To Make all Men See

Posted in: 2010
By Tom L. Ballinger
May 10, 2010 - 10:43:40 AM

Some traditional Christian doctrine is based upon expressions found in the Bible, but it is completely opposite of the Truth the Word of God is conveying. This is the result of disregarding the Context in which the words or expressions are found. The structure and arrangement of the words in the Bible are perfect, just as the Truth revealed in them are. The order, arrangement, and structure of the words are Divine. It is a crime for anyone to subvert the structure and order, either by ignoring or changing it.
Beware of any teacher, or preacher who does not make the Context completely clear. Beware of anyone who quotes passages of Scripture as they develop doctrine without making the Context manifestly essential of its development. Some passages of Scripture derive their chief importance FROM THE PLACE WE FIND THEM. Every passage has its own importance in this respect. The expression, “to make all men see,” has its own place in Scripture, and there is a Divine reason why it is where it is. By the same token, there is a Divine reason why it is not in any other place.
It is essential that if we are to understand the words of God, we must discover why they are where we find them. Likewise, we should discover why they are not in any other passage. In order for the words and the Word of God to be an enjoyment, we must have a regard for the Context; otherwise, we are at the mercy of those who propagate false doctrine; using the words of God to prove that which is untrue. To disregard the Context, a word, a sentence, or a verse can be interpreted in a manner which is foreign to its original intent.
All of us have heard the old proverb: “The Bible can be used to prove anything.” This is true, ONLY, when there is a disregard and indifference to the Context from which the words or verses are taken. If the Context is duly considered, it could never be made to teach anything different from the Context in which God has set it.
These facts, concerning the Context, should be elementary for students of the Bible. However, it is apparent that many, many Christians are asked to believe that which is untrue. Every sentence or verse has something going before it and something following it. To understand the meaning of it is absolutely essential that the Context be considered. This is true with human writers.  Quite often, we have heard complaints made by politicians, public speakers, or writers that only part of what they said was quoted, and the result was that a false conception was given to what they meant. Their reply to this is, “What was reported was taken out of context.” Had the quoted statement been given its proper context, a quite different complexion would have been given to the point referred to.
If this is important where man is concerned, how much more important is it when God’s Word is concerned? The words and expressions in the Bible are God’s. Thus, it is God’s Context and not man’s. Beware of those who claim to be “called of God” but are so presumptuous to disregard God’s Context and to disturb His Context. However, this is consistently done in order to “prop-up” some traditional “Christian Doctrines.”
“To make all men see” (Eph. 3:9) is an expression taken out of Context by many who have embraced the calling of Present Truth—the Mystery that has, NOW, been revealed and explained (Col. 1:26). How often have we heard that, as members of the Church, which is His Body, we are “to make all men see” God’s Sacred Secret. Many insist that this is our “marching orders” and we, therefore, have received this Divine Commission. Before we examine Ephesians 3:9 in its God-given Context, we will examine three common Bible expressions. These three are generally taken out of Context and will serve as our examples in this study.
1. Romans 8:28: “All things work together for good.”
When something tragic has happened, we have heard prominent men, who minister the Word, state something like, “We’ll just have to file this under Romans 8:28; “all things work together for good.” These words are frequently taken by themselves as though they were an independent statement; a statement which is really contrary to fact. Sometimes, the words that follow are added; “to them that love God.” But, hardly ever is heard the next part of the verse; “to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Considering this verse, in its entirety, totally changes the meaning of the partial quotation. The elementary meaning is clear when the verse, in its entirety, is considered.
 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
The Truth, bound-up in this verse, and its Context is that the “all things” pertain only to those that truly “love God” and “who are the called according to His purpose.” It is very significant to keep in mind that “His purpose,” as mentioned in Romans 8:28, was centered-in “the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20). The assurance of having all things working together for good, most definitely, was a promise belonging to the past Dispensation. The past Dispensation was concerned with the Church of God, not the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head (Eph.1:22-23).
Those who “loved God” and were “called” during the Pentecostal Dispensation could rely, completely, on God’s Promise that “all things” were working “together for good.” The “all things” is limited! Sin did not work together for good. Unfaithfulness did not work together for the believer’s good during the Pentecostal Dispensation. Those who were “called according to His purpose,” during that present time, were having a good work done IN THEM by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26-27). The “all things” of Verse Twenty-eight must refer, particularly, to those things mentioned in the Context of Romans 8:29-30.
Romans 8:28 is to be understood by what is said before it in Romans 8:25-27 and what follows it in Romans 8:29-30. Even more than that, Romans 8:28 must be understood to apply to those who were the “saved” during “The Acts of the Apostles” time-frame.
Many mid-Acts believers have said the reason why they fail to acknowledge the Dispensational Boundary line of Acts 28 is because they “just cannot let go of marvelous truths found in The Book of Romans, such as, Romans 8:28.” They do not have to “let go;” they just have to rightly divide what are their “precious truths” and don’t claim, for themselves, those truths which belong to others from a different dispensation.
There are many such illustrations of quoting a part of a verse and, all the while, disregarding the complete verse and its Context.
