After the Apostle Paul wrote the first three chapters of “The Epistle to the Ephesians,” in which he penned the most glorious revelation of Truth God ever made known to mankind, he made a mighty proclamation for believers to—walk worthy of the vocation with which they had been called.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,… Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1, 3).
At the time of its writing, it was of immense importance for the believers, coming out of the Acts Period, to “keep” the unity of the faith. The faith, in the context, was the body of Truth associated with the “latest report from God” which was the Revelation of the Mystery. The Secret that had been “hid in God” (Eph. 3:9) was, NOW, revealed. The Holy Spirit established a unity which the believers “keep.” They were not to make a unity, but they were to ENDEAVOR TO KEEP THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT. The unity consisted of Truths the Spirit introduced. The unity was to be the binding power of peace between two sets of believers. One set had moved from the Law of Moses to the Gospel of the Circumcision which allowed them to, still, retain facets of the “law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph. 2:15). The other set of believers had embraced the Gospel of the Uncircumcision. This group consisted of both Gentiles and exiled Jews. Their Gospel, which Paul preached to them, was that they were justified by faith, and faith alone.
The “latest report” from God was that He was forming ONE NEW MAN, the Church over which Christ Jesus was the Head. This NEW MAN was to have all prior differences and enmities abolished; thus, a Divine Oneness was established. This Oneness was to be acknowledged and kept.
Therefore, Paul exhorted the saints to be faithful by “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit.” The wording would indicate it was the believer’s very sacred duty, and it was not to be taken lightly—KEEP the unity. The word, “keep,” carries with it the idea; to hold; to retain in one’s power or possession: not to lose or part with. Additionally, it would mean “to preserve from falling, or from danger; to protect; to guard or sustain” (Webster’s Dictionary 1828). “Endeavouring” is probably from the French word, “devoir,” which is “to owe or be indebted” and, hence; it primarily signifies duty.
It was obvious that the saints were told to “keep,” not to “make.” They were told to “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit,” not to “endeavor to make a unity.” The very idea of to “keep” is to hold or retain, not lose or part with. Thus, the unity had been established by the Spirit. The saint was told that a worthy walk called for him to “keep the unity of the Spirit.”
The member of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head had delivered into his custody, “the unity of the Spirit.” The exhortation was for him to KEEP IT. The Church was to guard, protect and sustain, which is to say, preserve it from danger. The Church—the One New Man—was to be the caretaker, guardian, and custodian of the unity of the Spirit. This custodianship was to be the serious business as part of the saint’s vocation.
We have, continually, referred to the believer’s duty, responsibility, indebtedness, and vocation as being in the past tense. When we analyze Paul’s message concerning the “UNITY OF THE SPIRIT,” it becomes apparent that congregations which name the Name of Christ have taken the unity of the Spirit and thrown it back in the Face of God as if it were mud. Within a few short years after the Revelation of the Mystery was made known, the prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ wrote to Timothy from the Mamertine Prison, “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me …” (2 Tim. 1:15). This, along with the rest of 2nd Timothy, indicates the “unity of the Spirit” was not safe-guarded, kept, or retained. Organized fellowship seems to have fallen apart. Therefore, today, there is not the Acts Period division that needs to be corrected. Rather, Christianity has splintered into an innumerable amount of divisions and sects, most of whom don’t have any earthly idea what is being talked about when the “Unity of the Spirit” is mentioned.
Christians, today, are not endeavoring to “keep the unity of the Spirit.” In many cases, they are attempting to make their own unity which others should keep. We will not belabor the obvious neglect, or ignorance on the part of the Christian organizations as they labor to keep their own traditions while, all the while, pretending that the unity which was to have been kept never existed. With this in mind, we are fully persuaded that it behooves us, who have been saved by His grace and were called to embrace Present Truth, to know the components of this Divinely established unity.
During the years immediately following the writings of the Epistle to the Ephesians and Colossians, the internal evidence would seem to indicate that the most appropriate nomenclature for the Church of the Mystery would have been the “One Body,” or the “One New Man.” However, as the Hebraic influence waned or died out, the title, “the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23), became more appropriate and, probably, more prominent.
As those belonging to the Church, which is His Body, we should know and understand the elements which make up this blessed Treasure, to wit, “the unity of the Spirit.” This Treasure, which is “the bond of peace,” has been entrusted to those who have been membered into the Church. When the member understands the Divinely established “unity of the Spirit,” his whole attitude changes concerning his guardianship of it. He understands the seriousness of his responsibility. He weighs, carefully, his “walk.” The prerequisite for a “worthy walk” is not to compromise this Treasure.
