The Concept

of

Circularity

PREFACE

Today the Spirit of God is moving mightily upon the face of the earth as in the early beginnings of time bringing forth a new creation order. God has always been sufficient for every age because it is He Who is the originator, sustainer and culminator of all history. How good to realize that the creation and present world order is moving ever onward and upward in a spiritual evolution to the great Omega point where everything shall find its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the fullness that fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:23). The prophet Isaiah declared,

"Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people: But the Lord shall arise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you." (Isaiah 60:1,2). May these brief chapters be helpful to the serious inquirer for truth.

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HUMAN DESTINY

A brief study on some of the concepts dealing with this life and the life to come.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Only that day dawns to which we are awake."

--HENRY DAVID THOREAU

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The Concept of Circularity

CHAPTER ONE

NE OF THE MOST sweeping statements by St. Paul is that "all things are of God." (Romans 11:36). A more literal examination of Paul’s statement is that "all things are out of God." Not only in Romans is this statement made, but we have this statement reiterated in I Corinthians 8:6, 15:12, II Corinthians 5:18, Ephesians 1:11 and in Hebrews 2:10. Perhaps the most pungent "spiritual" nugget of this truth is given us by Paul in Romans 11:36, Amplified Version, as stated: "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him. To Him be Glory forever, Amen."

Was the Apostle Paul careless and too bold in these utterances or did he mean what he said to be taken literally and at full strength? Was Paul seeking to give us a theology of the concept of circularity? And, if so, was Paul trying to reveal the truth as given him by Jesus in his Arabian experience? (Galatians 1:17). Was this truth too much even for Peter? Peter states in II Peter 3:16, "There are some things in those (Epistles of Paul) that are difficult to understand." While Peter saw grace for his own people, Paul saw grace for all. And not only did Paul see the marvelous love and grace of God for all men, but Paul saw the "Apokatastasis" for all. Apokatastasis is the Greek word for restoration. Paul saw all of mankind being restored in the time or ages to come.

"That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ both which are in Heaven and which are on earth; even in Him." (Ephesians 1:10, KJV).

Jesus Christ is both the CENTER and the CIRCUMFERENCE of God’s great plan of the ages. Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of our faith, He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1:8). Jesus is involved in all the distance between the beginning and the ending.

All nature is a manifestation of "circularity." In Ecclesiastes 1:5-7, we read, "The sun also arises, and the sun goes down, and hastes to his place where he arose. The wind goes toward the south, then turns about unto the north; it whirls about continually, and the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, there to they shall return again."

Astrometry and knowledgeable astronomers state that in this vast universe of ours, if an object was projected from one part of the universe, eventually it would return to the original source. Even the concept of circularity is seen in space.

In this concept of circularity, we see God as the First and Only Cause. There are no second causes. God has all things under His control. The negative and evil forces are allowed by Him to accomplish His purpose. In the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, Paul shows how God chose Abraham, God chose Isaac, God chose Jacob and not Esau, God chose Moses and God chose the Pharaoh. To Pharaoh God says that I chose you to show forth My Power. Romans 9:19, and following, deals with the Power of God to make a vessel for His Honor and one for His dishonor (ordinary use). God allowed the brethren of Joseph to deal harshly with him, to sell him into slavery and eventually to a place of honor in Egypt as the minister of agriculture. In this role, Joseph was used by God to feed the hungry world of that day.

The sovereignty of God is mentioned by Paul in Roman s 13:1, "For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained (ordered) of God." God can raise up men and abase them. God raised up Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and had spoken to him many times through Daniel and other faithful Jews. Yet the king’s pride brought a punishment on him which God had foretold -- madness. Later, when his sanity was restored, Nebuchadnezzar finally bowed in humility to worship the Lord.

In the life of Samson, we find a man dedicated to the Lord from before his birth to be a Nazarite, fully separated unto the Lord. When Samson grew up, he saw a woman in Timnath, a Philistine, and Samson asked his parents to obtain her to be his wife. This hurt his parents deeply. Samson was to marry one of his own kind. The scriptures declare that "his mother and father knew not that this was of the Lord". (Judges 14:4). God put His approval on Samson’s choice, even though their Jewish mind set would look at Samson’s choice as contrary to the will of the Lord.

When Israel became a nation, they had King Saul, King David and King Solomon. After the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam was asked to reduce the yoke of heavy taxes. He rejected the council of the older men and the people, and the Kingdom was divided. We read these words from II Chronicles 10:15, "So the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was of God, that the Lord might perform His Word.. ." And when the ten northern tribes refused the kingship of Rehoboam, and made Jeroboam their king, Rehoboam gathered His army to go and bring them back under his control. But God sent a messenger to him saying, "Thus says the Lord, you shall not go up nor fight against your brethren; return every man to his house: FOR THIS THING IS DONE OF ME." (II Chronicles 11:4).

The concept of circularity deals also with segments of time. Certain theologians speak of these eras as dispensations. Some go so far as saying there was a dispensation of conscience with Adam and Eve; then came the dispensation of the Law. When Christ came, there was now a dispensation of Grace from God to us in Christ. Another term for dispensations could be a time of an era. Today it is common to speak of the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt as the Roosevelt years or the era of the New Deal. We speak of the Truman era, the Kennedy era, etc. DIVINE CAUSE stands behind the whole process! A purpose in division and a purpose in dispersion; all for the Glory of God. Paul refers to this division and dispersion in Romans 11 as God’s plan to fulfill His purpose in the coming ages. "God has not cast away His people, which He foreknew, blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the nations come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: for God has concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." (Romans 11:2, 25-26. 32).

In our own lives, God has allowed the good and the bad. Both work for our good under His control. The weapon which He allows to be formed against us will not prosper, but God will use the entire situation for our spiritual good. (Isaiah 54:16-17), "Behold, I have created the smith that blows the coals in the fire, and that brings forth an instrument for his work; I have created the waster to destroy. But no weapon formed against you shall prosper. this is the heritage of the Lord’s servants."

God is the Father of spirits, for "God is Spirit", (John 4:24). And in His wise counsels, He purposes that myriads of His spirit in us be developed and matured; brought to a place of perfection whereby He can have full fellowship with them. He prunes us, he places us in the furnace of affliction. (Isaiah 48:10).

The whole present cosmos, world system, is in a state of degeneration, going into a state of decay and corruption. But the hour is coming when things shall change and God will begin a work of re-generation. Jesus spoke of that time saying, "IN THE REGENERATION when the Son of Man shall sit in the Throne of His Glory." (Matthew 19:28). This will mark the time of the beginning of the times when all things will be restored to their pristine (original) glory. (Acts 3:21).

Paul mentions in I Corinthians 15:22 and following, the way of mankind in God’s plan or circularity. In verse 22, Paul says, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Who is in Adam? All of us -- past, present and future. All those in Adam are the same all in Christ. In geometry there is a theorem, "things equal to the same things are equal to each other." Thus, the all in Adam are the all in Christ. The first Adam brought death to humanity, the Second Adam (Christ) brings life to all. What is the secret of all of us coming into the life-giving Spirit of Christ? The answer is in verse 23, "but every man (person) in his own order." God has an order for us to receive that life-spirit of Christ. God ordained that Paul, in God’s time, would come in on his way to Damascus. You and I came to this life-giving spirit at God’s appointed time in our lives. In verse 24, Paul says, "then comes the end". The end when all people have come into this life-giving spirit; in this age and in the ages to come. In verse 27, we read, "that when all things are put under the Lord Jesus, then shall the Lord Jesus be fully manifest that He is the accepted One. The Lord Jesus is not fully manifested as the Savior of all men yet, but when the ages are finished, Christ will deliver to the Father redeemed humanity that God might be all in all. When Christ delivers this redeemed total humanity to the Father, then the Father will honor the Son Who has put all things under His feet (Christ’s feet). When the Lord Jesus has subdued all things under Him and in Him, then this jewel (redeemed humanity) will be presented to the Father and the ages will cease and eternity will begin.

This plan of God contained in the concept of circularity is described by Paul in Ephesians 3:11, "According to a plan of the ages which He made in the Anointed Jesus our Lord." (Rotherham’s Version).

CHAPTER TWO

The Concept of Time

T IS INTERESTING to note that much confusion regarding time and the theology of man’s destiny centers around the Greek word "aeonios." When the Greek word, "aeonios" is translated as eternal, then we see the destiny of men as in one state of being after death as eternal.

The idea that all people will either be eternally with God and the rest will be eternally separated from God fractures the other teachings of God’s Word which state emphatically that eventually in the ages to come, God will unite all things in Christ Jesus. (I Corinthians 16:24 and Ephesians 1:10.

In Romans 1:16, Paul describes the Godhead as "eternal". The Greek word for that adjective for God is "aidios". "Eternal" is an excellent description for God. Clearly God has no beginning and no end. He neither sleeps nor ages. It matters not what men or devils say or do; God continues steadfast in His plan and purpose. With God there is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning". (James 1:17). God’s knowledge is perfect. "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the ages." (Acts 15:18).

Thus we can state that the ETERNAL GOD is the GOD of the AGES. Man lives in the ages, and when God has worked out a reconciliation with all mankind during the ages, then time will cease and eternity will come into being. In that day, God will be "all in all" and a universal restoration by the Power of God will be accomplished. (I Corinthians 15:28).

