References: Ephesians 3:1-2
And we’re at number six tonight. That is the dispensation of grace. I’m going to ask you to turn to Ephesians chapter two, the book of Ephesians. Next Sunday night John will be speaking and I’ll be back the week after that and we’ll finish up the seven dispensations as I speak about the kingdom of God.
Then we’re going to look at the covenants of God too in the scriptural history. Well the dispensation of grace sometimes called the church age and rightfully so because the church is God’s unit of truth for this time. The dispensation of grace is the sixth of seven dispensations. It goes during this time in which we live that is from the first coming of Christ to the second coming of Christ. To be very specific it started on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and immersed those believers into a body, into the body of Christ and it will last till the rapture. And when the rapture happens then the church will be removed and this age of grace will end at that point. Of course then there will be a tribulation period, a second coming of Christ in glory.
So to be specific that’s the way it happens. Now in this age of grace then what is it that’s new from God? What kind of new revelation do we have? Well we have conversion by grace. That is grace has always saved people. People were never saved by works, never saved by law, always saved by grace but this dispensation is characterized by grace as we’re going to say in a minute. So God said that you are to receive the knowledge that you have of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, apply it to yourself for conversion.
That is what saves you and it is not by works of righteousness which we’ve done but by His mercy, His grace that He saves us. And when that happens we have what the Bible calls Holy Spirit baptism. The baptism of the Holy Spirit happens to you at that moment. Now it began at the day of Pentecost because it had never happened before and then after that it happens each time a person gets saved. So when you got saved basically the same thing happened to you that happened to all that 120 people on the day of Pentecost and that is the Holy Spirit immediately came into you and immediately placed you into the body of Christ.
That is called and I’ll say it a few times tonight the universal church. That is all of those who have been saved, all of those who have been immersed by the spirit of God and placed into the body of Christ in this age of grace. When that happened on the day of Pentecost no one had been there and those 120 were the first ones in the universal church and the local church. But you were placed into that by spirit baptism. Now we’re also told that then as a believer in Christ you are to be involved with other believers in the local churches. And so though the word church is mentioned 115 times in the New Testament more than 100 of those speaks about local churches like Faith Baptist Church meeting here tonight a group of people. And sometimes that’s been only a handful where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst and sometimes it’s been thousands.
But however size or whatever these believers meet together. Now we practice two ordinances water baptism and then the Lord’s Supper. Water baptism is your testimony. That is a picture of your salvation and just as you were placed into the water, under the water as in burial and brought back up out of the water as in resurrection. You picture the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ the very gospel that saved you. And also just as spirit baptism placed you into that universal body of Christ, the water baptism then places you in the local body or it’s a requirement for you to be in the local body. And so we have the body of Christ in this age of grace, the body of Christ universal all believers and by the way even the ones who have passed away now some hundreds of years ago or whatever are with their spirits are with the Lord in the air though their bodies are still in the grave and they are part of that universal church that one day we will all meet together in the clouds at the day of the rapture that whole church together all two thousand years of our history and all those believers we will meet together.
Some resurrected and some translated at the rapture that will be a great thing. So Christ is the head and we are the body. Christ is the head of the church universal, he’s the head of our local church, we are the body. The Bible then gives other pictures, he is the shepherd, we are the sheep, he’s the vine, we are the branches, he’s the foundation of the church, we are the building stones of the church, he is the bridegroom and we are the bride, he is the high priest and we are believer priests, all of these kind of picture the unity that we have in Christ and the union that we have with him as well as with one another.
That’s what we’re going to talk about tonight. I know a lot of people, it seems like, don’t like the idea of church. And some people even say it in such words as, I just don’t like organized religion. You know, I guess they want the religion to be individual and on your own and never with anybody else and, you know, never responsible to or for anybody else. But, you know, that in God’s dispensation of the church, kind of like saying, maybe by organized, they mean over organized or wrongly organized, I don’t know. But that’s kind of like saying, well, I really love the army, but I don’t like the organization, you know, that would be or somebody who says, you know, I really like being in the medical practice, but I really hate hospitals.
You know, those kinds of things wouldn’t go together. And why would you say, I love God, but I don’t like the church when the church is God’s institution for this age? It’s what the Bible talks about.
