The Last Days Body of Messiah (Part 1)

“The Last Days Body of Messiah” (Part 1)

Introduction (Acts 2:1-4)

In 70AD the Roman armies under the Roman General Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple and not one stone was left upon another, but they were all thrown down. The Temple was burned with fire at the hands of Arab Auxiliaries that were part of the Roman armies. The heat was so intense that the gold in the temple melted and flowed down through the cracks in the bricks. Forty years before these events occurred the Messiah our Lord Jesus prophesied these things would happen down to the very last detail. It would end the Biblical religious system of Mosaic Judaism. The religious traditions of the Jewish people and the temple in which they had trusted for their security were gone (Matthew 24:1-2) (Luke 21:20-24).

Prophetically this teaches us what is going to happen to wider Christendom at the very end of this age and to its denominational structures. Multitudes of professing Christians in the western democracies are very much like the Jews before 70AD that were trusting in their religious traditions and structures even though they knew the scriptures.

Satan had tried to kill off the followers of Jesus since the time of the apostles. He had arranged the martyrdom of all of the apostles apart from John, and had tried to stop the spread of the gospel of the kingdom but had failed miserably. The more he killed the more they hatched. The second-century church father Tertullian lived in Carthage, North Africa, when persecution of Christians was at its apex. In those days, the blood of martyrs soaked the earth as believers were fed to the lions, beaten, whipped, sawed in half, put to death by sword, burned in the fire, and chained in prisons. Tertullian maintained that the more Christians were persecuted and “mown down,” the more they would multiply because “the blood of Christians is seed” Indeed Tertullian’s statement was later interpreted as “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Satan could not prevail against the Body of Messiah through persecution so he came up with a new strategy that actually worked. Instead of persecution he got the Church leaders by and large to ‘Christianise’ certain pagan rituals, symbols and traditions not endorsed by the Word of God. Today the end-time apostasy prophesied by the Lord Jesus and His apostles is well upon us. It was kick started by the Roman Emperor Constantine who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire and allowed these pagan symbols and traditions that had been a part of Roman life and culture to be ‘Christianised’ and brought into the visible church.

Down through the long history of Christendom from the time of Constantine to the present day has always been infected by and large by Christian traditions, many that cannot be supported by the Word of God. This is a subject in itself. Down through the centuries of course the faithful Body of Messiah, which has always been a remnant, has always been persecuted as the Lord Jesus said it would be. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the one who sent Me” (John 15:18-21).

In fact He also prophesied that the time would come in the future when the faithful Body of Messiah would be handed over to pagan authorities and to unsaved religious bodies to be persecuted and put to death, and that we would be hated by all nations because of our loyalty to Him as our rightful Saviour and Lord (Luke 21:12).  He also said that many would turn away from the faith and betray and hate their fellow believers, and that in the midst of all of this many false prophets would arise and because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most professing believers would grow cold, but those who stand firm to the end will be saved, rescued and delivered. He also said that the Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then after that the end will come (Matthew 24:9-14). The preaching of the gospel of the kingdom will be the last great sign that will usher in the Second Coming of Messiah.

While persecution, apostasy, false prophets and religious structures, ceremonies and traditions have always been around, in the last days just before the Messiah our Lord Jesus returns they will be a conspicuous mark of a global apostasy. Today we have the apostasy in full swing with the hyper faith money preachers, the feel good seeker sensitive churches, the ecumenical churches, the interfaith churches, the kingdom dominion churches, and the myriad of false prophets and teachers with their counterfeit miracles, signs, manifestations and wonders of all kinds infesting the wider Body of Messiah as prophesied by the Lord Jesus and the apostles in the Word of God. Of course false prophets and teachers and false doctrines were also around in the first century but will be an infestation in the last of the last days as we see today.

Now the Roman Empire had two legs to its vast empire. There was a western leg and a Middle-Eastern leg of the empire. In the west you had Rome itself and in the Middle-East you had Byzantium with Constantinople as its capital. By and large Christendom had become spiritually bankrupt. In 476 AD the Germanic king of the Torcilingi, deposed Romulus Augustulus, the last Roman emperor to rule the western part of the Roman Empire. However, the eastern half became the Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) fell to the Ottoman Turkish Empire in 1453 AD.

One thing that continued down through the history of Christendom was that the Lord Jesus always had a faithful remnant of believers in Him who did not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4), and who remained faithful to the Messiah our Lord Jesus and continued to spread the gospel of the kingdom often at great risk to their lives, not only from pagan authorities, but also from the enclaves of apostate Popes, Prelates, Bishops and Clergy, a ‘Christianised’ religious system that was just like the one that existed in Jerusalem before 70AD. When you read the New Testament it was often the Jewish religious leaders and their man made religious system in league with the pagan Roman authorities that persecuted the Body of Messiah.

When you read Matthew chapter 24 and Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21 the context of these passages of God’s Word not only apply to the time of the apostles but also to Church history and especially to the last days in which we are now living as the end of this present age is rapidly approaching. The first century believers in the Book of Acts knew that Jerusalem would fall and the temple destroyed. There was still the religious system in place. It was a valid scripturally structured system of Mosaic Judaism that was spiritually bankrupt and riddled with the religious man made traditions that went beyond scripture that nullified the Word of God, traditions perpetrated by the religious leaders (Mark 7:13).

