In the last paper we considered the fact that we must not take Truth belonging to
ONE PART OF A PAST DISPENSATION AND READ IT INTO ANOTHER PART OF THE PAST. This paper will continue with the second great principle in Bible study as we follow the command to RIGHTLY DIVIDE.
2. TRUTH THAT BELONGS TO A PAST DISPENSATION SHOULD NOT BE INTERPRETED
OF OR READ INTO THE PRESENT DISPENSATION.
This has resulted in confusion, frustration, discouragement and disappointment on every hand by Christians who fail to rightly divide the Word. Many therefore have placed themselves under the Law.
(a) Law and Grace - The Law was given from Jehovah to Moses at Mt. Sinai. Thus John 1:17 says, "For the Law was given by Moses (to Israel) BUT grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." There is one verse we note the contrast of Law and Grace. Law was associated with Moses and Israel, Grace is associated with Jesus Christ. The "BUT" of John 1:17 should cause the reader to recognize that a change in Dispensation was either taking place or that a change was eminent.
This is not to say that during the Law there was no grace, for there was (Ex. 34:6-7); but when Jesus Christ came, He was Himself the Truth, the very personification of it (Jn. 14:6) and His life and death were the supreme manifestation of grace.
Moses was the great Law giver to Israel. The Law speaks to those who were under the Law (Rom. 3:19) , (i.e. Israel). Under the OT economy the Jew looked for the Law to be his righteousness; "And it (the Law) shall be our righteousness, if we (i.e. the Jew) observe TO DO all these
commandments before the Lord our God, as He hath commanded us" (Dent. 6:25). Notice the Law speaks concerning things TO DO. Grace, on the other hand, speaks of things TO BELIEVE. Grace speaks to those who believe, and says, "Therefore by the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified in His sight" (Rom. 3:20). Romans 3:21 says,
"BUT NOW the righteousness of God WITHOUT THE LAW is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the prophets." The
"BUT NOW" marks a change in the Dispensations. This corresponds with "For the Law was given by Moses
BUT Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ."
"For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believeth" (Rom. 10:4).
"For Moses d e sc ri b e t h the righteousness which is of the Law" (Rom. 10:5).
The passage in Deuteronomy 6:25 was true then concerning Israel and was in harmony with the Dispensation to which it belonged. 2 Timothy 2:15 allows both Deuteronomy 6:25 and Romans 3:20 to be true.
As Moses was the great Law giver to Israel, so the Apostle Paul was the great explainer of the Grace of God. The two statements are true. During the Dispensation of the Law the former was PRESENT TRUTH. After the Apostle Paul explained the Grace of God in the all sufficient work of Christ on the Cross, we learn that the latter supercedes the former. "For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness" shows that the former statement of Deuteronomy 6 is set aside and right division identifies it as Truth of a PAST Dispensation.
If we recognize that both statements are true even though they state the opposite of each other, and if we apply each statement to the Dispensation that it belongs to, the Word of Truth is divided aright and harmony is the result.
Law says, DO - Grace says, all is DONE - Believe! (b) Sabbath Days Being obedient to 2 Timothy 2:15 clears the table for the believer. There is no longer call for any believer to be in confusion nor under bondage to the Law. However, through disobedience to that great precept to "rightly divide the Word of Truth" many are still bound hand and foot as to Sabbath days.
The laws concerning the Sabbath were ceremonial laws and were given to Israel. While it is a good idea for the nations of the world to set aside one day out of seven to rest from servile work, the fact remains that the Law concerning the Sabbath was given to Israel. There are those who believe the Law to still be in effect and to be obeyed now. They have no liberty at all then to alter the Law or modify it to fit their own designs or imaginations. Rather, they are bound to "keep holy the seventh day." They have no choice in the matter, and dare not take liberty altering the Law of God.
Under the Law no work was permitted on the seventh day. If a man even picked up sticks on the Sabbath he was to be stoned to death. This incident occurred in Numbers 15:32-36. Those today who insist on "keeping the Sabbath holy" need to fully obey the Law. The man that mows his yard on the Sabbath needs to be "brought without the camp, and stoned" with stones until he is dead. Now that is the Law regarding the Sabbath. I read nowhere in the news of those who pretend to be observing the Sabbath stoning to death any of the members who fail to keep it holy.
The Sabbath was plainly given to Israel as a sign between them and Jehovah (Ezk. 20:20). No one between Adam and Moses knew anything about the Sabbath (see Neh. 9:14).
The observance of days was a problem during the Pentecostal Dispensation (Acts 2 to Acts 28). The Jew having the priority during the Acts economy found that many of his customs from the past Dispensation lingered on. He who was weak in faith found that he still esteemed some days above others; whereas some during the Book of Acts esteemed every day alike (Rom. 14:5). So Paul says, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" concerning days. It was a matter of every man being persuaded in his own heart, not a matter of Law. The Dispensation changed from the Dispensation of Law to the Pentecostal Dispensation. As long as the Jew was first (Rom. 1:16) the problem existed between Jew and Gentile concerning the observance of days. The reason being the Jew carried over a background of ceremonial days from the Dispensation of the Law.