It’s what he commands us to be involved in and to do. Now, it’s true the church has had its abuses and nobody denies that. And throughout its 2000 years of history, obviously there are abuses or people who have abused the organization of the church. And there are times then when it has been abused, that it’s a bad testimony to the community and to Christianity at large. And in that sense, we all groan and moan about the abuses. But we can’t hate what Jesus Christ loved.
He loved the church and gave himself for it. And how can we not like that? And so if we see abuses, we would do the same thing. And if you see abuses in our government, in America, surely we don’t, you know. But what do you say?
Well, then I don’t like America. No, you say, let’s clean up these abuses and do it right, right? And that’s what we say in the church course as well. So the church is God’s organization. Keep this in mind that God has had institutions and as we have studied the dispensations we have seen them.
First of all, and the first dispensation is the institution of the family. Do we hate the family? Have there been abuses in the family? Of course there have. Have they been done the wrong way?
Of course it has. Satan hates all of these institutions of God. Look how Satan is attacking the family today. When God instituted it with one man, one woman, supposed to be in the same house raising the same kids.
And look at how the family is defined today and how even that very concept is attacked. And it’s being attacked by Satan and people are used by him the way he wants. And government is hated by Satan too. And look at the rebellion that has always gone on against authority and against the powers that be.
People have never liked that. Israel is God’s institution. We’ve seen last week in the dispensation of law and Satan hates Israel. And look how Israel is attacked and how it’s been attacked throughout the church age and wherever they go and it is today. And so why should we expect anything different of the church? It’s God’s institution. We are loyal to it. We love it.
I hope you do. And yet Satan is going to attack it and people are going to fall prey to that. So don’t throw, I’m saying the baby out with a bathwater. This is God’s institution. I imagine that not every Jew liked the law of Moses. Maybe they didn’t like the land of Israel either.
But it was God’s law and it was God’s land. I don’t know if Noah liked boats. Maybe he didn’t like it. Maybe he got seasick.
I don’t know. But this was God’s dispensation for him. That’s what he was supposed to do. Maybe Abraham didn’t like traveling. He was a homebody. But he had to travel.
This is what God wanted for him. And so in the same way, we are that way. Remember, grace, as we’re going to talk about, is a Bible word. We’re saved by grace.
This is dispensation characterized by grace. Church is a Bible word and we are to honor it and do what it says. Brethren is a Bible word. As a matter of fact, dispensation is a Bible word. As we turn to Ephesians chapter 1, 2, and 3, we’re going to notice a few things about that. If you’ll look with me and I have an outline for you on the bulletin with five thoughts here about the age of grace that I think will help us. And we find these in Ephesians chapter 3. The first is that this is a dispensation characterized by grace. You’re looking at chapter 3, verse 1 and 2.
Read these with me. This cause, I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me to you word or given to me for you. The dispensation of the grace of God. You know, if you go back to chapter 1 and verse 10, you find his first use of that word, speaking of the dispensation of the kingdom that is yet to come.
When he says, in the dispensation of the fullness of times. So he’s used this word before. And it’s a common biblical word.
I hope that you know. In the gospels, it’s often translated as stewardship. Remember, it’s pronounced oikonomia. Oikonomia is house and law put together, meaning the law of the household. So a dispensation is the law of the household.
Jesus gave parables about a steward, you know, who has given a responsibility while the master went away on a far trip. Here’s the law of the household. You take care of the law of the household while I’m gone, and then I’ll come back and take account of your stewardship. Well, that’s exactly what’s happened in the Age of Grace. God has given us the law of the household, the New Testament.
He’s gone away, and he’s going to come back someday and take account of our stewardship. How did we handle this law of the household? And remember, this has been true in every dispensation. God gave Adam a law of the household. You eat of all of these trees, you don’t eat of that tree. Did he obey or disobey? Well, in the end, he disobeyed. There was a law of the household under the dispensation of conscience. My spirit’s striving with man, a dispensation under promises he gave to Noah, or I mean Abraham. Abraham, here’s where you go, here’s what you do, and then under law, we see the dispensation of the law of the household in a big way under law and under Moses. Here’s my law, you keep it.
Here’s what you do. The sacrifices, the feast days, all of these kinds of things you keep. So there’s always been a law of the household, a dispensation in every age. We live in this dispensation between the two comings of Christ.
We have a law of the household too. That’s kind of what we’re talking about here. Now, I say here that it is characterized by grace, meaning dispensationists are careful to say it that way because what they want you to understand is it’s not that grace never existed. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord before the flood. There’s always been grace, and when God saved somebody, he never saved them by works. He never saved them by what they could perform.
