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9A. Dispensationalism - Petrine and Pauline Authority

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Dispensationalism

Petrine and Pauline Authority

 

Mr Stam tells us:
1.  The Catholic interpretation in modified form is found in the ritualistic creeds of many Protestant denominations.  They make Rome's claims, with reservations and apologies.
2.  Some Protestants argue that in these words our Lord merely gave the apostles authority to state the terms of salvation.
3.  Others contend that the apostles were given the ability to discern and declare whose sins were forgiven and whose were not.  That is, they could pronounce sins forgiven, not by any authority given to them, but because of God-given powers to discern the true spiritual state of those to whom they ministered.
4.  Still others claim that our Lord meant to impress upon His followers their great responsibility and to warn them that through their behavior some would accept Him while others would reject Him; some would have their sins remitted, while others would have their sins retained.
But all of these arguments can be placed in one category: they wrest the natural meaning of Scripture and are easily answered by Rome as she points to the Book itself and insists: "But this is what it says."

THE SOLUTION

The solution to this problem and the answer to Rome's pretentions is again a dispensational one.  It lies in the fact that from time to time God changes His dealings with men--a premise which must be granted by Romanists if indeed our Lord did confer such powers upon His disciples after several thousand years of human history had elapsed--and that the church of today is not a perpetuation of the organization which Christ founded while on earth.


Dispensations are not the answer to the dilemma that the writer finds himself in, accepting the Word of God for what, and only what, it says, is. We see in Matt. 16:19, the giving of the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter and the twelve and the church (Matt.18:17,18). As seen in the last chapter these were the tools God did, and now does, use to build his kingdom. Roman Catholicism makes an error when it fails to recognize that the high priestly office has, through the New Covenant, been taken from human hands and placed in the hands of Christ. He is now our High Priest (Heb.2:9-18; 3:1; 4:14-16; 5:1-14; 6:20), and each believer is a priest under his order (Rev.1:6). Unfortunately Roman Catholicism desires a human hierarchy which men must be answerable to instead of the spiritual hierarchy set forth in the Word of God. They place Peter at the head of the Church when in reality the head of the church is Christ, Peter being but one of the ministers God used to spread the gospel.

Let us look at some scriptural points which may help to clear up the problem which the writer seems to find answerable only through dispensationalism:

1. Christ, not Peter, is the fulfillment of the eternal high priestly office seen as a type in the duties of Aaron and his descendants. (Heb.7:11-28)

2. The entire church has the keys to the kingdom of heaven, not just Peter, (Matt.18:15-20, John 20:19-23). It is only through the teaching of the Word of God, handed down from generation to generation through Christ's body, the church, that men can be brought into the kingdom of God. If the church, therefore, does not proclaim the Word of God then the Kingdom of God ceases to grow. We as believers, individually, are given the keys of eternal life, we lock the door to the kingdom when we do not preach the gospel, we unlock the door to the kingdom when we preach the gospel (I Cor.1:21).

3. In this context we can also see the promise of Christ to the 12 in Luke 22:28-30, their testimony (I Cor.15:1-8) is the gospel which Christ, through the action of the Holy Spirit, uses to bring lost men into His kingdom. Those who believe the report of the 12 have eternal life those who deny the report are condemned to a Christless eternity in Hell. At this time those apostles are eating and drinking at the Lord's table in His kingdom and acceptance or rejection of their testimony continues to determine the destination of men's souls.


Mr Stam tells us:
Does this mean, then, that our Lord committed even the forgiveness of sins into the hands of failing men?  No, not failing men, for at Pentecost the Holy Spirit took supernatural control of them.  In that foretaste of the millennium the believers lived together in a way that even the most spiritual believers cannot, or do not, live today.  Indeed, we do not find the apostles charged with one single mistake until after the conversion of Saul.  Moreover God gave them supernatural gifts to qualify them for their work.


The Holy Spirit did indeed give the apostles great powers of discernment just as He gives the church today, but we know from the scriptures that the writer is in error when he makes the claim that the apostles were not charged with one single mistake until after the conversion of Saul. Acts 6:1-8 tells us one incident, concerning the neglecting of the Grecian widows, in fact the writer himself does not believe this statement as can be seen in Chapter 5 where he makes this statement:


"When Peter stood up nineteen centuries ago and declared that the last days has come (Acts 2:16,17) he showed that he was totally ignorant of God's plan to usher in a dispensation of grace before the return of Christ."


In other words, according to the writer of this book, Peter was completely wrong when he made this statement. As is often the case the writer must contradict himself in order to support false claims.


Mr Stam tells us:
It is understood, of course, that the apostles possessed no essential power in themselves to remit sins.  It was delegated power exercised, as we say, under the control of God the Holy Spirit.
The Lord Jesus certainly had authority to admit men into the kingdom or shut them out from it.  Surely He, as the Son of Man, could remit sins, and what He bound on earth was surely bound in heaven.
And now He gives these powers to His followers as officials in the kingdom:


In this statement the author is so close to the truth he is almost ready to stumble over it.