After Israel was set aside and the salvation of God taken from them and handed over to the Gentiles in Acts 28:28, we read in Colossians 2:16, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days." While we do not let them judge us in this respect, they do so anyway. Even though we quote the Word of God, we shall be met with arguments that are based upon the principle of total disregard to the binding command of the Lord concerning "rightly dividing the Word of Truth."
The Sabbath Laws are either still binding or they are not. The Sabbath Law was part of the Law of Moses, and it "gendereth to bondage" (Gal. 4:24). Paul also refers to Sabbath keeping as "weak and beggarly elements°" (Gal. 4:9). If we read Truth from the PAST Dispensation into PRESENT TRUTH, we bring into the Church of this age confusion, error, and disobedience to 2 T i m o th y 2:15.
(c) The Kingdom - There are some PAST Dispensational truths, like that concerning the Kingdom, which pertain also to FUTURE Dispensations. Some truth from the PAST leap over the PRESENT D i s p e ns a t i o n as if the
PRESENT age did not exist. This age is like a parenthesis and the PAST and the FUTURE could have come in succession, but an unprophecied interval of the PRESENT Dispensation separates the two.
The PAST and FUTURE Dispensations have to do with the Kingdom. The PRESENT has to do with the Church of God's SECRET PURPOSE. The Kingdom is related to the "Hope of Israel", the Church of the Mystery is related to a more "Blessed hope." The PAST Dispensation is related to Law, the next with Judgment.
If therefore we read into the PRESENT that which belongs and pertains to the PAST or that which belongs to the FUTURE, we lose the glory of the High and Holy calling of the Church of this parenthetic interval. To do this means the loss of blessing to the member of the Church of the One Body and the introduction of confusion to the mind and contradiction into the Word of God.
The Kingdom belongs to a PAST Dispensation. It was proclaimed as being "at hand" by John the Baptist (Matt. 3:2), and also by the Lord Jesus Himself (Matt. 4:17). The King, Jesus Christ, as well as the Kingdom was rejected. The religious leaders of Israel demanded the death of their King, saying "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him . . . We have no king but Caesar" (Jn. 19:15). Upon the Cross the Lord secured for them another chance at the Kingdom when He prayed °' Father forgive them" (Lu. 23:34). The possibility of the Kingdom being set up existed in Acts 2 and 3 when Peter opened the doors of the Kingdom to the "men of Israel." Peter used the "keys of the Kingdom" in Acts 10 when Cornelius the Gentile was made a partaker of the Kingdom blessings. Thus Gentiles gained admittance into the Kingdom hope in Acts 10 and they were grafted into Israel, the olive tree, as wild olive branches (Rom. 11) up to Acts 28. At the crisis of Acts 28:17-28 God set Israel aside and with the setting aside of Israel the "hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20) was set in abeyance. Thus the hope of the Kingdom being realized was postponed; God ushered in a new Dispensation, the Mystery of His Secret Purpose (Eph. 1:9; 3:11).
We hear people today refer to "the extension of the Kingdom" and "the advancement of Kingdom"; but these are unscriptural expressions when used of the Church, and they are non-scriptural expressions when used of the Kingdom.
We read of "heirs of the Kingdom" (Jas. 2:5) but not of the Church of the Mystery; of "children of the Kingdom" (Matt. 8:12); but not of the Church. We read of receiving the Kingdom (Matt. 11:14); and of "entering it" (Matt. 18:3); of "seeing" it (Jn. 3:3); and of "inheriting" it (Matt. 25:34). But never once do we read of any expression like that in reference to the Church. It is foreign language to the epistles that pertain to this age.
The Lord in Matthew 6 taught the disciples to pray for the Kingdom to come. We, on the other hand, are awaiting for our calling on High; far above all heavens, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
The Kingdom purpose is now in abeyance. God will pick up the thread of His dealings on Kingdom grounds after the Church, "which is His body" (Eph.. 1:23) is received up into Glory. Thus we see that the Kingdom belongs to the PAST and FUTURE Dispensations. To read Kingdom truth into a place that God has not placed it (i.e. the Present Age) clearly is disobedient to the one great principle of the Word of Truth which is-TO RIGHTLY DIVIDE.
In the two previous papers we have considered the following two rules for Bible study.
1. TRUTH THAT BELONGS TO ONE PART
OF A PAST DISPENSATION MUST NOT
BE READ INTO ANOTHER PART OF THE PAST.
2. TRUTH THAT BELONGS TO A PAST DISPENSATION
MUST NOT BE READ INTO OR INTERPRETED OF THE PRESENT.
We will continue with Rule 2 by way of examples; such as,
(d) The Different Gospels-Since there is much confusion today between the "Kingdom" and the "church" there is a natural outgrowth - the confusion between the various "gospels."
