Leaves Of Gold

A Call To Return To Biblical Teaching

"…to contend earnestly for the faith…"

Year One, number 7                                              July                                                                                2006

 

MASTER OUTLINE NUMBER SIX

The Unique Jesus

     When, at the close of the third year of Christ's ministry, the chief priests and Pharisees sent their soldiers to arrest Christ, they came back empty-handed. Their testimony showed that they had been emotionally, morally, and spiritually stunned. They reported, "No man ever spoke like this Man!" (John 7:46). Upon hearing Christ for themselves and being overpowered by His words and His ethical fortitude, such an awe of Him was felt that these temple guards could not bring them­selves to apprehend Him, either as a common criminal or as a false Christ.

     He possessed qualities of moral integrity and divine righteousness that marked Him as different from all men-different from the rabbis-and indeed a Prophet sent from God. His claims went be­yond those made by any rabbi; His teachings sparkled with the luster of truth and godliness; His holi­ness was unremitting; yet His compassion for the fallen was genuine and offered the forgiveness of the lord. His understanding of the law, even at the age of twelve, "astonished" the rabbis, already caught in their own web of self-righteous legalism (Luke 2:42, 46, 47). His prayer life quietly and modestly surpassed that of Hezekiah. He did signs and miracles beyond those of both Elijah and Elisha, miracles such as had not been seen in Israel in the fifteen centuries since the Exo­dus. Yet He called Himself "meek" and was not boastful.

     Although He was a Man, He was unique and set apart from all others. He alone possessed and displayed the credentials of the promised Messiah that was to come into the world. These credentials were the out workings of His perfect moral character. He was the Messiah, and He was in the world; . His words, deeds, and manner of life authenticated His divine mission and office (John 1 :10-12, 14; 7:46; Mark 1 :22).

     Let us examine some of the ways in which Jesus was unique, which set Him apart and above all other possible messianic claimants (Matt. 24:4, 5).

     A. He Was Unique in His Person (Hebrews 1:1-13) These verses worshipfully proclaim the uniqueness of Jesus as the Son of God, the Christ, the God-Man, whose coming into the world was prophesied: They reveal the glory of His Godhead by proving through biblical citations His superiority over even the heavenly angles (vv. 4, 5, 7, 13). Christ is "so much better than the angels" (v. 4); therefore He stands uniquely above every man, prophet, or king who ever lived or will live.

     (1) "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,  (v. 1). God had already communicated frequently with mankind in various ways. But now, from Jesus the God-Man's birth to the coming of His kingdom, He stands as God's complete and final message to a 1ost world. On the Mount of Transfiguration God said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" (Matt. 17:5).

     (2) "Whom He has appointed heir of all things" (v. 2). Jesus, the God-Man, is the heir o God's entire universe. All born-again believers are joint heirs with Him (Rom. 8:17).

     (3) "Through whom also He made the worlds" (v. 2). With the Father and the Spirit, Jesus was the co Creator of all things (John 1:3). He is the preexistent Creator, i.e., He is God, Paul tells us, "For by Him all things were created" (Col. 1 :16).

     (4) "Who being the     brightness of His glory and the express image of His person" (v. 3). Jesus is the Out-flowing of the glory of the Father, and expresses the perfect character of God. He, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one in essence, (John 10:30).

     (5) "And upholding all things by the word of His power" (v. 3). Jesus, the God-Man, sustains the universe, exercising all power (authority) over the entire creation. He is sovereign (Matt. 28:18)

     (6) "When He had by Himself purged our sins" (v. 3). Jesus, the God-Man, is the only Savior (Acts 4:12), having suffered the penalty for all sinners (Is. 53:1-5).

     (7) "Sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (v. 3). Jesus, the God-Man, is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). As our High Priest He intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 4:14-16).

B: He Was Unique in His Birth, Luke 1:26-35

     He Was Unique in His Birth (Luke 1 :26-35)-Adam, the first man; was not born: he was made from the dust of the earth. Eve, the first woman, was not born: she was taken from the man. All other human beings were born of human parents, except the God-Man, who had no earthly father. Conceived apart from the seed of sinful man, He had a perfect, sinless human nature (John 1:14; 1 Tim. 3:16).  Not only His conception, but also the circumstances surrounding His birth were unique, beyond even those that accompany the birth of earthly kings.

     (1) He was born of a virgin, as prophesied by Isaiah seven hundred years before (Matt. 1:22, 23; Is. 7:14). Note that the "of whom" of Matthew 1:16 is feminine singular in the original Greek, indicating that Jesus was physically born of Mary, not of Joseph.

     (2) He was the incarnate God (born in flesh). Isaiah called Him "Immanuel" ("God with Us"), meaning that He was the preexistent, eternal God, now in a human body (Is. 7:14).

     (3) He was born in the city of Bethlehem, as prophesied by Micah seven hundred years before (Matt. 2:4-6; Micah 5:2).

     (4) His birth was announced by angels (Luke 1:26; Luke 2:9-11).

     (5) His birth occurred several weeks after the birth of John the Baptist, who had been announced by the angel Gabriel as the forerunner of the Messiah (vv. 11-19; John 1:6, 7, 23).

     (6) He was born as a Man, sharing the lot of men; He was poor, born in a stable and cared for in a feeding trough (Luke 2:7).  Yet this son of lowly Galileans was worshiped by kings (Matt. 2:2, 9-11).

     (7) His birth was signaled by a once-in-history star which guided the astrologers from the east to Him (Matt. 2:1, 2, 7).

     (8) Hosts of angels gave forth praises at His birth, and shouted proclamations of coming "peace," while shepherds flocked to catch a glimpse of His face (Luke 2:8-16).

     (9) Satan prepared a murderer to slay the Christ child at birth: Herod the Great, a foreigner-king. Herod's sinful hands were already drenched with the blood of rivals and of the whole royal house of the  Hasmoneans, the previous Hebrew ruling line. He was a hardened and ready agent for the murder of the Bethlehem children (Matt. 2:3-18).

