I have encountered many “grace believers,” “right dividers”, and “mid-acts dispensationalists” as of late.
Initially, I was intrigued by them. I researched some of their doctrines, and it seemed like the more I found wrong with the doctrine, the MORE I found wrong with it. The errors just seemed to snowball.
I started asking simple, but profound questions like “If you had witnessed the Resurrection, was Paul’s gospel YOUR gospel?”
The reactions shocked me. Some called me an “idiot”. Some questioned my salvation. Some threads openly ridiculed me. Some folks followed me from group to group, accusing me. I remember one lady in particular, “Helga”, had a virtual Facebook meltdown. The thread administrator had to block her. I even had to block a few of them who had taken it upon themselves to “pull my feet out of the fire” if you will. One lady told me “I have been studying the Bible for 44 years, how long have you?” my response: “so are you saying that since you have studied the Bible so long, you know it all, and it is impossible for you to be wrong about anything, or learn anything new..is that what you are saying?”. To date, I have not received a reply.
I finally decided I didn’t need such drama in my life, and purged all such “groups”. They refuse instruction. I never imagined my opinion would offend folks so much.
Granted, There are many things I DO AGREE with concerning the “mid acts” doctrine, but much of it is self evident, and really a matter of semantics.
To sum things up, because of their narrow doctrine, and short sighted view of the Scriptures, when it comes to the deeper things of the Bible, they can’t seem to see the forest for the trees.
While I could write an entire book on Mid-Acts Doctrine and its inherent flaws, I will simply address a few fundamental errors that I feel is the cause of much of their misunderstanding. I may add more and expound on it in another writing.
First, they believe that the Apostle Paul was the first person to be placed INTO the Body of Christ, the first “Grace saint” This contradicts the scriptures. “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph 3:6). What about Cornelius? or Barnabus? Peter told Cornelius God cleansed his heart by faith. (Acts 10:43, 11:44-48, 15:19) Paul himself said Abraham was saved by grace, through faith, not works (romans ch 4). Abraham was a Gentile by the way.
Was Paul a Jew, or a Gentile?. There were THOUSANDS of believers already in the Body of Christ, his church, a long time before Paul was converted on the road to Damascus.
The scripture is self evident that “the same body” had to exist before the Gentiles could become fellow heirs. There had to be an heir FIRST. And moreover, by their logic, I cannot see the twelve Apostles as not being part of the Body of Christ. It just doesn’t make any sense.
To me, their worst misunderstanding of all is MAD’s don’t seem to understand the difference between the “Bride of Christ”, aka “the Lamb’s Wife”(rev 21:9), and the Body of Christ. Many of them also believe Israel is the Bride of Christ. This too is a false assumption.
MADrs don’t “get” this dichotomy because their doctrine teaches that the Old Testament is not “for us”, so they don’t read OR study it as much, and don’t see these metaphors, shadows and the picture types God uses to illustrate and teach things to us in the New Testament.
The “Body of Christ” is the church. The “Bride of Christ”, (Eph 5), is PART OF the Body of Christ, the Grace dispensation saints, and will come out of the Body of Christ, or his Church, just as Eve came out of the body of Adam.
But not ALL of the Body of Christ is his BRIDE.
His Bride, just as we are, like Rebekah, (again, a gentile) was betrothed to a man she had never met. This is the difference between the Jews at Pentecost, and the Grace dispensation saints. Both are the Body of Christ, but the Gentile is his Bride. (see my other post in this blog “the difference between acts 2:38, and Eph 2:8”).
The Bride is not a Jew. She is a Gentile, but just like Ruth, she is a Jew by adoption. The Grace dispensation saints are the Bride of Christ.
The key to understanding this is the Old Testament. Look at the relationship of Boaz to Ruth, and the OT pictures of Christ and their Brides, ALL GENTILE BRIDES, namely Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, Josephs wife, Moses wife, Solomons, and King Davids bride, as well as many others. EVERY ONE of these were Gentiles This is not mere coincidence, this is clearly a pattern.
