"ARISE" is a journal to be published on a quarterly basis. Its aim is to serve as a vehicle for the expression of the Body Of Christ as it relates to present truth. The articles provided are usually from those of us fellowshipping in the Tampa and Clearwater, FL area. "ARISE" also publishes pertinent articles of similar concern from those abroad consistent with our general purpose and calling. So now receive the word with all readiness of mind and examine the scriptures every day to see if it is really as we say.
This issue of "ARISE" features:
I. "Thy Kingdom Come" is by a friend and wonderful brother in the Lord, Willie Hinn. His article provides good teaching on the Kingdom of God. Willie Hinn oversees the Resurrection Life Center fellowship in Orlando, FL. He lives in Orlando with his wife Teresa and four children.
II. "Prisoners Of His Will" continues to look at God's creation from
a perspective which is not under- stood nor taught in many Christian groups
today. This article is provided by my close friend, Romeo Corsini. Romeo, his
wife Christine, and their three beautiful little girls live in the
Tampa (Brandon), FL area.
III. "The River of Life" is an excellent teaching on the River of
Life as God causes us to come and drink from His River that we might live by
His River of Life. This article comes from the pen
of an excellent teacher, J. Preston Eby. Brother Preston and his wife Lorain publish Kingdom Bible Studies and live in El Paso, Texas.
IV. "The Concept of Circularity" presents us with sufficient evidence that creation is moving ever onward and upward in a spiritual evolution to where everything shall find its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. This good teaching is provided by Dr. Jack Jacobsen. He and his wife Marjorie live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
V. "God's Love Towards All" continues our Christianity 101 teachings with a basic principle regard- ing the love of God and how it accounts for man's eternal security. Contrary to most doctrine taught today, we find that God's love is greater than man's tradition.
VI. "The Secret of the Universe" is provided by a good and well-respected friend, Brother Frank Gilliard. His article brings to light the fact that the new creation man is coming into place as Christ takes His rightful place and will fill the entire universe.
VII. "Footprints In The Sand - From Another View", is an excellent sequel to the popular poem entitled, 'Footprints in the Sand'. You can not help but be blessed when you consider this poem as written from another view by my dear friend Les Barkley. He and his wife live in Lake Mary (Orlando), FL.
I have recently returned from a missions trip from Guatemala. Several of us had the opportunity to experience the Christ of God through His church in a very special way. I can not find the words to express the impact the trip had on my spiritual well-being. Suffice it to say, God is building the Tabernacle of David in His people across the world. This trip has confirmed in another way to me of His Love Towards All.
In His Service
Timothy D. Carroll
"ARISE" is free to all as God's way is "Freely you have received,
freely give". The mailing address is listed on the front cover for those
interested in receiving the journal on a regular basis. Additional copies are
available upon request. Notification of change of address is appreciated.
Thy Kingdom Come
"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power." (Eph. 1:18-19)
Foremost in the mind of God is to have a people in His likeness and in His image. (Gen. 1:26) Since this is God's intent, He therefore arranges the circumstances in our lives that will relentlessly touch all of our natural desires. As man in himself is incapable of generating the Life of God within, this work is the total responsibility of the Holy Spirit. It is a LIFE which is implanted by the will of the Father. "Which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, BUT OF GOD." (John 1:13) "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." (John 3:6)
"Therefore, He is able also to save to the uttermost - completely, perfectly, finally and for all time and eternity, those who come to God through Him..." (Heb. 7:25 Amplified). It is imperative to our spiritual well-being that we secure a clear picture of our full redemption. At times, there are areas of our understanding which are veiled as we persist in mixing grace with law and soul with Spirit. It is in this vein that we take an indepth look at some very critical issues which directly influence our sight and walk.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4:12) The separation of soul and spirit is obviously a subject man has neglected. Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Yet, as Christians, we have failed to discern and comprehend the vast gulf fixed between that which is of the Spirit and that which is of the soulish realm. The tragic result of this blurred vision is that it has had a negative effect on our spiritual growth and maturity. As a crooked tree does not straighten with age, only by illumination of the Holy Spirit can a sharp distinction be made that we might grasp the truth and stand upright in Him.
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." [spiritually judged] (I Cor. 2:14) The spirit of man is that part of man which is inherently conscious of God. The soul of man is: a.) man's intellect, [mind, thoughts]; b.) man's emotions [feelings]; and c.) man's will [desires, and ambitions]. There is no question that the soul man, or customarily speaking, "the self life," is able to counterfeit that which is of the Spirit. The ability to counterfeit the reality of the Spirit is a device well used by the enemy. Consequently, Christians find themselves trapped in the soul realm, no longer seeking or partaking of that which is Divine. For example, the believer that dwells in a mixed condition of soul and Spirit tends to come into a fellowship or church in the hope that the music will hype him up or lead him into that certain "mood" wherein he will "feel better." He then makes a quick exit void of any meaningful, internal transformation.
Traditionally, we have been accustomed to depend on the enticement of the soul man to enter the Spirit. There was an obvious reliance on natural energy to draw us into that which is of the Spirit. God in His mercy blessed and healed through it all. However, the truth the body needs to come to grips with is, the Spirit does not require a "mood" or "atmosphere" in which to operate. On the contrary, it is the barren, parched environment in which many of us have been raised, which requires a move of the Spirit of God! The atmosphere does not control the Spirit, the Spirit controls the atmosphere! When words are spoken in Spirit, they will not fall to the ground and die. Words of the Spirit of Life constitute substance and strength. Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life." (I Cor. 2:14b)
"I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the Kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." (Rev. 12:10) The Kingdom of God is a very present reality. Entrance into this Kingdom encompasses a "born again" experience. "....Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) The Greek word used here for "again" means from FROM ABOVE. As we center our attention on this "new birth" we see a clear dividing line between salvation and what institutional Christianity teaches as being "born again."
The traditional definition of "born again Christians" implies that being "born again" is a one time, once and for all decision on our part. This is a deception which has been carried on for to long. Firstly, it never was our decision, for the Scripture says, "no man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent me draw him..." (John 6:44a). "While we were His enemies He reconciled us." (Rom. 5:10)
Secondly, we would all agree that salvation begins at the cross. It is only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that our sins are washed away and we are placed in the family of God. Through his precious blood, every believer has access to God in the realm of the Spirit. We have now passed from death into life. "...all this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ" (II Cor. 5-18). Our entrance into the family of God, our reconciliation to the Father is complete and final. In this vein, we are saved once and for all. However, equally important to our redemption, (which is the beginning of our "born again" experience), is the realization that our new birth is just that, a new birth! Should we stop at this point and struggle in our soul man to "live a Christian life," we will live a life that is trying to follow the teaching of Christ, but we will inhibit our growth and entrance into the life that is in Christ. "In him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) Even Nicodemus, who was a "priest" in his time, had difficulty in raising above the dust of carnality. His natural mind could not comprehend the words, "ye must be born again," [from above] (John 3:7). He asked the question, "...How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" Jesus responded, "That which is born of flesh is flesh; that which is born of Spirit is spirit." (John 3:4-5)
Being born from above is a present, continuous process of the Holy Spirit, in our inner man [spirit]. It is the continual process of being born again which directly leads to the Kingdom of God [righteousness, peace, and joy] and the experience of living and walking in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:25) Only as we see and enter into His Kingdom will we function in the power of "HIS CHRIST" (Rev. 12:10).
To summarize, we are saved by grace through faith. Being born again is entering into a process which can only take place in the Spirit. Being born again is a process unto perfection of the "new creation man." When Jesus was on earth as a man, He was spirit, soul and body. The soul is the meeting point that makes it possible for the spirit and the body to communicate and cooperate. Jesus, was one hundred percent God and one hundred percent man. What type of soul did He have? The soul of Jesus was of the nature which touched things of the natural [not carnal], yet stayed in continuous communion with the Father. Everything the Son said and did was under the administration of the Father and in fulfillment of the Father's will. Jesus said in John 5:19, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what he seeth the Father do...". Again, in John 8:37, He restates, "I speak that which I have seen of my Father...". His natural man was solely dependent on and in subjection to the Spirit.
The Greek interprets Revelation 3:14 as saying that "He is the beginning of God's creation, or "HE IS GOD'S ORIGINAL." God is bringing forth a new creation man! "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Gal. 6:15) "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." (II Cor. 5:17) A new creation! A new type of people. The Greek rendition of this verse is, "all things are passing, shall continue to pass and will pass away and all things are becoming and shall continue to become new".
"For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Rom. 8:29) Jesus was the last Adam, a second man - a new blood type. A distinctly different soul nature! Even though He was last Adam, He moved beyond the soulish arena and was a life-giving Spirit. He was the first among many brethren. As we behold Him, we are, "constantly being transformed into HIS VERY OWN IMAGE in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the LORD WHO IS THE SPIRIT." (II Cor. 3:18)
The more we receive of this truth, the more we will receive of the infusion and transfusion of the Divine Life which enables us to overcome the natural. As we behold Him, we are changed into the same image. The key here is to behold Him. With our focus on the natural, we become more natural. Yet as we behold Him, we become more and more like Him. When the three Israelites were thrown into the furnace, they did not burn....they were very naturally supernatural. We are well acquainted with that which is earthy and soulish: yet, "as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (I Cor. 15:49) Our true identity was predestined before the foundation of the world. We are first spirit and it is this spirit within us that must partake of His Divine nature. Thus, the more we partake of His nature, the more we come into the fulness of Him, "That ye might be partakers of the divine nature." (II Pet. 1:4)
This is a pressing issue for the hour. The first begotten Son, in whom the Father was well pleased is now bringing forth in this day, the "corporate Son" - His body, of which He is the Head. This corporate manifestation of Himself is also "well pleasing" to the Father.