As we study the Scriptures, we can see the errors which will arise. In the Old Testament, the old covenant of the law is referred to as the "everlasting covenant". (Leviticus 24:8). The implication is that this covenant of the Law was to endure for eternity. Yet the New Testament records that the first covenant was "done away" and "abolished". (II Corinthians 3:11 and 13). The Aaronic priesthood is spoken of as "an everlasting priesthood". (Exodus 40:15). If "everlasting" meant "eternal", then the direct descendants of Aaron, and only they, would be allowed to function as priests for all time. Yet Hebrews 7:14-18, declares an end to the Aaronic priest. hood and announces a new priesthood after the order of Melchizedek or Christ. The Aaronic priesthood ceased when Christ came, and now Christ is our High Priest to Whom we go in times of need. "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession." In Jonah 2:6, the Scripture says that Jonah was in the belly of the fish "forever", yet we know that after a short "age", Jonah was cast forth from the fish. Exodus 21:6 states that a bond slave was to serve his master "forever", yet "forever" would end in death. God did not dwell in Solomon’s temple "forever" as recorded in I Kings 8:13.

In the Hebrew the word "forever" is "olam". William Wilson gives the meaning of "olam" in his Old Testament Studies, as a "duration of time which is concealed or hidden". Or simply stated, "olam" is an unknown length of time. Though certain pronouncements of God seemed to be long or even to have an indeterminable period of time, the sense and idea that it would come to an end was always there. This concurs with our New Testament texts which confirm that indeed these established practices were abolished and replaced with something better. Translated that the old covenant and its priesthood were for an "age of time" would have been a better rendering of the Hebrew meaning of "olam" than to use the word, "eternal".

In Matthew 25:46, the righteous and the unrighteous are mentioned as having "aeonios" life or punishment. We read, "then they will go away to everlasting (aeonios) punishment, but the righteous to everlasting (aeonios) life. The argument would be that if one means endless life then the other must mean endless punishment, that is, if punishment is limited, then life for the righteous would also be limited. An answer to this argument is that Jesus referred to the time when the Kingdom of God would be exhibited upon the earth; a time for the righteous to inherit the earth. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaking to His disciples referred to the meek as blessed because they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5). If He spoke of the "age" when this Kingdom is established by God, then the righteous Jews would enter this Kingdom for that age. The Jews were righteous because of their acceptance and allegiance to Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. That is, fidelity not only to His Person, but the One of Whom John spoke as the LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD. The unrighteous would be "kolasis", Greek for cut off from being in this state of bliss and would spend that time in God’s judgment (time of their correction) until the age is over.

In Revelation 14:11, we read of those who are judged because of their trust in the beast and have his image. (Revelation 14:9) "The smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever" or ages of ages as given in the original. They have no rest day or night is also a part of that verse. But in eternity, there will be no day or night. Day and night belong to the ages. An interesting verse is Revelation 14:12. We read, "Here is the patience of the saints". What is the patience that John refers to? John could have referred to the patience of the saints who wait for the time of correction of those who have worshipped the beast and his image and who have rejected the Son of God as the true Lord.

There are two places where the word, "aeon" is significant These two places are important because they show the meaning of the word. In Colossians 1:26, we read of the "mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations but now is made manifest to His saints". Then is Ephesians 2:7, we read that "in the ages to come God will show the exceeding riches of His grace. ". These passages indicate two things in regard to this word. The ages are limited periods of time; several of them have run their course and came to an end in the past, and there are yet more to come. Secondly, the "ages to come" are to be richer in the manifestation of the grace of God than the present or past ages; in other words, it appears that God’s grace broadens and His plan develops as the ages roll. Mysteries that have been hid in past ages are made known, and the future ages are to witness the "riches of His grace" to an extent "exceeding" that of any previous age.

What is the purpose of the believer’s "aeonios" life now and in the future? In John 17:3, Jesus said, "Now this is "aeonios" life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." Certainly, this is appropriate for us because God is using time and ages to perfect in us totally the image of Christ. A Christian may commonly speak of and desire to have eternal life, but it hardly seems possible that he should want eternal life now or upon death until he is totally and perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus. When God has completed His work in us, then we will have His "aidios" (eternal) life.

As God uses the ages to subject all things unto Him, that is, ages for correction of the unrighteous, so God will use ages for the righteous to grow more and more into the fullness of His Son. God will bring to completion all of His creation until all will "bow the knees in reverence to Christ and confess (gladly) that Jesus is Lord." (Philippians 2:10-11).

CHAPTER THREE

The Concept of God’s Will and Man’s Will

ONE OF THE DIFFICULT theological questions is this, "Is man a free moral agency?" Does the sovereignty of God rule over man and his free will? The Bible says in Proverbs 16:9 that "a man’s heart devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps. In Proverbs 20:24, we read, "man’s goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?" And in Proverbs 21:1, we read, "the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water, he turns it whithersoever He will." And finally, the whole concept of man’s will and God’s will is stated in a single sentence, "the lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." (Proverbs 16:33). This is a Scriptural version of the old maxim, "man proposes but God disposes."

Is man a mere machine? No, man is not just a puppet without his own will. Is man then a free moral agent able to do whatever he wants without any restraints? Again, the answer is no. Man does have a will, but God can overrule that will of man for the Glory of God. In Psalm 76:10, we read, "surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain." (King James Version). A.P. Adams in his book, "The Spirit of the Word", says that "the awful deeds of wicked men are ‘of God’ in such a sense that God makes them conducive to the carrying out of His own plans and brings good out of them in the end."

In the case of Joseph, God allowed his brethren to carry out the terrible deed of selling their brother to traders who carried Joseph to the land of Egypt. It was God Who allowed Joseph to be falsely accused and thus landed in prison. It was God Who allowed Joseph to be fashioned by his experience in prison to be an instrument in God’s Hand later on. It was God Who had Joseph in high position when his brethren came to buy grain during the time of famine. It was God Who used this man, Joseph, to be a deliverer for his people and for the whole world at that time. God used the wrath of Joseph’s brethren to carry out their deed of getting rid of Joseph by selling him, but God restrained their anger by not allowing them to kill him.

The heathen king, Cyrus, was God’s "anointed" to do His Work. God used him as an instrument to accomplish a certain purpose, though Cyrus knew not that he was thus being used of God. (Isaiah 44:28). In Isaiah 45:1, "Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him." God used this Persian king to give a decree to let exiles return to Jerusalem, released the captives of the past 70 years to go free, and allowed the temple treasures to go back to the city of Jerusalem.

The perpetrators of the crucifixion of Christ, the most awful crime of history, are considered to be deserving of most severe retribution. Yet they did this terrible act because the Hand of God and God’s counsel had determined it to be done. (Acts 4:28). In this portion, Peter says that Christ was "delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." (Acts 2:23). Thus, we see how even this stupendous crime was of God, and since we know that God works all things after the counsel of His will, we can say that all things are of God.

To illustrate this concept, we can turn to Psalm 37:23, where we read these words, "the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." In the King James Version the word "good", is in italics, indicating that the original word was "lost" from the original text. So translators placed the word, "good" to fill in the necessary word to make sense of that verse. To these scholars, the word "good" seemed to be the only correct word. But it may be that in the original the word, "all" or "any", could have been there. Young in his translation, states this verse in this way, "From Jehovah are the steps of a man, they have been prepared and his way He (i.e. God) desireth. When he falleth, he is not cast down, for Jehovah is sustaining his hand."

In Jeremiah 2:19, we read, "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backsliding shall reprove thee; know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts." God allows man to exercise his free will at times to experience evil and when man has tasted of that evil, and has had "enough" of his wickedness, he then desires deliverance from his wickedness and finds that the goodness of the Lord will lead him to repentance. Romans 2:4, "despise not the riches of His goodness and forbearing and longsuffering (God’s patience): not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"

God uses circumstances to affect the will of man. A person may desire a job, but unless God opens the "door" for that job, the job is not his or hers. A person may desire to sell his home, but unless God wills that home to be sold, it will not be sold. An illustration is a person on a box car free to roam within the confines of that box car while all the time the train is moving that box car and the "free" person to a designated destination.

It is sure from Scripture that man is not a free agent. While the agent may have a free will with the power of choice, God’s sovereignty is still in control of that free will through God controlling circumstances. Thus God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom is fully harmonized and scripturally established. This gives the Christian a comforting view of God, He is Supreme Ruler and Universal King. All things are under His control, all things are of Him. THE WICKED PURPOSES OF MAN ARE NOT CARRIED OUT UNLESS GOD PERMITS, AND GOD DOES NOT PERMIT UNLESS HE CAN OVERRULE IT FOR GOOD. How safe and secure is the trustful child of God when he or she recognizes this truth. "All things are of God", whatever comes to him, whether for the present joyous or grievous, that person knows that it is by his Father’s appointment or permission, and thus for his or her good. Whether it be a "blow" in life or a gift, a pain or a joy, tears or smiles, reproaches or blessings, persecutions or benefits, slander or praise, sickness or health, death or life, in every case, and in all it is the WILL OF GOD and that WILL is always the expression of a Father’s love, and therefore sweet, precious and good.

