Thursday, August 24, 2017

Of all the terms used in dispensational truth, the Pleroma by its very nature and meaning is surely one of the most comprehensive. Accordingly, we are setting ourselves no restrictions on space in this study, and have presented it in two parts along with a illustration. We commend this theme to every lover of the Word, and particularly to those who have the responsibility of teaching others.


pleroma

THE PLEROMA

(1) INTRODUCTION AND CHART

THE problem of the ages is the problem of the presence of evil and the apparent necessity for suffering and often an accompanying feeling of frustration. Men like Job and books like Ecclesiastes, ventilate this feeling, but the consciousness of redeeming love, enables the believer to trust where he cannot trace. The present study is set forth with an intense desire, to borrow the words of Milton "to justify the ways of God with men", to show that there is a most gracious purpose in process, and that there are indications of that purpose in sufficient clarity to enable the tried believer to say with Job "when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold".

In the present study, we commence with the primary creation of Genesis 1:1 which is followed by the "rent" or gap of Genesis 1:2 and then the reconstruction of the earth and will conclude with the creation of the new heavens and new earth of Revelation twenty-one, which, according to Peter, is ushered in by a convulsion of nature similar to the condition described as "without form and void" at the beginning.

By observing the parallel between the words of Ephesians 1:4 and 2 Timothy 1:9 we are able to show that "the ages" commence with the reconstruction of the earth in Genesis 1:3. What follows is a series of "fillings" in the persons of men like Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Nebuchadnezzar, with the administrations associated with them, but all such are provisional, failing and typical only, and they carry the unfolding purpose on to "the fulness of time" when "the Seed should come to Whom the promises were made". Adam was but a "filling", he was not "the fulness", that title belongs only to The Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The only company of the redeemed who are themselves called "the fulness" is the Church of the Mystery, the church of "heavenly places", the church which is most closely associated with the seated Christ.

Two words found in Matthew 9:16 must ever be kept together in the course of this study, they are the words "fulness", and "fuller". We shall see presently that God is preparing during the ages, as it were a piece of "fulled" cloth, so that at last there may be a perfected universe, the "rent" of Genesis 1:2 healed, and "God all in all". Fulling involves several processes, most of them drastic and rigorous.

Nitre (or soda), soap, scouring, bleaching and fluffing, processes at length make the shrunken cloth "as white as snow" (Mark 9:3). We can say, therefore, concerning the problem of the purpose of the ages "no fulness without fulling". We do most earnestly desire that consummation, when the Son of God shall deliver up to the Father a perfected Kingdom with every vestige of the "rent" of Genesis 1:2 entirely gone. We do most ardently desire to be found in that day, as part of that blessed pleroma or fulness, but we must remember that every thread that goes to make the "filling" will have passed through the "fuller's" hands, "fulled under foot" must precede being "far above all".

At the beginning of this volume the reader will find a chart, which endeavors to set forth the way in which the Divine purpose of the Fulness is accomplished. At either end of the chart stand "the beginning" and "the end", the black division that immediately follows the former representing the catastrophe of Genesis 1:2, "without form or void"; the black division that immediately precedes the consummation represents the corresponding state of dissolution indicated in Isaiah 34:4 and 2 Peter three leading up to 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. Running along the bottom of the chart is "the deep" that was the vehicle of judgment in Genesis 1:2 and that which is to pass away at the end, for John says, "and there was no more sea" (Rev. 21:1). By comparing Ephesians 1:4, "before the foundation of the world" with 2 Timothy 1:8-9, "before the world began (literally, before age times)" we have the start and the finish of the ages indicated.

What follows is a series of "fillings" rather than a fulness. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Nebuchadnezzar are but "stop-gaps", types and shadows, pointing on. The fulness of time (Gal. 4:4) did not come until 4,000 years after Adam and the fulness of the times (seasons) will not come until the day which is about to dawn ushers in the glory that will be revealed, when all things in heaven and on earth will be gathered together under the Headship of Christ.

Not until we reach the dispensation of the Mystery do we come to any company of the redeemed which constitute a "fulness", and there we read of the Church which is His Body, "the FULNESS of Him, that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23). The fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Christ, and the heavenly places, far above all, with which both the seated Christ, and His Church are associated, is a sphere untouched by the catastrophe of Genesis 1:2. Those heavenly places are where Christ sits far above all heavens (Eph. 4:10), that is, far above the temporary heaven called "the firmament" which is likened to a spread-out curtain. This "tabernacle", characteristic of the Adamic earth, is of extreme importance; it places the whole purpose of the ages under a redeeming Royal Sovereign.

As this study proceeds, we shall turn aside to consider various themes that bear upon the main subject, but unless that main subject is consistently held before the mind, we may sometimes "not see the wood for the trees". A reference back to the chart at the commencement of each section might be wise, and should enable the reader to see at the beginning the course we follow, we conclude this introduction with a general survey of the articles that follow:

(2) Some lessons taught by the parable of the "patch" with an answer to the question "are there gaps in the outworking of the "divine purpose?"

(3) Creation, its place in "the purpose", in which the meaning of the words "in (the) beginning" are considered.

(4) The first "gap". "Without form and void".

(5) The present creation, a tabernacle.

(6) The testimony of Peter to the days of Noah. This is a new approach to a matter of importance involving the true intention of 2 Peter three.

(7) Paradise lost and restored.

(8) The filling up of the nations (Genesis 48:19).

(9) The fulness of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25).

(10) The title "Head", and its relation to the "Fulness".

(11) The fulness of the seasons.

(12) All the fulness of God.

(13) All the fulness of the Godhead. Bodily-wise


(2) SOME LESSONS TAUGHT BY THE PARABLE OF THE "PATCH"

For our purposes of discussion we trust the principle of Right Division needs neither introduction nor commendation. Its recognition underlies every true study of the Scripture and determines both the Gospel we preach, the Church to which we belong, and the Hope that is before us. Dispensational Truth is not confined to one aspect or phase of the Divine purpose, for every dealing of God with man, whether under law or grace, whether with saint or sinner, has its own dispensational coloring which is inherent to its teaching and is in no wise accidental. The particular application of this principle, now before us, focuses the reader's attention upon one thing, namely, that while in the mind of God the whole purpose of the ages is seen as one and its end assured, in the outworking of that purpose. The fact that moral creatures are involved, creatures that can and alas do exercise their liberty to disobey as well as to obey the revealed will of God, has had an effect upon the manifest unfolding of the purpose of the ages.

This is seen as a series of "gaps" and "postponements" which are filled by new phases and aspects of the purpose until at length He Who was once "All" in a universe that mechanically and unconsciously obeyed, will at length be "All in all" in a universe of willing and intelligent creatures, whose standing will not be that of Creation and Nature, but in Redemption and Grace.

In this section we can do little else than indicate the presence of these "gaps" and consider the terms that are employed in the Hebrew of the O.T. and the Greek of the N.T. and of the LXX (Septuagint). The well-known example of the Saviour's recognition of a "gap" in the prophecy of Isaiah sixty-one must be repeated for the sake of completeness and for the value of its endorsement.

We learn from the fourth chapter of Luke's Gospel, that the Lord attended the service at the Synagogue at Nazareth, and apparently, after the reading of the law by the official reader of the Synagogue, He stood up "for to read" the Haphtorah, or the recognized portion from "the Prophets" that was appointed for the day. He found the place, and commenced to read from Isaiah sixty-one. Now it is laid down by Maimonides that:

"He that reads in the prophets, was to read at least one and twenty verses" ,

but he allowed that if "the sense" be finished in less, the reader was under no necessity to read so many. Even so, it must have caused a deal of surprise to the congregation then gathered, for Christ to read but one verse and one sentence of the second verse, shut the book, and sit down. He did so because "the sense" was indeed finished in less than twenty-one verses. He was about to focus attention upon one aspect of His work, and said:

"This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:21).

The sentence with which the Saviour closed His reading of Isaiah sixty-one was "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord". The next sentence, separated in the A.V. by but a comma reads "and the day of vengeance of our God" yet that comma represents a "gap" of at least nineteen hundred years, for the days of vengeance are not referred to until in Luke 21:22 when the Second Coming and the end of the age is at hand.

The recognition of some such gap is important when reading passages like 1 Peter 1:11, or the quotation of Joel 2:28-32 in Acts two. Peter, who was a minister of the circumcision, refers to the testimony of the prophets, as though "the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow" had no interval of centuries between them. The outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost is linked with the blood and fire and vapor of smoke that usher in the great and notable day of the Lord, even though Pentecost took place nineteen hundred years ago and the day of the Lord has not yet come.

We shall discover that the whole purpose of the ages is a series of "gaps" each filled by a succeeding dispensation, which in its turn lapses, until the central dispensation, that of the Mystery, is reached, which, though it has had a central period of darkness and ignorance yet is not succeeded by any other, as the other dispensations have been. All that follow the Mystery are resumptions of the dispensations which had come to a temporary halt.

This peculiar and central dispensation is occupied by the Church, which alone of all companies of the redeemed is called "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23).

The word translated fulness is the Greek pleroma, and its first occurrence in the N.T. places it in contrast with a "rent" or a "gap". The two references are:

"No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse" (Matt. 9:16).

"No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment; else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse" (Mark 2:21).

The parallel passage in Luke is Luke 5:36 which must be added, though it does not use the word pleroma.

"No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old" (Luke 5:36).

The words that call for attention are: "That which is put in to fill up". This is the translation of the Greek pleroma a word of extreme importance in the epistles, and there translated "fulness". In contrast with this "fulness" is the word "rent" which in the Greek is schisma. The word translated "new" in Matthew 9:16, and in Mark 2:21 is agnaphos, not yet fulled, or dressed, from gnapheus, a fuller.

In place of "put into" or "put upon" used in Matthew 9:16 and Luke 5:36, we find the word "to sew on", epirrhapto employed in Mark 2:21. One other word is suggestive, the word translated "agree" in Luke 5:36. It is the Greek sumphoneo. Now as these terms will be referred to in the course of the following exposition, we will take the present opportunity of enlarging a little on their meaning and relationship here, and so prepare the way.

Pleroma. This word which is derived from pleroo "to fill" occurs seventeen times in the N.T. Three of these occurrences occur in Matthew and Mark, the remaining fourteen occurrences are found in John's Gospel and in Paul's epistles. It is noteworthy that the word pleroma "fulness" is never used in the epistles of the Circumcision. When Peter spoke of the problem of the "gap" suggested by the words, "where is the promise of His coming?" he referred his readers to the epistles of Paul, who, said he, deals with this matter of longsuffering and apparent postponement and speaks of these things (2 Pet. 3:15-16).

The word pleroma is used in the Septuagint some fifteen times. These we will record for the benefit of the reader who may not have access to that ancient translation. 1 Chronicles 16:32, "Let the sea roar and the fulness thereof". So, Psalm 96:11, Psa. 98:7. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof" Psa. 24:1, so with slight variations, Psalm 50:12; Psa. 89:11. In several passages, the fulness, or "all that is therein" is set over against flood or famine, as Jeremiah 8:16; Jer. 47:2, Ezek. 12:19; Ezek. 19:7, and Ezek. 30:12.

Some of the words used in the context of these Septuagint references are too suggestive to be passed over without comment.

