PLAINER WORDS SINCE 1968
Issue # 426
April 14, 2018
In this chapter the Lord’s Prayer, the Priesthood, Baptism, and the prophecy of Amos will be examined.
(f). The Lord’s Prayer – Tradition has so
designated this prayer as “The Lord's Prayer.” This was the prayer the Lord
Jesus told the Jews to pray. He taught this prayer to His Jewish disciples
before he appointed His Twelve Apostles. This prayer should be labeled, “The
Disciples’ Prayer.” Christendom, the world over, recites this prayer Sunday
after Sunday after Sunday. It has become a ritualistic prayer for many. By
their constant repetition of “Our Father which art in heaven,” the principle of
vain repetition is practiced; even violating the warning of the Lord Jesus
Christ. For He told His disciples; “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions,
as heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard by their much speaking”
(Matthew 6:7). In the midst of His teaching on the Mount, the Lord said if they
prayed in secret, God would hear and reward them openly. The hypocrites loved
to pray, loudly, in the synagogues and on the street corners, being seen of
men. That was the hypocrites reward. The true child of God was to pray in his
“closet” (Matthew 6:5-6); thus, earning an open reward from their Heavenly
To claim this as a model prayer for today is to show a total disregard for the elementary principles which the Lord has laid down in Scripture. This prayer occurred in the midst of the “Sermon on the Mount.” It was given to O.T. Jews, living under the Law, who were looking for the literal fulfillment of O.T. prophecy regarding the restoration of the Kingdom; that is to say, the restoration of all things (Acts 3:20). It was related to Kingdom truth; not Church, which is His Body truth.
This prayer was, doctrinally, applied during the time the Lord was calling out His Church, the Church of God (Matthew 16:18). During “The Acts of the Apostles,” the believers’ hope was the inauguration of the Kingdom of God. The disciples were told to pray “after this manner.” This was, clearly, related to the Kingdom since they were told to pray for “the Kingdom to come.” Nowhere in this model prayer were the disciples instructed to pray for the Coming [i.e. Parousia] of Jesus Christ. They were not told to pray for Christ to Come—no, they were told to pray for the Kingdom to come. The fact which most Christians cannot come to grips with is the Biblical fact that the KINGDOM COMES BEFORE CHRIST DOES! It can be said another way, THE KINGDOM COMES WITHOUT CHRIST COMING WITH IT.
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:9-13).
Every prophet of God spoke, or wrote concerning a time when God would rule the nations of the earth, and Israel would be the outstanding nation. This was what the devout Jew was hoping for. This was the devout Jews’ great expectation. Yes, the Jews were looking for their Christ, that is, their Messiah. They learned, however, from the Apostle Peter, by means of a subsequent revelation, that the Kingdom would come, BUT the heavens would retain Christ while all things were being restored (Act 3:19-21). When the Kingdom comes, it will usher in the “times of refreshing.” This will be a lifting, or removal of the “curse” of Genesis 3:17-19.
(g). The Priesthood ─ Much false doctrine
is connected with assuming that there is a priesthood in this present
Dispensation. To assume so is the result of two basic mistakes: (1) wrongly
dividing the Word of Truth, and (2) not dividing it at all. The Roman Church is
guilty of the latter, and Protestants are guilty of the former in order to
refute the error of the Roman Church. Rome makes an erroneous claim as to their
authority for the priestcraft; the Protestant's argument against Rome’s claim
is as erroneous as Rome’s claim.
It should be noted that the Word of God recognizes no priesthood during this Present Dispensation. The priesthood was to be the nation of Israel. In Exodus 19:5-6, God entered into a conditional promise with Israel. If Israel would keep the law, God would make of them:
“a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people:
… and ye (Israel) shall be unto Me a kingdom
of priests, and an holy nation.”
This was conditional upon Israel obeying the voice of the LORD and keeping His covenant. This was a true promise and prophecy for Israel in a Past Dispensation. But, before this could be fulfilled, Israel broke the covenant. Hence, God selected the tribe of Levi to substitute for the nation. The national fulfillment of this promise still awaits fulfillment until such time as Israel is restored. As long as God is dealing with the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head, those promises and prophecies connected with, and relating to, Israel are, yet, in abeyance.