The Body of Christ, or “Naomi”, beginning at the church of Jerusalem, existed long before Paul began his ministry to the Gentiles, part of his body, or family, as Naomi was, but not his Bride.
Just like Boaz and Ruth, Jesus is a Jew, and his BRIDE is a Gentile. “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph 2:6).
Now, think about this verse. There is NO separation. There is no “separate program” for the Gentiles. Israel’s promise of the Kingdom is also OUR PROMISE, and we will be a part of it.
Boaz did not have to marry Ruth to redeem Naomi’s lands, he married Ruth because he LOVED HER, and in so doing, as Naomi’s only surviving child, Ruth became a “fellow heir” of Naomi. The Gentiles, under the gospel of Grace, are also “fellow heirs of the promises” made to the Kingdom church.
Second, MAD’s believe Jesus will rule the earth from the throne of David during his mellinial reign. This is a church myth, a traditional school of thought. I was brought up in church listening to this same assumption, but a close examination of the scriptures reveals that while Jesus will JUDGE from Israel at his Second Coming, he won’t RULE from Jerusalem proper in the regeneration, He will rule from heaven, the “Holy Jerusalem”, with his Queen. We will be there, “seated with Christ in heavenly places”, as rulers, judges, governors and administrators over the GENTILES during the mellinial reign.
During this time, King David will rule Israel as a prince king, from his throne, with the Twelve Apostles ruling over the twelve tribes of Israel, as a priestly nation. (Ezekial 37:24) “and David my servant shall be King over them”. Also read Ezekial 34:23,24, “And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a Prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it.”
In the regeneration, Jesus will rule the world from the Bridal Chamber, the Holy Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies, in the heavenlies. His Bride, US, will also rule over the GENTILE nations as his Queen, FROM the Holy of Holies, the “Holy Jerusalem” of Rev 21:9-10. (KJV) .
We will rule over the Gentiles in much the same manner as King David and the Apostles will rule over the twelve tribes of Israel. “Joint heirs of the promises”.
Contrary to the MAD’s prevailing opinions, during the regeneration, we won’t be floating around heaven strumming harps and worshipping constantly, while Jesus is away for 1000 years. We will have work to do, and be here with our Lord,(1Thess 4:17), while Our heavenly abode will be with Jesus in the heavens, the Holy of Holies. This is the 1500x1500x1500 mile cube found in Revelation 21:16. This is the Bridal chamber that comes down to earth in Rev 21:9. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you: I go to prepare a place for you. And if I prepare a place for you, I will come again, and recieve you unto myself: that where I am, there ye may be also” John 14:2-4.
In Rev 21:3, The Tabernacle,”New Jerusalem” is mentioned as a separate structure, “as a bride”, compared to Rev 21:7-9 “the Holy Jerusalem, “the Lamb’s wife” and it is, but the Holy of Holies, the “Holy Jerusalem”, which is the Bridal chamber, will be INSIDE the Tabernacle, or the “New Jerusalem”. This Tabernacle, with it’s Holy of Holies, will come to earth from the heavenlies at the end of the mellinial reign of Christ.
One must remember that during the regeneration, the thousand year reign, our abode will be in the heavenlies, but we will also be “kings and priests unto God, and we shall reign on earth” with Jesus. (Rev 5:8-10, KJV) We will be able to come and go in an instant, just as Jesus did in his resurrection body, so time or distance will not be an issue.
Third, they believe that only Paul’s Epistles are for us today, to the exclusion of all others, and most MADs believe Paul did not author Hebrews, another fundamental flaw in their doctrine. (More on Hebrews in another chapter).