Today this world is ‘a titanic’ that has already hit ‘the iceberg’ that will see everything that God has not established sink into the miry depths of destruction and hell (hades). As it is written; “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). Those who have the ‘lifejacket’ of salvation on will not sink with ‘the ship’ of this world because God has not destined them for His wrath upon sin and rebellion but for salvation through the Messiah our Lord Jesus who will save them from the coming wrath upon a Messiah hating, Messiah rejecting world, and upon an apostate spiritually bankrupt Christendom (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).

Now those who have ‘the lifejacket of salvation’ on and sitting in ‘the lifeboat’ of the Body of Messiah because they know it is going to hit ‘the iceberg’ being the Day of the LORD, will find it cold and rather uncomfortable. They cannot join the revelry and partying going on in ‘the cabins’ of the fleshpots of this world that are oblivious to the destruction that will come suddenly upon them, and who think that the ship won’t sink, hence they despise wearing their lifejackets. It is interesting that the architect of the Titanic said that not even God Himself could sink the Titanic, however, when it hit the iceberg he went down with the ship in to the dark and murky depths that awaits all who do not put on the lifejacket of salvation through repentance and by faith in the ultimate eternal life saver our Lord Jesus. In fact the Lord Jesus Himself spoke about what would happen right at the end of the age just before His return. “For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

In the Book of Acts we see what the Body of Messiah did after they had been filled with the Holy Spirit. They knew that Jerusalem and the temple were doomed and that the organised religious system was also doomed. They did not know when it would happen but kept preparing themselves for when it did. At first they worshipped in the temple precincts, and also attended the temple services as Torah observant Jews who understood the scriptures in relation to the Messiah our Lord Jesus, and that He was the one spoken of in the Torah, the Psalms and the prophets. Having said this, the time came when they were expelled from the temple because of their testimony to the Messiah our Lord Jesus and to His resurrection. In those days they were known as “the People of the Way.” The time will come when faithful Bible believers will be ejected from most mainline denominational churches because these churches have turned away from the whole Word of God and its absolute authority in matters related to Biblical doctrine and Biblical standards of living.

Just as the religious system was destined to perish at the hands of Pagan Rome in 70AD, so in these last days wider Christendom, with its denominational, Ecumenical and even interfaith associations, with its myriad of false prophets, teachers and unbiblical doctrines, man-made religious traditions, and the infestation of all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, are destined for destruction, and that at the hands of the beast system of the Antichrist who himself will come in on the flood tide of the apostasy. These counterfeit signs and wonders will precede his coming, and then he will turn on the religious system when he sets himself up in God’s Temple to proclaim himself to be God. The choice will be given, Christ of the Antichrist? (2 Thessalonians 2:3-9) (Revelation 13:6-8; 14-15).

So then the first century Body of Messiah prepared themselves for what was coming upon Jerusalem but also what was going to happen in the world before the Lord Jesus came back. Their hope was not in this world or in the things that this world offers, but in the Messiah our Lord Jesus who will rescue His Body, the faithful Church, out of the time of tribulation when it becomes the wrath of God (Revelation 7:14). The blood of the Messiah has not only redeemed us as individual members of the Body of Messiah and loosed us from our sins, and justified us before God, but will also save us from God’s wrath through our faith in the Messiah (Romans 5:9).

The first century believing Messianic community at Jerusalem prepared themselves for what was to come despite the increasing persecution that was looming on the horizon and despite the opposition from the Jewish religious hierarchy who had it in for them big time! In light of what was coming what did they do? We see how they conducted themselves in the Book of Acts which is God’s blueprint for the Body of Messiah. The face of the first century Body of Messiah is the face we will see of the last century Body of the Messiah. They did not know the day or the hour when the Lord Jesus would return but they prepared themselves in light of His Second Coming (2 Peter 3:10-14). What they did and how they worshipped and lived their lives has always been God’s pattern for the Body of Messiah throughout the Church age and especially in these last days of the apostasy which is now upon us and in full swing. Let’s now turn to the Book of Acts.

(Acts 2:1-4) “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.”

(Acts 2:42-47) ”They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and singleness of heart, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

(Acts 4:29-35) “29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”


(Acts 2:1-4)

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.”

It was after the Holy Spirit has fallen upon them corporately that the 120 in the upper room were empowered to witness to the unsaved. They spoke in various languages and some they did not know but the Holy Spirit gave them the words. Every language spoken was heard and understood by those listening and observing what was happening (Acts 2:5-8). Before the Spirit was outpoured He was already indwelling them as a source of eternal life, they were saved (John 20:21-22). However, they would need to be filled by Him in that He, who was already in them, would also well up from within them, and fall down upon them from above, to give them the words they needed to bring about conviction of sin in the unsaved and see them saved (Luke 24:49) (John 7:37-39) (Acts 1:8).

