By Charles H. Welch
This great word includes all that is procured by redemption, proclaimed in the Gospel, and purposed through the ages, and inasmuch as the terms redemption, gospel and purpose in each case relate to at least three spheres of blessing (see Three Spheres), and to every form of deliverance, whether from sin, death, physical or spiritual opponents, it will be understood that nothing short of a canvass of the whole Bible and a survey of every different dispensation would adequately cover the ground. In this Analysis we are concerned particularly with its dispensational use, and we shall find that two references in the Acts of the Apostles will provide the key. One passage is from Acts 4, where Peter is the speaker and Israel the subject, and the other is Acts 28, where Paul is the speaker and the Gentiles the subject.
We must assume that the reader is already acquainted with the general teaching of the Acts, appreciates that the dispensational boundary is at Acts 28, and that the presence and influence of Israel is to be reckoned with, from Pentecost to Rome. In the article on the Acts1, we have drawn attention to the two initial miracles which are of dispensational importance, namely, the healing of the lame man (a Jew) under the ministry of Peter (Acts 3:4), and the blinding of a Jew (and the consequent saving of a Gentile) under the ministry of Paul (Acts 13).
When Peter was questioned concerning the healing of the lame man, his first reply took the form of an exhortation to repent, based upon the promises concerning the times of restitution which had been the burden of the holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:19-26). Peter reminded his hearers that unto them ‘first’, God had sent this message of restoration. In Acts 4, when the opposition grew, Peter’s reply took a different turn.
Peter does not merely say ‘Neither is there salvation in any other’, making a general statement regarding evangelical truth, he points to the lame man now ‘healed’ and applies the lesson of the miracle to the nation, and warns them that ‘the healing’, the national restoration, can come in no other way and in no other name. In Acts 28:26,27, after Paul’s long conference with the chief of the Jews and their consequent failure to repent and believe, he quoted the critical passage Isaiah 6:9,10 (see articles entitled Acts 28; Israel; and Lo-Ammi, for the bearing of Isaiah 6 on dispensational truth) and then said:
Although Paul uses a different word for ‘heal’ in Acts 28:27 than is employed by Peter in Acts 4, the connection is the same. Israel had refused the ‘healing’ proffered them; ‘the healing of God’ was therefore sent to the Gentiles. This association of salvation to the Gentile as a consequence of the failure of the Jew, is spoken of by Paul in the great dispensational chapters of Romans:
The Companion Bible draws attention to the fact that the word translated ‘is sent’ should be translated ‘was sent’. In Acts 26 we shall discover when this took place, where Paul reveals that he had a twofold commission, and had received a second visit from the Lord (as He had promised), saying:
‘Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, Unto Whom (Now) I Send Thee’ (Acts 26:17). It is to this commission that Paul refers in Acts 28:28. For the bearing of the word ‘now’ (see the article entitled Now).
‘The salvation’ therefore that was sent to the Gentiles consequent upon Israel’s failure, and as a result of Paul’s prison ministry, is the all-embracive term for the dispensation of the Mystery, with all the glorious revelation found in the epistle to the Ephesians. The recognition of this fact, illuminates the words of Ephesians 1:13. If ‘the gospel of your salvation’ meant salvation from sin as made known in Paul’s early ministry, then these Ephesian believers are said to have been sealed with the holy spirit of promise, before the Mystery was revealed, an idea which introduces confusion. If ‘the gospel of your salvation’ in this passage refers rather to ‘the salvation of God’ which had at length been sent to the Gentiles, consequent upon Israel’s failure, all is harmony.