The word "gospel" means "good news." Of course, there are different kinds of good news, some about foreign affairs, business, sports, etc. So the "gospel" means good news from God. There is good news from God about different things; such as:
(1) The G o s p e 1 of the Kingdom (Matt. 4:23)
(2) The Gospel of God (Rom. 1:1)
(3) The Glorious Gospel of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4)
(4) The Gospel of the Uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7)
(5) The Gospel of the Circumcision (Gal. 2:7)
(6) The Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24)
(7) The Gospel of your Salvation (Eph. 1:13)
(8) The Gospel of Peace (Eph. 6:15)
(9) The Gospel of the Gl o r y of the Blessed God (1 Tim. 1:11)
(10) The Everlasting Gospel (Rev. 14:6)
While much of the various Gospels have things in common, to say that they are the same renders words that the Holy Ghost uses to teach by as useless. If the different phrases all mean that the Lord Jesus Christ died a substitutionary, sacrificial death, which was acceptable by God the Father as a complete payment for
man's sin, and that He rose again from the dead and all that believe will have "life through His Name", then the inspired words of God are useless for the purposes of revelation.
But if God has separated these gospels in an effort to teach us His Truth, we must not join together what He has separated. There are many, however, who teach that there is but one gospel, and they do not hesitate to use slanderous language about those who seek to rightly divide these gospels and to apply them to the Time or Dispensation to which they belong.
The Gospel of the Kingdom-was the "good news" of the fact that the Kingdom, which had been the subject of the OT promises and prophesies, was finally "at hand." That was "good news" indeed for those who were looking and longing for "the consolation of Israel" (Lu. 2:25). Many believed this gospel and believed that Christ was the King, and that it was He "who should redeem Israel" (Lu. 24:21).
Healing went along with the commission to preach the gospel of the Kingdom.
"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils" (Matt. 10:8).
The student should read carefully Matthew 10:5-16 and note there is no reference to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, nor is there any reference to the shedding of His blood. In Plainer Words, in this gospel there was no place for "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." It would be sin to preach this gospel of the Kingdom today.
After the King of the Kingdom was rejected by Israel (the children of the Kingdom) and crucified, the King secured for them a reprieve with His prayer from the Cross: "Father, Forgive them." Thus, after His resurrection, a modification of this Kingdom gospel was made so that the message was according to Mark 16:15-20. "Go ye into all the world" and preach the Kingdom gospel and he that believes this gospel and is
"BAPTIZED shall be saved." This is clearly not the gospel of the present dispensation. Those who believed and were baptized had signs follow
them; such as:
(1) Casting out of devils
(2) Speaking in new tongues (3) Taking up serpents
(4) Drinking poison
(5) Healing the sick
All of this was to "confirm the word" of the Kingdom (Mk. 16:20).
The gospel of the Kingdom was again preached to Israel in Acts 2 and 3. The King was in heaven waiting to return. The one condition was that Israel as a nation had to repent (Acts 2:38; 3:19-21).
By way of contrast, we will note only several of the ' `gospels" and allow you to be a Berean. Try the things that. differ concerning the gospels.
The Gospel of God-was "good news" announced by the Apostle Paul during the Book of Acts. It is chiefly set forth in Romans and is
"concer ning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh." This was "good news" of grace not proclaimed to Israel only, but to all nations. The purpose was "for obedience to the faith of all nations" (Rom. 1:5).
The Glorious Gospel of the Blessed God-This not only includes the good news concerning the sacrifice made by the Lord Jesus Christ and the redemption that is through His Blood, the "gospel of your salvation" (Eph. 1:13), but. it contains good news that now is announced from Glory. The good news announced from Glory is the "testimony of our Lord", and Paul His prisoner (2 Tim. 1:8). This Testimony is found in a "form of sound words" (2 Tim. 1:13); those things that Timothy "heard of (Paul) among many witnesses" (2 Tim. 2:2).
The Father of Glory (Eph. 1:17) announces the good news from Glory that. the far off Gentiles have now been "made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13), and they have been called in "one body" which is a "new creation" (Eph. 2:15).
This gospel from Glory is found in Paul's Prison Epistles and is the NEWS about God's "eternal purpose" (Eph. 3:11) which was planned before the world began (Eph. 1:4) and not made known to men until it was made known by revelation to Paul after Israel's hope was set aside (Acts 28:28). This good news was made known some thirty years after the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven. When He ascended to God's right hand He was there awaiting Israel's repentance. Had Israel repented, He would have r e t u r n e d (Acts 3:19-26) and set up the Kingdom. Israel did not respond to the "Gospel of the Kingdom"; her blindness was pronounced in Acts 28 and with her blindness the return of the Lord was postponed. The Lord then reveals to "Paul, the prisoner",
the glorious gospel of the Blessed God. It makes known that Christ is not waiting in heaven for the gospel of the Kingdom to be preached to every creature, nor for the church to convert the world; but rather Christ is in heaven "seated" as the Exalted "Head over all things" (Eph. 1:22) to a new calling. The "good news" from Glory is-God's Secret Purpose has
NOW been made known. The secret purpose is the "mystery" (Eph. 3:3; 9; 6:19; Col. 1:26-27; 2:2). This gospel makes known a sphere of blessing "in glory", "Far above all Heavens" (Eph. 4:10) at God's right hand where Christ is seated in "heavenly places" (Eph. 1:22-23). This gospel makes known the truth concerning the "church which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22-23). The members of this calling will one day be "received up into
Glory" and there be united with the glorious Head (Col. 2:18). The glorious gospel of the Blessed God is the news that Christ among the Gentiles is their "hope of
Glory" (Col. 1:27). Space limits further discussion on this glorious gospel.
