Wednesday, July 26, 2017

There are three spheres of blessing, the earth, the heavenly city, and the position indicated in Ephesians 1, as "far above all". This aspect of truth is vital. It gathers up unto itself all that is distinctive in what is called Dispensational Truth, and we must spare no pains, nor begrudge the space needed to provide the Scriptural evidence for believing that there are "three spheres of blessing" revealed in the Scriptures.

Now because the term "sphere" does not occur in the Scriptures, is it therefore unscriptural? According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word "scriptural" is anything "based upon, derived from, or depending upon Holy Scripture". Because, therefore, an English word does not appear in Holy Scriptures, such word need not be unscriptural; it could only rightly be called unscriptural if the idea contained in the term was not based upon, derived from, or depended upon Holy Scripture. Therefore, to say regarding the use of the term "sphere", "as it is not an inspired term we have no means of fixing its force", as one who opposes this teaching affirmed, seems either to manifest ignorance of the English language or to be an effort unduly to influence the unwary. In either case the matter is no longer disputable, for the use of the term "sphere of blessing" has been proved to be both good English and Scriptural.

Our next step is to enumerate in Scriptural terms the actual "spheres of blessing" that are spoken of in the Scriptures, and then to compare and contrast them so that by trying the things that differ we may avoid confusion and keep each calling in its appointed place. Let us begin with our own calling as revealed in the epistle to the Ephesians.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3).

At the moment we are not concerned with the kind of blessings here set forth, namely, "spiritual", but with the "province", "range or domain" in which these blessings naturally find their setting, and we have but to record:

(1) The sphere of blessing found in Ephesians 1:3 is defined as "in heavenly places".

Again we are not yet concerned as to whether these "heavenly places" are no higher than the firmament in which birds fly; whether they denote the starry heavens; or whether they refer to a position far above all. All that we are immediately concerned with is that a distinct "sphere" is indicated by the words "in heavenly places".

We now turn to another part of the New Testament, where we read of another sphere of blessing: "blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5). Once more, we are not concerned with the character of those here referred to, nor with their inheritance, but exclusively with the "sphere" of their inheritance, and we therefore record:

(2) A sphere of blessing is found in Matthew 5:5 which is defined as "the earth".

We assume, but have not yet proved, that "the earth" and "heavenly places" are two distinct spheres. Common sense says that they are distinct, but we leave the proof until later.

Here then are two spheres of blessing concerning which there is no controversy. But in addition to these two, we discover what appears to be an intermediate sphere of blessing, a sphere above "the earth", yet not "in heavenly places". For this we turn to Galatians 3:14: "that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ". The question which now arises is, does this passage refer to a distinct sphere of blessing, or is the blessing of Abraham to be enjoyed in one or other of the two spheres already considered? A complete answer can only be given after careful examination, but for the sake of conciseness, we note that in this calling, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28).

This unity does not sound like the constitution of a kingdom, which is what is in view in Matthew 5. Rather it so resembles the later revelation of Ephesians that some have adopted the expression "all one in Christ Jesus" with the idea that it declares the Unity of the spirit of Ephesians 4. Before seeing the proofs, most, if not all, will agree that Galatians 3:14 does not refer to an inheritance on the "earth". Yet when we read on to Galatians 3:29, we are prevented from asserting that it belongs to the sphere of the Mystery made known in Ephesians, for we find it stated: "and if ye be Christ"s, then are ye Abraham"s seed, and heirs according to the promise".

So entirely contrary is it to the Scriptural teaching concerning the Mystery to make it a fulfillment of any promise to Abraham that we must hesitate to place this company, which is Abraham"s seed, "in heavenly places". We therefore search further in this epistle, and in the fourth chapter we find the following statement: "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all ... now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise" (Gal. 4:26, Gal. 4:28). "Jerusalem which is above", is neither "on the earth" nor "in heavenly places far above all principality", and as this city forms the theme of Hebrews 11:9-16 and Heb. 12:18-23, where the "heavenly country" is contrasted with the "earth", we are obliged to record a third sphere of blessing.

