Notice: The book on “Hyper-Dispensational Hair-Splitters” has been delayed due to several unavoidable issues. I do plan it to be available in late October, assuming there are no more delays. –Bro Dave
Here is another example of the many heresies of the Hyper-Dispensationalists. Although Cornelius R. Stam has already gone on to glory, the BBS continues to put these old heresies on their website (September 2014). You have to watch them: their twists and turns are as crooked as a rattlesnake with an epileptic fit.
“Let us suppose that you have been saved, but live a careless life and bear a poor testimony before the world. Would water baptism change this? What would it be worth?
But suppose you have been saved and live a godly, consistent life before the world. Is a water-confession necessary? How much is it worth? Don’t be afraid to answer this question honestly. How many “baptized converts” there are who cannot even give a word of testimony for their Lord among the lost!
In a sense, however, the baptism of believers by water in this age is a testimony — a bad testimony. When the Galatian believers submitted to circumcision it was a bad testimony (Gal.5:2,3). Circumcision, while a part of Peter’s “gospel of the circumcision” had no place in “the gospel of the uncircumcision” committed to Paul (Gal.2:7). And just as circumcision was connected with “the gospel of the circumcision” so water baptism was con-nected (sic) with “the gospel of the kingdom” (See Matthew 3:2,6; 10:5-7; cf. John 1:31; Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:36-38; Acts 3:19-21).
We solemnly declare that the present day practice of water baptism is a reflection on the grace of God and a confession of a lack of appreciation of the finished work of Christ, and the believer’s completeness in Him (See Ephesians 1:6; Colossians 2:10). Furthermore, it betrays a poor understanding of the heavenly character and position of the Church of this age (See Ephesians 2:6; 1:3; Colossians 3:1-3).
Be a Berean. Search the Scriptures and see whether these things are so.”
This is what is known among men of reason as “making a mountain out of a mole hill”. Let us take Stam’s first question and supply some acts he did, and ask the same question: “Suppose that you have been saved, but live a careless life and bear a poor testimony before the world. Would the mere ritualistic acts of going to church on Sunday, Wednesday night, praying, studying your Bible, witnessing, singing hymns, observing the Lord’s Supper–which you do, change this? What would these be worth?”
In his “solemn” declaration, Stam lumps the gospel accounts of baptism and circumcision with Acts: “…And just as circumcision was connected with “the gospel of the circumcision” so water baptism was con-nected (sic) with “the gospel of the kingdom” (See Matthew 3:2,6; 10:5-7; cf. John 1:31; Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:36-38; Acts 3:19-21).”
Then, Stam runs to the “Prison Epistles” (Ephesians and Colossians) that do not mention water baptism in order to create the smoke and mirror Hyper heresy that circumcision and all water baptisms are connected. Along with this, he ASSUMES all baptisms in the NT are the same, and have the same meaning, mode, and message. This is the methodology of all Hyper-Dispensationalists. Neat trick, but it just doesn’t fit the facts.
As soon as someone questions this conclusion of a Hyper, the Hyper will go to Paul’s Acts ministry and try to prove that in Acts Paul was partially informed, gradually learning salvation by grace, or ignorant of what he later wrote in prison. They will point out that he took a vow, circumcised Timothy, went to synagogues, all of this to prove Paul was carrying on a Kingdom Gospel program like Peter, baptizing like Peter, or some partial version of it. But in prison, the Hypers claim Paul discontinued all this, and became a Hyper like them. Voila! That’s their proof water baptism is a “bad testimony”.
Press them further and they will quote what Paul said in Ephesians 4, there “is one baptism.” Of course in the same passage Paul said there is “one Lord “one faith” “one body” “one God” “one hope” “one Spirit”. Anyone who believes the KJB ( or any English or Greek Bible) knows there are more than “one” (numberwise) of all those TODAY. If Paul is saying there is only “one Spirit” in existence now–what happened to the “spirit” of man, angels who are ministering spirits, and the devil himself? And, when they run to whatever “Greek” they choose, we will answer the fool according to his folly and remind them that ALL Greek manuscripts have NO CAPITAL LETTERS for nouns or pronouns. We will also remind them that the KJB is absolutely correct in placing a capital letter “Spirit” since there is only one spirit that is essential and deserving of the capital: the Holy Spirit”. We will also remind them that there are at least three “faiths” in this age: the “faith of man”, “faith” that is a body of doctrine, and “the faith of Jesus Christ”–all easily seen if you believe what you read, and only one of these faiths is ESSENTIAL, the faith of Jesus Christ. If Paul meant there is only “one baptism”– numerically in this age that God accepts, the Bible record is flawed. Like the other “ones” of Ephesians 4, Paul refers to those that are ESSENTIAL or EFFECTUAL, by no means does he limit the number of spirits, baptisms, faiths, hopes, bodies, lords or gods to only one of each in existence. He is dealing with Quality not quantity. All Bible believers know that man’s faith wavers but the faith of Jesus Christ does not–but neither does that mean men should not have faith in God. And, all that are not trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, know that water baptism is not essential for salvation in this age. Bible believers also know that Paul, although he baptized believers, never condemns water baptism or repents of doing it at any time. However, they do know that if a person has not been baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ–that person is none of Christ’s. (1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 8:9-11).