It is time we place a new emphasis on the fact that we are the "Christ body" [not a title - a reality]: the physical, tangible, living organism right here on earth. We need to stop seeing ourselves in our natural, individual identity and visualize ourselves as the living corporate Body of Christ, an extension of Him, in the natural - flesh and blood; bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh. (Eph. 5:30) The moment we stop seeing ourselves as individuals, we will see the Christ in us. In this light our mentality would change, our habits would change. What we are accustomed to doing in the natural man, we could no longer do as "the Body of Christ."
There is coming a day when this flesh body will no longer conceal our true identity in Christ. God in our flesh, transforming, changing, making all things new, until it can be said that we are One - manifesting His life to all creation in, "the power of His Christ." "Being born again not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." (I Pet. 1:22)
"And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony" (Rev. 12;11). We could never be the overcoming Body of Christ without a crystal clear perspective of the blood of Jesus Christ. A dear brother once wrote, "We need a fresh DIVINE REVELATION of His blood, of its power and working in us. It is PRECIOUS - Both in the sense of value, and in the sense of being HIGHLY ESTEEMED, held in honor. The blood of Christ is costly, essentially and intrinsically precious because it is God's own blood. Deity became incarnate in humanity." Paul speaks of "The church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28). "This makes it highly honored and extremely valuable, being of HIS OWN LIFE."
As we look at this passage in Revelation 12:11, we are reminded of certain religious practices which were born out of ignorance and fear in the soulish realm. In institutional Christianity, this verse is often used to promote one of these rituals. The routine excercise of "applying the blood" on everything and everyone is performed on a regular basis. To merge instruction given to the children of Israel during their Eqyptian captivity, (Ex. 12:7), and implement like practices today in our quest for spiritual security is ludicrous. There is an immense contrast between the blood of Christ and the blood of bulls and goats. The blood of bulls and goats did not take away the sin, it merely covered it temporarily. The blood of Jesus was sprinkled on the mercy seat. It was shed once and for all! The blood of Jesus Christ was for the remission of sin, and for sanctification; it is Holy!
God fully accomplished His intent and purpose in the death of His Son and in the shedding of His blood on the cross of Calvary. Dare we take this precious blood and apply it to our cars, our boats, and our homes? We delude ourselves when we reduce the blood of Jesus Christ and place it in the same classification of the blood of animals. Psalms 91:1-2 and 9-11 unfolds to us our safety and protection as we abide in Christ. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: My God; in Him will I trust. Because thou hast made the Lord which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
God is calling out a people who shall speak the truth with courage and conviction;
not a message of death and fear but ministering the LIFE OF THE WORD TO LIBERATE.
"For the Lord to whom they could turn is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit
of the Lord is, men's souls are set free." (II Cor. 3:17 Phillips).
A great hour of realization is drawing near. The life of God is being supplied. The Lord is bringing us into a greater dimension, and showing us a more excellent way. He is gathering His Body together, and we are beginning to discern the Body of Christ. In the plan of the Father, we see the immense importance of salvation, we see the Kingdom of God and the New Creation Man. We are consistently being led into fuller knowledge and deeper experience.
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." (I Cor. 10:16-17).
The Lord is bringing us into communion of His Body. We are about to experience the reality of His Body, wherein He is no longer concealed in us, but He actually lives His life through us. At present He lives in us by faith...nonetheless, He is steadily advancing toward His intent of revealing Himself through a corporate Expression; a corporate Man whose head is Jesus Christ.
While the world is going through testings and trials, in the midst of a people, a transformation is taking place! "Those that are dead in Christ shall rise first, but those that remain shall be changed." (I Thes. 4:16) This transformation is not a myth, it is a reality. We are on the verge of experiencing the Kingdom of God right here on earth. "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, ON EARTH, as it is in Heaven." (Matt. 6:10) Just as one day in the history of mankind, the Divine, took on humanity....this humanity is in the process of taking on the Divine! The inner-man will have matured, and when this man is unveiled we shall behold the very image of Christ, and to Zion it shall be proclaimed, "Arise, shine, for thy light has come, and the glory of Jehovah has risen upon thee." (Isa. 60:1)
".....THY KINGDOM COME ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN...."
Prisoners Of His Will
I am learning that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. We must not make the mistake of reading this in the future tense. The kingdom of God IS within you. You cannot experience the kingdom of God in your living if you're living in the flesh and blood. But, who are you? The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. Which one am I? I'm finding that I am a new creation, the second man, when I remain focussed and aware of the Father's will and my purpose in this earthly realm. Anything other than that destines me to be the first Adam, the one forced to fend for his life. So that what I reap, I reap according to either man's respective realm, the flesh or the Spirit. And I know that the flesh cannot reap the things of the Spirit, that is, the kingdom of God.
I am at a place where I feel less and less worthy of knowing what God means by any one thing. Each time I proceed to declare what I believe to be God's meaning or intent, I feel pointless and futile. It would seem that I am learning that God is to be experienced and not interpreted. I need God to be my experience and not interpreted. I need God to be my experience as the second man that I am and not my laws as the earthy first man that I can still be. I detest this earthy man. He insists on being satisfied and he is always bothersome and in the way. He would prevent my experiencing God because it would mean that I would then deny Him. As I write, I am more determined than ever to deny this earthy man that I might elevate my being above the realm of the dead. If I live in the earthly realm then I occupy myself with all that the earthly realm includes; to wit: worry, frustration, lack of peace, anger, etc....And if there would be any happy moments, they would be as the earthy realm is, temporary and subject to conditions.
Now, I ask myself, is it a matter of choice? Does the individual have to choose which realm he thrives in? I didn't ask to be born. I didn't ask to be weak in any given area. I didn't ask for my environment. I didn't create the combination of experiences that resulted in my "make-up." So, am I to hold my God responsible to make me right? He is responsible. He subjected me to this vanity, through no willingness on my part and I seek that day when I shall behold Him face to face and be as He is. I am truly a prisoner of His will.
If there are choices to be made, they are not as testaments to how much better I am than any other human being, especially not than the non-believer. They are strictly choices of expedience, of good policy, of wisdom. I thank God that He deemed to impart unto me, unto my heart, the desire to want to follow Him. God is not as a man that He should be followed. One must WANT to follow Him. That desire only God can put, by His choosing, in a man's heart. This is a choice of expedience, where a person would pray that God give him that desire because it is the right thing to want and God will cause that one to follow Him.
It's akin to smoking cigarettes. Regardless of how one got there, he is a smoker by addiction, as if to say, not willingly. Now, knowing what harm the cigarette can do, the choice factor comes in as a matter of expedience: it would be very wise of the man to quit. Alas, wisdom is often not man's strongest quality; therefore, knowing the harm of a cigarette may not be enough for many. They must want to quit. God gives us that kind of want. Then it is easy. Then it is fulfilling to live life as a non-smoker. Then it is fulfilling to live life as a believer, as one who wants to follow God. Very often, unfortunately, smokers will quit after something drastic and horrible has been determined about their health. Their quitting, then, is a measure of their disappointment. Similarly, many "find" God on their death bed or in prison, regretting that they did not have longer to live to enjoy the wonder of the fulfilling peace and joy they've been presented. Either way, it is wonderful that they finally come to their wisdom but it would have been much more expedient to have quit or surrendered much sooner.
The importance is the truth. What is truth? It is expedience: that which is wise, right. I think of the Lord Jesus, during the accusations and trial, during which He uttered nothing in His defense. Obviously, there are reasons why He would not call down an army of angels to help Him, even though He had a right to do so. There are reasons why He did not speak in His own defense. The issue was the truth. His accusers could not comprehend His message. It so differed from what they knew that they deemed it antagonistic, heretical. I imagine the thinking in the mind of Christ at the time. They were not ready to receive the message. Were He to have offered an explanation, could the unregenerate have been able to comprehend the things of the Spirit, for the truth is a spiritual matter that is spiritually discerned? In His wisdom, He must have been able to know the blindness in their resistance. In fact, at His death, He declared, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). What did it matter what He would have had to say? He was there for His Father's will. He was aware that God had a purpose in it all for Him. They had shoved Him into "prison" yet, He knew He was already a prisoner of His Father's will. His focus must have been so great that the need of His First Adamic nature to rescue himself paled by comparison to the strength of His Second Adamic nature that so loved His Father that His union with Him (His Father), the pact they shared, the oneness of purpose, must have exhilerated Him and He was willing to subject Himself to it all. ("...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame..." Heb 12:2). Yet I also imagine that His Father's strength came to Him in the form of His love for His accusers. Only a perfect man could have endured such trials in the way that Jesus did. He so regarded the shame of it all, the injustice of it all, as enemies of His Father's will and purpose for him that we read in the aforementioned scripture that he despised the shame. He thought it base and not worthy of reaction. He had already dealt with His natural side of it. "Father, IF THOU BE WILLING, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."(Luke 22:42) He was aprisoner of His Father's will, doing all things as unto the Lord, in singleness of heart. (Col.3:22-23)
We must so condition ourselves as to be instant in season and out of season. To me, it means to practice being ready to hear God speak to me. Not so much to study and read and always have some message prepared. What have I got to say, anyway? But to be ready to hear the voice of God; that is, to be always in the condition that will make it possible for me to hear the voice of God. The earthy man hears the things of the earth, much like a married man who concerns himself with how to please his wife. Whereas, an unmarried man in the Lord concerns himself with the things of The Lord, how to please Him. ( I Cor.7:32-33). We are unmarried in the spiritual sense that we are subject only to the Father's will and answer only to Him. Our desire should mature to want only to serve His will.