Present Truth makes no mention of priests, or priesthood. The Prison Epistles are silent on the subject. Orthodoxy wrongly divides and goes to 1 Peter 2:4-10 and claims all believers in this dispensation are priests. They fail to see to whom Peter addressed his epistle; it was written to the believing Jews “scattered throughout Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1). Thus, when 1 Peter is read, you realize when he said “ye,” he meant the “dispersed Jews,” not Gentiles who are members of the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head. When Peter wrote to the believing Israelites who had been “scattered,” he could apply Exodus 19:6 to them as it could never be applied to us. He called the believing Israelites, who were anticipating the soon coming Kingdom, “an holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5). In Verse 9, he said, “ye (Israelites) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” They were priests in a spiritual sense, awaiting the actual fulfillment of the manifestation of the Kingdom and its restoration to Israel. That will be when Christ will make the Israelites, kings and priests unto God.
Rome robs the faithful of there blessings, which are yet future, and applies Revelation 1:6 to their priesthood now; thus, claiming to reign in political affairs and having authority in spiritual matters (i.e. kings and priests). This is robbery! The Protestants, in order to counteract Rome’s thievery, wrongly divides the Word of Truth and says that the Church will reign on earth as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God. These two errors have made “Christendom” into a Babylon, “a hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Revelation 18:2).
The Church, which is His Body finds no
priesthood in its calling since each member is “complete in Christ” (Colossians
1:10), “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), and “made meet to be
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12).
Those, in this age, who suffer with Christ will find their crown and throne when the Appearing and Kingdom take place according to 2 Timothy 4:1-2; “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His Appearing and His Kingdom; Preach the word …”
Conditionally, we also learn; “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him,He also will deny us:” (2 Timothy 2:12).
There is no God appointed priesthood during the
Dispensation of the Grace of God. Truth belonging to the Past and Future
Dispensations must be rightly divided; when this is done regarding the
priesthood, the dust settles, and we get truth instead of error.
(h). Baptism ─ This ordinance has caused endless controversies and divisions, and countless strivings and contentions. These remain a constant source of antagonism among varied sects and denominations. The reason for the disagreement is a historic one. The Apostle Paul acknowledged, after he had “finished his course,” that ALL MEN HAVE FORSAKEN him and the body of truth that he delivered as “a prisoner of the Lord.” In 2 Timothy, he makes known that the Truth concerning the Mystery was forsaken. Paul, as the chosen vessel appointed by Christ Jesus to generate Truth for this present Dispensation, lived to see “all they which are in Asia be turned away” from PRESENT TRUTH. Thus, confusion, darkness, strife, contention, and error replaced the bond of peace.
The “bond of peace” bound believers together in this Dispensation as long as they KEPT THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT (Ephesians 4:3). When believers failed to, earnestly and diligently, “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit” the “bond of peace” gave way to the splintering devises of the “commandments and doctrines of men” (Colossians 2:22).
The UNITY, which the Spirit of God established for the Dispensation of the Grace of God, calls for the member of the Church, which is His Body, to “keep it” (i.e. watch over it, to take care of). As long as the saints guarded the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT the Church enjoyed the BOND OF PEACE. Nothing is to added to, or taken away from the seven elements of this Divine Unity established by the Holy Spirit. However, before the Apostle Paul died, the Church allowed error to be inserted into the Divinely established UNITY. The result was division.
We are not called upon to make a unity; it is already made. We are called upon to “walk worthy” of it and to keep it. Failure to keep it results in walking unworthily. The Unity of the Spirit speaks about the ONENESS that the Spirit of God has established during this Present Dis- pensation Ephesians 4:4-6 enumerates that there is one hope, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. The question of baptism would clear up if believers would recognize PRESENT TRUTH and insist upon KEEPING THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT. Ephesians 4 clearly states that there is, in this Dispensation, ONE BAPTISM. If believers would endure sound doctrine and not turn their ears away from the Truth, they could see that there is but ONE BAPTISM. If believers, were to follow the principle of “right division,” as commanded in 2 Timothy 2:15, they would realize there is but ONE BAPTISM found in Truth for Today. One Baptism is certainly not two. Most all orthodox Christians recognize two baptisms: one being physical; the other being spiritual, and the former being an outward expression of the latter. Of course, this is two baptisms; not one. Scripture insists that there is ONE BAPTISM; not two, and we are instructed that this ONENESS of Ephesians 4 is to be guarded, or watched over. To insist that two baptisms are one is a gross mistake in basic arithmetic; one plus one is two; not one.