The “unity of the Spirit” was the uniting factor which cemented and united the two factions coming out of the Acts Period. The Jewish and Gentile believers, who lived through the dispensational change, were to acknowledge this unity established by the Spirit of God. There was failure to do so as evidenced by the Second Epistle to Timothy. But, this failure does not, in any way, absolve us from “endeavouring to keep” this unity. We, as individuals, are to keep it, even when no one else does! The sincere effort to keep and guard this uniting Treasure was the “bond of peace” between the two parties. It is, even today, the “bond of peace” for all who will acknowledge the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT. Today, we deal with not just “two parties” of believing Jews and Gentiles, as it was during the days immediately after the revelation of the Mystery, but with innumerable companies of Christians of varied denominations, most of whom “don’t have a clue” concerning the Holy Spirit’s established unity. We should be steadfast, unmovable, and unwavering in guarding and preserving the Unity of the Spirit. In all likelihood, we will find ourselves “standing alone” in the little sphere of the world in which we live and move and have our being.
We should be diligent in monitoring every attempt the Adversary uses to impart into our thinking some doctrine, or practice that belongs to a time before the “middle wall of partition” was destroyed. Remember 1 Corinthians 15:33; “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” “Good manners” means proper usage, or customs. Many have been deceived by having so-called “fellowship” with those who are not true to the majestic Treasure of the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT.” A little leaven leavens the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6 & Gal. 5:9). This is not a subject to be debated (2 Tim. 2:23-26). The stance of the believer, while manifesting “all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering” (Eph. 4:2), does not give us the liberty to be charitable with the goods of another. As stewards, it is required that we be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:2).
There are seven features incorporated into the “Unity of the Spirit” which are:
1. One Body
2. One Spirit
3. One Hope
4. One Lord
5. One Faith
6. One Baptism
7. One God and Father of all
In the following issues, an assessment will be made, vis-à-vis, of the seven features of the “bond of peace.”
Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger
October 5, 2009
PLAINER WORDS ONLINE …UNITY OF THE SPIRIT ( 2 )
1. ONE BODY
The first feature we meet in the “Unity of the Spirit” is the ONE BODY. This is a reference to “the Church, which is His Body” (Eph. 1:22-23). The term, One Body, doesn’t liken the Church to the human body. Many, mistakenly, think the One Body is likened to the human body because Ephesians and Colossians speak of Christ as being the Head of the Body. They derive the idea from 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul likens the Church of God to a human body.
In fact, 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans do, indeed, liken the Church of God to the figure of a “body.” The figure is that of the human anatomy. These truths belong to the Pentecostal Dispensation which ended at the close of the Book of Acts.
The One Body of the present dispensation is a reference to a body of believers. The word, “body,” carries with it the thought of “a number of individuals united” (Webster’s 1828). We could refer to the students in a high school as—the student body. The main part of an army can be called—the main body of the army. In the same sense, the Church is referred to as—The Body.
The Church, which is His Body can, also, be likened to that of a—body of water. A body of water, to wit, a lake usually has as its source of supply of water, a river or stream. Several examples would be the Brazos River in Texas, which is the source for the water that fills Lake Whitney. The Red River, which is the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma, is the source for the water that fills Lake Texoma. The Lord Jesus Christ, as the Head, is the Source for the supply which fills to His Body—which is the Church.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE “ONE BODY” AT THE TIME OF ITS REVELATION
Keep in mind that the Truth of the One Body (i.e., the One New Man) was not revealed until the Hope of Israel was placed in abeyance. After the Apostle Paul pronounced official and judicial blindness upon Israel (Acts 28:25-28), he, subsequently, received a special revelation of a Sacred Secret—the Mystery after the Book of Acts is finished. The latest report from God to the Apostle Paul was the revelation of the Mystery. This new and fresh revelation completely altered the situation which had existed from Acts 10 through Acts 28 between Jew and Gentile believers.
There were notable distinctions between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians which, today, most all of Christendom either ignores, or they are unable to see, spiritually.
The Jew had the advantage. There was “profit” in circumcision, “much in every way: chiefly, because unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:1-3). Paul enumerated other advantages the Jew had during “The Acts of the Apostles.” To Israel, pertained:
a. The adoption
b. The glory
c. The covenants
d. The law
e. The service of God
f. The promises
g. The fathers
h. Concerning the flesh, Christ came (Rom. 9:4-5)
In contrast, the Gentiles, during this time-frame, were dispensationally disadvantaged. In fact, they were being called and saved for the express purpose of provoking Israel to jealousy (Rom. 11:11). There was a difference between the Jew and the Gentile.
