The one hope of the Mystery

Posted in: 2017
By Tom L. Ballinger
Jun 12, 2017 - 6:56:06 PM

Plainer Words Online
Tom L. Ballinger
Plainer Words since 1968
Issue # 421
June 6, 2017

The Chart that is shown above is very elementary. It depicts Seven Periods of Time in God’s Plan of the Ages. One of the most basic fundamentals in understanding the Bible is to grasp Number 3—the Age of Grace, and Number 4—the Day of Christ.  
This is an adaptation to a 2009 study on the “Unity of the Spirit – Part 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.
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 (Eph. 1:b22-23).
In order to know what the Hope 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) which ends the Age of Grace and ushers in the Day of Christ (see the chart).
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.
Times of Refreshing
Christ will be retained in Heaven
Times of Restitution of all things
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 – “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 – “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 (also known as the Day of Jesus Christ).
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.                       
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 during the next Dispensation—the Day of Christ.
But NOW the Lord is secretly constructing a spiritual Temple (Eph. 2:21):
“And [His Body over which He is the Head] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets [of the Mystery], 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, once again, 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., it will not be WILL NOT BE IN TODAY’S DISPENSATION.
Two signal events follow Christ’s Epiphaneia:  (1) He establishes His world-wide governmental sovereignty (i.e., His Kingdom), and (2) He begins to adjudicate among the living and the dead as to who will qualify to live under His imperial Government and enjoy the benefits of the restoration of the world.
Copyright© 2017 by Thomas L. Ballinger