everlasting Kingdom where He would dwell with His People; and these hopes were all centred in the triumph and enthronement of God's promised Messiah. These were the people to whom Peter addressed these electric words: 

    "Let me speak freely unto you of the patriarch David…Being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath unto Him that, of the fruit of his loins He would RAISE UP Messiah to sit on His Throne, HE, SEEING THIS BEFORE SPAKE OF THE RESURRECTION OF MESSIAH" ( Acts 2:30, 31 ). Then comes the great announcement: 

    "This Jesus hath God RAISED UP", ( verse 32 ). "Therefore, let all the House of Israel know assuredly that GOD HATH MADE THAT SAME JESUS, WHOM YE CRUCIFIED, BOTH LORD AND MESSIAH" ( verse 36 ). 

    What possible meaning could these words have to that vast Jewish crowd other than that in the RAISING UP of Jesus of Nazareth, God had fulfilled His oath to David to RAISE UP Messiah to sit on His Throne? If Peter did not mean this, then he was an awful blunderer in the use of words, and needed a long course of instruction in the art of public speaking. But we have no doubt ( neither had his Jewish hearers ) that this is precisely what he intended to convey. What does Dr. Scofield say about it? Here are his words: "Peter shows from Psalm 16 that David himself understood that the dead and risen Christ would fulfil the Covenant and sit on His Throne" ( p. 1150 ). But of course, Scofield meant He would sit on the Throne 2,000 years after the resurrection. Such pitiful distortion of Peter's words is a poor way to play about with Scripture; it is akin to Modernism. But, lest there should be any doubt in the mind of the reader, the simple thing to do is to note other statements by Peter on the same subject. In Acts 5:30, 31, he declares to the Jewish Council, 

    "The God of our Fathers RAISED UP Jesus … Him hath God exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." 

    This is clear declaration that Jesus has already ascended His Throne, and Israel's only hope is in Him. It is NOW, not in a future age, that he gives repentance to Israel. 

    Then again, listen to Peter on his appearance before the Council ( Acts 4 ). Having asserted once more that Jesus is Israel's Messiah, enthroned by His resurrection, he enforces His message by quoting Psalm 118:22: "The stone the builders rejected is become the headstone of the corner." Thirty years later he confirmed that this is the true ( and, as far as he knew, the only ) interpretation of this prophecy, by applying it once again to the resurrection and the Church ( 1 Peter 2:7 ). But dispensationalists cannot be satisfied with apostolic exposition of the O.T. Scripture. Obsessed with the alleged future glories of the Jews, they must manifest a superior knowledge to that of the apostles, and give these Scriptures "a larger fulfilment". So we are not surprised to find that Dr. Scofield had a better understanding of this psalm than Peter. He makers this pronouncement: "Psalm 118 looks beyond the rejection of the Stone ( Christ ) to His final exaltation in the Kingdom." To make his meaning clear, he adds "verse 22" ( p. 6,57 ). Now Psalm 113:22 is this very verse about "the Stone" which Peter says has already received its fulfilment. Again, in a note on 1 Peter 2, Scofield says: "To Israel, AT HIS SECOND COMING, He is 'the headstone of the corner'." But Peter affirms it is to the Christian Church He is "the Headstone of the Corner". The position is simply this: you either believe Peter or Dr. Scofield. We are happy to be on Peter's side. 

    The Second Apostolic Sermon—Acts 3:18-26. 

    Here is another declaration of foremost importance. Before looking at. its meaning, we give consideration to Dr. Scofield's interpretation. It is a classic example of the erroneous character of the whole system he represents. He opens his remarks with the statement "The appeal here is national, to the Jewish people AS SUCH, NOT INDIVIDUAL, as in Peter's first sermon." Now with all due respect to Dr. Scofield's sincerity as a Christian, it would be difficult to find anywhere a more grossly misleading interpretation of Scripture. THERE IS NOTHING AT ALL IN THE SERMON THAT CONSTITUTES EVIDENCE FOR SUCH A REVOLUTIONARY ASSERTION, but there is a tremendous deal to refute it—and a whole host of Scripture elsewhere. This idea of "Israel" is a dreadful obsession with futurists. He is looking for it everywhere, and of course, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones ( previously quoted ) says, "he finds it everywhere". 

    But a moment's consideration will dispel the delusion. The sermon is identical, in its substance, with that in chapter 2. It opens with the same address, "Ye men of Israel", and likewise presents the facts of Christ's death and resurrection. It then calls for repentance with the promise of the remission of sins. The appeal was "to be converted", and was addressed to "every soul", with a view to "turning everyone of you from his iniquities". To make this an appeal TO THE JEWISH NATION AS SUCH, with a view to bringing about national repentance and the establishing of an earthly Messianic Kingdom, is pure assumption originating in a mind obsessed with a theory that obviously will not square with the plain meaning of Scripture. Not only is no trace of this idea found in this passage, but THE WHOLE CONCEPTION 1S ABSOLUTELY ALIEN TO THE WORK AND MINISTRY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, OF WHICH THE APOSTLES WERE NOW THE REPRESENTATIVES. 