(3) A third sphere of blessing, differing from that of Ephesians 1:3 and that of Matthew 5:5 is recorded in the epistles to the Galatians and the Hebrews, and is associated with the heavenly Jerusalem, a sphere distinct on the one hand from the earth and its kingdom, and on the other hand from the heavenly places which are the sphere of the church of the Mystery.

We therefore set out our first conclusion.

The Three Spheres Of Blessings

(1) "The earth"                                               (Matt. 5:5)   The Kingdom

(2) "Jerusalem which is above"                        (Gal. 4:26)   The Bride

(3) "In heavenly places"                                   (Eph. 1:3)   The Body

In the near context of Matthew 5:5, which speaks of the meek who shall inherit the earth, we learn of a kingdom which is yet to be set up on the earth: "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). In that prophecy of His Second Coming, The Revelation, one of the titles of the Lord is: "The Prince of the Kings of the earth" (Rev. 1:5). The extent of this kingdom is defined in Psalm 72:8 "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth". And again in Psalm 2:8 "Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen, Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth, Thy possession". Yet again, the prophet Zechariah says:

"He shall speak peace unto the heathen: and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth" (Zech. 9:10).

Moreover, in The Revelation we read:

"The seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 11:15).

This kingdom on the earth will have an administrative center:

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord"s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:2-3).

This is supplemented by Zechariah the prophet:

"And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain" (Zech. 14:16-17).

It will be seen by the two latter references from Isaiah and Zechariah, that not only is the city of Jerusalem represented as the capital of the kingdom, but also as the center of worship, and this is in harmony with the destiny of Israel when that nation is at length saved, for Israel is to be a kingdom of priests unto God (Rev. 1:6). They will be made so under the New Covenant and the blood of Christ in fulfillment of the original purpose of God expressed at the foot of Mount Sinai but, by reason of the weakness of the flesh, rendered impossible of accomplishment under the law (Exod. 19:6).

Inasmuch as the bulk of Scripture is taken up with the history and prophecy of this earthly people and kingdom, no attempt on our part, particularly considering the limitations of our space, can possibly do more than indicate the fact of its existence. There is, however, unanimity among most believers regarding this first, or lowest sphere of blessing, and while we shall have to return to the subject when certain of its features will be compared with those of other spheres, we now pass on to the consideration of the next sphere, having left nothing unproved or resting upon mere assumption. Therefore we feel that we can safely make this statement:

The earth will be a sphere of blessing in which there shall be set up a kingdom, over which the Lord shall be King, with Jerusalem the chosen center, and Israel a Kingdom of Priests. This we will call the First Sphere.

We now come to the second sphere; that which is associated with the heavenly Jerusalem, and it must be recorded as a fact of importance that no hint of such a sphere is to be found in the whole of the Old Testament. Yet when we study the New Testament we learn that its existence was intimately known by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For this information we turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews.

In Hebrews 11 the apostle illustrates the statement that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen", by the examples of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Coming to the example of the patriarchs, the writer pauses to add:

"By faith he (Abraham) sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles (tents) with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God" (Heb. 11:9-10).

After speaking of Sarah"s faith, the apostle reverts to the subject of this city, saying:

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country ... that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:13-16).

After a further and fuller expansion of the theme of Hebrews 11:1 the apostle returns to the subject of the Heavenly City in chapter 12, but approaches it from another angle. We reserve comment upon the significance of this new angle until we have established the fact of the revelation of all three spheres, and meantime pass on to verse 22:

"But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven" (Heb. 12:22-23).

Other references to this sphere of blessing are found in The Revelation:

"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him My new name" (Rev. 3:12).

