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The “Hope” of this present dispensation is still before us as we have considered Ephesians 1:17-19. Our “Hope” is not to be confused with the “Hope” of the Church of God, nor is it to be confused with the “Hope” of the Tribulation saints and martyrs. In the one foregoing sentence, we have made reference to three “Hopes.”
But, we should back-up and review the Hope of the “Church [Ekklesia] of God.” I will draw a straight line, beginning with point “A” and draw it across the page to point “B.” Between Point A and B represents approximately 35 years beginning with the Lord Jesus selecting His Twelve Apostles and ending with the close of the Book of Acts. (In the Line-Chart the numbers 31, 33, 34, 41, 45 and 63 are the estimated years of the Numbers. 31 is the year 31 A.D. & etc.).
Dates Beginning with “A,” (31 A.D.) and Ending with “B” (63 A.D.)
“A” represents the beginning of Christ’s Church as recorded in Matthew 16:18. His Church was founded in the Period covered by the Four Gospels. It was a Jewish Calling, and the officials of this “Ekklesia” were exclusively Jews. Luke 6:12-13 said Christ went into the mountain and prayed all night and, at morning, He called all of His disciples to Him. He probably called several thousand disciples to Him, and after praying all night to God—Christ chose twelve and called them apostles. One Apostle for each of the Twelve Tribes. They will be the Judges of the Nation of Israel during the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God. This fact is an indication that Israel, as a nation-state, will be tribal in its composition. Modern statists would certainly frown at the idea that the preeminent Nation of the world would be by God’s Choice, a Tribal Nation, not a Republic nor a Democracy. A Tribal, Israel, will be based upon a family (or clan) who descended from a common ancestor.
Point (1): Marked the end of the Gospel Period and the beginning to the Acts Period. The Church of God grew enormously during this short period of time. So much so, that at Thessalonica, there was a great uproar because those [the Christians] who were present were said to belong to those who have “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
It is paramount in understanding Dispensational Truth to have the “eyes of your understanding enlightened” in order to see that the Hope for this Time-Frame is explained in Acts 3:19-21—the Times of Refreshing which will be the Restitution of All Things. Later, the Bible calls this time to come as The Day of Jesus Christ. The Hope that was set-forth throughout the Acts Period WAS NOT THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST, NOR WAS IT THE RAPTURE! The Hope that was “at-hand” was the Pre-Millennial Government (or Kingdom) of God. For this Hope to become manifest, it was not necessary for the Lord Jesus Christ to leave Heaven.
Throughout the “Acts of the Apostles,” multitudes were “added to the Lord;” this doesn’t necessarily mean the multitudes became members of the “Ekklesia of God.” In Bible terminology, those who were members of a Church (Ekklesia) were, or will be the administrators of the Divine Government when it is in operation The Roman Empire, during “The Acts of the Apostles” time-frame, began to persecute this new “sect” because it was said that they had a King of their own. A new world order was said to be promoted by these Christians. Each Christian community had its special set of rulers who ruled under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was recognized and acknowledged as their King which was tantamount to rejecting Caesar and all other kings.
Point (2): Acts 9 - Saul of Tarsus met Jesus the Christ on the Damascus Road and became the mighty Apostle Paul. I was taught that the “Church” began in Acts 9 when Paul had his Damascus Road experience.
Point (3): The first Gentile convert was made in Acts Chapter 10. He was added to the Lord, not added to the Church. Not every believer during the any given Period or Era was, or will be a member of the Governing body, i.e., the Church of the period in which he believed.
Point (4): After much opposition from the Jews, the Apostle Paul, at Antioch in Pisidia, announced, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you [Jews]: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). Many Christians believe Acts 13 is the time “the Church of this age began.” I was first introduced to Dispensationalism in 1963. However, it was not pointed-out to me and many others that in the very next Chapter (14:1-2), Paul went, again, to the Jews. That was at Iconium in the Synagogue of the Jews.
The Spirit gave me additional spiritual light in 1966, and I began to move away from Acts 9 to Acts 28.
“B” represents the end of the “Acts of the Apostles.” It was announced at Acts 28:28 that “The Hope of Israel” was temporarily set aside. Two years after this announcement, a stunning fact was made known to the Apostle Paul. Suddenly and without forewarning, a surprising NEW Dispensation was revealed. God had a Secret (called the Mystery) which He revealed, exclusively, to the Apostle Paul. Once this Mystery was made known, it was, technically, no longer a mystery. This new revelation became Present Truth. A single sentence equivalent to Present Truth—the Glory of this Mystery is that Christ is NOW among the Gentiles [the Nations], and is their Hope of Glory (Col. 1:27).
After the Acts Period closed, Paul no longer was in chains for Israel’s Hope, but he stated that, now, he was the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles [Nations] (Eph. 3:1)—Surely, the Gentiles have heard of the Dispensation of the Grace of God which was given him to “youward”, to wit, Gentileward (Eph. 3:2).