     (10) His birth was uniquely hailed by two aged holy persons, Simeon and Anna. Seeing the Babe presented to the Lord in the temple, they identified Him through the Spirit of God as the Messiah who was to bring deliverance to His people (Luke 2:25-38).

     (11) Just prior to His birth an angel gave Him the name "Jesus" (the Greek form of the Hebrew "Jeshua" "Yahweh Saves"), with the announcement, "For He will save His people from their sins," thus announcing the unique purpose for which He came (Matt. 1:21).

C. He Was Unique in His Ministry, Mark 1:21-28

     He preached with such absolute authority that He was recognized both by His followers and by the self-righteous Pharisees and scribes as being different from all  rabbis who had ever gone before. He was not, as some believed, just another rabbi. His ministry was unique in that:

     (1) He was the greatest teacher who ever lived. His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), His "Lord's Prayer" (Matt. 6:9-13), His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25), and His wonderful parables, such as that of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), are unmatched by any religious or secular teacher who ever lived.

     (2) He performed the mightiest miracles (Mark 6:35-44). Christ fed the 5,000; He also fed other 4,000. He quieted storms more than once, caused miraculous drafts of fish to be pulled into nets, healed countless multitudes, walked on water, cast out demons, raised the dead, and turned water into wine. Some said He was Elijah (Luke 9:8)-but He was far greater than even Elijah.

     (3) Jesus was the greatest healer. He cured an adult who was blind from birth (John 9:30-3).    He made the deaf to hear, the crippled to walk, and cleansed the lepers (Matt. 11 :5). He healed the palsied and cast out demons (Matt. 4:24), and on three occasions He even raised the dead Luke 7:11-17; 8:40-56; John 11:39-44).

     (4) Jesus made messianic claims for Himself which were never made by any other prophet or rabbi (John 5:19-30). Jesus said that like the Father, He Himself had power to give life and that He would be the final judge of men on Judgment Day. He said, "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him" (John 5:23). These are not the sayings of mere rabbis or prophets; they are Messianic claims.

     (5) Jesus was absolutely holy and sinless in His person, His actions, and His standards. He spoke of His own sinlessness: "Which of you convicts Me of sin?" (John 8:46). Even the Roman governor Pontius Pilate confessed Christ's righteousness as he publicly washed his hands in water, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person" (Matt. 27:24).

     (6) He was a friend of sinners, offering them salvation (Luke 7:44-50). Christ was even called by His self-righteous foes "a friend of [the hated] tax collectors and sinners!" (Luke 7:34).

     (7) His ministry alone fulfilled the Old Testament messianic prophecies in Luke 4:16-22.  Christ declared that by preaching the good news of God's forgiveness He was fulfilling Isaiah 61:1. Of history's messianic claimants, only He fulfilled Zechariah 9:9  which said that the Messiah was to enter Jerusalem triumphantly, riding upon a colt (Mark 11:7-11). Even when His own people rejected His ministry, they were fulfilling prophecy (Is. 53:3).

D: He Was Unique in His Death. . He Was Unique in His Death (John 19:16-30)- Though He underwent the greatest. of public indignations as well as physical agonies, Christ's faultless behavior at His death has testified through the ages that "certainly this was a righteous Man!" (Luke 23:47). Nowhere in history or literature is there a nobler account than that of Jesus facing the cross and then dying upon it.

(1) As Messiah He died for His people's sins, fulfilling David's detailed prophecy written a thousand years before (Ps. 22), and that of Isaiah seven hundred years before (Is. 52:13-53:12).  Zechariah, about 450 B.C., foresaw His death as a death by piercing (Zech. 12:10).

(2) Jesus Himself prophesied that He would be put to death, and that His death would be for the sins of many (Mark 10:45; Matt. 16:21).

(3) He died as the Passover Lamb, His innocent blood shed for the sins of mankind (John 1:29). In the breaking of His body and in the outpouring of His blood, He saw the Passover Lamb's atonement at last fulfilled (1 Cor. 11:24, 25).

(4) He died voluntarily, obeying the Father's will: "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself" (John 10:17, 18).  Had He wished to resist His captors He could have summoned twelve legions of angels to fight for Him-but He did not (Matt. 26:52-54)..

(5) God the Father hid His face from the Son at Calvary, for Jesus, though He had never sinned, was at that time bearing the sins of the world (Matt. 27:46; 1 Cor. 5:21).

(6) Even as He endured the agony of crucifixion He publicly asked forgiveness for His enemies: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:24).

(7) His upright and holy conduct at the cross even caused one of the two thieves crucified beside Him to accept Him as Savior and find eternal forgiveness. ,Such was the unique testimony and power of His dying (Luke 23:34-43)

6-E. He Was Unique in His Resurrection (John 20:1-31)-Jesus said, "(lay down My life that I may take il again" (John 10:17). He stands alone among all the other so-called religious leaders of the ages:

He alone was certified by God to be the Christ, by His resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1 :4).

(1) He rose according to the Old Testament prophecies that the Messiah would rise from the dead. "Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption" (Ps. 16:10). The Crucifixion Psalm (Ps. 22), after describing the Messiah's death, speaks of His resurrection: "1 [the resurrected Messiah] will declare Your name [the Father] to My brethren" (Ps. 22:22). The same is true in Isaiah's crucifixion passage (Is. 52:13-53:12). In the middle of Isaiah 53:10, the subject changes from crucifixion to resurrection.

(2) He had prophesied His own resurrection: "From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must ... be killed, and be raised the third day" (Matt. 16:21).

(3) He rose from the dead, although His enemies had made sure that the tomb was sealed and that a guard had been posted against the possible theft of His body (Matt. 27:62-66).