It behooves Christians to “keep” the One Baptism. Failure to do so betrays a Divine trust. The Scriptures speak of various baptisms:
Each served its purpose in the age in which it
John the Baptist came baptizing with water. He baptized Christ to make Him manifest to Israel. John spoke of Christ baptizing with the Holy Ghost while he baptized with water (John 1:19-34).
The Lord Jesus said in Acts 1:5; “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” So, we notice in John 1 and in Acts 1 that there are two baptisms; one in water and one in spiritual water (i.e. the Holy Ghost).
In Matthew 28, the Lord spoke of a baptism when Israel will be restored and becomes a “kingdom of priests;” they will teach all nations, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” This will be Israel's commission when their Kingdom is restored. This certainly could not be the ONE BAPTISM of this Present Dispensation.
Mark 16:15-16 said that the disciples should go into all the world, and preach the gospel of the Kingdom to every creature. Those who believed and were baptized would be saved. Those who believe and are baptized (i.e. in water) shall have “signs following them.”
The commission in Mark 16 was carried forward from Acts 2 to Acts 28. Signs followed them who believed and were baptized. John the Baptist baptized with material water. During the Book of Acts, believers were baptized with material water as well as the Holy Ghost (i.e. spiritual water); for in Acts 10, Cornelius was baptized with “power from on high” (Luke 24:44) and spoke in tongues (Acts 10:48). Those who were baptized in Acts 19, also, spoke in tongues (v. 6). In Romans 6:3, Paul spoke of “as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ.”
It became clear that John’s baptism could have been considered one baptism but, certainly not the baptisms during the Book of Acts. Baptisms during the Pentecostal Dispensation were two; baptism in water and in Spirit. These could not be called ONE BAPTISM. If we can treat two baptisms as though they were one, then, we can also treat two Lords as one, two faiths as one, two Gods as one, two bodies as one, and etc. Thus, the Unity of the Spirit has absolutely no meaning.
The Dispensation of the Mystery speaks of ONE BAPTISM. In order for the believer to guard the unity of the ONE BAPTISM, he must, of necessity, know what the one baptism is. It ought to be obvious to our reader that water baptism is not THE ONE BAPTISM; for those who practice water baptism admit that it is only a shadow, or a type of another baptism. Those who baptize with, or in water admit by practicing the ordinance, they are not endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit because they acknowledge two baptisms.
There are those, today, who pretend to keep the unity of the Spirit, but they, too, fail to rightly divide. Those who believe the Church of the Mystery began at Acts 9, or Acts 13 make a glaring mistake in explaining the ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4. The brethren who start the Church during the Book of Acts build a good case proving that water baptism was truth connected with a Past Dispensation. They attempt to phase out Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God truth and bring Present Truth in gradually. This is their first mistake. Kingdom truth ends abruptly. Present Truth is brought in as soon as Paul makes known the revelation of the Mystery in Ephesians. The Acts 9 and 13 men, in reality, are Baptists with the water taken away from them. They are “dry Baptists.” This is seen by their mistakes in assuming that the ONE BAPTISM is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body . . . and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” This points to a baptism which is not in, or with actual water, but it points to a baptism with spiritual water: “have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” Drinking into one Spirit has to do with “spiritual gifts,” and that is the context of 1 Corinthians 12. The Acts 9 and 13 brethren claim the ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4 is the baptism that spiritually places the believer into the Church which is His Body. Their proof text for this is 1 Corinthians 12:13. However, these men are not drinking of the Spirit; if they were, they would manifest “spiritual gifts” such as tongues, healing, interpretation of tongues, supernatural knowledge, discerning of Spirits, and etc. (read all of 1 Corinthians 12). The same Spirit that baptized in 1 Corinthians 12:13, also, gave one of the nine spiritual gifts to “every man” (v. 11). This cannot possibly be the “ONE BAPTISM” of Ephesians 4.
