From Plainer Words

Focus on Ephesians - Part 2

Posted in: 2012
By Tom M. Ballinger
Sep 9, 2012 - 3:16:02 PM

September 9, 2012

Plainer Words Since 1968

PART 2

PLAINER WORDS ONLINE … FOCUS ON EPHESIANS

Because of being unable to “rightly divide” the prophecies, many Rabbis in Israel had to invent two Messiahs. It was beyond their comprehension that one Messiah could both suffer and reign. They could not comprehend their Messiah dying, and reigning. Human reason just couldn't imagine how one could possibly meet the requirements of Messiah.

The same is true concerning this PRESENT AGE. God's present purpose as found in this dispensation, of “THE MYSTERY,” is as unreasonable to modern-day “Rabbis” as was the dying of Messiah and, then, Him reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords to their ancient counterparts. “The Mystery” is not reasonable to the carnal mind and to those who have not bothered to rightly divide the Word. It is absolutely essential that the Word of God be divided aright if one is to see “The Mystery.” As long as Israel is robbed of her blessings and her hope by believers, the Word of Truth is dishonored, and the Holy Spirit is not at liberty to “enlighten” the eyes of their understanding (Eph. 1:18). Truth for today is spiritually discerned (Eph. 1:17-19). Present Truth is concerned with “the Church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph.1:22-23). As the Apostle Paul develops this Truth, he also refers to the Church as “the One Body” (Eph.2:16.4:4 and Col. 3:15).

It should, also, be pointed out that just because somebody attempts rightly dividing the Word, does not guarantee that he knows “The Mystery.” All too many are wrestling with the problem. They talk a great deal about “right division.” They make a difference between the Jews and the Gentile; between Peter and Paul; between the Kingdom and the Church; and between law and grace; and, yet, do not comprehend “THE MYSTERY.” It is regrettable that some of these folks are enemies of the truth. They sow discord and confusion, and hinder many from coming to the knowledge of the truth. AII too often, believers rely on their teachers and, thereby, follow some man who is dedicated to defending his position, or his persuasion. Regrettably, all too often, a believer is approaching the knowledge of the truth and in checking with his “leader,” he is warned not to pursue this line of truth and, thereby, is a victim of the warning in Colossians 2:18. Thus, the believer is “beguiled of his reward” and fails to check the Scriptures himself.

I have known some of these self-appointed leaders. Have you? They are predators, like wolves preying on the innocence of the lambs. They are hunting-out the folks who are searching out for the Truth. They devour them as innocent lambs. “Wolves in sheep’s clothing” comes to mind:

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15).

On the other hand, many sincere Bible believers, who endeavor to rightly divide the Word of Truth, have asked the question; “Just what, exactly, is “The Mystery?”  We are going to attempt to answer that question, in “Plainer Words,” by giving an outline of the unique characteristics of “THE MYSTERY.” The characteristics that make the Church of the Mystery as a distinct and separate calling from any of God’s other company of redeemed are:

THE MYSTERY WAS A SECRET

The Greek word for “Mystery” is “musterion.” In Scripture, a “mystery” is a previously hidden truth which has been Divinely revealed; that is to say, a Holy Secret which has been made known. Even though the “Mystery” has been revealed, an element of the supernatural still remains, despite its revelation.

This out-calling of believers fulfills a secret purpose of God, known only to Him (Eph. 3:11). It was not made known until Israel was judicially set aside in unbelief. Israel is, now, reckoned among the nations, i.e., Israel is not, now, a Divinely recognized Nation. She will be restored during the Day of Christ which will be the next Dispensation. The momentous declaration of Acts 28:28, by the Apostle Paul, should stand as a Biblical Landmark, announcing a Border Crossing into unexplored land—the Land of God’s Secret—NEVER TOUCHED BY PROPHECY!

“Saying, Go unto this people [Israel], and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive. For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.'' (Acts 28:26-28)

This called-out group of believers make up a company of redeemed who are referred to as "the Church which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all'' (Eph. l: 22- 23). This secret was given, EXCLUSIVELY, to Paul BY REVELATION'' (Eph. 3:3).

THE MYSTERY WAS A SPECIAL CALLING

The word, “calling,” is used to make known dispensational truth. The Bible reveals, at least, three “callings.''

(1)  The calling of Israel
(2)  The calling of the Church of God before Acts 28                                                                         (3)  The calling of the Church of the Mystery after Acts 28

Each calling differs in its Origin, Constitution, and Sphere of influence in FUTURE PURSUITS  The special calling of “The Mystery” is said to be the “HIGH CALLING OF GOD” (Phil. 3:14), and a "HOLY CALLING'' (2 Tim.l:9), and we are to know “what is the HOPE OF HIS CALLING"      (Eph. l:18).