(4) He appeared alive first to a woman. Perhaps He did this to honor those women who had wept and stood by Him, so faithfully and so alone, while the men forsook Him (vv. 1\-19).

(5) His burial bandages were lying undisturbed in the tomb. His body had passed through the bandages that had bound it in death. Grave robbers, in fear of Roman arrest and their own death, would never have taken the time to unwrap a body; nor would His disciples have been so inclined, for fear of the normal putrefaction. Jesus had passed through His wrappings as He had passed through the bonds of death (vv.6-9).

(6) He appeared over and over to His disciples, in various locations over a period of forty days. He displayed the energy of a person in excellent health-not of one resuscitated. He allowed them to examine His wounds, to see that it was He (vv. 27-29).

(7) He arose on the first day of the week (v. 1). Since that day the Christian church has worshiped on the first day of the week to commemorate God's rest from redeeming the world, just as the Old Testament saints observed the Sabbath to commemorate God's rest from creating the world (Ex. 20:8-11).

(8) By Christ's resurrection He became the firstfruits, the basis of our own resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-24).

6-F. He Was Unique in His Ascension (Acts 1:1-9)-Enoch ascended into heaven but did hot die. Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind, but did not die. Jesus, after death, ascended into heaven by the power of His own word, having promised to return.

(1) The ascension of Jesus into heaven, like the taking up of Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kin. 2:11), was a further acknowledgment of God the Father's approval of His teaching ministry and His atoning death on the cross (v. 9).

(2) The fact that He ascended on high supports the truth that He went to be with the Father, rather than that He merely vanished (v. 9).

(3) Christ made a promise, at His ascension, that the disciples would receive power to witness for Him after the Holy Spirit came upon them (v. 8).

(4) Christ expressed a command, at His ascension, that the disciples "shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem [home], and in all Judea [throughout their own nation] and Samaria [in adjoining nations, even though unfriendly], and to the end of the earth" (v. 8). Thus the Great Commission to evangelize was given (Matt. 28:16-20).

(5) Christ ascended into heaven, but night and day He manifests His concern for His own. He stood to receive Stephen, the first Christian martyr, in heaven (Acts 7:55, 56). He stopped the hardened Saul on the Damascus road, and converted him into the apostle Paul (Acts 26:1, 12-18). He appeared years later to the apostle John to reveal to him the contents of the book of Revelation (Rev. 1 :9,10, 18). Now He walks daily among His churches (Rev. 1:20-2:1).

(6) Christ ascended into heaven in order to become our High Priest who, as God the Son, would always answer the prayers of those who call upon Him in faith (Heb. 4:14-16).

(7) Christ ascended into heaven to take His seat at the right hand of the Father and make continual intercession for believers (Heb. 7:25, page 1242; 8:1).

6-G: He Will Be Unique in His Second Coming. "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels", Matthew 16:27.  When Jesus came the first time, angels heralded HIS birth (Luke 2:7-14, ; Heb. 1:6). When He comes the second time, to establish the kingdom and sit upon the throne of David (Is. 9:6, 7),  His angels will accompany Him, "and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matt. 24:29-31).

     Forty days after His resurrection, as He ascended, "two men stood by them [the apostles] in white apparel, who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven'" (Acts 1:10, 11). Thus was the promise again given that Christ alone, of all religious leaders throughout history, should someday return to earth personally and bodily. Buddha, Confucius, and every world leader is gone forever-but the unique Christ is coming again!

     Christ's second coming will:

(1) See Him return, not as the "Lamb as though it had been slain" (Rev. 5:6), but in the power and the majesty of His deity, as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Rev. 5:5).

(2) Raise "the dead in Christ ... Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:16, 17). This is the rapture of the redeemed.

(3) Be "as a thief in the night" (1 Thess. 5:2). "That day and hour no one knows" (Matt. 24:36, 42-44).

(4) Inaugurate the promised millennial kingdom of peace on earth among men, who will be judged (Matt. 25:31, 32) and ruled (Ps. 2:6-12), and among animals, who will live in harmony with mankind and with each other (Is. 11:4-9).

(5) Put away or destroy the forces of evil who will be gathered against Him:

(a) Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:8)

(b) the False Prophet (Rev. 13:1-18)

(c) the evil armies gathered at Armageddon (Rev. 19:17-21)

(d) all evildoers (2 Thess. 1:7-9)

(e) Satan himself, who will be imprisoned (Rev. 19:11-20:14)

(6) Rescue the Tribulation saints (Matt. 24:22, 29-31) and bring about the national conversion of Israel (Zech. 12:9-13:1).

     Christ's second coming may be soon. "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:28).   (These studies will continue)

 

"Rightly Dividing The Word"  Clarence Larkin

Church and Kingdom, IV

     The Church is not a continuation of the "Jewish Dis­pensation" under another name, nor does the Church edifice take the place of the Synagogue. It is because some religious bodies believe that the Christian Church is but another phase of what they call the "Jewish Church," that they insist on a "Ceremonial Ritual" and retain the Priesthood with its altar, vestments, etc., and Temple-like buildings; and call the ordinances of the Christian Church "Sacrifices" and "Sacraments." They also go further and advocate a "State Church," with the Church as the head, and claim that all the Old Testament promises of riches and glory' have been transferred from the Jew to the Church.

The Church is not to be confounded with "The King­dom."

     The Church is compared

          to a "House" (1 Tim. 3: 15),

          to a "Temple" (1 Cor. 3: 16~17),

          to a "Body" (1 Cor. 12:27-31),

          but never to a "Kingdom."