The significance of the fact that this is associated with the overcomer, together with the similar significance of the context of Hebrews 12, will be considered when we come to deal with the subject of the spheres themselves: at present we confine ourselves to establishing the fact that the Scriptures speak of such spheres:

"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:2).

"He carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:10).

The testimony of Hebrews 11:16 alone is sufficient proof that this heavenly city is a separate sphere of blessing from that of the earth, and while much must yet be studied if we would appreciate its true significance, we can, without hesitation, affirm that there is full Scriptural testimony to the existence of this second sphere of blessing.

Granting that these two spheres of blessing are actual Scriptural facts, the question that now awaits an answer is: do they exhaust the teaching of Scripture on the subject? In other words, is there a third sphere of blessing distinct from both the earth and the heavenly city? We believe there is, and proceed at once to state the evidence for this belief.

The epistle to the Ephesians was written by Paul as "the prisoner of Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:1). Israel, as a nation, had been set aside by the quoting of Isaiah 6:10, as recorded in Acts 28:26-28, and with that setting aside had of necessity gone the hope and the blessings of which they were the appointed channel. While Israel remained as a nation before God, the Gentile believer could be "blessed with faithful Abraham" (Gal. 3:9); could be associated with Israel under the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6); could entertain the hope of Israel (Rom. 15:12-13) and "partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree" (Rom. 11:17); but, with Israel set aside, there arose the necessity of a further revelation from God, if all was not to be plunged into confusion and end in despair. This revelation is claimed by Paul in the epistle to the Ephesians:

"If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward (Gentiles): how that by revelation He made known unto me the Mystery" (Eph. 3:2-3).

This Mystery has particular reference to the new position assigned to the Gentiles:

"That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister" (Eph. 3:6-7).

Here we have a "dispensation" which was particularly concerned with the Gentiles; a "revelation" that makes known that which was a "mystery", and that, hitherto, this mystery had been "hid in God" (Eph. 3:9). And not only was it "hid in God", but "from the ages and from generations", but now is "made manifest to His saints" (Col. 1:26).

In order that no statement shall be accepted as true that is not proved from the Scriptures, we pause to justify the remark that "the dispensation of the Mystery was revealed after the setting aside of Israel". Usually it is enough to produce the missing link in a chain, but, if the play of words may be pardoned, we have a complete chain of evidence, and that none other than the one which fettered the apostle Paul in his Roman prison.

Until the all-day conference with the leaders of the Jews which concluded with their dismissal at the quoting of Isaiah 6:9-10, there was the human possibility of the national repentance of Israel and the realization of that nation"s hope. Consequently, the apostle rightly says in Acts 28:20: "For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain". When next he speaks of his bonds as his chain, the dispensation of the Mystery had been entrusted to him, and in Ephesians and Colossians, his chain is most intimately associated with the Mystery (Eph. 6:20; Col. 4:3).

While there is much more to be said concerning the unique character of this new revelation, enough has been adduced to prove beyond dispute that this dispensation of the Mystery, revealed after the setting aside of Israel, must be different from both the earthly sphere, and the new Jerusalem, and as we have seen that these latter terms represent two very distinct spheres, we are compelled to subscribe to the doctrine of three spheres of blessing, thus:

1. First Sphere            The Earth               Subject of Old Testament              Israel dominant.
                                                                and part of New Testament.

2. Second Sphere        New Jerusalem      Subject only of part of                    Both Jew and
                                                                the New Testament.                      Gentile as seed
                                                                                                                   of Abraham.

3. Third Sphere           The Mystery          Subject of the "prison"                    Gentiles especially.
                                                               epistles only.

One further and independent proof of the reality of these three spheres is provided by the teaching of the epistles concerning the "adoption".

The main line of attack that our teaching has had to withstand has been concerned with our interpretation of the words translated "far above all" and "heavenly places". The reader should note however that we have demonstrated the presence of three distinct spheres of blessing in the Scriptures, quite apart from these disputed terms. We have considered, a little more in detail, the characteristics of that sphere of blessing which belongs to Israel and the earth. We must now turn our attention to the next sphere, the one associated with the heavenly Jerusalem.