He always saved them by his grace. But the dispensations were not characterized by grace. You and I live in a time characterized by grace itself. In Romans 5, 1 and 2, Paul writes it this way, therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
By faith, we’ve had our access into this grace and we live in it. We stand in it. I always like to picture it as a swimming pool with a diving board. And the diving board is called faith, and the water in the pool is called grace. And you get into the grace from faith.
We have access into this grace by our faith, he says. And so you jump into that pool and what surrounds you? The water surrounds you.
It’s all around you. You are immersed in this water. Well, we came into Christ. We came into this grace and we are immersed in this grace.
So what do we have? Well, we have forgiveness of sins. We know our sins are forgiven.
Past, present and future. We know that we have fellowship with God. We call him our father and he calls us his children. We have a membership in the body of Christ where all the believers of this age have been. We are part of that body now. We are eternally secure in this grace and we know it. We have that blood of Jesus Christ, his son cleansing us from all sin. We serve out of love and not out of obligation. We serve because we love the Lord. We have no fear of judgment.
Judgment has been taken away from us. What a blessing that is. And we have the expectation of meeting our Lord immediately in the air at any moment. And on and on we could go with a list of benefits that we have in this age of grace. So this age that we live in is characterized by those kinds of things in a way that past generations have never been characterized. We have this kind of fellowship with God and uniqueness with him. And as I mentioned, the vine and the branches, the sheep and the shepherd and all of those relationships that we have in him. So it’s characterized by grace. Secondly, this dispensation of grace is a mystery that was unknown in previous ages.
It was not seen in the ages past. So picking up where we left off, verse three, let’s read three verses. He says of this dispensation of grace, how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery.
Now the older version puts a parenthesis here and I think it’s properly put there as I wrote a four and a few words whereby when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. Then if we skip over the whole parenthesis from verse three, right to verse five, he says made known unto me the mystery, verse five, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. And so we have that unique thing about this age that it’s called a mystery. A mystery in the Bible is something that was true in the mind of God and God always knew it, but it was hidden from everybody else. It would have been a mystery to them. So if you tried to talk to a Jewish believer in the Old Testament about the church, he’d scratch his head and wouldn’t know what you were talking about.
about. The church, what is that? And even in the last six months of Jesus’ life is the first time he ever used the word church in Matthew 16, 18. And then he put it in the future tense, I will build my church. And he was three years into his ministry and the church had never been talked about even in the life of Christ. And of course that’s all standing on Old Testament ground and that’s why.
So it was a mystery, it was unseen. You remember the words of Hebrews 1, 2, God who at sundry times and in diverse manners, spake in time passed under the fathers by the prophets. Half in these last days he calls it, spoken unto us by his Son whom he at the point of error of all things by whom also he made the world. So the Old Testament believers just didn’t see these things. 1 Peter chapter 1, you’ve learned this in the adult Sunday school class. Let me read these verses to you again. 1 Peter 1 beginning in verse 10 of which salvation is Peter’s talking about. The prophets had, and by the way that’s the salvation characterized by grace in this age of grace.
The prophets have inquired and searched diligently who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, but they had never seen that grace. Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify. What is the Spirit talking about?
As I’m writing here the prophecies of these coming things, what is the Spirit talking about? When it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. They didn’t see these kinds of things. Under whom it was revealed that not unto themselves but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them which have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. So they didn’t see it but we do.
That shouldn’t be a surprise to us. Sometimes people picture this as the valley between two mountains. That may be a proper picture may not but if you’ve been in the mountains at all and you look across those mountain peaks you see two peaks but you don’t see the valley in between. And sometimes it looks like the two peaks of the mountain are right next to each other but when you get there you realize there’s a very long valley between these two peaks. So here’s the first and second coming of Christ and as the Old Testament Saint looked at the first and second coming it looked for sure that they were like right next to each other but there was a long valley in between called the church age and now it’s been 2,000 years between those. I think of it rather more as a mountain that was split in half.