     Christ is the "HEAD" of His Church (Eph. 1: 22; 4: 15; Co1. 1: 18), but He is never spoken of as its KING. The Church is a "MYSTERY" and was first revealed to Paul. Eph. 3: 1-11. The Kingdom was no Mystery. The Old Testa­ment prophets describe it in glowing terms. What they could not understand was, what was to come in between the "Sufferings" and "Glory" of Christ. 1 Pet. 1: 9~12. That is, between the "CROSS" and the "CROWN." That the Gentiles were to, be saved was no Mystery. Rom. 9: 24-30. The "Mystery" was, that God was going to form an entirely "NEW THING" composed of both "JEW" and "GENTILE," to be called the "CHURCH." The purpose of this Dispensation is seen in the "Divine Program" outlined by the Apostle James in his address to the First Church Council held at Jerusalem (Acts 15: 13-18), where he declares that God has visited the Gentiles to "take out of them 'A PEOPLE' for His Name'. 

     The purpose of this Dispensation then is not bringing in of the Kingdom, or the conversion of the

world, but the gathering out of an "elect body," the Church.

While Israel is a "called out body" it is a "National Body," composed exclusively of the descendants of Abraham, but the Church is not a "National Body," for it is not composed of the people of anyone nation, but of individuals from every kindred, people, tribe and nation.

1. THE CHURCH

     The Church is not only a "called out Body," it is the "BODY OF CHRIST." In Eph. 1: 22-23, we read­" And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him (Jesus) to be the 'Head' over all things to the Church which is His BODY." The context shows (vs.20) that this "Headship" was not possible until Jesus had been raised from the dead, and seated at the right hand of the Father. The Church then could not have been in exist­ence before there was a "Head," for God does not make headless things. The Church then is the "Body" of which Christ is the "Head." In 1 Cor. 12: 12-13 we are told how this "Body" is formed: "For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of that one body being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one 'Spirit' (Holy Spirit) are we all baptized into 'ONE BODY,' whether we be Jew or Gentile, whether we be bond or free." From this we see that it is the "Baptism of the Spirit" that incorporates us into the "Body of Christ." That is, there could be no Church until the "Day of Pentecost."

     The fact that the Church is a "Body" made up of "living members" shows that it is not an "Organization" but an "ORGANISM." As the human body is for the manifestation of a Personality, so the Church, the "Body of Christ," is for the purpose of manifesting "His Per­sonality." The only way then the world can see Christ is through His Body the Church.

But the Church is not only the "Body" of Christ, it is to be His BRIDE. At present it is but a virgin espoused. 2 Cor. 11: 2. Some hold that the Church cannot be both the "Body" and "Bride" of Christ, and that the "Bride" st be Israel. But we must not forget that there are "Two Brides" mentioned in the Scriptures, one in the Old Testament, and the other in the New Testament. The one in the Old Testament is Israel, the Bride of Jehovah; the one in the New Testament is the Church, the Bride of Christ. Of hrael it is said-"Thy Maker is thine husband." Isa. 54: 5-8. Because of her Whore­doms, Israel is a cast-off wife, but Jehovah, her husband, promises to take her back when she ceases from her adulteries. Jer. 3: 1-18; Ez. 16: 1-63; Hosea, 2: 1-23, 3: 1-5. She will not be taken back as a "Virgin," but as a "Wife:' But it is a VIRGIN that the Lamb (Christ) is to marry.  So the "Wife" of the Old Testament cannot be the·' Bride" (Virgin) of the New Testament. Again the "Wife" (Israel) is to reside in the earthly Jerusalem during the Millennium, while the "Bride" (the Church) will reside in the New Jerusalem. These distinctions make it dear that Israel cannot be the "Bride" of Christ. As. to the Church being both the "Body" and "Bride" of Christ, we have the type of Eve who was of the "body" of Adam before she became his "bride."

WHO BELONGS TO THE CHURCH?

     If the Church had its origin during the ministry of Jesus Christ and ends at the "Rapture of the Saints" (1 Thess. 4: 14-17), then only those who are saved between those two events belong to the Church. The Old Testament Saints are the "Friends of the Bridegroom," but they are not the "Bride." In Rev. 19: 9 we read, "Blessed are they which are called unto the 'Marriage Supper' of the Lamb." The Bride is not "called" (invited) to her own wedding, she has a place there of her own right. The "called" are the "Guests." The Old Testament Saints will be "Guests," as will also the "Blood-washed Multitude" that come out of the Tribulation, for they are not saved until after the Rapture of the Redeemed. Rev. 7: 9-17.

     Angels and Heavenly Beings will be spectators of the scene, but they cannot be "Guests," as that honor is reserved for those who have been redeemed by the "Blood of the Lamb,"

 

E. THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH

     As we have seen, the Church is not an "Organization" but an "Organism." Therefore it is not a "Social Club," organized and supported solely for the benefit of its members. Neither is it a "Place of Amusement" to pander to the carnal nature of man. Nor is it a "House of Merchandise" for the sale of "Indulgences," or other commodities, whereby the money of the ungodly can be secured to save the penurious church member a little self-­sacrifice. Neither is it a "Reform Bureau" to save the "bodies" of men. The reformation of men is very com­mendable, as are all forms of "Social Service," but that is not the work or mission of the Church. The world was just as full, if not fuller, of the evils that afflict society today, in the days of Christ, but He never, nor did the Apostles, organize any reform agencies. All the great philanthropic and civilizing agencies of the world are "By-Products" of Christianity. We are told in Acts 5: 15, that the people laid their sick in the streets that the "Shadow of Peter" might fall upon them and heal them. But if Peter had spent his time "casting shadows," and neglected his Apostolic work of trying to save the "SOULS" of men, his shadow would have lost its power. Jesus knew that the source of all the evils in the world is SIN, and that the only way to eradicate sin is to Regenerate the Human Heart, and so He gave the GOS­PEL, and the "Mission" of the Church is to carry this Gospel to. the world. "EVANGELISM," not "Social Service," is the "Mission" of the Church. Mark. 16: 15-16.