The two epistles that speak of the heavenly Jerusalem are Galatians and Hebrews, and we must now acquaint ourselves with their teaching.

We believe a good case can be made for the epistle to the Galatians being a "covering letter", and that the epistle to the Hebrews was an "enclosure" written, in the first case, for the Hebrews in the Churches of Galatia.

"What in reality do we find? Just this -- two epistles, or writings, in close succession, in a professedly Pauline section of the New Testament, are merely separated or divided off, the one from the other, by the words pros Hebraious "to Hebrews".

Both epistles quote Habakkuk 2:4, "The just shall live by faith" (Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38), both develop the "allegory" of Sinai and Sion (Gal. 4:24-31; Heb. 12:18-24), both deal with "perfection" (Gal. 3:3, Hebrews throughout), both speak of Jerusalem which is above, both speak of the Mediator".

Another very cogent argument which supports this connection is the fact that, although circumcision is at the very heart of the Jewish problem, the apostle never speaks of it in the epistle to the Hebrews. This would be difficult to explain or to understand if Hebrews stood alone, but if "Galatians" and "Hebrews" go together, then circumcision would have been effectively dealt with in the "covering letter", leaving the way clear in Hebrews for the exhortation that it gives to go on to perfection.

The first definite indication of the "sphere of blessing" that is in view in the epistle to the Hebrews is found in Heb. 3:1, where those to whom the apostle wrote are called: "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling". This is the first of six occurrences of epouranios in Hebrews, which we give below:

"Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus" (Heb. 3:1).

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost ... to renew them again unto repentance" (Heb. 6:4-6).

"Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount" (Heb. 8:5).

"It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these" (Heb. 9:23).

"But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:16).

"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22).

We must now examine these passages, so that our conception of what is "heavenly" shall be moulded, not by our own views, but by what is actually written.

In the first passage, we read that these Hebrews were "partakers of the heavenly calling", but whether or not this means that they were going to enjoy their inheritance in the heavenly places "where Christ sitteth" is not here stated. In the first place, however, let us note that there is the most positive testimony that the position occupied by Christ in Hebrews is identical with that of Ephesians. In Ephesians, Christ is said to have ascended "far above all heavens" (Eph. 4:10), while in Hebrews He is said to have "passed through the heavens" (Heb. 4:14) and "made higher than the heavens" (hupseloteros Heb. 7:26). What is never taught in Hebrews, however, is that any of the redeemed could entertain the hope of being there, "where Christ sitteth". The teaching is all in the other direction. We are reminded, for instance, that when the High Priest entered the most holy place (a type of heaven itself) he entered "alone" (Heb. 9:7). These Hebrews had certainly "tasted the heavenly gift", but they did not ascend to heaven to do so; they tasted this heavenly gift while here on earth.

It is therefore folly to point to the fact that the word epouranios occurs both in Hebrews and in Ephesians, and to deduce from this that there is nothing distinctive about the Ephesian sphere. In Hebrews it is Christ, and Christ alone, Who sits in the heavenly place. In Ephesians, the essence of the Mystery is that an elect company of the redeemed sit there potentially with Him. It is this fact that makes this new sphere of blessing unique; a fact which an indiscriminate list of the occurrences of epouranios can neither establish nor overthrow.

While Hebrews speaks of a "heavenly calling" and a "heavenly gift", we are not left in doubt as to "where" this calling is to be enjoyed. The sphere of blessing connected with the "heavenly calling" is the "heavenly country" or the "heavenly Jerusalem" which filled the vision of Abraham, and for which those who walked by faith in the Old Testament days suffered the loss of all things.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen ... These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth ... wherefore God ... hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11:1, Heb. 11:13, Heb. 11:16).

