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FORGOTTEN TRUTHS

BY

SIR ROBERT ANDERSON
 
QUESTIONS RAISED
 

THE lapse of time has not effaced from my memory the details of a

conversation of many years ago with a liberal-minded and cultured Jewish

Rabbi. He introduced himself by telling me that he was a student of the

New Testament, and that my friend, the then Chief Rabbi, had

recommended one of my expository books to his attention. “We regard

Jesus as one of the greatest of our Rabbis,” was one of his opening

remarks. And he added, “It was not he that founded Christianity, but your

Paul.” I astonished him by replying that beneath his assertion there lay a

truth which the theology of Christendom had let slip. For the words of the

Lord Jesusfa1 were explicit: “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the

House of Israel”; “Salvation is of the Jews.”

In this connection I cited also the Apostle’s words, that “Christ was a

minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises

made unto the Fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His

mercy.” (<451508>Romans 15:8) And this I explained by reference to the Lord’s

parable of the great supper. “You were the invited guests,” I said, “for to

you pertained the Fathers and the promises, whereas the Gentiles are

beholden to uncovenanted mercy. But though by nature the waifs and

strays of the highways and the streets, grace has given us a place of special

favor and nearness to God.”

The pleasant tenor of a prolonged conversation was interrupted at one

point by an outburst about “the persecutions and cruelties his nation had

suffered from the Christian religion.” This evoked a no less indignant

outburst on my part at his confounding the religion of Christendom with

the Christianity of the New Testament. I assured him that the best Christian

theologians of our own time were free from the ignorance which in other

days claimed for “the Christian Church”fa2 all the promises of the Hebrew

Scriptures, leaving nothing for Israel but the threatened judgments. And I

exemplified my statement by quoting Dean Alford’s scathing words about

the evil history and predicted doom of “the Christian Church.”: I said that

while in the past the Christians seem to have skipped the 11th chapter of

Romans, nowadays we studied it. We recognized, therefore, that the

people of the Abrahamic covenant were “the natural branches” of the olive

tree which symbolizes the position of testimony and blessing upon earth,

and that they would yet be restored to the place they had lost by unbelief;

“for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (<451113>Romans

11:13-29)

This is but an outline of a discussion which ended, as it had begun, in a

most amicable tone and spirit, my companion repeatedly assuring me of the

interest and surprise my words excited in his mind.

But the questions raised and the truths involved are far too large and too

important for treatment here in this incidental fashion; and I proceed to

offer a more definite and systematic statement of them.
 
ETERNAL WORD OF GOD
 

“O THE depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!”

(<451133>Romans 11:33) Such was the burst of praise that rose from the heart of

the inspired Apostle as he realized that the seeming failure of all that

Hebrew prophets had foretold of blessing upon earth at the coming of

Messiah had been made the occasion of a new revelation, which should

lead up to the fulfillment of all their God-breathed words.

“The seeming failure,” I say advisedly. For though theologians have written

“The enlargement of the Church” over such Scriptures as Isaiah 54, 60, 66,

no sane and sensible person will pretend that there exists today, or has ever

existed in the past, a condition of things on earth that could be accepted as

the fulfillment of these prophecies. And to suppose that such a condition of

things will result from the influences at work in the present economy

betokens sheer blindness and folly. The time has come for plain speaking

on this subject. “Clear the decks,” is the first order given when a warship

prepares for action. And the vagaries of old-fashioned “orthodox” exegesis

are top-hamper that grievously embarrasses the defense of Holy Scripture

in these days when its Divine authority is so virulently attacked. As the

inspired Apostle declared at Pentecost, “the times of the restitution of all

things” — or, in other words, the times when all things will be put right —

are the burden of Hebrew prophecy from Moses to Malachi, (<440319>Acts

3:19) and the fulfillment of these prophecies awaits the return of Christ.

The fact is plain to all who will use their brains that the condition of

Christendom and of the world at large differs essentially from what is

portrayed and promised in the visions of the Hebrew Seers. But these “holy

men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” (<610121>2 Peter

1:21) and no word of God can fail. No lapse of time affects it; for in His

sight a thousand years are as a forgotten yesterday, or as a watch in the

night. (<199004>Psalm 90:4) Thus it is that He would teach us that time is but a

law of human thought, and that eternity is His domain.