Revelation 21:9-16 is a clear depiction of the Bridal chamber, coming down from heaven just behind the Tabernacle. “The Lamb’s wife” IS US!. We are mentioned in Revelation 19, at the marriage of the Lamb, and in 21:9 as “the Lamb’s wife”, and also in Rev 5:8-10 “thou hast redeemed us by thy blood out of ALL NATIONS, and kindreds, and tongues” so it is clear this is NOT Israel here, and chronologically speaking, it is NOT the ones who will come out of the tribulation period, as we read Revelation, it is clear that the wrath of God on earth occurs after this.
We WILL also be here with our Saviour at his second coming, and during and after the Mellinial reign. The Bride will enjoy a special intimacy with Christ no one else will have. So to say anything outside Paul’s Epistles is not “for us” is just not true.
Fourth, they teach that Paul was the “first grace saint”. One merely needs to read Acts 9 to see that Paul believed, repented, (“what would thou have me to do Lord?”) and was baptised to recieve the Holy Spirit. By their own logic, this is not the grace gospel Paul preached to the Gentiles, the Gentiles recieved the Holy Spirit by faith alone. (Acts 10:42-44). It is clear that Paul’s conversion was under the Kingdom Gospel preached by Peter at Pentecost, and was the gospel that was in effect at the time of Paul’s conversion. Paul met Jesus in the flesh, so Grace through faith alone was an impossibility for him, or anyone who had witnessed Jesus earthly ministry or resurrection, they had met the man!. Furthermore, how could Paul be saved by a gospel he was not aware of at the time of his conversion?.
While Abraham was saved by grace through faith, along with many others previously, the gospel of Grace through faith alone had never been preached to the masses, or the Jew, or “dispensed” prior to Paul’s conversion.
Concerning “works”, Works never saved anyone, and never will, and salvation afterwards, in ANY dispensation, was never conditioned upon behaviour, it was, and still IS the free gift of God. For the Jew, though, his “work”, or expression of faith AFTER salvation was baptism in water. This did not save him, it was an expression of his salvation whereby he recieved the GIFT of the Holy Spirit as a result. This “work”, nor any work, was never required of a Gentile. The Gentile’s “work” is accomplished by the Holy Spirit baptism of the believer. It’s not what you do, but what Christ DID!
Fifth, they believe Paul somehow had the copyright on grace through faith. That no other Apostle ever preached grace through faith before, or afterwards but Paul. A common cliche’ I hear is “The twelve were sent only to the nation Israel”, and they infer the 12 did not ever preach grace through faith alone. Considering the times and diverse locations of the martyrdom of the apostles, this presumption also fails.
The 12, and Paul had a mastery of both the Kingdom and Grace gospels. They preached to the Jew and Gentiles. The primary difference in the two gospels is that the Jew at that time knew Jesus after the flesh, but the gentiles had only heard of him.
John the divine was the last Apostle to die, some 35 years after the death of Paul. What gospel did John preach? What Gospel did the Apostles preach outside Israel? (Many of them martyred far from Israel).
Simple answer, John and the Apostles also preached Grace through faith after the offer of the Kingdom was refused. They would have been “accursed” had they preached any other gospel , afterwards but Paul’s. The only exception being a person who had met Jesus in the flesh, or witnessed his resurrection. That persons gospel was acts 2:38.
When Paul received the revelation, he SHARED it with the other Apostles, and they preached it also, to whomever it applied.
Paul’s trademark was “grace be unto you” you will find this in all 14 of Paul’s epistles, romans through Hebrews. (See “Paul’s salutation”, and “are you an enemy of the Bible” in other posts on this blog.)
John even closes Revelation with Paul’s salutation “Grace be unto you.”
MADs call themselves “right dividers”. Judging by the ones I have met, I would have to say most have “rightly divided” the Bible to the point of Chopping it to pieces, and excluding half of it as it applies to them. I have found that much of their doctrine will not withstand the scrutiny of the scriptures, and can get downright confusing. In my experience, they are a very arrogant, stubborn bunch, and get pretty nasty when challenged.
But don’t take my word for it, consider these things, and study them out, and decide for yourself.