All Campbellites and Hyper-Dispensationalists who think Paul would baptize with the same mode, meaning, and message as John the Baptist and Peter “..for the remission of sins”, while preaching: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (Romans 11:6 KJB)” are more eligible to work in a carwash where they can baptize and wipe water away all day, rather than in the pulpit or classroom.
Furthermore, Paul plainly says circumcision in this age is “dung” but he never repents of baptizing anybody, or even hints he may have been ignorant or half informed during his Acts ministry. Read the Bible reason for his Acts ministry on the “Remnant” in our coming book. All the Hyper guesswork and assumptions of connecting baptism with circumcison, vows, etc., are proven for what they are: heresy. The Hypers are more fouled up than Hymenaeus and Philetus that “rightly divided” the resurrection right out of this age!
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:15-19 KJB)
We were in the Amazon jungle in 1984 and met a tribal group that called themselves “Yanomami” (THE People) who were firmly convinced there were no other peoples on earth except themselves. Of course that proud, pagan idea even extended to the other Yanomami villages. When someone in one village died of infection, or was attacked by a jaguar, it had to be because someone in another village had cast an evil curse against them. The only answer was retaliation. Many missionaries have found themselves ducking the long 8′ curare tipped arrows flying from the bows of neighbor Yanomami villagers.
Preparing us for one of these attacks, a friend who was with us on this trip, related a lesson he had learned earlier.
During one of these attacks at a Yanomami mission station years before, he told us of his surprise when the veteran missionary, standing up in the open, yelled: “Stand up and let them see you! Otherwise, you may be accidentally hit by an arrow!” Our friend had found out the Yanomami wanted to kill each other, not the “white ghosts of Yanomami ancestors”.
Of course, when first seeing pale, white missionaries with the fantastic tools of deity such as flashlights, sticks of fire (matches), clothing not made of leaves, and coats that send water away, these beings made the Yanomami rethink their “only us and no more” position. A combined “theological/anthropological” committee met, and the consensus was spread throughout the villages: there was no mistake on their part, Yanomami are indeed the only people on earth. Did not the strangers come from the sky in a bird? Don’t they speak our language? They have white leaves that say the same words today the leaves said yesterday. They are the spirits of our ancestors, come back to visit us!
Failing to see the forest because of a few trees is not only found in the jungle; proud, exclusive club attitudes also thrive in USA churches, Bible study groups, and among individual Christians. It matters not that you claim Jesus Christ is God, it matters not that you have accepted Him as your Savior, it matters not that you believe He saves by His grace and there is nothing you can do to get it or keep it, it matters not that you believed ON Him and His work for your eternal salvation: “IF YOU DON’T AGREE IN TOTAL WITH OUR SYSTEM, WE CAN HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP WITH YOU.” This proud, know-it-all attitude implies that perhaps other Christians are not even saved since they are continually sinning against God by disobeying THIS EXCLUSIVE HYPER position.
The issue is not that every doctrine Hyper-Neo-Dispensationalists believe is wrong; I do not question their salvation or sincerity. In fact, my fellowship with them, as members of the body of Christ, is not affected by their foolish and popish edicts. I know Whom I have believed and His words are pure and sure. Like my friend who is now in glory, Dr. Herb Noe, whispered to me as we sat in a preachers’ meeting, upon hearing a preacher issue forth some silly demand: “All the popes are not in Rome.”