Instead of a "time of healing" we find "anxiety", the land "quaking", "deadly serpents" and a "distressed heart" (Jer. 8:15-18).

Again, in Jeremiah 47:2 (29:2 in the LXX), we have such words of prophetic and age-time significance as "an overflowing flood" Greek katakluzomai, kataklusmos and variants, a word used with dispensational significance in 2 Peter 2:5 and 3:6, and preserved in the English "cataclysm", a word of similar import to that which we have translated "the overthrow" of the world. The bearing of 2 Peter two on this "gap" in the outworking of the purpose of the ages, will be given an examination here.

In the context of the word "fulness" found in Ezekiel 12:19, we have such words as "scatter" diaspeiro, a word used in James 1:1 and in 1 Peter 1:1 of the "dispersed" or "scattered" tribes of Israel, also the word "waste", which calls up such passages of prophetic import as Isaiah 34:10-11, and Jeremiah 4:23-27 where the actual words employed in Genesis 1:2 are repeated.

The pleroma or "fulness" is placed in direct contrast with desolation, waste, flood, fire, scattering, and a condition that is without form and void. Schisma, the word translated "rent" in Matthew 9:16, is from schizo which is used of the veil of the temple and of the rocks that were "rent" at the time of the Saviour's death and resurrection. Agnaphos, translated "new", refers to the work of a "fuller", who smooths a cloth by carding. The work of a fuller also includes the washing and scouring process in which fuller's earth or fuller's soap (Mal. 3:2, Mark 9:3) is employed. A piece of cloth thus treated loses its original harshness, and more readily "agrees with" the cloth that has been more often washed.

The whole process of the ages is set forth under the symbol of the work of a fuller, who by beating and by bleaching at length produces a material which is the peak of human attainment, for when the Scriptures would describe the excellent glory of the Lord, His garments are said to have been "exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them" (Mark 9:3). So too, the effect upon Israel of the Second Coming is likened to "a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap" (Mal. 3:2). It is this "fulled" cloth that makes the "fulness", although there is no etymological connection between these like-sounding words.

There is another word translated "new", kainos, which has the meaning of "fresh, as opposed to old", "new, different from the former", and as a compound, the meaning "to renew". It is this word that is used when speaking of the new covenant, the new creation, the new man, and the new heaven and earth. We shall have to take this into account when we are developing the meaning and purpose of the "fulness". The Septuagint version of Job 14:12 reads in place of, "till the heavens be no more", "till the heavens are unsewn"! The bearing of this upon the argument of 2 Peter three, the present firmament, and the fulness, will appear more clearly as we proceed.

Finally, we have the word sumphoneo "to agree". Sumphonia is translated "music" in Luke 15:25, and of course is the Greek original of our word Symphony. In Ecclesiastes 7:14, the word is used with a rather different meaning than "agreement". "In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him". This God will do when at the end of the ages He sets His Peace over against the present conflict, and symphony takes the place of discord.

The presence of so many terms of age-importance in the homely parable of the patching of a torn garment is wonderful in itself, but the wonder grows when we remember that He, in Whom dwells all the pleroma of the Godhead bodily, used this profound and significant term in such a homely and lowly connection. However vast the purpose of the ages may be, and however difficult it is for mortal minds to follow, the first use of pleroma in the N.T. encourages the reader in his search, for does not the purpose of the ages at length lead to a sphere where all things are new, where that which caused the rent or overthrow is entirely removed, and the Father is at length at home with His redeemed family?


(3) CREATION, AND ITS PLACE IN THE PURPOSE

In the vision of Ezekiel, recorded in the opening chapters of his prophecy, the prophet saw the living creature which he afterward identified with the cherubim (Ezek. 10:20). These not only had four faces, namely that of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle (Ezek. 1:10), but were associated with dreadful rings and wheels, "as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel" (Ezek. 1:16). This element of complication, one wheel within another, seems to be a reflection of the way in which one dispensation encloses another, so that between the annunciation of the opening phase of the purpose, and the attainment of its purpose and goal, a great gap intervenes, which is filled by another and yet another succeeding dispensation until in the "fulness" of time Christ came (Gal. 4:4) born of a woman, with a view to the fulness of the seasons (Eph. 1:10), when He in Whom all the fulness dwells (Col. 1:19) shall bring this purpose of the ages to its blessed consummation.

In harmony with the fact that this purpose is redemptive in character, various companies of the redeemed during the ages have been associated with this word "fulness", even the earth itself and its fulness being linked with the glory of the Lord (Isa. 6:3 margin). The outworking of the purpose of the ages, therefore, can be represented, very crudely it is true, thus:

The purpose of the ages opens with Genesis 1:1 in the creation of the heavens and the earth, but between the attainment of the purpose for which heaven and earth were created "in the beginning", and the day when God shall be "all in all" lies a great gulf, a gulf caused by a moral catastrophe and not merely by a physical land-slide, a gap that is "filled" by a series of wheels within wheels, Adam and his world, Noah and his world, Israel and their inheritance, and at last that church which is itself "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all".

The two extremes, therefore, of the purpose are found in the following passages which are themselves separated in the sacred volume by the rest of the Scriptures and by the Age-Times.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1).

"Then cometh the End" (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

The "gap" in the outworking of the purpose is expressed in Genesis 1:2, "The earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep", and in Revelation 21:1 by the added words:

"For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."

Let us consider in fuller detail some of the terms that are here employed to set before us this opening and closing feature of the purpose of the ages.

"In the beginning". Hebrew b're-shith, Septuagint Greek en arche. While the fact must not be unduly stressed, it should be observed that neither in the Hebrew nor in the Greek is the article "the" actually used. Moreover, it is certain that b're-shith denotes the commencement at a point of time as Jeremiah 26:1, Jer. 27:1 and Jer. 28:1 will show. But it is also very certain that the selfsame word denotes something more than a point of departure in time, for it is used by Jeremiah in 2:3 for "the firstfruits", even as it is used in Leviticus 2:12 and Lev. 23:10 which are "beginnings" in that they anticipate the harvest at the end, "the fulness of seasons" (Eph. 1:10). The "beginning" of Genesis 1:1 purposely looks to the end; it is more than a note of time.

The same can be said of the Greek arche. While it most certainly means "beginning", it is noteworthy that in Genesis 1:16 where the next occurrences are found (in the LXX) it means "rule" even as in Ephesians 1:21, Eph. 3:10 and Eph. 6:12 arche in the plural is translated "principalities" while in Philippians 4:15 it is used once again in its ordinary time sense.

While God knows the end from the beginning, and nothing which He has caused to be written for our learning can ever be anything but the truth, we must nevertheless be prepared to find that much truth is veiled in the O.T. until in the wisdom of God, the time was ripe for fuller teaching. If we leave Genesis 1:1 and go straight over to the last book of Scripture, namely the book of the Revelation, we shall see that the words "in the beginning" acquire a fuller sense than was possible at the time when they were first written by Moses.

Arche occurs in Revelation four times, as follows:

"I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty". (Rev. 1:8)

"These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God". (Rev. 3:14)

"And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." (Rev. 21:6)

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last" (Rev. 22:13)

Here, in the last book of the Bible arche ceases to bear a time significance, it is the title of a Person, a Person in Whom Creation and the purpose of the ages find their meaning and their goal.

Paul uses arche eighteen times, the word having the time sense "beginning" in five occurrences (Phil. 4:15, the only occurrence with this meaning in the Prison Epistles), once in the earlier epistles (2 Thess. 2:13) and three times in Hebrews (Heb. 1:10, Heb. 2:3; Heb. 7:3). The remaining references have the meaning "principalities", "rule" and "principles" (Rom. 8:38, 1 Cor. 15:24, Eph. 1:21; Eph. 3:10; Eph. 6:12, Col. 1:16, Col. 1:18; Col. 2:10, Col. 2:15, Tit. 3:1, Heb. 6:1).

The Hebrew word rosh, which gives us the word for "beginning", is translated "head" in Genesis 3:15 and both "beginning" and "head" in Exodus 12:2 and Exo. 12:9 respectively.

In Colossians 1:18, Paul uses arche of Christ in a somewhat similar sense to the usage of the word in the Revelation.

"Who is the Image of the Invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by Him were all things created . . . and He is the head of the body, the church: Who Is THE BEGINNING, the firstborn from the dead . . . in Him should ALL FULNESS dwell" (Col. 1:15-19).

The two phrases "by Him" all things were created, and "in Him" all fulness dwells, are obviously complementary. It is a fact, that the preposition en is translated many times "by", but it is difficult to understand how it is that in Colossians 1:16 en auto should be translated "By Him" while in Colossians 1:19 en auto should be translated "IN Him". Moreover the preposition en occurs in the phrases "in heaven", "in all things". Again, the A.V. reads in verse 17, "By Him all things consist" where the preposition is dia, which only makes the need more felt that en should not be translated "by" in the same context.

There does not appear any grammatical necessity to depart from the primary meaning of en "in" in Colossians 1:16, and this is the considered opinion of such exegetes as Bishop Lightfoot and Dean Alford, and the translators of the R.V.

"In Him" therefore, all things were created (Col. 1:16); He Himself is "the beginning" in the New Creation (Col. 1:18) even as He is "the beginning of the Creation of God" (Rev. 3:14). We therefore return to Gen. 1:1 and read with fuller insight and meaning "IN THE BEGINNING God created the heaven and the earth". When dealing with the word pleroma, this passage in Colossians will naturally come up for a more detailed examination.

Christ is "the Beginning" of Genesis 1:1, although at the time of Moses such a truth was not clearly perceived, just as the significance of the name Jehovah was not realized before the revelation given in the days of Moses. What was known as the Creation of the Almighty, is subsequently revealed to have been the work of Jehovah, the God of Redemption. In Genesis 1:1 we learn that Elohim "God" created the heaven and the earth, and subsequently we learn in John one, Colossians one and Hebrews one that all was the work of Him Who is "The Word", "The Image", the "One Mediator". From the beginning, creation had in view the redemptive purpose of the ages, but just as it would have been unwise to have answered the question of the Apostles in Acts 1:6 before the time, so the true purpose of Creation was not revealed until man had sinned and Christ had died for his redemption.

Bara, the word translated create, must now be given a consideration. Metaphysics, "the science of things transcending what is physical or natural", attempts to deal with the question of "being" and in that department of thought the question of creating "something out of nothing" naturally arises. Scripture, however, never discusses this metaphysical problem. Even in Genesis 1:1 it does NOT say, "in the beginning God created the basic matter of the Universe", it commences with a highly organized and differentiated universe "heaven and earth". The Hebrew word bara in its primary meaning of "create" is reserved only for the work of God, not being used of man, except in a secondary sense, and that in five passages only, out of fifty-four occurrences. (Josh. 17:15, Josh. 17:18 1, Sam. 2:29, Ezek. 21:19 and Ezek. 23:47.)