The coming of Christ was one mountain but they rejected their Messiah and that half of it stayed there and the other half of the mountain moved 2,000 years down the road. Did you ever work with somebody who knows what he’s doing and you don’t know what he’s doing? I grew up with a man like that called my father and he was a handy guy and he could rebuild engines, he could build houses, he could repair anything but he had this way of saying when you said what are we doing here? He says you’ll see right? You’ll see and so you go ahead and trust him that we’re doing it the right way and sure enough when we got everything back together it ran or we got everything back together it worked. Well in a way with the church God had said to believers of all ages you’ll see, you know, you don’t know these things yet but you’ll see and when we get here here it is and it’s always been in the mind of God.
So it was a mystery hidden previous ages. Number three, the church whether we’re speaking of the universal church or the local church is made up of Jews and Gentiles. Now that’s something that the Jews had a hard time with and even when Jesus began to allow the Gentiles access to himself and when he sent out the 12 the first time he said don’t go to any of the Gentiles but when he sent out 70 later they were allowed to go to the Samaritans and then after his death, burial and resurrection he gathers the the disciples together and says now go into all the world and preach the gospel.
They had a hard time with that. You remember that Peter often struggled with whether he’s supposed to speak to Gentiles or not and when the church at Antioch started way up there in a Gentile territory the church of Jerusalem had to send the apostles up there and say is this proper? Are we supposed to be having Jews and Gentiles in the same thing in this thing called the church?
And of course they had to learn all of this and God was revealing it to them as they went along. Well look at verse six of our text that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. When they believe they become one with believers even the Jewish believers. If you skip all the way over to verse 15 he calls it the whole family of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. So the whole family is the body of Christ, Jew and Gentile wherever we are. Well in the first church in Jerusalem in the first days they were all Jewish and there was no problem like this. It was Jerusalem this was the day of Pentecost these were had been followers of Jesus 120 of them in an upper room the Holy Spirit comes and baptizes them into the body of Christ. Well they’re all Jews of course and when they preached around Jerusalem they had Jewish converts of course. The first problem they had is that then they had Hellenized Jews Jewish people who had been raised in Gentile territory. And so then they are in the church and they even struggled with those about what about these Jews that really are kind of half Jews, you know, kind of like Samaritans, for example, and not really fully Jews like we are. You know, they struggled with that. Well then when the Gospel goes to full Gentiles like up in Caesarea where Philip preaches to the Gentiles, they say, is this right?
Is this what we should do? And you remember how Peter struggled with it and God had to show him that vision from heaven and here is all of the creatures in this sheet let down from heaven. Rise, Peter, kill and eat. Eat it all. Peter says, not so Lord.
I’ve never eaten anything like that. He says, what I call clean, don’t you call unclean. And then later he sends him to preach at the house of Cornelius and then Peter says, ah, God has showed me and I’m not supposed to call anything unclean that he calls clean. The Gentiles come into the church just like the Jews do. And then from that point on the Gospel goes to Galatia and then Asia and then Macedonia and all the way around the world. And aren’t you glad because I don’t know if any of us in here are Jewish today, are we? We’re standing on the other side of the globe. Two thousand years later and most of the church of Jesus Christ in the world today is not Jewish, of course, or Gentiles. But when a Jew gets saved, he becomes just like one of us in the body of Christ.
Let me remind you of these. Here’s an Acts 15. Here is, this is where the church at Antioch brought representatives back to Jerusalem because they had people saying, no, you’ve got to live as a Jew. You can’t live as a Gentile. All the multitude kept silence, Acts 15-12, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul declaring what miracles and wonders God had done among them, brought among the Gentiles by them. And then after they held their peace, James answered and said, men and brethren, harken unto me.
Simon, that’s Peter, of course, had declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree, the words of the prophet says it is written. He begins to quote how even the prophet said, someday the Gentiles are going to be blessed. After this, I will return and we’ll build again the Tabernacle of David, which has fallen down. I will build again the ruins thereof and I will set it up that the residue of men might seek after the Lord and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, sayeth the Lord, who doeth all these things.
Let me read Galatians 3-28. There is neither Jew nor Greek. There is neither bond nor free.
There is neither male nor female. You are all one in Christ Jesus. Chapter 5 verse 6, for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh my love. And Colossians 3-11, which is a parallel passage to Ephesians, there is neither Greek nor Jew circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond, free, Christ is all and in all. And so what we see in an abundance of New Testament testimony is that the church is made up of Jew and Gentiles. Somebody said that the ground is level at the foot of the cross.