Many of the Hyper doctrines are sound and that is why their conclusions are so easily swallowed by gullible Christians. They believe in the Deity of Christ, salvation by grace, etc., and all of what men would call “fundamentals of the faith.” The error of Hyper-Dispensationalism lies in exaltation of a private interpretation that excludes much biblical truth; one verse here is combative to another verse there. Analogy of scripture is secondary to a divisive chopping apart passages and even books, so that the complimentary whole of the Bible is destroyed. Some small attempt is made to avoid this accusation by their critics, but the practical results and outcome of their system belies any real effect. Law and Grace are absolute opposites in their scheme. The Hyper view cannot realize the dual concept that a Christian is not under the Law but yet, in Christ, fulfills the Law, and thereby validates the unity between Law and Grace that proceeds from God, Who is Righteous, Just, Merciful, and Gracious. Baptism by the Spirit cannot co-exist with a water baptism of any kind for any purpose. Hypers cannot comprehend the many non-essential and non-effectual specks in their own eyes, for the bloated, ponderous beam they have crammed into their practice of theology. Absolute truth it is that man does not live by bread alone–but just try to live 6 months without any! Jesus’ never condemned non-essentials, His condemnation was reserved for those who put temporal matters above eternal values.
All men are dispensationalists, whether they call the grand division of any Bible translation “Old Covenant-New Covenant” or by the correct “Old Testament-New Testament”. Covenant and Testament do not carry the same definition in English or in Biblical Greek–a critical distinction both Hyper-Dispensationalists and Covenant Theologians have missed.
“Dispensation” is not strictly a period of time; the word by contextual definition is an administration or stewardship. Generally, a “dispenser” may give out soap, towels, candy, etc., at various times to various people. God gave (dispensed) the OT/NT. Anyone who recognizes that division, is in some sense, a “dispensationalist”.
When we read, “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: (Ephesians 3:2 KJV)” there is no specificity as to a “time boundary”. Some aspect of the eternal grace of God was given to Paul for the purpose of the church’s information. Sound interpretation allows that grace, or the application of it, did not necessarily begin with this revelation to Paul, what had already existed could have been simply revealed through him, then to others. This is important to note, because in a strict sense there are not various periods of time called “dispensations”. However, in a GENERAL sense, Bible teachers for many years have used the term for certain periods of time in which “Innocence” “Conscience” “Law”, etc., were characteristics of an age or time. Therefore, in my study chart we have used in Open Bible College since the 1970’s and painted in 1980 on an 18′ x 4′ canvas in acrylics, I simply designated sections of the KJB, in order as God ordained them, not as “Dispensation of Innocence” “Dispensation of Conscience” etc., but “1” “2” “3”, on through “7”, and indicated by brackets, between each number, the leading person in the previous administration or economy, (“1″[Adam] “2”[Noah] “3”[Abraham], etc. The chart is merely a teaching tool, and never have I claimed it to be infallible, or the only way to study the word of God, or “the doctrinal basis for salvation and fellowship.”
But what makes a Christian become a HYPER or a NEO dispensationalist or Berean? Hyper-anything in Bible teaching takes a Bible truth and twists, magnifies a portion, or exaggerates it into a false doctrine that is non-biblical in both spirit and letter. That main group which claims of the title “Berean” today are a far cry from the Bereans in Acts 17:11. Instead of “rightly dividing” the Bible with the result being edification and increased unity among Christians, the HYPER chops the Bible here and there, constructing a man made system that actually separates scripture from scripture, and Christians from other Christians. Here is an example of a current “Hyper-Dispensation” demand:
“We believe that Eph. 4:1-6 sets forth the doctrinal basis necessary for fellowship in the dispensation of grace.”
Listen to this man’s teaching and his private interpretation of Ephesians 4:1-6 and you will find exactly what he states and means in this preamble and disclaimer to his “Statement of Faith”. I do not give his name because I believe he is a saved man. Although wrong in some of his interpretation and applications, enough naming and attacking individuals has gone on among Christians. The world, flesh, and the devil has enough ammunition to harm the testimony of Christ; I will not give more. Instead, I will show the errors of the system and leave the man alone to answer to his Savior—and Judge. He already knows what I believe and I know very well what he believes. His teacher (now with the Lord) and I spent hours on the same subject, one-on-one, years ago.
What he does not say in his “detailed” Statement of Faith is his one main bone of contention. After you bite the various pieces of seemingly harmless bait, he sets his quantitative hook of Ephesians 4:1-6. The Hyper claims the usage of “one” in Ephesians MUST BE QUANTITATIVE, OR DEALING WITH THE NUMBER OF, RELATED TO EXISTENCE . HE INSISTS IT CAN NOT BE DEALING WITH EFFECTUAL OR ESSENTIAL QUALITY. According to Hyper interpretation, it is not One omniscient Lord among many lesser lords; it is not One Faith, the faith of Jesus Christ, essential and effectual beyond the weak or strong faith of man or creeds; it is not One Spirit, the Third Person of the Godhead, who is above all spirit beings; it is not One Body, the body of Christ, essential and above all material bodies, spiritually and physically; and it is not even One baptism that is essential to being a member of the body of Christ, among several other baptisms in the Bible. The man doesn’t recognize or know the rules of his own native (English) language.
