The careful Bible student observes that God gives His message to a spokesman (Hebrews 1:1). The spokesman, in turn, gives Gods message to the world. God requires the world to listen to the spokesman He has chosen for each time period. A spokesman during one period does not necessarily carry Gods message for any other time period. Thus, following the wrong spokesman during any time period is as dangerous as ignoring the right one.
Gods spokesmen are presented in the following order based on the five basic divisions given in Chapter one. Take note that Section E is discussed out of order and has two distinct parts.
Spokesmen of the Old Testament (Section A)
Spokesmen of the Gospels (Section B)
Spokesmen of the: Readiness (Section E) & Millennium (Section E)
Spokesmen during the book of Acts (Section C)
Spokesman during the Church Age (Section D)
The sections are presented in this manner in order to establish that God has one or more spokesmen during every period. Once this truth is established, the spokesman for the Church Age can be clearly identified. Hopefully, discussing the Church Age last will leave a more lasting impression as you continue reading through the book. Thus, the Christian can easily recognize Gods particular commands and directions for him to follow. We begin with the Old Testament.
Spokesmen of the Old Testament
Some examples of the Old Testament spokesmen include:
Each of these men received a particular God-given message and, as Gods spokesman, presented the message to the world. The Bible says the Holy Ghost led the spokesmen.
II Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Every Old Testament saint had to listen to Gods chosen spokesman in order to know what God expected. If he did not listen to Gods spokesman, the saint did so at his own risk. The next chart lists a few of the Old Testament spokesmen before and after the law was given.
What would have been the wisest thing you could have done if you had lived when one of these persons lived? Two choices exist - either you could have ignored the spokesman or you could have followed him! Of course, any time a man follows Gods spokesman he displays his willingness to obey God and His leadership (although through a man). It is always best to have listened to Gods spokesman. A few of these Old Testament spokesmen are considered in greater detail.
Noah: Noah is one of the earliest spokesmen in the Bible. He preached about a coming flood. If you had been on the earth when Spokesman Noah warned others about a flood, what would you have done? You would either have listened to Gods spokesman and the message that God gave him for you, and entered the ark; or you would have rejected the messenger and his message! The Bible reveals clearly that most people rejected the message of Gods spokesman and perished in the flood. Eight persons entered the ark, including Noah!
Moses: The Bible emphasizes Moses as another of Gods spokesmen. When Spokesman Moses returned to Egypt with a message from God, what would you have done? You should have considered what Moses said concerning the blood on the door posts and followed him when he announced it was time to leave Egypt. Furthermore, in order to have been spiritually right with God, you would have been required to obey the "book of the law of Moses" (Joshua 8:31) in its entirety (Galatians 5:3). Failure to obey, required the offering of an animal sacrifice (Leviticus 4:26).
Joshua: God insured that Joshua would pick up the mantle when Moses died. Joshua was present at Mt. Sinai when Moses received the Ten Commandments. How would you have responded when Spokesman Joshua took the mantle from Moses (Joshua 1:1-2) and said it was time to go into the Promised Land? Need the answer be given?
The same scenarios and questions apply to Abraham, Isaiah, and many others. God always chooses a spokesman to announce His message to a particular group of people during a particular period of time.
Having made this general statement, we must consider the exception to the rule. In the book of Judges, the Bible records a time in the Old Testament when God did not have a particular spokesman. The tragic result of the world without a spokesman is described in the final verse of the book of Judges.
Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Each time the children of Israel turned away from the Lord, God would deliver them into the hands of their enemies. The children of Israel would then cry unto the Lord, and God would raise up a deliverer known as a judge (Judges 3:9, 3:15). Clearly, when God did not appoint a spokesman, man was in a state of confusion. When God does not provide a spokesman or when the spokesmans message is rejected, people generally do whatever they think is right. The same problem occurs when people ignorantly refuse to acknowledge their spokesman.
B. Spokesmen of the Gospels
Chart 2.2 moves over into the beginning of the "New Testament" books. God's spokesman throughout the four Gospels is initially John the Baptist preparing the way for the Lord. However, the main spokesmen throughout the books are mainly the Lord and His apostles. The Bible reveals the Lords earthly ministry until we get to the beginning of the book of Acts. Once the Lord ascends into heaven (Acts chapter one), God mainly uses Peter, the leader of the apostles, to reveal His message.