There is much that is attributed to nature, which is to say, to chance; the outcome of a thing, for example, or the way of an offspring. Yet how often does one seriously consider the will of the Lord in their lives? When His will is considered, it would be so much more frequently obvious how the Lord, in His sovereignty, excercises direct control of situations, and results, thus allowing the Lord to use any given situation as a tool to further the growth of an individual. Is there anything so good or so bad that God cannot use to enhance His greatness and glory in His creation's hearts? When we seem to have God trapped in our hearts yet continue to behave as though we barely knew who God was, God can still take our nature and use it to His advantage to change us to conform to His ways, to His will.
The Philistines, during the time of Samuel, had captured the Ark of the Covenant. They saw very soon how the presence of the Lord sets all things in their proper perspective, as when the huge statue of Dagon before which they had set the Ark fell twice before it, the second time breaking off its head and hands. It was all too clear to their wisest men that they should not, for wisdom's sake, keep the ark. (I Sam. 5 & 6). Wherever the ark went they found destruction in their midst. How odd that wherever the Lord is in the worldly environment there is chaos and destruction.
Who or what can resist the will of the Lord? It is only the Lord's presence setting aright the true order of things! When they decided to test the possibility that the presence of the Ark was responsible for all the calamities, their priests told them to send it away back to the Hebrews with trespass offerings in a new cart drawn by two cows, each of which had just had a calf. The calves were then hidden from their mothers and the cart and cows with the offering and the Ark were taken to a junction where three roads separated. If the cows did not return to their calves, which they were wont to do ACCORDING TO THEIR NATURE, and if they also turned onto the right road, then they would know for certain that God indeed was responsible for all that had been happening. The cows were prisoners of His will. They turned, against their own natures, onto the right road and did not returrn to their calves but continued toward the Hebrews, bearing the Ark. It was God, not chance or nature, that controlled the cows and the situation. The Philistines knew that the God of the Hebrews, the same God who was responsible for all that had happened to the Egyptians, was with the Ark and responsible for all of their woes. They repented of their challenge to God. When they saw that the Ark had been returned, they left.
The flesh cannot mingle with the Spirit without encountering what is to it calamity and woe but in the Spirit is only a setting aright of the proper order. Those who see in the Spirit and live in the Spirit and walk in the Spirit will not be swayed in fear or concern, for their comfort shall be in their knowledge tht it is the will of their Father who seeks only to make His offspring turn onto the right road, against his nature. This is why it is a good thing to be a prisoner of His will, to be here without my say. Because He loves me, because I want Him, I shall do what I must, in spite of myself, and I will rejoice in God my Savior that He has me bound!
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:21). With such conviction and understanding did Job convey the truth that it is God at work in every facet of our lives. Later, in answer to his wife's outburst about taking the short route out of his misery, Job said, "....Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:10). All our steps are ordered of the Lord (Ps. 37:23) and just as Job learned the fruitlessness of making presumptions of the Lord's will and purpose in a man's life, so should we realize that only in His will combined with our acceptance of all that happens to us as being in His will shall we find peace and revelation. ("My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:5-6). "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things." (Isa. 45:7). Can it be any clearer than that?
Many of us live by standards established according to the system of membership clubs. "You cannot belong to their clubs if you belong to ours." "Ours is better than theirs." "You cannot be legitimate if you do not actively participate in our rules, regulations and rituals". If not all people then at least the believer should repent in dust and ashes, doing away with all preconceptions of God and His will, recognizing that the truth will remain the truth whether one believes in it or not, whether one accepts it or not, whether one proclaims it or not, and, especially, whether one deliberately establishes anything to counter it. The truth is always the truth. Since no one has any copyright or patent or legal right to anything that they can label as truth other than what God himself will reveal unto him, then it behooves us to remain humble and repentant before Him. "Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." (Acts 5: 38-39)
A prisoner is in the worst situation when he refuses to come to terms with his surroundings, his limitations, and the authority that placed him where he is. In a great sense, he is placed there to help him from himself, never mind from hurting others. In the same way we do ourselves an injustice when we fail to learn and accept our place in God's scheme, our place in His will, rather than make determinations based on emotions and our own interpretations. A true disciple, disregards the precepts of men and listens to hear only the voice of His God because the truth can only be known by revelation, not by study. I will confirm what I have heard the Lord reveal unto me. That is the study that gives me approbation. Job also declared, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him" (Job 13:15) And one of the greatest testaments to the way truth and worship should be perceived and held has been given to us by the three friends of Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, upon being threatened with the fiery furnace, understood clearly as Jesus understood at the time of his betrayal. ("You would haveno power over me if it were not given you from above," John 19:11). They declared to Nebuchadnezzar with all due respect: "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up".
We are servants to the truth, not its Lord. We must be humble when we discuss the truth lest we be found to be kicking against the pricks and resisting God Himself. The truth does not rely on whether we agree with it; we rely on it with our faith. We are prisoners of the will of God; let us rejoice in our bondage.
The River Of Life
Those who know nothing of spiritual realities see nothing more in the garden of Eden than merely a literal garden abounding with trees and flowers and animals and sparkling streams over in the land of Mesopotamia. The so-called "literalist" studies the Genesis record from a strictly historical, geographical and geological viewpoint. These do, however, come up with some interesting insights about what such a literal garden would have been like, and this is both fitting and helpful, for every parable and type must, in what it represents, correspond to the anti-typical realities to which it points. One scientist, who has spent much time studying the scientific aspects of the literal garden, has concluded that such a luscious garden would require an abundance of water, far more than could be derived from the diurnal mist which nightly came up from the face of the earth (Gen. 2:5-6). Since there was no rainfall, the river would have to be supplied through a pressurized conduit from an underground reservoir of some kind, emerging under pressure as a sort of artesian spring. The pressure in the subterranean reservoir could have been established, this scientist surmises, either when the waters were first entrapped below the land surface and compressed or else by being heated from a deep-lying heat source. If there was a continuing heat source, as well as a continuing supply of water to the subterranean pool, then the artesian spring at the surface could be fed indefinitely. The water coming into the pool would have flowed by gravity from one of the surface "seas," through penetrable sands or channels in the rocks, down into the great heater below. This scientist believes there were similar subterranean channels and chambers in the earth's crust all around the world, and that the water flow in the river of Eden must have been very large for, after traversing the garden, it separated into four "distributaries," each of which was a large and long river. The rivers must have eventually reached one or more of the antediluvian seas, thus completing the cycle. One last observation of this scientist: Since all rivers flow downhill until they reach the sea, Eden would necessarily have been located at a high altitude, in the mountains or on a plateau. What a beautiful spiritual picture, this!
This high altitude or "higher realm" of the garden of Eden typifies the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. This garden is Canaan, the Promised Land. "A land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year" (Deut. 11:11-12). God placed Adam the first in the garden of Eden, or the Kingdom of Heaven, a place of light and beauty, from whence flowed the springs of the fountain of the river of life, the source of living water. Without the garden lies the "lower realm" of earth, bespeaking the human condition outside of God, that whole dreadful realm of darkness and death in which is contained every sin, sorrow, tragedy, pain, trouble, sickness, heartache, fear and torment known to man. The higher realm of Eden extends upward into infinitude, glory ascending above and beyond glory, for Eden is the gate to the unbounded and inexhaustible heavens. The lower realm includes this world and everything that is beneath it. It descends into the lowest realms of the bottomless and embraces the outer realms of darkness. And flowing from the higher realm of the Kingdom of heaven to the lower realm of the Kingdom of Darkness is the blessed River of Life. Its incorruptible waters of Spirit and Truth are more real and sparkling and alive than any river of earth. It pulsates with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit and vibrates with the sheer, exquisite beauty of the divine nature of our great and glorious God and His Christ that is impossible for my poor pen to describe. Its glory surpasses the shining of a million diamonds in the sun, for it is the glory of the Lord God Almighty.
The waters of the most frolicking streams on earth, can and do often come to a stale dead-end slough of stagnancy and defilement. They can end in a contaminated swamp that breeds disease and pestilence or in a fishless, salty sea. However, the waters of that bounteous River of Life can never be restricted, defiled, polluted nor stagnated, for they are living waters of God's Spirit and bring life more abundant where e'er they flow. The power and work of this mighty river can best be described by using some of earth's scientific knowledge as comparisons. The scientist, Dr. Harry Rimmer, has pointed out in one of his books that the whole world is completely enfolded in the ethers and oxygens and various elements which make up the air we breathe. And though the entire earth is completely enfolded and surrounded in this substance we call "air" nevertheless there are, within that air, certain air currents and trade winds which are like living streams or rivers. They flow forth in their destined channels and as they flow they continually RENEW and GIVE LIFE to the whole of the encompassing atmosphere - and to the world. Without these currents, the jet streams, all the pollutants and poisons in the atmosphere would hang around our heads and the entire environment would stagnate and suffocate.