The Hyper ASSUMES the only sense of ONE in Ephesians is, “there is only one that CAN EXIST AT THIS TIME” (while, by implication, God approved many Lords, Faiths, Gods, Baptisms, etc., in other periods of time. God only reduced them to One when Paul went to prison!!!!). By his extrapolation, during the so-called time of the dispensation of Grace (of which time or where it began, he has no Bible proof–only his guesswork) there can be no other baptism, of water or Spirit but the Baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ (of which manner and how that body is formed, he has no scripture except the Acts epistle of 1 Corinthians 12:13. However, since he has previously determined that all Acts epistles were written before Paul really knew what he was doing, the Hyper cannot be sure that this One Baptism of the “Acts body” actually exists!)
Upon this conjectural and shifting sand of interpretation, the Hyper condemns the dreaded, carnal and even evil practice of water baptism-no matter the mode, no matter the meaning, no matter that Jesus was baptized, no matter that Jesus sent his disciples to baptize in His Name, no matter that Peter baptized, no matter that Philip baptized, no matter that Paul baptized, no matter that Paul never said “Don’t baptize”, no matter that Paul never repented of baptizing his converts after he got the “full revelation of when the dispensation of grace occurred and how it is applied” (according to the Hyper-Neo), no matter anything.
By forcing the “ones” of Ephesians 4 to be quantitative or number that exists, instead of quality or essentiality, he has excised himself from sane exegesis. There are right now as well as in the first century:
Many bodies (physical, heavenly, etc.), although essentially, “There is one body”: many spirits (angels, etc.) although there is essentially “one Spirit”: many lords (Lord Byron, Lord Nelson, etc.) although there is essentially “One Lord”: many different faiths (faith of a man, weak, strong, faith without works- dead faith, statement of faith, i.e., body of doctrine) but there is “ONE FAITH”, and only one, that guarantees your justification-THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST, your faith and mine is weak one moment and stronger the next, but always imperfect, THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST, HIS FAITHFULNESS, IS THE ONE FAITH THAT IS ESSENTIAL FOR JUSTIFICATION (Romans 3:22 KJB). There are several kinds of baptisms in the Bible, unto Moses, with water, in water, no water, for a future remission of sins, and many outside the Bible, but there is ONLY ONE BAPTISM THAT IS ESSENTIAL AND EFFECTUAL, THE BAPTISM BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST (1 Corinthians 12:13 KJB. That is only found in an Acts epistle): “There is One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” but there are many other “gods”(Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods…”John 10:34, 35 KJV)and there are many other “fathers” (“Father Abraham..” “all our fathers were baptized unto Moses…”, physical fathers, etc.) but there is ONLY ONE WE ADDRESS, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” (Ephesians 4:4-6 KJB)
Now this phobia of anti-water baptism is magnified by the Hype-Neo even though his own selection of scripture as “the doctrinal basis of fellowship” warns him before he arrives at the “Ones” in verses 4-6:
“1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3 KJV)
Somehow throwing your brother in Christ out of your fellowship because he does some non-essential practice that both of you agree does not save or make a man more spiritual, does not fit with Paul’s descriptive: “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…” Especially when you do non-essential religious traditions yourself…such as, How about Sunday morning 11AM services? Want to try and justify your Wednesday prayer meeting in a prison epistle? We’ll even let you use an Acts epistle–go ahead. Shall we mention “church furniture”, design, and decor? Paul never built a “steeple house” (John Wesley) and even in Acts, Paul said that God “does not dwell in buildings made with hands”. Paul addressed churches “in thy house”. How about your modern advertising methods? Must we list other Hyper-Dispensational “traditionalism” such as church marriage ceremonies? Why, in the name of all that’s whatever, should a man stop half way on a path to total Hyperism??? Go all the way, man! God hates lukewarm, half in, half out, professions. Of course, “I speak as a fool” but sometimes in order to show…well, I think everybody but the Hyper will get the picture.