Therefore, while unbelief dismisses these prophecies as old-world classics,

the Christian accepts them as divine - the Word of God, “which liveth and

abideth for ever.” And this being so, chronology has no bearing on the vital

question here at issue. For we are “not ignorant of this one thing, that one

day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

(<610308>2 Peter 3:8) “Today is the third day since these things were done,” was

the despairing lament of the disciples on the road to Emmaus; but their

unbelief brought upon them the Lord’s rebuke, “O fools, and slow of heart

to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” And when the skeptical

pundits would shake our faith by reminding us that the prophets’ words are

still unfulfilled after the lapse of well-nigh three thousand years, we

exclaim, “Three thousand years! then today is the third day since these

things were spoken!”

Spiritual discernment and ordinary intelligence are needed in the study of

Holy Scripture. Spirituality is the prime essential, for spiritual truths are

spiritually discerned; but common sense, to use the popular phrase, will

generally save us from the follies of false exegesis. And false exegesis, I

repeat, affords a vantage-ground for skeptical attacks on Scripture. To give

an illustration of this, extremely apt in the circumstances of the day, I will

quote a passage from Professor Tyndall’s famous address on “Science and

Man.” Referring to the “Angels’ Song,” he exclaimed, “Look to the East at

the present moment, as a comment on the promise of peace on earth and

good will toward men. The promise is a dream ruined by the experience of

eighteen centuries.” The answer to this taunt is full and clear. The great

birth in Bethlehem heralded the fulfillment of all that God had promised of

blessing to the world. “The times of the restitution of all things,” to quote

the Apostle Peter’s words again, were to come with the advent of Christ.

And now “the Coming One” had come. Why then were not the promised

blessings realized? Why, but because of His rejection. “His own received

Him not,” and “the world knew Him not.” The Christ was crucified on

Calvary. And when the Apostles were divinely commissioned to proclaim

to His murderers that a national repentance would bring Him back to earth,

with the fulfillment of every blessing of which their prophets spoke, the

response made by that guilty people was to persecute the ministers of this

great reconciliation and hound them to death. But it may be asked, Has the

sin of man changed the purposes of God? Most assuredly not. But, on

account of that sin, the fulfillment of the Divine purposes his been

postponed.

This then is the answer which Scripture gives to the skeptic’s taunt. But

very different are the conflicting answers which “old-fashioned orthodoxy”

offers. For some would have us believe that “the millennium” will result

from the preaching of the Gospel in the present dispensation. And by

others we are told that all we have to look for is “the end of the world,”

when the Lord will come to take His people to Himself, and judgment fire

will engulf this sin cursed earth. The former view was popular in the early

days of the nineteenth-century revival; but in the present state of

Christendom in general, and of the Churches of the Reformation in

particular, anyone who clings to it today must be either a mystic or a fossil

I And if the other view be accepted, the closing words of the 11th of

Romans must be dismissed as the wildest rhapsody; for the unsearchable

judgments of Divine wisdom and knowledge are thus made to find their

realization in a pandemonium to be followed by a bonfire 1

This “spiritualizing,” as it is called, of the Hebrew Scriptures has given the

Jew a fair ground for rejecting the Christian’s appeal to the Messianic

prophecies. And thus, as Adolf Saphir says with sorrow, “It is out of the

arsenal of the orthodox that the weapons have been taken with which the

very fundamental truths of the Gospel have been assailed.” And he goes on

to show how “this spiritualistic interpretation paved the way for

Rationalism and Neology.”

Let us then be done with it once for all; and rejecting absolutely the

popular canon of exegesis, that Holy Scripture never says what it means,

and never means what it says, let us learn with humility and reverence to

accept all the Divine words at their face value. When the Lord declared

that not a jot or tittle of the law shall fail of its fulfillment, He was

speaking, not of the decalogue, but, as the context indicates, of the Hebrew

Scriptures as a whole. Remembering, then, that these Scriptures are the

Word of Him with whom both the past and the future are a living present,

let us read them with the settled conviction that every promise, and every

prophecy, relating to earth and the earthly people must be fulfilled as

definitely as were the seemingly unbelievable prophecies and promises

about the birth and death of Christ.