As Paul recounts how God has dealt with Israel and with nations, Paul saw the Grace and Goodness of God in working with both groups in bringing the Gospel to both. Then Paul concludes in Romans 11:34, "FOR WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD? OR WHO HAS BEEN HIS COUNSELOR? OR WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN HIM AND IT SHALL BE RECOMPENSED UNTO HIM AGAIN? FOR OF HIM AND THROUGH HIM, AND TO HIM ARE ALL THINGS: TO WHOM BE GLORY FOREVER."

These words of a song emphasize this truth for a believer:

God wills it so, It is God’s will, to Him myself I’ve given;

If I His will but do, fulfill, then I full well have striven.

When I obey all -- He may say, No trouble can o’er take me.

God wills it so, and He will show the way, He’ll not forsake me.

I but obey, this is my pleasure, from Him away I could not stay,

Nor joy nor pain could make me.

God wills it so, and by His side He’ll take me.

God wills it so, it is God’s will, there’s nought is equal to it

My cup of blessings He does fill, Sets He the task I’ll do it.

In joy or pain His will must reign, for there is none above Him.

God wills it so, and l below will sing His praise and love Him.

CHAPTER FOUR

The Concept of The Purpose of Evil

N THE MAIN GRAVEYARD of the writer’s home town, Racine, Wisconsin, stands a monument of one of the most influential men to serve as mayor of that city. On his large monument are written these words, "This world is my home, to do good is my religion, why did a good God create a bad devil?"

There is probably no subject in the range of religious thought that is so hard to deal with than the purpose of evil. Writers on Biblical lore have tried to account for the origin of evil; but perhaps, the real difficulty that these writers have dealt with is this: "How can we account for the existence of evil alongside of a supreme, all wise, holy and benevolent God?" Think of the conditions in this world -- evil exists on earth to embitter and darken, to blight and curse everything else that exists on the earth. It goes like a huge juggernaut car, feature of it all, it crushes without distinction the innocent and guilty together in one common quagmire of sin, suffering and death. God, Who could stop it all, allows it to go on. Jesus alludes to this problem in Luke 13:1 where we read these words, "There were present at that season some that told Him (Jesus) of the Galilaeans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, ‘Suppose you that these Galilaeans were sinners more than other Galilaeans because they suffered such things? or those eighteen, upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?’ "(Luke 13:1, 2 & 4).

Think of the wars where the innocent have suffered, the slaughter of the Waldenses and Albegenses, the massacre of St. Bartholomew in the 18th century when thousands of French Protestants were slaughtered. Think of the cruelties of the Spanish Inquisition; add the decades, centuries of butchery and blood that has cursed this world from fratricidal Cain down to the present time. Try to reconcile all this with the existence in the same universe of a God of infinite power and love and no one can give us a clear answer. We need to turn to God’s Word for help for answers to this problem.

God Creates Evil

"I form light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things," (Isaiah 45:7) This passage explains the existence of evil as that which God has created.

This does not mean the evil to be just physical evil, famines, pestilences, tornados, etc., things that God controls and sends upon mankind as punishment for their wickedness. The word rendered evil is the one commonly used throughout the Old Testament to denote wickedness, sin, wrong doing in some five hundred passages.

It is used, for example, in Genesis 6:5, Numbers 14:27, Deuteronomy 31:29, I Kings 11:6, 16:30, Psalms 34:21 plus other places. The very same word in the original is rendered "wicked" and "wickedness" more than a hundred times. A few examples would be in Genesis 6:5,13:13 and Psalms 94:23.

Because God is infinitely good and wise, and evil is one of His creatures, it must be that evil shall ultimately end; after God has used it for His purpose.

In the case of faithful Job, God used the creature called the devil to bring reverses and trials in this man’s life. In the narrative, we read how God put restraints on the devil. "And the Lord said unto Satan, behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself put not forth your hand." (Job 1:12) God allowed the devil to touch Job’s possessions and even his health, but God put "restrictions" on the devil. The devil could not take his life. The devil was as a watch dog controlled by a greater Power, God, and in this case, the devil was as a dog on a chain. He could only go so far in the life of this good man, Job.

Paul says in Ephesians 1:11, ". . . According to the purpose of Him Who works all things after the council of His own will." Since God can work all things after the council of His will, then we can believe that God can use evil to accomplish His purpose and can overrule evil for good, too. Why would a loving, all merciful God allow us to experience evil and the power of an evil source? It is for our spiritual development. God, Who allows us to be tempted, tried, present at that season some that told Him (Jesus) of the Galilaeans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, ‘Suppose you that these Galilaeans were sinners more than other Galilaeans because they suffered such things? or those eighteen, upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?’ "(Luke 13:1, 2 & 4).

Think of the wars where the innocent have suffered, the slaughter of the Waldenses and Albegenses, the massacre of St. Bartholomew in the 18th century when thousands of French Protestants were slaughtered. Think of the cruelties of the Spanish Inquisition; add the decades, centuries of butchery and blood that has cursed this world from fratricidal Cain down to the present time. Try to reconcile all this with the existence in the same universe of a God of infinite power and love and no one can give us a clear answer. We need to turn to God’s Word for help for answers to this problem.

God Creates Evil

"I form light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things," (Isaiah 45:7) This passage explains the existence of evil as that which God has created.

This does not mean the evil to be just physical evil, famines, pestilences, tornados, etc., things that God controls and sends upon mankind as punishment for their wickedness. The word rendered evil is the one commonly used throughout the Old Testament to denote wickedness, sin, wrong doing in some five hundred passages.

It is used, for example, in Genesis 6:5, Numbers 14:27, Deuteronomy 31:29, I Kings 11:6, 16:30, Psalms 34:21 plus other places. The very same word in the original is rendered "wicked" and "wickedness" more than a hundred times. A few examples would be in Genesis 6:5,13:13 and Psalms 94:23.

Because God is infinitely good and wise, and evil is one of His creatures, it must be that evil shall ultimately end; after God has used it for His purpose.

In the case of faithful Job, God used the creature called the devil to bring reverses and trials in this man’s life. In the narrative, we read how God put restraints on the devil. "And the Lord said unto Satan, behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself put not forth your hand." (Job 1:12) God allowed the devil to touch Job’s possessions and even his health, but God put "restrictions" on the devil. The devil could not take his life. The devil was as a watch dog controlled by a greater Power, God, and in this case, the devil was as a dog on a chain. He could only go so far in the life of this good man, Job.

Paul says in Ephesians 1:11, ". . . According to the purpose of Him Who works all things after the council of His own will." Since God can work all things after the council of His will, then we can believe that God can use evil to accomplish His purpose and can overrule evil for good, too. Why would a loving, all merciful God allow us to experience evil and the power of an evil source? It is for our spiritual development. God, Who allows us to be tempted, tried, and to be under the pressure of evil, allows us to avail ourselves of His grace and His power. God may allow evil to come to us so that we may "exercise" our spiritual resources. Diamonds are made from coal placed under great pressure, a precious pearl comes from an injury, pure gold comes from the process of enduring great heat, steel is made in the fire. Even life teaches us that evil and suffering has a purpose in the bringing forth of the precious end result. (I Corinthians 10:16)

There could be no manifestation of the Father’s love if there had been no such thing as evil. We might believe that a friend loved us even though his love had never been especially tested; but we never could fully appreciate his love unless circumstances transpired to give him an opportunity to exhibit it in all its strength and fullness. So we could never understand fully the love of God had not our lost and wretched condition furnished the Father with an opportunity for manifesting that love. Paul says, "when we were without strength, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6)

It was "when we were without strength" that Christ died for us. Paul says in Romans 5:8, "God commended His love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It was because we were in such an evil case, "without strength" and "sinners", that the love that sent the Deliverer is so marked and readily appreciated. If we had never come under the power of evil, we would never appreciate the extreme manifestation of the love of God for us.

