A Study on Right Division Chapter 7

Posted in: Current Issue
By Tom L. Ballinger
Jan 15, 2019 - 12:22:46 AM


Issue # 431








The third rule for “rightly dividing” the Word of Truth now comes before us:




In our consideration of this Third Rule for “rightly dividing” we come upon a new, unique, and majestic truth which is the embodiment of Present Truth—and was an exclusive truth made known to the Apostle Paul, and to him alone, as the prisoner of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 1:8). The Bible refers to this truth as “The Mystery.”


For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward: how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; …” (Eph.3:1-3).


THE MYSTERY - A “mystery” in Scripture is a previously hidden truth, which has been divinely revealed. There are at last eleven mysteries mentioned in the Bible. The word mystery simply means a secret. The Holy Secret of the present dispensation is plainly stated to have been “HID IN GOD” (Eph. 3:9). The Mystery which had been “hid in God” had not been known previously. It cannot be found in the Scriptures which pertained to Past Dispensations. The Mystery was made known exclusively to the Apostle Paul, the PRISONER, “by revelation.” The Apostle Paul had a personal communication from the Ascended Lord Jesus Christ after Israel was temporarily set aside at the close of “The Acts of the Apostles.” In this special communication from the Lord Jesus, the “prisoner of the Lord” was told the Great Mystery. The Mystery was truth, which was Gentile-ward, concerning a body of believers over which Christ Jesus was to be the Head. It is a Truth which is centered in Christ and the Ecclesia [i.e., Church] which expresses the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph.1:23).

The truth relating to the Mystery is said to be “UNSEARCHABLE” (Eph. 3:8). That is, you can search the Scriptures, but you can find no inference, hint, trace, or picture of the Church of the Mystery therein. References to the Mystery are found only in the Prison Epistles, such as;


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).


How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;” (Eph. 3:3-5).


Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:” (Col. 1:26).


We notice that the “Mystery” which had been hid (to wit, the Secret) has NOW BEEN REVEALED, NOW MADE KNOWN, or NOW MADE MANIFEST. These verses should be recognized for what they are—INSPIRED! They are God-breathed instructions for the saints not to read TRUTH that had been HID IN GOD into TRUTH of PAST Dispensations. PRESENT TRUTH is not found in Scriptures which pertained to past ages and dispensations. To misplace TRUTH frustrates the revelation which God has given.


To read Truth of the Mystery into passages of Scripture which were written before the Mystery was made known violates not only RIGHT DIVISION but common sense.


It is essential to remember that the Mystery was not hid in the Old Testament, or in the Gospels, or in the early writings of the Apostle Paul. The Mystery was HID IN GOD (Eph. 3:9). The Mystery is not found in “type” or “shadow” in any other portion of Scripture—it is “UNSEARCHABLE.” Truth which concerns God’s Great Secret is the “testimony of the Lord’s prisoner” and is found only in the writings of the PRISONER OF THE LORD. Failure to recognize this principle results in utter confusion since Israel’s hope was in view from Genesis 12 to Acts 28.


CHURCH ─ A distinction should be made between the Church, which is His Body (Eph. 1:22-23), and other churches found in the Word of God. Failure of the student to “rightly divide” the various churches creates serious problems in determining what is the purpose, plan, and program for the various churches.


Christians, as a body of believers, have a serious misunderstanding of what the word “church” means in the Scriptural sense. “Church” is the translation of the Greek word, “Ekkleesia.” This word was the Greek name for the legislative bodies of the Greek-City-States. Notice, we said, “legislative bodies.” As the legislative bodies of the Greek-City-States, in ancient Greece, they represented the citizens of those City-States. They were men who had been chosen, or selected by the citizens to represent them as the chosen officials. “Ekklesia” is a government term, clearly understood by those Christians living during the First Century. Ekklesia has been transliterated into English as “Ecclesia.” Today believers have a traditional view of the word “church” based upon what passes itself off as a Christian church. We will not extrapolate the ramifications of this misunderstanding. Our purpose here is to point to the need of distinguishing between the various churches mentioned in the Bible.


