Acceptable Year of the Lord

Acceptable Year of the Lord

The change which took place during the book of Acts which resulted in a “dispensation of the gospel” being committed to the Apostle Paul, and the “dispensation of the grace of God” for you Gentiles, which was given to Paul, is a difficult thing for many in the religious system to see. Paul says, in:

1 Corinthians 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

Now the word dispensation carries the idea of a stewardship or an administration. A dispensation is not so much a period of time as it is an economy. And in that economy God operates, he deals with men, on the basis of HIS determinate council and foreknowledge. In fact, God can, and does, give different instructions to people in different economies.

The reason that most people who are involved in religion today have a hard time seeing a dispensational change is because they fail to take the word of God literally, believing that the bible means what it says, as it says it, where it says it, and ALSO to whom it says it. For instance the book of Isaiah is not written TO or ABOUT the church. It is about Israel. In the book of Isaiah there is a large amount of prophecy. All of that prophecy is spoken UNTO and ABOUT Israel. It is unfair, and wrong, for religion to take specific prophecies, promises, made to Israel and attempt to apply them to the church in the age in which we live today. A classic example of that is “the acceptable year of the Lord.” To see what I mean, let’s go to the book of Isaiah and just read a few verses, in their entire context, so that we can note WHO the prophecy is about and WHAT it is saying:

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Isaiah 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Isaiah 61:4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

Isaiah 61:5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.

Isaiah 61:6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

Notice that it says that they, whoever the passage is talking about, shall be named the “Priests of the Lord,” and that they shall eat the riches of the Gentiles. Well, it would seem that it is talking about somebody other than Gentiles, since you have the “Priests” on the one hand and the “Gentiles” on the other. And the Priests are going to “eat,” or consume, the riches of the Gentiles. Well, go back for just a minute to the book of Exodus. At the time of Exodus chapter 19 Moses has led the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, and they have come to where God gives them the Law, the Law of Moses. Now look at what God tells Moses to speak to the children of

Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Exodus 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

So God, through Moses, has made promises to some people. We know that these people are the “children of Israel.” That is, they are the physical, literal descendents of Jacob, who is named Israel, the grandson of Abraham. Now go with me to the book of Romans and look at how Paul describes the ministry of Jesus Christ. He is referring to the earthly ministry of the Lord, as in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John:

Romans 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

So Paul says that Jesus Christ was a minister of someone, called the “circumcision.” Remember that Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, was given the covenant of circumcision in Genesis:

Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

Genesis 17:8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Genesis 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

Genesis 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

So God promises Abraham the land, all the land of , for an everlasting possession, and he gives him the covenant of circumcision. And Jesus Christ, when he comes on the scene, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, is a minister of the circumcision. He is baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, the bible says, as a manifestation. John said “I knew Him not but that he should be MANIFEST to Israel, therefore am I come, baptizing with water.” So Jesus Christ begins his ministry to the circumcision, to the nation of

Luke 4:15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

Luke 4:16 And he came to , where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Luke 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

Luke 4:19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Luke 4:20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

Luke 4:21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Now notice what He did. He took the book of Isaiah, he turned to the place, and he read from Isaiah chapter 61, verse one and two. But notice: He stopped in the MIDDLE of the verse. He did not read the entire verse. Instead he read the part that says, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,” and He closed the book. And he said, THIS DAY is this scripture fulfilled. In other words, from that time, Jesus Christ began to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And It carries the idea of repent and believe:

Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the ,

Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Now remember that the promises made to the fathers were that Israel would be a “kingdom of priests and an holy nation.” In other words God would establish that nation as a Kingdom and the people would be the “priests of the Lord.” Jesus Christ was confirming those promises. So it is referred to as the gospel of the kingdom:

Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

Now, as it turns out, this is basically the same message as the one preached by Moses in the wilderness. It is the message about the Kingdom, about the holy nation and the kingdom of priests. But those in the wilderness didn’t receive the Kingdom, as a matter of fact they didn’t even enter into the promised land. We find out from Hebrews that it was because of UNBELEIF:

Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Now the point of the study is the fact of the dispensational change that occurred in the book of Acts, but also, we want to see the fact that you being accepted with God depends on you believing what God says. All salvation, Genesis thru Revelation is based on faith. Faith in what God said. That’s the idea in view here with the word REPENT. That is, change your mind. Turn from your unbelief to belief. Turn, think differently and believe what God said. Those in Exodus were unbelievers:

Hebrews 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

So Jesus Christ is a minister of the circumcision. John says in John 1:11 that He came unto his own. He is preaching the message to the circumcision and he is confirming the promises made unto the fathers. So he preaches the acceptable year of the Lord. God gave a covenant to the people of Israel in the book of Exodus. It was based on

Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

Jeremiah 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

So the Lord’s ministry during Matthew, Mark, Luke and John was to confirm the promises made to the fathers, to the nation of Israel. The promises involved the land and the Kingdom. They also involved the King, which we know that Jesus Christ is. The book of Matthew is the book of the King. It presents Jesus Christ as the King of Israel:

Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Matthew 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

So we have then, the gospel of the kingdom. It is the good news that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel. Jesus Christ is proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord. As it turns out, Israel rejects their King and their Kingdom. They say, away with this man, we have no king but Caesar. We will not have this man to rule over us. Crucify him. Let his blood be upon us and upon our children.

So then, what is the “acceptable year of the Lord?” Well, we know from Hebrews that without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sins, and we know that the blood of bulls and goats, all those animal sacrifices under the Law of Moses could not take away sins. Only the blood of God can take away the sins of the world, and that was the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, that Christ would die for their sins, and not for theirs only but for the sins of the whole world. I say WE KNOW, but at that time THEY didn’t know. As a matter of fact the Lord’s apostles didn’t know. They didn’t even know the Lord was going to die, much less die for anyone’s sins. Look what Paul says about it:

1 Corinthians 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

If the Devil had known that the death of Christ would be the very means of his undoing, he would never have tried to kill the Lord. But he did not know. Nobody knew. Not even the apostles. As a matter of fact, after the resurrection they didn’t understand it. Even after Peter and John go and look at the empty tomb and the Lord’s body is missing, the bible says:

John 20:9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

John 20:10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

So Christ is crucified, buried and three days and three nights later, he rose from the dead, and he begins to appear to the apostles, for a period of forty days, and he teaches them. Not about the WHY of the cross of Christ. That remains a mystery. But he teaches them that His very death, burial and resurrection is the fulfillment of prophecy:

Luke 24:45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

Luke 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

Luke 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Luke 24:48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

So what is in view here is still REPENTANCE. It is still the idea of changing your mind and believing in Jesus as the promised King. The King of the Kingdom. As we will see in a minute, the “remission of sins” which is in view here is NOT the message that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, as Paul later writes in 1 Corinthians. That is not the message here. That fact was still a mystery here at this time.

What is in view here is still the Kingdom message. It is remission of sins at a future date, at the second coming of Christ. If you read carefully what Peter says on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, you will notice that Peter doesn’t say “I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures.” That’s what Paul said in 1 Corinthians. That is NOT what Peter says in Acts chapter two. The WHY of the cross of Christ is NOT in view in Peter’s message. Instead, what is in view is THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.

In the book of Acts Peter charges Israel with murder. He doesn’t preach the cross as good news. He doesn’t glory in the cross. He preaches it as a shame against

Acts 3:17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

Acts 3:18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

In other words, Peter charges Israel with the murder of their King, but he says I know you did it in ignorance, as well as your rulers, the rulers of the nation of Israel. Now look what he says:

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

Notice he says, “that your sins may be blotted out.” Well, when will that be? When will Israel’s sins be blotted out: Read on:

Acts 3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

So what has happened is that Jesus Christ has been crucified, buried and raised from the dead. He has ascended into Heaven with the promise that He will come again. And Peter is preaching to those who will receive their Messiah, be identified with Him in water baptism, that there is a future day coming when the Lord will come again and blot out all their sins. What is in view is the Day of Atonement for

Acts 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

So what is happening in the early part of the book of Acts is the very thing Christ had proclaimed, “the acceptable year of the Lord.” On the cross, Christ had prayed to the Father, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” None of the princes of this world knew, and Israel didn’t know, what the result of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ would be. God the Father answered that prayer of Jesus from the cross, and in Acts two, three, four, five, six and chapter seven, you have the acceptable year of the Lord. You can see this in the parable of the fig tree:

Luke 13:6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

Luke 13:7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

Luke 13:8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

Luke 13:9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

So in the early part of the book of Acts, you have one year in which the nation of Israel was given the opportunity to repent and to receive their Messiah. The repentance being called for by Peter is a change of heart, a change of mind. In other words, think differently about this man you have murdered, this man whom God has raised from the dead. He is your Messiah, your King. If you will repent, acknowledge Him as your Messiah, as your King, then He will return again and establish His Kingdom. Of course we know they didn’t repent. Some did. The “little flock” did. In Acts chapter two there were three thousand added to THAT church. (keep in mind that all churches in your bible are not the same assembly, just as all gospels in your bible is not always the same good news) In Acts chapter two, three thousand were added to the church:

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

In Acts chapter four there were five thousand added:

Acts 4:4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

But the majority of

Romans 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

The restitution of all things was put on hold and Christ remains in Heaven today:

Acts 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

The fulfillment of prophecy was put on hold for the revelation of the mystery which was revealed to the apostle Paul:

Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

You will find that when Stephen is stoned to death in Acts chapter seven, and a young man named Saul is there, consenting unto Stephens death, that never again, not yet, has national repentance been offered to the nation of Israel. Peter’s ministry faded out during the book of Acts. As a matter of fact, Peter disappears after Acts chapter 12 until Acts chapter 15. In Acts 15, Peter stands up in the meeting at Jerusalem in defense of Paul’s ministry and message, and from that time, Peter can no longer be found in the pages of the book. From Acts 15 onward, the account is all about Paul’s ministry.

So by the time of Acts chapter eight, great persecution broke out against the church which was at Jerusalem, and Saul of Tarsus was the ringleader of it:

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Shortly after that, in Acts chapter nine, on the road to Damascus, the worst enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ on the planet, Saul of Tarsus, has a totally unexpected encounter with the Lord. Luke writes about the Lord appearing to Saul, who is later called Paul, in Acts chapter nine, and Paul, later in the book of Acts tells about his own experience, and he quotes the words the Lord spoke to him:

Acts 26:16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

So the Lord has chosen Paul to make him a minister and a witness, He says, of these things which Paul had seen there at that time, and of those things which the Lord said that he would later appear to Paul and reveal. That’s why Paul refers to “his gospel” as the revelation of the mystery. It had never before been revealed until the Lord revealed it to Paul. Paul says:

1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

So a “dispensation of the gospel” was committed to Paul. A dispensation is an administration. The dispensation of the gospel which was committed to Paul on the road to Damascus continues from that time, until the catching out of the body of Christ, until the rapture of the church. In this administration God is operating, not according to the fulfillment of prophecy, but according to what Paul said, the revelation of the mystery. The Mystery committed to Paul is many faceted, but the three most important things about the Mystery are these:

Salvation today is not thru Israel or thru their rise, but thru their fall.

Today there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but a joint body of believers called the church, the body of Christ.

Now the Holy Ghost chooses what he will reveal, to whom He will reveal it and when He will reveal it. It was NOT revealed in Acts chapter two, three four, five, during Peter’s ministry in the book of Acts, that Christ died for our sins. That information was first revealed to Paul:

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

1 Corinthians 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The WHY of the cross of Christ was first revealed to Paul. On the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, Peter doesn’t know that Christ died for his sins and he simply doesn’t preach that. Instead, he preaches a murder indictment against Israel and an acceptable time in which God gave

In time past, God was bound by his covenants. God was bound by his promises made to the fathers. In Genesis chapter twelve God chose Abraham and began to make promises to him. He said:

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee:

Genesis 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

The descendents of Abraham, through Isaac and through Jacob did become a great nation, the nation of

Genesis 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

But when the time came for the Messiah to come and the promised Kingdom to be established, Israel rejected their King and their Kingdom, God set aside, temporarily, his dealings with the nation of Israel as His chosen people. The fact is, he UNCHOSE

Hosea 1:8 Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.

Hosea 1:9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.

Through their fall, not by their being exalted above all nations, not their rise, but through their fall, salvation came to the Gentiles.

Romans 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

Not only did salvation come to the Gentiles, but it came in an entirely different manner than Peter had preached to Israel. God raised up a new apostle with a new message:

Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

Paul’s message is not about the fulfillment of prophecy through Israel, not the rise of Israel, but the fall of Israel and an entirely new administration, a new dispensation:

Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

Ephesians 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

Ephesians 3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

It is the mystery of Christ, the mystery of the gospel. The mystery that Paul refers to here is that Gentiles, such as you and I, can be saved today totally apart from the nation of Israel. In the past a Gentile could only be blessed if he blessed God’s chosen people, the people of Israel. That is not the case today. Gentile salvation without Israel, apart from

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Peter never talked about the gospel of Christ. Only Paul uses that term. Peter never talked about the body of Christ. Only Paul refers to the body of Christ. Peter preached the fulfillment of prophecy and the RISE of Israel, not their fall. But Israel fell, and salvation came to the likes of you and me.

Ephesians 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Salvation today is not by repentance and good works and enduring to the end. Salvation today is because of the grace of God alone. Salvation today is because of the faith of Christ alone.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

During this time, while the body of Christ is being completed:

1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

This age in which we live is the time of reconciliation:

2 Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

The message today is the message of God’s grace:

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Ephesians 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The good news today is that you don’t need to do any work in order to find favor with God. In fact it is not necessary to go anywhere, do anything, or even say anything. All that God requires today is that you simply place your faith in the finished work of Christ. To be saved, you must trust in His work, and not in yours. He worked it all out. He finished the work. Salvation for you is complete today in the cross of Christ. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.

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