Galatians 2 even informs the student the distinction was so pronounced that the Gentiles had one gospel, and the Jews had another:
The Gospel of the Uncircumcision—for the Gentile
The Gospel of the Circumcision—for the Jew
There were churches of the Jews, as well as churches of the Gentiles:
Churches of God in Judea—the Jew – 1 Thessalonians 2:14
Churches of the Gentiles—the Gentile – Romans 16:4
The Gentile Christians were said to have been without a Christ of their own, aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope of their own, and having no God of their own (Eph. 2:12).
The distinctions that existed during the Acts economy, undoubtedly, indicated that there were two companies of believers. Thus, there were two bodies of believers—the Jew and the Gentile.
However, with the ushering in of the Mystery, all of the Jewish privileges and advantages were done away with. Prior to the revelation of the Mystery, the Gentile saint, positionally, was “afar off.” After God closed “The Acts of the Apostles,” there came a radical change, for Paul announced that they were NOW made “nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).
The “middle wall of partition” which stood between the two parties during the Pentecostal Dispensation was removed. The “middle wall” was a wall of separation. In fact, the Bible says it was the “enmity” between the Jews and Gentiles. As long as the middle wall stood, the Jew had a place of privilege which was superior to that of the Gentile.
The announcement from Paul’s prison that Christ was NOW among the Gentiles and was their “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) was, indeed, a “hard saying” for the Jewish saints to receive. Many of them, who had lived under the Old Testament economy, were devout but had to leave, behind, much of their Old Testament faith as they believed the New Testament revelations. Jesus Christ was the “end of the law for righteousness” (Rom. 10:3). It was difficult for them to accept the fact that the “Uncircumcision,” the believing Gentiles, were being saved and made partakers of “the gifts of the Spirit” without observing the Law, or being circumcised (see Acts 15). The Jewish Christians thought the Apostle Paul taught contrary to the Law of Moses. Some even believed that Paul taught the Jews “which were among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after their customs” (Acts 21:21). This, of course, was untrue. What was true was that the Gentile had no obligation to Moses, or to circumcision.
The Jewish saint was to, still, observe the Law BUT NOT FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE.
After the Apostle Paul announced the setting aside of Israel, everything the Jew had held near and dear concerning covenant Truth was done away with. Every barrier which separated the two parties during the Acts Period had been eradicated. There was, NOW, no privilege, or advantage in being an Israelite. That was, naturally, a “bitter pill to swallow.” However, Paul rejoiced that the twain were now one. For the Lord has made “in Himself of twain ONE NEW MAN, so making peace” (Eph. 2:15). The bottom line was that Israel’s hope was suspended.
The ONE NEW MAN was a new creation. It was comprised of Jews and Gentiles coming out of the Acts Period. As such, the two were “fellowheirs, and [members] of the same body” (Eph. 3:6). The “same body” is a reference to the Body of believers over which Christ Jesus is the Head. The two factions who existed during the “Acts of the Apostles” were reconciled unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby (Eph. 2:16).
The One New Man, the One Body, did not exist during “The Acts of the Apostles.” It was imperative for “the Body of Christ” (Acts period believers – Jews and Gentiles) to understand that, NOW, the believers were to be incorporated into the One Body where there was absolutely no distinction between the two parties. The Jews lost their spiritual identity. Within this new calling, everyone who embraced the latest report from God stood on equal ground with the others.
Yes, it should be acknowledged that within the Church of God (the Church of the Acts era), there were, generally speaking, two bodies of believers. This is hard for some to grasp. During the Acts Dispensation, the two bodies made up “the Body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27). How can two bodies be called the Body of Christ? We can use the army as an example. When in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany, we were part of the Second Armored Division. Located on the same Army base was the Sixty-Sixth Field Artillery Division. Both Divisions were part of the Seventh Army. The two (bodies) divisions were separate, but both were part of the body of the Seventh Army. So it was during the Book of Acts – two distinct bodies – but made up “the Body of Christ.”
The overwhelming truth for the twain coming out of the Acts Period was that there, NOW, existed ONE BODY with no sub-divisions, or no group with spiritual advantages. The “bond of peace” was the unity created by the Holy Spirit in the Dispensation of the Mystery. Two appropriate names for the Church of the Mystery during the early days of the revelation of the Mystery were—the One New Man, or—the One Body. However, as the Jewish element lost its relevance, it no longer became necessary to emphasize the Oneness between the old two factions. The most appropriate name for the Ecclesia became “ …gave Him [Christ] to be the Head of the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).
Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger
October 14, 2009
PLAINER WORDS ONLINE …THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT ( 3 )
1. ONE BODY (Continued)
In the previous issue (Part 2) on “The Unity of the Spirit,” we noted the significance of the One Body-Truth at the time of its revelation. At the time of the revelation of the Mystery, great numbers of Jews were believers on Christ. In fact, a high percentage of the Christians were descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When the dispensation changed at the end of “Acts” and the Mystery was brought to light, there was a radical change in God’s Administration. Paul informed the saints that every vestige of Jewish ascendancy had been done away with. He carried everyone back to the Cross, and detailed that more happened and was accomplished on the Cross than what had, previously, been revealed. A great deal more was achieved than Jesus Christ “dying for our sins.” The truth embodied in the Mystery shows that, on the Cross, the work of Christ was so sufficient that:
The Gentiles were made nigh by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2)
He made both the Jew and Gentile one (Eph. 2)
The middle wall of partition was broken down (Eph. 2)
The enmity was abolished in His flesh (Eph. 2)
Both parties were reconciled unto God in one body, by the Cross (Eph. 2)
The handwriting of ordinances that was against us was blotted-out (Col. 2)
Believers were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by the circumcision of Christ (Col. 2)
Believers were baptized in Christ’s Death Baptism (Col. 2)
Believers were quickened with Him through the faith of the operation of God (Col 2)
These nine features are Truths contained in the Testimony of the Lord’s prisoner. This marked a far-reaching departure from Pentecostal Truth. Salvation had been of the Jews (John 4:22) but at Acts 28, it was announced that the salvation of God (the Word) was being sent to the Gentiles. The result was that NOW Christ was among the Gentiles and was their HOPE OF GLORY (Col. 1:27).
From that time, onward, the Jewish Christians began to have a lesser influence among members of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head. The farther away from 63 A.D. (to wit, the end of the Acts Period), you get fewer Jews who are being incorporated into the One Body.
By the time the Twenty-First Century rolls around, you find very few Jews who have embraced Christianity—especially the Mystery. All of this was said in order to say this—believers, today, are not confronted with the problem of Jewish privilege and ascendancy as it existed in the First Century. However, believers are confronted with another pervasive problem which arises out of the refusal of Christendom to follow the principle of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE “ONE BODY” TODAY
2000 YEARS LATER
Today, most Christians confuse the “Body of Christ” with the One Body, to wit, “the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him.”
“The Body of Christ” was the First Century believers who were members of the “Church of God.” The Church of God was on the Christian scene from Acts 2 through Acts 28. In fact, in most orthodox Christian circles, the clergy, as well as the laity, believe they have made spiritual advancement by progressing from calling the body of believers “the Church” to calling them “the Body of Christ.” This is not a forward advancement at all. But rather, it is simply a lateral move. For there to be advancement, a vertical movement is to be made. That would be to recognize the authorized name of today’s calling which is found in Ephesians 1:22-23:
“And [God] hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him [Christ] to be the Head over all things to the Church, Which is his Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.”
The Word of God does not authorize the use of “the Body of Christ” for the name of the Church of the Mystery. The “One New Man” and the “One Body” are accurate names that can be applied to the Church, today. However, as it has been stressed, the most appropriate name for the calling of today is—“the Church, which is His Body.” Today’s Church must be differentiated from the Church during “The Acts of the Apostles.” Otherwise, we have the error, confusion, and darkness.
The Apostle Paul stated, very plainly, in 1 Corinthians 12:27 that the “Church of God” is the “Body of Christ.”
“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
The “Body of Christ” was endowed with spiritual gifts. Also, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:28).
The Church—the One Body, or the Church, which is His Body have none of these offices. Notice, carefully, that the “Body of Christ” was endowed with miracle workers, healers, helpers, directors (God appointed officers), and speakers of foreign tongues. All of these went along with the Pentecostal programs.
Failure to distinguish between “the Body of Christ” and the One Body with Christ Jesus as the Head leads to discord. Discord prevents any spiritual unity among believers. True fellowship is impossible. The first step in restoring any semblance of unity is for Christians to acknowledge the Scriptural fact that the Apostle Paul had two ministries. The antidote for the confusion is to “rightly divide the Word of Truth.”
2. ONE SPIRIT
In James 2:26, we read that the body without the spirit is dead. Therefore, it is certainly correct, in the doctrine of the “Unity of the Spirit,” that which follows the One Body is the One Spirit.
In Ephesians 2, we notice how closely connected the One Spirit is with the One Body:
“And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:16).
“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18).
We can look, closer, at the One Spirit and notice there are two references to the sealing by the One Spirit.
