The Divine Outline of History # 3
THE SEPARATION OF ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH
FULFILLMENT OF THE MOSAIC LAW
The Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union stands as a boundary mark between Israel and the Church. Christ fulfilled the Mosaic Law on one hand and set the precedent and Standard for the New Covenant Church Age protocol on the other. (A long established code and procedure prescribing complete obedience to authority and strict adherence to due order of precedence and precisely correct procedure) This division is confirmed by numerous passages which state that the Mosaic Law does not define the New Covenant way of life. (John 1:16-17; Rom 6:14; Rom 8:2-4; Gal 3:19-22; Col 2:14) At the Exodus God founded Israel as a Theocracy ruled Personally by the Second Person of the Trinity. (1Sa 10:19) The whole thrust of the Jewish way of life was Spiritual. Because God ruled Israel, every aspect of life in the nation had Spiritual significance, and the Mosaic Law did not distinguish between Spiritual and secular (Non Spiritual) issues. Obedience to Divine establishment was part of the Spiritual life of Jewish believers, and observance of holy days and animal sacrifices was required of all citizens, including unbelievers. (Although these rituals were fully meaningful to believers only) We distinguish the freedom code, the Spiritual code, and the establishment code; as a categorical approach to communicating the wide scope of the Mosaic Law. But all aspects of the Law add up to one code for a unique racial and political entity; with a Spiritual origin, a Spiritual destiny; and a king Who IS God Himself. The Law is an integrated whole. (Matt 5:18; Gal 5:14) cf. (Rom 7:14; Gal 5:22-23) The entire Mosaic Law is a particular expression of God’s eternal and Holy essence. He gave the Law to a distinctly defined group of people. (Lev 26:46; Rom 3:19; Rom 9:4) It was effective for a limited period of time (Gal 3:23-25) And it was designed for several clear purposes. The Mosaic Law ruled life in God’s unique client nation, exposed man’s sinfulness, and demonstrated his need of a Savior, but the primary purpose of the Law was to anticipate the coming of Christ. (Exo 12:27; (1Co 5:7)
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. (Matt 5:17)
The Law was far more than simply a rule of behavior. Although superior to contemporary codes in its “moral” — obedience; the Law was not primarily ethical but Messianic. (Relating to a future Messiah) Therein lies its true greatness. Its Commands depicted the Person and work of Christ and protected the line of Christ until He would arrive in the flesh. The centuries-old purpose of the Mosaic Law was achieved by the incarnate Jesus Christ. Anticipation was replaced by Reality. This perfect fulfillment is a tribute to the faithfulness of God. Because all parts of the Law functioned together as one code, the Law has been abolished as a whole. The entirety of the Law is no longer pertinent and no longer governs any people or nation. (Matt 5:17-19; Rom 7:14; Rom 10:4; Heb 8:13; Heb 10:9) The rule of the Mosaic Law has ended. The Church is “not under Law, but under grace.” (Rom 6:14) (Condemnation of the old sin nature's effort to be Holy, but favor, in fellowship (1Jn 1:9) using the Spiritual life) (Rom 8:3-4)
THE LAW OF CHRIST
The end of the Mosaic Law does not leave believers or unbelievers lawless. (Rom 6:15; Rom 13:1-7) A new code of Divine Commands, which also expresses the essence of God, now defines the believer’s way of life. Like the Law, this new code is also an integrated whole. But God’s protocol plan for the Church has a different objective: to glorify the victorious Christ to the maximum. And greater responsibility placed upon each believer to Think and apply Truth for himself in the privacy of his own priesthood. Still, many Principles found in the Mosaic Law also appear in the protocol plan. The reason is that both codes come from the same source, from God Himself. The essence of God remains unchanged even as He makes dispensational changes in human history. God was perfect before He gave the Law to Moses, perfect during the time of the Law, and perfect when He fulfilled and rescinded the Law in Christ. In fact, the succession of dispensations reveals His changeless essence to man and angels. God expressed His absolute Holiness to man in legal terms long before the Mosaic Law existed, and He continues to provide ethical norms and Spiritual instruction now that the Law has ceased to govern. Indeed before the time in which the Mosaic Law was in effect in Israel, other expressions of Divine Law functioned among Jews and Gentiles to whom the Mosaic Law never applied. (Gen 26:5; Job 1:1; Exo 19:5; Rom 2:14-16; (1Co 7:19)
In the Church Age the operative Divine Law is not the Mosaic Law but “the Law of Christ.” (1Co 9:20-21; Gal 6:2) This is also called “the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” (Rom 8:2) which is called the protocol plan of God, or Thinking Truth in the Spiritual life. Christ fulfilled the entire Mosaic Law in the power of the Holy Spirit in the prototype Spiritual life. The New Covenant Church Age believer obeys the new “Law of Christ” by following His example: filled with God the Holy Spirit in the operational Spiritual life. (Rom 8:2-4) Because Christ fulfilled and abolished the Mosaic Law. (Heb 8:13; Heb 10:9) Practices instituted for the nation of Israel are not included in the post-Salvation plan of God for the Church Age. They do not contribute to the Christian way of life. The Church, for example, does not offer animal sacrifices, observe holy days or the Sabbath, maintain the Levitical priesthood, worship in a sacred building, offer tithes, or have minute details of civic life prescribed by Spiritual Ordinances. There is now a new, universal priesthood of all believers, (1Pe 2:9; Heb 7:12; Heb 8:1) and a greater emphasis on individual responsibility, (Gal 5:1) and a separation of church and state. (Rom 13:1-7; cf. Matt 22:15-22)
TRANSITION BETWEEN DIVINE ADMINISTRATIONS.
Three separate dispensations converge in the Age of the Hypostatic Union.