Adam is said to be "created", although the "dust of the ground" from which he was made was in existence long before. God is said to be the Creator of Israel (Isa. 43:1, Isa. 43:7, Isa. 43:15), yet Israel descended from Abraham. Bara gives us the Chaldaic word bar "son", which but perpetuates the idea already recognized in bara. The Septuagint translates Joshua 17:15 and Jos. 17:18, "thou shalt clear it", which the A.V. renders "cut down", thereby revealing, as the lexicographers point out, that bara primarily means "to cut, to carve out, to form by cutting". When we remember that the word "the world" kosmos is derived from the word kosmeo "to adorn", as with "goodly stones", with "gold" and "to garnish" as with all manner of precious stones (Luke 21:5, 1 Tim. 2:9, Rev. 21:2, Rev. 21:19) we perceive a richer reason for the choice of bara.

The words with which revelation opens, "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" begin to bear deeper significance.

"In Him Who is the beginning of the Creation of God, Elohim, Who was subsequently known as Jehovah, the God of Redemption, fashioned as one would a precious stone, the heavens and the earth". Author's Translation

Creation was dual, from the start. Not heaven only, but heaven and earth. Man was created male and female, and before we read of the generations of Adam, namely of his descendants, we read of the "generations of the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 2:4). Heaven is intimately concerned with the earth; in the heavens God is "ALL" ("the Heavens do rule", "as it is in heaven") and when at last the Will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven, the goal of the ages will be attained, and God will not only be "All" but "All in all".

Such are faint shadows of His ways. By searching we shall never find out God unto perfection, but to stand as we have in a cleft of the Rock while His glory passes before us, and be permitted to behold even the "back part" of His ways is joy unspeakable:

"Lo, these are but the outlines of His ways;
A whisper only, that we hear of Him;
His wondrous pow'r, who then, can comprehend?"
(Job 26:14, Dr. Bullinger's Metrieal Version).

(4) THE FIRST "GAP". "WITHOUT FORM AND VOID"

Whatever the ultimate purpose of creation may prove to be, it is certain that it will not be attained without much sorrow and great sacrifice; "the Fuller" will be at work, and between the opening announcement of Creation in Genesis 1:1 and the bringing in of the New Heaven and New Earth (Rev. 21:1, 2 Pet. 3:13) will roll the eons or the ages with their burden of sin and of redeeming love. When the new heaven and earth was seen by John in the Apocalypse, he adds the words "and there was no more sea". That is a most evident reference back to Genesis 1:2, where darkness and the deep are there revealed.

"And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep" (Gen. 1:2).

Thus the condition that is described in Genesis 1:2 is included with the other "no mores" of Revelation 21:1, Rev. 21:4 and Rev. 22:3.

When we read in Genesis that man "became" a living soul, we immediately gather that he was not a living soul before he breathed the breath of life. When we read that Lot's wife "became" a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26), we understand that this was consequent upon her looking back. When Cain said, "And it shall come to pass" (Gen. 4:14) we understand his fears concerning what would happen after others had heard of his deed. So, when we read, "the earth was without form and void", and realize that the same verb that is here translated "was", is translated "became" or "come to pass" in these other passages in Genesis, we realize that here in Genesis 1:2, we are looking at the record of the first great gap in the outworking of the Divine purpose, and must read:

"And the earth BECAME without form and void".

The translation "was" in Genesis 1:2, however, is perfectly good, for in our usage we often mean "became" when "was" is written. A speaker at a meeting used the following illustration. If writing on two occasions concerning a friend we should say (1) "He was a man", and (2) "He was very ill", everyone would understand that in the second case, this friend had "become" ill, and so "was" ill at the time spoken of, but it would be impossible to think that anyone would understand by the word "he was ill" that he had been created, or born in that state. Darkness both in the O.T. and in the N.T. is associated with death, judgment and evil, and Paul's use of Genesis 1:2-3 in the words, "God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness" (2 Cor. 4:6) most surely indicates that in his estimation, the darkness of Genesis 1:2 is a fit symbol of the spiritual darkness of the unregenerate mind.

Two words, however, are found in Genesis 1:2, which are so used in subsequent Scriptures as to compel every one that realizes what a great place "usage" has in interpretation, to acknowledge that nothing but catastrophic judgment can be intended by this verse. The two words that describe the condition of the earth, in verse two are the Hebrew words tohu and bohu, "without form and void". Tohu occurs twenty times in the O.T. and bohu twice elsewhere. The only occurrence of tohu by itself in the writings of Moses is Deuteronomy 32:10, where it refers to "the waste howling wilderness". The use which Isaiah makes of this word is highly suggestive and full of instruction.

Isaiah twenty-four. This chapter opens with a judgment that is reminiscent of Genesis 1:2. "Behold the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof . . . the land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled" (Isa. 24:1-3).

When Isaiah would once again refer to this state of affairs, he sums it up in the epithet, "the city of confusion (tohu)" Isaiah 24:10, and there can be no doubt but that the desolation here spoken of is the result of judgment. Another example of its usage is found in Isaiah 45:18, "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited". Here the A.V. treats the word tohu as an adverb "in vain" which the R.V. corrects, reading "a waste". Whatever rendering we may adopt, one thing is certain. Isaiah 45:18 declares in the name of Him Who created the heavens, who formed the earth and made it, that He did not create it TOHU, it therefore must have become so. Even more convincing are the two passages other than Gen. 1:2, where bohu is employed, for in both instances the word is combined with tohu. The first passage is Isaiah 34:11. The context is one of catastrophic judgment and upheaval. The presence of such terms as "indignation", "fury", "utterly destroy", "sword" and "vengeance" in the first eight verses are sufficient to prove this, and one verse is so definitely prophetic of the upheaval at the time of the end, as to leave no option in the mind.

"And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree" (Isaiah 34:4).

This passage is almost identical with the language employed by Peter when he speaks of the signs that shall precede the coming of the day of God and the setting up of the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. 3:13). The words tohu and bohu occur in Isaiah 34:11, to which all these symbols of judgment point:

"He shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion (tohu) and the stones of emptiness (bohu)",

nor is it without significance that unclean birds like the cormorant and the bittern possess this devoted land, that nettles and brambles appear in the fortresses, and that dragons, wild beasts, screech owls and satyrs gather there. The whole is a picture in miniature of what the earth became in Genesis 1:2.

Isaiah's usage of tohu and bohu is convincing, but "in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established", and accordingly we find the prophet Jeremiah using tohu and bohu in a similar context. In the structure of Jeremiah 4:5-7 are in correspondence with Jer. 4:19-31:

"The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant" (Jer. 4:7).

"Destruction upon destruction is cried". "I beheld the earth, and lo it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. . . lo, there was no man . . . lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness. . ." ". . . broken down. . . by His fierce anger" (Jer. 4:20-26).

Here then are the three inspired occurrences of the two words tohu and bohu, Genesis 1:2, Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23. If Genesis 1:2 does not refer to a day of "vengeance" or "fierce anger" should we not have to acknowledge that both Isaiah and Jeremiah by the use of these peculiar words, have misled us? And if once that be our conclusion, inspiration is invalidated, and it does not matter much what Genesis 1:2 means, for our trust is shaken, and Moses is evidently wrong: this, however, cannot be. All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God, and Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah speak with one voice, because they are inspired by One Spirit.

Nothing is said in Genesis 1:2, concerning the cause of this primeval judgment, any more than any statement is offered to explain the presence of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but there are evidences that can be gathered from various parts of Scripture to make it clear that there was a fall among the angels, that Satan is a fallen being, and that the catastrophe of Genesis 1:2 is associated with that fall.

Into the "gap" thus formed, the present six-day creation is placed as a temporary "fulness" ("replenish the earth" Genesis 1:28), carrying the Redemptive purpose on to the threshold of Eternity. It is here also that "age-times" begin.


(5) THE PRESENT CREATION, A TABERNACLE

"The things which are seen are temporal" (2 Cor. 4:18).

"For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible" (Col. 1:16).

"And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said, Let there be light; and there was light" (Gen. 1:2-3).

With these words of Genesis the first movement toward the goal of the ages is recorded. That it indicates a regenerative, redemptive movement, is made clear by the allegorical use that Paul makes of it when writing to the Corinthians.

"For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).

When we come to consider the place that Israel occupies in the outworking of the purpose of the ages, we shall find that there will be repeated in their case these allegorical fulfillments of Genesis 1:2-3.

"And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations" (Isa. 25:7).

The "veil" plays a big part in the imagery of 2 Corinthians three and four. Like the rising of light in Genesis 1:3, Israel's light shall dispel the gross darkness that has engulfed the nations (Isa. 60:1-2), and both in this passage, in 2 Corinthians 4:6 and from such prophetic passages as Isaiah 11:9, "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea", we perceive that "light" symbolizes "knowledge" and prepares us to find in the midst of the garden not only the tree of life, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

These matters, however, are anticipatory of future studies, and the parallel of Israel with the six days creation will be better seen when we reach the Scriptures that speak of their call and destiny. At present we must confine ourselves to the consideration of the fact that here, in the calling into existence of the creation of the six days, we meet the first of a series of "fullnesses" that carry the purpose of the ages on to their glorious goal.

When we traverse the gap formed by the entry of sin and death, and reach the other extreme of this present creation, we find that instead of natural light as in Genesis 1:3, "The Lamb is the light thereof", "The Lord God giveth them light", and we read further that the city "had no need of the sun neither of the moon". Instead of the stars which are spoken of in Genesis 1:16, we have the Lord holding "the seven stars in His right hand", and He Himself set forth as "the bright and morning star". These are indications that "the former things" are about to pass away. Perhaps the most suggestive item in the six days' creation, apart from man who was made in the Image of God, is the provision of the "Firmaments".

"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. . . and God called the firmament Heaven" (Gen. 1:6-8).

The first fact that emerges from this passage, whatever for the moment the word "firmament" may prove to mean, is that this firmament which was "called" heaven must be distinguished from that which was created "in the beginning" . Here is something peculiar to the present temporary creation, and as we shall discover, destined to pass away at the time of the end.

The margin of the A.V. draws attention to the fact that the Hebrew word raqia translated "firmament" means, literally, an "expansion", and so indicates the Scriptural anticipation by many thousand years, of the modern scientists "expanding universe". Raqah the verb is used by Jeremiah to speak of "silver spread into plates" (Jer. 10:9). Job speaks of Him "which alone spreadeth out the heavens" (Job 9:8), and who "stretcheth out the north over the empty place" (tohu, "without form" of Genesis 1:2), (Job 26:7). The stretched-out heavens are likened to a tent or tabernacle.

"That stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in" (Isa. 40:22).

"He that created the heavens, and stretched them out" (Isa 42:5).

"That stretched forth the heavens alone" (Isa. 44:24; Isa. 51:13; Zech. 12:1)

Not only is the firmament spoken of in language that reminds of the Tabernacle, there is a reference in Job, that suggests that the earth too, is looked upon as the ground upon which this tabernacle of the sky rests.

"Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?" (Job 38:6).

At first sight there may not appear much in this passage to link it with the tabernacle, but when it is known that this same word which is translated "foundation" is translated "socket" fifty-three times, and that fifty-two of the occurrences refer to the sockets on which the Tabernacle rested in the wilderness, then the reference in Job thirty-eight, takes on a richer and deeper meaning.

The firmament of Genesis 1:6 is a lesser and temporary "heaven", destined like a tent to be folded up and to pass away when the ages come to an end.