The Everlasting Gospel-is not to be proclaimed until after the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the revelation of the superhuman beast of Revelation 13. Then, just before the final judgment of the seven vials, seven angels make seven proclamations (Rev. 14:6-20). The first is the proclamation of the "everlasting gospel." This is mercy in the midst of Judgment. The command has no reference to the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, but rather "Fear God" as the Creator. Not a word regarding the Redeemer, nor a word concerning grace or glory. It is called "everlasting" because the acknowledgment of God as Creator was before all other news, and it will follow the news of the Kingdom, of grace, and of glory. It announces God only as Creator.
As evolution will eventually be officially adopted by world Christendom, it is not strange that eventually the requirement to believe the news from God will be that He is the Creator.
In order to have harmony, consistency and truth we must rightly divide the different gospels according to the dispensations to which they belong.
(e) The Sermon on the Mount-has suffered much at the hands of men. This Kingdom truth has been forced upon Christians in the Present Dispensation and consequently the Word of God has been made of none effect. To take truth that belongs to a Past and to a Future Dispensation and read it into the Present causes the world to notice the inconsistency caused by the past and future truth contradicting Present Truth.
The truth f o u n d in Matthew 5:1-7:29 belongs to a brief, past dispensation and to a future dispensation.
We call your attention to Plainer Words for May 15, 1970 entitled "Sermon on the Mount." The Lord has graciously given additional light on the truth of the Sermon on the Mount and the conclusion that we had drawn at that time must be altered. We would be u n f a i t h f u 1 to fail to point out that our
former conclusions were not in keeping with the content of the "Sermon." The writer is dedicated to teaching the Truth as he has light on it. It is recognized that the Lord leads us along and gives us additional light on the Scriptures as we faithfully discharge our responsibility. The "Sermon", we now see, does not relate to the constitution of the Kingdom. We had been of the opinion that the Lord Jesus laid down the rules by which He would administer the Kingdom as He sat on David's throne. A closer examination of the Beatitudes (5:1-12) reveals the fact that "mourning" and being "persecuted for righteousness sake" is mentioned. This is not truth for the Kingdom when the King is present. This is clearly truth relating to the time period while the King is in exile awaiting Israel's repentance.
A blessing is promised to those who are "reviled", "persecuted" and slandered falsely (5:11) for Christ's sake. A man may be in danger of "hellfire" (5:22) or the "judge" (5:25).
Space prohibits a detailed exposition of the "Sermon"; we will only highlight some thoughts and the interested student can carry the study further.
(1) When Christ reigns for a thousand years His earthly people will not be subject to persecution as they are said to be in Matthew 5:3-12, 44. This persecution is the mark of the absent Lord.
(2) The Kingdom is future in this sermon.
"Thy kingdom come Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). "They shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5). "They shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6).
"Many shall say unto Me in that day" (Matt.
(3) The "laws" of the Sermon are in effect as long as two pathways were open to man, the "strait" and the "narrow' ° and the "wide" and the "broad" (7:13-14). Few find the former and many go the route of the latter.
The two key thoughts in the Sermon on the Mount are Reward and Entry; that is, suffering in the absence of the King with a Reward of the Father and Entry into the Kingdom as a future compensation.
Charles H. Welch has given the structure of the Sermon on the Mount which opens up the teaching of the discourse.
A. 5:3-16. Reward.
B. 5:17. The Law and the Prophets.
C. 5:19-20. Entry into the Kingdom.
D. 5:21-44. But I say unto you. E. 5:45-48. The Perfect.
A. 6:1-7:11. Reward.
B. 7:12. The Law and the Prophets.
C. 7:13-23. Entry into the Kingdom.
D. 7:24-29. These Saying are Mine. E. 7:24. The Wise.
The "laws" of the Sermon on the Mount do not relate to the time when the Kingdom will be set up, but to the period that precedes the Kingdom, when suffering for Truth is weighed in the balances of
future Reward. It will be a time when those that are to enter the Kingdom are tried and tested and brought to a place where they are considered
perfect" in the sense of enduring hardship (Matt. 5:48).
(f) The Lord's Prayer-(Matt. 6:9-13) Tradition has so designated this prayer as "The Lord's Prayer." Christendom the world over recites this prayer Sunday after Sunday. The constant repetition of "Our Father which art in heaven" does not make this suitable for today. The mere fact that Christians the world over are taught to pray this today does not make it any more acceptable to the "Father" than it does to pray for the "Father" not to destroy the world by a flood again.
To claim this as a model prayer for today is to show a total disregard for elementary principles the Lord has laid down in Scripture. This prayer occurs in the midst of the "Sermon on the Mount." It was given to OT Jews, under the Law, who were looking for the literal fulfillment of
O.T. prophecy regarding the restoration of the Kingdom. It i s related to Kingdom truth; not Church truth.
This is a prayer suitable for a future time when God again will pick up His dealings with Israel where He left off at Acts 28. The disciples are told to pray "after this manner." This is clearly related to the Kingdom since they are told to pray for "the Kingdom to come."
