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 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine"   2 Timothy 4:2



The Birth Of The Church

by Lou Talley


It may be a defect of mine to stay with something day and night until things balance in the study of a subject. A prophecy in Joel 2:28 is one of these things:
"And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:"

The scriptural basis Peter offers as to the phenomenon that the people were witnessing is found in Acts chapter two. However, a phenomenon that has no scriptural reference is mysticism.

In Acts 2:15 - 21 we find that the Church is born:

15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

This was the birth of the Church that continues until the church is removed.

A question that was troubling me was, "Was Joel 2:28 fully fulfilled when the church was born ?" this is the only question that seems to have a "yes" and "no" answer and I couldn't sleep until I had figured out a yes or a no. Ray Stedman comes to my rescue again, since I was getting a "so what" attitude which happens when the brain is overloaded and reacting from sleep deprivation.

Anyhow, here are the conclusions, something I am at least fully satisfied with.

"And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' (Acts 2:17-21 RSV)

Peter's explanation is very simple. This, he said, is what Joel declared would happen. It is, therefore, neither unexpected nor unexplained. It is what Joel predicted.

The key to this passage from Joel is the phrase, all flesh. "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." If you read the prophecy as it occurs in the second chapter of Joel, you will find that, before this passage, the prophet had predicted that the Lord would visit his people. He would come to them and would live in their midst. Then, as the prophet puts it, "afterward" (after this visitation) "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." The contrast is between the visitation of God to Israel and the pouring out of the Spirit upon all peoples everywhere -- Gentiles as well as Jew.

The emphasis of this section is that now the good news about Jesus Christ is to go out to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Up to this point it had been confined to the Jewish nation. Jesus had said more than once, "I have come only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Matthew 10:6, 15:24. But he had also said, "Other sheep have I which are not of this fold; these also I must bring that there may be one flock." John 10:16. Now, Peter announces that the time has come when God would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, Jews and Gentiles alike. Not a particular type of people, but all kinds of people -- young men, young women, male and female.

"Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions."
Note the emphasis upon youth. God is saying that in this age of the Spirit, leadership, effectiveness & power will not be limited to grey haired people, but also young men and young women shall speak and lead. They will also see visions and prophesy. Even servants, menservants and maidservants, obscure people, insignificant people, upon them God would pour out his Spirit; and they would prophesy. All classes are affected by this.

What Peter did not say is as important as what he did say. He said, this is what Joel predicted but he did not use the phrase which is usually used in the New Testament concerning an Old Testament prophecy. He did not say, "Thus is fulfilled what was said by the prophet Joel." From other Scriptures we learn that Joel's prophecy has yet to be fulfilled in a greater way. Once again God will visit his people at the second return of Jesus Christ. Then, after his return, the Spirit will be poured out again. When Peter quotes this passage he changes the word which Joel used, "afterward," to the phrase, "in the last days." Thus, Peter is adapting this to the present age of the Spirit which he says begins with the pouring out of the Spirit of God.

It is important to note that in this quotation of Joel there is no mention at all of "tongues." Isn't that strange? Peter says, "This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel," but Joel does not mention "tongues." Instead he refers to another gift of the Spirit, the gift of prophecy. Prophecy is the ability, in power, to declare the Word of God, to tell forth the Word of God. It will be manifested by young men and old, even servants and obscure people. They shall be equipped by the Spirit to tell forth the Word of God with power. That will be the mark of the age, he says. The emphasis is not upon tongues at all, not even upon gifts, but upon the Spirit who gives the gifts. The age will begin, Peter says, with the pouring out of the Spirit which will end by the sun being turned into darkness and the moon into blood.

This last section was not fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. According to the prophecy of Jesus himself, in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, this is yet for the future. The day is coming when God will show signs on earth and in the heaven above -- blood and fire and vapor of smoke: "The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day." Thus Peter gives us the beginning and the ending of the present age of the Spirit, the great parenthesis that marks the age in which we live. It began on Pentecost and will end after the great tribulation. But through it all runs unbrokenly one great thread: "And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

So very much of the "outpouring" today is nothing more than what we see performed by a man named Marshall Sylver, mind over matter, self or induced hypnosis.

From a Marshall Sylver Advertisement:

The Secrets Of Persuasion & Influence
"Whether you are persuading someone to get involved with your product or service, or influencing someone to accept your concepts or ideas, you will learn the incredible secrets of subconscious persuasion with this system."

One would find this Sylver bullet used by Benny Hinn and all those who use emotion to bring about 'altered states', 'mind over matter' or 'Holy Laughter'.

Marshall Sylver has produced 'Holy Laughter' on stage in Las Vegas, convincing crowds that they were Elvis or a duck or laughing beyond control over anything said or suggested.

This isn't an outpouring as many suggest in charismatic circles today.


********


Suggested Reading:

The Birth Of The Church
by Ray C. Stedman

http://www.pbc.org/dp/stedman/acts/0413.html



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