1. The kingdom was taken from Israel as a nation with the chief priests and elders at the head and given to the church made up of the "little flock" with Christ at its head.

2. Although the church is seen composed of only Jews at the start it soon became united with believers of different nations which came together not as "separate nations" but as one body or nation in Christ, which brought forth the fruits which Israel as a nation under her human rulers was unable to produce. I Pet. 1:1; 2:7-10 brings this out so clearly it is impossible to miss.

3. This "little flock" is the exact same church which Paul the apostle joined (Gal. 2:9). As stated before the Bible speaks of only one church, one body, united together in Christ and any belief contrary to this is found nowhere in the Word of God. It is only through adding to and subtracting from the precious Word of God that anyone could arrive at the author's conclusion.


Mr Stam tells us:
Matt. 19:28 makes it further clear that authority in this kingdom was to be centralized in the twelve apostles:
"AND JESUS SAID UNTO THEM, VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT YE WHICH HAVE FOLLOWED ME, IN THE REGENERATION WHEN THE SON OF MAN SHALL SIT IN THE THRONE OF HIS GLORY, YE ALSO SHALL SIT UPON TWELVE THRONES, JUDGING THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL."
Finally, in Matt. 16:19 Peter is singled out as chief of the twelve when our Lord says:
"AND I WILL GIVE UNTO THEE THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN."


Do the scriptures actually say this or is he again reading something in?

In Matt.16:19 Christ is speaking primarily to Peter when He states He will give him the keys to the kingdom. If we look at the context of the chapter we need to go back to verse 13- Christ puts out the question, "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" Their reply is found in vs.14.

He then asks, "Whom do ye say that I am?"

Peter replies, "Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God."

Because of this reply, it is know that Peter has had the truth of God revealed unto him and this knowledge entitles him to possess the keys to the kingdom. From this scripture do we draw the conclusion, then, that Peter alone had the keys because of his belief or do all believers possess the keys to the kingdom? The answer can be found in Matt.18:15-18 and John 20:23, all believers, not just Peter are given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Peter, the twelve, and in fact all men who confess Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God possess the key to eternal life.


Mr Stam tells us:
Peter is consistently singled out as the leader of the twelve in this way:


The scriptures many times state that he was the spokesman, but as far as leadership was concerned he shared the office of pillar of the church with James and John ( Gal.2:9). He also was answerable to the church as can be seen in Acts 11, where he had to give an account for his action in going to the Gentiles with the gospel. Peter was not the supreme head of the church, the one to whom the church was answerable to, Christ alone fulfills that office.


Mr Stam tells us:
There are numerous such cases in the record of the apostles' ministry, but one of particular significance is found in Acts 10, just after the conversion of Saul:
Peter was not out of the will of God when he hesitated to go to the Gentiles.  He well knew the prophetic program, that the nations were to be blessed through the rise and salvation of Israel (Isa. 60:1-3).  Filled with the Holy Spirit, he had declared that God had raised up His Son Jesus to bless Israel first, in turning them away from their iniquities, so that the Abrahamic Covenant might be fulfilled and the nations might be blessed through them (See Acts 3:25,26 and cf. Mark 7:27, Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8).  Israel must first be brought to Messiah's feet.


Let us look at the scripture the author is referring to in Acts 10:9-14. Peter was hungry as we can see in vs.10. While in a trance he saw a great sheet coming down from heaven filled with all manner of common and unclean meats. God told Peter to eat of this meat, it was God's will that Peter eat of the meat. When Peter refused to eat of the meat he was refusing to do the will of God. He may have thought from a human standpoint, and from the standpoint of the Jewish law that he was doing right in refusing to eat, but he was still being disobedient to the call of God when he refused to partake of the food. It was through this vision that Peter realized the gospel was for the gentile as well as the Jewish believers and there was no hesitation at all to go to Cornelius as can be seen from reading the rest of the chapter.

There is something in this scripture that must be realized in order to see the fallacy of the writers belief. PETER'S PROBLEM WAS NOT THAT HE THOUGHT ALL OF ISRAEL MUST BE SAVED BEFORE THE GOSPEL COULD GO TO THE GENTILES, NOWHERE IS THIS STATED IN THE SCRIPTURES (As seen in earlier chapters the commission was to preach to Israel prior to preaching to the gentiles not to see the conversion of Israel prior to going to the gentile nations.) PETER'S PROBLEM WAS ONE OF UPBRINGING, HE NEEDED TO BE SHOWN THAT ALL MEN ARE EQUAL IN THE SIGHT OF GOD, LOST AND IN NEED OF A SAVIOR.

Read the account carefully and you will see absolutely no mention whatsoever of Peter's thought that Israel must be saved first. What is, however, clearly taught is that Peter realized that the Gentiles were not uncommon or unclean, just because they did not have the privilege of Jewish birth. (Acts 10: 28).