Then there are the great and mighty oceans of water, vast and extensive, covering the larger portion of the earth's surface. And through and across these vast bodies of water there are also currents and streams that are like great, stupendous rivers, flowing onward age after age, forever RENEWING and REVITALIZING the whole. These vast ocean currents are absolutely beyond the power of man to produce or control, yet they are essential to his existence upon earth. Consider the great Gulf Stream as an instance of this beneficence derived from a source beyond and above human invention. This famous stream has been seen by innumerable visitors and residents in the state of Florida, where the stream leaves the Gulf of Mexico and parallels the Florida coast as it travels north to the region of Nova Scotia. As it leaves the Gulf with a temperature of eighty-six degrees Fahrenheit, and practically retains its warmth all the way, it has a tremendous influence on the climate of the land it passes. The heat of the stream is still eighty-four degrees at the Georgia-Carolina border, and the warm temperate climate of these states is directly derived from this stream. Something of its tempering power on the surrounding atmosphere may be understood when we note that the stream is a thousand times the size of the mighty Mississippi River at that river's mouth; being seventy miles wide and something over three thousand feet deep.
The fact is, the coast of North America and Northern Europe would be a frozen waste without this stream. It alone makes the New England states habitable and makes life possible in Northern Europe as well. The British Isles would be frozen and abandoned without the stream, and even now, when the current swings a little wide of its general course, a near ice-age descends upon the old country, and suffering is tremendous. And besides this, there are numerous other gigantic ocean streams which lend their life-giving vitality to cleanse, refresh, revitalize and keep alive the whole, vast, stupendous seas as well as life upon the land.
The River of Life can be likened to the trade winds and ocean streams in this
way: every existing thing which God has created is enfolded or immersed in His
great and wondrous presence and love - a presence and love which fills all time
and space. The languages of earth do not contain words descriptive and meaningful
enough to adequately describe the immensity and all-embracing presence and love
and power of our glorious God and creator, but one prophet by the Spirit framed
the truth of it in these words: "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or
whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up to heaven, Thou art there:
if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the
morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand
lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall
cover me; even the night shall be light about me" (Ps. 139:7-11). If only
men would open their hearts they would see that all things are indeed enfolded
in the presence and love of God, as it is written, "He that descended is
the same also that ascended up far above the heavens, that He might FILL ALL
THINGS" (Eph. 4:9-10). The whole creation is always enfolded and surrounded
by the unspeakable power, the boundless presence and the limitless love of God.
Mankind has generally taken this love for granted, ignored it, rejected it,
denied it, or through their ignorance, remained unaware of it or its life-imparting
reality. Nevertheless the love is always there, always awaiting man's acceptance
of it. "For God so loved THE WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that THE WORLD
through Him might be saved" (Jn. 3:16-17). We have read that beautiful
passage ten thousand times. Most of us know it by heart, but today it holds
new meaning and wonderful promise. I think I see today what Jesus saw and felt
when he spoke those meaningful words about God's love for THE WORLD and His
grand and glorious purpose for THE WORLD. He has opened up a river, a River
of Life, and that River flows on and on unto all things in that lower realm
of the earthy, until everything everywhere shall LIVE by its life-giving waters.
With this picture firmly impressed upon our minds, may the Spirit of wisdom and revelation from God enable us to behold God's glorious River of Life and understand its purpose and meaning and powers. Flowing through the vast glory of God's omnipresence and His all-embracing love is also a mighty current or stream. In nature there is both air and water in every part of the atmosphere, but a "river" is a CONCENTRATED and CHANNELED CURRENT or STREAM of air or water. While God's presence, and love and life enfold and embrace all things, the River of Life is the river, the flowing of GOD'S CONCENTRATED and CHANNELED LIFE, intensified and magnified as it were a thousand times. This concentrated stream of God's intensified life is the wonderful River of Life which holds the power of cleansing, restoration, renewal and transformation for all unto whom it flows. The powers contained within these waters of life are incomprehensible to the natural mind, for they are the powers of heaven's own divine life. These waters contain the divine, wondrous ability to wash the very power and effects and results of sin and death!
Every sinner plunged beneath the flood of this River has experienced something of the marvelous transformation that takes place when old things begin to be swept away by its purifying waters and all things become new! In an instant of time, at the foot of the cross, where flow these precious life-giving waters, gone was the darkness, the guilt, the bondage and the death, and in their stead bustling life and a bubbling song filled the ransomed soul. The Scripture, speaking of the condition of an unregenerate man, describes him as being without God, without Christ, a stranger to God's covenants and promises, and having no hope (Eph. 2:11-12). He is said to be walking according to the course of this age, under the dominion of the prince of the power of the air, who works in all the children of disobedience. He fulfills the desires of his own flesh and is by nature a child of the wrath working in him. Above all he is dead in trespasses and sins, a captive of the devil. Thus, as the earth stood in the beginning, desert, arid, barren, parched and destitute, so now stands the unregenerate man, whom God formed of the dust of the earth, but who through transgression fell, becoming a stranger to God, bound in chains of lust and sin, captive to every evil spirit, unconverted, unregenerate and without hope in the world. But, as in the beginning, a river flowed out of Eden and waters proceeded forth at the commandment of God with life to quench the strength of drought and death, so that ten thousand forms of life might appear upon the earth, so also is it written of men, once dead in trespasses and sins, without hope and without God in the world, that, whosoever will, may come and take of the water of life freely, and whosoever drinketh of the water that Christ giveth shall never thirst again; for the water that proceeds from the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life.
While some practice their soulish art of "inner healing," leading the poor oppressed soul through the nightmare of reliving all the horrible traumatic experiences of his childhood and former life, in an effort to cleanse him from accumulated negative thought patterns of guilt, fear, hostility, etc., I can testify to you that one simple plunge into God's glorious River of Life, the River of the mighty surging of His Spirit Life, one plunge, I say, will wash away more guilt, bondage, fear, hang-ups, frustrations, habits, oppression and possession than all the "inner healing" seminars for a thousand years. I will never forget how, years ago, because of an unfortunate experience with some people, a bitterness began to spring up in my heart toward these former friends and brethren in the Lord, and finally the bitterness turned to pure hatred. I could not stand the thought of them, much less the sight. One night, in a meeting, the Spirit of the Lord sovereignly swept over the whole congregation with its renewing, sanctifying, cleansing power and suddenly, in an instant of time, my whole soul was deluged, immersed in a baptism of God's divine love and I found that all the bitterness and hatred, all the animosity and hurt had been swept away by the tidal wave of God's grace and love and I now loved, with a deep and unspeakable love, those whom I formerly despised. I left the platform and embraced these dear people, rejoiced and wept, cleansed and renewed, and these have been among our closest and dearest friends in the Lord since that day long ago. One wonderful sweep of the River of Life accomplished more in one minute than a thousand sessions of inner healing could have ever produced. The so-called inner healing movement is nothing more than a Christianized form of psychiatry and psychology, and I exhort you in the Lord that all who would be Sons of God depart from such carnal substitutes for the reality of Christ as life. Let it be forever settled in our hearts that there is a River, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the most High. May the deepest prayer of our hearts be that God would cause us to come to HIS RIVER, to drink from HIS RIVER, that we might truly LIVE BY HIS RIVER.
Hearken now to the words of the prophet as by the Spirit he views this blessed river and its marvellous accomplishments: "Now when I have returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other... these waters issue out... and go down into the desert, and go into the sea; which being brought forth into the sea, the waters (of the dead sea) shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall LIVE; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither; and everything shall live whither the river cometh. And by the river... shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months because their waters issued out of the sanctuary; and the fruit thereof shall be meat and the leaf thereof for medicine" (Eze. 47:7-12).
Thank God that this River now flows! The life of Jesus Christ is flowing as a river from out of the throne of God. "If any man thirst," saith Christ, "let him come unto Me and drink." Because by His death eternal life was released to all, therefore this River flows and shall flow out unto all the earth and the tree of life shall stand in the midst of the street of the New Jerusalem on both sides of the River of Life, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations in that blest dispensation of the fulness of times. And there shall be no more curse, no more death, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more crying, because the former things, which belonged to the realm of sin and death are all passed away. Because He lives, we also live by Him, and the hour is wonderfully near at hand when even this corruptible shall put on incorruption and this mortal, immortality. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written - death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus, our Lord! "For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death... And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall...God...be all in all" (I Cor. 15:25-28).
There is coming a time of unspeakable glory, plainly revealed in God's Word as the time when He shall MAKE ALL THINGS NEW (Rev. 21:5). This renewal of all things is as certain as the rising of the sun and the going down thereof. There is coming a blessed day when the River of Life shall overflow so abundantly unto the whole creation that the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. There is coming a day when there shall be no more curse and no more death anywhere, for the life - giving powers of the River of Life. The glorious New Jerusalem, the city four-square, the government of God, shall fill the earth with the light of the Lord. The people will walk in the light of it and the nations shall bring their glory and honor into it. These are the things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have they entered the heart of man. These are the things God has revealed to them that love Him. These are the unspeakable things, unlawful for man to utter, the things that pertain to the Paradise of God which is the realm of the Spirit. These are the things that shall be brought to pass in the age to come and the ages to come as the River of Life flows out through the ministry of the Sons of God.