The second mistake these men make is that they ignore the baptism that is found in the prison epistles. The ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4 should be compared with the baptism Paul speaks of in his prison testimony. Paul makes mention of a baptism in Colossians 2:12. The ONE BAPTISM of Ephesians 4:5 refers to the vital union of the believer with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This, then, must of necessity, be the ONE BAPTISM that we are to keep. Let's compare the baptism of 1 Corinthians 12 with the one in Colossians 2.
“For by one Spirit are we 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” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).
It should be, perfectly, obvious that the two
references do not refer to the same operation. The mention of “baptism” in 1
Corinthians 12 referred to a “baptism” that spiritually placed a believer into
a body. Whereas, the “baptism” mentioned in Colossians 2 refers to being
identified with Christ in His death, hence a “death baptism.” So, then, God
must be true and every man a liar; for we see that these two are different and
not the same. The proponents of the Acts 9, or Acts 12 school of thought now,
stand in the ranks of others who fail to “rightly divide” for they attempt to
make these two baptisms one. Ephesians 4:5 states that there is ONE BAPTISM. It
is nothing less than self-deception to make ONE read TWO. When the Dispensation
changed at the end of the Acts Period, the only baptism that figures in the
Unity of the Spirit is the ONE BAPTISM of the ONE SPIRIT.
Colossians emphasizes the fact that ordinances no longer exist. In fact they have been blotted out (Colossians 2:14). Ordinances have to do with the flesh and find no place in the Mystery which was revealed to the Apostle Paul in the Prison Epistles. In the new calling of the Mystery, the new doctrine of the ONE BAPTISM was brought in. When the Word of Truth is cleared of all the confusion on baptism, the “traditions of men” are torn up by the roots. While many, sincerely, think they are following the Word of God, they are, in reality, following the “commandments and doctrines of men” (Colossians 2:22); failing, all along, to divide the Word of Truth, rightly.
The UNITY OF THE SPIRIT forbids addition, or subtraction. The member of the One Body who seeks to “walk worthy” will leave the results with God.
(i).The Prophecy of Amos─ The quotation of the prophecy of Amos 9:11-12 referred to in Acts 15:14-18 is a dead giveaway that the Church, which is His Body was not in existence when James said that the words of the prophets “agreed with this.” The Church of the Mystery was NOT the subject of prophecy. Therefore, Amos 9 could not have been a reference to the Mystery. This prophecy was spoken and written in a PAST Dispensation and is to receive its fulfillment in the FUTURE.
When James quoted the prophet Amos in the
Council at Jerusalem, the Mystery was still “hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9). Thus,
Acts 15 is not PRESENT TRUTH. The “day” spoken of was “Christ’s Day” (i.e., His
Kingdom), also, called the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God. It is the
day when the LORD will “bring again the captivity of my people Israel and they
shall build the waste cities and inhabit them” (Amos 9: 14).
Peter reminded those who were present at the Council meeting that it was he that God had selected to go to the Gentile: “that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe” (Acts 15:7). In Verse 12, Paul and Barnabus declared all the “miracles and wonders that God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” After this, James stepped up and said Gentile blessing in association with Israel was in agreement with the words of the prophets. Our reader should recognize, by now, that Gentiles are not receiving their blessings, TODAY, in association with Israel. The Gentile, during the Acts economy was blessed with Israel in miniature, foreshadowing the “Day of Jesus Christ” when Israel would, indeed, be a channel of blessing to the Gentiles [the nations].
Thus, it should be very clear that Scripture written in the Past, and referring to the Future, must not be read into the Present Dispensation of the Mystery which was “from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9).
~~END of CHAPTER FIVE~~
Copyright © Thomas L. Ballinger 2018
First Printing 1975
Major Revision 2011