It’s not higher for one person than another. Anyone can come. Whosoever will may come and aren’t you glad. So as the Gospel went out to the Gentiles, there were Jews all over that had problems with it. Remember, they’re the ones that persecuted Paul. What are you doing preaching to the Gentiles? And here Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, was saying, God has sent the Gospel to everyone because we are all sinners. All of sin to come short of the glory of God and whosoever will may come. And so the Gospel began to go around the world to everyone and we are glad.
And the local church then, folks, it has been the greatest multicultural organization in 2000 years. I know that culture talks about it. Governments try to make it so. People try to create those kinds of things. But if you could look at local churches for the last 2000 years, you would find all of the various mixtures of people sitting together in local churches like we are tonight, singing songs like we did tonight, praying together to the same Savior like we do tonight, reading the same scriptures that we read all on the same level. And it’s a beautiful thing. And some of you have been in churches in other parts of the world. Maybe you don’t even speak the language, but you walk in and you have that agreement with them. You understand those kinds of things.
And why? Because you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and you understand this dispensation. You understand what the law of the household is for you. God has given you this New Testament. God has described to you how you’re supposed to worship.
God has told you what the church is, what the local church is. He’s pictured it in so many books of the New Testament. And so you know as a believer, I’ve got to go do that. And frankly, folks, that’s why I’m in this church, Faith Baptist Church, tonight. I’ve got to do these things.
I’ve got to live this way. And what I have found is there are other people who say the same things. Now, as somebody said, and rightfully so, don’t go to church to find friends. If you go searching for friends, you never find them.
them. Read a great book by C.S. Lewis called The Four Loves and read the one on friendship.
It’s a great passage. You don’t find friends by looking for them. You find friends by going after what your goal is and when you find somebody else going after the same goal, you will have that knitted friendship like you’ve never had before. And it doesn’t matter who it is. He pictures it as two people walking shoulder to shoulder and they’re walking toward that goal down there and they don’t even realize each other’s on the same road. And then they realize, oh, somebody else is walking here too. Well, who are you? Well, I’m so-and-so. Where are you going? Well, I’m going there too. And you keep walking together and you talk about where you’re going.
And before you know it, you have this knitted bond or friendship and it lasts forever. I’ve told you before that I didn’t go to Bible College or seminary to make friends. I didn’t go there because I needed friends and so I’m going to go find them in Bible College. I went there because God called me to the ministry and I needed to be trained. And I would have gone there. I don’t care who else was there.
Men, women, young or old, black or white. Well, they did have to speak English or I couldn’t have been there. But I didn’t care. I just needed to go there. That’s where I was going.
But you know what? Along the way in those years, I met other guys going the same way and they were there for the same reason. Not to find friendships, but some of the greatest friends I have to this day are those guys I found walking down the same road I was walking on. Not looking for friends, but looking after a common goal. And I stress that tonight because I think one of the weaknesses of local churches today is that we’re trying to make sure everybody finds friends, relationships. And if you will come here, you’ll find this thing you’re looking for.
Well, if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re looking for the wrong thing. God has given us a stewardship. It’s the stewardship of grace.
It’s the stewardship of the new covenant. Look for that. And if that’s what you’re after in life, you will find others going down the same road. They will become your friends.
They will become your companions. And one thing I like about our little church here is that age matters little. I mean, I see young people, old people talking and laughing together. You know, we come from different backgrounds.
We come from different places on the earth, not a whole lot of different places, but, you know, different places in this country, I guess. And we’re after the same thing. And that is we are stewards of this grace that we have. And we have to live it.
We have to do it. It doesn’t. If we had 5,000 people here, great. If they’re all after the same thing. If we have 50 people here, great.
If we’re all after the same thing. It won’t matter to me. I’m going to do the same thing either way. I have to do this.
And I hope you do too. Alright, so the church is made up of Jew and Gentile. Fourthly, the church was built upon the foundation of Christ and the Apostle. So verse 7, we come down to verse 7 and 8. Whereof I, Paul, the Apostle, of course, was made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power, unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Now I want your eyes to go back up to chapter 2 and verse 20, the top of the page there, chapter 2 and verse 20, where he talks about, well, verse 19, how therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints of the household of God. But look at verse 20, you are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone, in whom then the whole building fitly framed together, growth into a holy temple in the Lord.
And you in whom you also are building together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. So the church had a foundation and it took a first century, if you will, at least from the day of Pentecost until John completed the New Testament, which would be approximately, you know, 32 AD to 95 AD. It took that long for the foundation to become solid and to be able to put the building on the foundation. The foundation was the Apostles and prophets.