The "firmament" is not merely the distant "heaven" of the sun, the moon and stars, it is also the place where birds can fly (Gen. 1:20) consequently we can understand that when Christ ascended, He is said to have "passed through the heavens", dierchomai not "passed into" (Heb. 4:14). (The student should note that this reference is omitted in Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible.)

In Hebrews 7:26 Christ is said to have been "made higher" than the heavens, while Ephesians declares that He ascended up "far above all heavens" with the object that He might "fill" all things (Eph. 4:10). Christ is said to have passed through the heavens, to have been made higher than the heavens, and to have ascended up far above all heavens, consequently it is impossible for Him to be far above all heavens, and yet be at the same time seated in those very heavens, for even though knowledge of heaven and heavenly things may be very limited, we can understand the simple import of the language used. Consequently we discover that two words are employed for "heaven", one ouranos, which includes the highest sphere of all, but nevertheless can be used of that "heaven" which is to pass away (Matt. 5:18), of the "air" where birds fly (Matt. 6:26), the heaven of the "stars" (Matt. 24:29) and of the "angels" (Mark 13:32), and the other epouranios.

We perceive that in many passages ouranos refers to the "firmament" of Genesis 1:6, while epouranios refers to the heaven of Genesis 1:1 which was unaffected by the overthrow of verse 2, will not be dissolved and pass away, and is where Christ now sits at the right hand of God "far above all of the heavens". Hebrews 9:24 speaks of this sphere as "heaven itself". In two passages, the heavens are said to be rolled together or to depart "as a scroll" (Isa. 34:4, Rev. 6:14). The present heaven and earth is a temporary "tabernacle" (Psa. 19:4) in which the God of Creation can dwell as the God of Redemption. This creation is to be folded up as a garment (Heb. 1:11-12), the firmament is likened to the curtains of a tabernacle, which will be "unstitched" at the time of the end (Job 14:12 LXX margin), and pass away as a scroll.

The figure is one that appeals to the imagination. A scroll of parchment stretched out and suddenly released, is a figure employed to indicate the sudden departure of the "firmament", "the stretched out heavens". The word used in Revelation 6:14 is apochorizomai, which occurs but once elsewhere, and that of a departure that followed a violent "rage" or "contention" (Acts 15:39). Chorizo which forms part of this word means "to put asunder" (Matt. 19:6); and "separate" (Rom. 8:35).

Isaiah 34:4 which speaks of the heavens being rolled together as a scroll, and so speaks of the "firmament" of Genesis 1:6, leads on to the repetition of the condition of Genesis 1:2, for in Isaiah 34:11, as we have seen, "confusion" is tohu and "emptiness" is bohu, the two words translated "without form and void".

The position at which the record of the ages has now reached is as follows:


<--------------------- "Heaven Itself" which does not pass away ---------------------->
"Above the heavens"
Gen. 1:1                                                           Rev.21
Heaven and Earth Gap <---- The Firmament ----> Gap New Heaven and Earth
Stretched Out
Tohu                                   Tohu
Bohu <------- The Ages ------> Bohu

Gen. <----- The Pleroma -----> Isa.
1:2                                       34

Into the gap caused by the overthrow of Genesis 1:2, is placed the present creation which together with its temporary heaven is to pass away. This present creation, headed by Adam, constitutes the first of a series of "fullnesses" that follow a series of "gaps" until we at length arrive at Him, in Whom "All fulness dwells". We read in Genesis 1:28, "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth" where the word "replenish" is the verb male, a word which as a noun is translated "fulness" in such passages as "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof" (Psa. 24:1). The Septuagint uses the verb pleroo to translate male in Genesis 1:28. We are, therefore, fully Scriptural when we speak of the six days Creation as a part of the "Pleroma" or "Fullness".

To be continued.
The Pleroma

Part 2
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Verse of the Day

Romans 5:15
But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
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Good Newsflash

Did you know that The Great Mystery or Secret was hid in God from Ages and Generations until it was first revealed to the Apostle Paul?  Ephesians 3:9 states "And to make all {men} see what {is} the fellowship of The Mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:"  Click to read more.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. In John 16:12,13 we read, I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth . Does this refer to the administration of the mystery?

In Eph 3:1-4 the apostle Paul makes it clear that it was by a special administration of the grace of God that he was the sole recipient of the gospel of the mystery which he might give to the Gentiles. Down in verse 8 he speaks of himself as less than the least of all saints, but that he should make known the administration of the mystery. The 12 had a part in the administration of promise. They are to sit with Christ in the millennium and judge the nations of the earth and evangelize them. The Church of the mystery has no such mission. The 12 have their names written in the foundations of the New Jerusalem which is to be here on the earth. There were things that the 12 could not bear to hear at that time, but which had reference to further truth in the administration of promise. There was a perfection to be attained in that administration as well as in the other. They were to be given all the truth that they would need to proclaim the coming of the King and His kingdom during the period of the Acts.

2. Some claim that the term Israel refers to the 10 tribes and that Jew refers to Judah (with Benjamin and Levi). Is this true?

The Word of God makes no such distinctions. This is another example of men bending the truth to fit the lie. The 10 tribes were in Persia at the time of Esther, yet in that book they are called Jews 6 times. Our Lord came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, according to His own words. But some would have you believe that the 10 tribes were in Ireland at that time. Did the Lord go to Ireland seeking them? Paul said he was a Jew (Acts 22:3) yet he was of the tribe of Benjamin. Our Lord Himself was a Jew (John 4:9) while Nathaniel called Him the King of Israel (John 1:49). If you use the concordance, you will find many more examples.

3. I still have a little difficulty about the deity of Christ. Where does He come out and say that He was God?

May I ask, Where did the Lord ever come out and say that He was the Messiah of Israel? The signs and the testimony were sufficient and those who could read the OT and see the signs had all the testimony they needed. It is the same with the deity of Christ. Every attribute of God is also attributed to Him. So where is the difficulty? There is no lack of proof, but there is a great lack of belief. That was also Israel's trouble. As for Scripture references look at John 1:18, John 5:18-27, John 8:23-24, John 10:30-38, John 20:28, Eph 3:9 and there are many others.

4. If people do not really die, then why did the Lord say, Because I live, ye shall live also (John 14:19)?

It was not God that said, Ye shall not surely die, but Satan (Gen 3:4). All in Adam do die. Man's only hope for survival is in resurrection. All in Christ will be made alive. He is the first fruits of them that slept. No hope is given for those outside of Christ.

5. Does the Holy Spirit indwell the believer of this age, those in the administration of the mystery? If so, why?

Yes. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit (new nature within), that we are the children of God. Although found in Romans 8:16 this statement is undispensational, truth for all time. Verse 9 tells us that if we do not have the spirit, the new nature, we are none of His. And verse 11 tells us that there is a quickening here and now in our bodies, in our lives, that comes from this indwelling spirit. So it is this indwelling Spirit that seals the believer (Eph 1:13) and it is this indwelling Spirit that can be grieved (Eph 4:30). It is by this indwelling Spirit that God can make The Church, the temple, which is the body of Christ, His habitation (Eph 2:22). The vain and foolish philosophies of the Gnostics of course would have no place for this doctrine.

6. What is this mystery in Romans 16:25 which had been hid since the ages began?

This is not the mystery that had been hid in God from ages and generations which you will find in Colossians and Ephesians. The context of this verse reveals that it is the mystery of Christ which Paul is preaching to the Romans. The mystery of Christ began with the creation in Gen 1:1 of which we find later He is the Creator. Eph 3:3-5 tells of the mystery of Christ. It was known to the sons of men in past ages. But not as fully as when Paul finishes the Word of God, the canon of Scripture, showing Christ to be Head of The Church which is His body. Romans 16:26 tells that this mystery of Christ is manifested by the Scriptures of the prophets. Now the prophets of Eph 4:11 had not written Scriptures at this time of writing. A part of the mystery of Christ is well set forth in Isaiah 53. In fact all the Scriptures speak of Him and further reveal the mystery concerning Him. And in Romans, Christ is brought out as a federal head in contrast to Adam, showing that by Adam came sin and death, but the hope of resurrection by Jesus Christ. So Romans 16:25 tells nothing about the great secret or mystery which had been hid from ages and generations in God that the Salvation of God is now sent to the Gentiles.

7. What is the gospel of the grace of God in Acts 20:24?

It is the gospel of the uncircumcision that we find mentioned in Acts 15 and also in Gal 2:7. It is the good news that the Gentiles could become a part of the congregation of Israel and partake of their blessings (Romans 15:27) without being under the law. So in that early church the Jew walked by law, the Gentile by grace.

8. What gospel must one preach today lest he be accursed (Gal 1:9)?

No one can be accursed today for preaching any so-called gospel. For one to be accursed, he had to be subject to the law. Israel and the law are set aside today and so no one has been accursed for about 1900 years. Where there is no law, no sin can be imputed. We are under grace today.

9. Why at the end of the prophecy of Jonah does it speak of over 120,000 children and then mention much cattle? What can be the connection?

God definitely said by the mouth of Jonah that He was going to destroy Nineveh in 40 days. There were no conditions or if's about it. But the people, including the king, believed God and they repented. So God in mercy and kindness did not do what He said He was going to do. No one can find fault with a judge that will excuse one at the bar thru mercy. We have 2 other instances of like doing by the Almighty. Adam did not die the day he ate of the fruit, and God did not destroy Israel and make a nation from Moses and his family as He said He would. The sentence was lifted in mercy each time. But there is something there to connect the children and the cattle. In Ecc 3:19,20 we see that in dying there is no difference between man and beast, and they go to the same place. But we also find in Deut 8:3 that even though man was barred from the tree of life, he can live by faith, by believing what God has said. These children were not yet old enough to believe unto life, so like the cattle they would have no resurrection.

10. What does repentance have to do with salvation? What is it?

According to the usage of the word, it means a change of mind, and that for the better. We cannot read any more than that into the word. It does not occur in John's gospel which is the great salvation book for the human race today. But it is obvious that if a man believes, he has changed his mind from unbelief. However, the word repentance is used much more in the case of those who belong to God and rarely of those who do not believe. It was Israel that was called to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Today this word has lost much of its original meaning and most folks think it means penance. But the word penance cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. It is not there.

11. Did Paul write any epistles while in the prison at Caesarea?

There is no evidence that he did. And there is strong evidence that he did not. When Paul's testimony was not received at Jerusalem, the Lord said to him, Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. This cannot be said of Caesarea, for it was not far from Jerusalem. Paul's ministry was in Asia, Europe, and ended at Rome.

12. Can it be true„that God will raise up the unbelievers in their original bodies, punish them, and then destroy them?

Resurrection or raising up these people would be an act of creation. Does God create sin or sinners? Would that be according to His attributes? Furthermore why should He punish them? They were slaves of sin and could not help themselves. Also 2Cor 5:19 tells us that Christ died for their sins and no trespasses are imputed. So there is no reason for punishment. The question is just this; What part would this play in redemption?

13. It says in 2Cor 5:18 that all things are of God. Does this include sin and death and also Satan himself?

In the verse before, it says that old things have passed away for the believer and that all things have become new. So all things that are of God are these new things. Never neglect the context. If all things were unlimited, as some suggest, then we can go back to Ecc 1:2 and prove that all things are vanity. But in that case it is the human labors referred to in verses 3-8 that are vanity. Always look for the antecedent.