But on this subject our theology, so far from reflecting “the wisdom and

knowledge of God,” partakes of the ignorance and the errors of the

Patristic theologians. Plain words, I repeat, are needed here. For the

writings of the Latin Fathers afford a vantage-ground both for Romish

attacks upon the citadel of Divine truth, and for the insidious efforts of

German skepticism to undermine its very foundations. It is noteworthy that

though the writers of the New Testament, one and all, were men who, like

Timothy, had known the Hebrew Scriptures from infancy,fb1 the Patristic

theologians were converts from Paganism. And having regard to their

comparative want of acquaintance with the Old Testament, it is not

strange, perhaps, that in the then condition of the Jewish people, crushed

apparently beyond hope of recovery by the judgments that had

overwhelmed them, the belief prevailed that God had “cast away His

people whom He foreknew.” But it is both strange and sad that such a

belief should still survive in these enlightened days of ours.

In proof that it does survive, appeal might be made to many a standard

work; but for my present purpose it will suffice to quote the following

sentence from the prolific pen of a writer of the highest repute as a popular

theologian: “The divine and steady light of history first made clear to the

Church that our Lord’s prophetic warnings as to His return applied

primarily to the close of the Jewish dispensation, and the winding up of all

the past, and the inauguration of the last great aeon of God’s dealings with

mankind.”2

If we are to recover truth which the Church, in its incipient apostasy, lost

through following the human light of history, we must seek it by “the

Divine and steady light” of Holy Writ. And that light will make clear to us

that, like many another Scripture, the promise to Abraham has a twofold

aspect. It pointed to Christ and the redemption of Calvary; but it still

awaits its secondary fulfillment through the agency of the covenant people.

“In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (<012218>Genesis

22:18.)fb3 The spiritually intelligent Bible student accepts that promise as

the Word of the Lord, that endureth for ever, and he knows that it will be

literally fulfilled. And he knows also, that this Christian dispensation is not

“the last great aeon of God’s dealings with mankind,” but rather a

beginning of what, in His unsearchable counsels, He has in store for the

blessing of this sin-blighted world.

That glorious vista of future blessing, which filled so large a place in the

visions of the Hebrew Seers, was but the unfolding of the prophecy of the

sacred calendar. For the Passover is only the first of the great Festivals

which typify the harvest of redemption. This present dispensation with its

sheaf of the first-fruits,fb4 the true, the heavenly Church, is to be followed

by the Feast of Pentecost, when Israel reunited — the two wave loaves of

the typical ritual — will be restored to Divine favor. And beyond these

spring-time festivals there comes the harvest-home of redemption upon

earth, in the fulfillment of the great Feast of Tabernacles, when

unnumbered multitudes of the saved shall know and serve the Lord.

This is no “cunningly devised fable,” no mere dream of a visionary; it is a

summary of what Scripture plainly teaches. And, rejecting the unworthy

figment that earth is merely a recruiting-ground for heaven, to be given up

to fire when the Church has been safely garnered, faith looks out with joy

upon this glorious vista of the future, when the Abrahamic promise shall

receive complete fulfillment, and Christ “shall see of the travail of His soul,

and shall be satisfied.”

It is in this spirit and on these principles that the present inquiry shall

proceed. And the nature and scope of the inquiry may be stated thus’ What

light does Scripture throw upon the abnormal condition of things on earth

during this age, when “the people of the covenant” are in rejection? And

what are the distinctive truths of Christianity, or, in other words, the

special “mystery” truths of the New Testament revelation?

As this word “mystery” will occur again and again in the following pages,

it may be well to explain that it is here employed in its Scriptural

acceptation, as signifying “not a thing unintelligible, but what lies hidden

and secret till made known by the revelation of God.”fb5 Or as Dr. Sanday

gives it, “something which up to the time of the Apostles had remained

secret, but had then been made known by Divine intervention.”
 
GRACE ENTHRONED
 

IT is extraordinary that any student of Scripture can miss the clearlymarked

difference between the gospel of the opening clause of the Epistle

to the Romans, and the gospel specified in the characteristically “Pauline”

postscript at its close.

“Sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,” were among the

multitudes who heard the Divine amnesty proclaimed at Pentecost. And it

was “to Jews only” that in those early days the word of that gospel was

preached. (<441119>Acts 11:19) In Rome therefore, as elsewhere, Jews and

proselytes constituted the nucleus and rallying center of the Church. And

we read the Epistle to the Romans amiss, if we fail to recognize what an

important place its teaching accords to those Hebrew Christians. The word

which had won them to Christ was that “gospel of God which He had

promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son

who was born of the seed of David.” Language could not more definitely

indicate that it was the fulfillment of the hope of every true Israelite. Hence

his words to the “Chief of the Jews” in Rome’ “For the hope of Israel I am

bound with this chain.” (<442820>Acts 28:20) And, as already noticed, his

answer to the charge on which he was imprisoned was that his preaching to

the Jews was based entirely on the Law and the Prophets. (<442622>Acts 26:22)

Such, then, was the burden of his ministry to his own people, a ministry he

shared with all his brethren. But to Gentiles he preached a gospel which he

had received by special revelation. And the specific purpose of his third

visit to Jerusalem was to communicate that gospel to the other Apostles.