Scripture gives us direct testimony that God uses evil for the accomplishment of His plans. God used the evil of the Egyptians to put in the heart of Israel a desire to leave Egypt. Israel submitted to God’s man, Moses, to lead them out. God used pagan Babylon to put a desire in the heart of Nehemiah, Ezra and Zerubbabel to lead the remnant back to the Holy Land and to start the process of rebuilding the Temple and its walls. Some believe that God used Hitler to put a desire in the Jews to begin modern Israel. We can see again that God can and does use evil for the accomplishment of His plans. For instance, in Judges 9:23, we see that Abimelech by an atrocious crime had obtained the ruler ship of Israel, and to punish him, "God sent an evil spirit between him and the men of Shechem," and the result was the punishment of all the guilty parties. In I Samuel 16:14, "The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him." This evil spirit did not come from the devil, nor from hell, but "from the Lord", to do God’s bidding. In I Kings 22:23, the Lord is represented as using a "lying spirit" in order to deceive wicked Ahab for his own destruction. As mentioned earlier, the most perfect illustration of this truth is seen in the life of Job. The Lord speaks of that man, Job, as His Servant Job. "There is none like him in the earth, perfect and an upright man, one who fears God and hates evil." Yet Job is that illustration of how God uses evil as an instrument for good. The last part of Job’s life was better than his first part. James uses Job as an example of Christian patience and virtue. "Behold, we count them happy as endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy." (James 5:11)

Job was a better person after going through his trial. Joseph was a different man after enduring his trials. Moses could not be used until he was in the back side of the desert. Often, the person God chooses to use will find that there is first a time of training. Frustrations and tribulations which we complain come from the "devil", God has used for our good in the end. The purpose of evil is to develop in our characters attributes akin to God: pity, mercy, compassion, charity, gentleness, patience, etc. The Bible teaches us that tribulations (evil trials) works patience in us. (Romans 5:3)

Paul says in II Corinthians 1:4, "God who comforts us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God." Paul continues with saying that as the "sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ." (II Corinthians 1:5) Compassion abounds within us when we have been through our trials and after the trial has done its work within us, we are able to minister to someone else in the same trial. We can sympathize with that person "knowing what it is like to be in the same situation." A mother who has lost a child in death can minister more effectively to a family who has lost a child in death. A family who has not endured any pain of death will not be as effective. Knowing this, we can thank God for the trials He has sent us. Good and evil, sunshine and rain, all in their order, perfect in us the inward character of Christ. There is a saying, "all sunshine and no rain makes for a desert."

Our New Testament teaches this truth also. In Matthew and in Mark, we read of the temptations of Jesus. In both cases, we read that the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. The Holy Spirit of God drives the sinless Jesus into the wilderness among wild beasts to be tempted of the devil. And after Jesus was tempted, He was tried, tested and proven to be the Perfect One who would complete His work of saving the world by dying on the cross.

The Apostle Paul had "a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me lest I should be exalted above measure. (II Corinthians 12:7) God used Satan to keep Paul humbled so that he would not become proud because of his great revelations which God had given him. Perhaps the great Epistle of Romans that Paul wrote, contain these revelations, expressing great and inexhaustible truths for these 2000 years.

Paul used evil for discipline. In Corinthians, Paul says to deliver an unrighteous member to "Satan" for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit maybe saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5) And Paul declares in his letter to Timothy that he himself has delivered certain ones unto Satan, "that they might learn not to blaspheme." (I Timothy 1:20)

We can conclude then, that Satan (though he is unwilling and rebellious) is God’s servant to carry out His plans. Satan is as much under God’s control, and works just as truly under God’s direction, as does the angel Gabriel.

Thus, the purpose of evil is that the Great Plan of God is being worked out. God is using all these things sin, corruption, chaos and death, to move this universe on to holiness, purity, order and life eternal. The final outcome of God’s Plan, using good and evil, is to have this creation bow in reverence one day to the Son, to confess willingly that Jesus is Lord to the Glory of God. Yes, the absolute final outcome is that death shall be swallowed up in victory. Evil when its work is finished will be banished, and everything shall praise the Lord.

"For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him (God) Who has subjected the same (creation) in hope." (Romans 8:20)

CHAPTER FIVE

The Concept of The Atonement

BEFORE THERE WAS the central theme of the Atonement, there had to be man. The Bible tells us clearly and distinctly that the origin of man lies in the special immediate, creative and formative acts of God. (Genesis 1:27; 2:7).

There have been various theories of the origin of man apart from God’s Word. First of all, man was not made by abigenesis or spontaneous production of the earth. The earth was assumed to be pregnant with the germs of all living organisms, which were quickened under favorable circumstances. Or it was regarded as instinct with a productive life. The more modern view of abigenesis; i.e., that life is the product of physical causes, that all that is requisite for its production is to bring together the necessary conditions. This theory is not taught in the first Book of the Bible.

Nor does the Bible tell us that mankind came by evolution, or natural development. Evolution is a philosophical and speculative theory of recent origin which seeks to account for the various elements and compounds of the inorganic world (cosmic evolution), and also for the countless species in the organic world (organic evolution). The evolutionary theory does not meet three basic scientific principles: Life begets life (Louis Pasteur - 1840’s), the second law of thermodynamics (energy runs down) and the law of observation (a theory must be tested by observation). Since the evolutionary theory doesn’t fit any of the above, why accept it as fact when it is still only a theory.

Will Durant, humanist and historian, stated once that Darwinism (father of the theory of evolution) propelled Western Civilization into paganism by offering us evolution in place of God as a cause of history. Durant stated also that Darwinism and his theory removed the theological basis of moral code of Christendom to society.

The writer accepts completely the Genesis account for the creation of man, plants, animals and other living things as given in the first chapters of the Book of Genesis.

In the third chapter of the Book of Genesis, the central theme of the Bible is the Atonement. After the fall of Adam and Eve into the sin of disobedience, God came to man and the first counseling session is reported by Scripture. God came to Adam and Eve and told them of the Promise of a coming Savior. In Genesis 3:15, God says to the devil, "And I (the Lord) will put enmity between you (the devil) and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it her seed) shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel (seed of the woman)."

God gave to Adam and Eve a "type and shadow" of the coming Atoning One, Jesus the Messiah. When God clothed His Creation with skins of animals, God revealed then by the shedding of blood, that man could be clothed in skins of the slain animal. Jesus fulfilled that "type and shadow" by allowing His Blood to be shed and that His righteousness would clothe us before God and man. Adam and Eve did not see the end result, but because they believed God’s Word, their faith was counted for their salvation and righteousness in the "promised" Messiah.

God kept this truth alive in the hearts of man. The remission of sin would be by the shedding of blood. Abel, the righteous man, brought the sacrificed lamb in worship and God accepted him and his worship. Cain brought the "works of his hands" and was rejected. Later God emphasized this truth to the nation of Israel when at the first Passover, the Israelites applied the blood of a perfect lamb to the doorposts of their homes and the Angel of death "passed over" them. The sacrifices in the Old Testament attest to the truth that blood had to be shed and life given for God to accept their worship. It was the high priest who once a year went into the Holy of Holies to place the blood of the sacrificed animal on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant.

In both the old covenant (Old Testament) and in the new covenant (New Testament), the truth of "blood sacrifice" is seen. It was by the blood of animals that God kept the thought of redemption through the shedding of blood alive. The shedding of blood of the animals in the past were types and shadows of the REAL THING.

The Book of Hebrews clarifies this truth very well. "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of bulls and of goats, and the sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh; How much more shall the Blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause He (Christ) is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:11-15)

"But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." (Galatians 4:4 and 5)

God first took the initiative with Adam and Eve with the promise of a Redeemer, now God, "in the fullness of time", took the initiative again and sent His Gift of His Son, the Redeemer of the world. Paul states in Ephesians 2:1, that when we were dead in trespasses and sins, walking according to the course of the world, under the power of the prince of the power of the air, etc., "God Who is rich in mercy made us alive in Christ Jesus." Thus the Bible does not mention our salvation in the realm of "chance" or in the terms of man’s choice. John 1:13 speaks of us being born of God’s family by the work of God only. Here is what this section of the Word says, "which were born not of blood (family relationships), nor of the will of the flesh (the individual will) nor of the will of man (will of any human being), but of God (God’s Will only)." In John 15:16, "You have not chosen Me, but I have you." Ephesians 2:8 tells us that our salvation is a GIFT of God. Our lives and our salvation (our totality, our physical life, our spiritual life) is given us by God. It is God alone Who has made us physically and Who has made us what we are spiritually.

The Bible states succinctly that "Christ was slain from the foundation of the world." In Romans 8:20, "For the creature (creation) was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him (God) Who has subjected the same (creation) in hope." God is stating that He was responsible for the introduction of evil and the fall of man. It was all in His Plan. It was in the Plan of God for the redemption of man. It was in the plan of God that God would redeem mankind through the suffering, death and resurrection of His Son. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Savior because He bore the just penalty for sin. "Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God. "(I Peter 3:18) "Him who knew no sin, He (God) made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21) "Who His own self bare our sins in His body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by Whose stripes you were healed." (I Peter 2:24) "And He is the propitiation (act of atonement) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world." (I John 2:2) "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." (II Corinthians 5:19)

"God so loved the world (world of humanity) that God gave His only begotten Son." (John 3:16) LOVE that God had for us was the motive power that made God the prime mover in sending forth His Son for our salvation.

SUMMARY

1. The atonement was made to reveal the love of God for us.

2. The justice of God was for man, insuring his salvation.

3. God was in perfect harmony and accord with Christ’s atonement for us.

4. The atonement was the work of God in Christ to reconcile the world to Himself.

5. God, by His ministers, beseeches sinners and makes them willing to be pardoned.

II Corinthians 5:20)

6. The atonement is to propitiate man to God and to make God known to man.

7. Christ died as our companion, identified with man and for man, so that we might

know the favor and love of God.

8. Christ died to save us from the penalty of sin and from sin itself.

9. Christ did not die that we might not die, but to deliver us out of a death in which

we were already involved.

10. The sinner is not redeemed because he repents, but he is called upon to repent

because he has been redeemed.

11. The atonement is the flowing out of God’s love to mankind.

12. The final outcome of the atoning plan is not a partial success, but a perfect,

absolute and universal triumph. The outcome of objective justification is that all

who died in Adam will be the same all that are justified and redeemed in Christ

Jesus.