Lest some might think the above are trivial and not so serious, in the forthcoming book there is an entire chapter devoted to the doctrines of Paul’s Acts ministry–proven by the Hyper’s “Prison Ministry” to still be in effect. The Hyper-Neo-Dispensationalism system is a house of cards, easily broken down when even the books of Philippians-Colossians are believed. One example:
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: (PAST TENSE: LEARNED, RECEIVED, HEARD, SEEN IN ME, in the Acts period, DO (PRESENT TENSE: CONTINUE TO DO NOW) and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:9 KJB, my emphasis. The full book will be available August 1, 2014)
Bible with Bible, who could make Ephesians 4:1-6 (among Christians) the “doctrinal basis necessary for fellowship”? Even Paul, whom the Hyper-Neo claims to follow as the “pattern” never severed fellowship with the “carnal babes” in Corinth. With longsuffering and patience, and with charity (the bond of perfection) Paul carefully outlines and defines in 1 Corinthians all the Corinthian church problems, but he sought, and did continue his fellowship with them. All of us have “social circles” of close and far fellowship (some farther than others) but we do not have the right nor do we have the necessary wisdom to divide what God has joined together: the church, which is His body. This is not a plea for ecumenical sweetness and compromise, but when a man falls out with another brother in Christ over matters that both agree are non-essential for salvation and practical sanctification, somebody is making “mountains out of molehills”. It smacks too much of doctrines and practice like that of Seventh Day Adventists who claim that if you attend Sunday services, you have the mark of the Antichrist.
I have never read that our fellowship is based solely upon the interpretation or application of 6 verses in Ephesians.
I read that our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ:
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3 KJB)
I also read that God does the calling into fellowship with Jesus Christ and regarding the church at Corinth with all its errors, sin, and carnality, Paul says:
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9 KJB)
At least the Yanomami repented and revised their exclusiveness. Evidently, jungle living is more conducive to the Bible truth in 1 Corinthians 8:2 than living in LA, Chicago, or Atlanta:
“And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” (1 Corinthians 8:2)
Here are the sad, nebulous, and deceptive doctrines that characterize the Neo-Berean-Hyper-Dispensationalism. When followed to the logical end of such Bible interpretation, every Hyper must swallow “hook, line, and sinker” some form of the doctrines, or take none of them.
Basic to all of the following is the issue of which “Bible” is the perfect word of God. If it is NOT the King James Bible in your hand, you might as well throw your hands up, and “go drifting with the tide”. Some Hebrew, Greek, modern language translation will not be your sword and shield simply because you believe not ONE BIBLE among them, wholeheartedly. You are a practicing Gnostic, still trying to find out where absolute truth exists. You may squeal and yell about originals, but your infallible anchor line has broken. Here are the tenets of the Hyper-Neo:
The inevitable result of all this foolish system is to spend almost all the ministry in getting people to accept the above. Evangelism dies and proselytization becomes the priority.
Wow! Aren’t you glad that in eternity you will be recognized as the “super body of Christ”(according to the deceased Hypers, C.H. Welch, E.C. Moore, and others)–far above those spiritual babies like William Tyndale, John Rogers, Martin Luther, John Calvin, all 54 translators of the KJB, John Wesley, Sam Jones, Peter Cartwright, Fanny Crosby, D.L. Moody, C.I. Scofield, Arno Gaebelein, Bob Jones Sr., Lee Roberson, Peter Ruckman, M.R. DeHaan, etc., plus thousands of poor tribal Christians who struggle to learn the few Bible verses in their language, along with millions upon millions of unknown Christians who lived and died, some that sealed with their blood the testimony of Jesus Christ. Sitting up there on your high horse above all those who knew not what you claim to know, all because you practiced the “high calling” matters—you really will be “a trophy of his grace”.
Good advice to all of us is that we cannot put the word of God into our little theological box. God’s word is alive. (Hebrews 4:12) We will have more success in handling a man-eating 850 pound male lion with a fly swatter than try to force the word of God into any puny system of man.
Hyper-Neo-Dispensationalists are hard to corner. Persecuted in one text, they flee to another. Not all Hyper-dispensationalists have come to the “perfection” that Charles H. Welch did (9). Undisputed identification of all Hypers are numbers 1-5 above. Every teacher on his way to being a Hyper teaches that water baptism is disobedience to God.
All dispensational Bible teachers are not Hyper-Dispensationalists. Hypers DEMAND a denial of water baptism.
To those who have begun to whine over my comments, I offer this one illustrative advice: Dr. Robert G. Lee stood at the door of the church after delivering his sermon, “I Love Jesus Because…”. As the morning crowd exited, one woman said, “I didn’t like your sermon today, Dr. Lee”. Dr. Lee, ever the quick wit, replied, “The devil didn’t either, Sister. Classify yourself and come back next Sunday”.