(<480202>Galatians 2:2) In writing to Timothy he speaks of it as “the gospel of

the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” It was the

precious deposit which, on the eve of his martyrdom, he handed back, as it

were, to the God who had entrusted it to him. (<550112>2 Timothy 1:12) And

this is the “My gospel,” of the postscript to his Epistle to the Romans.

(<451625>Romans 16:25, 26)fd1

Here are his words’ “Now to Him that is able to stablish you according to

my gospel, even the preaching of Jesus Christ according to a revelation of

a mystery kept in silence through times eternal, but now manifested, and by

prophetic writings according to the commandment of the Eternal God

made known to all the nations unto obedience of faith” (or “obedience to

the faith”).fd2

It was in grace that God made promise to Abraham and granted him the

covenant. But on the faithfulness of God it is that we rely to keep His

promise and to fulfill His covenant. It is of his “kinsmen according to the

flesh” that the Apostle speaks in the opening words of Romans 9. And of

them, the Israelites, he says, “Whose is the adoption and the glory, and the

covenants and the giving of the law, and the service of God and the

promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh,

Christ came.” And it was as “sons of the covenant” that the gospel was

preached to them at Pentecost. (<440325>Acts 3:25) “The promise is to you and

to your children,” the Apostle testified; (<440239>Acts 2:39.)fd3 for to them

belonged the gospel of the covenant. But to the Gentiles, who were”

strangers from the covenants of promise,” (<490212>Ephesians 2:12) was

preached the gospel of grace — the gospel of the “mystery” truth, that

grace was “reigning through righteousness unto eternal life.”

The covenants and promises to the Patriarchs neither exhausted nor limited

the grace of God to men. And though “grace came by Jesus Christ,” it was

restrained during all His ministry on earth. “I have a baptism to be baptized

with (He exclaimed), and how am I straitened till it be accomplished.” Not

till Divine righteousness was manifested in the death and resurrection of

Christ, could Divine grace be fully and openly revealed. That there was

forgiveness for the earnest seeker after God is not a distinctively Christian

truth at all. It was always so. But the revelation of grace enthroned far

transcends all that earlier ages knew. A parable may explain what that

revelation means. “The Lord’s day”fd4 is one of our national institutions

(for England is still a Christian country). And under English law that day is

a day of grace, on which no court of justice can deal with criminals. Let

their crimes be never so heinous, they cannot even be arraigned until the

day of grace is over. And the present age is God’s great day of grace; “He

knoweth how… to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be

punished.” (<610209>2 Peter 2:9)

We have a Divine commentary upon this from the lips of Christ Himself,

when, on that Sabbath day in the synagogue of Nazareth, He stood up to

read the 61st chapter of Isaiah, and stopped in the middle of its opening

sentence. The record tells us that having uttered the words “He sent

me…to preach the acceptable year of the Lord,” He closed the book and

sat down. And then, in reply to the wondering looks of all the hearers, “He

began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

(<420416>Luke 4:16-21) “And the day of vengeance of our God” are the words

that follow without break or pause, but He left those words unread. For till

“the acceptable year of the Lord” has run its predestined course, the

coming of “that great and terrible day of the Lord” is, through Divine longsuffering,

delayed. In view of the rejection and death of the Son of God,

the only possible alternatives were the doom of Sodom or the mercy of the

gospel; and mercy triumphed.

The Indian Mutiny was followed by an amnesty. And so long as that

amnesty remained in force, the honor of the Sovereign and Government of

Britain was pledged to the rebels that on laying down their arms they

would receive a pardon, instead of having their treasonable acts imputed to

them. And during this day of grace, God is “not imputing unto men their

trespasses.” Nay, more than this — for Divine grace surpasses every

human parallel — He is pleading with them to accept the gospel amnesty.