This calling differs from the one that is associated with Mount Sinai. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all "before the law" (see Gal. 3:17-18), and the inclusion of Abel, Noah and Enoch shows that it is not essentially connected with the Abrahamic covenant. Moreover the inclusion of Rahab, after the law, reveals that it is of wider scope than the covenant of Sinai, and the presence of such names as Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel (Heb. 11:32) shows that after the law of Moses had been given, there were still those who reached out for this higher and heavenly sphere.

In contrast with Sinai and its terrors, we have Sion with its blessings.

"Ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly, and to a church of firstborn ones, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of perfected righteous ones, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than Abel" (Heb. 12:22-24).

The reader will notice a slight departure from the A.V. here. The "general assembly" should be linked, not with the "church of the firstborn", but with the "innumerable company". The church of the firstborn is made up of "the spirits of perfected righteous ones" (Heb. 12:23), or "the spirits of righteous ones having been perfected". This "perfecting" is the key to Hebrews and is the basis of its exhortation. Either those to whom the apostle wrote would leave the things that were connected with the beginning and go on unto perfection (Heb. 6:1), or, failing to endure, would draw back unto "loss" and "waste" (Heb. 10:32-39). The word "perdition" is translated "destruction" in Philippians 3:19, and is put in contrast there, as in Hebrews, with "attaining" and a "better resurrection" (Phil. 3:11; Heb. 11:35). The word is also seen in Matthew 26:8, where it is translated "waste".

We would mention here, in passing, the important principle that, what constitutes the initial calling of one company (e.g. the Galatian converts), may also be the added "prize" of another company (e.g. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had already received the "land" and the "nation" in their initial calling). A further example of the same principle is provided by the fact that "eternal life" which is a "gift" in Romans, is spoken of as an "award" in Matthew 25. We will not however, pursue this matter further, as it is not essential to our present purpose.

It is clear from Hebrews 11 and 12 that the sphere of blessing there in view is that of the city which will at the last come down from God out of heaven. This reference takes us to the Book of the Revelation, where we discover two things. First, that those whose blessings are found in the New Jerusalem are spoken of as the "Bride", a company that differs from the divorced Wife who will be restored at the end; and secondly, that this company are "overcomers" who have a "crown" (Rev. 3:11-12), a further parallel with the believers of Philippians 3, who attain the "prize".

We discover, therefore, that the second sphere of blessing is in the nature of a reward. It is the "heavenly" phase of the kingdom. Abraham could not have forfeited the land of promise, for it was his as an unconditional gift; but in addition to this, he received the "heavenly country", which was associated with his "perfecting". This "perfecting" of his faith is the theme of the epistle of James, which regards the offering of Isaac as the "fulfilling" of the initial act of faith whereby Abraham was justified (Jas. 2:23). James also has much to say in the first chapter about patient endurance and its perfecting work in view of the crown (Jas. 1:3-4, Jas. 1:12). The heavenly country and city are not for "righteous ones", simply, but for "perfected righteous ones", just as the "prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus" and "the out-resurrection" of Philippians 3 are for those who go on unto perfection.

If the heavenly country, for which Abraham gave up so much, differs from the land of promise in which he lived as a pilgrim, then we must obviously recognize this heavenly calling as a separate sphere. Moreover it is clear that one of the chief characteristics of this sphere is that it represents a reward for faithful obedience, as distinct from the land of promise which was quite unconditional. We have not attempted to differentiate between the covenant made with Abraham regarding the land, and the covenant made at Sinai. As both operate on the earth, they are both included in the one sphere.

The distinctive place, "where", and the time "when" the Church of the Mystery shall enjoy its blessings and was chosen in Christ by the Father, are given in Ephesians 1:3-4. We are not now concerned with the true translation of the words, "before the foundation of the world" in verse 4, but with the latter clause of verse 3:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3).