14. What does the Bible say about birth control?

Nothing, absolutely nothing. There are some things written in 1Cor 7 which seem to pertain to the subject, but it is in view of the coming tribulation and is in keeping with what is revealed in Matt 24:19. After Acts 28:28 Paul advised the younger widows to marry and no longer spoke of the coming distress which was postponed.

15. How did the tradition get started that the church began at Pentecost?

Rome said so. There is no other evidence either historical or Biblical.

16. Some say that Paul never proclaimed the kingdom of God, but preached only the mystery. What is the evidence?

Paul was told first of all by the risen Lord to preach the things which he had seen (Acts 26:16). What he had seen was what the 12 and others were doing. So if Paul preached only the mystery, then we will have to say the same of the 12 and also of Stephen whom Paul heard. In Acts 17:7 the men of Thessalonica heard Paul preach and reported that he preached another King instead of Caesar. Evidently Paul was preaching the kingdom, the same as the 12, up to Acts 28:28.

17. Did not Paul begin a new ministry when he turned to the Gentiles in Acts 13:46? Was not this the beginning of the church?

If you read the next verse you will find that Paul quotes from Isaiah 49:6 for his authority to turn to the Gentiles. Then this was no mystery or secret hid from ages and generations.

18. What was the purpose of the ministry of Peter in the house of Cornelius?

We must note some things that are not true in order to appreciate that which is true. Nothing is said about Cornelius attending temple or synagogue. All we know is that he was a centurion at the head of an Italian band of soldiers and that he was devout, feared God, gave alms to poor Jews, and prayed to God always. This sums up all we know about him. Even after his experience at the preaching of Peter there is nothing said about him, whether he went to the temple or synagogue or whether he ever joined with the band of Christians at Jerusalem or elsewhere. With that out of the way, we can see that this was a preparation for Paul and his ministry to Gentiles during the Acts period of time.

19. How shall I choose a church or place of worship to attend?

In John 4 you will find that this was also the question of the Samaritan woman. And what was the answer? But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. So today worship has no place designated, but the quality is stressed. It is to be a true spiritual worship. What better place to start it than in the home?

20. You have said that John was preaching to Israel only. What proof do you have for saying that?

Acts 13:24.

21. What would be the condition of our country if there had been no churches? Have they not been a great force in keeping our civilization?

We have a great many people today who have gotten all mixed up and they equate civilization and salvation. There are many ministers today dedicated to the task of saving our society at any cost. We have the do-gooders who want to improve the world and the old nature of man so that he will finally reach the peak of evolution and become as God and be fit for heaven. It is true that the churches have improved and preserved a moral tone of our civilization. But that does not save men. Billy Sunday once said, "There is no difference between the up-and-out and the down-and-out. They are all out." That is right. So we cannot say how many would have been saved today without the churches. Many are being saved in spite of them. We do not know how much of the message of salvation would have been preserved in the families of our country if there had been no churches. We just cannot answer your question, for there is no way of knowing. Conditions might have been better or they might have been worse as far as true worship is concerned. Speculation is useless.

22. What are the basic differences between the kingdom and the church?

The kingdom is a part of the promise made to Abraham and pertains primarily to Israel; but The Church is made up of nations without any distinctions. The kingdom will have a King; The Church has a Head. The kingdom is to be here on the earth where David's kingdom was with Jerusalem as the great world center; The Church has its place in the heavenlies. The kingdom has laws; The Church walks by grace. In the kingdom there is a promise of a bride; but The Church is the body of Christ of which He is the Head. But there is one great common truth; all are saved by grace.

23. Is it true that the nation Israel must repent before the Lord can set up His kingdom?

From the human standpoint, Yes. For prophecy tells us that they will mourn and that they will say blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. From God's standpoint, the day cannot be hastened. He will come in the fullness of time.

24. It is said in Rev 1:7 that when the Lord comes every eye shall see Him. Does this mean that all people of all ages will be there to see?

This is a figure of speech, synedoche, where a part is used for the person. Only those who have eyes and can see with them when He comes will see Him. Dead folks cannot see. And some living folks may be blind. They will not see either. We have a similar figure in Ph’p 2:10 where at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord. This points to a time farther on than that in Revelation. But it will all be voluntary and only the living and the resurrected will do it. No one will be forced to bow. There are many other Scriptures in which this figure can be found.

25. Is not Christ reigning as King now in the heavens and will not this rule continue? How come some say that he is coming down to earth again to Jerusalem and rule over the nations here?

At the present time Satan and his angels are in the heavens. They will be cast out in the midst of the last week of the 70 weeks determined on Israel (Dan 9:24). This is described in Rev 12:9. So it is patent that Christ is not supreme ruler in the heavens now, but rather that He is hid (Col 3:3), and that whenever Christ is manifested in the heavens the members of His church (not the bride) will be manifested with Him (Col 3:4): That is the hope of The Church of the administration of the mystery. But Christ will come and reign on the earth on the throne of His father, David. In Acts 1:6 the apostles wanted to know if the kingdom was going to be set up at that time. Now since the kingdom is primarily of Israel and they are to be a blessing to the nations of the earth, how will the Lord and Israel reign over the earth as pictured in Psalms 2 if they are in heaven? It is wise to take what the Word says instead of trying to force some private interpretation upon it, or change it.

26. Was the prophecy of Joel fulfilled at Pentecost and the kingdom established there and then?

No, the prophecy has not been fulfilled yet. At Pentecost the Spirit was not poured out upon all flesh in Mt. Zion and Jerusalem. There were many Roman soldiers that did not even know about it. There were no wonders in heaven and signs in the earth at that time. There was no change in the sun and the moon. True, Peter spoke of it as the last days when these things should happen, but many years later John says that he is in the last days (1 John 2:18), and Peter many years later speaks of the last days as still future (2 Peter 3:3). At Pentecost Peter mentions the prophecy of Joel merely to show that what was working in the apostles was the same Spirit as Joel spoke about. Peter did not say that Joel's prophecy was being fulfilled. The Lord's house was not established (Isaiah 2) but was totally destroyed shortly later. David's throne has not been occupied by Christ yet. No kingdom was set up and the apostles set on thrones.

27. What is a mortal sin?

It is a sin unto death (1John 5:16). Under the law, murder was a sin unto death. In the case of Ananias and Sapphira lying unto the Holy Spirit was a sin unto death. In 1Cor 11:30 Paul speaks of some who sin and are sickly, and some even died. That was a sin unto death. Mortal sin was never spoken of a Gentile. It was to those under the law. Today the law is not in effect, so we see no examples as above among Christians.

28. Should a Christian go to war?

When Jews who had hired out as soldiers came to John at the Jordan, he baptized them, but never told them to quit the army. Our Lord healed the son of a centurion, but never told this man to quit warfare. Peter was in the house of Cornelius, but there is no record that he told Cornelius to leave the army. No Scripture can be quoted for either side, except that we are to be subject to the powers that be. One who is in the will of the Lord and trusts Him, will have no difficulty with the question. The Lord will put him where he wants him, whether it be on the battle front or in some peaceful occupation. Such questions as this are from the fearful and unbelieving.

29. Can Satan leave hell and wander on the earth at will?

There is no Scripture that says or even hints that Satan was ever in hell or ever will be. At the present time he is just where he has always been from the time of his creation. Some day he will be cast down from that position in heaven to the earth with no power to ascend to heaven again. Hell is for those who are made of the dust of the earth. Satan is not such a creature.

30. What about men taking upon themselves the title of Reverend?

This word occurs in Scripture just once, Psalms 111:9. It is used of the name of God. It is blasphemous for man to take to himself that which pertains to God and His holy name.

31. Did our Lord wear long hair when here on the earth among men?

No. Unless a man were a Nazarite, it was a shame for him to have long hair (1Cor 11:14). Our Lord was not a Nazarite, for a Nazarite was not permitted to drink wine, and our Lord did.

32. Can a Christian become wealthy?

There is no reason why he cannot. Of course those who take the story or parable of the rich man and Lazarus as literal, make it mandatory that one has to get rid of all personal property and beg if he is to be saved. But there is no premium on poverty in God's Word. Abraham was wealthy and was a friend of God. David was wealthy and he was a man after God's own heart. Isaac and Jacob both were wealthy. Solomon had much wealth. And Joseph who buried the Lord was reputed to be the wealthiest Jew of the time. Wealth can be a curse, and it can be a blessing. But poverty can make a man steal. We have wealthy men today who have contributed much to the spread of the gospel.

33. I hear that you teach that there are two churches instead of one. Is this true?

Why not read what we write and see for yourself? From time to time we have written about the 7 churches in Asia. We have recognized that there was a church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38). We have taken note of the fact that the Lord was going to build His church on a rock (Matt 16:18). And besides these were the churches at Rome, Corinth, and many other places to which Paul addressed letters. But it is noteworthy that after Acts 28:28 the word church is never in the plural and it is The Church, not A church. And every church is a body. So today there is one body (Eph 4:4), One Church.

34. According to 1Cor 16:1 should there be a collection taken up in the meeting each Sunday?

There is one collection only in this passage. It is for the saints at Jerusalem. These saints were believing Jews. This one collection was to be taken up on the first of the weeks. The word day is not in the Greek. This is the first week after the Passover. Paul would then take up this collection and carry it with him to Jerusalem.

35. What is this resurrection in Php 3:11?

The out resurrection from among the dead is the prize of the high calling and is for those who have remained faithful and suffered like unto the suffering of Jesus Christ. Paul is saying he is not sure if he will attain to it so as to show it is a prize for believers that suffer and remain faithful to the end and to contrast it with other hopes and resurrections taught by the apostle. In Hebrews 11 he does speak of some who attained to a better resurrection. But they were of a different administration. It is not the resurrection that is the result of believing and obtaining everlasting life. For that is by faith, and not by attainment. By 2 Timothy Paul is confident of attaining the prize and also knows his life shall soon end by the hands of his captors.

36. I have heard, life defined as union with Christ and death as separation from Christ. Does this fit the Scriptures?

Try it for yourself. Read Romans 6:1-10 and use these definitions for life and death. Does this fit?

37. I notice that in the records of the baptism of our Lord in Jordan, that it says that He came up out of the water. Does this mean that He was immersed in the water?

Not necessarily. A river flows, as a usual thing in a bed, for water seeks the lowest level possible. So to get into the river it was necessary to go down into the water and to get out, meant going up out of the water.

38. Who are the other sheep of John 10:16?

The word other is allos which means others of the same kind. Since Israel are the sheep and these are of the same kind, they cannot be Gentiles. That fold ceased to exist at Acts 28:28. There is no fold now. But God will deal with Israel again some day and then there will be another fold and other sheep, not the same ones of this fold in John 10. The present era is between the folds. For, other references to these sheep, see Matt 22:9,10 and 24:31. Are not these all the same?

39. How is it that you teach Pauline doctrine, but do not advocate the Lord's table (1Cor 10 & 1l)?

We do not teach Pauline doctrine for the simple reason that there is no such thing. Paul preached 4 separate gospels during his ministry. In 1Cor 10 and 11 Paul is writing to Jewish believers whose fathers had crossed the Red Sea (10:1). And the feast he is talking about is the Passover which was observed in the homes, not in public. This feast was a supper, observed in the evening, never at morning or noon. These 2 chapters cannot be used for a proof text in support of the observance of the heathen Baal's supper which had been taken up by Christendom.