............. J. Preston Eby
The Concept of Circularity
ONE OF THE MOST sweeping statements by St. Paul is that "all things are of God" (Rom. 11:36). A more literal examination of Paul's statement would be that "all things are out of God." Not only in Romans is this statement made, but we have this statement reiterated in I Corinthians 8:6, 15:12, II Corinthians 5;18, Ephesians 1:11 and in Hebrews 2:10. Perhaps the most pungent "spiritual" nugget of this truth is given us by Paul in Romans 11:36, Amplified Version as stated: "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consumate and to end in Him. To Him be Glory forever. Amen."
Was the Apostle Paul careless and too bold in these utterances or did he mean what he said to be taken literally and at full strength? Was Paul seeking to give us a theology of the concept of circularity? And, if so, was Paul trying to reveal the truth as given him by Jesus in his Arabian experience? (Gal. 1:17). Was this truth too much for even Peter? Peter states in II Peter 3:16, "There are some things in those (Epistles of Paul) that are difficult to understand." While Peter saw grace for his own people, Paul saw grace for all. And not only did Paul see the marvelous love and grace of God for all men, but Paul saw the "Apokatastasis" for all. Apokatastasis is the Greek word for restoration. Paul saw all of mankind being restored in the time or ages to come.
"That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together
in one all things in Christ both which are in Heaven and which are on earth;
even in Him." (Eph. 1:10, KJV).
Jesus Christ is both the CENTER and the CIRCUMFERENCE of God's great plan of the ages. Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Rev. 1:8). Jesus is involved in all the distance between the beginning and the ending.
All nature is a manifestation of "circularity". In Ecclesiastes 1:5-7, we read, "The sun also arises, and the sun goes down, and hastes to his place where he arose. The wind goes toward the south, then turns about unto the north; it whirls about continually, and the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, there they shall return again."
Astrometry and knowledgeable astronomers state that in this vast universe of ours, if an object was projected from one part of the universe, eventually it would return to the original source. Even the concept of circularity is seen in space.
In this concept of circularity, we see God as the First and Only Cause. There are no second causes. God has all things under His control. The negative and evil forces are allowed by Him to accomplish His purpose. In the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, Paul shows how God chose Abraham, God chose Isaac, God chose Jacob and not Esau, God chose Moses and God chose the Pharaoh. To Pharaoh God says that I chose you to show forth My Power. Romans 9:19, and following, deals with the Power of God to make a vessel for His Honor and one for His dishonor (ordinary use). God allowed the brethren of Joseph to deal harshly with him, to sell him into slavery and eventually to a place of honor in Egypt as the minister of agriculture. In this role, Joseph was used by God to feed the hungry world of that day.
The sovereignty of God is mentioned by Paul in Romans 13:1, "For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained (ordered) of God." God can raise up men and abase them. God raised up Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and had spoken to him many times through Daniel and other faithful Jews. Yet the king's pride brought a punishment on him which God had foretold -- madness. Later, when his sanity was restored, Nebuchadnezzar finally bowed in humility to worship the Lord.
In the life of Samson, we find a man dedicated to the Lord from before his birth to be a Nazarite, fully separated unto the Lord. When Samson grew up, he saw a woman in Timnath, a Philistine, and Samson asked his parents to obtain her to be his wife. This hurt his parents deeply. Samson was to marry one of his own kind. The scriptures declare that "his mother and father knew not that this was of the Lord". (Judges 14:4). God put His approval on Samson's choice, even though their Jewish mind set would look at Samson's choice as contrary to the will of the Lord.
When Israel became a nation, they had King Saul, King David and King Solomon. After the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam was asked to reduce the yoke of heavy taxes. He rejected the council of the older men and the people, and the Kingdom was divided. We read these words from II Chronicles 10:15, "So the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was of God, that the Lord might perform His word..." And when the ten northern tribes refused the kingship of Rehoboam, and made Jeroboam their king, Rehoboam gathered His army to go and bring back under his control. But God sent a messenger to him saying, "Thus says the Lord, you shall not go up nor fight against your brethren; return every man to his house: FOR THIS THING IS DONE OF ME." (II Chronicles 11:4).
The concept of circularity deals also with segments of time. Certain theologians speak of these eras as dispensations. Some go so far as saying there was a dispensation of conscience with Adam and Eve; then came the dispensation of the Law. When Christ came, there was now a dispensation of Grace from God to us in Christ. Another term for dispensations could be a time of an era. Today it is common to speak of the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt as the Roosevelt years or the era of the New Deal. We speak of the Truman era, the Kennedy era, etc. DIVINE CAUSE stands behind the whole process! A purpose in division and a purpose in dispersion; all for the Glory of God. Paul refers to this division and dispersion in Romans 11 as God's plan to fulfill His purpose in the coming ages. "God has not cast away His people, which He foreknew, blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the nations come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; for God has concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." (Rom. 11:2, 25-26, 32).
In our lives, God has allowed the good and the bad. Both work for our good under His control. The weapon which He allows to be formed against us will not prosper, but God will use the entire situation for our spiritual good. (Isa. 54:16-17), "Behold, I have created the smith that blows the coals in the fire, and that brings forth an instrument for his work; I have created the waster to destroy. But no weapon formed against you shall prosper....this is the heritage of the Lord's servants."
God is the Father of spirits, for "God is Spirit", (John 4:24). And in His wise counsels, He purposes that myriads of His spirit in us be developed and matured; brought to a place of perfection whereby He can have full fellowship with them. He prunes us, he places us in the furnace of affliction. (Isa. 48:10).
The whole present kosmos, world system, is in a state of degeneration, going into a state of decay and corruption. But the hour is coming when all things shall change and God will begin a work of re-generation. Jesus spoke of that time saying, "IN THE REGENERATION when the Son of Man shall sit in the Throne of His Glory." (Matt. 19:28). This will mark the time of the beginning of the times when all things will be restored to their pristine (original) glory. (Acts 3:21).
Paul mentions in I Corinthians 15:22 and following the way of mankind in God's plan or circularity. In verse 22, Paul says, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Who is in Adam? All of us -- past, present and future. All those in Adam are the same all in Christ. In geometry there is a theorem, "things equal to the same things are equal to each other." Thus, the all in Adam are the all in Christ. The first Adam brought forth death to humanity, the Second Adam (Christ) brings life to all. What is the secret of all of us coming into the life-giving Spirit of Christ? The answer is in verse 23, "but every man (person) in his own order". God has an order for us to receive that life-spirit of Christ. God ordained that Paul, in God's time, would come in on his way to Damascus. You and I came to this life-giving spirit at God's appointed time in our lives. In verse 24, Paul says, "then comes the end". The end when all people have come into this life-giving spirit; in this age and in the ages to come. In verse 27, we read, "that when all things are put under the Lord Jesus, then shall the Lord Jesus be fully manifest that He is the accepted One. The Lord Jesus is not fully manifested as the Saviour of all men yet, but when the ages are finished, Christ will deliver to the Father redeemed humanity that God might be all in all. When Christ delivers this redeemed total humanity to the Father, then the Father will honor the Son Who has put all things under His feet (Christ's feet). When the Lord Jesus has subdued all things under Him and in Him, then this jewel (redeemed humanity) will be presented to the Father and the ages will cease and eternity will begin.
This plan of God contained in the concept of circularity is described by Paul in Ephesians 3:11, "According to a plan of the ages which He made in the Anointed Jesus our Lord." (Rotherham's Version).
IT IS INTERESTING to note that much confusion regarding time and the theology of man's destiny centers around the Greek word "aeonios." When the Greek word, "aeonios" is translated as eternal, then we see the destiny of men as in one state of being after death as eternal.
The idea that all people will either be eternally with God and the rest will be eternally separated from God fractures the other teachings of God's Word which state emphatically that eventually in the ages to come, God will unite all things in Christ Jesus. (I Cor. 15:24, Eph. 1:10).
In Romans 1:16, Paul describes the Godhead as "eternal". The Greek word for that adjective for God is "aidios". "Eternal" is an excellent description for God. Clearly God has no beginning and no end. He neither sleeps nor ages. It matters not what men or devils say or do; God continues steadfast in His plan and purpose. With God there is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning". (James 1:17). God's knowledge is perfect. "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the ages." (Acts 15;18).
Thus we can state that the ETERNAL GOD is the GOD of the AGES. Man lives in the ages, and when God has worked out a reconciliation with all mankind during the ages, then time will cease and eternity will come into being. In that day, God will be "all in all" and a universal restoration by the Power of God will be accomplished. (I Cor. 15:28).
As we study the Scriptures, we can see the errors which will arise. In the Old Testament, the old covenant of the law is referred to as the "everlasting covenant". (Lev. 24:8). The implication is that this covenant of the Law was to endure for eternity. Yet the New Testament records that the first covenant was "done away" and "abolished". (II Cor. 3:11, 13). The Aaronic priesthood is spoken of as "an everlasting priesthood". (Ex. 40:15). If "everlasting" meant "eternal", then the direct descendants of Aaron, and only they, would be allowed to function as priests for all time. Yet Hebrews 7:14-18, declares an end to the Aaronic priesthood and announces a new priesthood after the order of Melchizadek or Christ. The Aaronic priesthood ceased when Christ came, and now Christ is our High Priest to Whom we go in times of need. "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession." In Jonah 2:6, the Scripture says that Jonah was in the belly of the fish "forever", yet we know that after a short "age", Jonah was cast forth from the fish. Exodus 21:6 states that a bondslave was to serve his master "forever", yet forever would end in death. God did not dwell in Solomon's temple "forever" as recorded in I Kings 8:13.