As the phrase en tois epouraniois is exclusive to Ephesians, and as every other occurrence of epouranios has reference to the character of the "heavenly" thing concerned, but not the place "where" it will be enjoyed, a mere list of the occurrences of epouranios would have only the appearance of argument while lacking validity.

"In heavenly places" is the translation of the Greek words en tois epouraniois. We have seen that the word epouranios occurs six times in the epistle to the Hebrews, but there it speaks of a heavenly calling, a heavenly gift, heavenly realities, and a heavenly country or city. There can be no comparison between a "heavenly gift" that was enjoyed on earth with "the heavenly places" of Ephesians 1:3: the one refers to character, the other to a place. The occurrences of epouranios in Ephesians must be segregated, for they form a group by themselves. The phrase en tois epouraniois occurs only in Ephesians and nowhere else either in the New Testament or in the Septuagint, a note which some readers may question if they accept teaching given them without verification.

The second occurrence of the phrase is found in Ephesians 1:20-21, where we learn that this sphere is "where Christ sitteth" at the right hand of God. Whether we continue the use of the phrase "far above all" or whether we exchange it for a more limited rendering, nothing is more certain than that there can be no conceivably higher position in the whole universe than the right hand of God. Such is the height of this exaltation of Christ that the passage continues:

"Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:21).

Quite apart from the words "far above", there can be no denial of the fact that there is here indicated a sphere without compare in the whole range of Scripture. To conclude the first part of our examination, we turn to Ephesians 2:6 where we have a categorical statement that there, where Christ sits, is the sphere of blessing for every member of the Church which is His Body. In these three passages (Eph. 1:3, Eph. 1:20-21; and Eph. 2:6) we have indubitable evidence of a sphere of blessing that differs entirely from anything that had hitherto been revealed.

But our task will not have been completed if we fail to take note of the attempts that have been made to discredit the teaching of the three spheres by concentrating attention upon the A.V. rendering of huperano. The words translated "far above all" in Ephesians 1:21 and Eph. 4:10 are adjuncts of the teaching we have already proved by other means, and no alteration or re-translation can make the slightest difference to the threefold distinctions we have already seen. As the word in question only occurs three times in the New Testament, it is a matter of importance to ascertain whether it occurs in the Septuagint, and if so, in what connection. Some who have gone out of there way to denounce this teaching say:

"As the adverb huperano, Over-up, appears so seldom in the later Greek Scriptures, we have given all of the occurrences in the Septuagint also".

But when we consult the Septuagint, we discover that our critics will omit the first occurrence and upon examination we further find that this first occurrence is antagonistic to their contention that huperano means position but never distance. The omitted reference is Genesis 7:20, "fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail, and the mountains were covered".

If the subject before us was the comparative value of the various manuscripts which we have to consult in seeking the original text of the Scriptures, it would be right and proper to assess the respective merits of the Vatican, the Sinaiticus, the Alexandrian, and other MSS., and at the close of the investigation we should be within our rights if we were to express a preference for one manuscript above another. But if we are investigating the usage of a particular word, and we profess to have given "all of the occurrences", then the omission of one reference, especially one that militates against our own conclusions, is serious. This first reference to huperano in the Septuagint most emphatically uses the word to express distance in cubits, whereas our critics seem almost hysterical by our retention of the A.V. rendering, "far above", calling it, among other things, a blot on the A.V. translation, and implying that so long as it remains it is impossible for the English reader to get the truth.

These words would have sounded rather empty if Genesis 7:20 had been cited, and our critic"s dictum that huperano denotes "position, never distance" looks absurd in the presence of these 15 cubits! We have more to bring forward from Genesis 7:20 in a moment, but it will be better appreciated after we have allowed our critics a little more space.

The third and last occurrence of huperano in the New Testament is found in Hebrews 9:5, which reads: "and over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy seat". The critic"s comment is:

"In the ark of the covenant we have the best possible illustration of the force of this word. Surely the Cherubim were not "far above" the ark".