     The great mistake the Church has made is in appro­priating to herself in this Dispensation the promises of earthly conquest and glary which belong exclusively to Israel in the "Millennial Age." As soon as the Church enters into an "Alliance with the World," and seeks the help of Parliaments, Congresses, Legislatures, Federations and Reform Societies, largely made' up of ungodly men and women, she loses her spiritual power and becomes helpless as a redeeming force.

     When the Church is complete it is to be "caught out" at the First or "Rapture Stage" of Christ's Second Coming. 1 Thess. 4:13-17. After the Rapture the Redeemed are to be judged. Not for sin, but for works. Then comes….

                                 THE MARRIAGE OF THE REDEEMED

     The "Marriage" of the Church is prophetically re­ferred to by Jesus in the Parable of the "Marriage of the King's Son" (Matt. 22: 1-14), and is consummated in Rev. 19: 7-9. "Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him; for the 'Marriage of the Lamb' is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be ar­rayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of Saints. And he saith unto me, write Blessed are they which are called unto the MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB."

     Notice that it does not say the "Marriage of the Bride," but the "Marriage of the LAMB." That grand event will be not so much the consummation of the hopes of the Bride, as it will be the consummation of the plan of God for His Son, arranged for before the foundation of the World. Eph. 1: 4. The "Marriage of the Lamb" is the consummation of the joy of Christ as a MAN. It would not have been possible if Christ had not been born in the flesh. Otherwise it would have been the union of "dissimilar natures" for the "Bride" is of "human origin." This is why Jesus took His "human nature" back with Him to Heaven, and today we have in Heaven the MAN Christ Jesus. 1 Tim. 2: 5.

     While the "Bride" was chosen for Christ "before the foundation of the world," the "espousal" could not take place until Christ assumed humanity and ascended to Heaven as the Man Christ Jesus. There have been many long betrothals, but Christ's has been the longest on record. He has been waiting for His Bride nearly 1900 years, but He will not have to wait much longer. Soon Heaven shall resound with the cry "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him, for the 'Marriage of the Lamb'

is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be ar­rayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of Saints. And he saith unto me, write Blessed are they which are called unto. the MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB."

     Notice that it does not say the "Marriage of the Bride," but the "Marriage of the LAMB." That grand event will be not so much the consummation of the hopes of the Bride, as it will be the consummation of the plan f God for His Son, arranged for before the foundation of the World. Eph. 1: 4. The "Marriage of the Lamb" is the consummation of the joy of Christ as a MAN. It would not have been possible if Christ had not been born in the flesh. Otherwise it would have been the union of "dissimilar natures" for the "Bride" is of "human origin." This is why Jesus took His "human nature" back with Him to Heaven, and today we have in Heaven the MAN Christ Jesus. 1 Tim. 2: 5.

     While the "Bride" was chosen for Christ "before the foundation of the world," the "espousal" could not take place


until Christ assumed humanity and ascended to Heaven as the Man Christ Jesus. There have been many long betrothals, but Christ's has been the longest on record. He has been waiting for His Bride nearly 1900 years, but He will not have to wait much longer. Soon Heaven shall resound with the cry- "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him, for the Marriage of the Lamb is Come." Rev. 19: 7.

     There have been many royal weddings of international interest, where the invited guests and spectators wit­nessed a spectacle magnificent in its appointments, and rejoiced in a union that bound together different nations. But the wedding of the Lamb and His Bride the Church will surpass them all, for it shall unite Heaven and Earth in a bond that shall never be broken, for what God (the Father) shall join together, no man shall ever put asunder, And that union no divorce shall ever break.

II. THE KINGDOM

     It is clear from the Scriptures that God has been try­ing to set up a "visible" Kingdom on this earth ever since the creation of man, to whom He gave dominion. Gen. 1:26-28. But that dominion was lost by the "Fall," and Satan set himself up as the "Prince of this World." Matt. 4:8-10. John 14:30.

     In the "Call of Abraham" God took the first step toward the setting up of a visible Kingdom on this earth, which assumed an outward form in the "Jewish Commonwealth" under Moses, but the plan was blocked by the Jews losing their "National Ex­istence" at the time of the Babylonian Captivity B. C. 606, and the beginning of the "Times of the Gentiles." But when 600 years of the "Times of the Gentiles" had run their course, God again made a move to set up the King­dom, and the angel Gabriel announced to Mary the Birth of the King. Luke 1: 26-33. Thirty years later the King's fore-runner, John the Baptist, announced that the Kingdom was at hand" (Matt. 3: 1-2), and when the King manifested Himself to Israel He Himself made the same announcement (Matt. 4: 17-23), and later He sent out the "Twelve" (Matt. 10: 7), and the "Seventy" (Luke 10: 1-9), to proclaim the same thing. But the King was rejected and crucified, and the setting up of the Kingdom postponed, and the Kingdom took on its "Mystery Form" under the name of the "Kingdom of Heaven."

     There are some who object to what they call the "Postponement Theory," and claim that the Kingdom which was "At Hand" was not an outward visible Kingdom, but a spiritual Kingdom, and that it was not with­drawn but is seen today in "New Born" believers. They base their claim on the fact that the earthly visible Kingdom of Christ could not be set up until after He had suffered and died on the Cross as the Saviour of men, and had risen from the dead, and ascended to the Father and received the Kingdom, and that therefore the offer of an outward visible and earthly Kingdom at that time was not a "bona fide" offer, and that John the Baptist and Jesus must have meant by the "Kingdom of Heaven" something else than an outward visible and earthly King­dom . What are the facts?