The doctrinal application is: the prayer is truth given in a Past Dispensation which skips over the Present and
will find its place in the Future Dispensation. Israel's remnant will follow this prayer pattern in the Great
Tribulation. They will pray for the literal Kingdom to come so
that God's will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. After the Church, "which is His Body", is received up
into Glory there will be a remnant of Israel and they will begin to undergo tremendous persecution which intensifies
under the power and a u t h o r i t y of the Beast. During the reign of the Beast in the Great Tribulation, there will be
the great boycott (of which all others have been but a dress rehearsal) of Revelation 13:17 where none can buy or sell
except they have the mark of the Beast. When the "abomination of desolation" (Matt. 24:15) takes place in
Jerusalem, the remnant will flee to the wilderness and there "Daily Bread" will be miraculously provided for them as
it was when Israe1 came out of the land of Egypt (Mic. 7:14-15; Hos. 2:14-15; Rev. 12:6). For more information see Plainer Words for October 15, 1970, "The Feeding of the 5,000."
Continuous recitation of this Tribulation Prayer in the Dispensation of the grace of God turns out to be the very thing the Lord Jesus w a r n e d about - "vain repetition" (Matt. 6:7) .
(g) The Priesthood-Much false doctrine is connected with assuming that there is a priesthood in this present Dispensation. To assume so is the result of two basic mistakes: (1) wrongly dividing the Word of Truth and (2) not dividing it at all. The Roman Church is guilty of the latter and Protestants are guilty of the former in order to refute the error of the Roman Church. Rome makes an erroneous claim as to their authority for the priestcraft; the Protestant's argument against Rome's claim is as erroneous as Rome's claim.
It should be noted that the Word of God recognizes no priesthood during this Present Dispensation. The priesthood was to be the nation of Israel. In Exodus 19:5-6 God entered into a conditional promise with Israel. If Israel would keep the law, God would make of them,
"a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: .. . and ye (Israel) shall be unto Me a
kingdom of priests, and an holy nation."
This was conditional upon Israel obeying the voice of the Lord and keeping His covenant. This was a true promise and prophecy for Israel in a Past Dispensation. But before this could be fulfilled, Israel broke the covenant. Hence, God selected the tribe of Levi to substitute for the nation. The national fulfillment of this promise still awaits fulfillment until such time as Israel is restored. As long as God is dealing with the Church of the One Body, those promises and prophecies connected with and relating to Israel are yet in abeyance.
Present Truth makes no mention of priests or priesthood. The prison epistles are silent on the subject. Ortho, doxy wrongly divides and goes to 1 Peter 2:4-10 and claims all believers in this age are priests. They fail to see to whom Peter addressed his epistle; it is written to the believing Jews "scattered throughout Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia" (1 Pet. 1:1). Thus, when 1 Peter is read you realize when he says "ye" he means the "dispersed Jews", not Gentiles who are members of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head. When Peter wrote to the believing Israelites who had been "scattered" he could apply Exodus 19:6 to them as it could never be applied to us. Peter in 2:5 calls the believing Israelites who were anticipating the soon coming King and Kingdom "an holy priesthood." Inverse 9 he says "ye (Israelites) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people." They were priests in a spiritual sense awaiting the actual fulfillment at the second advent when Christ "makes us (Israelites) kings and priests unto God..." (Rev. 1:6). The faithful Jewish saints that come out of the Great Tribulation shall reign with the Lord Jesus Christ on earth as kings and priests (Rev. 5:9) . Rome robs the faithful remnant of its blessings, which are yet future, and applies Revelation 5:9 to their priesthood now; thus claiming to reign in political affairs and have authority in spiritual matters (i.e. kings and priests). This is robbery! The Protestants, in order to counteract Rome's thievery, wrongly divide the Word of Truth and says that the Church will reign on earth as kings and priests in the millennium. These two errors have made "Christendom" into a Babylon, "a hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (Rev. 18:2).
The Church of the One Body finds no priesthood in its calling since each member is "complete in Christ" (Col. 1:10), "accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:6) and "made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col. 1:12).
Those in this age that suffer with Christ find their crown and throne "Far above all Heavens" (2 Tim. 2:12; Eph. 4:10). The Church of the One Body finds no place on earth to reign; to say so would be to rob the remnant of her promises. The C h u r c h of the One Body's sphere of blessing and operation will be "in heavenly places" (Eph. 1:3; 2:6-7).
Truth belonging to the Past and Future Dispensations must be rightly divided; when this is done regarding the priesthood, the dust settles and we get truth instead of error.
(h) Baptism-This ordinance has caused endless controversies and divisions and countless strifes and contentions. These remain a constant source of antagonism among varied sects and denominations. The reason for the disagreement is a historic one. The Apostle Paul acknowledged that ALL MEN HAVE FORSAKEN HIM and the body of truth that he delivered as "a prisoner of the Lord." In 2 Timothy he makes known that the Truth concerning the Mystery was forsaken. Paul, as the chosen vessel appointed by Christ Jesus to generate Truth for this present Dispensation, lived to see "all they which are in Asia be turned away" from PRESENT TRUTH. Thus confusion, darkness, strife, contention and error replaced the bond of peace.