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13).
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
It should be pointed out that members of the One Body (the Church, which is His Body) form a habitation for God to dwell in by means of the Spirit.
“In whom ye [members of the Church] also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22).
The ONE SPIRIT strengthens the believer’s inner man.
“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16).
The Holy Spirit, during the Book of Acts, ministered one or more “spiritual gifts” to every believer. That is not the case during the economy of the Mystery. The contrast is that the One Spirit’s office work, in the present dispensation, is to minister Christ to the believer. What a glorious thought! It’s not that Christ is ministering to us. The Holy Spirit ministers the Person of Christ to us!
Between Acts 2 and Acts 28, the Spirit ministered the Pentecostal “spiritual gifts.” These gifts were in harmony with the Pentecostal economy. 1 Corinthians 12 informs the student that every member of the “Church of God” received one or more gifts from the Spirit.
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man [who is a member] to profit withal” (! Cor. 12:7).
“But all these [spiritual gifts] worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor. 12:11).
By way of contrast, by rightly dividing the Word of Truth, we find that no “spiritual gifts” are imparted to believers in the economy of the Mystery. Perhaps, the greatest gift God can impart to those, who make up the Body over which Christ Jesus is the Head, is that of GRACE.
“But unto every one of us is given GRACE (not “spiritual gifts”) according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph. 4:7).
On the other side of Acts 28:31, the Holy Spirit ministered supernatural gifts to every believer; on this side of Acts 28:31, the Spirit ministers GRACE “unto every one of us.” If the “spiritual gifts” were being imparted today, then, there must be two Spirits at work. We are, expressly, told that in order to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” there is but One Body and ONE SPIRIT. God’s grace is given to us in sufficient measure for us to maneuver, properly, on “mountain-top experiences.” Likewise, His grace is sufficient for us in times of weakness, distress, and heartache.
We think it is not improper to re-emphasize the fact that during the Acts Period, the Spirit of God identified the believer as part of the “Body of Christ” by imparting “spiritual gifts” which were nine in number. This identification and impartation of the gifts of the Spirit is referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:13:
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
The occurrence of “one Spirit” and “one body,” in the preceding verse, has led many to believe it is a reference to the “One Body” and “One Spirit” in Ephesians 4:4. We must “try the things that differ” (Phil. 1:10), for being baptized into one body by the Spirit is not the work of the Holy Spirit in this dispensation. The “One Baptism” for this economy is found in Ephesians 4:5 and Colossians 2:12 and is, entirely, apart from “spiritual gifts.” More will be said about the ONE BAPTISM when we come to that feature in the seven-fold Unity of the Spirit.
The expression of the “one Spirit” in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is intimately associated with the supernatural gifts of the Spirit. To say that the “one Spirit,” in the Unity of the Spirit, refers back to the Corinthian Epistle is to treat, lightly, the charge to “keep the unity of the Spirit.”
The work of the Holy Spirit, during the Acts Period, was a prelude to the far-reaching ministry of the Spirit during the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God. The Pre-Millennial Kingdom is, also, referred to as “the Day of Jesus Christ.” In conjunction with the Spirit’s all encompassing, miracle-working activity during this Pre-Millennial Kingdom, we find, in Acts 2:18, that God refers to this dispensation as—“those days of My Spirit.”
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE “ONE SPIRIT” AT THE TIME OF ITS REVELATION
The saints who lived through the dispensational change, when “The Acts of the Apostles” ended, had been accustomed to the manifestation of the Spirit which was commonplace and a normal occurrence among the Christian communities.
However, they, also, witnessed the Counterfeit-Spirit working within their midst. During the Pentecostal era, there were false spirits at work, attempting to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit. Some satanic spirits even energized believers to say that Christ was accursed. This was accomplished by the satanic-spirits causing the careless saint to speak in “tongues” (see 1 Cor. 12:3). The evidence of the satanic spirits at work in the Corinthian church was apparent by their disorderly conduct when they were assembled. Paul admonished the Corinthians and reminded them that, “…God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33). Part of the confusion and disorder in the assembly at Corinth was the fact that women were speaking, and the Apostle Paul said that was a shame for them to speak-out in the church:
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (1 Cor. 14:34-35).
Paul said it, as did the Law. In this respect, it could be understood that a portion of the Law was to, still, be observed, to wit; that women were forbidden to speak in the sacred assembly.
John the Apostle wrote, in 1 John 4, a warning for the believers “to believe not every spirit, but to try the spirits whether they are of God or not.” He said, at the time of his writing 1 John, that there were many “false prophets.” Spirits that denied Christ had come in the flesh were, in fact, the “spirit of anti-christ.”