40. I wonder why that Satan is usually pictured as a black man with horns, hooves, and a tail, when it says in 2Cor 11:14 that he is transformed into an angel of light. What did he look like when he appeared in the garden to Eve?

The popular conception of Satan is really a picture of Nimrod, the great rebel of Babylon. It is told in the legends that he killed a wild bull of extraordinary strength and fierceness. He is supposed to have taken the horns of the bull and made himself a headdress. It did not take the artists long to add the hooves and the tail (always pointed as a spear) and you have the concept of Nimrod the great hunter of his fellow men. We are told in Ezekiel 28 that Satan was created as a covering cherub and when he appeared to Eve it was as the Nachash (shining one). So to Eve he did appear as a great and shining angel, one to revere and believe. No snake deceived Eve.

41. Why do you persist in using the King James version when there are so many modern ones that are more easily understood and which do not use obsolete words?

There are a number of reasons for retaining the Authorized Version. Many concordances would be useless, there would be difficulty with lexicons and the like for they are mostly founded on the AV. It is a sample of the best English of the past centuries. And no modern version can express the holiness and majesty of God as it does. It presents no difficulties to those who have been brought up in Christian homes where the Bible was read and prayers made. Neither does it present any difficulties to one who knows God. But the Bible will remain a closed book to the ungodly no difference what version it may be in. We are very suspicious of versions, for all too often they reflect some man's private belief which may be partial unbelief. None yet has surpassed the Authorized Version which also has the benefit of putting many words in italics where there were no corresponding Greek or Hebrew word in the original manuscripts. It is also one of the earliest English translations and although not perfect does contain less license to private doctrines and added words.

42. Who should keep the Passover?

All circumcised Israelites. It was to be eaten in the home. There was to be no leaven in the house. No manner of work was to be done on the day it was observed. Do not forget that this is all about the kingdom and not The Church. The children of the household were to ask why it was observed and the master of the house recited the story of the exodus from Egypt. The law never made any provisions for any uncircumcised to observe it. See Ex 12:47-49. It was in force till the end of Acts, where The Church began.

43. Should I put something into the collection plate when 1 go to a church?

Most certainly, yes, unless you are the type of person that would slip under the side of the circus tent to avoid paying admission. If you go for the show, then pay your share. Jonah paid his fare, even when running from the Lord (Jonah 1:3).

44. What is the meaning of Gal 2:20? How can one be dead and yet alive?

Christ is our life, we have no eternal life of ourselves. Christ is our supply. Holding Him we have nourishment ministered. This is the fact concerning ourselves as His own, a fact we are required to acknowledge against the background of our own death. He has accomplished for us our death to the end that He may now abide in us. The one has first to happen before the other can be. This is the meaning of the words: I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me (Gal 2:20). But for an acknowledgment that we, as to our human life, are mortal we can never believe that we are accounted to have died with Christ. Those of our fellow-brethren who hold that the soul of man is immortal may use the term that they died with Christ - but they cannot in actuality believe that they did die. They cannot envisage the truth that, as to their human life, they are accounted to have ceased to be.

45. Paul expected to be among the living at the rapture (1Thes 4:15-17; 1Cor 15:51,52). Is this rapture still Paul's hope, even though he died and will be among the dead believers of that time?

The rapture is only for the children of promise, primarily Jews but also Gentiles who became the children of Abraham by faith from Acts 10 to Acts 28:28. It has to do with the kingdom here on the earth. The rapture is just a little trip up into the air (not heaven) to meet the Lord as He comes with clouds of angels who will execute judgment as He sets up His kingdom seated on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Since the husbandman is to be the first partaker of the fruits, then Paul must surely have a part in the administration of the mystery which was entrusted to him to proclaim. Therefore he will have an earlier resurrection than that at the coming of the Lord and will be manifested with Him in the heavenly places.

46. Matthew 8:11 seems to indicate that Gentiles from the East and the West will have a part in the kingdom, but not from the North and the South. Is there any explanation for this?

There is no explanation that we can give at this time except the suggestion that it may be that the Russians and the Egyptians will not have a part in it. That could also include Lebanon and Syria. But this is only a guess. These nations might be all changed around by that time. But it is something to think about. The Word is exact and there is good reason for these words being written. The prophecies will be plain to all when fulfilled.

47. If the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 begins at the dedication of the temple, 1 always thought it had its beginning with the decree of Artaxerxes or Astyages in 454 B.C. Can you explain your position?

Very briefly, you will find 2 distinct prophecies in Daniel chapter 9. The first one is in verse 24 and speaks of the second advent of the Messiah. Note that 70 weeks are determined upon the people and the city. This cannot begin with the decree for the simple reason that the people are not in the city till about 49 years (7 weeks) later. So the 70 weeks determined on the city and the people must begin about the time of the dedication of the temple or 405 B.C. It is not hard then to figure that the coming of the Messiah to set up His kingdom would have been AD. 85. However the course of the city and the people did not run to this end, but the people were set aside at Acts 28:28 and since then have not been a people. The city was destroyed in 70 AD. Now if the people were cut off at the end of Acts, about A.D. 63, then there are about 3 weeks yet to run till the coming of the Messiah. We do not know when this prophecy will be resumed. Now the 7 and 62 weeks after the going forth of the decree brings us to A.D. 29, the date when Messiah was cut off. That has been completed.

48. Does Genesis 6:3 indicate that God will not always strive with men,. but that one can cross a deadline where there will be no more conviction by the Holy Spirit and they are forever lost?

Man, in this verse is Adam in the Hebrew: The verse means that God is getting weary of striving with Adam, for Adam (like others) is erring. See note in Companion Bible. So Adam is given another 120 years to live and he died at the age of 930. So we can take it that Adam was 810 years old when God finally made up His mind not to put up with him.

49. Is there any escape from hell once one is in it? If so, how?

The common notion of hell is far from what the Word says that it is. It is sheol in the Hebrew and occurs 65 times in the OT. It is translated hell 31 times, grave 31 times and pit 3 times. The RV is consistent in that it renders it sheol each time. It could be translated grave all 65 times and not mar the meaning. In the NT hades is used 11 times. It is also used in the LXX to translate sheol. So it is the same thing. It is translated 10 times as hell and once as grave. Gehenna does not enter into this discussion, for although it is translated hell, it is the city dump outside of Jerusalem. Neither does Tartarus enter in either. The grave or hell is a place where people are dead and live not again till resurrection (Rev 20:5). Our Lord was in hell 3 days and 3 nites. He came out by resurrection and was the first fruits of the great harvest that is still to come forth. Death and hell are to be destroyed (Rev 20:13,14). So all go to hell or the grave at death. Those who have everlasting life will escape by resurrection.

50. What is the difference between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God?

The former includes the latter in one sense. The gospel or good news of the kingdom was first proclaimed by John the Baptist, the Lord Himself, then the 12, and finally the 70, this being before the death of Christ. Then the apostles were further instructed as to the kingdom and this was the gospel preached by all up to Acts 28:28. The gospel of the grace of God began in the house of Cornelius, about 9 years after Pentecost. This was the only instance that Peter preached this gospel. None of the other 11 preached it at any time. And about 17 years after Pentecost Paul began to preach the gospel of the grace of God at Antioch to the Gentiles (just as Peter did) and continued it till the end of Acts. But in every instance Paul was careful to preach the gospel of the kingdom to the Jew first, and then turned to the Gentiles and preached to them the gospel of the grace of God, which meant that they could partake of all the spiritual blessings of Israel without keeping the law (being circumcised, keeping feasts, and the rituals). The same salvation (not eternal life) of the kingdom was at that time for both Jew and Gentile, but to the Jew first.

51. What is the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25)?

In this context we learn that the mystery that is in view is one that had been hushed since the ages began. So it is not the administration of the mystery which was hid from ages and generations and had its plans made before the ages began. This mystery, that had been hushed had been made known by the prophets as the context tells us, so it is not the mystery of Ephesians and Colossians. Also this mystery in Romans is made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. In the structure outline of Romans this is explained by the same words appearing in 1:1-5. It is the preaching of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, but connected with His being the seed of David. So then this is kingdom preaching and declares Jesus Christ not only the anointed one or Messiah, but truly the Son of God.

52. In what sense, if any, did works ever save?

Basically we have all through the Bible record the revelation of life as the gift of God, received by faith and in no connection whatsoever with works. But on that life we find based at least two salvations or lines of blessing. One is the promise made to Abraham. At least the kingdom aspect of the administration of promise has much to do with works as the sermon on the mount will indicate. Also Mark 16:16 adds that when the kingdom was being preached to Jews only, they must believe and be baptized in order to be saved. From 1Cor 3 we may infer that good works of themselves did not save, but could be burned up and the worker saved as by fire. When works were connected with salvation, they were for the most part specific rather than general. But today we have a salvation revealed in Eph 2:8-10 which is obtained by faith only. This salvation is a creation unto good works, not of works.

53. I am puzzled by Mark 13:32. Does this take away from the truth of the deity of Christ?

This passage says, But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. This has been a favorite verse for those who deny the deity of Christ. But it may be that it does prove His deity. He knows that no man knows the day and the hour. He knows that the angels in heaven do not know the day and the hour. Does not this knowledge indicate deity? And what if He does not choose to know? Deity can forget or remember at will. He can forget our sins. That we cannot do. If the Lord chose not to know the time, then that was His business and we have no right to question Him.

54. Is glory a place?

If at any time it answers the question, Where?, then it is a place. Whenever the question of place comes up with any terms, this is a good question to ask. If it designates where something is to be or to happen, then it is a place. But you will note when you look up the word glory in the concordance that it is not always used the same. It may speak of the glory of God. It may speak of the glory of Christ. And there are other usages. In the mystery of godliness in 1Timothy 3:16 it says that He was received up into glory. This answers the question of Where?, and is definitely a place. You may try other passages with the same method.

55. What is dispensational truth?

It is the body of truth, doctrine and practice, that is for a particular household of God. Some dispensational truth may be common to both dispensations. Some truth may be peculiar to its own particular dispensation. For instance, citizenship in the heavenly places is peculiar to the dispensation of the mystery. On the other hand, a part in the new Jerusalem is peculiar to the dispensation of promise. The word chosen is common to both, but time of choosing makes the distinction. The choice of some is before the overthrow, and the choice of others since the overthrow. This is where the workmanship of right division comes in.

56. What is meant by falling from grace?

You probably refer to Gal 5:4. In the first place this epistle to the Galatians is written to the members of the administration of promise, and especially to the Gentile members who had been grafted into the blessings of Israel and the kingdom. To these Paul had preached the gospel of the grace of God, that they might receive all the benefits of the administration of the promise without being circumcised and keeping the law. But there were Judaizers who were convincing some of these Gentiles that they must be circumcised and keep the law. So Paul says to them, For I testify again to every man (Gentile) that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you (Gentiles) are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. So to fall from grace was to leave the grace principle or gospel and go back to circumcision.

57. Was the crossing of the Red Sea literal, or was it just a figurative story?

If it was just a story, then we fail to see the point. If it was just a story, then how did the few million Hebrew slaves get out of Egypt?

