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The Acts Period
The book of Acts is sometimes called “The Book Between,” “a link,” the key to one phase of right division. It is therefore our desire to unfold for the workman a step by step account of the activities concerning the Holy Spirit as He takes the things of Christ and shows them to us throughout this historical period. There is also a complimentary audio series you can listen to in the Audio Room.
The book of Acts is clearly marked off into three parts. The first part is limited to Jerusalem and covers the first seven chapters. The second part is confined to Judea and Samaria and covers chapters eight through twelve. This third section, “unto the uttermost part of the earth,” consists of chapters thirteen through twenty-eight.
The first and second parts are confined to the Jews only, with the exception of a special exemption to one Gentile household in chapter ten. The principal human agent in this context is the Apostle Peter. The third part has to do with dealings among the Jews and Gentiles, but always to the Jew first. The principal human actor here is the Apostle Paul. Perhaps the most glaring mistake of present day traditional Christianity is its failure to realize the distinctiveness in the callings of the church (the called-out of God) in the Acts period, as opposed to the church (the called-out of God) after the close of the history recorded in Acts. (See “The Church.”)
“The Transition” of Acts
The Old Testament prophets searched diligently to understand “Grace” in the context of salvation as it was to be proffered between the sufferings of Messiah and the glory which was to follow (I Peter 1:9-12). When one travels south toward Mexico at San Antonio, a marked change, in the culture and ways of life begins, taking on the ways of Mexico. Even so, the actual reality of that transition does not take place until you cross over the Rio Grande into Mexico. Just so, the grace that apprehended the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) does not reach its full potential as a pattern until the close of Acts and the unveiling of the Mystery (God’s Sacred Secret), as recorded in the prison letters of Paul.
Hence, the transition of Grace toward the Sacred Secret and the regression of old requirements present the fluid state of things in the book of Acts, when kept in the context of salvation. Needless to say, in our time we are in that period of time between the “sufferings of Christ (Messiah), and the glory that should follow.” (I Peter 1:11b) Perhaps we should add that God’s Sovereign Grace now extends not only to the saved but even to the whole world (I Tim. 4:10).
A careful step-by-step inquiry throughout the Book of Acts will clearly demonstrate this transition and Israel’s failure to realize the fulfillment of the Kingdom possibilities which were in view. The hopes of the church (the “called-out” of God) for that time have been deferred. Not only so, but the called-out saints after the close of Acts are a new calling of God’s people , a call far above all heavens, a new hope. By and large, this hope has been overlooked by most of Christendom. It is the “Mystery” of the prison ministry through the Apostle Paul that opens up a new revelation concerning God’s hidden purposes in a new man (Eph. 2:14-16).
Moreover, the following verses from the epistles written during the Acts period demonstrate the thinking and hopes which were in prospect at that time according to the prophetic things which then seemed to be in place.
Luke writes concerning Paul’s preaching:
“… He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world…” (Acts 17:31).
here is no hint of it being some two thousand years in the future. Note: Greek for “will” is “mello,” meaning “is about to.” Paul writes concerning the great salvation and deliverance:
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand…” (Romans 13:12).
“And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly…” (Romans 16:20).
“… waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 1:7). “Coming” here is the Greek word, “apocalupsis,” meaning “revelation.” “Waiting” means “eagerly expecting.”
“… wherefore, comfort one another with these words.”(I Thess. 4:13-18). “These words” have to do with the translation of the saints (the “Rapture”). Paul includes himself with the word “we.”
James writes: “… stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh… the Judge standeth before the door” (James 5:7-9). This is certainly not 2,000 years away!
John writes: “… we know that it is the last time (hour)” (I John 2: 18). “… the time is at hand (near)” (Rev. 1:3, Rev. 22:10). What happened, John?
Peter writes: “… the end of all things is at hand (near)” (I Peter 4:7). Was Peter wrong? What these did not know (as we now know) was that God had a hidden purpose which could not be mentioned because Israel as a nation was to be without excuse in her rejection. Hence, that which had been a distinct possibility at that time, is now a future reality.