Paul no longer made known the Promises God made to the Fathers of Israel , but he was to preach among the Gentiles “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). The “unsearchable riches of Christ” means the riches, which is to say, the wealth and abundance among the Gentiles is untraceable. There was no mention, or even a hint of “The Christ” being among the Nations apart from Israel in the New Testament Gospel. This New Truth was The Mystery. It was hid in God and unknown by any of the Prophets. Even the Scriptures were silent concerning it. Only the cluster of Epistles which are stamped with the signature of “I Paul, the Prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles,” makes known the new Calling of the Church (the Ekklesia) over which Christ Jesus is the Head.
At one time, God spoke, personally, to certain individuals and, then, “unto the fathers of Israel BY THE PROPHETS” and, then, “BY HIS SON,” and during the Pentecostal era, He spoke “BY THEM THAT HEARD HIM.” But NOW, He speaks to the “Church, which His body, the fullness of Him who filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23) through the writings of Paul, “the prisoner.”
Since Acts 28 the Jews have become as if they were Gentiles, meaning, they are reckoned as being among the nations. The nation of Israel, today, is not the “Israel of God” that is to be restored.
Today, God’s work is done in secret. During the Acts Period, His works were manifest. He did not work in secret. He openly displayed His miraculous works—He healed the infirmed, raised the dead, restored people’s sight, fed thousands with a meager basket of fish and bread, caused the lame to walk, the dumb to speak, and the deaf to hear. In fact, John wrote concerning the works of Jesus Christ:
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 22:25) NIV.
In our day, we are taught (1) through God’s Written Word and (2), through His Grace.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13).
The “Blessed Hope” which we are to be looking for will become a reality when “the perilous times” end, abruptly, when those who “resist the Truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith [Present Truth]. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly [rage] shall be manifest unto all men” as was Jannes and Jambres who withstood Moses (2 Tim. 3:8-9).
“C” Represents about A.D. 63 when the Apostle received the Revelation of the “Mystery.” For over two-thousand years, Christ Jesus has been sifting through all of mankind, determining who He will select (choose or elect) to become members of His High Calling—the Church over which He is the Head. Perhaps the most notable, or as a matter of fact, the only notable person to be chosen to be a member of this Ekklesia is the one and only—Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for [us] Gentiles (Eph. 3:1).
It would not be a surprise to this writer if the most famous names in the history of the Christian faith will not have been chosen to be in this “select company.” Outside of the Apostle Paul, this is a Calling of “Nobodies,” or should we say, a Calling of the “Unknowns.” The “Ekklesia,” which is His Body are made up of a select company from among the unknowns in Christendom. This “Ekkelsia” is and will be composed of believers who have, or will have had no recognized Christian ministries. This is said because we are told that “[our] life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3), and not until “… Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall [we] also appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4).
We who had been hidden with Christ in God “shall appear”—that is to say, we WILL BE MADE KNOWN (Phaneroo), to the surprise of the world.
“PT” Stands for the “Perilous Times” that will occur in “the last days” of the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Isaiah wrote an imperishable Truth for all times:
“Let favour [grace] be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness” (26:10a).
The general principle is that during God’s Present Administration, Grace is the only Divine attribute manifested to mankind—yet “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim.3:13). How long the prophesied “Perilous Times” are to last, we are not told.
THE DISTINGUISHING CHARACTER TRAITS IN THE LAST DAYS
In 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 and 8-9, the Apostle Paul catalogs Twenty-One traits or qualities that grace-rejecting men will possess during “the Last Days” of the Dispensation of the Grace of God. They will not be enumerated here. The last one Paul catalogs is that one where he mentions; “as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these [the last-day-men] also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the FAITH. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly will be clear to all men.”
Jannes and Jambrers were the two magicians who stood before Pharaoh and reproduced the miracles demonstrated by Moses, albeit; they were counterfeit. The last-days-wonder-workers-of-counterfeit-miracles will be stopped dead in their tracks as their world-wide television programming will be exposed as the FRAUDS that they are; and so will their Prosperity Gospel be seen to be a scheme of producing wealth for the seductionists.
Satan will be dethroned, and all of his governments of this world will collapse in disgrace and dishonor as the curtain is drawn back and the “Wizard of Oz” and his demons are exposed and thrust out of their strongholds. The Lord Jesus Christ becomes the Sovereign of the Universe. This assumption of Kingship happens when Christ appears, and He will “shew, Who is the Blessed and Only POTENTATE, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15).
Satan’s worldwide conspiracy disintegrates when the Kingdom of the Jesus Christ blazes forth (2 Tim. 4:1). With this colossal event taking place, a clarion Call will sound-forth and the “Ekklesia” over which Christ Jesus is the Head will be summoned to convene around His Heavenly Throne. This will be the resurrection/change [Exanastasis], which is to say, the Hope of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus. It will precede all others.
The Church of the Mystery will experience the out-resurrection as it is revealed in Philippians 3:11. This resurrection/change will not be an “anastasis” (# 386), but rather, the one and only —“EXANASTASIS” (# 1815). It is with this “exanastasis” and our assembling together that our initial assignments will be made. We believe members of His Church (Ekklesia) will be posted throughout heaven and earth as members in His Pre-Millennial Government.
(To be continued)
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