In the Hebrew the word "forever" is "olam". William Wilson gives the meaning of "olam" in his Old Testament Studies, as a "duration of time which is concealed or hidden". Or simply stated, "olam" is an unknown length of time. Though certain pronouncements of God seemed to be long or even to have an indeterminable period of time, the sense and idea that it would come to an end was always there. This concurs with our New Testament texts which confirm that indeed these established practices were abolished and replaced with something better. Translated that the old covenant and its priesthood were for an "age of time" would have been a better rendering of the Hebrew meaning of "olam" than to use the word, "eternal".
In Matthew 25:46, the righteous and the unrighteous mentioned as having "aeonios" life or punishment. We read, "then they will go away to everlasting (aeonios) punishment, but the righteous to everlasting (aeonios) life. The argument would be that if one means endless life then the other must mean endless punishment, that is, if punishment is limited, then life for the righteous would also be limited. An answer to this argument is that Jesus referred to the time when the Kingdom of God would be exhibited upon the earth; a time for the righteous to inherit the earth. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaking to His disciples referred to the meek as blessed because they shall inherit the earth. (Matt. 5:5). If He spoke of the "age" when this Kingdom is established by God, then the righteous Jews would enter this Kingdom for that age. The Jews were righteous because of their acceptance and allegiance to Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. That is, fidelity not only to His Person, but the One of Whom John spoke as the LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD. The unrighteous would be "kolasis", Greek for cut off from being in this state of bliss and would spend that time in God's judgment (time of their correction) until the age is over.
In Revelation 14:11, we read of those who are judged because of their trust in the beast and have his image. (Rev. 14:9) "The smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever" or ages of ages as given in the original. They have no rest day nor night is also a part of that verse. But in eternity, there will be no day or night. Day and night belong to the ages. An interesting verse is Revelation 14:12. We read, "Here is the patience of the saints". What is the patience that John refers to? John could have referred to the patience of the saints who wait for the time of correction of those who have worshipped the beast and his image and who have rejected the Son of God as the true Lord.
There are two places where the word, "aeon" is significant. These two places are important because they show the meaning of the word. In Colossians 1:26, we read of the "mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations but now is made manifest to His saints". Then in Ephesians 2:7, we read that "in the ages to come God will show the exceeding riches of His grace....". These passages indicate two things in regard to this word. The ages are limited periods of time; several of them have run their course and came to an end in the past, and there are yet more to come. Secondly, the "ages to come" are to be richer in the manifestation of the grace of God than the present or past ages; in other words, it appears that God's grace broadens and His plan develops as the ages roll. Mysteries that have been hid in past ages are made known, and the future ages are to witness the "riches of His grace" to an extent "exceeding" that of any previous age.
What is the purpose of the believer's "aeonios" life now and in the future? In John 17:3, Jesus said, "Now this is 'aeonios' life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent". Certainly, this is appropriate for us because God is using time and ages to perfect in us totally the image of Christ. A Christian may commonly speak of and desire to have eternal life, but it hardly seems possible that he should want eternal life now or upon death until he is totally and perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus. When God has completed His work in us, then we will have His "aidios" (eternal) life.
As God uses the ages to subject all things unto Him, that is, ages for correction of the unrighteous, so God will use ages for the righteous to grow more and more into the fulness of His Son. God will bring to completion all of His creation until all will "bow the knees in reverence to Christ and confess (gladly) that Jesus is Lord". (Phil. 2:10-11).
ONE OF THE DIFFICULT theological questions is this, "Is man a free moral agency?" Does the sovereignty of God rule over man and his free will? The Bible says in Proverbs 16:9 that "a man's heart devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps. In Proverbs 20:24, we read, "man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?" And in Proverbs 21:1, we read, "the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water, he turns it whithersoever He will." And finally, the whole concept of man's will and God's will is stated in a single sentence, "the lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." (Prov. 16:33). This is a Scriptural version of the old maxim, "man proposes but God Disposes."
Is man a mere machine? No, man is not just a puppet without his own will. Is man then a free moral agent able to do whatever he wants without any restraints? Again, the answer is no. Man does have a will, but God can overrule that will of man for the Glory of God. In Psalm 76:10, we read, "surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain." (King James Version). A.P. Adams in his book, "The Spirit of the Word", says that "the awful deeds of wicked men are 'of God' in such a sense that God makes them conducive to carrying out of His own plans and brings good out of them in the end."
In the case of Joseph, God allowed his brethren to carry out the terrible deed of selling their brother to traders who carried Joseph to the land of Egypt. It was God Who allowed Joseph to be falsely accused and thus landed in prison. It was God Who allowed Joseph to be fashioned by his experience in prison to be an instrument in God's Hand later on. It was God Who had Joseph in high position when his brethren came to buy grain during the time of famine. It was God Who used this man, Joseph, to be a deliverer for his people and for the whole world at that time. God used the wrath of Joseph's brethren to carry out their deed of getting rid of Joseph by selling him, but God restrained their anger by not allowing them to kill him.
The heathen king, Cyrus, was God's "anointed" to do His Work. God used him as an instrument to accomplish a certain purpose, though Cyrus knew not that he was thus being used of God. (Isa. 44:28). In Isaiah 45:1, "Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him." God used this Persian king to give a decree to let exiles return to Jerusalem, released the captives of the past 70 years to go free, and allowed the temple treasures to go back to the city of Jerusalem.
The perpetrators of the crucifixion of Christ, the most awful crime of history, are considered to be deserving of the most severe retribution. Yet they did this terrible act because the Hand of God and God's counsel had determined it to be done. (Acts 4:28). In this portion, Peter says that Christ was "delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." (Acts 2:23). Thus, we see how even this stupendous crime was of God, and since we know that God works all things after the counsel of His will, we can say that all things are of God.
To illustrate this concept, we can turn to Psalm 37:23, where we read these words, "the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." In the King James Version the word "good", is in italics, indicating that the original word was "lost" from the original text. So the translators placed the word, "good" to fill in the necessary word to make sense of that verse. To these scholars, the word "good" seemed to be the only correct word. But it may be that in the original the word, "all" or "any", could have been there. Young in his translation, states this verse in this way, "From Jehovah are the steps of a man, they have been prepared and his way He (i.e., God) desireth. When he falleth, he is not cast down, for Jehovah is sustaining his hand."
In Jeremiah 2:19, we read, "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backsliding shall reprove thee; know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts." God allows man to exercise his free will at times to experience evil and when man has tasted of that evil, and has had "enough" of his wickedness, he then desires deliverance from his wickedness and finds that the goodness of the Lord will lead him to repentance. Romans 2:4, "despise not the riches of His goodness and forbearing and longsuffering (God's patience): not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" God uses circumstances to affect the will of man. A person may desire a job, but unless God opens the "door" for that job, the job is not his or hers. A person may desire to sell his home, but unless God wills that home to be sold, it will not be sold. An illustration is a person on a box car free to roam within the confines of that box car while all the time the train is moving that box car and the "free" person to a designated destination.
It is sure from Scripture that man is not a free agent. While the agent may have a free will with the power of choice, God's sovereignty is still in control of that free will through God controlling circumstances. Thus God's sovereignty and man's freedom is fully harmonized and scripturally established. This gives the Christian a comforting view of God, He is Supreme Ruler and Universal King. All things are under His control, all things are of Him. THE WICKED PURPOSES OF MAN ARE NOT CARRIED OUT UNLESS GOD PERMITS, AND GOD DOES NOT PERMIT UNLESS HE CAN OVERRULE IT FOR GOOD. How safe and secure is the trustful child of God when he or she recognizes this truth. "All things are of God", whatever comes to him, whether for the present joyous or grievous, that person knows that it is by his Father's appointment or permission, and thus for his or her good. Whether it be a "blow" in life or a gift, a pain or a joy, tears or smiles, reproaches or blessings, persecutions or benefits, slander or praise, sickness or health, death or life, in every case, and in all it is the WILL OF GOD and that WILL is always the expression of a Father's love, and therefore sweet, precious and good.
As Paul recounts how God has dealt with Israel and with nations. Paul saw the
Grace and Goodness of God in working with both groups in bringing the Gospel
to both. Then Paul concludes in Romans 11:34, "FOR WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND
OF THE LORD? OR WHO HAS BEEN HIS COUNSELOR? OR WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN HIM AND IT
SHALL BE RECOMPENSED UNTO HIM AGAIN? FOR OF HIM AND THROUGH HIM, AND TO HIM
ARE ALL THINGS: TO WHOM BE GLORY FOREVER."
To be continued................ Dr. Jack E. Jacobsen
These lessons are intended to be basic, elementary, and entry level teachings to better understand the instruction of our Lord. It is with patience and comfort of the scriptures that we rightly discern between our soulish thoughts and our spiritual, confirming by holy script what the Lord has already spoken into our very hearts.
God's Love Towards All - con't
As I sit at my computer terminal and write, I am overwhelmed with the grace and mercy of our Lord and God. I can hardly grasp His love towards me nor His intense love towards all of creation. It is certainly a love of another kind, yea, a love that surpasses all understanding. Surely, it is a time of rejoicing for He makes all things work together for good to them that keep on loving Him and are called in accordance with His purpose. Even in our times of ignorance and carnality, in those moments of darkness when His love appears to be absent concerning us and our "loving" Him is nowhere to be found, yet He is still forever faithful and continues to work all things for our benefit.