In the sight of God, those who have been membered into a Church, may or may not associate themselves with visible assembly. Either way the Bible refers to them as a Church. We will distinguish between the different churches, as all students of the Bible should.


(1). The Hebrews, when organized under Moses, were referred to as a church during their forty-years in the wilderness. The Hebrews were a nation set apart from the other nations and was governed by God through Moses and his princes—hence it was a Church [Ecclesia] and is referred to as “the Church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38)


(2). A church existed during days of Christ’s earthly ministry. Of course, it was before His Great Sacrifice or Pentecost. He made reference to it in Matthew 18:17. You should note that the context actually refers to a local synagogue where the attendee is told to “tell it to the church.”


(3). The church which Jesus Christ spoke about when He said to Simon Peter in Matthew 16:18, “Upon this rock I will build My Church.” This church was made up of those Jews who were  with the repentant Israelites, who had submitted to the baptism of John the Baptist, and of the Lord Jesus. This church was to be the New Testament Church. This was comprised of the “remnant” during the Acts Period (cf. Rom. 9:25-27). The “keys to the Kingdom of heaven” which were given to Peter related to this church. Peter used the keys in Acts 2 to admit Jews only. In Acts 10 he opened the door of faith to Gentiles.


(4). “The Church of God” was the church mentioned in No. 3 above.  “My Church” equals the “church of God” which began in miniature on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and ran its course until Acts 28:28. Paul persecuted this Church before Acts 9, as Saul of Tarsus (Gal. 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:9; Phil. 3:6). Therefore, the “Church of God” could not be the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him (Eph. 1:22-23), since it had been a “mystery”—hid in God (Eph. 3:9). The “Church of God” continued to assemble and grow as the much feared and distrusted Paul, himself began to minister to it. He established churches (ekklesias) throughout the Roman Empire.


(5). “The Church of God” was the overall church of which all believers from Pentecost, Acts 2 to Acts 28:28, were a part. The “Church of God (Acts 2 to Acts 28:28) was also composed of local assemblies, such as:


a.                   “The Church of God which is at Corinth” (1Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1).     

b.                  “The Churches of God” (1 Cor. 11:16).

c.                   “The Church of Galatia” (Gal. 1:2).

d.                  “The Church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thess.1:1; 2 Thess. 2:1).

e.                   “The Churches of God which in Judea are” (1 Thess. 2:14).

f.                   “The Churches of God” (2 Thess. 1:4).

g.                  “The Churches of Asia” (1 Cor. 16:19).

h.                  “The Churches of Macedonia” (2 Cor. 8:1).

i.                    “The Churches of the Gentiles” (Rom. 16:4).


The churches mentioned above are all subheads of the overall Church of God which was purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). These assembles can in no way be connected with the Church of the Mystery which was “hid in God” (Eph. 3:9) and had not at the time “been made known to the sons of men” (Eph. 3:5).


Notice in Romans 16:4—“The Churches of the Gentiles”—this should be abundantly clear to the thoughtful student that there was still a Jew-Gentile distinction during “The Acts of the Apostles.” This distinction was done away when the “middle wall” went down according to Ephesians 2:14, when the One New Man was created after Acts 28.


(6). “The Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him (Eph. 1:22-23), is the subject of Present Truth. It finds its state, position, calling and constitution in the Ephesians and Colossian Epistles. This Church has no subdivisions as did the Church of God. It is never referred to as a Church with local assemblies. This fact should be very instructive to the diligent student of the Word. Men who have seen the Truth of the Mystery, but had a strong yearning to be a “preacher-man” in a church environment realize they have to renounce the Post-Acts position, in order to “make a living” as a “preacher-man.” The “church-world” can find no place for a church Whose Head is the Lord Jesus Christ. It prefers a church whose head is some man, such as—Dr. J. Barnaby Goodloe. (An editor’s comment is; I have known many a good man who was lured by the “preacher-man’s” life style. They desired the recognition of being a minister, a-man-of-God, a member of the clergy. They liked the idea of God calling them “into the ministry.” They found excuses to reject Present Truth. Their excuses are far ranging: from Acts 28ers who correct the King James Bible, or Acts 28ers who are “no-hellers,” or they believe in “soul-sleeping,” or they are “one-baptism men.” or those who embrace the Post-Acts revelation of the Mystery. Whereas, the teacher of Present Truth earns his bread and butter by the sweat of his brow, and teaches the Word as if his livelihood depended upon it. He has no recognized public ministry.