After Peter had preached the gospel of the kingdom centred in the Lord Jesus in a common language they all understood his message to them. His hearers were cut to their conscience with tremendous conviction by the Holy Spirit concerning their unbelief in the Lord Jesus as Saviour and Lord and repented, were baptised having exercised saving faith in Him and received the Holy Spirit, and 3,000 were saved in a single day (Acts 2:38-41). The fact that there appeared what looked like tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of the 120 signified that the thoughts, the intents and the desires of their hearts had been purified by faith as Peter later mentions regarding the Household of Cornelius (Acts 15:8-9). In the Old Testament we see the fire of God’s presence by His Spirit as a blazing fiery pillar in the physical tabernacle. In the New Testament on the Day of Pentecost the fire of God’s presence through His Holy Spirit was seen in His spiritual temple the Body of Messiah. When the Law of Moses was given to Him by God on Mt Sinai 3,000 people perished who broke that law. On the day of Pentecost when the law of God was written by the Holy Spirit on the hearts of those who were unsaved and they got saved! 3,000 were saved that day (Exodus 32:28) (Jeremiah 31:31-34) (Acts 2:41).

Purified hearts result in powerful proclamation! After the 120 New Covenant believers had all been filled with the Spirit and a fellowship established, the whole assembly began to operate under the direction of the Holy Spirit. They were not dependent on anything like we see today such as ‘plans’ or ‘courses’ in evangelism or human methods of persuasion or mesmerising music for hours on end or motivational talks as such, or even secular marketing strategies for church growth, but they witnessed by the power of the Holy Spirit to what God had done in them and for them in giving them so great a salvation. They used only the scriptures in the power of the Holy Spirit, because intuitively they knew in their inner spirits that “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God” and that “the just shall live by faith and by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” See (Habakkuk 2:4) (Romans 10:17) (Romans 1:17; 10:17) (Galatians 3:11) ( Hebrews 10:38) (Matthew 4:4).

The first century Body of Messiah were regularly led by the Holy Spirit speaking directly to them and giving them guidance (Romans 8:1-14) (Acts 15:28-29). Committees and church boards of one sort or another have their place, but it is the Holy Spirit that gives the local assembly direction according to the tenants of the Word of God. He is the Spirit of truth, not error, and where there is doctrinal error He cannot do anything. He will never endorse any unity of man that is not directly under His control as God the Spirit. This is why Ecumenical Unity is not Biblical. This is a subject in itself.

The same power of the Holy Spirit who was poured out upon the 120 on the day of Pentecost has been available to every believer from the first century down through history even to the present day. According to Peter’s sermon he clearly preached about the salvation found only in Messiah our Lord Jesus and about His physical resurrection and said that if anyone was to be saved they were to repent, be baptised in Jesus name (identifying with Him) to receive forgiveness of sin, and to receive the Holy Spirit. This is the only way for the unsaved to get saved! Added to this, Peter warned and pleaded with those who had believed to save themselves from this corrupt generation and to prove it by being baptised as an outward witness the inward spiritual work done by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-41).

Without being filled with the Spirit no one will be able to preach and see results. Many today within the Body of Messiah rely upon methods, programmes, music, motivational talks laced with a few scriptures, leading personalities who can speak well and get people emotionally stirred up, and secular marketing strategies for Church growth, but without the power of the Holy Spirit all is in vain where the real work of salvation is concerned. Many have some sort of emotional experience but by the way they continue to live their lives in this world they are most certainly not seeking to save themselves from this corrupt and perverse generation because in their deep minds they still love the world! We see this manifested in the hyper faith have things good in this world money preachers. Their ‘doctrines’ are a mask for covetousness! (Titus 1:11) (Jude 1:11) (2 Peter 2:15).

The apostle John writes “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:15-16). It is not wrong to drive a nice car or to have a good job, and to have some money saved, or to have fulfilling relationship between a husband and wife, however, the problem comes when these things become centre stage in our affections and God is sidelined. So the secret to the spiritual fruitfulness of the first century Body of Messiah was that in everything they did they sought to be filled with the Holy Spirit before they said and did anything, knowing that they were aliens and strangers in the eyes of the world, and held their possessions very loosely.

In the Book of Acts the assembly at Jerusalem knew that the city and the temple would be destroyed by the Romans, and that the Jewish religious system by and large, even though a Biblical system governed by Mosaic law, that it was spiritually bankrupt with a huge temple edifice that would be reduced to rubble with not one stone left upon another as the Messiah our Lord Jesus had predicted 40 years before it occurred (Matthew 24:1-2). In light of what was coming what was the spiritual priorities for the community of New Covenant believers at Jerusalem? What did they continue to do even 40 years before it actually happened? Luke records for us what they did in the Book of Acts 2:42-47; Acts 4:29-35. In our next study we will look at these two passages of scripture which clearly show how the first century Body of Messiah witnessed and worked together by the power of the Holy Spirit, a blueprint for the Body of Messiah in every age and especially in these last days leading up to the Second Coming of the Messiah our Lord Jesus.

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