Therefore, the saints were told to try, or test every spirit so they could differentiate between the Spirit of God and the spirit of anti-christ.
During the Book of Acts, there were abundant manifestations of spiritual activity, both by the Holy Spirit and the anti-christ spirit. Some Christians, during that time, either were unable to distinguish, or refused to distinguish between the two.
After “the hope of Israel” was set aside, the “spiritual gifts” and other manifestations of the Spirit were, also, done away with. The change of dispensations brought in a new and, hitherto, unknown and unprophesied program—the Dispensation of the Grace of God. In this dispensation, “spiritual gifts” are unknown, which is to say, they are NOT PART OF GOD’S PRESENT ADMINISTRATION! Acts period-type rulers (i.e., lords) play no part in God’s dealing with believers, today. The Church, which is His Body has only One Head—the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE “ONE SPIRIT” TODAY 2000 YEARS LATER
Today, members of the Church, which is His Body endeavor to “keep the unity of the Spirit.” They are not plagued with the problem of trying the spirits to see whether or not they are of God. The One Body Believer must rightly divide the Word of God. Doing so enables him to see just what the work of the Holy Spirit is in this dispensation. The One Body Believer can brandish the Sword of the ONE SPIRIT “which is the Word of God” (Eph. 6:17).
All Christians should understand operational Truth of the ONE SPIRIT during the Dispensation of the Grace of God. All Christians should consider, and take to heart, the following:
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:18-19).
Many Christians read—be filled with the Spirit—and believe this to mean that if a believer is “filled with the Spirit,” he will experience “the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” The result of this Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) baptism is that the believer speaks in “tongues.” Hence, they think the exhortation Paul makes in Ephesians 5:18, of being filled with the Spirit, leads to “speaking in tongues.” The idea of Christians “speaking in tongues” after the close of the historical account of “The Acts of the Apostles” is a gross distortion of Biblical Truth for Today. What has been “passed-off” as “speaking in tongues” is nothing short of speaking “gibberish,” or making oracular utterances of “gobbledygook.” Reading skill, at the third grade level, will inform the Christian that in today’s Christian economy, being filled with the Spirit leads to SPEAKING TO YOURSELF in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in YOUR HEART TO THE LORD (Eph. 5:19).
There is no sanction of so-called “speaking in tongues” in Paul’s Epistles written after the close of the Book of Acts. The ONE SPIRIT does not minister along Pentecostal lines, but rather, in harmony with the Prison Epistles. To insist Ephesians 5:18 refers to the Pentecostal experience is self-deception. To claim that the “spiritual gifts” are for this dispensation is to violate the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT. This UNITY forbids addition or subtraction.
Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger
October 24, 2009
PLAINER WORDS ONLINE …THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT ( 4 )
In our previous three studies, we have examined the first two features of the seven-fold “Unity of the Spirit” which were the One Body and the One Spirit. The next item which we are to look at is that of the ONE HOPE of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head.
3. ONE HOPE
A significant reference to the ONE HOPE is found in Ephesians 1:18, where the Apostle Paul prays that the Christian may be given the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, “that ye may know what is the HOPE of His calling.” There is no doubt, at all, that Paul has in mind no other than that of the “high calling” of the Mystery. There is One Hope for the One Body. In order for the believers to see [discern] the One Hope, they must have the One Spirit enlighten the “eyes of their understanding.” The Hope of this present calling is not, readily, “seen” or comprehended. To emphasize the point, Paul’s prayer will be placed before the reader:
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the HOPE of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Eph.1:17-18).
In order to understand the well-founded expectation of the present calling, the One Spirit must shed light on the One Hope. For when the Spirit of God sheds light on the Truth, it, then, becomes revelation to the heart of the believer. Revelation is necessary to comprehend the One Hope of the One Body. We, too, pray that every reader of these words may be granted the spiritual insight so he may know what is the One Hope of the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.
In order to know what it is, it is good to know what it is not. It is not the 2nd Coming of Christ, that is to say; it is not the Parousia. It is not the “Rapture” of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Neither is it New Jerusalem which comes down from God out of Heaven. The One Hope of the Mystery will be realized when His Appearing [Epiphaneia] and His Kingdom takes place (2 Tim. 4:1).
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE “ONE HOPE” AT THE TIME OF ITS REVELATION
During 30 to 40 years of “The Acts of the Apostles,” the hope which the Lord presented was that which Peter, energetically, proclaimed after he healed the crippled beggar. Peter walked with John and the beggar to Solomon’s Porch in the Temple and, there, Peter delivered his God inspired message to the men of Israel. He stirred his audience with the words:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).