This calling has been hid from all of the past ages and generations (Col. 1:26). It had been God’s Holy Secret and was hid away in His Heart, as it were. There are no traces of it either in type or shadow in the Old Testament, the Gospels, the Book of Acts, the Acts Epistles., or the Book of Revelation. It never existed before it was made known, except in the Mind of God.


People do not join this Church. Rather, those who believe the “testimony of the Lord’s prisoner” are joined to it and come into vital union with the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. This operation is referred to as “the adoption” (Eph. 1:5).


The Church, which is His Body is never likened to a female. It is referred to as a NEW MAN (Eph. 2:15). The goal of the Church, which is His Body is that of a PERFECT MAN, to wit, “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). The calling of this Church is taking place NOW, before the foundation of the coming new world order (Eph. 1:4). The Church, the fullness of Him, will have a status in the coming Kingdom of God which will rank above all of the heavenly hierarchies, that is to say the principalities, powers, mights, and dominions. Ephesians 1:3, when properly understood tells us; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord


Jesus Christ Who hath blessed us [the Church] with all spiritual blessings among [or, in the presence of] the heavenly angelic rulers in Christ.” Furthermore, the Bible says that we have been raised up together, and made to sit together among the heavenly rulers in Christ Jesus   (Eph. 2:7). There is not another company or calling of believers who will enjoy the honor, dignity, and glory that the Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head will. As good stewards of the Word of God, we must not read the Present Truth into Truth of past ages and dispensations.


To say the “Church of God” is the same as “the Church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 2:22-23) would be to confuse the two. The hope of “the Church of God” is that which is found in Acts 3:19-21. The ONE HOPE (Eph. 4:4) of our calling is that of “the Appearing (Epiphaneia) of the GLORY of the great God, our Saviour” (Titus 2:13).


The Scripture clearly differentiates between the “Church of God” and the “Church which is His Body.” Right division of the Word compels us to do the same. Many of those who acknowledge Acts 28 as the Dispensational Boundary line have been perplexed for almost a century as to when the Church, which is His body will experience the realization of its hope. So much so, that fairly recently, some have resorted to disregarding the biblical principle of “right division” and are horning-in (to wit, intruding) on the 2nd Coming of Christ. The Church of the Mystery is not to look for our Hope to be associated with the 2nd Coming. Our Hope will occur when Jesus Christ begins to judge the quick and the dead at His Appearing (Epiphaneia) and His Kingdom (2 Tim. 4:1). This will be the next prophetic event to take place—the ushering in of the Kingdom of God. Those who have given up on properly placing the “Appearing,” because they are blind to the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God, have conjured up that the 2nd Coming takes place in three stages: the First Stage is the “appearing” in glory of the Church of the Mystery, the Second Stage is the rapture of the saints, and the Third Stage is Christ’s arrival back on the Mount of Olives. This is a fabrication of the highest order—that is, mixing the “Epiphaneia” with the “Parousia.” To incorporate the “Epiphaneia” (the Appearing) with the “Parousia” (the 2nd Coming) violates the admonition “to keep the unity of the Spirit” as set forth in Ephesians 4. To adopt this “fantasy hope” means our “hope” is part of the same “hope” as that of the Church of God and is just one part of a three part hope!


Truth that belongs to the Present Dispensation must not be read into the Past Dispensation, nor into a Future Dispensation.


(7). The seven Churches found in the Book of Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3, will literally be synagogues in Asia Minor that will exist during the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God. The description of them in Revelation is a snap-shot, prophetically, of them as they will exist during Tribulation Period, to wit, the consummation of the Kingdom of Heaven/God. These seven Churches will pick up where the “Churches of God” left off at the close of “The Acts of the Apostles These Churches will be the governing bodies during the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God.  These “Churches” are related to Kingdom/Tribulation Truth which is yet in the future.





Copyright © Thomas L. Ballinger 2018

First Printing 1975

Major Revision 2011