The "bond of peace" bound believers together in this Dispensation as long as they KEPT THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT (Eph. 4:3). When believers failed to earnestly and diligently "endeavor to keep the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT" the "bond of peace" gave way to the splintering devises of the "commandments and doctrines of men" (Col. 2:22).
The UNITY which the Spirit of God established for the Dispensation of the Grace of God calls for the member of the Church, the Body of Christ, to "keep" (i.e. watch over it, to take care of) it. As long as the saints guarded the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT the Church enjoyed the
BOND OF PEACE. However, before the Apostle Paul died, the Church allowed error to be inserted into the Divinely established UNITY. The result-division.
We are not called upon to make a unity; it is already made. We are called upon to "walk worthy" -and keep the unity. Failure to keep it results in walking unworthily. The Unity of the Spirit speaks about the ONENESS that the Spirit of God has established during this Present Dis pensation. Ephesians 4:4-6 enumerates that there is one hope, one Lord, one faith,
one baptism, and one God and Father of all. The question of baptism would clear up if believers would recognize PRESENT TRUTH and insist upon KEEPING THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT. Ephesians 4 clearly states that there is in this Dispensation ONE BAPTISM. If believers would endure sound doctrine and not turn their ears away from the Truth, they could see that there is but ONE BAPTISM. If they follow the principles of "right division" as commanded in 2 Timothy 2:15 they would realize the necessity of keeping the ONE BAPTISM. One Baptism is certainly not two. Most all orthodox Christians recognize two baptisms: one being physical, the other being spiritual and the former being an outward expression of the latter. Of course, this is two baptisms, not one. Scripture insists that there is ONE BAPTISM, not two and we are instructed that this ONENESS of Ephesians 4 is to be guarded or watched over. To insist that two baptisms are one is a gross mistake in basic arithmetic; one
plus one is two not one.
It behooves the believer to "keep" the ONE BAPTISM. Failure to do so betrays a Divinely given trust. The Scriptures speak of various baptisms. Each served its purpose in the age in which it was found.
John the Baptist came baptizing with water. He baptized Christ to make Him manifest to Israel. John spoke of Christ baptizing with the Holy Ghost while he baptized with water (see John 1:19-34).
The Lord Je sus said in Acts 1:5, ' ° For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." So we notice that in John 1 and in Acts 1 there are two baptisms, one in water and one in spiritual water (i.e. the Holy Ghost);
In Matthew 28 the Lord speaks of a baptism when Israel is restored and becomes a "kingdom of priests", they will teach all nations, "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." This will be Israel's Millennial commission. This certainly could not be the ONE BAPTISM of this Present Dispensation.
Mark 16:15-16 says that the disciples should go into all the world and preach the gospel of the Kingdom to every creature. Those who believe and are baptized shall be saved. Those who believe and are
baptized (i.e. in water) shall have "signs following them."
The commission in Mark 16 is carried forward from Acts 2 to Acts 28. Signs followed them that believed and
were baptized. John the Baptist baptized with material water. During the Book of Acts believers were baptized with
material water as well as the Holy Ghost (i.e. spiritual water); for in Acts 10, Cornelius was baptized with "power
from on high" (Lu. 24:44) and spoke in tongues (Acts 10:48). Those who were baptized in Acts 19 also spoke in
tongues (v. 6). In Romans 6:3 Paul speaks of "as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ."
It becomes clear that John's baptism could have been considered one baptism. But certainly not the baptisms during the Book of Acts; for during the Pentecostal Dispensation there was baptism in water and in Spirit. This cannot be called ONE BAPTISM. If we can treat two baptisms as one then we can also treat two Lords as one, two faiths as one, two Gods as one, two bodies as one and etc. Thus, the Unity of the Spirit has absolutely no meaning.
The Dispensation of the Mystery speaks of ONE BAPTISM. In order for the believer to guard the unity of the ONE BAPTISM he must of necessity know what is the
one baptism. It ought to be obvious to our reader that water baptism is not THE ONE BAPTISM; for those who practice water baptism admit that it is only a shadow or a type of another baptism. Those who baptize with or in water admit by practicing the ordinance they are not endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit because they acknowledge two baptisms.
There are those today who pretend to keep the unity of the Spirit, but they too fail to rightly divide. Those who believe the Church of the Mystery began at Acts 9 or Acts 13 make a glaring mistake in explaining the ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4. The brethren who start the Church during the Book of Acts build a good case proving that water baptism was truth connected with a Past Dispensation. They attempt
to phase out Kingdom truth, and bring Present Truth in gradually. This is their first mistake. Kingdom truth ends abruptly. Present Truth is brought in as soon as Paul makes known the revelation of the Mystery in Ephesians. The Acts 9 and 13 men in reality are Baptists with the water taken away from them. They are "dry Baptist." This is seen by their mistakes in assuming that the ONE BAPTISM is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13. "For by one Spirit
are we all baptized into one body . . . and have all been made to drink into one
Spirit." This points to a baptism which is not in or with material water but it points to a
baptism with spiritual water: ° "have all been made to drink into one Spirit." Drinking into one Spirit has to do with
"spiritual gifts°" and that is the context of 1 Corinthians 12. The Acts 9 and 13 brethren claim the ONE BAPTISM
of Ephesians 4 is the baptism that spiritually places the believer into the Church which is His Body. Their proof
text for this is 1 Corinthians 12:13. However, these men are not drinking of the Spirit; if they were they would
manifest "spiritual gifts" such as tongues, healing, interpretation of tongues, supernatural knowledge, discerning of
Spirits and etc. (read all of 1 Cor. 12). The same Spirit that baptizes in 1 Corinthians 12:13 also gives one of the
nine spiritual gifts to "every man" (v. 11). This cannot possibly be the "ONE BAPTISM" of Ephesians 4.