The Readiness and Millennium periods are discussed next, saving the book of Acts and the Church Age for last. Therefore, the two periods designated as "C" and "D" are skipped until after the two periods designated as "E" is studied.
E. Spokesmen of the Readiness period
The Great Tribulation will occur during the Readiness period. It will take place sometime after the Church is removed from the earth and taken to heaven. During this time, God will use spokesmen, just as at other times. God's spokesmen will be the two Witnesses mentioned in the book of the Revelation. Any person who wants to know the directives of God must listen to His two Witnesses who will give Gods specific messages for that time period. Some of the books contained in Hebrews through Revelation include the messages the two Witnesses will be preaching. (The actual messages they will present will be discussed later.)
Revelation 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
The two Witnesses, who are Moses and Elijah, will prophesy for one half of the Tribulation period three and one half years. (See Appendix A at the end of the book for a discussion of the identity of the two Witnesses). In addition to the two Witnesses, the 144,000 Jewish male virgins (Revelation 14:1,4) will also be Gods spokesmen on this earth during the Tribulation.
Revelation 7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
E. Spokesman of the Millennium
The return of the Lord at His Second Coming will end the Tribulation and begin the Millennium. There can be no question as to Who will be the spokesman for God, the Father, during this time. The Lord Jesus Christ will be the Spokesman, King, and Ruler during His 1,000-year reign on earth.
Revelation 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
The next chapter (Revelation 20) tells about the Millennium - the 1,000-year reign of King Jesus on this earth. Those living in the Millennium had better listen to Him. He will be ruling with a rod of iron as a King who knows every thought, every action, and every secret thing (Isaiah 66:23-24). There will be no excuses for failing to follow the dictates of King Jesus.
Summation: God chooses to give His message through a spokesman. When there has been no spokesman, everyone has "done his own thing," or "that which was right in his own eyes." The world without a spokesman is not Gods desired method of interacting with man. However, if man ignores God long enough, God will show man the result of his chosen direction by allowing him to choose his own direction with heavenly silence.
Since Gods method of communicating to man through a spokesman has been clearly established, focus will be directed toward the book of Acts and the Church Age. This will enable the reader to determine exactly whom God has designated as our spokesman. The largest church in the world would try to convince you that todays spokesman is Peter. The Bible clearly points elsewhere. Todays spokesman is not primarily Peter, and only those blinded to the truth will continue to follow him to the exclusion of their true spokesman (II Corinthians 4:3).
C. Spokesmen during the Book of Acts
As recorded in the Gospels and in the book of Acts, Peter serves as the main spokesman immediately after the departure of the Lord in Acts chapter one. During this time period, an individual desiring to know the will of God would have listened to the words of Peter and the apostles. Peter remains the main speaker until Acts chapter 12. Peter appears as speaker only one more time in the book of Acts. In Acts 15:7 we find him speaking concerning the Gentiles. There, He simply confirms the ministry given to Paul. Acts 2:14 is a typical verse reflecting Peters position as spokesman in the early part of Acts.
Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Peter remains the spokesman until shortly after the conversion of the Apostle Paul. From Acts chapter 13 forward, Paul becomes the main character and spokesman. God gives His message to Paul and he travels around the world testifying the message God had given him for individuals living in the Church Age. This point leads into the next and final period covered. The next thirteen books of the Bible, written by this same apostle, cover this period called the Church Age.
D. Spokesman during the Church Age
The only period not discussed in detail thus far covers the period of time from shortly after the cross up to the Rapture of the Church - the period in which we live today. By determining who our spokesman is, we will know where to go to find our instructions for living today.
Unquestionably, our spokesman is the Apostle Paul. We are first introduced to Paul (Saul) at the end of Acts chapter seven and read about his conversion two chapters later. As previously demonstrated, Peter was God's main spokesman until the time of Pauls conversion. Shortly thereafter, Peter virtually disappears from the scene. One of the few times Peter reappears is in Galatians 2:11, when Paul rebukes him for his hypocrisy concerning the Gentiles.
Beginning in Acts chapter 13, we read about Paul's missionary journeys. In the last chapter of the Book of Acts, we read about Pauls placement in a Roman prison. When we turn the page to the next book in the Bible (Romans), the first word reveals much . . . Paul. His name is recorded as the first word in the next thirteen consecutive books (Romans through Philemon). God emphasizes the author in each of these thirteen books to show us the importance of our knowing exactly who penned each book. He also establishes these books as a unit to be studied together (II Timothy 2:15).