Mr Stam tells us:
But here Peter was sent by a special commission to go to the Gentile house of Cornelius, "nothing doubting." The others at Jerusalem later called him to account for his action, but after he had "rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them" they, in turn, "glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:4,18).
Without in the least detracting from the kingdom aspect of this scene, it should be clearly borne in mind that when Peter went to Cornelius' household it was not according to the prophetic program or the so-called "great commission." He was not sent to these Gentiles because Israel had received Christ, but in spite of the fact that Israel was rejecting Christ.  But what Peter had done on earth was bound in heaven and Paul's subsequent ministry was later recognized and endorsed by the Jerusalem church on the basis of Peter's action here (See Acts 15:1-18).
Still another, perhaps the final, official act of the apostles is referred to in Gal. 2, where they, through their leaders,4 recognized Paul as "the apostle of the Gentiles."
We quote:
"AND I WENT UP BY REVELATION [TO JERUSALEM] AND COMMUNICATED UNTO THEM THAT GOSPEL WHICH I PREACH AMONG THE GENTILES, BUT PRIVATELY TO THEM WHICH WERE OF REPUTATION, LEST BY ANY MEANS I SHOULD RUN, OR HAD RUN, IN VAIN."
"AND WHEN JAMES, CEPHAS, AND JOHN, WHO SEEMED TO BE PILLARS, PERCEIVED THE GRACE THAT WAS GIVEN UNTO ME, THEY GAVE TO ME AND BARNABAS THE RIGHT HANDS OF FELLOWSHIP; THAT WE SHOULD GO UNTO THE HEATHEN, AND THEY UNTO THE CIRCUMCISION" (Gal. 2:2,9).
Here by a solemn agreement they, who had originally been sent into "all the world" and to "every creature," now promised to confine their ministry to Israel while Paul went to the Gentiles.


Read Gal.2:2-9 carefully and you will see how the scripture again is subtly twisted to fit the writers premise. The writer quotes 2:9 and states that the passage which reads "that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision," means Paul will go to the nations while the others would stay in Israel. If the circumcision were found only in Israel this statement could be seen as fact. However, we know from scripture, Acts 2:5, that the circumcision dwelt in every nation under heaven, therefore the original apostles could have easily gone to every nation (fulfilling the great commission) and spoke primarily to the Jews of those nations while Paul went along with them and spoke to the Gentiles therefore fulfilling the command of God to preach the gospel to every creature.


Mr Stam tells us:
Were these leaders of the twelve out of the will of God in making this agreement?  By no means!  Subsequent revelation proves that they were very much in the will of God, both in loosing themselves from their commission to evangelize the world and in agreeing that Paul should go to the Gentiles, for Israel's rejection of Christ had brought about a change in the divine program.
Here alone is the answer to Catholicism. Here alone is the axe laid to the root of the tree, for in the light of these Scriptures it is impossible to maintain that the church of today is a perpetuation of the organization our Lord established while on earth.  There is a vast difference between the kingdom of heaven, proclaimed by the twelve, and the body of Christ, revealed through Paul.


Where are the verses of scripture that support this claim?


Mr Stam tells us:
Thus by Rome's own argument there can be no apostolic succession, for by the authority given the twelve (an authority which Rome vigorously insists they had) they loosed themselves from their obligation to carry out the "great commission" to its completion, and recognized Paul as the apostle of the new dispensation.  And mark well: what they bound on earth was bound in heaven, and what they loosed on earth was loosed in heaven.
The prophetic program had been interrupted.  The kingdom was to be held in abeyance while the King remained a royal Exile.  Prophecy had given way to "the mystery" of God's purpose and grace.


Where are the verses of scripture that support this claim?


Mr Stam tells us:
Paul too was given great authority.  Again and again we are reminded that he speaks by divine revelation, as the mouth-piece of Christ Himself.  He makes it clear, too, that he did not receive this authority from men:
He reminds the Romans and the Colossians of his special authority as the apostle of the Gentiles and the minister of the body:
"FOR I SPEAK TO YOU GENTILES, INASMUCH AS I AM THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES, I MAGNIFY MINE OFFICE" (Rom. 11:13).
"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh FOR HIS BODY'S SAKE, WHICH IS THE CHURCH:
"WHEREOF I AM MADE A6 MINISTER, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God" (Col. 1:24,25).


Although there is no article one is implied, the writer uses "the" in order to state his point. The verse translated from the Greek reads as follows:

"of which become I servant, according to the administration of God which (is) given me towards you to complete the word of God,"

Either "a" or "the" could fit in this verse. However, if we look at other verses of scripture we would see that whenever "a" is implied the article is not used in the Greek, but whenever "the" is implied the article is used. Is there only one kingdom? Is there only one church? Is there only one body with one head, Christ? The scriptures repeatedly answer, yes. (I Cor.12: 12-31).

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