"THE DIVINE PLAN"
By S. Van Mierlo
We believe that it will be helpful to first present a summary of our work, "The Divine Plan;" which provides
an overall view of the ages and the role of the people of Israel.
The Word of God accepted simply, as it is given to us, forms a unity without contradictions and makes known to us the Divine Plan.
Before any creation, God is. It is through the Image of God, also called "Son of God," that everything was created. The Son of God is Mediator in all things: creation, redemption, perfection.
The creature is good but not perfect (since it is not God). God wants to bring it freely to perfection. The creature is thus free and can make good or bad use of its freedom depending on whether it observes or ignores the will of God.
Creation comprises five ages (or eons). The living conditions and the laws differ completely from one eon to the other, but some correlation exists between the first and the fifth, and between the second and the fourth.
God, through His Son, freely creates free beings, thereby showing His perfection. Some beings draw away from God, thus falling into sin, and some even rise against Him. Satan (the Adversary), a cherub fallen through pride, plays the principal role in this senseless revolt. But God wills that the creature attain its destiny.
After the chaos comes the reconstruction in six days. Adam is created in the Image of God and thus resembles the Son. He receives the grace necessary to have dominion aver the sea, the sky, and the earth, and to be king. But, above all, he must freely take up his position by accomplishing God's will. He misses his goal because of the seduction of Satan who wants to prevent the realization of the Kingdom on earth (A heavenly Kingdom, however, because it was instituted in heaven). Adam is thus deprived of the glory of God, he is separated from the source of Life (spiritual death). There only remains a remnant of bodily life: he is "dying," as will all those who come from him.
The earth is cursed. Man has not only become enemy of God, but also enemy of creation.
The fallen angels (and their progeny) corrupt the earth. The flood partially removes this corruption, Noah and his family remain.
This is the "age" in which we live; it is called "the present evil age" and Satan is its god.
God intends to accomplish His Plan. He places the earth and the sea in the hands of Noah, then chooses Shem, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to serve as instruments of restoration and bring about the Kingdom. Satan reacts continually.
Abraham receives the promise of earthly and heavenly blessings: he will have two posterities.
God chooses a people from among the nations: Israel, elected to serve in bringing about the regeneration of the world, but who first must themselves be regenerated, i.e. enter into spiritual communion with God.
In order that this people realizes their state of sin and freely turns to God and be regenerated by Him, God indicates what He wishes, and teaches Israel what is good: He gives them the Law. This Law is based on His general Will with regard to all creature, but its special form is applicable only to Israel, particularly in that which concerns the ceremonies. By the Old Covenant, God requires that the Law be executed exactingly. The elected people miss their goal by attempting to do God's will by their own efforts; they should have had recourse to Divine grace.
All the history of Israel shows how this people have always tended to turn to idols, and demonstrates the patience of God who wants to bring His people, freely, to recognize their sin and repent. The Adversary continuously intervenes in order to prevent the coming of the Kingdom and the regeneration of the world.
Thus God has created a People, a Land (Canaan), a City (Jerusalem). For the Kingdom to come, it only lacked the repentance of Israel. The prophets remind the people of the Divine promises and foretell the blessings which will come on earth when the Messiah will be King.
Finally, the Son Himself, divesting Himself of His glory and coming in likeness to men, comes on earth in humility, and is obedient unto death on the cross. He resolves the insoluble problem: to reconcile the love and the justice of God, to enable the sinful creature incapable of doing good to enter into spiritual communion with God. He makes possible forgiveness, justification, reconciliation, and the sanctification of the sinner. He does not establish a new religion, but He enables the realization of the Divine Plan.
Jesus Christ addresses the chosen people, shows by His actions that He is their King, and calls for their repentance so that the Kingdom may come on earth. Miracles and signs confirm that the Kingdom is near. He chooses 12 Apostles (the Apostles of the circumcision) who will be seated on 12 thrones to guide the 12 tribes of Israel in this Kingdom. The nation of Israel will form a visible Church.
The Christ establishes the New Covenant with Israel (of which the prophets had spoken), in accordance with which the Law, i.e the Divine Will concerning them, could be accomplished by grace. Through their repentance, men can obtain forgiveness of sins, and through their faith in Jesus Christ, eonian (eternal) life., i.e. life on earth during the coming eon.
Some turn to Him, but the people as a whole reject Him and cause Him to be crucified. All seems lost, yet the cross is the only means for arriving at the restoration and the final goal: God all in all.
Through His resurrection out of the dead, Jesus Christ was declared with power to be the Son of God. Grace now abounds. God has condemned and reconciled the world in Him.
After the cross, Israel is not rejected. The 12 Apostles again insist on the need for repentance and on the coming of the Kingdom. This Kingdom, by which the next eon would begin, is characterized by world-wide regeneration, is still "near," as proven by the external signs: miracles, healings, angelic interventions, etc. The Law and the ceremonies are meticulously observed by the Jews, even those who believe in Christ. (The Jews, in fact, do not cease to be Jews when they believe in Christ, but can then be truly Jews and accomplish the Law through grace).