These thirteen books address a specific group (the Body of Christ) during a specific period of time (the Church Age). Gods use of Paul as the messenger of today parallels His use of Noah to speak to those individuals alive before the flood. His use of Paul also relates to His future use of the two Witnesses speaking during the Tribulation and the Lord Jesus Christ speaking during the Millennium. Throughout history, Gods message has generally been conveyed in this same manner.
God gives us many scriptures expressing Pauls unique ministry to the Church. We will specifically look at seven of these beginning in the book of Romans.
I. The Apostle Pauls writings minister the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel to the Gentile world so that we may be acceptable and sanctified.
Romans 15:16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
II. In order to obey the next command one must consider who authored First Corinthians and follow the writings of this author. God led the Apostle Paul to write First Corinthians, thus we are to follow him.
I Corinthians 4:16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
III. Later in the same epistle, the Apostle Paul informs us that he is the one who declares the gospel to us.
I Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
IV. The Apostle Paul declares the gospel and also instructs us how to live as Christians. He instructs us to do those things we have learned, received, heard, and seen in him. Without considering the scriptures that Paul has penned, how can the Church Age saint obey this command?
Philippians 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
V. Pauls particular position as spokesman of the Church Age also included a calling to serve as the example for the Church Age Christian. For this reason, Paul tells us that we receive from him instructions concerning how we should walk and please God.
I Thessalonians 4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
VI. The reader should readily recognize how important Pauls writings are to the Church. He beseeches us to be followers of him. He declares the Gospel of the Grace of God. He even tells us how to walk so that we may please God. It should come as no surprise when Paul makes the next statement.
II Timothy 2:7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
VII. In order to understand all things, we must consider what the Apostle Paul has said through his writings. Obviously, this understanding of all things includes gaining an understanding of the Bible too! Do you want to understand the differences associated with the various instructions given in the scriptures (sometimes referred to as "contradictions")? Consider what Paul says - any instructions contradicting his writings apply to a group other than the Church. Paul even claims that by him the preaching is fully known so that the Gentiles might hear Gods instructions to them.
II Timothy 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
Any confusion within Christianity can be cleared up through systematic Bible study. Each of these scriptures will be more fully developed and many others will be given in later chapters. Simply, the student must recognize that Peter ministered primarily to the Jews (prior to the cross) while Pauls ministry was primarily to the Gentiles (those of us living in the Church Age). This truth should make a difference in how you walk, talk, and think.
The Bible is laid out very simply in the fashion shown in this book. We must determine in what period we are living and whom God appointed as our spokesman. To make it easy, look at the next chart. If you are reading this prior to the Rapture of the Church (and obviously following the cross), you must place yourself within the Church Age. (This locates you to the right of the cross and to the left of the Rapture). The books written by the Apostle Paul (those bearing his name as the first word) are the primary books covering this period of time. All other scripture is profitable too (II Timothy 3:16) but must be studied in light of what our apostle has been led to reveal to us.
It is very easy to determine whether a particular scripture, epistle, or doctrine written by someone other than the Apostle Paul applies to the Church Age. It cannot contradict the explicit truths presented by our Apostle. If it does contradict his guidelines, the passage should not be pulled out of its proper context and twisted to fit where it does not belong (II Peter 3:16). The general epistles are a prime example to consider. Many of these writings have application to the Church, however, as a whole, they cannot be applied to the Church. The opposite is true of Pauls thirteen Church Age epistles too. The thirteen epistles with Pauls name as the first word are directly applicable to the Church; however, this fact does not eliminate all application of their truths to those in the Readiness period.
Before we proceed, a common misconception must be dispelled. Some people claim to do everything the Bible says to do. Have you ever read some of the requirements in the Old Testament? If you attempt to do everything in the Bible, you are going to have a very difficult time keeping your sanity. We must obey the commands given by our spokesman in order to comprehend exactly what it is that God would have us do. Anything contrary to his explicit instructions have application elsewhere.
II Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
When one rightly divides the Bible, he is allowing the Bible to naturally interpret itself when considering any particular command or scripture. Now that we have seen Gods appointed spokesman for the Church, we will look at an application of this truth in the next chapter. In later chapters, we will develop these points in even greater detail.
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