Now understand why? How long did it take to write the New Testament? The New Testament was written throughout that first century. And we don’t have the whole stewardship of God, we don’t have the whole law of God written until this whole thing is written down, not until 95 AD. So what do we do when we don’t have the whole book here?
We don’t have the whole instruction manual. God gives miracle working men, apostles and prophets, who can speak the word of God in a miraculous way. That is an apostle can speak right from God. A prophet can prophesy right from God. And when those men speak, they are speaking the word of God. And so God gives these men to the church in the first century to keep the church together until the New Testament is completed.
And then that becomes our written stewardship. And at that point, we don’t need the apostles anymore. We don’t need the prophets anymore. And they passed away in the first century because they’re not needed any longer. As a matter of fact, over in chapter 4 and verse 11, Paul will say it like this, he gave some apostles and some prophets, evangelists, some pastors and teachers.
These were for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, until we all come in the unity of the faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure and stature, the fullness of Christ, that we be no more children tossed to and froze, get down to verse 15. But speaking the truth and love, they grow up. We’re not children anymore, we’re grown up. So God gave the church apostles and prophets when they were children, when they needed direct discipline, they needed direct words from God. But when they became grown ups and when we got the New Testament complete, we don’t need the apostles and prophets anymore. And so, by the way, where verse 11 says there are apostles and prophets, there are also evangelists, pastors and teachers, why do we still have those? Because the rest of the New Testament teaches that these are offices in the church. But the rest of the New Testament also teaches that apostles and prophets have passed away.
So in Paul’s day, all of them were operating. But after he’s gone and after the New Testament is complete, then the temporary ones are put away and the permanent ones remain in the church, simple as that. So here are the apostles and prophets and you could multiply the verses, of course, in the New Testament to speak about these apostles. And there were New Testament prophets. Don’t let that, you know, don’t stumble over that, that there was prophecy given like tongues were given.
There were tongues for this time too, miracles that were worked, prophecies that were given. But when we became men, we put away childish things. When the New Testament was complete and we have the completed law of the household, our dispensation, then we don’t need the temporary things anymore. So I hope that you understand that and our grown ups in the Lord.
And if we say, then the word of God is our sole authority for faith and practice. We mean it. This is complete. Everything that we need is in this revelation of God, in this written document. We don’t need the temporary things anymore.
Okay, one last point and that is number five. Then the local church becomes the dispenser of God’s truth and this dispensation. It is the local church. Look quickly or let me read to you 1 Timothy 3 where Paul says that in these words, these things right eye into thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly. But if I tarry long that thou may know us, or I’m writing that thou may know us, how thou oughtst to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God. And then he says the church of the living God is the pillar and ground of the truth. And he’s talking to the church at Ephesus of which Timothy is the pastor. These local churches are God’s dispensers of truth in whatever age they live in.
Does that seem incredible to you? I mean, what are local churches in the whole nation of America? What are local churches in the world today?
Little groups of people gathered here and there. How can it be that the local church is the pillar and ground of the truth? But it is because this is God’s revelation to us and we have an obligation to preach it and teach it wherever we are and whenever we are.
My former theology professor, Roland McEwn, who later wrote a three volume systematic theology said this in that theology. He said, the chief instrumentality of God’s work and witness in the ensuing dispensation of grace is the local New Testament church. It is the pillar and the support of the truth. That is, the fate of divinely revealed truth has been committed by God to this body local church during this particular economy or dispensation. Meanwhile, the church mediates the will and rule of God on earth principally in its proclamation of the truth of God and in the salt and light of its individual people in civil society. Now, if he’s right about that, which I think he is, then what the scripture is saying to us is even when you watch the news folks and watch our government wrangling over what we should do next and how we should do it and what’s going to be effective in America and what’s not, God is more interested in what churches like Faith Baptist Church preach and teach where they can than what the government of the United States does.
Does that sound incredible? And yet that’s our dispensation. That is why we give witness to these things. That’s why we meet together and learn these things. This is God’s dissemination of truth in the age in which we live through the local churches.