In this address, there are four salient points wrapped up in this Pentecostal hope.
1. Times of Refreshing
2. Christ will be retained in Heaven
3. Times of Restitution of all things
4. All of the Prophets prophesied about the Restitution
In Peter’s inspired message, he did not, once, mention the 2nd Coming of Christ [the Parousia]. This is profound inasmuch as Christian Theologians ignore this God inspired revelation. They want to insert His Coming into this hope when the Scripture states, unequivocally, that Christ will remain in Heaven during the events declared by the Apostle Peter.
Not only that, but most theologians, as well as most Christians, believe that the next Divine Program which appears on the horizon of Prophetic Truth is that of the Tribulation. Then, there are those who believe that there will be a Pre-Millennial Rapture. Rather lately, a new theological position has arisen. It has become so popular that it has, almost, become a major tenant in Christian orthodoxy; it is—The Secret Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This belief arose from a “vision” which a young lady from Scotland had in, and around, the year of 1830. John Darby picked this up and incorporated it into his belief system. Hal Lindsay, in 1970, wrote a best-selling novel concerning this. Dr. Tim LaHaye wrote a series, “The Left Behind Series,” that really made the Pre-Tribulation Rapture a popular doctrine. (See our study – www.plainerwords.com “Pre-Tribulation Rapture – True or False”).
They are blind to, ignorant of, or ignore what is next in God’s prophetic scheme of things. The dispensation which follows ours is the ushering in of the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God. We are not to be expecting to witness the rise of the Satanic Anti-Christ, nor of God pouring out His wrath. One overlooked fact is that the “Israel of God” must be on the world scene, and it is not. The “Israel-of-man” is, now, on the world scene and is one of the great hoaxes of our time (See our study – www.plainerwords.com “The Grand Hoax”).
The “Israel of God” will not be revived until the Kingdom of God becomes a reality. King David must be raised from the dead and be “in-waiting” for the people of His kingdom to be brought to life again, re-gathered, and brought into the Land and, then, they will assume their allotted territory in a land that will stretch from the River Nile to the Tigris-Euphrates River. Then, Israel, over the subsequent years, becomes the predominate nation in the world. The Lord Jesus Christ will be on His throne in Heaven, assuming His rightful position as the King of kings over all of the world. David, as Israel’s King, will function as the “Vice-Regent” of Christ. There will be a time when God’s clock begins to run on the “Israel of God” for four-hundred-ninety years. This tells us that the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God will last at least four-hundred-ninety years (i.e, The Seventy Weeks of Daniel).
In the last three paragraphs, we digressed, to some extent, from the thrust of the Apostle Peter’s message in Acts 3:19-21. There, he set forth the Hope which Acts Period believers were to embrace. He said that all of God’s “holy prophets,” throughout the Old Testament times, prophesied concerning “the times of refreshing.” This speaks of the lifting, or removal of the “Curse” which God placed upon mankind and the earth in Genesis 3.
The prophets of old, also, spoke about “The restitution of all things.” This speaks of the earth being restored to its pre-flood pristine glory. All of this is accomplished by the work of Christ while He remains in Heaven.
These three features, (l) the curse being lifted, (2) the earth restored, and (3) Christ being retained in Heaven, all coincide with the coming of the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God.
The saints, who were alive at the time of Israel’s dismissal (Acts 28), lived to learn that the manifestation of the Kingdom was postponed. All that they had hoped for had been suspended.
A new and fresh revelation, which had, previously, been unknown, had been given to the Apostle Paul. It concerned a new dispensation that was suddenly marshaled in with Israel’s blindness. With the new dispensation, the Mystery, comes a new hope. It is not associated with the last trump, the archangel, the shout, or the Lord’s departure from Heaven, and all which relate to the 2nd Advent.
Consider this –when the dispensation changed, the members of the Church of God were stunned to learn that their hope and all of its attendant blessings were set aside. They believed that the Kingdom would come in their lifetime. Their hope, they were told, had been postponed for an extended period of time. This came as quite a shock to them. Thousands of Jewish believers had sold all of their possessions (Acts 14:31 and 5:11) and were anticipating the times of refreshing and the restoration of all things. To be informed by Paul’s latest report from God that their Hope had been “put on hold,” and they were to look for a new Hope, probably, came as a “blow” to them. On top of all of this, they learned that during the new dispensation—the Grace of God, they were, no longer, to enjoy the Jewish privilege and ascendancy over the Gentiles. They were, now, to be reckoned among the Gentiles. Perhaps, this was a “bitter pill to swallow” for many Jews. The humbling was, even, further pronounced to learn that “NOW Christ was among the Gentiles and was their hope of glory” (Col 1: 27).