In Philippians 2:10 and 11, Paul says "that at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow of things in Heaven, and things in earth and things under the earth; and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." In the Greek, the word, "bow" means to bend the knees in spiritual veneration. Paul uses the same word, in Ephesians 3:14, when he says that he bows to the Father. If Paul willingly bows to the Father in love, then how can we say that all of humanity when aware of this great salvation and atonement for them, will not bow in love and veneration -- not out of force? If by force, then how can that be to the glory of the Father? There is no forcing here, but a willingness in all realms. Paul says that every tongue shall confess Jesus as Lord to the glory of God the Father. In I Corinthians 12:3b, Paul says that no one can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit of God can give man the POWER to confess Jesus as Lord. Then Romans 10:9 tells us, "If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, you shall be saved." Paul presents the entire realm of humanity as voluntarily kneeling and voluntarily confessing Jesus as Lord!

CHAPTER SIX

The Concept of Judgment

N THE GREEK, the word for "crisis" is "krisis". This word means, "a critical period of time, decisive moment, turning point or deciding time." In the New Testament, the word is used to denote "the deciding time, trial, or probation." When such a time arrives for any individual, class of individuals, or the world, it is a cause for great rejoicing and thanksgiving. There are many verses in the Bible which speak of the blessings which come from God’s judgments. In Psalm 19:9, "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." In Psalm 96:11-13, we read, "Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for He comes to judge the earth with righteousness, and the people with truth." In Hosea 6:5, the prophet says, "Thy judgments are as the light." Nevertheless, from the perspective of some upon the earth, the Word of God, speaks of the Judgment Day as a time of great horror and dread.

Often we have had the idea that there is only one judgment at the great White Throne; and there everyone, good and bad, Christian and non-Christian, will meet and be separated as sheep and goats. But it may help us to list a few of the judgments of God upon sin. First of all, there was the judgment pronounced upon Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. That judgment ‘ has been operating ever since, and will continue to operate until the consummation. There was a special judgment in the Flood, and special judgment on Sodom. There have been judgments upon Israel -- their captivities and their Diasporasin. Every time Israel had a judgment of God pronounced upon them, they were corrected and brought back to the faith of their father, Abraham.

The Christian, according to the Bible, will face three judgments.

1. We will be judged as sinners.

2. We are judged as His children.

3. We are judged as His servants.

Judgment number one is past for every Christian. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own Body on the tree." (I Peter 2:24) What the Lord Jesus did 2000 years ago suffices for our salvation. We cannot add anything to the effectiveness of what Christ did for our great salvation. "For He has made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin." (II Corinthians 5:21) "There is therefore now no condemnation (sin-judgment) to them who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) There is therefore no condemnation or judgment upon us for our sinful nature now because Jesus bore it already. God does not blame us for being born with a sinful nature, God tells us that this is our condition and that God has provided Himself with the Lamb (Jesus) and by His sacrifice upon the Cross, we are forgiven. It is God’s Spirit Who makes this truth real within our conscience and gives us the assurance that we are forgiven and we are "adopted into His Family" by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Number two, after God has received us through Jesus, we are "made like unto Him" by His work of correcting through judgments. The Bible makes it clear that, ". . . we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26) In Christ we have the standing of being His Children. (I John 3:2) But God desires that we become Christ like in our state. And in order to make us so He brings us into judgment —son-judgment. The prodigal son was not son-like, but he was still a son.

God’s Word tells us, "For if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (I Corinthians 11:31-32) That is, when we do wrong, if we recognize it and condemn it in ourselves, confessing it to God, that is the end of it. For all God wants is for us to recognize it. If we fail to confess it, God has to take us in hand and judge us Himself. That is, He chastises us. Chastise comes from a root word meaning chaste or pure. God wants us to be chaste and pure. In Psalm 26, David entreats God to judge him. "Judge me, 0 Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity:

I have trusted also in the Lord. . examine me, 0 Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart." (Psalm 26:1 and 2) And in Psalm 139, David pleads again with God to "judge" him with these words, "Search me, 0 God, and know my

heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23, 24)

There is a clear statement of this truth of son-child judgment in Hebrews 12:5-11, "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord loves He chastened and scourges every son-child whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons-children, for what son is he whom the Father chastens not? But if you are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?" God chastens us for our profit, that we might be partakers of His Holiness. Now no chastening for the present seems joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby."

A warning is given by the author of Hebrews in chapter 12, verse 12, "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but rather let it be healed. . . looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness spring up defile you and many be defiled."

Some Christians, because of God’s judgment, "give up" and "let their hands hang down". Instead of raising their hands in praise, they let their hands hang down in depression. Instead of walking in a new way with the Lord, they walk in defeat and discouragement. Instead of rejoicing in God’s dealings designed to make them better, they fall into bitterness and rehearse again and again the sorry things which happened to them. They fail to see that all the things which God allowed them to experience, was for their ultimate good, intended to produce God-like character. Denouncing the chastening experience, they influence others with their bitter attitude.

Number three is the future judgment as servants. It is a reward for works, not a judgment on sin. Salvation is from sin. Reward is for service. If Christians understood the blessedness of the future reward for the service they render, they would gladly serve the Lord and His people now.

"For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels and then He shall reward every man (person) according to his works". (Matthew 16:27) "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire (judgment)) shall try every man’s work (not his sin) of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." (I Corinthians 3:11-15) The future fire is on service.

It is in this life that the believer endures judgment for his or her good. David had a problem with why the righteous suffer in this life and the ungodly seem to have good times. In Psalm 73:1

and following, we read, "Truly God is good to Israel. . . but as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. . . They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men... Behold, these are the ungodly who prosper in the world; they increase in riches." Then David sees the end of the ungodly as he says in verse 17 of Psalm 73, "Until I went into the sanctuary of God, then I understood their end (end of the wicked).

All of us will be judged! Mark 9:49, "FOR EVERYONE SHALL BE SALTED WITH FIRE, AND EVERY SACRIFICE SHALL BE SALTED WITH SALT." Peter saw the benefits which come to us who are God’s in this age when he writes, "And now, dear friends of mine, I beg you not to be unduly alarmed at the fiery ordeals which come to test your faith, as though this were some abnormal experience . . ." (I Peter 4:12, Phillips Translation) This is God’s normal restorative way. "Even though at present you are temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials and temptation. This in no accident--it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold, and gold, as you know, even though it is ultimately perishable, must be purified by fire. This proving of faith is planned to result in praise and honor and glory in the day when Jesus Christ reveals Himself." (I Peter 1:6-7, Phillips)

This is no accident, it is planned, and the result is that we are purified to shine forth as lights in this world and that as the salt of the earth, we keep our savor continually. There are no accidents in God’s workings! Everything in our lives is divinely synchronized in perfect order. God is not the author of confusion. God is the Author of order, of peace, of completeness. In God, everything is beautifully working out a purpose, the end of which is full restoration, not only to its original state, but even into a higher dimension of excelling glory. We must never believe as Christians, that our trials are a harassment for they actually work not only to "prove" our faith, but to "improve" it.

Hebrews tells us that our God is a consuming fire. This is not to terrorize us, but is speaking of the ENERGY FORCE by which all the chaff is removed, that we might be restored into His kingdom. Do not fear the trials which may come your way as a child of the Most High. He will use all these things to purify, cleanse and thus make us into His light and salt in this world now. Also, there is a promise of blessing for the future. Paul says, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)

During this gospel age, "they that are Christ’s -- the Church of the first born -- the House of God" (I Peter 4:17 and Ephesians 2:19) are having their judgment, trial or probation. Because we have had our judgments now, we are in that group of which Christ spoke in John 5:24, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that hears My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death into life."

Thus, the process, nature and purpose of judgment is made plain. Judgment begins at the "house of God". The head of that house (Jesus) is the first to pass through His trial (suffering, death and resurrection), and to "bring forth judgment unto victory." Then the members of the household, "the church of the first born", undergo their trial during this Gospel age, and "are made alive at His coming" (I Corinthians 15:23) and are constituted "kings, priests and judges of the world" in the "ages to come". Then comes the general day of Judgment, the period of the world’s probation, as it is written, "It is appointed unto men to die once and after this, probation of judgement." (Hebrews 9:27)

The house of God can now receive with thankfulness and even with joy, the trials which come to it, because of the knowledge that God’s judgments will purify the individual believer and the Church as a community of believers. When was the Church the purest? In the first few centuries after enduring terrible persecutions from the Roman emperors, the Church was pure, evangelistic and vibrant in faith. When did the Church lose its "savor" and corruption set in? When it was made a state church under Constantine. Consequently, the Church and the world passed through an evil millennium from 500 to 1500 A.D., until the time of the Reformation under Martin Luther.

Where is the purest Church today? In Europe, England or America? Rather is it not in China, Africa or Russia? Places where Christians had to suffer for their faith. Often, the pure Church exists where it has had judgment through persecution. Where do we find the strong saints today? In celebrated seminaries or among workers for God in the streets of Calcutta, in the ghettos of New York or in the work done in the poverty stricken cities of Mexico?