2. “Absent from the body, Present with the Lord:”—How many times have we heard this part of 2 Corinthians 5:8 quoted by a Christian, consoling someone who is grieving over the death of a loved one? This portion of the verse is a favorite, which is used to assure folks that a dead friend or loved one is in Heaven. “Absent from the body” is an expression taken out of Context by Christendom. It is used as a motto, or proverbial expression to settle the disputed question concerning “instant death, sudden glory.”
Many Christians quote this verse as though it is declaring that the very moment a believer breathes his last breath, he is “absent from the body, and present with the Lord.” This is a Platonic ideology, and it is one of the “doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). However, when the whole verse of 2 Corinthians 5:8 is considered, an altogether different sense is presented:
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
This verse, in its totality, is quite a different thing because the whole Context from           2 Corinthians 4:14 down to this verse (2 Cor. 5:8) is engaged in the subject of RESURRECTION and a longing to be with Christ. Not a longing and a desire to die, so the person can be with Christ. Or to be “unclothed” [naked in the grave,] “but clothed upon [with a resurrection body], that mortality [this life] might be swallowed up of [resurrection] life” (2 Cor. 5:4).
Paul was saying, in plainer words, that while he is clothed with this earthly body, he can never be present with the Lord. But, if he were absent from this temporary tabernacle and were clothed upon with the heavenly house [spiritual body] prepared for him in resurrection, then, he can be at home with the Lord. Paul was saying, with all confidence, that he was WILLING to be ABSENT from his earthly body because, in resurrection (or change), THEN and only THEN, would he be PRESENT with the Lord. In resurrection, he would be clothed upon with a body, a building of God, a house made without hands—a resurrection body.
The idea which Paul presented for our learning is quite a different thing than the traditional phrase of—“Absent from the body, Present with the Lord.” The Apostle was communicating a willingness to be “clothed upon” with our glorious and heavenly [house], to wit, a resurrection body. Because, while we are in this present body, we are “absent from the Lord.”
What prompted the Holy Spirit to have Paul address this issue—of being absent from the body, and present with the Lord? The answer is found in Verses 9 and 10. It is linked-up to appearing “before the Judgment Seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Another traditional expression, taken out of Context, is Philippians 1:21.
3. “To die is gain” (Phil. 1:21): This is constantly referred to as though it is an independent and separate statement which it is not. To state this, as if it is categorically God’s Truth on the matter of dying, is a mistake. The words must be considered in their Context.
“For me to live is Christ, And to die is gain’ (Phil. 1:21).The very word, “For,” is sufficient proof to confirm that the statement is not independent; but it depends on what has been said before, and is added, as a reason for it. When the Context is considered, it is seen, at once, that it is about the “gain” of the Gospel. This was what troubled the Apostle Paul. He was imprisoned by Roman authority, and he wanted the Philippians to “understand that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the GOSPEL” (Phil.1:12). He, also, points out that because of his imprisonment, many of the brethren have had their confidence and boldness increased.
“And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will” (Phil. 1:14-15)
Paul rejoiced at this, even though it was true that some preached Christ out of envy and rivalry, hoping to add affliction to his imprisonment, while others did so out of love. It made Paul bold, as well, so he could say that he didn’t care what happened to himself; he did not mind whether he lived or died. His one desire was for Jesus Christ to be magnified in his body (V. 20) in either case. “The furtherance of the Gospel” was the one thing he cared about; not his own personal “gain.” He, unselfishly, never thought of that. It ruins the whole Context of the chapter to insert this thought. It is slanderous to allege that the Apostle Paul was only thinking of himself. He was certainly innocent of this charge, but that’s not all—it is foreign to the Context. If we were to put the thoughts expressed in this Context in plainer words, it would be: If Paul’s bonds and imprisonment resulted in the furtherance of the Gospel, what, pray tell, might his death generate? Christ Jesus was preached as a consequence of Paul’s bonds; the one thing he truly desired was that Christ might be magnified in his body, whether it was by his life, or by his death. In either case, the Lord Jesus Christ would be magnified—the gain would be His. Therefore, the Scripture says, whether by Paul’s living or dying; “For me to live will be Christ; and to die [will be His] gain.”
Now, we come to the verse which is misquoted by many of the Christians who acknowledge Present Truth. The portion quoted is, “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the Mystery” (Eph. 3:9). This is taken out of Context as a proof-text for their evangelistic endeavors. Their endeavor is not the winning of the lost to Christ—but, as they would say, “making the saved SEE what is the revelation of the Mystery.”
To use this verse as their “command” to compel [to make] all men “see” is a literary fraud. These words, which the Holy Ghost inspired to teach one thing, are undone and used to teach something, all together, different from the original intent. To ignore the Context within which Ephesians 3:9 is found, and to ignore the exactness with what is stated, is a little less than a crime. Read, very carefully, and be “sharp-eyed,” spiritually, because every word is important as it relates to the Context. The Biblical phrase, “To make all men see,” is a “pet” portion of Scripture quoted by many who embrace         Acts 28:28 as if it were God’s directive to them.