1. Christ fulfilled the Old Testament Law, (Heb 10:9) and taught His current followers to live apart from legalism. (The old sin nature's “moral” effort to be Holy) (Rom 8:8)
2. He proclaimed His ruling platform for the New Covenant kingdom. (Matt 5:1-48)
3. He unveiled the plan of God for the Church. (Matt 16:15-27; John 14:1; thru John 17:26)
These closely placed Divine administrations — as well as the presence of Christ Himself — exhibit the grace and wisdom of God to an unparalleled depth of continuity and change. The period of our Lord’s first advent, then, is an extraordinary presentation of God’s perfect essence. Each dispensation fulfills its own purpose in the overall plan of God. Although similarities exist, differences in Divine Commands distinguish Israel, the Incarnation, the Church, the Tribulation and the Millennium. Divine policy differs significantly from the Law given through Moses to Israel, (Deut 4:13) to the New Covenant at the last supper. (Luk 22:20) For example, the Sermon on the Mount represented a shift in Divine policy. Again and again Jesus declared, “You have heard that it was said [In the Mosaic Law]. . . but I say... (Matt 5:21-48) He proclaimed the New Covenant kingdom of God to the Jews in terms of their Mosaic frame of reference, for He used the Law as the foundation or point of departure for explaining the way of life of His Personal rule in the soul of each believer in the New Covenant Spiritual kingdom. (Rom 15:12; 1Co 3:16; Eph 1:22-23; (1Co 7:22) Christ also ministered to the current needs of His hearers. Amplifying and clarifying the true meaning of the Law, He taught them how to live free from the legalistic degeneracy that was the norm in the nation. Never was the Law intended to be a means of Salvation (Gal 3:24) or a breeding ground for self-righteousness. (Matt 6:1-18) The Law revealed the necessity for grace and the source of that grace, Jesus Christ Himself. After Christ was rejected by Israel, He announced yet a different Divine system, the Church Age. (John 14:1) thru (John 17:1-26) During the Church Age, church and state are separate entities. Divine Commands for the Spiritual kingdom of the Church Age believer, cannot be imposed upon the unbeliever. Unlike the Mosaic Law which ruled believers and unbelievers in Israel. In the Millennium the Spiritual and the civil will also come under one rule as Christ again reigns, not as God ruling over one nation but as the God-man over both Israel and the entire world. Rather than institute another legal system that directly governs all people, Christ now controls history in a manner that gives individual Church Age believers tremendous opportunity and responsibility for having invisible impact. In the Upper Room Discourse (Luk 22:15-30) Jesus bequeathed to the Church this new system of dynamics by which He Himself had lived throughout His first advent.
COMMON PRINCIPLES IN DIFFERENT CODES.
The similarities between the Mosaic Law and Church Age protocol reveal God’s immutable consistency, but the differences reflect the magnitude of Christ’s achievement during His first advent. The utterly highest quality of His saving work not only is a stated fact of Doctrine. (Heb 2:3) but is also indicated by the dispensational changes that followed the victory of the Cross and resurrection (John 7:38-39) (The New Covenant Spiritual life) Astounding privileges belong to the “new Spiritual species” of believers — the Church — who are chosen to glorify His victory forever. In establishing the way of life for believers of the Church Age, God manifested His character in many individual Commands, some of which He had also included in the Mosaic Law. For example, with the full unveiling of mystery Doctrine in the New Testament Epistles, every one of the Ten Commandments, except Sabbath observance, has also been given to the Church. (Fulfilled by being in fellowship; Gal 5:22-23) Even with these similarities, Church Age protocol is not the Mosaic Law. These are entirely different codes, just as the United States Constitution is not the same as England’s Magna Carta, even though they share certain Concepts. Continuities between Israel and the Church exist because all Divine Law reflects the unchangeable Thinking of God, not because all or part of the Mosaic Law carries over into other dispensations. Despite numerous continuities, the new policy for the Church Age is not the old Mosaic Law itself. If Precepts found in the Mosaic Law pertain to the Church, they do so because they appear in the New Testament Epistles, which define the Christian way of life. These common Principles belong to the Church because they are part of the Law of Christ, (His Thinking) not because they belong to the Mosaic Law. (Condemnation of human thinking) (Rom 7:14; Rom 7:25) Adherence to Divine establishment had a different meaning under the Mosaic Law than it does under God’s plan for the Church Age. Because Israel was God’s unique client nation, obedience to the establishment aspect of the Mosaic Law was an integral part of the Spiritual life of Jewish believers. As part of the Law, Divine establishment not only preserved the line of the Messiah but also stabilized Jewish society so that over many centuries the Jews would retain the specific national functions that foreshadowed Christ. In the Church Age these special purposes for Divine establishment does not exist. The separation of church and state means that the Christian’s responsibility to obey establishment is an application of his Spiritual life rather than a part of it. This explains why the Romans considered the early Christians to be deficient in patriotism, not because Christians disobeyed civil Law or were irresponsible as citizens but because Christianity did not make civil duty part of one’s religion. Again, whereas the Law of Moses pertained to all residents of the nation — believers and unbelievers alike — the Law of Christ governs believers only.
THE CONTINUING VALUE OF THE MOSAIC LAW. The Mosaic Law belongs to the Word of God and still has value for the Church Age believer. In Codex I the Ten Commandments define human freedom. This short list of prohibitions does not begin to cover the Doctrine of hamartiology. (Sin) The identified sins destroy the component elements of freedom — which are privacy, protection, owning property, liberty and Divinely delegated authority. In every dispensation believers and unbelievers alike can protect freedom by avoiding these destructive sins. This explains why every provision of the Decalogue, except Sabbath observance; that was and is a teaching aid for Spiritual maturity, (Isa 58:13-14; Heb 4:9-11) is also found in the Law of Christ; as an illustration for us to cease from human thinking, as they ceased from work, and human thinking. (Exo 35:2) Codex II presents the purpose for which God gave man free will: to come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ. The ritual provisions of the Law still have value because they reveal the Messiah as the only Savior. In ceremonies prescribed by Codex II, the sacrificial animal received the judgment due to the sinner; providing forgiveness and personal cleansing. The New Testament reveals that the actual source of forgiveness of sins is the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. (Rom 5:8-10) Fulfilled in the Person of Christ, these details of ceremonial worship in Israel can teach the royal family to appreciate the Lord. The Church Age believer can see Jesus Christ in the Law. New Testament phrases like “the Lamb of God” and “the blood of Christ” dramatically declare that Christ’s saving work on the Cross is the Reality that the Mosaic Law foreshadowed. (Exo 12:21; John 1:29; (1Pe 1:18-19) Codex III contains practical Instructions in many fields that were especially pertinent to Israel. For example, agricultural practices or precautions in dealing with disease or sanitation addressed problems that exist throughout human history. The specific provisions of the Mosaic Law may or may not have value in other nations, but they are concrete examples of how establishment Concepts apply to particular situations. Above all, these Statutes testify to the care and faithfulness of God in guiding His people in specific circumstances that often were difficult.
Many particulars of Divine establishment in Codex III of the Mosaic Law are neither reconfirmed nor clearly excluded from Church Age practice. These Precepts still reveal the essence of God as expressed in governing His client nation, but they do not bear the force of Law for any nation but Old Testament Israel. For instance, the Principle of capital punishment is given for restraint of sin. (Rom 13:1-4) And to promote freedom during the Church Age, but the Church is only a Spiritual kingdom that continues by the pivot of Spiritually mature believers. (Luk 9:62) God has given the Church Age believer general guidance concerning Divine establishment, in contrast to the hundreds of exact Laws that precisely defined life in ancient Israel. Each believer has a responsibility to his community and nation, but the separation of church and state during the Church Age entrusts the specific application of establishment Principles to each generation. God encourages the Christian to Think and apply the basic Truths of Divine establishment according to the legitimate processes of human government in his own nation. Government is “a minister of God to you for good.” (Rom 13:1-14) An astute political leader in the Church Age who wishes his nation to prosper can learn much from the Mosaic Law without blindly superimposing its exact provisions where they may not apply. Instead, he will adapt establishment Principles to the circumstances, objectives and heritage of his own country. Because Jesus Christ fulfilled the Mosaic Law, His Church is free from the Law. (Gal 5:1) Freedom from the Mosaic Law is not Lawlessness or lack of direction. Instead, this royal liberty exists within the framework of God’s protocol for the Church Age. (John 15:10-12; (1Co 9:19-21; Gal 5:13) The Christian lives under a new Law initially announced by Christ and executed in the power of God the Holy Spirit. (Rom 8:2-4) Just as the humanity of Christ Spiritually matured under this powerful system of Divine assets. (Luk 2:40, Luk 2:52) Church Age believers also have an extraordinary opportunity to advance Spiritually. Among the many continuing uses of the Mosaic Law, this portion of Scripture teaches by contrast that the Church Age is an epoch of Spiritual freedom. The advantages of being in union with Christ, give believers unprecedented freedom to apply Truth, and grow in a personal relationship with God.
THE DISPENSATION OF THE CHURCH
The Church Age is a brilliant advance in Biblical history. For perspective, notice the progress of the dispensations. At the founding of Israel, Moses wrote:
Indeed, ask now concerning the former days which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and inquire from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything been done like this great thing, [Establishing the nation of Israel] or has anything been heard like it? (Deut 4:32)
Magnificent though God’s client nation was; when the Age of Israel ended with the advent of Christ; a far greater thing had come to pass.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1-2)
Following this incomparable Revelation of God, the Church still arrived on the scene as an amazing expression of God’s power and grace. The Church is a breathtaking phenomenon. Never before has the believer held such a position in relation to the Godhead. Scripture presents the Church as yet another dramatic new departure in human history.
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The Words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. [So God will speak through us] Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My Commandments. [Thoughts] I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:10-17)
As a unique body of believers, the Church is united with Christ, imitates Him, glorifies Him, accompanies Him, and if Spiritually mature, will rule with Him forever. Never before in history have all these privileges been extended to mankind.
THE EPOCH OF THE ROYAL FAMILY OF GOD
The Church Age began circa AD. 30 on the day of Pentecost, ten days after our Lord’s ascension, and will terminate with the resurrection, or harvest. (Matt 24:27-40) An overview of the broad, historical characteristics of the Church Age will be presented here. Later we will summarize the privileges of the individual Church Age believer. There we will discover why the Church Age offers the greatest challenge to the individual believer in all of human history. The Church Age believer’s unique status, power system, privileges, and responsibilities will answer the question, “After Salvation, what?” The Dispensation of the Church is the era of the royal family of God. Every Church Age believer belongs to Christ’s royal family, founded as a consequence of His strategic victory at the Cross and His rejection by Israel. (1Pe 2:9) During the Church Age God is forming this body of believers for the maximum glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. God gives each Church Age believer the new royal status of the resurrected Christ, and extends the great power experiment of the hypostatic union into the great power experiment of the Church Age. The position, assets, and opportunities given to the Church Age believer place the royal family of God in contrast to the family, nation or kingdom of God in other dispensations. Christ now holds three titles of royalty, each with a royal family. As God, He has always been Divine royalty. (Rom 1:4; John 17:5) His first royal title is Son of God, and His royal family includes the other two members of the Trinity — God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. As a man, Jesus became Jewish royalty at the virgin birth. (Rom 1:3) His Jewish royal title is Son of David and His royal family is the Davidic dynasty. As the God-man, He won the victory over Satan at the Cross (Col 2:15) and was granted a new royal title that may be considered His battlefield royalty. (Heb 1:3-4) This third royal title is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Bright Morning Star. (1Ti 6:15; Rev 19:16; Rev 22:16) But when the Father conferred this new title upon our Lord, no accompanying royal family yet existed. The plan of God for the Church Age brings to a majestic culmination the honors presented to the victorious Christ. When Jesus Christ ascended in triumph to heaven, (Eph 4:8) God the Father invested Him with the glories of battlefield royalty and seated Him at the right hand of the throne of God. (Psa 110:1) Then the Father inaugurated the Church Age to establish a royal family for the glorified Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone who believes in Christ during the New Covenant Age is a member of the royal family of God, also known as the Body of Christ. (Gal 3:28; Eph 1:22-23) The very presence of Spiritual royalty on earth makes the Church Age unique in human history. During the Church Age every believer can live in the operational Spiritual life, just as during the Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union the humanity of Christ resided in the prototype Spiritual life. Every member of the royal family can utilize the Divine power and the Divine problem solving devices that enabled the humanity of Christ to win His strategic victory over Satan, sin, and death!
By extending the great power experiment, He equipped us to exploit His strategic victory and win tactical victories in our own lives. As we grow Spiritually, the positive influence of Spiritual royalty on earth spreads visibly, and invisibly from the individual believer to other people, to organizations, to nations, to future generations, and to the angels. The personal dynamics of the Christian way of life will be discussed later, but this powerful collective impact of believers is one of the broad historical characteristics of the Church Age. During this dispensation, God maintains a Spiritual presence, not a political or racial presence, among mankind!
GENTILE CLIENT NATIONS
Client nations exist in the Church Age but with a significant difference from the Age of Israel. As before, believers reside in all the nations of the earth, but instead of dealing with mankind through a Jewish client nation, God now primarily works through gentile client nations. He entrusts Spiritually mature believers in these nations with the preservation and communication of the Written canon of Scripture. He blesses and protects the gentile client nation as long as the nation upholds its client responsibilities.
Israel is the only nation with which God has sworn an eternal Covenant. He will honor His unconditional Covenants at the second advent of Christ, (Rom 11:25-29) but Israel is under Divine discipline throughout the Church Age, and is restricted from her client nation functions. These are “the times of the Gentiles” (Luk 21:24) which will continue until Christ returns. (Matt 24:30) God now extends client privileges to non-Jewish nations. This Divine policy is implied by both Christ and Paul who Command civic duty toward the Roman Empire. (Luk 20:21-25; Rom 13:1-7)
During the Church Age any gentile nation can serve as a client nation by practicing the following Principles.
1. Protect human life, freedom, protection, privacy and property; according to the Divine Laws of establishment
2. Allow evangelism and Bible teaching
3. Serve as a base for missionary activity to non-client nations
4. Afford a haven of toleration for the dispersed Jews
The first of these Principles creates the environment in which the remaining Principles can fully operate. The first is the chief concern of a nation’s government, while the remaining three express the Spiritual life of the nation's people. God deals with the client nation in keeping with the Spiritual condition of its believers. Blessings to growing believers overflow to the nation; Divine discipline of believers who do not advance also affects the nation. This ultimately explains the nation’s historical rise or fall. (Psa 34:15-16) Therefore, a thriving client nation that enjoys special Divine blessing must maintain a strong pivot of growing and Spiritually mature believers. Although invisible, the Spiritual impact of mature believers residing in a gentile client nation gives the nation its vigor. The gentile client nation is God’s principal missionary agency during the Church Age. As part of the client nation’s collective impact, every individual believer as a member of the Church Universal has a personal responsibility to evangelize those in his periphery. (Acts 1:8; Rom 1:14; (1Co 9:16; (2Co 4:5; (2Ti 4:5) He is likewise responsible for supporting the domestic and foreign spread of the Gospel and accurate Biblical teaching. This support may include prayer, financial contributions, service, or some other form of aid and encouragement. In sharp contrast to Israel, no specific race of people is elect in the Church Age. Different from the election of Israel, the election of the Church includes every individual believer — Jew and Gentile — of any race, culture or nationality. (Gal 3:28) Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a “Christian nation.” The royal family of God on earth exists in every nation, and, unlike the Theocracy of Israel, church and state are separate. This separation is illustrated by the Roman Empire, which was the first gentile client nation. Although Rome was pagan in its official religion, the Church thrived under her protection and toleration during the reigns of the Antonine Caesars. (AD. 96-192) New Testament Truth never advocates a union of church and state, the interference of Christian organizations into the affairs of state, or the overthrow of pagan governments. Rather, government is a blessing. (Rom 13:1-7) Actually, God ordained the benefit to be reciprocal. While the Roman Empire served as “a minister of God to you for good,” (Rom 13:4) the invisible Spiritual pivot of mature believers brought Divine blessing to the Empire. This unheralded nucleus of Christians existed in the congregations of the Roman province of Asia, located in what is today western Turkey. (Eph; Col; John; Rev. 2 — 3)
PRECANON AND POSTCANON ERAS
The Church Age is divided into two categories: the relatively brief pre-canon period in which the New Testament canon was being formed, and the predominant post-canon period following the completion of the written Word of God. The pre-canon era is documented in the Book of Acts, which preserves the historical record of the early Church; but does not attempt a comprehensive presentation of Church Age Doctrines. In fact, certain phenomena found in Acts were required in starting the Church Age but were no longer pertinent after the purpose was achieved, and Church Age Doctrines were permanently and authoritatively recorded in the New Testament Epistles. Thus, the pre-canon period was characterized by temporary Spiritual gifts such as apostleship, Prophecy, knowledge, tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles, and healing. (1Co 12:1-14) These temporary gifts were designed to spotlight the Doctrine of the mystery, (Eph 3:9) to gain a hearing for communicators of these newly revealed Doctrines, and to warn Israel of impending national discipline from God. As when these purposes were fulfilled; the temporary gifts were no longer necessary and were gradually removed. (1Co 13:8) Paul, for example, gained credibility with his hearers through the temporary gifts of miracles and healing, (Acts 13:8-12; Acts 14:3; Acts 19:11-12) but as his reputation became established, these gifts no longer had a purpose. By A.D. 61 he could not Command the healing of even his dear friend Epaphroditus, (Php 2:27) and in Miletus, Trophimus. (2Ti 4:20) Likewise, the temporary gift of tongues was designed to evangelize Jews in gentile languages, unknown to the speakers themselves. This miraculous gift was a dramatic sign of Israel’s failure as a client nation to carry the Truth to gentile nations. Prophesied by Isaiah, the temporary gift of tongues was a warning to Israel of imminent Divine discipline. (Isa 28:11; cf. 1Co 14:21) When Jerusalem did indeed fall to the Romans in A.D. 70, the gift of tongues had no further purpose and ceased to exist. The so-called gift of tongues claimed today is an emotional and demonic counterfeit that distracts from Truth, divides the Church, and debases Christianity. The pre-canon period came to a close with the death of John, the last apostle, sometime after he wrote Revelation in approximately A.D. 96.
The post-canon period, in which we now live, is the era of permanent Spiritual gifts. Gifts like pastor-teacher, evangelism, administration and helps. And are designed to communicate the Truth, of the written Word of God and carry out the functions of the Church to reach Spiritual maturity. (Eph 4:11-13) These gifts sustain the royal family of God on earth and operate throughout all generations of the Church Age. Gone are the spectacular displays of Divine power typical of the pre-canon period. Gone are the dramatic rituals and ceremonies of previous dispensations. The post-canon period of the Church Age, emphasizes Thinking Truth and personal application of Truth. (John 13:17) The Christian lives by Divine Truth in his own soul, rather than depending on the emotional stimulation of overt rites, Divine appearances or miraculous deeds performed by a few highly visible Christians. Even in the pre-canon period, the emphasis was on Truth. (1Co 14:19) The Church is the most concentrated and sustained presentation of God’s grace in all of human history. (Eph 3:2)
Continual Spiritual growth is the believer’s objective in every dispensation, but in the Church Age the means to this end are more powerful than in any other age. Truth teaches that God gives each member of the royal family access to Divine power in his inner life (Php 3:10) while providing the problem-solving devices designed originally for the humanity of Christ. (John 15:10; (1Jn 2:6) Spiritual victory lies in using these assets. The result is the progressive attainment of Spiritual maturity — with all the mental and emotional richness that maturity brings.
TO REVIEW, THE SIX DISPENSATIONS; from three categories: Theocentric, Christocentric, and Eschatological. We have just described the two magnificent Christocentric dispensations: the Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union and the Church Age. Now we turn our attention to the future. Eschatology is the biblical study of future or final events. Prophecies yet unfulfilled anticipate history’s concluding two dispensations, which are designated the Tribulation and the Millennium. The eschatological dispensations are defined as those after the signing and altering of the peace treaty. (Dan 8:11-14; Dan 9:27; Dan 12:11)
The Tribulational eschatological dispensation is separate but coexists with the Church because it was presented in the Old Testament, whereas the Church (By name) remained undisclosed throughout Old Testament times, but it has always been known that Gentiles would be saved in the New Covenant Age. (Hos 1:10; Rom 9:26; Matt 12:21; Amos 9:10-11; Acts 15:16-18) For the Jews, the Tribulation immediately precedes the founding of God’s Promised kingdom on earth. Thus, this approximately seven-year period of history (Dan 9:27; Rev 11:3; Rev 12:6) is the end of Divine discipline against Israel. The Tribulation is Prophesied in the Old Testament, (Isa 34:1-6; Isa 63:1-6; Jer 30:4-8; Dan 11:40-45; Zec 12:1-3; Zec 14:1-2) and in our Lord’s Olivet Discourse, and in Revelation 6 — 19. This short, dramatic era will commence immediately at the altering of the peace treaty, (Dan 9:27) and will terminate with the Second Advent of Christ. It is the “time of Jacob’s distress” (Jer 30:7) and Daniel’s seventieth week (Or seventieth seven) based on the famous timetable prophecy of, (Dan 9:24-27). The Tribulation might also be called the time of Satan’s desperation because of the violent power struggle that will occur. (Rev 12:12)
The first half of the Tribulation will be a time of relative prosperity and overt world peace. Satan will make this one last attempt to establish a “Millennium” of his own to prove that he is equal with God. (Isa 14:14) But the devil has only his own interests at heart. He cares nothing for mankind but merely wants to use man to prove himself justified in revolting against God. Behind the scenes Satan will be clamping the human race in tyranny through power politics and religious manipulation. Tyranny always flows into the vacuum created by the absence of Divine establishment. Evil will be unrestrained in the Tribulation, Satan will have his freest hand. But when Satan is left virtually to his own devices, the world situation will turn grim — characterized by an initial false prosperity that deteriorates into horrible disaster. Satan’s arrogance will be ultimately revealed in his incompetence. Given every chance, he cannot rule the kingdom he usurped from Adam. Human failures will multiply under Satan’s administration through a contagion of bad decisions; a shockingly large portion of the earth’s population will be destroyed. (Rev 6:1-11) Except for Eden and the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, utopias are masks for coercion, slavery, and violence. Neither man nor Satan (Who is far more capable than man) can create a politically and or socially perfect state. In the Tribulation, God will eject arrogant scheming, belligerent Satan from the courtroom of heaven where he has enjoyed free access as defense counsel throughout the appeal trial of the angelic conflict. (Rev 12:7-9; cf. Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Zec 3:1) With Satan cast down to earth, the Tribulation Period will witness unprecedented violence as Satan's machinations unravel and he desperately struggles to retain his rule over the world. This latter part of the dispensation is the period actually called the Great Tribulation. (Matt 24:21; Rev 7:14) Satan will commit all his forces to exterminating the Jews. (Rev 12:17) His purpose will be to eliminate all potential beneficiaries of God’s unconditional Covenants to Israel. The devil will pursue this heinous policy in an attempt to prove God unfaithful to His Promises. Satan will know from Scripture that the fulfillment of God’s Covenants to Israel is imminent. The Millennium will be only years away. But, reasons Satan, if no regenerate Jew remains alive, God would be unable to keep His Promises and fulfill His Prophecies. There would be no one to receive the Promised blessings. And if God could not fulfill His unconditional Covenants; (A blasphemous and unthinkable presumption) His essence would be flawed, and Satan would have grounds for demanding dismissal of all the charges against himself and the fallen angels. But Satan’s ploy will not succeed. In spite of a deceptive peace followed by horrible violence, the Gospel of Salvation will be presented more intensively during the Tribulation than in any other dispensation. With Israel remaining under Divine discipline until Christ’s Second Advent, Instead of a client nation, God’s principal missionary agency will be 144,000 Jewish evangelists. (Rev 7:4-8) They will risk martyrdom to present the Gospel throughout the world. Supporting and supplementing the function of these evangelists, angels will also join in the presentation of the Gospel. (Rev 14:6-7) Furthermore, two Old Testament prophets — Moses and Elijah will be resuscitated for a brief but powerful ministry in Jerusalem. (Rev 11:3-13) By all these diverse means, the entire earth will be evangelized thoroughly in the brief span of the Tribulation. Principle: Grace precedes judgment. An unprecedented world war will break out in the last half of the Tribulation. Watching his utopian kingdom fragment and collapse into chaos, a desperate Satan will set vast human and demonic forces into motion. The ensuing war will culminate in the Armageddon Campaign, in which the forces of four great political powers will converge on Palestine. In Jerusalem a remnant of Jewish believers will refuse to surrender. Brilliantly commanded by aggressive, Spiritually mature generals, (Zec 12:5-8) these besieged few will fight for their lives against overwhelming odds. The situation will appear utterly hopeless. The last chance of survival will collapse. Then, suddenly, the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth and join the battle. (Zec 12:9-11)
THE REIGN OF CHRIST
The Lord Jesus Christ will return to deliver the Jews. (Isa 10:20-23; Isa 11:11-16; Isa 14:1-3; Isa 63:1-6; Joe 2:16; thru Joe 3:21; Zec 10:6-12) He will come to establish His kingdom in fulfillment of the unconditional Covenants to Israel. (Dan 9:24; Zec 14:9)
Seventy weeks [490 yrs.] have been decreed for your people [The Jews] and your holy city, [Jerusalem] to finish the transgression, [End the fifth cycle of discipline for Israel] to make an end of sin, [Judgment on negative volition, religion, anti-Semitism, evil, etc.] to make atonement for iniquity, [Baptism of fire] to bring in everlasting righteousness, [The Millennium] to seal up vision [Daniel's vision] and Prophecy [Three unconditional Covenants] [The New Covenant continues with Israel as the client nation] and to anoint the most Holy place. [The New Temple with Gods Presence] (Dan 9:24)
As King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, the Son of David will destroy the forces of Satan and depose the devil as the ruler of the earth. The Lamb of God will re-gather dispersed Israel and rule the earth for one thousand years. Then will the wonderful Prophecy be fulfilled, which describes “many peoples and mighty nations of Gentiles coming to Jerusalem to entreat the favor of the Lord.”
So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. (Zec 8:22-23)
The Millennium, Latin for “one thousand years,” will commence with the Second Advent of Christ and terminate with the Last Judgment and the destruction of the present universe, including planet Earth. This final dispensation prior to the eternal state is documented in numerous passages of Scripture, with major statements in, (Psa 72:1-20; Isa 11:1-12; Isa 35:1-10; Isa 62:1-12; Isa 65:18-25; Zec 14:4-11; Rev 20:1-10).
When Jesus Christ returns, He will be accompanied by His royal families, from the wedding feast. (Rev 19:1-21) Along with the Church, these Jewish and Gentile (Spiritually Mature) believers, (Job 19:25-26; Rev 7:9-17) in their resurrection bodies will participate in our Lord’s thousand year reign over the earth. With Christ’s Second Advent and the restoration of client-nation Israel, the general outline of the Millennium includes the imprisonment of Satan and his fallen angels, (Rev 20:1-3) the removal of all unbelievers from the earth in the Baptism of Fire, (2Pe 3:7-10) and the coronation of Christ. The Millennium will begin with a cadre of believers only, (Isa 66:20-21) delivered through the Tribulation. In succeeding generations, however, some of their sons and daughters will reject Christ as Savior despite His Personal Presence and regardless of the wisdom and justice of His rule. (Rev 20:8-10) Under the administration of Christ, the earth will enjoy perfect environment. (Isa 35:1-10; (Isa 11:6-12; Isa 65:19-25; Rom 8:19-21) Universal peace will exist for the first time since the fall of man. (Psa 46:8-9; Isa 2:2-4; Hos 2:18; Mic 4:3) Prosperity will spread to all nations. (Psa 72:7-20) Infant mortality will be reduced dramatically, and human longevity will increase dramatically. (Isa 65:20) A population explosion will result, repopulating the earth after the decimations of the population in the Tribulation, and the Divine judgments that initially establish Christ’s reign. Throughout the Millennium there will be universal knowledge of God, and the use of His Thinking. (Isa 11:9; Jer 31:33-34) Israel will rejoice as God’s client nation ruled by Christ Personally. The believer’s post-Salvation way of life will again include the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, and like the Spirit’s invisible ministry during the Church Age, (Heb 10:14-17) the filling of God the Holy Spirit in the Millennium will stimulate the believer’s growth to Spiritual maturity. (Eze 11:19-20) The Holy Spirit’s ministry of revealing and glorifying Christ is to demonstrate the sufficiency and tremendous impact of Truth in the soul of the believer. Emotion is not a barometer of Spirituality. Instead, emotion responds normally to the mentality of the soul, where Truth resides as a result of learning Truth. God set aside the spectacular rituals and miracles of previous dispensations, (1Co 1:22; Heb 1:1-2) so that during the post-canon Church Age His manifold wisdom and power are displayed in Truth, as the object of faith which emphasizes the believer’s Thoughts and decisions rather than his emotions. (Rom 16:17-18; (1Co 1:23-25; Eph 3:10) In the Millennium, however, the Living Word will be present along with the written Word, sight will complement faith, and under our Lord’s control ecstatics can be a genuine Spiritual phenomenon on a more widespread basis than in any other dispensation.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE MILLENNIUM
After one thousand years of perfect environment, Satan will be released from captivity. (Rev 20:7-9) The devil will lead rebellious elements of the human race and his own fallen angels in a desperate conspiracy against our Lord’s perfect government. Called the Gog and Magog Revolution, this final outburst of satanic violence will be suppressed immediately. With Satan’s argument for the defense reduced to unrestrained violence; and with God’s demonstration of grace completed, this will terminate the appeal trial of Satan. Its purpose achieved, human history will end. At that time all millennial believers will receive their resurrection bodies. This final resurrection of believers will complete the sequence of resurrections. (1Co 15:52-55) At the same time God will resurrect all unbelievers separately from believers. (Rev 20:11-15) The purpose of this resurrection will be to judge all who never accepted Salvation. They will be judged not for their sins, for which Christ paid in full, (1Jn 2:2) but for rejecting Christ. (John 3:18) Unbelievers will be resurrected in one group regardless of the dispensation in which they lived. Here is a final instance of continuity, in contrast to dispensational changes. Unlike the resurrections of Christ and believers in their dispensational order, the common resurrection of unbelievers indicates that Salvation by grace through faith in Christ is the same in every dispensation. (Acts 4:12) All unbelievers alike, of every dispensation, will have refused the same Savior. Presiding in majesty from the Great White Throne of the Last Judgment, our Lord Jesus Christ will sentence them to join the fallen angels in the Lake of Fire, separated from God forever. (Isa 66:24; Rev 20:14-15) Finally, then will come the destruction of the universe, the creation of a new universe, and the commencement of the eternal state. (2Pe 3:12-13; Isa 66:22-24; Rev 21:1 thru Rev 22:5) Mankind will be divided into categories for all eternity: Mature believers, (Rev 22:14; Matt 13:8) negative believers, (Luk 12:46-48; Rev 22:15) and believers guilty of treachery, (2Pe 2:17-21; Jud 1:11-13) and unbelievers, (Rev 20:15; Rev 21:8) because they refused to accept Christ as their Savior. (John 3:18; John 3:36)
CONTINUITY AND CHANGE
GOD HAS A PURPOSE for every believer. What is His plan for you? After Salvation, what?
Dispensations are an essential frame of reference. The Biblical answer to “After Salvation, what?” lies in the assets God has given specifically to the royal family and in His Command for utilizing those assets. The Christian way of life is clarified, therefore, by understanding how the Church Age is unique while being related to the other dispensations. Dispensations orient the believer to God’s plan for history. They unlock the Scriptures for accurate personal application. The Old and New Testaments clearly declares that true “Jewish” Israel, are not only Spiritually regenerate but ethnically Jewish. God’s magnificent faithfulness to the flesh-and-blood nation of Israel cannot be reduced to a Spiritual or figurative dimension only. (Eze 37:21-28) Strong continuity does indeed run through the Divine View of history. God perceives all events as one indivisible system, every part of which is essential to the integrity of the whole. But the parts of the whole are still distinct parts. The Doctrine of dispensations thoroughly integrates both consistency and distinction, both continuity and change. God keeps His Promises! He is true to Himself, true to His Word, and true to all who trust in Him! Dispensational shifts do not undermine the integrity of God or the stability of His plan. Indeed, these changes achieve His unchanging purpose for human history. The Bible is progressive revelation and is rich in figurative expressions, comparisons, symbolism, allusion, metaphor, analogy, poetry, type (Like someone, or something else) and antitype. (Just like someone or something else) (Luk 8:10) There is continuity in Scripture as the language of the New Testament echoes the Old Testament, both centers upon the Person of Christ. Indeed the differences deserve our respect, the distinction between Israel and the Church profoundly exhibits the essence of God. This distinction reveals both His faithfulness to His chosen nation and His justice in answering Israel’s refusal to be the caretaker of the New Covenant, by creating an even greater demonstration of grace in the Church. God does not play with Words. God IS Truth, and He intends to Communicate IT. (Num 23:19; Psa 33:4-6) God’s special role for the royal family is the glorification of Christ, encouraging among Christians a vigorous love for the Thinking of Bible Doctrine. As believers work to establish the Spiritual kingdom of God on earth. (By growing to Spiritual maturity) Only Jesus Christ, not fallible Christians, (Nor Satan) can bring about the Millennium. Christ will do so in God’s Own perfect timing and not according to any human schedule. (Acts 1:6-7; (1Th 5:1-2) This remains the devil’s world until the Second Advent of Christ, when our Lord will overthrow Satan. During the Church Age, believers can live in the confidence that the future rests in God’s powerful hands, as outlined in Biblical eschatology, (End times) while turning their primary attention to His plan for glorifying Christ in this present dispensation. The plan of God for the Church Age must not be set aside by the fruitless ambition to reform or remake the devil's world. (Jas 3:14-15) Christians must not instigate or join crusades to whitewash the devil's world.
Certainly the Christian is responsible for being an exemplary citizen under the Divine institution of the national entity, but church and state remain separate. Christianity is not a political movement but a personal relationship with God through Christ and His Word. Whatever may be the participation of believers in their communities or in the legitimate political processes of their nations, Christians must not neglect their essential calling, which is to attain Spiritual maturity. (Eph 4:13) Spiritual maturity itself makes the believer an invisible hero with a powerful, unheralded, positive impact on his nation and on human history. Therefore, the following survey will present the characteristics that make the Church Age unique against the background of trends and consistencies that run through all the dispensations.
THE POLITEUMA METAPHOR
When a word appears only once in the Bible, we sit up and take note. Such a word is politeuma, “the status, rights, and privileges of citizenship.” Paul uses this loaded word in. (Php 3:20) Considering the city of Philippi at the time Paul wrote his Epistle, this word creates a brilliant metaphor for the privileges of the Church Age believer. “For our politeuma,” writes Paul “is in heaven.” The politeuma metaphor illustrates advantages that stagger the imagination. (Eph 1:18; Eph 3:20) A chain of well-known historical events gives tremendous force to Paul’s use of the word politeuma. The assassination of Julius Caesar on the 15th of March, 44 B.C., rekindled a smoldering civil war in Rome. The renewed conflict would profoundly affect the future of Philippi, a small city in Macedonia. When Caesar’s murderers failed to restore the old Roman Republic, two of them fled Rome to consolidate support in the eastern provinces. Marcus Brutus took over the Roman province of Macedonia, while Gaius Cassius Longinus, the leader of the conspiracy and an experienced general, seized control of the province of Syria. Meanwhile, in opposition to the assassins, Caesar’s grandnephew Octavian allied himself with Mark Antony (And Lepidus) to form the Second Triumvirate. Two powerful Roman armies formed — one in Italy, the other in the East. Each numbered nearly one hundred thousand men. A sequence of strategic maneuvers brought these massive forces into contact just west of Philippi.
The Republican army, Commanded by Cassius and Brutus, held tactical and strategic advantages over the Triumvirate army of Octavian and Antony. But rashness doomed Cassius and Brutus to decisive defeat. The two battles of Philippi, fought during a rainy three-week period in October of 42 B.C., snuffed out the last hope of the Roman Republic. The victorious Octavian, who would become the unrivaled Emperor Augustus, after defeating Mark Antony in a later battle, commemorated the victory by establishing a Roman colony at Philippi. He honored the city as Colonia Augusta Julia (Victrix) Phihppensium. Philippi flourished after the famous victory. A Roman colony was a living extension of Rome herself. A Roman citizen residing in Philippi enjoyed the same status held by a citizen within the walls of Rome. The rights, privileges, and protection guaranteed by Roman law elevated Roman citizens far above their neighbors. Roman citizens in a colony were exempt, for example, from local taxes. The Bible and many other ancient sources document the superior standing of Roman citizens. Paul was unique among the twelve apostles. He alone was a Roman citizen, and the mere mention of his citizenship brought preferential treatment. (Acts 16:27-40; Acts 22:24-30) He was spared beatings, given hearings, and granted access to Caesar himself. (Acts 27:24) Even his enemies respected his citizenship. Indeed, so coveted was Roman citizenship that the Commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, not a citizen by birth as Paul was, had paid a “large sum of money” to acquire it. (Acts 22:28) In Paul’s day the Greek term for a privileged colony of Roman citizens, implying the source of all the advantages they enjoyed was politeuma. The older Greek usage of the word politeuma implies privilege and protection for citizens of a powerful state who reside in a distant colony. In 507 B.C., the Athenians defeated the Boeotians and their Chalcidian allies. Athens took possession of the most fertile part of Chalcis, called the Lelantine plain, where the Chalcidian aristocrats had built their estates. To establish Athenian influence in captured territory, the Athenian ruler Cleisthenes divided this beautiful valley into four thousand parcels called kleroi, “lots, portions, or shares,” and settled a corresponding number of Athenian citizens there. This was an entirely new concept of colonization. These settlers, or kleruchs, retained all the privileges of Athens although they resided in Chalcis. The body of citizens resident in a foreign country became known as a politeuma. Specifically the word came to mean the rights and privileges of their citizenship extended from and protected by their home city — state. Cleisthenes’ Greek system of colonization, as adopted by the Romans, set up the politeuma metaphor in Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. By Paul’s day Philippi was a favorite retirement city for Roman soldiers. Some of the Christians there were probably Roman citizens. (Acts 16:27-34) Perhaps some were descendants of veterans of the famous battles. Certainly every Christian in Philippi knew the full significance of politeuma. They lived with this system of privilege. Paul’s use of this word immediately created a vivid image in the minds of his hearers — an image of highly coveted position and superior opportunity.
We belong to a politeuma. We are the nobility of heaven residing on earth. Roman politeuma privileges were impressive, but they only begin to suggest the unfathomable politeuma privileges of the royal family of God. Every individual Church Age believer holds the rights and privileges of heaven, while living on earth. God has magnificently provisioned us and has thoroughly instructed us so we might “walk worthy of our station in life.” (Eph 4:1) The conclusion of this study of dispensations, therefore, is an introduction to the privileges of our heavenly citizenship. Altogether these privileges are unique to the New Covenant Age and determine our Christian way of life. We will briefly describe nine characteristics.
1. The baptism of the Holy Spirit
2. The protocol plan of God
3. Mystery Doctrine
4. The portfolio of invisible assets
5. The equality factor
6. Royal commissions
7. The indwelling of the Trinity
8. The availability of Divine power
9. Invisible heroes
Some of these politeuma privileges require more explanation than others. Some have been mentioned already. A short discussion does not indicate less importance. All these privileges form a single, balanced whole. Each complements the others. As the believer learns what his assets are and how to use them, they begin to function together as an integrated system. Awareness and consistent use of these assets keeps the believer moving forward in the Christian way of life. Indeed, these privileges establish the unique life of meaning, purpose, and definition that God designed for the New Covenant Church Age.
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