      First, that the Old Testament scriptures teach that there is to be an earthly and visible Kingdom over which the Son of Man is to rule (Dan. 7: 13-14,2:34-35,44-45; Jer. 23:5; Zech. 14:9), and we know that at the time of Jesus' birth there was a wide­spread expectation of the coming of the Messiah, and that Simeon and Anna waited in the Temple for the "Consola­tion of IsraeL" Luke 2: 25-38. We are also told that "Wise Men"(astrologers) came from the East to Jerusalem inquiring "Where is He that is born KING OF THE JEWS?" and when they had found Jesus they worshipped Him as KING. Matt. 2: 1-11. There can be no question but that Jesus was born to be a KING. It was not until Jesus was 30 years old that John the Baptist appeared at the Jordan preaching-"Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is AT HAND." Matt. 3: 2. And we are told that his mission was to "Prepare the Way of the Lord." Matt. 3: 3.

     Isa. 40: 3. Prepare the way of the Lord for what? Not for the "Cross" but the "Kingdom." John's message had no meaning to those who heard him and were looking for the setting up of the "Messianic King­dom," if he did not mean by the "Kingdom of Heaven" an outward and visible earthly Kingdom. That John himself so believed is evident from the question he sent his disciples while in prison to ask Jesus-"Art Thou He that should come or do we look for another?" Matt. 11: 3. The fact that Jesus answered John's question by a number of miracles of healing, which are the "signs" of the Messianic Kingdom (Isa. 3S: 1-10), and were proofs of Christ's Messiahship, and told John's disciples to so

would have been wrong, for He is to receive the Kingdom from the FATHER, and not from men. Dan. 7 :13-14. That Jesus did not deny His Kingship of an outward and visible earthly Kingdom is clear from the fact that He accepted the "Hosannahs" of the multitude when He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Zech. 9: 9. John 12: 12-15. And it was as "King OF THE JEWS" He was crucified. Matt. 27: 37. When Pilate asked Jesus-"Art Thou the King of the JEWS?" He evaded the question, but ad­mitted that He was a KING, and to that end had been born, but that His Kingdom was "not of this world," that is, it would be given to Him by God the Father, and therefore would be from Heaven. John 18: 33-37.

     But some one may ask, "What would have happened if the Jews, as a nation, had repented, and accepted Jesus as King, would the earthly Messianic Kingdom have been set up?" Certainly, but not necessarily immediately, for certain Old Testament prophecies as to Jesus' death and resurrection had to be fulfilled, for He had to die for the redemption of the race, before He could assume His office as King. But this could and would have been fulfilled by the Roman Government seizing Jesus and crucifying Him as a usurper, and with Jesus' Resurrection and Ascension, Daniel's 69th week would have terminated, and the 70th week begun without a break, and at its close Jesus would have descended and set up His earthly King­dom.

     But you ask, "What about the Church? If it was God's Eternal Purpose to form the Church (Eph. 1: 4), how could it have been formed if there was no break or gap between Daniel's 69th and 70th week, and how there­fore could there have been a 'bona fide' offer of an earthly Kingdom to Israel?" The question is hypothetical and based on the supposition that something might have hap­pened that God foresaw would not happen. God's foreknowledge that the Jewish nation would not at that time heed the announcement that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand and repent, does not militate against the sincerity of the announcement any more than the offer of spiritual salvation by a preacher of the Gospel to an audience of sinners who he has every reason t6 believe will refuse his offer, is not a sincere and "bona fide" offer.

     God's Plan and Purpose in the Ages is based upon His FORE-KNOWLEDGE. If God had not foreseen that the Jews would reject the King and therefore the King­dom, He would have planned for the formation of the Church at some other time than this present Dispensa­tion. As the Church was to be purchased by the precious blood of Christ (Acts 20: 28, 1 Pet. 1 : 18-21), it was neces­sary that Jesus should be rejected and crucified, and that by His own nation, for the Prophet Zechariah (Zech. 12: 10) foretold that the Jews should look upon Him whom they had PIERCED. But God's foreknowledge did not require or compel the Jewish nation to reject Jesus, any more than Jesus' foreknowledge that Judas would betray Him compelled Judas to so do. The possibility of the Church being crowded out by the repentance of the Jew­ish nation did not enter into the "Plan of God," who fore­saw the refusal of Israel to accept Jesus as King, and that Israel would not nationally repent until after the Church had been formed and taken out of the world.

     In expounding the Scriptures we are not to take Some­thing that belongs to a "PAST" and a "FUTURE" Dis­pensation and put it in the "PRESENT" Dispensation. For instance, "THE KINGDOM." The "PAST" and "COMING" Dispensations have to do with "THE KING­DOM," but the "Present" has to do with the CHURCH. The "Kingdom" is an outward, visible and earthly "POLITICAL ORGANIZATION," and is to be "set up" on the earth (Dan. 2: 44) ; while the "Church" is an in­visible and heavenly "SPIRITUAL ORGANISM" that is to be "caught out." 1 Thess. 4: 16-17. The "Kingdom" was prepared FROM the "Foundation of the World." Matt. 25: 34 ... The "Church" was chosen in Him "BE­IFORE" the "Foundation of the World." Eph. 1: 4. The // "Church" then is not the "Kingdom." See the Chart on     "The Church versus The Kingdom."

     Here we must distinguish between the "Kingdom '0£ God," the "Kingdom of Heaven," and the Church.  The "Kingdom of God" is the "Reign of God" in the Universe over all His created creatures, and includes time and eternity, heaven and earth. It is spiritual and "cometh not with observa­tion." Luke 17: 20, 21. It is entered by the "New Birth," (John 3: 5) ; and is not "meat" and "drink," but "Right­eousness and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost." Rom. 14:17.

     "Kingdom of Heaven" is a New Testament term, and is found in Matthew's Gospel only, where it is men­tioned 32 times. Its character is described in the  "Kingdom of Heaven Parables" given in Matt. 13: 1-50; 18: 23-35; 20: 1-16; 22: 1-14; 25: 1-30.  . From these Para­bles we see that the "Kingdom of Heaven" is limited as to its Time and Sphere.  Its Time is from the First to the Second Coming of Christ, and its Sphere is over that part of the world that we call Christendom.   In the "King­dom of Heaven" there is a mixture of good and evil, of "Wheat" and "Tares," of "Good Fish" and "Bad Fish," of "Wise Virgins" and "Foolish Virgins."

