The Berean Expositor is not the organ of a Sect or Denomination, but is devoted to the exposition of the Scriptures with special emphasis on the need to remember that there are a number of callings, spheres, and dispensations, so that while we rightly rejoice in all the purposes of grace, we should and do seek a clear conception of the "Calling" made known since the [temporary] setting aside of Israel.
Such "Calling" is found in the so-called "Prison Epistles", i.e. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and 2nd Timothy.
May 1966, Charles H. Welch, Stuart Allen.
Church or Fellowship?
From an article in the first volume of the Berean Expositor (year 1909) entitled, "Platform and Programme:"
"I believed, and therefore have I spoken."
"Seeing then that we have such a hope, we use great plainness of speech."
We believe that a word or two would not be amiss, and will certainly answer the queries of some of our readers as to the Purpose, Plan, Platform, and Programme of this little Pamphlet. We believe implicitly, and as a matter beyond dispute, that the original Hebrew and Greek of the Old and New Testaments are fully and verbally inspired. "All Scripture (graphe, meaning that which is written) is God-breathed (2 Tim. iii. 16). We desire, as grace may be given, to "search the Scriptures daily," and to publish the results regardless of the approval or the disapproval of any. Let it be at once understood, the Bible is infallible, but the searcher is not. There will doubtless be much of human error, but we write as a Berean expositor, for Berean readers, trusting that they will test every statement by the Word of truth.
We do not intend to apologize for the Bible, nor for any teaching which may from time to time be brought to light. While we would seek to avoid any appearance of callousness, and would endeavour not to wound the feelings of our brethren, yet we intend, the Lord being our Helper, to turn back for nothing. We desire the same spirit, in at least some measure, that underlies the words of Paul, "None of these things move me." Some readers have written words of encouragement, some of warning and censure. We thank them all, but would publicly ask them to refrain from warning us as to "tendencies," &c., &c. We wish it to be plainly understood that we desire to be kept absolutely regardless of tendencies, &c., if the consideration of such would prevent us from honestly prosecuting our search in the wonderful Word of God.
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One thing more. We wish it to be understood that we are not attempting in this day of corporate failure to organise a primitive church, nor to start another "Meeting," or circle of "Fellowship." We do not refrain by reason of indifference, but from our understanding of the Word of truth. The Bible Readings that are given at different places are purely Bible Readings and nothing more, the truth received thereat working its own way in each individual case. All believers are welcome, and some who do come represent widely differing sections of Christendom. We impose no code or terms of fellowship, but we have the joy of seeing widely differing brethren drawn together by the bonds of truth, and of seeing some who were enslaved in the fetters of tradition realizing the force of the words, "the truth shall make you free."
The enemy is advancing, we have put on the armour of God; let us not "bite and devour one another," but gathering around the glorious truth of God, "Let us stand fast to the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free."
From an article in the first volume of the Berean Expositor entitled, "Tracts for believers:"
Who inspired the Scriptures?
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteouness" (2 Tim. iii. 16).
How should we esteem the authority of the Bible?
"Not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God" (1 Thess. ii. 13).
Is there any special command with respect to the Scriptures?
Yes! "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth" (2 Tim. ii. 15).
What does this term "rightly dividing" involve and mean?
It tells us that Scripture must be interpreted in strict accordance with its dispensational setting. If a passage speaks of the "kingdom of heaven," of "Israel," or "Jerusalem," we must not interpret it as of the "church which is His body."
What do you mean by the term "dispensational"?
A dispensation is a particular economy or administration of God's dealings with any particular people, having its own peculiar and distinctive characteristics. For example, there was a dispensation of law under Moses; a dispensation of miraculous gifts during Pentecost. To-day we are in a dispensation of grace, and of the mystery (see Eph. iii.). The right division of truth with regard to the various dispensations is called "dispensational truth."
When do you believe this dispensation began?
After Acts xxviii., when Israel as a nation was set aside [temporarily].
But the majority of believers teach that the "church began at Pentecost"?
A church began at Pentecost, which differed in many respects from every preceding church, or assembly, but "the church which is His body" is entirely different from this and all else. Peter's sermon in Acts ii. is largely an exposition of the prophet Joel, and there is certainly nothing about the body of Christ in Joel. The book of the Acts is a continuation of the witness concerning the kingdom of heaven (see use of the word "began" in Acts i. 1, and Heb. ii. 3,4). The same people are addressed, the same key-word of "Repent" is heard, and the same miraculous accompaniments as are recorded in Matt. x. 1-10 are there. These continue right to the end of the book. Paul there is inspired to quote Isa. vi. 9 and 10 to the representatives of the Jews of the dispersion, and then to turn to the Gentiles.
Did not Christ come to found the church?
No! He came to save His people from their sins, and to proclaim the near advent of the kingdom, the kingdom promised to David. In Rom. xv. 8 we read, "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers," which is in harmony with Matt. x. 5,6 and xv. 24, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." His first ministerial words were, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. iv. 17).
Is there any distinctive teaching in Paul's epistles written after the period you believe terminated the past dispensation?
In Eph. iii. 9 Paul speaks of "The dispensation of the mystery, which from all the ages had been hid in God." The reader should consider Eph. iii. 2-9, Col. i. 25, 26 (R.V.).
Does Paul claim to be the special and exclusive apostle of this present dispensation?
Associated with Paul were others who were called apostles, an Order distinct from the Twelve (see 1 Cor. xv. 5-8 and 1 Thess. ii. 6), which includes Timothy and Silvanus.
Space forbids quotations, but a reference to Titus i. 1-3; 2 Tim. i. 1; 2 Tim. i. 9, 10; Rom. xvi. 25; 2 Tim. iv. 17; 1 Tim. ii. 7; 2 Tim. i. 11-13 and ii. 2-8 will show by the recurrence of such expressions as "my gospel," &c., that the apostle does claim in a peculiar manner the dispensation of the grace of God to the Gentiles (see Eph. iii. 2).