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The Gifts Are For Today - Part III

The Dispensation of Today

In Part II of this topic, I quoted from Peter's great Pentecost sermon to show that the Holy Spirit considered all the time from Peter's day to the return of Jesus Christ to be one cohesive whole, called 'The Last Days'. Yet, every assertion ought to be established by two or more witnesses. So, I will now offer more scriptural evidence of this vital truth: From God's perspective, we are living in the same timeframe as the first century Church.

As I mentioned in Part II, Peter purposely changed the wording of the prophet Joel's original prophesy from "afterward" to "In the last days". He did this at the behest of the Holy Spirit - the very One who had dictated the original prophecy to Joel. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews also applied the same phrase to the first century of the Church Age:

"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." (Heb 1:1-2)

According to this verse, when Jesus walked upon the Earth and talked to people, it was then "the last days". Yet, the Apostles Peter, Paul, and James also referred to their distant future - our day - as the "last days": See 2Ti 3:1, Jam 5:3, and 2Pt 3:3. It is evident, therefore, that the entire period of time encompassed by the Church Age, nearly twenty centuries, is a single entity. "Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate." (Mt 19:6)

The book of Hebrews further declares this scriptural truth of the cohesiveness of the Church Age by fully exploring the following passage from Psalm 95:

Heb 3:7-11:
(7) Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice,
(8) do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
(9) where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works
(10) for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.'
(11) As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"

Coincidentally, this passage comprises verses 7 through 11 of Psalm 95, as well. The author of Hebrews spends the rest of chapter 3 and much of chapter 4 interpreting and applying this passage to the Church. First, he immediately applies it as a warning to us:

"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God." (Heb 3:12)

Next, he declares Psalm 95 to be speaking of his - and our - day:

"Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today', that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb 3:13)

Here, the the title 'Today' is applied to the entire Church Age, for it is certainly true that the day in which we no longer have to worry about the deceitfulness of sin has not yet arrived! Rest assured: this command to exhort each other is still in force to this day. Therefore we are still in the 'Today' of God, more than nineteen centuries after the letter to the Hebrews was written.

The author of Hebrews then pressed on with his exposition and application of Ps 95:

"For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." (Heb 3:14-15)

Amazingly, Ps 95:7-11, as applied by the book of Hebrews, has now continuously hung over the Church for nearly twenty centuries, just as Peter's application of Joel chapter 2 - "everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" - has undergird the Church for the exact same timeframe.

Yet, we are not done investigating what the book of Hebrews has to say about the "Today of God"; our topic continues into chapter 4. Please read this section of Hebrews for yourself, but here is a vital passage:

Heb 4:4-11:
(4) For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works."
(5) And again in this passage he said, "They shall not enter my rest."
(6) Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,
(7) again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."
(8) For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.
(9) So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
(10) for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
(11) Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience."

In brief, this passage demonstrates from scripture that God has declared a rest for the people of God. His people in the Old Testament did not enter into His rest, not even when Joshua led them into the promised land of Canaan. Therefore, God established a great day of rest, calling it 'Today'; a day that is still active in our time. It is available to all by faith; yet denied to anyone mired in unbelief.

© Matthew Schilling March 2006

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