They further suggests that probably the lower parts of the Cherubim were "below" the crown of the ark, and some get so enamored of this idea that they even goes so far as to imply huperano, in this case, may denote near rather than far, but we recall that some have already prefaced this investigation by saying:

"As few of us are sufficiently adept in either Greek or English to pass judgment upon such grammatical and idiomatic problems, we will base nothing on expert evidence", so that we need not be greatly concerned. The Scriptures themselves are the only and final appeal.

The apostle is not concerned in Hebrews 9:5 with the fact that the Cherubim and the mercy seat were made out of one piece of metal. His statement is confined to one feature, and one feature only, namely, that the Cherubim "overshadowed" (kataskiazo) the mercy seat and in so doing he is referring to Exodus 25:18-20 where we read:

"And the Cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings".

Here we have inspired usage of words and need not be experts either in Hebrew, Greek, or English, to understand the meaning of the Hebrew word here translated "on high". Maal is translated in the LXX by huperano, and so provides an infallible authority for the usage and meaning of the word. Maal occurs in such passages as "in heaven above" (Exod. 20:4); "from his shoulders and upward" (1 Sam. 9:2); "the clouds above" (Prov. 8:28). Whoever used the word huperano in Genesis 7:20 and elsewhere, had no hesitation in using it for a measurable distance, whether for the height of the water above the mountains, or the height of the wings of the overshadowing Cherubim.

We teach that "the heavens" that are in view since the six days" creation are the only heavens associated with the redeemed until the revelation of the Mystery, and that no redeemed child of God has any prospect of association with the heaven of Genesis 1:1 except the church of the Mystery chosen in Christ before the period referred to in Genesis 1:2. (See the article entitled HEAVEN). We have nothing in common with any teaching that puts the church of the One Body outside the realm of Genesis 1:1 and believe that in the original of the New Testament, two words are employed, both translated "heavenly" (ouranios and epouranios). The added word epi signifies upon or over, and refers to the heavens that are above the firmament, and beyond the limitations of the present creation (compare Gen. 1:1 with Psa. 148.4; 1 Kings 8:27; Heb. 7:26)".

As two words are used, both translated "heavenly", we are justified in attempting to discriminate, and as epi is added to ouranios, and huperano supplies the idea, we adopted the Latin equivalent of huper and have added super thus coining the word "super-heavens" for the special usage found in Ephesians 1:3, Eph. 1:20 and Eph. 2:6.

On many occasions the Scriptures speak of God "stretching out the heavens" (Psa. 104:2); "Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain"; also Isaiah 40:22; Isa. 42:5; Isa. 45:12; Isa. 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; Jer. 51:15; Zechariah 12:1 ... When we grasp the significance of the firmament, and the purpose that is carried out within its expanse, we may then see the perfect fitness of the statements of Ephesians, where in the words "the heavenly places" (epouranios a word which literally means "upon the heavens"), we are taken beyond the firmament ... Ephesians always speaks of the blessings of the One Body as being in the epouranios, the sphere above the heavens. Peter, however, does not pierce the firmament, the inheritance he speaks of is reserved "in the heavens", not in the sphere above the heavens".

In such translations as "super-heavens", "far above all heavens", "made higher than the heavens", it is evident that a sphere beyond the limitations of the heavens of Genesis 1:8 is intended. That this is our meaning let us say that to the period of the New Heavens and the New Earth belong the blessings of the Mystery. The only calling or revelation that has pierced the present temporary heaven and touched that which can be spoken of as eternal is that dispensation of the grace of God which has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the super-heavenlies far above all. This shows the unique character of the church of the One Body. It is connected both by time and place with that which begins before the present heavens were made and goes on when the present heavens are no more.

The church of the Mystery is the only link during this age between the time before sin entered and the time when sin shall be no more. All other purposes are "under the heavens", this link alone places those who are blessed under its terms "above the heavens". If these things are so, it would be very surprising if the doctrine and practice of this peculiar people were not different from all others".

Of no other company of believers is it said that their sphere of blessing is "In the super-heavenlies". The special sphere of blessing which belongs alone to the Church of the One Body is mentioned five times in this epistle, and a study of these occurrences will supply us with valuable information. First of all, we translate the word "super-heavenlies" in recognition of the presence of the little particle epi with which the word begins. It is not simply ouranios, which is the usual word, but epi-ouranios. Secondly, because the word is found in Ephesians 4:10, where "far above all heavens" is huperano panton ton ouranon, and thirdly because the information supplied by the five references demands some such translation. Passing, therefore, to the second reference, we find, in Eph. 1:20-21, that this sphere of blessing is:

(a) At the Father"s right hand.

(b) Far above all principality and power.

That this tremendous height is the destined sphere of the Church of the Mystery, Ephesians 2:6 declares. There, the believer is associated with the risen Christ, "made to sit together in the super-heavenlies in Christ Jesus". Christ the Head and the Church His Body are blessed together There.

The next two references (Eph. 3:10 and Eph. 6:12), show the super-heavenlies as the abode of principalities, powers and rulers. Be it noted that angels are not mentioned. Angels are heaven"s messengers. The Church of the One Body is blessed even above heaven"s nobility. Dominions and thrones are beneath it in its super-heavenly sphere. While epouranios is used outside Ephesians, no other company of believers is blessed In these exalted regions as their sphere. The blessings of the Church of the One Body are not only "heavenly", but "up in heaven".

Having established from the Scriptures, quite independently of the occurrences or the meaning of either epouranios or huperano, the fact that there are three distinct companies of believers who are destined to inherit blessings in three distinct spheres, we can dismiss the question as to how "far" this exalted sphere is above all others, the answer to the question makes no difference to the fact that the Scriptures speak of three different spheres. For the sake of clarity we summarize our findings.

There are blessings that are to be enjoyed on earth. Those who will occupy the central position in this sphere are Israel, and this calling is expressed in the terms of a Kingdom. Gentile nations, while blessed in this same sphere, will be subservient, for to Israel, and Israel alone, is the Kingdom, and to Israel on the earth pertains the "adoption".  Israel is the firstborn among the nations.

There are other blessings that are to be enjoyed in the heavenly country and the heavenly city. These are the blessings of Abraham, and the calling is that of "The Bride" (a calling that must be kept distinct from that of the restoration of Israel, "The Wife"). Gentiles, as well as Israel, go to form this company called "The Bride", where there is neither Jew nor Greek, but where both alike are reckoned as Abraham"s seed and heirs according to the promise. Instead of nations being subservient to this company of the redeemed, it is angels who are associated with them in a subordinate position. To this company, in this sphere, pertains this particular "adoption"; they are the church of the Firstborn whose names are written in heaven.

There are, however, blessings that are neither those of Israel as a kingdom, nor of the heavenly calling of the Bride, and these are enjoyed in heavenly places where Christ sits, far above all principality and power and far above all heavens. They who enjoy them constitute neither a Kingdom nor the Bride, but are the Body of Christ and a perfect Man. While individuals of Israel who believe are not precluded, this calling is mainly Gentile, for it operates during the period of Israel"s blindness. This company also has a citizenship, but it is one which has nothing to do with the New Jerusalem; neither nations nor angels are subservient to it, but principalities and powers. To this company pertains the "adoption" associated with this sphere, and Christ, as the Firstborn from the dead, is its Head, each believer of the company forming a member of the Church which is His Body.

As this highest of all callings is the subject of a Secret that goes back before the overthrow of the world (Gen. 1:2), so it goes up beyond the "firmament that was called heaven" which spans the ages, and finds its sphere in the super-heavens; those heavens of Genesis 1:1 which remain unmoved by the ebb and flow of time, sin, death, or dispensational change.

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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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