     After the Resurrection of Jesus the hope of an earthly visible Kingdom was revived, and just before His Ascen­sion the Disciples asked Him-"Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?" His reply was   ­"It is not for you to know the 'Times' and 'Seasons' which the Father hath put in His own power." Acts 1: 6-7. Now Jesus did not deny that there was to be a "visible earthly Kingdom," He simply told the Disciples that it was not for them to "know" when it would be set up. If Jesus came simply to set up a "Spiritual" Kingdom in this Dispensation then common honesty demanded that He at that solemn moment when He was about to leave His Disciples and go back to the Father should have dis­abused His Disciples' minds of their false hope, and told them plainly that the Kingdom He came to set up was "Spiritual" and not earthly. But He did nothing of the kind. He left them with the belief that there was to be an "earthly and visible Kingdom" some day.

     The King having been rejected it was impossible then to set up the Kingdom, so the Kingdom took on another aspect known as the "Kingdom in Mystery," described in the twelve "Kingdom of Heaven" parables of Matthew's Gospel. When the Disciples of Jesus said unto Him "Why speakest Thou unto them in 'Parables?'" He re­plied, "Because it is given unto you to know the 'MYS­TERIES' of the Kingdom of Heaven." Matt. 13: 10-11. In verse 35 He gives as His reason for speaking to them in Parables, that it might be fulfilled as spoken by the Prophet-"I Will open my mouth in 'Parables'; I will utter things which have been kept 'SECRET' from the foundation of the world.  -The "Kingdom of Heaven Parables" therefore cannot describe the "Millennial King­dom" for it was no "secret" to the Old Testament Prophets. Neither do they describe a "Spiritual Kingdom," for the figures they use are all of an "earthly" nature. They must then describe the character of the Present Dis­pensation in its earthly aspect during the absence of the King. For a full exposition of these Parables see my Larger Work on "Dispensational Truth."

                        THE KINGDOM IN MANIFESTATION

     Jesus is the "Certain Nobleman" who went into a "Far Country" to receive for Himself a Kingdom, and to return, Luke 19: 12. And when He comes back He will reward His servants, the Jews, and give them author­ity over as many cities as they deserve. Jesus has not yet received the Kingdom. He must finish His High Priestly and Mediatorial work first. Daniel describes the event in Dan. 7: 13-14. The form of Government will be a  "Theocracy." Christ will reign through a "King" or "Prince" called DAVID (Hosea 3: 5 ; J er. 30: 9; Ez. 37: 24; Ez. 34: 24), whose Throne shall be at Jerusalem. The Temple will be rebuilt, and the "Aaronic Priesthood" re­established. Ez. 44: 15-31. There will be a revival of the Land of Palestine (Joel 3: 18), and the length of human life extended. Isa. 65: 20-22. Zech. 8: 4. Far a full description of the Kingdom and the MiIIennium, see my Larger Work an "Dispensational Truth".  (These studies will continue)

 

The Church Institution in Three  Phases in the New Testament

INTRODUCTION: By "three phases" it is not meant three kinds of churches or three faiths, or systems. This means that after the Lord set up His church,

     He personally established, taught, and directed the church while here on earth.

The church was under the care of the inspired apostles and spiritual gifts during their day, while the New Testament was being written, and

     Afterward, the church has been completely furnished unto every good work by the completed Holy Word of God.

     The same divine principles are involved in all three phases but confirmed in a different manner under each of the three phases mentioned. Now, study them in particular.

THE LORD"S CHURCH UNDER HIS PERSONAL DIRECTION

     He personally taught the church His will while here on earth, Acts 1:1,2,20-26 and Matthew 5:1-16.

     During the Lord's personal leadership of His church she was limited in her mission to the Jewish people ONLY, Matt. 10: 5-8.

     The Spiritual gifts given the church then were for this commission ONLY, Matthew. 10: 8. They did not need others that came later, for reasons we will study later.

     Jesus' being with His church then caused them to ask Him directly. They did not pray in His name for things as we do now, John 16:4. Examples:

     They (the disciples) did not need the spiritual gifts of knowledge, prophecy, etc., at that time, since He was with them to supply the need Himself; hence, the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

                  

     They were only going to Jewish people then, therefore, only needed the one language, and not the spiritual gift of languages (tongues) mentioned in I Corinthians 13 and 14.

     His promise to His church before He left the world was that they would receive special, supernatural ability to preach to every creature, nation, etc., and that they were to wait in Jerusalem until He, the Spirit of Truth, gave them this ability, John 14:15-19, 25, 26; 16:5-13; and Acts 1: 4-8.

THE CHURCH UNDER THE APOSTLES AND SPIRITUAL GIFTS

     The Lord had set the apostles in the church to care for and edify her after He was gone. Read I Corinthians 12:27,28 and John 16:12, 13.

     Many believe the twelve were the only members of the church when Jesus died for her, but this is based upon the fact that only the eleven were present when He gave the great commission and instituted the Lord's Supper. However, according to Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 1:22, 23; 3:21, Colossians 1: 18, I Timothy 3: 15, and other passages, the church is the executive of His laws on earth. Then, the fact that the Scripture says that He (Jesus) set the office of apostle "IN the church," reveals that they were only receiving "FOR" the church when they received His teachings, commands, and ordinances. Read I Corinthians 15:5-7.

     The apostles, and the spiritual gifts they had received, established churches in the faith at that time, Ephesians 4:10-16 and Romans 1:11. The apostles were the source of instruction then.