The second mistake these men make is that they ignore the baptism that is found in the prison epistles. The ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4 should be compared with the baptism Paul speaks of in his prison testimony. Paul makes mention of a baptism in Colossians 2:12. The ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4:5 refers to the vital union of the believer with the death and resurrection of the Lord. This then, must of necessity be the ONE BAPTISM that we are to keep. Let's compare the baptism of 1 Corinthians 12 with the one in Colossians 2.
1 Cor. 12:13
" For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and
have all been made to drink into one Spirit."
" Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead."
It should be perfectly obvious that the two references do not refer to the same operation. Since the one in 1 Corinthians 12 refers to baptism into a body and the one in Colossians 2 refers to a death baptism, so then God must be true and every man a liar for we see that these two are different and not the same. The proponents of the Acts 9 or 12 persuasion now stand in the ranks of others who fail to "rightly divide" for they attempt to make these two baptisms one. Ephesians 4:5 states that there is ONE BAPTISM. It is nothing less than self-deception to make ONE read TWO. When the Dispensation changed at Acts 28:28 the only baptism that figures in the Unity of the Spirit is the ONE BAPTISM of the ONE SPIRIT.
Colossians emphasizes the fact that ordinances no longer exist. In fact, they have been blotted out (Col. 2:14) . Ordinances have to do with the flesh and find no place in the Mystery which was revealed to the Apostle Paul in the Prison Epistles. In the new calling of the Mystery the new doctrine of the ONE BAPTISM was brought in. When the Word of Truth is cleared of all the confusion on baptism the "traditions of men" are torn up by the roots. While many sincerely think they are following the Word of God they are in reality following the "commandments and doctrines of men" (Col. 2:22); failing all along to divide the Word of Truth rightly.
The UNITY OF THE SPIRIT forbids addition or subtraction. The member of the One Body who seeks to WALK WORTHY will leave the results with God.
To remind the reader we will restate the second rule that we are considering.
TRUTH THAT BELONGS TO A PAST DISPENSATION
MUST NOT BE READ INTO OR INTERPRETED OF THE PRESENT.
(i) The prophecy of Amos-The quotation of the prophecy of Amos 9:11-12 in Acts 15:14-18 is a dead giveaway that the Church which is His Body was not in exist
ence when James said that the words of the prophets "agreed with this." The Church of the Mystery was NOT the subjects of prophecy, therefore Amos 9 could not have reference to the Mystery. This prophecy was spoken and written in a PAST Dispensation and is to receive its fulfillment in the FUTURE.
When James quoted the prophet Amos in the Council at Jerusalem, the Mystery was still "hid in God" (Eph. 3:9). Thus, Acts 15 is not PRESENT TRUTH. The "day" spoken of is the "Lord's Day" (i.e. the millennium). It is the day when Jehovah will "bring again the captivity of my people Israel and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them" (v. 14).
Peter reminded those present at the Council that it was he that God had selected to go to the Gentile - "that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe" (Acts 15:7). In Verse 12 Paul and Barnabus declare all the "miracles and wonders that God had wrought among the Gentiles by them." After this, James steps up and says Gentile blessing in association with Israel was in agreement with the words of the prophets. Our reader should recognize by now that Gentiles are not receiving their blessings TODAY in association with Israel. The Gentile during the Acts economy was blessed with Israel in miniature, foreshadowing the "day" when Israel would indeed be a channel of blessing to the Gentile nations.
Thus, it should be very clear that Scripture written in the Past and referring to the Future must not be read into the Present Dispensation of the Mystery, which was "hid in God from the beginning of the world."
(j) The New Covenant-by its very name suggests that it is the replacement of one that could be referred to as an Old Covenant. The name "new" suggests that it is in contrast with "old." As we consider the New Covenant we need to keep before us the premise that truth written
in the Past and relating to a fulfillment in the Future must not be read or interpreted of the Present Dispensation.
Covenants pertained to Israel. Gentiles, as such, never entered into any covenant relationship with Jehovah. Israel was Jehovah's covenant people. The covenants were made with the "fathers" of Israel. Romans 9:4 says to Israel "pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and
THE COVENANTS." The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:12 speaks of the Gentiles' dispensational disadvantage when he says, "at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from
THE COVENANTS of promise." Covenants relate to the nation of Israel, and are associated with Kingdom Truth, not Present Truth of the Mystery. Notice references to covenants and their associations.
"But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles . . . and 1 will direct their work in truth, and 1 will make an
everlasting COVENANT with them" (Isa. 61:6, 8).