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:9).
Are we commissioned “to make all men see?” Many members of today’s calling are convinced that it is their God-given duty TO MAKE ALL MEN SEE the Truth of       Acts 28. They have adopted this phrase, taken it out of God’s Context, and placed it in a context which is alien to His original intent.
As Bible Mountaineers, our trekking upwards on the higher ground of the Word of Truth must be done so with prudence, not with recklessness. Close attention must be paid to the ground that is traversed. As the higher ground of Ephesians Chapter Three is noted in the trek upward, it is marked with Personal Pronouns referring to the Apostle Paul. An American frontiersman, as he “blazed-the-trail,” would mark the trunk of a tree with his Bowie knife. This would be his “marker,” indicating he was the one who blazed the wilderness trail; thus, showing the way for others who were to follow.
While the application of the “trail-blazer” analogy to the Apostle Paul is not a precise analogy, it will, nevertheless, suffice.
By doing so, you will see that there is NO ROOM AT ALL to read members of the Church, which is His Body into Ephesians 3:9. If we do, we rob Paul of his Personal God-Given-Commission.
To use this portion of Ephesians 3:9 as the “Great Commission” for those who embrace the revelation of the Mystery is to subvert the order and context of Verse 9. To ignore, or change the order is a crime against the Divinely ordered words of God.
At the very outset of Chapter Three, Paul lays down his first marker:
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles” (Eph.3:1).
His first marker sets the stage for one of the three cases of pronouns (Person) used in Chapter Three. Here is the First Person Pronoun, “I”—I Paul.
He continues by laying down three more Personal Pronouns of “I.”
“as I wrote afore …” (Eph.3:3).
“Whereof I was made a minister …” (Eph. 3:7).
“that I should preach” (Eph. 3:8).
Now, we note the First Person Pronoun of “me.” His next four markers are his use of the word, “me.”
“the dispensation of the grace of God given me to you-ward …” (Eph. 3:2).
“He [Christ] made known unto me the Mystery …” (Eph. 3:3)
“the grace of God given unto me …” (Eph. 3:7).
“Unto me, who am less than …” (Eph. 3:8).
The next three markers Paul sets forth is his use of the Personal Pronoun, “my.”
“my knowledge …” (Eph. 3:4).
“at my tribulation …” (Eph. 3:13).
“I bow my knees …” (Eph. 3:14).
So far, we notice in Ephesians Three that the words are all about the Apostle Paul. His work, or ministry is based upon that which he had received from the Lord. Dear Friends, we do not find one word about “we” or “us” — there is no reference to “we” … for this cause, “we;” there’s no reference to … as “we” wrote afore, or …”we” were made ministers, … or that “we” should preach among the Gentiles.  There is no reference to “us” being given the dispensation of the grace of God. Christ did not, personally, make known unto “us” the Mystery … nor was the grace of God given unto “us;” nor is it said that “we” were less than the least; no reference to “our” knowledge is made; nor of “our” tribulation; nor the bowing of “our” knees. No, the immediate Context is replete with the Personal Pronouns relating to Paul—I, me, and my.
From Ephesians 3:1 through Ephesians 3:8, we note that the verses are wholly occupied with the subject of Paul.
Within God’s Context of Ephesians 3:9, the “I’s” – the “me’s” – and the “my’s” all refer to the Apostle to the Gentiles—PAUL. For one of us to “horn-in” and insert “WE” or “US” is an arrogant and despicable insertion.
Verse Nine begins with the conjunction, AND, which joins it with what Paul HAD PREVIOUSLY SAID ABOUT HIMSELF from 3:1 to 3:8. “And” introduces what is a continuation of what was to be Paul’s undertaking, based upon his credentials. His credentials were enumerated, spelled-out in plain language by his use of the Personal Pronouns as we have outlined. God authorized Paul TO MAKE ALL MEN SEE WHAT IS THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY. The credentials were Paul’s—NOT OURS!
“And to enlighten all as to what is the stewardship of the Mystery, committed to me [Paul], that hath been hidden from the ages in God.” This comes from the note in “The Companion Bible” expressing Ephesians 3:9 in plainer words (Page 1764).
The word, “And,” establishes a specific relationship with what had been said, and what followed in Verse Nine. Paul was the God-Appointed Administrator (or Steward) of the Dispensation of the Mystery.
You and I have not been commissioned to be the stewards of the Mystery. We are not to make everyone see that we are the God-Ordained ones who now fill the Apostle Paul’s shoes. Not only that, but local churches do not fill that role, either.
“Won't you join with us as we endeavor to follow the great commission given to the Body of Christ, (today's church), through the apostle Paul -- to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery? (Eph. 3:9)”
The above quotation, which was one of many, was found on a local church’s web site. It expresses a rather common thought among Christians who embrace Acts 28:28. This expression subverts the Divine order of the words of Truth. It expresses what is commonly accepted as Divine Doctrine on the matter. The Context of Ephesians 3:9 is wholly occupied with the person of the Apostle Paul, and we do not figure into the Context at all.