Dear saint of God, welcome God’s purifying fire of trials and tribulations, knowing that through these we enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)

DIFFERENT JUDGMENTS

There are various judgments indicated in the scriptures which can be presented in convenient study:

1. The judgment of the world (in type) in Jesus Christ. "Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out." "For the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me." "Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." (John 16:11)

2. The judgment of the saints now. (II Corinthians 5:10, I Corinthians 3:15) If we will not judge ourselves then God will take over and judge us, so that we will not be judged with the world. (I Corinthians 11:31-32)

3. The judgment of the church. "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God." (I Peter 4:17). Right now Christ "as a Son is sitting over His own house, whose house you are." (Hebrews 3:6-7)

4. The judgment of Israel during the next age. And Christ said to His disciples, "Verily I say to you, that you who have followed Me in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matthew 19:29)

5. The judgment of the nations. "When the Son of Man shall come in His Glory, and all the Holy Angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory; and before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats." This is a judgment unto an "age" correction. Greek word for punishment here is "kolasis", a "cutting off’ of the blessings of the coming age.

6. The judgment of the world. "Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? Know you not that we shall judge angels?" (I Corinthians 6:2-3) According to these scriptures, the mature saints who go through their judgments now will qualify to be in that great company who, in cooperation with Christ, judge all men at the Great White Throne.

We find that His judgment is an important phase of salvation. "It is appointed unto man once to die but after this a judging." (Hebrews 9:27) We die with Christ now, accepting His crucifixion for us; then we begin to judge self -- dying to our own ego daily. None escape this cleansing work within.

CHAPTER SEVEN

The Concept of The Church

AUL WROTE these words in Ephesians 3:3-6,9, about this New Entity that came at Pentecost. "By revelation He (Christ) made known unto me the mystery . . . whereby when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel. - . and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ."

This mystery, that had been hid in times past, was revealed at Pentecost 10 days after the Ascension of the Lord. Israel of old could never conceive that God could ever include Gentiles into a spiritual family. The Church, somehow, had forgotten that God had chosen them in the past to be a "spiritual" nation to bear witness to the Gentiles. Instead of seeing their missionary possibilities, they hated the Gentiles. We see this in the case of Jonah who sought to avoid the call of God to go to Nineveh. Perhaps Jonah was concerned about the attitude his people might have toward him if he went to those "heathen dogs". How amazed and chagrined was Jonah when the people responded and repented of their sins -- and how surprised Jonah was when God then turned judgment away from the city and the nation. We can see why he pouted when he saw that God would receive and forgive a sinful Gentile people.

With this "mindset" of the Jewish people, imagine their reaction when after Pentecost God led Peter to go to the Gentile house of Cornelius and preach the Gospel. We read that, "While Peter spoke these words (the Gospel), the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, ‘Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." Acts 10:44-48.

Then Paul dropped a "bomb shell" upon the Jerusalem church when he went out among the Gentiles in Asia Minor and established many Gentile-Christian Churches. None of these newly established Christians had to conform to "Jewish customs and practices". It took a major church convention to decide that these Gentile converts would only have to "abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood." Acts 15:20.

It was to the church at Ephesus that Paul tells how Christ is our peace, "Who has broken down the middle wall of partition between us (Jews and Gentiles); having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of One new man." Ephesians 2:14,15.

Thus, the Church became a new Body of which Christ is the Head. Paul brings this out in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 when he says, "As the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body (of Jews and Gentiles); so also is the Christ. 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 been all made to drink into one spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. . . that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another, now you are the body of Christ."

Other terminology that Paul uses to describe this "mystery" the Church is the "spiritual temple". Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 2:19, "Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord." Paul speaks of the Church as the Bride of Christ. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it." Ephesians 5:25. In Revelation 19:7,8 we read, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him (Christ); for the marriage of the Lamb is come and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints."

The beautiful symbolism of the new revelation of the "hidden" mystery that Paul referred to... the formation of the Church. . . is seen in the Old Testament feast of Pentecost. Its fulfillment being many years later at the New Testament Pentecost. In the Old Testament feast of Pentecost, the first seven days Israel professed to offer sacrifices for other nations (Leviticus 23:34-36). Thus, symbolically and prophetically Israel of old was including other nations in the New Testament Pentecost. On the 8th day of the Old Testament feast of Pentecost, the offering sacrifices were for Israel. On this 8th day, the priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam in a golden vessel and at the time of the morning sacrifice, pour the water mixed with wine upon the altar as the people sang with great joy. When Jesus saw the water being poured out, He spoke of Himself as the true living water in John 7:37 and following. This water of life would be poured out by Himself later upon Israel and the Gentiles beginning with the New Testament Pentecost. Pentecost would no longer be confined in a ceremony, but now in a Person, Christ Himself.

Also, during the time when the Old Testament Pentecost would be celebrated, the priest would take two leaven loaves of bread and wave them before the Lord. Since leaven in the Old Testament referred to evil, this waving of the two loaves would be a symbol of two sinful kinds of people, Israel and Gentiles being waved before the Lord. And at Pentecost of Acts 2, Jesus as our High Priest began to wave before the Father, two loaves, a loaf of Israel and a loaf of Gentiles who were "visited" by His Spirit and brought out as wave offerings to the Lord.

If Israel could see beyond the symbol and ceremony, she would have seen that in the Messiah, Jesus, God was visiting the world with His Spirit in Christ to bring unto Himself offerings from both Jew and Gentile to be exhibits of His Glory and Grace and then eventually making the separate loaves into One Loaf, i.e. The Church.

CHAPTER EIGHT

The Concept of The Reign of The Son of God

IS THE REIGN OF JESUS to be fully revealed in the future? Theologians have debated this and have taken different positions on this subject. Augustine, the great church father identified the Kingdom of God with the Church as a reality now. Christ was "reigning now through His Church" and when He had finished His reign He would return the second time for the great judgment and mankind would enter eternal bliss or be tormented eternally. Augustine took the message of Revelation 20 to be allegorical and then came to the conclusion that it is the Church which ushers in the millennium. Luther agreed with that concept. Reformation tradition has perpetuated the idea of an identification between Church and Kingdom. Major reformers believed that Christ was reigning now through His Church and that Satan was bound spiritually by the Power of God in regard to the believer.

One scholar, John Wimber, believes that the mission of Jesus was to invade the present age with the age to come (i.e., the Future Kingdom which is the Rule of God coming and beginning now though it is not yet completely fulfilled). Those who receive the proclamation of the Rule of God are not only the ones to inherit the completed future Kingdom-Rule, but as the Kingdom people in this age, they are the Church.

John Bright, in his book, The Kingdom of God, is correct in saying that there is never the slightest hint that the visible church can either be or produce the Kingdom of God. He says the Church is the people of the Kingdom, never the Kingdom itself. Rather, it is the Kingdom which creates the Church in the present era. The rule of God, which was present in the words and works of Jesus challenged men and women to respond, bringing them into a new relationship with God. (Mark 3:31-36)

The mission of the Church, then, is to witness of the Kingdom of God and to the Kingdom of God. The Church cannot build the Kingdom or become the Kingdom, but the Church witnesses to the Kingdom, to God’s powerful redeeming acts in Christ, past, present and future. This concept is illustrated by the commission Jesus gave to the twelve (Matthew 10) and to the seventy (Luke 10). It was reinforced by the proclamation of the Apostles in the Book of Acts. To whom was the Church to witness? The number was symbolic. The number seventy carries a symbolic meaning. Based on the background that common Jewish tradition believed that there were seventy nations in the world, the Old Testament Torah and Law was given first in seventy languages to all men. The sending of seventy missionaries appears to be an implicit claim that Jesus’ message must be heard not only by Israel, but by all men according to scholar George Ladd.

Scripture holds out the promise of the literal return of the Lord Jesus to be glorified. "And He (God) shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution (restoration) of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets, since the world began." (Acts 3:21) Since the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, He has been sitting as a Son over His own house (the Church), bringing forth a company of over comers (mature ones) by His glory and power of His indwelling life in them. (Hebrews 3:6)

In time, these over comers with Christ as their Head will rule in righteousness over the universe. There is coming a time when Christ will be fully revealed and confirmed that He is the first finished and victorious MAN when He comes forth into this visible realm to take His position as King of kings and Lord of lords.

An article by John E. Douglas entitled, "6000 Years of Human Government Is Coming To An End", quotes from two of the early church fathers. The first quote is from St. Barnabas, a Levite of the island of Cyprus and a co-worker with St. Paul. St. Barnabas is mentioned twenty-nine times in the New Testament. St. Barnabus wrote his epistle in 71 A.D. In 1859 Tischendorf found this entire Epistle with the Codex Sinaiticus at Mt. Sinai. It was the genuine production of Barnabas, who introduced Paul, after his conversion, to the other Apostles. Barnabas was stoned to death by the Jews about 75 A.D. Here is what Barnabus wrote: "God made in six days the work of His Hands, and God finished them the seventh day, and He rested the seventh day and sanctified it. Consider, my children, what that signifies: He finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this: that in six thousand years God will bring all things to an end, for a day with Him is as a thousand years. (Codex Sinaiticus reads, ‘The day of the Lord shall be as a thousand years’). Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years all things will be finished. And He (God) rested the seventh day. This means: when His Son, coming, shall destroy the wicked man, and change the sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day... behold, therefore, certainly then one resting sanctifies it, when we ourselves, having received the promise, wickedness no longer existing, and all things having been made new by the Lord, shall be able to work righteousness."