These amazing truths are well-nigh unbelievable. And yet behind them lies

another truth that is still more wonderful: the Divine prerogative of

judgment has been delegated without reserve or limit to the Lord Jesus

Christ; and He is now “exalted to be a Savior.”

And this is the solution of the crowning wonder of a silent heaven. God is

silent because the gospel of His grace is His last word of mercy, and when

again He breaks the silence it must be in wrath. The moral government of

the world is not in abeyance, and men reap what they sow; but all direct

punitive action against sin awaits the day of judgment. For in virtue of the

Cross of Christ the throne of God has become a throne of grace. And the

silence of heaven will be unbroken until the Lord Jesus passes to the throne

of judgment.

In the ages before Christ came, men may well have craved for public proofs

of the action of a personal God. But in the ministry and death and

resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, God has so plainly manifested, not

only His power, but His goodness and love-toward-man, that to grant

evidential miracles, now, would be an acknowledgment that questions

which have been for ever settled are still open. Moreover, miracles of

another kind abound. For in recent years the gospel has achieved triumphs

in heathendom, which transcend anything recorded in the Acts of the

Apostles. And infidelity is thus confronted by surer proofs of the presence

and power of God than any miracle in the natural sphere could offer. For

miracles in the natural sphere are not necessarily a proof of Divine action’

they are the lure by which some of the demon cults of the present day

ensnare their dupes; and the time may be near when such signs and

wonders will abound.

While therefore we dare not limit what God may do in response to

individual faith — for there is a gift of faith — to claim a sign is to tempt

God, and to leave ourselves open to be deceived by the seducing spirits of

these last days.fd5

This truth of grace enthroned may be called the basal truth of the

distinctively Christian revelation. And yet, in common with certain other

truths of that revelation, it was lost in the post-apostolic age. The writings

of the Patristic theologians will be searched in vain for a clear enunciation

of it. And though it flashed out like April sunshine at the Reformation, it

soon disappeared again. And, needless to say, the Romish system is a

flagrant and open denial of it.
 
THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST
 

THE Bible has suffered more from Christian exponents than from infidel

assailants. The prophets of Israel, “moved by the Holy Spirit,” spoke with

united voice of a time when righteousness and peace would triumph and

rule upon the earth; but “old-fashioned orthodoxy” interpreted their

glowing periods much as an American crowd interprets the rhodomontade

of political stump orators at election times! And thus the sublime words of

the Hebrew Scriptures are supposed to find their fulfillment in the history

of Christendom. They are read as referring to us and to our own age. And

after us, the deluge! What wonder is it that sensible men of the world are

skeptical both about the past predictions and the coming deluge! On this

system of exegesis, for example, the sublime flights of Isaiah, when

reduced to sober prose, find their realization — I repeat the phrase — in a

pandemonium and a bonfire! This nightmare system of interpreting Holy

Scripture makes the sacred pages seem to unbelief a hopeless maze of

mysticism.

As we open the New Testament narrative we read that “In those days came

John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent,

for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” And “when John was east into

prison,” the Lord Himself took up this same testimony, “Repent, for the

Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (<400301>Matthew 3:1, 2; 4:17) Now the only

meaning these words can bear, is that the time was at hand when heaven

would rule upon earth,fe1 a hope which, as the inspired Apostle declared at

Pentecost, was the burden of Hebrew prophecy. But, as we have seen, the

fulfillment of that hope has been postponed owing to the apostasy and sin

of the Covenant people. And, because of its postponement, it has dropped

out of the creed of Christendom; albeit Christendom, million-mouthed,

daily recites the words the Lord Himself has given us with which to pray

for its fulfillment — “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is

done in heaven.” With the vast majority of Christians that prayer is merely

a pious incantation; but the words are His own, and they shall be realized

to the full. And yet, “in our covert atheism” — to borrow a phrase from

Charles Kingsley — those who cherish this belief are commonly regarded

as fanatics.