It’s an amazing thing when you think about it, but how great, what a privilege, what a blessing it is to be part of this. First Corinthians 1, 27, God had chosen, remember the foolish things of the world that confound the wise, remember we went through this on Sunday morning, God had chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, the base things of the world and things which are despised, hath God chosen and the things which are not to bring to not things that are that no flesh should glory in His presence. presence. And so we may seem like a humble folk, but we’re two or three or gathered in my name, Jesus said, there am I in the midst thereof. And if Jesus is in our midst and if Jesus is empowering His Word that He’s given to us, then we’re more powerful than anything in this world because we hold this truth of God. And so God’s truth is the Bible. It is God’s revelation.
It’s inspired, it’s infallible, it’s inerrant, it’s authoritative, and it is that that will stand forever and that’s what we have. So you’re not smarter than the Bible. The Bible is smarter than you. And so don’t be interpreting it the way you want it, interpret it the way it says, and that is what God wants from us. So in this revelation of grace, again, what do we have? Well, what does God tell us to do? He tells us to get saved, right? He tells us to be born again. The first obligation of any individual in this world is to be born again. You must be born again or you will not get to the kingdom of God, which is coming in the future.
So that is, if somebody asks you, what does God want of me, you can tell them easily, can’t you? You must be born again. That is the will of God. Secondly, be baptized. That’s right because we are to go into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. And every convert in the book of Acts and in the whole New Testament, every one that we see converted got baptized.
And we believe, of course, that that baptism is by immersion to picture that death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Join a local church, find a church of believers who are doing the law of the household, doing what the New Testament instructs them to do, and become one with them. Walk in the same path they’re walking.
Go the same place they’re going. Participate in the Lord’s Supper. To be baptized and to participate in the Lord’s Supper are just as equal commands of God, and we must do both. We must participate in both.
We do show the Lord’s death until He comes by doing that. Evangelize wherever you go and however you can and whoever you come in contact with. Pray to be bolder than you are. Learn to be a better witness. Memorize Scripture in a better way. Do what you can to be a better witness because, again, the best thing you can do for someone who doesn’t know Christ is to introduce them to Christ. That’s the best thing you can do for them, and they must be born again. Grow in grace, be filled with the Spirit, and if you do these things, then you shall never fall, but God will give you an abundant entrance into the everlasting Kingdom. And you know what I think about these things?
I think no one does it better than Baptist. Let me put a little footnote in here if I can. You know why? Because our history is one of doing these simple things. We don’t have priests. We don’t have candles. We don’t have incense. We don’t have some altar where we do things. We have a Bible.
We have a simple service. We’re learning from the law of the household here tonight. That’s what we’re doing. We operate as a congregation, as believers, all equal before in the eyes of the Lord. I don’t pray for you. I lead you in prayer, or somebody else stands up and leads us in prayer. No, we don’t have a priest that prays for us and in our stead. We’re all singing.
We’re all praying. We’re all worshiping together, and we evangelize together, and we are brethren oriented. You come in here. You’re going to shake hands with brethren. You’re going to talk about Christian things.
You’re going to see where they’re walking so that you can walk that way too. That’s what the church should be doing. So here’s the dispensation of grace. Grow up, worship God, follow his word.
Is that plain enough? Grow up, worship God, follow his word. Follow the law of the household that God has given us for this dispensation. Okay, stand now with me if you will. We’re going to bow our heads and we’re going to ask God to help us, and then we’re going to sing a song together. Let’s pray together.
Father, we have once again looked at a passage that describes the church of Jesus Christ, and we are once again reminded of our responsibility to it and what a great thing it is in this age of grace, this church age characterized by these local churches, the pillars, ground, the truth. Father, help us then to be good stewards of this dispensation that we have, this economy, this stewardship that we have, and help us, Father, to follow it wisely. Help us, Father, to want to please you more than anything else if no one else was following you.
Help us to determine to do that. And Father, give us the grace, give us the boldness, give us the courage, give us the strength to do those things. We know we live in an age where Satan is very active and Satan is attacking the church like he attacked your people in all the ages. So help us, Father, not to fall for his devices. We’re not ignorant of his devices, so help us, Father, not to be sifted as wheat as some people are. But keep us, Father, close to you. And then, Father, help us to serve you, help us to honor you and glorify you, and, Father, make us good stewards of your word that we might be good witnesses, good ambassadors, good missionaries, that we might preach your gospel as much as we can into everyone that we can. Help us in these things. We need your grace and your help, and we’ll always thank you for it and give you the praise for all that is done. We thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen.