Christians, who have a sincere desire to obtain all that God has for them, have sought gifts which God has been pleased to bestow upon His people in times past, but which do not necessarily apply to the people of today. Among these gifts is the “gift of healing.” There are those who also are earnestly seeking to “speak in tongues.”
These sincere folk use Scripture to support their practice. They quote from the Gospel narratives, the Book of Acts, and also from the Epistles which were written during the period covered by the Book of Acts. We must confess these people are Scriptural, but the question which we ask is, “Are they dispensational?”
If these folks are correct because they are Scriptural, then the practices of many other believers are also correct. But unless we “distinguish the things that differ,” we shall be confused as to how we are to conduct our lives during this period which is known in the Word of God as “the Administration of the Mystery” (Eph. 3:9).
The confusion which we see all around us today is because almost every sect, ism, and denomination seeks to practice some of the things that were in vogue during the time when Israel as a nation had priority rights. It might be well at this point to quote from Sir Robert Anderson’s book, “The Silence of God,” (page 177):
“Everyone recognizes that the advent of Christ marked a visible ‘change of dispensation’ as it is termed; that is, a change in God’s dealing with men. But the fact is commonly ignored that the rejection of Christ by the favoured people, and their fall in consequence from the position of privilege formerly held by them, marked another change no less definite and important (Rom. 11:15). And yet, this fact affords the solution of many difficulties and a safeguard against many errors. As indicated in these pages, it gives the clue to the right understanding of the Acts of the Apostles: a book which is primarily the record, not, as commonly supposed of the founding of the Christian church, but of the apostasy of the favoured nation. It it also explains much that perplexes Christians in the teaching of the Gospels.”
During the period covered by the Book of Acts, people spoke with tongues. In 1 Corinthians 14:39, Paul says, “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.”
When the practices of the Acts period are being forced upon the Lord’s people for the present period, then no one is to forbid to speak with tongues, Yet, we know that speaking with tongues is forbidden in a great many of our churches and assemblies. There are also other practices which were in order before Israel as a nation was set aside but which are not in order for today. However, we are dealing with “tongues,” but the answer to these is the same.
As we read the Word of God, we find that Israel, as a nation, refused the testimony of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. After the rejection of God the Son, our blessed Lord said on the Cross: “…Father forgive them, for they know not what they do…” (Lk. 23:34). The Apostle Peter, in Acts 3:17, said to Israel: “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” Peter continued in verses 19 and 20 by saying, “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; And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you.”
But Israel, as a nation, did not repent. God raised up Paul, who always went to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles. Peter opened the door of the Kingdom of Heaven to a God-fearing Gentile, Cornelius, and preached to him: “But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. The Word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judea and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached” (Acts 10:35-37).
Before Acts 10, the message of the Kingdom was to Jews only (see Acts 11:19). From Acts 10 until the close of the Acts period, the Kingdom message was to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles (Rom. 1:16). In Acts 13:46 we read: “…It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” The Gentiles, during that period, who believed, were made partakers of Israel’s spiritual things (Rom. 15:27). But when Israel at last rejected the testimony of God the Holy Spirit, then Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, pronounced upon the nation the judgment of Isaiah 6 as we read in Acts 28:25-27.
Paul now separates himself from his nation. In Acts 28:20, he said: “…For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain,” but when he later met with the Jews, he said in verse 25 (R.V.), “Well spake the Holy Spirit by Isaiah the prophet unto your fathers.” Israel would not hear, would not see, but hardened their heart and Paul declared, “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it” (Acts 28:28).
The following is from an article by Rev. George Douglas, of Cardiff, Wales, published in the Moody Bible Institute Monthly, July, 1936:
“And when the Apostle Paul arrived in Rome, although as we learn from the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, the church there occupied such a prominent place in his affection, his first care was to summon together “the chief of the Jews,” and it was as a Jew he addressed them, for his words are “our Fathers,” “my nation,” and the “hope of Israel” (Acts 28:17-20). But when they rejected his testimony, he said “your fathers,” (vs. 25, R.V.). He now severed himself from Israel, and pronounced the solemn words which sealed their doom (vss. 25-31).
“The evidential value of miracles depended upon a preceding revelation. They were a sign for those who possessed the countersign, namely, the Jews, for “unto them were committed the oracles of God,” and when they were definitely set aside by the apostolic pronouncement of Acts 28:25-28, the signs defiantly ceased. That explains why the Apostle Paul performed no miracles in Rome: did not even speak in tongues.
“It is only as we understand the dispensational character of the inspired Book, which marks the transition period between the Gospels and the setting aside of Israel, that we can understand the mystery of the silence of God in this Dispensation of Grace.
“It is a common error to assume that the rejection and crucifixion of Christ was the historical crisis at which Israel was set aside. Under the influence of this erroneous conception, people are apt to read the rest of the New Testament as though it had no more to say concerning the earthly people. But when we come into the Acts, we at once discover that a place of repentance was granted to Israel, and a “blotting out of sins” was preached to them through the Messiah Whom they had rejected and crucified” (Acts 2:14, 22, 36).
It was after Israel finally rejected the testimony of God the Spirit, that tongues are now NOT in order. Here all that is of the earth is dismissed. We are blessed “with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Let us, who have been risen with Christ and sealed with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God (see Col. 3:1-4).