Many years ago, sometime in the mid 2000’s I came across a religious movement called “Mid Acts Dispensationalism”. What grabbed me right away was their affirmation on the gospel of Jesus Christ in reference to His death and resurrection, and that were saved by faith. This is great declaration of the Christian faith, yet the more I listened to what they had to share I was hearing things that were in contradiction to the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and the Scriptures as a whole. For more information click here Why Be Concerned With Mid Acts Dispensationalism
One of the main things that the Mid Acts Dispensationalists believe that is false – is that they teach Jesus did not preach the gospel of the cross and His resurrection in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. What the Mid Acts Dispensationalists mean is that this gospel message was not preached by anyone until Paul was given this revelation after Jesus’ resurrection.
Look at the following quote: “We would search in vain for a clear presentation of the preaching of the cross in the ministry of Jesus and the disciples in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Jesus did not preach his redemptive work on the cross for salvation during his ministry on earth.”
Is this accurate? Did Jesus not preach His redemptive work of the cross and resurrection for salvation before He was crucified and raised on the third day? The answer is no, that is a false teaching, and a very dangerous perspective. To state that Jesus did not preach His death and resurrection for salvation prior to the cross is a serious misrepresentation.
In the Gospels we read about Jesus’ “birth”, “His identity”, “family”, “life”, “His example”, “teachings”, “prophecies”, “death”, “resurrection”, and “what to expect”. In other words the Gospels are the accounts of Jesus’ life and how He over time revealed to the people who He was, why He came, and what was to take place. In Acts and onward we read about how Jesus has changed people’s lives, how they are now set free, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Of course things are predominately about the gospel of Jesus Christ in Paul’s writing’s, as with the other apostles, as they should be.
When reading the Gospels it is important to realize that they are accounts of Jesus’ life and His teachings at different times. In other words we can read about things Jesus taught in the Gospel of John that (maybe) was not written as direct in the other Gospels, and yet it was still taught and known to His disciples. (and to others depending on the text)
Here are some “clear” teachings from Jesus on the cross (His sacrifice) for salvation prior to His death and resurrection
Throughout Jesus’ life He taught many different things that are not worded as we would state things. For example Jesus taught there was one God. And He revealed that in the one God there is God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Himself (Son of God/Son of Man). Though we do not read or see the word “Trinity” in the Gospel’s, we as Christian’s acknowledge that this was taught by Jesus Christ. (and affirmed by the apostles) With that being said it is important to understand that the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection was preached before the cross, and that a person could be saved by believing in Him.
“14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”. (JOHN 3:14-18 NASB)
This is one of the most referenced Scriptures in the Gospel accounts on being saved in Jesus Christ. In these verses we notice the following from Jesus. 1.) Jesus is having a conversation with a religious Jewish teacher, (Pharisee) Nicodemus. 2.) Nicodemus at some point has come to believe there is something special about Jesus and in that is seeking to know Him 3.) In their conversation Jesus provides information that Nicodemus would understand in reference to what took place with Moses in the Old Testament 4.) As Moses was “lifted” up so Jesus the Son of Man will be “lifted” up (referring to His life being given) 5.) As all those whom “looked” in trust to Moses when he was “lifted” up to be saved, those whom put their trust in Jesus and “believe” will be saved through His being “lifted up” (the cross) 6.) God the Father gave His Son Jesus to be a Savior for mankind through His death, which would be the cross. 7.) All those who put their trust in Him will be saved and not judged, and all those who do not believe are in judgement already because of their unbelief.
If there is any question on what Jesus meant by the Son of Man being lifted up, then consider the following:
“27 “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. 31 Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. 34 The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”” (JOHN 12:27-34 NASB)
Jesus in speaking to the crowds spoke of His being lifted up and through that this will draw all men to Himself. How did crowd respond? What did they understand? Notice they did understand what Jesus meant and in turn asked Him how can this be if the Christ is to remain forever? Why is this important? Remember Jesus spoke with Nicodemus, a religious teacher about Him being lifted up. If the crowd of people understood Jesus stating He would be lifted up and that would mean He would die, (give His life) then there is no reason to believe Nicodemus would of not thought the same when Jesus was speaking with him. The truth is that Jesus did preach the cross and resurrection for salvation prior to His death.
“17 As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, 18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.”..28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”” (MATTHEW 20:17-19&28 NASB)
“11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”…27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (JOHN 10:11-18&27-28 NASB)
In a world with so many today claiming to have the “right” perspective on what the Bible teaches it is extremely important to take the time to look things over carefully. Many groups like the Mid Acts Dispensationalist’s claim they are the ones rightly dividing the Bible, and that they teach the true doctrines of God. How does one know who is teaching true doctrine and who is teaching false doctrine? My encouragement is be consistent with what the text states, to look things over carefully and slowly, to examine the Scriptures without the traditions of men that contradict the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.
There is more that could be written here and you are encouraged to ask questions or share comments here respectfully. My hope is this has been helpful to you the reader.
Check out What Must I Do To Be Saved?