So, if my above remarks make your eyes water or blood pressure rise, all I can say is, “if the shoe fits, wear it. If not, I wasn’t talking about you.”
We should obey the first principle of “rightly dividing” the word of truth: Study to shew THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD” instead of showing everybody else what they must do. Far better to follow the “prison epistle” order to “work out YOUR OWN salvation, with FEAR and TREMBLING.” (2 Timothy 2:15; Philippians 2:12)
(Excerpts from “The Danger and Deception of Hyper-Dispensationalism” by Dave Reese available August 1, 2014)
“10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” (Acts 17:10-12 KJV)
Bible Bereans are believers from the area of Berea (Acts 17) and bear no resemblance to the contemporary denomination that calls itself “Bereans”.
Dispensationalists, generally, are those who believe normal-literal interpretation of the scripture is a sound method of understanding the various differences, as well as the similarities, of Bible economies. Those who claim to be dispensational in their Bible study are found in various denominations.
Neo-Bereanism and Hyper-Dispensationalism are closely related in that both groups claim the prison epistles of Paul dominate all Biblical doctrine; they deny water baptism by any mode and for any reason. Historically, “Bereans” such as Darby, Bullinger, and Welch did get along with those who differed on some of their doctrine. They were not narrow on fellowship with those who differed. (Bullinger, although not agreeing with some writers, nevertheless placed many of their articles in his seven volume set, “Things To Come”) Neo-Bereanism DEMANDS agreement with their position on baptism, etc., for fellowship. This contemporary crowd are the new breed of “Bereans”. Hypers and Neos disagree among themselves as to where the body of Christ began, observance of the Lord’s Supper, and other doctrines and practice. Those differences among themselves are so important in their view that they have split and splintered into different churches, and severed individual fellowship even with their “Berean” compadres.
I am dispensational in my Bible study but have not wavered from identifying myself first, as a Bible believing Christian and secondarily, a Baptist, for over 50 years. Regardless of theological beliefs, a man denominates himself when he takes any part or whole of a theological position. Like politics, you may be “Independent” “Libertarian” “Democrat” or “Republican” or even differ from all or some of those tenets; you have already denominated yourself, it is the “nature of the beast”. Man may call himself, or be called a “cuddy” “neddy” “dicky” “moke” or “burro”. You may indeed be a member of the family “Equidae” but if you are of the subspecies, “E. a. asinus”, you are a verifiable, real jackass, no matter which moniker is hung around your neck. (Jeremiah 2:22-24)
In 1980 I designed a dispensational chart that illustrated one way to understand some of the different economies or programs found in various periods of Bible history. Following several precedents before me, I named these as “Innocence” “Conscience”, etc., for relevance and general description but indicated the Bible order of references for each period, leaving gaps between each to allow transition periods from one economy to the next. Since the beginning of my college Bible studies, although many confuse it with time, I understood the term “dispensation” did not refer exclusively to a period of time, but better defined by “economy” or “program”. To my knowledge, the unique design of my chart was the Bible references to each period exactly as they are ordered in the Bible. The chart is still available on this website and has been used worldwide in many places to help believers understand the supposed contradictions in the Bible. The Bible has no contradictions; contradictions lie in our attempt to fit the Bible to our thinking instead of simply believing the Bible is right and men are wrong.
Never have I insisted that this chart was the ONLY way to understand the Bible or to “rightly divide” it. It was designed as one tool among many ways to understand the word of God. Only a fool would claim to have discovered what millions of other Christians over centuries have never seen, or that his way was the ONLY way to study the Bible.
When I say “Bible”, the reference is to the King James Bible, commonly known as the Authorized Version of 1611. I differ somewhat (don’t we all) from others in that I believe the translation of the word of God into English was simultaneous with the development of the English language over a period of c. 500 years, reaching the peak in 1611. I do not believe that ONLY the “original manuscripts” were inspired and copies were merely “preserved”. In my understanding, inspiration and preservation are inseparable. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35). Inspiration, if limited to the original manuscripts being God-breathed, then preservation means nothing more than the attempt to preserve dead words. Details of my view on inspiration may be found in my sermons and writings.
I believe normal-literal language communication is the only way we can understand each other, as well as understanding that which God has revealed in His Bible. The Bible does not hide, make difficult, or allow only the intellectuals to know the essential things a man must know about God, or what God wants man to do. God is more interested in your heart than your head. David was a man “after God’s own heart” and not a man after “God’s head”.
Education in the writings of men (secular and religious) will not necessarily make you closer to God but it may very well drive you away from God. Many “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”(Romans 1:20-22).