Irenaeus, another one of the church fathers, and a disciple of the Apostle John, says this concerning the Coming of the Lord: "For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years will it be concluded. For as the day of the Lord is as a thousand years (II Peter 3:8) and in six days created things were completed, it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the end of the six thousandth year. But then this anti-Christ shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then shall the Lord come from heaven in clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man, and those who follow him, into the lake of fire; but bringing for the righteousness the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day; and restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance in which kingdom the Lord declared that many coming from the east and from the west should sit down with Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob." (Matthew 8:11)

Then Irenaeus says this startling statement, "And therefore, when in the end the Church shall suddenly be caught up from this, it is said, ‘There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.’ It behooves the righteous first to receive the promise of the inheritance, and to reign in it, when they rise again to behold God in his creation which is renovated, and that the judgment shall take place afterward. For it is just that in that very creation in which they toiled or were afflicted, being proved in every way by suffering, they shall receive the reward of the suffering, and that in the creation in which they were slain because of their love for God, in that they shall be revived again; and that in the creation in which they endured servitude, in that they shall reign. Of the times of the kingdom, when the righteous shall bear rule upon their rising from the dead."

Irenaeus who wrote the above statements was born in Asia Minor. He remembered well the oral discourses of Polycarp in which the martyr related what he had learned from conversations with the Apostle John. John the one who leaned on the Savior's breast. Polycarp was a disciple of John and Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp. Thus what he wrote is most interesting.

We see from the writings of these church fathers that they believed the rule of man would end at the end of six thousand years and that there would be then the reign of Christ on the earth or the time of the millennium.

How do we reconcile the thought of Christ reigning now and a future reign? Christ does reign now in the hearts of the believers and Christ reigns in the church when He is declared Lord. But to the outward world, Christ will reign in the future after His return. And those who study Eschatology state the characteristics when Christ shall be manifested and revealed fully in the near future.

What are the characteristics of the full revelation of God’s Son? The Bible says that:

1. Christ shall return to reign as King. "The God of Heaven will set up a Kingdom and it shall stand forever." Daniel 2:35

2. Nations shall live in peace. Isaiah 2:4 says, "And He (Christ) shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nation . . . neither shall they learn war anymore."

3. No more famine, a time of universal plenty. Ezekiel 36:29-30, "I will call for corn and increase it, I will multiply the fruit of the tree in that day of the Lord."

4. Effect upon the moon and the sun. God says in Isaiah 30:26, "The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold in that day the Lord will bind up the bruises of His people (separation because of sin) and the Lord will heal their wounds.

5. Christ shall judge with righteousness. There will be true justice for all. All bribery and wrong doing will cease.

6. Housing problems will be solved. Isaiah 65:22 says, "They shall build houses and inhabit them, they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands".

7. Long life shall be restored. Isaiah says in the 65th chapter, verse 20, these words: "There shall no more be an infant of days, for if a man dies at 100 years, he will be considered as an infant." Men lived prior to the flood, 600, 700, 800 and even 900 years. When Christ returns and takes His rightful place in the universe, one of the rewards will be to live in this paradise for many years. When the thief on the cross looked at Jesus and said to Him, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom", Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Was this a promise to that repentant thief that he would be blessed at this great period in the future?

8. Universal harmony. Isaiah 11 says, "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; a child shall lead them. The sucking, nursing infant shall play on the nest of the asp . . . a dangerous snake . . . and they shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain".

9. "The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9) There will be no need to send forth missionaries in that day, for all shall "know the Lord from the greatest to the least".

10. The desert shall blossom as a rose. In Isaiah, chapter 35 we read these words, "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom . . . it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing".

11. The activities of Satan will be cut off during this time. Revelation 20 deals with the binding of the evil one so that he cannot deceive the nations during the time when the Person of Christ is with men. The Old Testament feast of tabernacles will be fulfilled in full measure at this time.

12. The meek shall inherit the earth and all the nations will serve Him. All nations shall call Him blessed. (Matthew 5:5 and Psalm 72:17)

The author is of the opinion that the reign of Christ began at Pentecost in the hearts of believers (true spiritual Israel) and has continued through the heart of the believers to the present time. As this age continues, prior to the Coming of Jesus, conditions and things will be worse. The Bible predicts it to be. The Gospels as well as Paul makes many predictions of conditions at the Second Coming. Jesus said in Matthew 24, that at His coming, one would be taken, one would be left. Who would be taken? Could it be the unrighteous? Would the righteous be left to then inherit the Kingdom of God in its full manifestation.

There are those in Christendom who believe that there has to be an "age" which comes in by a climactic entrance. These theologians believe that while Christ rules in hearts of believers now, yet there has to be a time when Christ shall outwardly rule for 1,000 years. The millennium as found in Revelation is on earth. Taking our week of seven days, so they (the dispensationalists) take the 6,000 years from Adam to now to be incomplete. Another day or Sabbath rest for the earth must take place. And the earth can only be blessed with Christ’s literal presence upon the earth. After this 1,000 year period, the bound Satan is released to work on those born during this age but not tested. Rebellion rises up again and the Father from Heaven ends this rebellion with His judgment. There has been a resurrection of the dead believers to come forth from their graves and those living will be "changed" in a moment into bodies of glorification. The risen dead saints and the living "changed" saints will then take their position of ruler ship with Christ during this period.

Then shall be the fulfillment of the Prayer that Jesus taught us, "Thy Kingdom come and Thy Will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven".

All of creation groans and travails in pain until now. Because creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

For about 6,000 years, creation has been in travail, but in Christ shall this corruption and bondage be removed and joy, peace and harmony shall cover the universe with Christ literally reigning over the creation that He redeemed totally.

CHAPTER NINE

The Concept of The Great White Throne Judgment

THE REIGN OF CHRIST culminates in the Great White Throne Judgment. This is what Scripture says: "And I saw a Great White Throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.. . death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.. . and whoever was not written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15)

This is perhaps the most important event in the history of human destiny. In this event, Jesus begins to reign as the Son of God in righteous judgment. He brings the hidden things to light and sets things in their true order. Heaven and earth (man’s own contrivings and false fronts) are fled away and, as an open book, his life is scrutinized and exposed for DELIVERANCE -- not destruction. All the dead of all the past ages stand before this marvelous tribunal of Christ and His Redeemed Body. This Body, having been prepared and qualified, join Christ in judging the world and all therein. (I Corinthians 6:1-3) This may be the first time for many to hear the Gospel. Have you ever considered the thousands who have never had the opportunity to hear even the Name of Jesus? Have you realized that some have at times maligned the Word of God and that millions have never really heard the true Gospel of Jesus that sets people free from fear and prejudice? Instead of a message of Good News, only a contorted picture of Christ’s true redemption for all has been presented as Gospel teaching. Therefore, this Great White Throne Judgment, setting all things right will actually be a glorious time of rejoicing for all as God now begins to deal with all men.

This is the event for which Jesus longed while here on earth. Jesus said, "For judgment am I come into the world, that they that see not may see; and they that say they see might be made blind." (John 9:39)

This verse shows the meaning of judgment -- all hidden things will be revealed and some things will be reversed. The man whose eyes were opened received not only his sight, but he received spiritual sight to see, know and worship Jesus. The woman taken in adultery is an example of how Christ will proceed in this great judgment day (age). For a few glimpses, we see how Christ ministered judgment in His days on the earth 2,000 years ago. Knowing what is in the heart of man, Jesus exposed quickly and easily the hypocrisy of the men who accused her. One by one her accusers left her because of their guilty conscience. But the woman was forgiven and set free. Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." He did not condone her sin but forgave and delivered her from it! Forgiving love enabled her to overcome and begin a totally new life.

Jesus said, "I am come to send fire on the earth, and howl wish it were already kindled." (Luke 12:49) He longed for our purification and for the fire of God’s Spirit to permeate the souls of humanity.

Paul in I Corinthians 4:5 says, "Therefore judge nothing before the time (Great White Throne Judgment), until the Lord comes, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God."

The "hidden things", a positive sense in that the things revealed and rewarded are those who gave alms secretly, those who prayed secretly, those who fasted secretly, Jesus says will be rewarded later. (Matthew 6:1.18) The woman who secretly helped a sick neighbor by cleaning her house, the person who gave their last $20 quietly, the person who visited the sick with a word of cheer, the person who went to encourage the imprisoned -• this may be the DAY when It is revealed and rewarded. God rewards often in this life, but the Praise of the Father openly may come in that DAY.

The "hidden things", a negative. The Light of God will reveal those injuries done by man to his brother or sister and will be brought to light for correction and cleansing.

The basic promise of life to humanity of this Judgment is given by Paul in I Corinthians 15, of the everlasting Gospel. In verses 22, 23 and 24, Paul says, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man (person) in his own order; Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet.

At the Judgment, which concludes the history of humanity, Paul says that those in the first Adam are the same in the Second Adam. In geometry there is a theorem, "things equal to the same thing are equal to each other." Thus, the mankind in Adam are the same in Christ.

