The Prison Epistles are the only Scriptures which reveal the dispensation of the Mystery, and as that glorious truth is the peculiar burden of our ministry, we have placed great stress upon these special epistles. They are five in number, but as Philemon is personal in character, we often speak of the "Four Prison Epistles", meaning by this statement that these contain the complete revelation of the Mystery. Now two false conclusions have been drawn from our emphasis upon these epistles. One circulated by a well known speaker in Ayrshire - where we were taking meetings - was that we have no room for such an epistle as the "Romans". This is completely refuted by the publication in 1948 of the book entitled "Just and the Justifier" , and whether the charge is made out of ignorance or malice it is misleading in the extreme. We do most certainly distinguish between the doctrinal teaching of Romans, such as "justification by faith", which is as true for the church of the Mystery as it was when first written, and such dispensational teaching as "the Jew first" of Romans 1:16, or "the olive tree" of Romans the eleventh chapter, which teaching has no relation to the church of Ephesians, being truth for the time then present.
Another charge against us is that by "shutting ourselves up" to the four epistles we have neglected the Fundamentals of the Faith and so are a source of weakness if not of positive harm to others. Again an appeal to the list of our writings will show that a conspicuous place has always been given to the Old Testament Scriptures, and that such fundamentals of the faith as Redemption, Atonement, The Deity of Christ, The Inspiration of Scripture, the Second Coming, Hell, The Soul, and kindred basic themes, have been given a most careful exposition. In this present article, however, we accept the limitation falsely attributed to us, and confine ourselves to the Four Prison Epistles, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and 2 Timothy, to discover what Fundamentals of the Faith will be absent from our creed by so doing.
What shall we say is the basic truth of all? If we reply redemption, or the Person of Christ, or the Purpose of the Ages, shall we not have to admit that we should know nothing of these things, apart from Scripture? And by this admission must we not agree, that the Fundamental of Fundamentals is the Truth of Scripture? That being the case, we turn to our imaginary opponent, and ask him the following question:
"If you were asked to give a proof text for the infallibility, truth and accuracy of the Scriptures, and were limited to one reference, where would you turn?"
There is only one reply, 2 Timothy 3:16.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profit
able for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
From other parts of the New Testament we may learn that the Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35), that the Old Testament Scriptures testify of Christ (John 5:39), that they must be fulfilled (Matt. 26:54, 56; Luke 4:21; Acts 1:16) that no Scripture is of "its own unfolding" (2 Pet. 1:20), but if
want a specific testimony to the great question of INSPIRATION we must leave the Gospels and Acts and all other epistles, and turn to the Prison Epistles, namely to 2 Timothy 3:16. We do not deny that by collecting together all that the Scripture says of itself, that we should not attain to the truth made so clear in 2 Timothy 3:16, what we seek to show is, that it is to this prison epistle, that all must turn if they would read the one specific statement concerning the "Inspiration" of Scripture.
While we do not limit ourselves to these epistles, but use the whole range of inspired truth for our learning, we do call upon all who have any sense of fairness to rebut this charge, that by emphasizing the prison epistles as we do, there is any likelihood that we should or could neglect or deny this fundamental of our faith.
Anyone who may have been disturbed by these false statements made by those who do not see the truth of the Mystery, will realize that they have no need to fear and nothing to lose by closely following the testimony of the Lord's Prisoner.
SALVATION BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH
Having discovered that the great basic doctrine of our faith, namely the Inspiration of all Scripture, is found in the Prison Epistles, we now turn to the fundamentals which belong to the gospel. If those who have falsely charged us with neglect of the fundamentals really appreciated the distinctive purpose