THE MYSTERY WAS “HID”

This was not only a secret but, also, a well-kept secret─ the depository was the Heart of God. This secret was, “from the beginning of the world hath been HID IN GOD” (Eph. 3:9). Notice, it was NOT HID IN THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES! It was “hid in God.” “The Mystery” was hid from past ages and past generations “BUT NOW is made manifest to His saints” (Col. l 26). This eternal purpose (Eph. 3:11) was not known by “the fathers,” or “the prophets.” It was God's most sacred secret, and who could wrest a secret from Him? It is said to be “NOW MANIFEST!”  Since it is “NOW MADE MANIFEST” means that it couldn’t have been made manifest before it was revealed! In plainer words, it was unknown before Noah’s Flood; it was unknown to the “fathers of Israel;” it was unknown by Moses and the Prophets; it was unknown by the Gospel and New Testament Saints; and unknown by any of the Officials of the Acts’ Period Church of God. It was unknown and unheard of until the Prisoner of the Lord—Paul—made it known!

THE MYSTERY WAS PLANNED “BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN”

This present Church [Ecclesia] is the only company of believers which is said to have its origin “BEFORE THE FOUNDATION of the world” (Eph. 1:4). The calling of the Jewish “kingdom’s restoration” was related to a calling “FROM THE FOUNDATION of the world'' (Matt. 25:34). The "ONE HOPE" (Eph. 4:4) of the Church of the Mystery was promised “BEFORE the world began” (Titus 1:2 & 2 Tim.1:9).

THE MYSTERY WAS REVEALED EXCLUSIVELY TO PAUL, THE PRISONER

The internal evidence in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 2 Timothy, and Philemon designate that they were the Apostle's writings while he was a “prisoner of Jesus Christ.” Paul, also, stated that he was “a prisoner for you Gentiles” (Eph. 3: 1). Paul referred to his prison ministry here:

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles” (Eph. 3:1).

“I Therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Eph. 4:1).

“And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that l may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as l ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19-20).

“Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because l have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace” (Phil.1:7).

“So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places” (Phil.1:13).

“For l am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil. 1:23).

“Withal proving also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which l am also in bonds” (Col. 4:3).

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim. 1:8).

“The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain” (2 Tim. 1:16).

We, as members of the “One Body,” should thank God for Paul’s CHAIN!

“Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein l suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound” (2 Tim. 2:8-9)

“At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion” (2 Tim. 4:16-1 7).

“Yet for love's sake l rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom l have begotten in my bonds” (Philemon 1:9-10).

The Mystery was revealed to Paul BY REVELATION (Eph. 3:3), and the revelation was associated with Paul the “PRISONER,” not Paul the FREE MAN. The body of Truth for the Church of the Mystery is contained in a “FORM OF SOUND WORDS,” to wit, the Prison Epistles.( 2 Tim. l:13).

THE MYSTERY WAS A NEW CREATION

“The Church, which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all'' is a new creation referred to as the “One New Man” in Ephesians 2:15. This indicates that it, like all of God's creations, was indeed a CREATION, not an evolved spiritual entity. The Church of the Mystery did not evolve from the Book of “The Acts of the Apostles,” but rather, it was a new creation, created when the “Hope of Israel” was put in abeyance in Acts 28:17-28. Ephesians 2:15 says “. . . for to MAKE (create) in Himself of twain (i.e., Jew and Gentile) One New Man. so making peace.” Notice, it says “to make.” The same expression is found in Genesis 1:26 when the Godhead said; “Let us MAKE man in Our image.” Genesis 1:27 explains in no uncertain terms that the word, “make,” of Verse 26 means to CREATE. Thus, as Adam was created, so also was the One New Man, the Church of this Dispensation of Grace. The workmanship of Ephesians 2:10, “created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” has reference to the new creation of the One New Man. This body of believers is, therefore, a company of redeemed who form a new creation, not a group who are a result of spiritual evolution.

THE MYSTERY WAS FOR THE GENTILES

Paul said in Acts 28:28 that salvation, which had been of the Jews, is “NOW sent unto the Gentiles and that they will hear it.” Gentiles, during God's dealings with Israel and until they were set aside, had a DISPENSATIONAL DISADVANTAGE. Ephesians 2:12 says, at “that time ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world,” but notice how this is changed by the coming-in of a new dispensation. “BUT NOW in Christ Jesus ye (Gentiles)… are made nigh by the blood of Christ'' (Eph. 2: 13). It was “for this cause” that Paul was a “prisoner of Jesus Christ for YOU GENTILES” (Eph. 3:1). The ministry of the Word of God has been given to the Gentiles. Until the revelation of the Mystery, the oracles of God were committed to Israel (Rom.3:3). The “restoration of Israel” is, now, no longer possible as long as God's secret purpose is operative and as long as the Gentiles, NOW, have the DISPENSATIONAL ADVANTAGE.