The secret is in the orders of humanity. In Colossians 2:5, Paul writes these words, "For though I be absent in the flesh (body), yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ."

Perhaps the believers of Colosse were of a different spiritual order than believers at Corinth. We are in the order God has ordained for us and as we have no power over the color of our hair, our stature, so God determines our order and spiritual development. And when all the orders of humanity have come to life in Christ then comes the "end". It is then that Christ hands back to the Father the Kingdom (souls and all) that God may be all in all. I Corinthians 15:28 tells us plainly that when all things are subdued to Christ, then shall the Son also Himself be subject to Him (the Father) that put all things under Him (Christ) that God may be all in all. In the Dutch translation, the last part of this verse reads as follows: "That God may be everything in everybody." Paul says in Philippians 3:21, "Who (Christ) shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.

Other effects of this White Throne Judgment is that death and Hades is cast into the lake of fire. All of these things --rebellion, death, Hades --are cast into the nature of God Himself. Scripture tells us that "Our God is a consuming fire". (Hebrews 12:29) Fire is the expression of the nature of God. This lake is God’s sphere of purifying fire for cleansing. It represents a period of time. We get the word for brimstone from the Greek word, theiw, theion, related close to the Greek word for God, theos. Brimstone, or colored sulphur, is used for cleansing, purifying, fumigating or preserving purposes. In like manner, God’s fire will continue to burn until all sin is removed from His universe.

Death is destroyed! How is death destroyed? By making all things alive! Jesus said, "I came to bring life and that much more abundantly." (John 10:10) How do we destroy darkness? By turning on the light. The light will swallow up the darkness. Even so, Jesus is the true light of life that "lights every man that comes into the world". (John 1:1-4,9)

Jesus was a partaker of flesh and blood (humanity) in order to die, that "through death He could destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil". (Hebrews 2:14) The Bible says to be carnally minded is death. (Romans 8:6) Here we have the true meaning of death and enlightenment upon whom is our greatest enemy. It is our own self, ego or carnal mind. It is an enemy of God. It cannot please God and never will. As we compare Hebrews 2:14 with Romans 8:6, we see that the only one who has the power of death was Adam. "For in Adam all die." I Corinthians 15:22a); death entered his seed. He could only bring forth his Adamic nature upon all his posterity. It is our "old man" that is crucified. "The law of the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2) Life is the greatest power in the world. It swallows up death. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His LIFE within us." (Romans 5:10).

CHAPTER TEN

The Concept of Completion

HIS CHAPTER EMPHASIZES our God in regeneration and consummation. At this time we can see the New Heaven and earth; times are ended and there is a final and complete REGENERATION OF ALL! The new Heaven and Earth signify the completion of God’s Plan to complete the ages and to make all things new and to have all BOW before Him in adoration and holy worship.

This could have been the Third Heaven into which Paul was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord. Paul’s experience was not as a three-layer cake, but Paul was caught away in time to a final act when God will have prepared for all this new earth and new heaven. Paul was not allowed to speak of this great event in the Scriptures. (I Corinthians 2:7)

To recapitulate previous concepts which working together will culminate in the final regeneration and consummation, we should look at the ministry of Jesus in His church, in the millennium, in the Great White Throne Judgment and now in the regeneration and consummation.

The process of development (road or way), Jesus takes in returning all to the Father involves many steps. We see Him progressing from a man of flesh and blood (before the cross) to the Son (sitting over His own house) in this present age (the church age). Thereafter, He is seen as the First Finished Man (called the Son of Man) reigning during the Kingdom Age in bringing in all Israel. (Romans 11:25) Next, His position is that of the Son of God bringing deliverance and cleansing to the world in the Judgment age. Finally, during the final age, Christ sits upon the Throne as God (and rules as God) in order to bring all things back unto the Father. This, too, is the process which all the "first fruit company" is experiencing.

In Revelation 21, John gives a description of the Holy City in that new earth. In verse 2, John says that he saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem descending out of Heaven from God. In verse 4, John says that in this new city are no tears for God in His mercy will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And then later on, John describes that new city having twelve gates and twelve foundation stones. Streets are made of pure gold and there is no "night" there.

The various stones of the foundation could in symbolism speak of the nations, as the stones have the various colors reflecting their message of unity. So, these foundation stones could, in symbol, speak of the people who come from various races of the past world. The black people, the white people, the red people and the yellow people are all welcomed into this city; even the stones reflecting their inheritance and unity. The color gold could be a symbol of the love of God -- that love rippling through all the races of mankind living in this paradise. The gates of pearl could represent the pearl of great price -- Jesus -- Who is our Pearl. A pearl comes from injury and Jesus Who was "injured" for our sins, and died, has come in symbol as our great Pearl in that Holy City.

Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega, brings all into a glorious consummation through the regeneration of all things. (Matthew 19:28) As all are made alive, each in his own order, death is destroyed. Only when there is no more death in all of God’s universe is death totally abolished. This promise of life is given unto all. (I Corinthians 15:26, Romans 5:8, I Corinthians 15:22) Coming to the close of this last age, we find the earth filled with His righteousness. All know Him from the least to the greatest. The earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Through His own Blood, He has reconciled all things back unto God. We see every tongue confessing in love and adoration Christ as Lord. This can only be done in obedience and love as it is an unanimous Praise of the Universe to the Glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11, Revelation 5:13, Colossians 1:20, Isaiah 11:9)

All creation comes into the New Birth and Regeneration through the process of the New Heaven and the New Earth. Christ so completely subjects all UNTO HIMSELF and places all under His feet to become part of His Glory. Thus, it is little wonder that all gladly proclaim redemption’s story. God now rises in everyone, bringing the Consummation of God’s Plan of the ages -- a complete circle, from God in Himself to God ALL IN ALL.

EPILOGUE

Since Scripture is the source of truth for Christendom, let us look at some of the Scriptures which tell us of the glorious triumph of Jesus Christ, uniting mankind in one salvation and presenting a "saved" mankind back to the Father.

I Corinthians 15:28 -- God loves His enemies and will subdue them unto Himself.

Philippians 2:10, 11 --Until. . . at the Name of Jesus every knee must bow. (Amplified Translation)

I Timothy 2:3,4 -- God our Savior, Who will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the Truth. (Jesus is that Truth.)

I Timothy 2:5,6 -- For there is One God, and One mediator between God and man, the Man Himself, Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due (right) time.

I Timothy 4:10 -- . . . God Who is the Savior of all men.

Luke 3:6 -- And all flesh (mankind) shall see the salvation of God.

Isaiah 40:5 -- The Glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh (mankind) shall see it together: for the Mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

Ephesians 1:9, 10 -- Having made known unto us the mystery of His Will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself that in the dispensation of the fullness of time He (Christ) might gather together in one all things in Christ both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth even in Him.

I Corinthians 15:22,23 -- For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, but every man in his own order.

Acts 2:17 -- I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh (mankind).

Acts 3:21 --Whom (Jesus) heaven must receive (and retain) until the time for the complete restoration of all that God spoke by the mouth of all His Holy prophets for ages past-- from the most ancient time in the memory of man. (Amplified Version)

John 1:29 -- Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin (main sin of unbelief) of the world (humanity).

I John 2:1,2 -- We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

John 4:42 -- The Samaritans at Jacob’s well said, "This is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."

Luke 19:10 -- The Son of Man is come to seek and save that which was lost.

John 12:32 -- And if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all unto Me.

Colossians 1:20 -- And having made peace through the Blood of His Cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him whether they be things in earth or things in Heaven.

II Peter 3:9 --The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Matthew 20:28 --The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Revelation 1:17, 18 -- Jesus said, I am the First and the Last. . and I have the keys of hell and of death.

Romans 5:15 and following -- But God’s free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass -- His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man. For if many died through one man’s falling away -- his lapse, his offense, much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift (that comes) through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ, abound and overflow to and for (the benefit) of many.

For if, because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive (God’s) overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness (putting them into right standing with Himself ) reign as kings in life through the One, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One (Verse 17).

Well then, as one man’s trespass -- one man’s false step and falling away -- (led) to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness (leads) to the acquittal and right standing with God, and life for all men. (Verse 18)

For just as by one man’s disobedience (failing to hear, heedlessness and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man’s obedience the many will be constituted righteous -- made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him. (Verse 19, Amplified Bible).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Jack Jacobsen graduated with a BA. degree from Augsburg College, Minneapolis, in 1946 and received his Master of Theology degree from Northwestern Lutheran Seminary, Minneapolis, in 1949. The same year, he was ordained into the Lutheran ministry, and served churches in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. Interrupting the pastoral ministry for a time, he and his wife, Marjorie, whom he married in 1948, served as Lutheran missionaries in Nigeria, West Africa. After returning to the United States, he continued his pastoral ministry in the Midwest and at the same time furthered his theological studies at the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary, Maywood, Illinois, Central School of Religion, Indianapolis, Indiana, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana and finally received his Doctor of Theology degree from Citadel Baptist Theological Seminary, in 1981. He is presently serving a Lutheran Parish in Minnesota. Jack and Marjorie are the parents of five children.

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