At Pentecost, the ancient promises made to Israel begin to be realized. Not until 10 years later does the Divine Word begin to be addressed to the Gentiles who partake of Israel's blessings in conformity with the prophecies.
Meanwhile Paul, who is not included among the Twelve, is converted. He first addresses himself to the Jews, but because of their hardening-which will prevent the Messiah's coming and the Kingdom on earth, thus also the blessing of the nations through Israel-the Apostle of the Gentiles opens a new Way based upon the heavenly Abrahamic blessings. He thus begins to proclaim a new message: justification by faith. This good news surpasses that of the Apostles of the circumcision (i.e. regeneration) and already aims at the conditions of the fifth eon. This proclamation, in a way anticipated, has the partial objective of provoking Israel, through jealousy, into accepting their privileges.
The Jews successively reject their Messiah in the great centers, and gradually Paul's message increases in importance. A last attempt is made by Paul at Rome (Acts 28), but here again the people will not listen. Israel is temporarily set aside as God's people, and any possibility of an early coming of the Kingdom disappears; at the same time all external signs (including the special, spiritual, visible gifts) announcing the Kingdom ceased. All that relates to Israel, such as the observation of the Law, the formation of a visible Church, the religious ceremonies instituted by God, also ceases. There is a radical change in dispensation which it is extremely important to reckon with when reading what was written before this date: for example, the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and Thessalonians. The parts of personal application in these messages remain, but all that applies to that dispensation now is past and ceases to be applicable today. Pentecostal gifts, in particular, do not apply to us.
Is this the failure of the Divine Plan? No! Paul, imprisoned, now proclaims a new message, unknown at any previous time and revealed to him only, concerning the great mystery: the Body of Christ of which Christ Himself is the Head. In spirit, we can already, individually reach the perfect position corresponding to the final goal of the Divine Plan: God all in all. The complete way of salvation is now known: natural man must become (small) child of God (new birth), then "son" of God (new creation-justification), and finally become perfect man. The present dispensation is thus that of the Church of the Mystery. It begins after the time of Acts, and will end before the restoration of Israel as the people of God and the coming of "the day of the Lord" which ends the present eon. During all of this period there is a break in the realization of the prophecies, our dispensation having been completely unknown to the prophets.
Israel passes through the great tribulation, repents, and the Lord comes in glory. This is the moment of the transformation of living believers and the resurrection of the dead.
All the kingdoms of the world are given to Christ Who only now seizes His great power and takes up His reign. He is King of all the earth. Satan is bound for 1,000 years.
The Son of man is sitting on the throne of His glory, and the 12 Apostles are sitting on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. It is the "renewing" (the regeneration), the time of refreshing of all things, of which God spoke in ancient times through the mouth of His holy prophets. Israel now occupies the promised land, from the Nile to the Euphrates, and all the nations are blessed in Abraham. The Christian Jews form the Church of Christ on earth, a visible unity. Creation is delivered from bondage to sin. The earth has regained its normal fruitfulness; the nature of animals has changed, the duration of life has greatly increased. Satan being bound up, it is an era of justice and peace. The Temple at Jerusalem is the center of worship of Israel who faithfully observe the Law through grace; the New Covenant with this people is accomplished and leads them to the heavenly sphere.
After the 1,000 years Satan is released for a short time. He seduces the nations and is thrown in the lake of fire and brimstone. Those who have not taken part in one of the previous resurrections appear before the great white throne to be judged; they receive the punishment they deserve All enemies are finally placed under the feet of the Son.
In summary, we see on earth Israel and the regenerated (children of God) nations, in heaven the justified ones (the sons of God), and in the above-heavens those who have arrived at the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, demonstrating the infinite richness of the grace of God.
During this eon Christ reigns as King, and at the end gives the Kingdom to the Father and reigns with Him.
This is the eon of the new creation. All the conditions are again changed radically, including the physical laws. It is "the day of God:" All that related to Adam, to the old humanity has now passed away, engulfed by the new humanity. All creation is absorbed by the heavenly sphere, except for those who are, so to speak, already outside creation in the above heavenly sphere.
The new Jerusalem comes down from heaven. Words cannot describe the glory of this age. One can, however, say that there is no sea, no suffering, no night and day, no death, no Temple, no curse, no sin. God dwells with men, Christ reigns with the Father.
Creation has been brought to the state it was in the first eon, but with this difference: it has learned, through God's infinite grace and the Son's sacrifice, to make good use of its freedom. In this way can creation attain perfection.
God all in all. God has reached His goal, and in so doing has achieved the impossible: He has increased His glory by creating and perfecting His creature. He is all in all. There is, therefore, no more Mediator, King, Priest. The Son has accomplished His work and possesses the glory which was His before His humiliation. The creature, through its communion with the Son, is raised with Him: it has reached perfect love, absolute freedom, by freely accepting God's will and thus forms a glorious unity.