THE MYSTERY WAS NOT RELATED TO ANY COVENANTS OR PROMISES

This sacred secret was promised “in Christ before the world began” (Titus 1:2). The “covenants” and the “promises” belonged to "the fathers of Israel (Rom. 9:3-5), not to the Church of the One Body. The promises made to the fathers were “FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD,” and the covenants were made “SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN.” This company of called-out believers was called with a “holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His Own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus “BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN” (2 Tim. l :9). Thereby, eliminating the Church of the One Body from any connection with “covenants and promises” that were made in time (i.e., since the world began).

Romans I5:8 stated that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision (Jews) for the purpose of CONFIRMING THE PROMISES MADE UNTO THE FATHERS, not the Church of the One Body. The “covenants'' were with Israel.

The Lord promised a NEW COVENANT with the “House of ISRAEL and JUDAH”   (Jer. 31:31-36), not with the Church of the One Body. “The Mystery” was “hid in God” (Eph. 3:9); it was not hid in a veiled language in the Old Testament, and “The Mystery” has no connection with any “covenants,” either old or new. God's present purpose was planned before the world began, thus, eliminating the need for any ties with promises, or covenants.

THE MYSTERY CALLING IS BEING PRAISED BY CHRIST

The company of the One Body is viewed as being QUICKENED, RAISED, ACCEPTED, BLESSED, and SEATED together in Christ Jesus.

“But God … Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph.2:4-6).

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph.1:6).

“Blessed [Praised] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed [praised] us with all spiritual blessings [praising] in heavenly places [realms] in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Words placed in Brackets was done so in order “to give the sense,” in plainer words.

No other company of God’s redeemed is said to enjoy being well-spoken of by God. This eulogy is being spoken to those who are seated at GOD’S OWN RIGHT HAND where Christ sits— in authority, far above all spiritual beings (Eph. l:21).

Israel “according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3) had for its hope, the RESTORED EARTH (Acts 3:19-21). It will be during the Day of Christ that restored Israel will become a priestly Nation, that is to say, the “Priests of the LORD.” Moses forecasted this in Exodus 19:6 when he wrote that God said of Israel:

“And ye shall be unto Me a Kingdom of Priests, and a holy Nation.” The Pre-Millennial City of Jerusalem will be the Center of their activities as they function as the Kingdom (Government) of God’s Priests.

The Church over which Christ Jesus is the Head—the One New Man—will not perform any priestly functions during their hundreds-of-years as High Ranking Administrators in the Universal Government of Jesus Christ.

The faithful, from the call of Abraham to the close of the Acts Period, have for their post-Day of Christ’s hope, a heavenly City (Heb.11: 10). This City is referred to in Galatians 4:26 as “Jerusalem which is above.” Whereas, in Hebrews l2:22, it is referred to as “the City of the living God, the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM.”

The “overcomers” mentioned in the Book of Revelation are, also, associated with this City. It is referred to as “the Bride, the Lamb's wife” (Rev. 2 l :9). This heavenly City of blessing is viewed as coming “DOWN FROM GOD out of heaven.” In plainer words, it is seen descending down, after the new heavens and new earth appear, as per Revelation 21:1-2 & 9-10. The believers who will make up this company of redeemed will enjoy their place of everlasting joy in New Jerusalem, not WHERE CHRIST NOW SITS.

THE MYSTERY HAS ITS OWN FIGURE

The Church of the One Body is figured as ONE NEW MAN (Eph. 2:15). The Church of  God during the Acts Period and the Great Tribulation is likened to a BRIDE.

“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor.11:2).

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2)..

“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God”    (Rev. 21: 9-10).

Israel according to the flesh was a called-out nation from among other nations and is referred to as Jehovah's WIFE that is now cast off, but will be reunited in the Day of Christ—the Pre-Millennial Government (Hos. 2: 19-20; 3:3-5).

Each of the three callings are metaphorically likened to different figures:

The restored WIFE is the figure of the Israel of God.

The BRIDE is the figure of those who will be found in New Jerusalem.        

The ONE NEW MAN is the figure of today’s calling—of the One Body.

(To be Continued)
 
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