    Where, in the name of truth, were they ever commissioned by the Lord to preach national repentance to the Jews, and where were they ever instructed to offer these Jews, guilty of the murder of the Son of God, a Messianic Kingdom? If they did such a thing, THEY WERE PLAINLY DOING SOMETHING THEY WERE NEVER COMMANDED TO DO. Their task was to "disciple all nations", not to offer a Kingdom to one nation. The outpouring of the Spirit was given them, not to Judaise the redeeming work of Christ, but to proclaim it "to the uttermost part of the earth". And, whilst they were to "begin at Jerusalem", they had but one message—not an earthly Kingdom, but "REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS IN MY NAME". But there is yet a further point, plainly stated by Allis in his excellent work, "Prophecy and the Church" ( page 40 ), where he says: 

    "This involves them in a serious difficulty. For if the offer of this kingdom had already been postponed for the entire Church age, what right had Peter to offer it practically at once to Jews whose hands were red with the Blood of their Messiah, and on exactly the same terms as those on which it had been offered them some three years previously? If this is the meaning of Peter's exhortation there was really no postponement of the Kingdom offer…If this is the meaning, then Scofield's statement that 'the second preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom is yet future ( Matthew 24:14 ) during the great tribulation, and immediately preceding the coming of the King in glory', cannot be accepted as correct. For Peter preached it shortly after Pentecost; and, unless we are to hold that this offer was again withdrawn, we must regard it as still in force during the entire Church age. Furthermore, if the only condition for the establishment of the earthly Davidic Kingdom was the repentance of the Jewish nation, then conceivably the Church age might have been terminated practically at its very beginning by that repentance. Yet Paul tells us expressly that this conversion is dependent on something quite different: that it will not take place until 'the fullness of the Gentiles be come in'." 

    In view of all these facts, the theory of an appeal to national repentance must be discarded as repugnant to everything the Gospel involves. But we must differ radically from the theorists on other points in this passage. In verse 19, Peter promises, on repentance, "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord". Scofield interprets this as "seasons in which,—through the appearance of Messiah in His Kingdom, there shall occur blessed rest and refreshment for the People of God." This appears to be nothing less than word-spinning, The following verse adds, "and He shall send Jesus Christ". So the seasons of refreshing do not occur subsequent to His Second Advent, but before. They are those gracious seasons of blessing that have come to this earth through men believing this Gospel. In fact, this is exactly what Peter says in verse 26. "Unto you first God, having raise up His Son Jesus, SENT HIM TO BLESS YOU, in turning away everyone of you. from his iniquities." 

    Further Scofield "exposition" of the passage states: "The promise to national repentance is national deliverance; 'and He shall send Jesus Christ', to bring in the times which the prophets had foretold." Now this latter phrase is not in the Scripture; it is Scofield's own imaginative completion of the apostle's statement, and is a regrettable perversion of what Peter actually did say. Instead of declaring that if the Jews repented, God would send Jesus Christ to usher in an earthly Kingdom ( a statement too absurd for words ), Peter definitely told them that He must remain in heaven "until the Times of Restitution of all things spoken by the prophets", i.e., until the great events of this age, foretold by the prophets, should come to pass; and this included the. ingathering of the Gentiles. But observe once again the inconsistency of dispensationalists. Elsewhere, they are vigorous in their insistence that "kingdom blessings" must follow the salvation of the Gentiles. In his notes on Acts 15 ( to be considered in due time ) Scofield asserts concerning the "out-calling" and the LATER conversion of the Jewish nation, "this is the Divine purpose for this age". Then how could Peter possibly have conceived the idea ( and preached it ) that the Kingdom could have been established before the Gentile world had even heard the Gospel? Our answer is that the idea was non-existent in the first century. In fact, it was non-existent for the following eighteen centuries, till J. N. Darby kindled the light that hitherto had never been seen on land or sea ( except in the land of Jesuitry"? ). 

    No! the "times of refreshing" are the Gospel blessings of this age. As to "the Times of Restitution of all things spoken by the prophets", what did the prophets speak of ? In this passage Peter clearly indicates they spoke of THIS AGE. Moses foretold the cutting off of Israel for their refusal to hear ( verse 23 ); verse 24 assures us that they "foretold of THESE days", and the blessings of the Covenant are urged as available now ( verse 25 ). The greatest blessing foretold by the prophets was deliverance from sin and iniquity ( verse 26 ). ( See Micah 7:18-20, where this very blessing is declared to be "the truth to Jacob and the mercy to Abraham, which God had sworn to the father." ) 

    But the vision of the prophets extended beyond the blessings of this age. They reached to the new heaven and earth ( Isaiah 66:22 ); they foretold a time when war and the curse should be forever removed; nothing would hurt or destroy in all His Holy Mountain, and everlasting joy would be the portion of His People ( Isaiah 35 ). This picture is nothing short of the eternal age. The "Times of the restitution of all things" have begun in this glorious age of Messiah's reign over His People, and will he consummated at His Glorious Appearing when He shall destroy the Last Enemy. Then will be the eternal world of joy. But to say the Millennium is such a time is nonsense. Sin is there, death is there, sorrow is there, only feigned submission on the part of many, subterranean rebellions that Fowl with tigerish ferocity; the iron rod smites them down, but the volcano erupts' at last for the Devil's great hey-day. To call THAT "the restitution of all things" is credulity of the most incredible kind.
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