58. What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Ghost? Acts 1:4,5.

At Pentecost the apostles were baptized with the Holy Ghost in fulfillment of the promise in Luke 24: 49. They received power from on high. This power enabled them to speak in languages and perform many miracles. This was in connection with those who proclaimed the kingdom. It was not in any way connected with The Church. See The Giver and His Gifts by E. W. Bullinger for further light.

59. Can Gentiles partake of the New Covenant?

Jer 31:31 plainly states that the New Covenant is to be made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. This is again quoted in Heb 8:8. This is with Israel, not The Church or the Gentiles. The Gentiles do have a promise (Eph 3:6; 2Tim 1:1; Tit 1:2). But Gentiles have always been strangers from the covenants of promise (Eph 2:12).

60. In Acts 20:27 Paul declares that he has shown the whole counsel of God, yet we are led to believe that the mystery which was later proclaimed had been hid from ages and generations and that Paul did not know it there in Acts 20. How can we reconcile these?

If you will look at Eph 1:9 and 11 you will see two words used which do not mean the same thing. One is counsel, and the other is purpose. Paul did not say that he had proclaimed the whole purpose of God, but God's counsel (in accordance with the purpose then revealed). But when a new purpose or further purpose was made known, then there was a counsel or working out of that purpose as you see in Ephesians one. Be careful with terms.

61. What are the gates of hell in Matthew 16:18?

Since no explanation is given in that place, we must then go back to the OT which the disciples at that time had. In Isaiah 38:10 we read, I shall go to the gates of the grave. Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? (Job 38:17). Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death (Psalms 9:13). Can this be resurrection from the grave? And we read in Psalms 107: 18, And they draw near unto the gates of death. Now going back to the passage in Matthew, we must conclude that the doors of the grave or hell cannot hold His church when He calls. They will come forth from the state of death.

62. If being born again in John 3:3 means resurrection, then what does it mean in 1Peter 1:23?

The same word is not used in these two passages. The latter means begotten (See margin in Companion Bible). So we must conclude that there can be no rebirth or resurrection without a begetting by the Word of God. Try using begotten in John 3:6 and see what the meaning is. Further study is needed in this subject.

63. Is it true that "ALL Paul's early epistles are addressed to Gentiles." References, such as Romans 11:13; 1Cor 12:2; Gal 4:8; and 1Thess 2:14, are given to prove the point. Can you give more light on this?

There is little doubt that Paul's first epistle was Galatians. And it appears that it was written to the Gentile Christians of Galatia. But at the same time it is evident that he wrote Hebrews, and that epistle is not to Gentiles at all! Romans 2 is to the Jewish believers, verse 17 emphasizing it. Chapters 10 and 11 of 1Cor are to those whose fathers crossed the Red Sea. Surely they must have been Jews. The fathers of the Gentiles never crossed the Red Sea. You will note in these chapters the directions for keeping the feast (the Passover) which was never lawful for Gentiles to keep.

64. Must the Roman empire be revived?

For many years we have heard this debated, but really have never yet found a Scripture which would indicate that this must be true. We are open to any proof anyone may offer for this, but we are afraid it is merely a tradition someone started.

65. How can every knee bow confessing Christ Lord, to God's glory, unless reconciled? (Philippians 2: 10,11).

Lest any be misled, we must emphasize the fact that reconciliation is not life nor is it salvation. The definition is given in 2Cor 5:19. It means that a work was accomplished so that the sins of the world are not imputed against it. This is good news for those who do not have life, for it gives them access to God to receive the precious gift of everlasting life. Those that have this life shall live. And in resurrection, they will be given knees which they can bow, and be given tongues with which they can confess. But those who do not have life and will never see life (John 3:36), but remain in the dust of the earth, will never have knees or tongues.

66. What does it mean in Philippians 2:12 where it says we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?

It is well to consider what salvation is before making any applications. It does not say that we are to work out our everlasting life. To equate salvation and everlasting life will only get us into confusion. And somebody has said that confusion is ignorance. When our Lord said to the woman of Samaria that salvation was of the Jews, He was not talking about everlasting life. By faith the Samaritans or any other people could have life. Peter recognized this fact in Acts 10:43. Israel had a salvation to work out. It was that they were to be a priestly nation and make known to the nations the name of Jehovah. They were promised the blessings of the kingdom. To them pertained the preaching of the kingdom. All this was their salvation and they were expected to work it out. And so when the salvation of God was sent to the Gentiles in Acts 28:28, it does not mean that they are then to obtain everlasting life. Their salvation was the administration of the mystery with all its hopes and blessings. This they were to work out.

67. What is the meaning of 1Timothy 1:8?

This verse states that the law is good if one uses it lawfully. There is law today, but not in the sense of the Mosaic law given at Sinai, although that law did reveal the righteousness of God and man's utter inability to attain unto such a state of holiness. But the law or will of God is given to us in the last seven epistles of Paul in the form of exhortations and the like. This is a good thing for us providing we do not attempt to use it as a means of boasting in the flesh. We can walk worthy of our vocation or calling, but there is nothing to brag about, for such a walk is where Christ lives in and acts thru us.

68. What is the difference between eternal life and everlasting life?

They both translate the same phrase in the Greek. However God alone can have eternal life for He has no beginning or end. His children do have a beginning and are given everlasting life through the works of His Son.

69. Your teaching seems very queer. How can Christ be King of kings on the earth and at the same time be Head of a church which is His body in heaven? This is absurd, is it not?

For finite beings such as you and I, this would be impossible and therefore absurd. But if Christ were deity, God manifest in flesh, then He is the Infinite and could appear in as many different places and forms as He might choose.

70. Was Christ a soul after the resurrection?

Psalms 16:10 says, Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. This is quoted in Acts 2:27 by Peter, and part of it is quoted in Acts 13:35 by Paul. Christ went to hell just as have all others who have lived and died on this earth. But His soul was holy and so did not see corruption. It was raised from the dead. If He was a soul before death, then He was a soul in resurrection.

71. I have heard it said that God is acting in grace today to all the world, and that if He does not act in grace, He does not act at all. Is this according to the Scriptures?

In theory, this is but another version of universal reconciliation or salvation. It just happens that the Redeemer in the Hebrew is also the Avenger. The redemption of Noah and his family brought vengeance on the wicked world of that time. The redemption of Israel from Egypt brought vengeance on Pharaoh and his hosts. The very fact that God loves His people makes Him hate their enemies. We are told that Buddha loves everybody. He sits and does nothing about it. But that is not our God. His grace is for those that will partake of it. His wrath abides on others (John 3:36).

72. I am a little mixed up. It speaks of the inheritance of God in the heavenlies in Ephesians 1:18, and in Colossians 1:12 it says that we are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance in the holiest in light. However Ephesians 5:5 indicates that one may lose this inheritance. How is this?

The Church has an inheritance, even as did Israel. Individuals may lose it, even as many thousands of Israel lost their inheritance.

73. In Psalms 1:5 it says that the ungodly would not stand (arise) in the judgment, and that this meant no resurrection for the unbelievers. Somebody said that this word stand did not mean resurrection. Can you answer this?

A lot of people are quick to set forth their own ideas as gospel truth, but err, not knowing the Scriptures. You will find this word quwm (koom) on page 1101 of the Englishman's Hebrew Concordance. There is a long list of the places where used, but one or two will suffice. See Job 14:12; Psalms 88:10; Isaiah 26:14. You can also check this with Strong's concordance. The word number is 6965. This is what Scripture says.

74. Do you believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible? If so, then how would you translate sheep and vine and the like for people who know nothing of these things? After all, is not the Bible just the words of men?

The Bible time after time claims to be the Word of God. If it is not, then it is false and should be thrown out altogether. It would even be dangerous if it were just the words of men. But look at Psalms 12: 6, The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. God has spoken in man's language to man, but He does not use those words carelessly as man does. And the fact that some might not understand some of the terms used is no excuse to make any changes in the Word of God. How many understand love? How many comprehend the term righteousness? We who are teachers have to teach what these things are. And so it is up to a man to teach what a sheep or a vine is when speaking to the Eskimos. Some tribes do not know what a home is. It is up to Christians to teach and to show these what a home is. We must not tamper with the Scriptures. But we must remember that All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable...

75. What is the sin mentioned in Hebrews 12:1?

It is the sin of unbelief. That is the root of all other sins. Self-will nourishes it.

76. It seems strange that Rahab the harlot should be so well spoken of in the Bible. Why?

In this day when men think that respectability is Christianity, this does pose a real question. But Rahab was saved by faith and not by any moral qualities she may have had. So we can say that she was a sinner saved by grace. People who do not know the love and power of God cannot understand His works. Our Lord was criticized because He kept company with publicans and sinners. God is able to take the worst sinner living today and make a saint of him. But men with all their do-good programs and reformation cannot do this.

77. Why don't we hear more about Jobs wife?

She was not much good as a wife. When Job was in trouble and grief, she was no comfort. All she had to say was that he should curse God and commit suicide (Job 2:9). God did not see fit even to put her name in Scripture. The same with Lot's wife.

78. Why did God have a program of healing in the apostolic times and not have it today?

During the time covered by Acts, the kingdom was still at hand. If any at that time would have been careful to study Daniel 9, they would have been able to set the date of the Lord's second coming and the setting up of His kingdom. It would have been A.D. 85, just 490 years from the dedication of the temple after the exile (405 B.C.). With that near coming at hand, it would be fitting that those who believed and entered into the kingdom would be alive and ready to meet the King at His coming. So the sick were healed and the dead raised during the time that the kingdom was in view. But when the kingdom was postponed at Acts 28:28, the gifts of the Spirit ceased. The two days of Hosea 6:2 must intervene before Israel will be raised and come into their kingdom. Resurrection and being manifested with Him in the heavenlies is the hope of the members of The Church which is His body today. A resurrection at about the time of the great white throne of judgment is the hope of those who have everlasting life, but no adoption (See Job 14:12 and compare with Rev 20:11). Thus we can see that there is no gifts of healing and the like today.

79. How about the common teaching that the church is Spiritual Israel? Is it true?

I am afraid that we will never be able to find the expression Spiritual Israel in the Bible. It is not there. History tells us that this expression originated with a man by the name of Origines. He was a Greek writer and teacher of the third century. It was a theory that God was forever thru with the Jew and now all the blessings and covenants had been transferred to the church. A few years later the Emperor Constantine saw in this a great chance to improve his position as ruler. This would make a fine basis for a church-state, making war in the name of and with the aid of religion, for ritual, pomp, splendor, and ecclesiastical theatricals. We have on hand today the tragic results of that lie, that theory, which has caused to much bloodshed and misery in centuries past. And if we are not careful, organized religion will again take over and rule the world. Then there will be great tribulation.

80. Is water baptism essential for the remission of sins?

Isaiah had a coal of fire laid upon his mouth, which in touching his lips took away all his iniquity and purged all his sins. Our Lord spoke to many during His earthly ministry, remitting their sins without baptism. The members of The Church of the administration of The Mystery are not under law, and they today have redemption through His blood, and the forgiveness of sins. They have only one baptism and this is explained in Col 2:12,13 as being identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, even to a quickening with Him with the accompaniment of forgiveness of sins. No water baptism is mentioned in connection with The Church. It is a part of the law and the kingdom of Israel. But there are even now those who claim that they are Jews (Rev 2:9; 3:9)

81. It would seem that Romans 2:14 proves that man did not have a fall, but by nature does the things of the law. How do you see it?