Understanding man’s nature and the nature of those who were weak in faith (Rom. 14:15), we can, safely, say that many believers didn’t “want to get on board” the new dispensation train.
Of course, those who embraced the new Truth—the Mystery—were not disappointed but, rather, rejoiced as did the Apostle Paul who exclaimed:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph. 1:3-4).
Those who believed the latest report from God realized that THEY LOST NOTHING BUT GAINED SO MUCH MORE.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE “ONE HOPE” TODAY – 2000 YEARS LATER
Most orthodox Christian Doctrine embodies the 2nd Coming of Christ. Some recognize that He will come again to the Mount of Olives. Those who do believe this; it is their Hope. Others believe that the so-called Rapture, either pre or post Tribulation, is their Hope. While many dispute with each other which is correct, they both adhere to the “pagan” belief that when they die, they go to Heaven. This is not the place to correct this fanciful error on their part. A casual glance at a concordance shows that Paul’s Epistles, written after the Book of Acts closes, make no mention of the Coming (Parousia) of Christ.
Israel is set aside, not because of her disobedience, but because it is part of God’s Program. She is, temporarily, withdrawn from the world stage, but she will be reinstated when the times of Refreshing and Restitution take place.
But NOW the Lord is secretly constructing a spiritual Temple (Eph. 2:21):
“And [His Body] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:20-22).
The student is encouraged to search the Scriptures written by Paul after Acts 28. He should notice that there is no mention, at all, concerning the “Parousia” of the Lord Jesus. When describing the One Hope of the One Body, the Apostle Paul does not choose the words, “come” or “coming.” Rather, Paul was directed, under inspiration, to use the Greek noun, Epiphaneia, which is translated as “Appearing.” God chose the title of the event that brings His Pre-Millennial Kingdom into being as “Epiphaneia.” We get our English word, “Epiphany,” from “Epiphaneia.”
“Epiphaneia” is a noun meaning, literally, “a shining forth: it was used of the appearance of a god to men,” Vine’s Expository Dictionary. It was used, in Greek, to identify a spectacular event. Thayer’s Lexicon says; epiphaneia “often used by the Greeks of a glorious manifestation of the gods, and especially of their advent to help…in 2 Macc. Of signal deeds and events betokening the presence and power of God as helper.”
Another writer has said, concerning the word, Epiphaneia, that when the Greeks believed they witnessed a miraculous intervention by the gods on their behalf, they called the event an Epiphaneia. Rotherham says Epiphaneia is, “the forthshining of the gods intervening favorably on behalf of man.” This event was referred to as an Epiphaneia. This word was, constantly, employed to set forth gracious appearances of “higher powers” in the aid of men.
We will list the times Paul uses “Epiphaneia” in its connection with the One Hope of the Church, which is His Body.
1 Timothy 6:14 – “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the Appearing [Epiphaneia] of our Lord Jesus Christ:”
2 Timothy 1:10 - “But is now made manifest by the Appearing [Epiphaneia] of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Titus 2:13 – “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious Appearing [Epiphaneia] of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
2 Timothy 4:1 – “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His Appearing [Epiphaneia] and His Kingdom”
2 Timothy 4:8 – “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his Appearing [Epiphaneia].”
“The times of refreshing” and “restitution of all things,” to wit, the Kingdom of God, begins when 2 Timothy 4:1 becomes a reality; “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His Appearing [Epiphaneia] and His Kingdom.”
The Second Coming (i.e., Parousia) of Jesus Christ does not have to take place for the restoration, i.e., the restitution to be accomplished. In fact, the Bible says Christ is to remain in Heaven while the re-creation is completed. This fact, alone, should cause one to question the pre-millennial dispensationalists’ fixation that the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ are imminent.
The title to the most magnificent Chapter that God will write into Human History will be that which will be entitled—“The Epiphaneia.” This will be where most all of God’s prophecies will find their fulfillment.
Two signal events follow Christ’s Epiphaneia: (1) He establishes His world-wide governmental sovereignty (i.e., His Kingdom), and (2) He begins to adjudge among the living and the dead who will qualify to live under His imperial Government and enjoy the benefits of the restoration of the world.
From Plainer Words
The Unity of the Spirit - Part 1 to 4
Posted in: 2009
By Tom L. Ballinger
Oct 28, 2009 - 5:34:06 PM
Oct 28, 2009 - 5:34:06 PM
© Copyright 2009 by Plainer Words