Above all things, salvation and service to God are personal matters. The salvation of your soul and how you serve Him are One-on-one, between God and you alone: Entre Dios y sólo a ti. No man is to have dominion over another man’s soul or be his Judge. The reason for these things are plain: all men are sinners and in the same boat before the Eternal God. In the course of living everyone must make “judgments” but before we undertake to condemn a man for his religion, we had better do a double-take on our own.
Since all men are liars in one way or another, and put on their pants just like all others do, one leg at a time, we must be very careful before swallowing any man’s words—hook, line and sinker. Absolute Truth resides in one place on this earth: the Bible. When men (liars as we are by nature) tell us what God means in the Bible, this is where it hits the fan. Red flashing lights should go on and “PROCEED WITH CAUTION” signs begin to blink.
“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20 KJV)
A simple story about spiritual fruitfulness: Bill and Joe, friends for many years, attended a gospel meeting out of curiosity. The preacher quoted the Bible and made a powerful but clear gospel message. Declaring that all men are sinners and that the wages of sin is death, the preacher said Christ came into the world to pay the penalty of sin, died on the cross, and that “Whosoever” trusted His finished work on the cross for salvation, would have everlasting life. Both men, realizing they had sinned and were sinners under the wrath of God, believed on The Lord Jesus Christ that night.
Bill and Joe began to study the Bible and rejoiced in all the blessings, peace with God, and joy they had. Joe began to study under a system called “dispensationalism” and listened, almost exclusively, to only a small group who referred to themselves as “Bereans” and claimed to “rightly divide” the Bible. Bill also listened to the dispensational views and saw some value in understanding but noticed the studies left a few critical questions unanswered. Their close fellowship began to fade as Joe became more and more involved in what Bill saw as Joe “splitting hairs” and making “mountains out of molehills”.
Joe finally declared that if Bill did not deny water baptism and believe the body of Christ (the Church) began with Paul, he would not have any more fellowship with him. He demanded many other “doctrines” such as: the Bible order of books was wrong, the New Testament was not Matthew through Revelation, water baptism was totally Jewish tradition, the grace of God came with Paul’s revelation, the body of Christ began after Paul got that revelation, those who believed Paul’s doctrines had a “high calling” and would be caught out before the rest of the “low calling” believers, etc.,,etc.
Bill tried to reason with Joe that these matters were not more important than their fellowship as members in the body of Christ. Both of them believed on Christ and salvation by grace, plus nothing and minus nothing. Bill did not believe water baptism saved or had any power to make a person a better Christian; he believed it was a sImple illustration or identification with the gospel message of the believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. He reasoned that Christ did not intend that they become virtual enemies over these lesser matters, but all of his pleas went unneeded by Joe.
Joe went on to become a pastor of a dispensational church that had split from another dispensational church across town–not because they baptized converts–both groups denied that. The church split because some believed the Lord’s Supper should be observed, while the splinter members did not. When Joe tore down his church sign and put “Berean Fellowship” removing the old traditional words “Calvary Church”, (because “Calvary” was not found in Paul’s letters) Bill tried again to reason with Joe that many words were not found in Paul’s letters but that did not mean Paul denied them. When Bill mentioned that Paul established many churches and even addressed his letters to them, Joe insisted that the word “church” had been ruined by old traditionalism and was no longer of any value. When Bill asked Joe if he was going to stop meeting in a building, throw out the “pews” “pulpit” and of course change or drop his “Sunday School” “morning Worship service” at 11-12 AM, and begin meeting only in houses, Joe was strangely silent.
The illustration is a real one except the names. Can any saved and reasonable Christian believe that Joe’s fanaticism is pleasing to God? Do you really believe that God sent His Son to the cross, saved Paul and gave His apostleship to bring about such “fruit”?
(to be continued….)
“…in the 1611 publication. Interestingly, however, these pilcrow marks disappeared after Acts 20:36. (One wonders of the printer just ran out of pilcrows.)”
(The Story Behind the King James Version. Article by Dr. Ron Rhodes. www.cbn.com)
WE should expect this from a “700 Club” (CBN) website. The statement by Rhodes is frivolous and unsubstantiated. To suggest the printer “ran out of pilcrows” reveals parroting what he read by others as well as a lack of knowledge regarding the importance of printing for the Crown in 1611.