The whole context in Isaiah 61 deals with Israel during the "day of vengence" (v. 2) and the millennium when Gentiles as strangers and aliens shall feed Israel's flocks and be their plowmen. It is then that the EVERLASTING COVENANT will be enforced. This covenant is called a "new Covenant" in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Notice to whom this NEW COVENANT is to be made with.
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a NEW COVENANT with the
HOUSE OF ISRAEL, and with the HOUSE OF JUDAH: Not according to the covenant (i.e. old) that 1 made with their fathers in the day that 1 took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; . . . But this shall be the covenant that
I will make with the HOUSE OF ISRAEL (not the Church of the Mystery). ..I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they (i.e. Israel) shall be My people" (Jer. 31:3133).
In Jeremiah 32:37-40 mention is made to the fact that God will gather Israel out of all the nations and will bring them into the land again where they will dwell safely, and in reality be God's people. He will give them one heart, and one way and He will establish with Israel "an everlasting
COVENANT." This deals with Israel's restoration during the millennium when the NEW COVENANT will be in full force.
Jeremidh again refers to "In those days" and "in that time" shall the children of Israel and Judah "seek the Lord their God" they will join themselves to God with "a perpetual
COVENANT" (Jer. 50:4-5).
In the NT occurrences of the word COVENANT are referred to as TESTAMENT.
"And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it: For this is My b l o o d of the
NEW TESTAMENT, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:27-28).
"And He said unto them, This is My blood of the NEW TESTAMENT, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you,
I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the Kingdom of God" (Mk. 14:24-25).
Notice that in Matthew 26:29 as well as in Mark 14:25 the NEW TESTAMENT is connected with the KINGDOM which is a reference to Israel's restoration. This is very vividly brought out in the account of the same event in Luke's gospel (Read Luke 22:7-20).
It is noted that the eating of the bread and drinking of the cup is vitally connected with the Jewish feast of the Passover; for the Lord Jesus says in Luke 22:15: "With desire I have desired to eat this PASSOVER with you before I suffer." Then in Verses 19-20 He took bread and and He gave thanks saying, "This is My body which is given for you: this do in rememberance of Me. Likewise,
also, the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the NEW TESTAMENT in My blood, which is shed for you." What the Passover was to the old covenant, the Lord's supper is to the new covenant.
Continuing reading in Luke 22:29-30 it is observed that the Lord's table is associated with the
Kingdom and the Twelve sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. The next reference to the NEW TESTAMENT or COVENANT is in 1 Corinthians 11:25 where Paul tells the Corinthian church what he had received from the Lord concerning the night He was betrayed.
"After the same manner also He took the cup,
when He had supped, saying, This cup is the NEW TESTAMENT in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me."
Verse 26 says that as "often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup ye do shew forth the Lord's death
TILL HE COME." This shows that the NEW TESTAMENT is connected with the
COMING of Christ to establish His Kingdom. The Apostle makes mention again of the NEW TESTAMENT in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6.
"But our sufficiency is of God; Who bath made us able ministers of the NEW TESTAMENT."
In this chapter Paul compares the glory of the "old testament" (v. 14) which "is done away in Christ" with the glory of the NEW TESTAMENT. Thus we see that Paul, during the Book of Acts, considered himself an "able minister of the
NEW TESTAMENT." Of course this presupposes that there was an OLD which we learn "in Christ" is done away.
Many students of the Word recognize that it is hard to connect Paul with the New Testament since it was made with Israel and in light of what he subsequently reveals in the Prison Epistles. A point in fact is noticed in the Scofield Reference Bible where in the marginal references the occurrences of the "new covenant" and "new testament" are given, the two references in 2 Corinthians are omitted.
Hebrews 7:22 speaks of a "better testament" and of course, the new was better than the old. In the eighth chapter of Hebrews we note that Paul mentions a "better covenant which was established upon better promises" than the first covenant. He restates that the new covenant was to be made with the House of Israel and Judah (v. 8)..
During the Acts period a remnant was operating under the NEW COVENANT awaiting the national repentance of Israel; for when that would happen God would put His laws in their hearts and minds and He would remember their iniquities no more. THEN would be brought to pass that "A
new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and
waxeth old is ready to vanish away." (8:13).
In Hebrews 9:15 Christ is said to be the Mediator of the "new testament", that the transgressions under the first (i.e. the old) testament might be redeemed. Verses 16-17 reminds the reader that where a testament is there must be the death of the testator; for as long as the testator lives the testament is not in force.
In summary what we have is this: while Israel was not repentant during the Acts period the old covenant was not abolished for the n a t i o n; for the NEW COVENANT had simply been superimposed over the OLD
only for individuals who believed. The NEW was to be established officially when the Lord returned and set up the Kingdom.
The foregoing should indicate to the reader that the NEW COVENANT is connected with:
(1) The Millennial Kingdom
(2) The House of Israel and the House of Judah
(3) The Passover
(4) The Lord's Supper
(5). Twelve Thrones
(6) "Till He come"
All of which is truth written in a Past Dispensation relating to a brief period of the Past and will find ultimate fulfillment in a Future Dispensation. COVENANT TRUTH is not PRESENT TRUTH for the Church of the One Body.