     The apostles gave orders in that day, not like a modem-day bishop, but orders from Jesus Himself. Read I Corinthians 16:1 and II Thessalonians 3:6, 14. The divinely appointed apostles did not, however, abuse church autonomy and authority by this authority; see I Corinthians 9:14, 15. Preachers cannot, however, give churches orders in this day because they are not apostles.

     These brethren, in this office, were trained, tried, tested, and approved of Jesus. They were completely trustworthy men, Acts 4: 33-37. Had there been a selfish trait in those men, this situation would have revealed it. There is no indication that they took advantage of having charge over all the material possessions of the saints at that time. There is record, on the other hand, that they recommended the institution of the office of deacon in order to keep down trouble and solve the material and business matters. Read Acts 6: 1-7.

     Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of Christ, ten days after His ascension, came just as Jesus had promised, Acts 2:1-11. Without trying. to write an exposition on Acts 2, one can safely say that they received what they had been promised by Jesus, and every nation in Jerusalem on that occasion heard the gospel, although these men only knew their native language. The Scripture says that "EVERYONE heard them speak in their own language." How? This was the miracle of that day, that came upon the church, for the preaching of the gospel.

     Attention is given here to some words in these verses that help one to understand them, and to this one time event that took place once and for all upon the church.

     They were all in one place in one accord, verse one. This was a genuine unity.

     There was a sudden sound from heaven "AS OF" a rushing mighty wind. There was no storm, such as a tornado, that took place, but, the words, "AS OF," make the term "rushing mighty wind" figurative. The advent of the Holy Spirit in His special work on this day came as a phenomenon, but His power did what Jesus said He would do, verse 2.

     It filled all the house where they were sitting, verse 2. This is when the church, as such, was baptized with the Holy Spirit. Not as individuals were they filled with Holy Spirit, but the church received this special baptism once and for all; notice Ephesians 4:5.

     And cloven tongues "LIKE AS OF FIRE" appeared unto them. There was no fire on this day. When anything is cloven, it has different kinds of shapes, etc. Picture in your mind a fire with flames shooting high, and the many lapping shapes of shooting flames going out of it. Everyone present in Jerusalem from the sixteen or seventeen different parts of the world mentioned in verses 5-11 heard these brethren preach in the language (tongue) wherein they were born. How could these Galilean brethren do this, having never learned all these languages? Whether one takes the position that the Holy Spirit enabled them to speak the several languages, or, they preached in their own language and the Holy Spirit miraculously interpreted the language into the language of the hearer, either is a miracle, done by the power of God, and a spiritual gift to the church. The writer holds the latter position.

     The church was not in position to go into all the world, to every creature, as she was commanded of Jesus to do. They waited in Jerusalem as He asked, and the promise came.

THE CHURCH IS NOW UNDER THE COMPLETED WORD OF GOD, THE BIBLE, WRITTEN BY WRITTEN BY INSPIRATION

     All supernatural gifts have been done away except faith, hope, and love, I Corinthians 13: 13. Study I Corinthians 12: 1. The subject does not change through chapter 14.

     These explain the purpose of these spiritual gifts in the church's development in the faith.

     The Word of God, believed, preached, taught, and practiced, is God's source of information from which His children get instruction in this age of time, II Timothy 3:16-4:4.

 

     What were the last charge and promise the Lord made to His church before He left?

       Why did Jesus set the office of "apostle" in the church?

     What gifts did the apostles have after pentecost that they did not have before? See I Corinthians 13:8.

Created by DPE, Copyright IRIS 2005     If one will not believe this Holy Spirit inspired truth, by faith, he will not believe by seeing a sign, miracle, or anything else, Matthew 12:38, 39 and Luke 16:30, 31.

     Jesus said He would never leave His church institution, but would "BE WITH THEM ALWAY, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE" (Matthew 28:20). His spiritual presence in the person of the Holy Spirit is meant, but this is not all. We have His inspired Word, the Bible, preserved with tears, toil, blood, work, heartache, persecutions, and great personal sacrifices by His faithful saints through the years since He left to go back to heaven.

     Observe the emphasis placed upon HEEDING hearing and I John 4:6, 12:48, Luke

the .. written Word of God,1 John 4:6; Romans 16:17; 1 Timothy 6:3/5; John 12:48; Luke 6:47-49 and I Peter 1. 24, 25.

     If one will not believe this Holy Spirit inspired truth, by faith, he will not believe by seeing a sign, miracle, or anything else, Mat. 12:38, 39 and Luke 16:30, 31.

     Jesus said He would never leave His church institution, but would "…be with them always….", Mat. 28:20.  His spiritual presence in the Presence of the Holy Spirit is meant, but this is not all.  We have His inspired Word, the Bible, preserved with tears, toil, blood, work, heartache, persecutions, and great personal sdacrifices by His faithful saints through the years since He left to go back to the Third Heaven.

                                 QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW

1. What is meant by "Three phases" of the church institution in the Scriptures?

2. Name them.

3. Why could there be only one local church while Jesus was on earth as her pastor?

4. Give reasons why the church did not need the spiritual gifts of knowledge, prophecy, languages, etc., while Jesus was here.

5. What were the last charge and promise the Lord made to His church before He left?

6. Why did Jesus set the office of "apostle" in the church?

7. What gifts did the apostles have after Pentecost that they not have before? 1 Cor. 13:8.

8. How could the commission be a church commission when it was given to the eleven apostles? Refer back to this point and discuss.

9. How many spiritual gifts remain now?

10. Discuss the importance of believing, preaching, and practicing the Bible in this, our day. How is the work any different now than in the days of the apostles.  (These lessons will continue)

     The editor of this publication is James A. Nelson.  He and his wife are members of the Messiah Baptist Church, Wichita, Kansas.  You may contact him a:  jan@twinvalley.net.  The webmaster is Martin Gutzmer, mrgutzmer@mchsi.com  The sponsor of this page is David Pickett, dr_pickett@hotmail.com.  Your comments are welcomed.

II'