The epistle to the Romans has suffered much at the hands of its friends, the commentators and the expositors. It is a case of being very careful to read the address on the envelope, to find out to whom the apostle is speaking. This epistle is written to the church at Rome which was made up of Jewish and Gentile believers. The man spoken to in verse 1 of chapter 2 is seen to be the Jew (see verse 17). When we read Galatians we see that the Gentile believers in the churches were not subject to the law of Israel. This is also brought out in the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). So here in Romans 2:14 Paul is reminding the Jewish believers that the Gentile believers did by nature (the new nature in the believer) the things contained in the law. This would only be natural, for the law did contain the righteous requirements of God for His people. This does not say that the Gentiles observed the ritual of the law. That was settled in Acts 15:24-29.

82. There is a great deal of mention of the book of life in the Revelation. There seems to be a danger of being blotted out of it. How can one know his name is in this book?

This is another example of carelessly reading the Word. The book of life is mentioned about 7 times in the Revelation. Once it is called the Lamb's book of life (21:27). This might give us a clue. But the best explanation for it is given in Daniel 12:1. The names written in the book are those of Daniel's people, that is, Israel. So we do not look for the names of Gentiles to be written in that particular book. The Revelation is about Israel, their tribulation, and the overcomers. It is possible that there might be a book for the Gentiles, but you will find that elsewhere.

83. Do we today have need of the Advocate mentioned in 1John 2:1?

Under the law, men were judged by the law (Romans 2:12) and those that do not have the law cannot be judged by it. Where there is no law, sin is not imputed and therefore there can be no summons to court or a charge made against the sinner (see 2Cor 5:19 and Romans 5:13). Those under the law prayed that they might be forgiven as they forgave others. But we who are under grace are to forgive others freely because we have been forgiven (Eph 4:32). We have no need of an Advocate today, for we have forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7 & Col 1:14).

84. What was the spiritual condition of the rich young ruler when he came to the Lord and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life?

This young man who must have been a "somewhat" in the synagogue was already a believer. He recognized the Lord as the Messiah, the King of Israel. His request was what he must do to have a place of importance in the kingdom. The reply of the Lord was very similar to His words in Matt 19:29. It meant the forsaking of everything in the world for His name's sake. The price was too high for this man.

85. Did Paul continue establishing churches or assemblies after Acts 28:28?

There is no record that he did. Neither is there any record that such churches or assemblies were in existence after Acts 28:28.

86. What part, or parts, of the gospel of John are truth for this administration?

In the first place, we do not use the term "this administration." If the administration of The Mystery is meant, then John's gospel is not to or for it. But John's gospel is truth for today. So many are misled by the expression "this administration," thinking it means this age or time in which we live and that it means a way in which God is dealing with mankind today in general. God does have a special way of dealing with the administration of The Mystery, a church already seated in heavenly places. But for the rest of humanity today, John's gospel applies (John 3:16). There is no administration teaching for today in this gospel. That which applies today and which is for Gentiles (the Jews have been set aside, 1:11), is 1:1-18; 3:13-21; and 3:31-36. The reason for the writing of the gospel is given in 20:30,31. There are some short explanations through the book for Gentile readers, and then the last 2 verses of the book are up-to-date.

87. Should those who are Christians gather together at some place for worship today?

It may be that the word worship is somewhat overdone these days. Even in Israel, the temple was the designated place of worship. The Synagogue was not a place of worship, but a place to teach the Scriptures and also as a court where men might be tried under the law and penalties meted out. Paul knew this very well, for he had been beaten in the Synagogues many times. In the epistles written after Acts 28:28 the word worship occurs just once. That is in Ph'p 3:3 where Paul says, For we are the (true) circumcision, which worship God in the spirit. This is an echo of John 4:23 where the Lord said to the woman of Samaria, But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshiper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. That worship has nothing to do with a place, a priesthood, nor a ritual. It is natural for those who love the Word and the One of whom it speaks to gather together, but we have no such command today. Leaders often wish it and even pretend it so they can get a following and a big collection.

88. Do you believe that there are 2 bodies?

In the administration of The Mystery there is 1 Body (Eph 4:4). In the administration of promise there was 1 body (1Co 12:13). Whether that included all believers I cannot tell. It may have been just the church at Corinth. So there was one body, and there is one body. But they are not the same. The first was of Israel with an earthly hope. There is one now of Gentiles already seated in heavenly places. The first was to minister to the nations of the earth. There is one now making known the manifold wisdom of God to principalities and powers in heavenly places. We are aware that most of Christendom does not know much about right division and the mystery.

89. I am curious about Acts 17:11. What was it that Paul told the Bereans, and what Scriptures might they have looked up to see if it was so?

You have done well to stop and ask such a question. Not many have done that. In the same chapter, in verses 2 and 3, you will find what Paul preached; And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them (the synagogue of the Jews), and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus-whom I preach unto you, is Christ. So it is clear that Paul was preaching and arguing from the Scriptures that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed their Christ and Messiah, the King of Israel. In verse 7 his enemies charge him with saying, that there is another king (than Caesar), one Jesus. The theme of their Scriptures, the OT, is of the coming kingdom and the King. And this is what the Bereans found. Paul was not preaching the administration of The Mystery. Even if he had, they could not have verified his message from the Scriptures they had, for it was a subject that had been hid in God from ages and generations (Eph 3:9; Col 1:26). Be sure to check this.

90. How can we know that the "voice" in Isaiah 40:3 refers to John the Baptist?

The Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to write of John the Baptist, For this is He that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. This is quoted from the reference you gave. Also you will find that a messenger is to be sent to proclaim the coming of the Lord, the God of Israel (Mal 2:16,17; 3:1-4). This is the same Lord and God referred to in your text. Not only does John the Baptist fulfill the place of the messenger, but Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord and the God of Israel whose way is to be made straight. Christ is Jehovah.

91. Could it be that Philippians 2:9-11 refers to the man, Jesus, who is another creature or a god?

In this reference it is plainly stated that the highest name possible is given to Jesus of Nazareth. That name is found in Psalms 7:17, the first of 36 places it occurs in the OT. It is Jehovah-Elyon, or, Jehovah the Most High God. There is no name above this one. If Jesus of Nazareth was not Jehovah, the Most High God, then our Bible is wrong, not inspired, and can not be trusted. We might just as well throw it out and lean on our own understanding. Here is a further quotation from Isaiah 45:23, I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear. In this same context it is made plain that there is no other Savior. However Satan still is saying, Yea, hath God said! We find our directions made clear in 2 John 9,10, Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ (what the Word testifies of Him) , hath not God ...If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. Just remember, the greatest of sins is unbelief.

92. What is the meaning of Romans 9:6 where it says, " For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." Does this have to do with the true seed?

The true and the false seed are not in this context. Rather, the downfall of Israel and the blessing of the Gentile believers is the subject of chapters 9-11 here in Romans. Paul is making it plain that the true Israel of God is not all made up of the descendants of Israel, but also includes Gentiles. In his first epistle, Paul said to the Gentile believers, And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal 3:29). In verse 9 of the same chapter we read, So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Now keep in mind that this is in the administration of promise, not The Mystery. Israel is still first.

93. Did John the Baptist have a message and a baptism for Gentiles?

There is no record that he did. In fact, there was no ministry to Gentiles in the NT until the day that Peter went to the house of Cornelius in the city of Caesarea (Acts 10 entire).

94. There is much talk these days about Moses being married to a black woman, and also that Philip preached to a colored man of Ethiopia. Do these have any bearing on truth for today?

None that I can think of. Zipporah was the wife of Moses. She was the daughter of a priest in Midian. His name was Reuel, Raguel, or Jethro. The Midianites were children of Abraham by his second wife, Keturah, and so would be the same race and color as Moses. Since Midian was in Arabia, a part of the land of Cush, she would be a Cushite by nationality, but a Midianite by race. So what? The eunuch, to whom Philip spoke, is not. said to be an Ethiopian, but from Ethiopia. He had the Scriptures and had been to Jerusalem to worship. So we must conclude that he was a Jew that was a slave in high position with the queen of Ethiopia. This would correspond with the condition of Daniel in the court of Nebuchanezzar and later in the court of Darius the Mede. I might add that the queen of Sheba was very probably not of Ethiopia, as tradition says, but queen Hatshepsut of Egypt (Sheba meaning south).

95. What is meant by the evil day in Ephesians 6:13?

There is a chance that at some time during the truth of the administration of The Mystery there may come a time of tribulation or trial upon those who dare to speak this truth. The spiritual failure and barrenness we see in Christendom today can well lead to such a condition.

96.  Are we to approach the throne of grace in prayer today as indicated in Hebrews 4:16?

The word throne does not appear in any of the epistles Paul wrote after Acts 28:28. It is not found in the gospel of John which was also written this side of Acts. Throne has to do with a King and a kingdom. There is no place for a throne in The Church. In the plural, it occurs in Col 1:16, but it is concerning thrones, dominions, and the like in heaven and earth, not the throne of God.

97. In Romans 6:14,15 it speaks of not being under the law, but under grace. Was not the Jew still under the law then?

Yes, the Jew was still under the ceremonial law, known as the law. But in the reference you gave, there is no article. Under faith, love, and grace, the Jew was no longer subject to the moral law. The moral law is contained in the last 5 of the 10 commandments. You can readily see that if one loves his neighbor as himself, then this moral law is made void. It is rather a strange thing to say that law is for the lawless. But that is right. The Gentile believers in Rome had the new nature and so did the things of the law, even though they never had it (Romans 2:14). Romans 13:8,10 shows that love is the fulfilling of the law (the moral law).

98. According to Ephesians 3:2 is not this the age or administration of grace?

No. This verse tells us that a special administration of grace was given to Paul that he might preach the gospel of the administration of The Mystery. Just notice how Paul follows this statement up in verses 7 & 8. Compare with Col 1:25 where he speaks of his ministry being an administration of God to him. The next verse speaks of this ministry as The Mystery.

99. When did water baptism cease to be the rule for God's people?

The apostles and Paul baptized with water in the Acts era. Paul makes it known that after Acts 28:28 there is one baptism (Eph 4:5) and in Col 2:12 this baptism is described as being identified with Christ in death, burial and resurrection. So we must conclude that water baptism ceased at the end of Acts.

100. Is it true that two distinct purposes of God are revealed in the Bible?

Yes that is true. (1) There is a distinctive purpose revealed concerning Israel, the kingdom, and the earth program (not connected with powers in the heavens). The kingdom phase culminates in the coming of the King, the rapture of His people, Israel, and the setting up of the kingdom. (2) There is another distinctive purpose revealed after Acts 28:28 which has to do with the Gentiles (nations) and this in connection with heavenly places and heavenly beings. This is The Church. All believers outside these two distinctive purposes from Adam till now will have their part with the dying malefactor in paradise (the new earth). This groups all believers into 3 groups, but with 2 spheres of blessing, the earth and the heavens.

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