Indeed the skeptical crusade which masquerades as “Higher Criticism”

began with the assumption that God must be a cipher in the world which

He Himself created; and so every book of Scripture which records any

immediate Divine intervention in human affairs had to be got rid of. But the

atheist, who is more intelligent and logical than these “Christian” pundits,

triumphantly points to the absence of all such intervention as proof that

there is no God at all And the majority even of real Christians are quite

indifferent to the amazing mystery of a silent heaven. “The mystery of

God” it is called in Scripture; and the time is foretold when “the mystery of

God shall be finished.” (<661007>Revelation 10:7) And, as the Seer declares,

when that time comes, “great voices in heaven” will proclaim that “the

sovereignty of this world is become the sovereignty of our Lord and of His

Christ, and He shah reign.” And God will then do that which the thoughtful

wonder He does not do now and always, “He will give their reward to His

servants and to His saints and to all that fear His name, and He will destroy

them that destroy the earth.” (<661115>Revelation 11:15-18)

The first act in that awful judgment drama will include the doom of the

professing Church on earth. (<661902>Revelation 19:2) And when a mighty voice

proclaims that “God hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand”

— the unnumbered myriads of the martyrs — all heaven raises its

hallelujah. And the Seer adds: “I heard as it were the voice of a great

multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty

thunderings, saying, Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

(<661906>Revelation 19:6)

But both the judgment of the Harlot and the restoration of the Covenant

people await the close of the reign of grace. For, as we have seen, so long

as grace is reigning, not only can there be no punitive action against human

sin, but there can be no distinction made between one class of sinners and

another. “There is no difference, for all have sinned”: (<450322>Romans 3:22,

23) “There is no difference, for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich

unto all that call upon Him.” (<451012>Romans 10:12, 13) These are the

principles of the reign of grace.

But did not the Lord Himself declare that “salvation is of the Jews “? And

did He not say, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of

Israel”? How, then, can we reconcile statements so conflicting? This

question has been already answered on a preceding page. Grace in its

fullness is a “mystery” truth that could not be revealed until the Covenant

people had lost their vantage-ground of privilege. But the same Scripture

which records their “fall” declares with explicit definiteness that the

economy resulting from that fall is abnormal and temporary; and that when

the Divine purposes relating to this present age have been fulfilled, the

covenant people shall be restored and “all Israel shall be saved.” (Romans

11)fe3

It is as clear as light, therefore, that this Christian dispensation differs as

essentially from the future as it does from the past. I have sought to pillory

the belief that earth is merely a recruiting-ground for heaven; but in a sense

this characterizes the present age, marked, as it is, by failure and apostasy,

and ending, as it will, in judgment. But it was not a forecast of

“Christendom religion” that evoked the outburst of praise with which the

dispensational chapters of Romans end. As the Apostle’s spiritual vision

became filled with the truth of a glorious heavenly purpose which God

would accomplish in spite of sin and failure, he exclaimed, “O the depth of

the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable

are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!”

And that purpose is revealed in “the mystery of Christ,” which finds its

fullest unfolding in the “Captivity Epistles”fe3 — “the mystery which from

all ages hath been hid in God” — namely, that sinners of earth are called to

the highest glory of heaven in the closest possible relationship with Christ.

The bridal relationship and glory of the heavenly election from the earthly

people of the covenant might well seem the acme of everything to which

redeemed humanity could ever rise; but this crowning “mystery” of the

Christian revelation speaks of a bond more intimate and a glory more

transcendent. The figure of the Bride betokens the closest union, but

absolute oneness is implied in the figure of the Body.

Some people regard the Old Testament as entirely superseded by the New,

forgetting that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable. And others

again regard the New as merely an unfolding of the Old, forgetting that it

reveals distinctively Christian truths of which no trace can be found in the

Hebrew Scriptures. And in this category is “the mystery of Christ.” The

Apostle’s words could not be more explicit: “By revelation He made

known unto me the mystery which in other ages was not made known unto

the sons of men.” (<490303>Ephesians 3:3, 5)

This amazing climax of the New Testament revelation of grace is dragged

into the mire by the Church of Rome, trading as it always does on the

teaching of the Latin Fathers, who claimed for the professing Church all

that pertains to the true and heavenly Church. The Body of Christ is a truth

of practical import for the Christian, profoundly influencing his personal

life on earth, and his relationships with his fellow Christians. But yet “the

Church which is His body” is not on earth, nor can it have a corporate

existence until all the members are brought in, and the Divine purpose

respecting it is accomplished.

The parallel of the bridal relationship of the heavenly election out of Israel

may teach us a lesson here. For it is not until the future age of the

Apocalyptic visions that the Bride is displayed, and her marriage takes

place.fe4 In like manner the consummation and display of the Body

relationship awaits the coming of the Lord. For in the Divine purpose it is

entirely for the glory of our Lord and Savior that these elect companies of

the redeemed are given positions of special nearness; and therefore the

element of display has prominence.