He surely knows the way that we take, even when we cannot perceive or see the way He would take. It reminds me of that perfect and upright man Job, who feared God and stayed clear from evil. He had his moments of not knowing how God was at work in His life, yet he had faith that the judge of the earth would do right concerning his journey in this land of the living. Hear his very own words, "Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job. 23:8-10).
Therefore of His love I shall insist that it is a love of another kind, a love that no man knoweth, except he who has the Spirit of God. Yes, it is only the Spirit of God which can draw us to such a love, a love that never fails, a love which is unquenchable, a love which reconciles our wayward hearts back to God. And why do we love him? Can it be any other than that spoken by the beloved disciple John, "We love him, because he first loved us" (I Jhn. 4:19). He FIRST loved us. He preceded all our intentions, He directed and was foremost in the series of events, namely our response. He did the leading, He pioneered the call, He exceeded and was foremost in the bidding of this love. Because He initiated this love towards us, we in turn are able to respond back with the same quality and substance of love. It is His love that is at work within us to desire and perform His good pleasure. Indeed, we owe our allegiance to Him.
When I consider the love that is contained in my heart towards Him and realize that it is only because He first loved me, it causes me to love Him even that much more. This is not the love that the world seems to have toward one another. "For if ye love them which love you, what thank (karis: greek word for grace) have ye? for sinners also love those that love them" (Luke 6:32). Isn't it easy to love when you know that that love is appreciated, when it is returned. But how about loving when the return isn't expected, when it does not come back to you. How about "love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil" (Luke 6:35). What is the motive behind our love at times? I can hear someone say, "that kind of love is difficult, it's too great for me, beyond my capacity". Well, now you're getting it. Of course it is. In fact, it is downright impossible. No one can attain such heights in the true realm of love unless the Spirit of grace influence and enable a person to meet the call.
The wonderful words of Elwin R. Roach add to this very subject, "Many things can generate love, but there are two primary principles that always work; namely, we love because we choose to love, and we love because someone first loved us. People who have never been loved very seldom possess the gift of love. If they do not have the understanding on how to generate it themselves, and if no one has ever given them that most precious gift, it is a foreign thing to them. The most common occurrence of love in the average person is because someone first loved them, especially since they are unaware that it can originate within themselves" - endquote.
As love matures and has its way with, in and through us, it dispels all that would torment us. Again, the words of John, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love" (I Jhn. 4:18). What is love? "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I Jhn. 4:10). He is certainly the 'propitiation' for our sins, that is, He is the satisfaction, atonement, amendment, conciliation or expiation for our sins. His blood is our satisfaction and when this understanding is grasped, when we come to realize and believe that through faith in His blood we have already been amended, we then openly declare His righteousness for the remission of sins! Again, what is love? "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (I Jhn. 4:16). God IS love. It does not say that God has love, but rather that God IS love. His underlining motive originates out of pure, divine, holy and balanced love.
Hear the wise words of J. Preston Eby, "When we speak of God's attributes we may say, and many do, that God is Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. This is a very beautiful definition; but it largely defines only God's attributes, whereas the text, "God is Love," tells us WHAT HE HIMSELF IS. This text reveals His nature, His state of being. For instance, in speaking of justice, we know that God has justice as one of His attributes, but He is not justice; God IS love. This fact gives us a revelation of GOD'S VERY NATURE" - endquote.
Let me share two stories penned by Brother Eby while teaching on the Power of God's Love. He writes, "J. A. Dowie relates the following story: "I remember how touched I was to look upon a grave once which had only these words: 'MY BROTHER. HE LOVED ME AND GAVE HIMSELF INSTEAD OF ME.' I turned to a person and said: 'Tell me the story of the grave.' He told me that it was erected by a man in memory of his brother who was killed in war. The man was drafted as a conscript; but when this younger brother, who had no wife or family, heard of it, he went to him and said: 'John, you have a dear wife and a nice family, and I have none. Let me take your name and go for you.' So he went under the name of his brother, John, and was killed in the battle. John went down to the battlefield and brought the body home and buried it. He erected a tombstone on which were only these words: 'My brother. He loved me and gave himself instead of me.'".
The second story goes as follows: "The story has been told of when John
B. Gough, the great temperance orator, was entertained by some friends in an
eastern city, the mother of the household called him aside and asked him to
go to her son Edward and have a talk with him. She said that Edward had been
a wayward son; in fact, he had gone so far in disgracing them that the father
forbade him to enter the house. She said that she had pleaded with the father
and had prevailed, and that the father had consented to permit Edward to have
a room where he would never have to see him. She said, "Mr. Gough, Edward
came home intoxicated a couple days ago and is still in his room. I have been
caring for him. Will you not go and have a little talk with him?" Mr. Gough
said, "My dear mother, if you with all your love and patience can not do
anything with him, I scarcely think that I can." With a mother's persistency
she finally persuaded Mr. Gough to talk with her son. He knocked at the door
and entering found Edward. Mr. Gough said, "Edward, aren't you tired of
the kind of life that you are leading?" Edward said, "Yes, Mr. Gough,
I am sick and tired of it." "Then why do you not quit it?" "Quit
it? I can't, Mr. Gough; I am bound hand and foot with an evil habit." "Then
why do you not pray, Edward?" "Pray! I don't believe in prayer; I
don't believe in God; I don't believe in anything." "Oh, yes, you
do, Edward," replied Mr. Gough. "You believe in something. You believe
that your mother loves you." Edward replied, "I do not believe anything
about it, I know she loves me." "Then Edward," continued Mr.
Gough, "you believe that there is such a good thing in this world as love,
and I am going to leave you here and I want you to promise me that after I go
out, you will get down on your knees and pray to love." "Pray to what?"
said Edward. "Pray to love, for that is the only thing you say you believe
in." After much persuasion Edward promised. He afterward said that he felt
very foolish when he knelt down to pray to love, but he had promised, and he
tried to fulfill his promise. He kneeled and cried, "Oh love, love help
me"; and straightway, as if through the cleft heaven, this text sounded
as a voice in his heart, "God is Love"; and still looking up, he said,
"Oh God!" and there came the verse that he had learned years before,
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And he
cried, "Oh, Christ!" - and it was done. He rushed out of his room
to find his mother, and, when he did, he threw his arms around her neck and
said, "Mother, I have found the Christ!" - endquote.
I am sure that any believing Christian reading thus far is saying, "Amen", to the words which have been shared. How can we disagree with the true nature and character of our Father. How can we be at odds to the Spirit of Truth which makes us free. As we observe Him, we shall be changed into His likeness, therefore we must come to behold Him as He is. I've said this several times in articles past, yet it is worth mentioning a thousand times again, "Our very own concept of God and how we see His love determines the place we have of Him in our hearts, and consequently, we measure others with this same amount of love". Yet, we are now faced with those more difficult questions, those which are never answered very well and seem to contradict the very nature of God Himself. We now come to that junction where we must disagree with popular teachings of today, regardless of the cost. We must learn to reason together, forsaking our preconceived ideas of what we "think" the Bible would teach and come to realize what the Spirit of Truth would have us to know this very day. Sound reasoning and clarity of scripture must be in agreement with the Spirit of God, else it is simply our tradition and carnal reasoning. Let us not be as those scribes and Pharisees of yesteryear when Jesus said, "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition" (Matt. 15:6).
If we truly believe that God is love, and scripture clearly states that He is, then can we honestly believe that He would damn His creation to hell for all of eternity? Would He suffer the majority of His children to the so-called 'flaming torments of hell' never to be forgiven again? The popular view of hell is that God will never love His enemies enough to save them but rather subject them to spend their entire existence in a state of godless torment and never-ending punishment (which by the way, defies the very purpose of correction). It is said that there will be no hope nor escape for all the ages to come in eternity for those who have never received Christ. The unbeliever will experience the agony of pain and never have another chance to repent nor experience the goodness of God, so they surmise with their dogma. Yet, I say with authority by the Holy Spirit of our Almighty God and Saviour that such thoughts have never entered His mind. These are man-made, hair-brain schemes to justify religion's own reasoning and wicked nature. Such doctrines are a travesty to our Heavenly Father. I cannot sit back and lighty accept the lies of Babylon anymore. I shout it from the housetop. He saves! He loves! He Is Love! Our Father loves His creation for He has "created all things, and for His pleasure they are and were created" (ref. Rev. 4:11). His dealings are motivated by His nature and character. Shall not the judge of the earth do right? I say, prove me wrong if you can. Have you laboured and toiled hours on end to discover whether this is true? Have you ever considered your doctrine to be perhaps a product of religion and the spirit of error? Have you given ample thought to your inner conviction? Well, I have! I have labored hard and long on such thoughts. And guess what. Christ is triumphant!
In articles past, we have spoken of the GOOD NEWS of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have openly shared that He is the satisfaction for both our sins and the whole world. We have gladly confessed that God will have all men finally to be saved. We have presented ample scriptural evidence that He is the Saviour of all men, most of all for those now in belief. And we have clearly shown that ALL SHALL BE MADE ALIVE IN THE CHRIST OF GOD. Certainly, all things shall be subdued unto Him and put under His feet so that every knee would bow TO THE GLORY of God.
We also have clearly shown that God has given us an endless life, a life which will never cease, eternal without end. Although I admire the work of St. Augustine, his argument against the salvation of all men is based on the logic that 'if the punishment of the wicked is but for a period of time, then the life of the ages must also come to an end' since the same adjective is used in both cases. If one ends, then the other must end as well. Although on the surface this appears to be sound reasoning, further consideration coupled with divine inspiration proves it to be none other than error and falls far short of truth. The life is His life and is therefore without end. His life has been subjected into the realm of time, and is therefore 'age-abiding life'. Unfortunately, his logic has influenced many Bible teachers of our day. We have also proved that the word for hell in the old testament, sheol, is never used to denote the final estate of men and does not imply the endless torments described by so many misguided preachers of today. It is the abode or realm of the unseen, the domain of death, it is an abode without life, without Christ!
Let us now briefly turn our attention to the word 'hell' in the new testament.
As stated in past articles, the usage of a word in the context of scripture
should determine its meaning. Don't let your superstition nor religious self-delusion
cause you to believe a doctrine which is not found in God's holy word of truth.
And foremost, pray the Holy Spirit shows you the truth regarding such critical
matters of the kingdom of God.
In the New Testament, the word 'hell' in its original Greek appears twenty-four times. The three Greek words used are hades, gehenna, and tartaroo. We will now briefly look at all three of these words. First the word hades, means that which is not or cannot be seen. It means the same as the Hebrew word sheol, which implies the sense of a covering or unseen place or perhaps the state of death. This latter thought is supported by holy script as we read the words of Paul, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, (hades) where is thy victory?" (I Cor. 15:55). Did you hear that? O hell, where is thy victory? Praise the Lord, the victory does not belong to hell but to Jesus. Contrary to popular belief, I say that the gates of hell WILL NOT prevail. It is Jesus who holds the "keys of hell and of death" (Rev. 1:18). Certainly, death follows this realm of hell (hades), both in the now and hereafter, yet I know that it shall have its end for "death and hell were cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:14). And for those not found in the book of life, they also were cast into the lake of fire. Are you of the opinion that if any enters the abode of hell, they shall never return? Are you of the persuasion that hell with its mighty grip can never let go or release a soul once it enters its gate? Well, I ask then, did not Jesus Himself, the Holy One of Israel enter into this realm called hades? "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell...." (Acts 2:27). And is it also not true that "his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption" (Acts 2:31). Permit me to quote the nineteenth century Church scholar, Samuel Cox, on this very same subject. "Hades is never once used to denote the final estate of men, but only the state which precedes the day of judgment; and it is commonly used to denote the whole of that intermediate state, the lot of the righteous as well as that of the unrighteous......No thought of "hell", the final prison-house, was in our Lord's mind" - endquote.
Secondly, the word gehenna, means the valley of Hinnom. Although in the times of the Hebrew Kings, this was a place of pleasant gardens and sacred streams, over time, it became a city dumping ground outside of the wall of Jerusalem. The carcases of animals and even the worst of criminals were left here for the worm to eat and the fire to forever burn. It is said that, "To the Hebrew prophets this foul terrible Valley became an apt type, or illustration, of the doom of the unrighteous. They drew from it their images, images of which such terrible and unwarrantable use has been made, of the worm that never dies, and of the fire which is not quenched. To say that a man was in danger of Gehenna was to say that his sins had exposed him to a judgment the terrors of which were faintly shadowed forth by the sickening horrors of the detestable Ge-Hinnom". - endquote.
Is it any wonder that Jesus used this word eleven times as an illustration to make His point clear when dealing with the religious of His day. Clearly, this valley called gehenna spoke of death and not life. It serves as an illustration of being without Christ which should not be taken lightly. However, it does not describe the physical dimensions of hell in anyway and should not be used to support such doctrines. Brother Eby writes, "It is interesting to note that those who are pictured as going into Gehenna are, without exception, not the sinners of the world, but the SINNERS AMONG GOD'S PEOPLE. How precise the type! Gehenna was the city dump of Jerusalem, the Holy City, where every unclean and unnecessary thing was burned and consumed. The antitypical Gehenna to which our Lord alluded in His teaching is the process of PURIFICATION by which every unclean and unnecessary thing in the lives of His Holy people is purged and consumed by the fires of His judgment" - endquote.
The last greek word tartaroo, is found but only once in the Bible when Peter states, "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (tartaroo), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (II Pet. 2:4). Before presenting a brief definition on this word, I am not that concerned with any idea that presents itself both difficult to understand and only ONCE in the scriptures. Sound doctrine should not be based on 'hapox mentality', or one-verse derived theology. Nevertheless, let's share the meaning of this third greek word translated as hell. Isn't it interesting that the learned apostle Paul never used this word, but rather the unlearned fisherman Peter. Many of his time used this word to speak of the land of shadows and darkness, of where departed wicked men were tasked. It appears that this unusual word carried an uncertain, shadowy definition, yet it is clear that it never denotes the final estate of the one carried to its domain.
In my study of this particular word called hell, I have never found it once to mean the FINAL STATE of any who enter therein. Scripture says very little on the future condition of man, yet suffice it to say that whatever the case, God Who Is Love will do right. God Who Is Love shall be all in all.
To be continued.......T.D.C.
The Secret of the Universe
All the inhabitants of the universe are approaching the most important time in spiritual and secular history. It is the birth of the new spiritual man in Christ Jesus. A time of the shaking and breaking, and finally the complete disintegration of the old man - Adam, and the things of his creation. Yes, there is a new man, and his order is on the way. The order of Christ and His manifested Sons! (Rom. 8:18-22)
The force behind this universal action can be traced to God's purpose for two men of His creation, and their destinies. I speak of the first man and the last Adam; Christ Jesus. (I Cor. 15:45-49) Two lines motivate, direct, and determine the destinies of these two men. The law of sin and death in Adam is soulish in nature, and the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus is spiritual in nature. God is in complete control of the course and final goal of these lines. (Rom. 8:1-8) Neither the heavens, nor the planetary system, nor the under worlds are immune nor can they remain neutral from the universal effects of this great event. In fact, they all have come to the valley of decision. It is truly a matter of life and death.
We may ask; "To what goal and to what path is their process being educated"? A close examination and study of the scripture will reveal that the first cause and final goal of the universe is Christ Jesus. The gospel of Saint John reveals that Christ is the blue print, by which all things were made. (Jhn 1:3) The epistle of Colossians express these truths more vividly; in that he was not only the first cause of creation but also the final goal of creation. (Col. 1:16-17) Even more is the fact that the universal economic system is of him, and through him, and to him expressed in Romans 11:36. Maturing Christians are beginning to see and relate things from God's viewpoint. Their viewpoint is from the vantage point in Christ Jesus, seated with Him in the heavenly places. It represents a new center of spiritual gravitation.
The ancient world believed that the earth was flat, and the center of their relationships. This was narrow and self-relating as to family, country, nationality, religions and etc. The middle age's scientists with the aid of crude instruments arrived at the conclusion that earth was a member of the family of other planets while placing the sun at the center for these planets. Their position was a larger encompassing viewpoint of planetary activities. Solar centered viewpoint brought about new world wide truths of endeavor in both the secular and religious fields. Our hearts and minds are made to rejoice with breath- taking wonder that these centers shall yet be encompassed and reconciled by the Christic center coming into its effect. Thus the universe is Christ oriented, moving into new things of the Spirit. A new system of spiritual laws will be in operation and all things will be reconciled in Christ Jesus.
We hear much talk of the need to return back to God's purpose for man, the church, and the earth. In my opinion, we must grow up and mature in Christ's nature. Surely, our viewpoint on these points will change from being self centered to Christ centered. The apostle Paul's life, spiritual relationship, and ministry with Christ, illustrates his spiritual growth and awareness of Christ's purpose for man and the universe. In Paul's early ministry, his message was the Jewish Messiah. (Acts 9:20-22) This message was directed to Jesus. It was nationalistic in thought and scope. Later, when Paul was rejected by the Jews, he turned to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:44-49) He had grown in his relationship and calling in Christ.
His vision and thrust for the gospel had passed beyond the national scope into the international scope for mankind. Paul, in his latter days, came into his greatest revelation of the purpose of Christ and His calling. This revelation surpasses the national and international scope of Christ's purpose by including them all in the universal viewpoint. Surely, he was seated with Christ in the heavenlies, when this revelation opened his eyes to the fact that all things in heaven, and in the earth, will be gathered together in Him. (Eph. 1:9,10) This great event is shaking the very system in the death of this old creation. Behold! new things are being birthed each day in our spiritual and secular living. It will continue until the headship of Christ in God is achieved in all the universe. In our union with His headship, we shall share the unity of the divine order and government. When the alpha point and the omega point shall converge into eternity, the universe will sing its hymn - the unity of all things! God all-in-all. Then and then alone will the universe become a true universe.
FootPrints In The Sand - From Another View
Lord I know
There's some who say,
You walk beside them
Most the way.
But as I look back
At the sand,
I see the prints of just one Man.
Those prints are Your's Lord
From start to end,
For Your Word declares
I'm in Your hand.
Those prints are Yours
All the way,
Not just in hard times
As some might say.
Before the world began
It's been Your plan,
To share Your glory
With no man.
It's only by
Your grace alone,
You're turning to flesh
This heart of stone.
My GOD please touch
The heart of man,
Till we see Your footprints "only"
In the sand.