THIS is the last pilcrow in the KJB: ” ¶ And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.” (Acts 20:36 KJB)
THERE actually are several who suggest the printer ran out of the pilcrow type at this point–if he did, it was an ordained lack. However, considering the extensive use of the mark throughout the OT and the Gospels, as well as the meticulous care in typesetting, etc.-under the King’s orders and the scrutiny of the translators—-it seems to me that idea of running out of type is silly. Unfortunately (?) we have very little of the KJB translators’ notes to see their reaction. There are no records of objections by others at the time. The “last paragraph mark” was noted without a known reason several years later and since has been a mystery—but the pilcrow absence survived all the reprints. Why?
LIKE other unusual features in the KJB such as the sixth book in the NT (R-O-M-A-N-S six letters with MAN in it) that means “according, or having to do with man”, there are exactly 6 verses where the 6th word in each verse is “man” with the last being Romans 6:6, the missing pilcrows actually defy normal explanation.
A question regarding the last paragraph in the KJB was asked by a Bible believing pastor. Here is my answer to this mystery: another one of the many “coincidental” features of the KJB.
FIRST: As used in English, the pilcrow was not at a mere paragraph marker but also a MARK OF ORDER OF EVENTS, for example, in a service in which certain people were to perform an action or a particular change was made in events. It was also used to mark off discourse changes. Today’s usage is extensive in legal writing to mark off various parts and it is still used by many in formal writing.
THE personal and direct statement by Paul is made to the Ephesian church in vss. 28-35. This final pilcrow is NOT just the last paragraph of Acts, it is the final one in the Bible. Most miss that the final paragraph begins in v 36 and has not yet ended! Of course the argument could be made that the next chapter automatically begins a new paragraph but the fact remains there are no more pilcrows in the Bible.
I believe the pilcrow at v 36 is connected with the prison epistle truth found in Ephesians-Philemon. The charge by Paul to the Ephesian church is in the same structure as his letters: doctrinal content is first and the practical applications are at the end of his charge.
IF my observation is accurate, then what we have is a significant change noted here from Paul’s Acts ministry which purpose was to gather out a remnant of Israel (… to the Jew first… Romans 1:16) by grace into the Body of Christ (Romans-Galatians: Acts epistles) to his prison ministry that goes without distinction to all men without any advantages to anybody (Ephesians-Philemon. See Philippians 3 ).
ONE key is “see his face no more” (v. 38). The “ship” in Acts 21 thus removes Paul from the Acts ministry and eventually leads to Jerusalem where the rulers of Israel confirm their rejection of the gospel of grace, then unto Rome where those Jewish rulers scattered abroad confirm the nation’s total rejection, thus commencing his prison ministry, the final order of things for the Church. (Acts 28:17-31)
“And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.” (Acts 28:17 KJB)
“And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.” (Acts 28:25-29 KJB)
CONFUSION among believers today is the result of failure to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and acknowledge that Acts is not the final book of doctrine for this age: Acts is a book of transition from the Twelve Apostles led by Peter, to the Apostle Paul: a change of message from man’s faith that works, to the faith of Jesus Christ that finished the work: a change from the gospel of the Kingdom to the gospel of Grace: a change from Jew only, to Gentiles also, to all men every where without distinction.
THOSE who insist the Jew has an advantage over all others today are judged by the Book they profess to follow: Paul writes to the Gentile church at Philippi:
“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith”(Philippians 3:3-9 KJB)
THAT is a PRISON epistle written by the same man who gave the circumcision an advantage over a Gentile in Acts who now says that any ministry which gives an advantage to one flesh over another is a ministry of DUNG. It was right to go “to the Jew first” in Acts but it is a ministry of DUNG now. Those who fail to listen to Paul (2 Timothy 2:7) or use their Bible like a smorgasbord buffet will have to ignore, spiritualize, or explain away why they DO NOT AND CAN NOT OBEY ALL of the examples of the Apostles’ practice in the book of Acts.
NOT one person goes to the Jew first with signs to prove their ministry today as it is done in Acts, and NO ONE FOLLOWS the doctrine and practice of the “early church” in Acts 1-10. Those who claim they do are liars, spiritualizers, or certified nuts.
A Jew can be saved today but he is saved just like every other person is saved. The NATION is without an advantage, has no prophet, no special revelation. Israel will be blessed only AFTER the final 70th week (7 years) of Daniel’s prophecy. After the Body of Christ is caught up to meet the Lord in the air, that final 70th week begins. At the end of it Israel will repent and call upon the Lord, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”. It is then, and only then the Lord will bless Israel again and set up His earthly Kingdom in Jerusalem for 1000 years of peace on earth.
The last paragraph mark in Acts does not stand as a simple omission by a printer but is a Divinely imposed mark to give the Bible believer another affirmation of its miraculous content.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJB)