Monday, February 13, 2012

All ONE BODY WE

All Believers Today are Members of the One Body

     In contrast with these there is only {one} body today. It is
a joint body in which all the members are of equal rank. Not only
are the Circumcision, priests, Levites, and others, on the same
level, but the proselytes and devout believers among the nations
are not distinguished from one another or from the three bodies in
Israel. The most uncouth and unlearned saint in far off
Thessalonica ranked just the same as Barnabas, the Levite, in the
body of Christ. There is no temple curtain, barring out the
priests, no holy place into which the Levites cannot come, no
court to which an Israelite has no access, no wall to shut out the
nations, no ceremonies to mark off the proselytes from inferior
ranks of Gentile believers. All are {one} body, for all are in
Christ, so near and dear to God that distinctions are impossible.

     Let us insist that the characteristic truth for today is not
merely that we are the body of Christ, but that this is a {joint}
body, and {there is only one}. There are differences between
saints. There are degrees of knowledge or ignorance. There is
variety in service, and in the rewards to which it leads. But let
us remember that we are not in the body of the {Lord}, but in the
body of {Christ}. Attainment and service are not necessary to
membership. The most ignorant saint is entitled to a place in the
joint body. No service whatever is needed to become a member.
Faith alone is all that is required. Only thus can there be but
one body. (AND THAT FAITH IS GIVEN WHEN GOD CHOOSES TO GIVE IT IN EACH ONE OF US- A MEASURE OF FAITH) He said, "I chose you"  Your faith  is not of yourself....Eph. 2:8-9)

     Christendom today has many organizations. Yet in all of
these, and outside of them as well, are those who are living
members of that one great spiritual organism whose Head is Christ.
This is the true "catholic," or universal, church. It is the only
one worthy of our thought or serious consideration. Its membership
is based solely on the possession of God's Spirit, not on any
man-made bonds whatever. God alone can put men in it, and no one
can put men out of it. It is divine. It is the work of God's
Spirit. Let us recognize His handi-

p132                                 The One Spirit of the Present
                                    Secret Administration of Grace

work and acknowledge His achievement. Many a saint is awed by the
religious atmosphere of some great cathedral, but does not realize
the solemn sanctity of God's real dwelling place, the church of
Christ. It alone is hallowed. Let us make much of it.

                            ONE SPIRIT

     We have so long been accustomed to reading "spirit" with a
capital "S" and referring it to God's Spirit exclusively that, to
many, the small "s" seems offensive and derogatory. But the word
spirit is by no means confined to God's holy Spirit. It would be
trite indeed to insist that God's Spirit is only one. We have a
spirit. Each act of our lives is characterized by a spirit. Each
administration has its own peculiar spirit. The spirit of the
Mosaic economy was legal. It has no place today. When the
disciples desired to draw down fire upon their enemies they were
told that they did not know what spirit pertained to them. The
spirit of Elijah's ministry was quite different from that of our
Lord's, though both were actuated by the same holy Spirit.

     The "spirit" speaks of the temper of the mind, the key to
which life's activities are pitched. In every divine
administration this is dependent on God's assumption and the
nature of the work which engages Him. Elijah's attitude toward his
enemies could not be duplicated by our Lord. Neither can we
duplicate the spirit of our Master's day. Gentiles were treated as
outsiders, deserving almost no consideration. The same spirit was
not shown them which obtained in the churches in Israel. Only when
a Jew was obstinate and would not bow to the decision of the
congregation, then he also was to be treated like a man of another
nation. Today no such distinctions may be maintained. Jews and
Gentiles are on one common ground, and this a spiritual one. We
deal with one another on the one high plateau of His exalted
favor.

p133                                 The One Spirit of the Present
                                    Secret Administration of Grace

     Those of the Circumcision who died in their faith never
entered into this truth. Even after this letter was sent forth,
Peter wrote to the dispersion, telling them to behave themselves
ideally "among the nations" (+1 Peter 2:12) where they found
themselves. This is not an isolated statement, but one of many
which show the double spirit which he and the surviving
Circumcisionists showed to the end of their days. Nowhere in his
letters, or, indeed, in any epistles except Paul's latest, does
the truth of the one spirit receive acknowledgment.

     Christendom has almost utterly missed the spirit which should
distinguish it from all previous administrations. It has lived in
the atmosphere of Sinai or Jerusalem instead of in the prison
house of Paul at Rome. In the bondage of the law, or seeking to
fit into the earthly kingdom, it has imbibed and manifested a
spirit foreign to the truth. It should display such boundless
grace and love, in accord with God's own attitude, that all men
everywhere would recognize its every act by its delicious
Christ-like spirit. Instead, it has become the opposite, and is
described by God Himself as an unearthly monster, more ferocious
than the beasts of the earth.

                          ONE EXPECTATION

     The earliest written record that we have of Paul's peculiar
ministry is stated thus: "...you turned back to God from idols, to
be slaving for the living and true God {and to be waiting for His
Son out of the heavens}, Whom He rouses from among the dead,
Jesus, Who is our Rescuer out of the coming indignation" (+1
Thess.1:9,10). The wrath impending on Israel and the earth, of
which Peter spoke at Pentecost, which is detailed in Revelation,
will be endured to its close by the saints who survive for the
Kingdom. If our place were in that Kingdom and we hoped to enter
it alive, our future outlook would be one of terror and dread. At
any moment

p134                              {Presently} Delivered out of the
                                    Approaching Indignation of God

the portals of Jehovah's day might open and we would enter its
terrible trials and suffer its terrific tribulations. Only those
who endure to the end will be delivered.

     This is the key to Paul's epistles to the Thessalonians. This
is what they dreaded, and this is the predicament into which they
supposed that they had fallen. It seemed very real to them. Paul
expresses the matter in a most realistic figure, in anticipation
of their mistake. He puts it all into the {present},
notwithstanding the word "waiting" demands the future. Our Lord is
presented as the One deliver{ing} them--not who {will} deliver
them. In line with this they are delivered {out} of the
indignation--not {from}--as though they had already entered it.
Paul uses the same figure of himself when he speaks of being
rescued {out of} the mouth of the lion (+2 Tim.4:17). He was never
in it. But such dangers impress themselves vividly on the mind,
and it is more fitting to state the feeling rather than the fact.

     A word of warning to close students of the Scriptures is
called for here. It is well to be exact and to insist on the
literal meaning whenever possible. I have great sympathy with
those who point to the connective {out of} to prove that the
Thessalonians will be in the coming indignation, for, they say,
"How can they come {out} of it if they never were {in} it?" But
there is a higher logic than this. It may be stated thus: {Every
word, in the Scriptures, must be interpreted in accord with its
context and the entire production of which it is a part}. Now it
is the main burden of the Thessalonian epistles to prove that they
were {not} appointed to indignation, but to the procuring of
salvation (+1 Thess.5:9,10). No single word in the epistle must be
forced to teach otherwise, especially when its figurative use
lends life and force, and is found elsewhere in the same sense.
Let us {feel} that the Son of God is delivering us out of the
coming indignation which might, at any moment, close its maw upon
our helpless heads.

p135                              {Presently} Delivered out of the
                                    Approaching Indignation of God

     Israel's expectation in the Kingdom finds no fulfillment
until {after} the time of tribulation. Hence Paul gave the
Thessalonians and the Corinthians a {prior expectancy}. This is
what especially distinguished the Circumcision who followed Paul's
teaching from the rest. Peter's words still held with the latter.
The heavens must receive Christ until the restoration of all
spoken by the prophets (+Acts 3:21). They knew nothing of His
previous descent to the air. When Paul seeks to identify those of
the Circumcision who had received his revelations he falls back on
this fact. They looked for Christ to come before the affliction.
They had a {prior expectation}. The celestial allotment of
Ephesians is for them (+Eph.1:12). It is the mark which identifies
Pauline believers among the Circumcision, hence the Ephesian
revelation is limited to them.

     Unlike the Kingdom expectations, our outlook is the same for
all. All will have a celestial allotment, all will be with Christ,
all will go at the same time. There is only {one} expectation!
This is the fruit of grace transcendent. It ignores the
distinctions of flesh and makes favorites of all. In the Kingdom
almost all the promises and privileges are for Israel. The nations
have no expectation worthy of the name. If the Gentiles of this
era were to be with them in the Kingdom we would soon discover
that there was more than one expectation. Our outlook would not
compare with that of a Jew, no matter what our spiritual
attainments might be.

     This gracious truth is being assailed from all sides. It does
not seem possible to leave grace unadulterated. Some imagine that
our expectation is only for the watchful, when the apostle
distinctly declares that it is also for the drowsy (+1
Thess.5:10). Others think He comes only for those who look for Him
(+Heb.9:28), and thus limit it to those who believe in His advent.
Hebrews speaks of His coming to Israel, not to us. A few make it a
matter of attainment or knowledge. For those who have gone

p136                                     Christ Jesus, our Rescuer

to repose this expectation is necessarily an eclectic, or
out-resurrection, for it occurs before the saints of Israel are
roused, and leaves them in their tombs. The apostle's desire to
conform his experience to it has led to the idea that he hoped to
be raised immediately at death, and thus precede other saints into
Christ's presence. All such departures deny this unity. There is
one, and only one expectation common to all the saints of this
most gracious economy.   {To be continued}                  A.E.K.


{Editors' Note: The following is an excerpt on +1 Thessalonians
1:10 from volume XIII. Copies of the three-page article are
available on request}:

     We must view this indignation not merely as something future,
but having a vital relation to the Thessalonians and to us in the
present. Thus the logical thought and the grammatical form are in
accord. Our rescue is not out of indignation, but out of {coming}
indignation. We shall not only avoid it when it comes, but we are
already free from the dread and despair which its coming involves.
We are at peace with God.

     To illustrate: The wrath to come may be figured by a terrific
storm, such as most of us have seen, coming to devastate and
destroy. By lying on our faces we may be saved {through} it. Some
of Israel will endure through the great time of affliction. Or we
may be saved out of it, as a ship may ride out of a storm which
has overtaken it. But with the storm warnings of these days, ships
escape out of a {coming} storm by getting out of its path before
it reaches their position. We can imagine with what relief the
passengers read of a coming hurricane out of which they will be
rescued by storm warnings, though they never see the storm itself.
In English it may seem a little strained to speak of rescuing {out
of} coming indignation. Yet, in the livelier language of
inspiration there is nothing out of the way; indeed, the very
reverse. As in the days of the Thessalonians, God's indignation is
{coming}. Not a distant, far off prophetic event, but a constant
gathering of forces which will some day engulf the world in ruin.
But in Christ we are perfectly safe outside the path of coming
judgment.                                                     V.G.
Unsearchable Riches Vol 64

                           ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ

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