(About the origin of The Prophetic Telegraph. It was on 8th June 1986 that I was sitting in the lounge reading the local newspaper, when my 17 year old daughter Esther said, “Daddy, what’s that you’re reading? Is it The Prophetic Telegraph?” Turning to the back page, where she was looking, I saw the title in Old English characters – The Property Telegraph. We all laughed. But as the day wore on the thought came to me that I should use her title in a series of articles based on my Biblical research and the talks I was giving in our Home Church. That is how it all started, and initially the articles were sent out by post, but later, as computing became widely used, they were sent by email, and now on my Website as well. And so I still retain the title.)
It is commonly understood and generally accepted that large chunks of original truth were lost in the dark ages that followed the first century A.D. Precious jewels of knowledge vouchsafed to mankind by our Saviour, and later by His apostles through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, were thrown to the ground and trampled underfoot by human agencies acting under the influence of dark cosmic intelligences. But men were not generally even aware that they were being used as the tools of Satan in this respect. However, the Apostle John, with keen spiritual intelligence, saw the workings of this in the earliest days of Christianity when he said, “You have heard that antichrist is to come. But already many antichrists have already arisen.” And then he said, “They went out from us, because they were not of us.” (1 Jn.2:18-19) Some of the most powerful destructive agencies of God’s truth have emanated from WITHIN the church. This is an important understanding which cannot be emphasised enough. Our Lord said on one occasion, that the enemy sows his tares AMONGST the wheat, and for what purpose? Is it not to destroy the very ground in which the wheat grows, in other words, the whole foundation structure of our faith?
So the darkness grew. In A.D.58 Paul said farewell to the Ephesian elders, and with a deep groan warned them that after his departure “grievous wolves would enter in, not sparing the flock.” (Acts.20:29-30) He went on to say, “Also of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Just ten years later in A.D.68, when writing to Timothy, he said, “All those in Asia have turned away from me.” (2 T.1:15) He spoke of “Perilous times ahead”.(N.B. perilous = KALEPOS in Greek, and is only found elsewhere in Matt.8:28, where it describes the two men in the tombs who were so ‘exceedingly fierce’ that none might pass that way.) He spoke of people “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.” (2 T.3:1,5) and others who “turn their ears from the truth and listen rather to fables.” (2 T.4:4) and when he was called upon to make his defence before the Roman authorities, he said, “No man stood with me; all forsook me.” Just two years later in A.D.70 the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem under Titus, and the Jewish nation was dispersed throughout the Roman world. The darkness deepened. The precious truths of the New Testament era were preserved and transmitted secretly, just as they are in some oppressive countries today.
Years, decades and centuries rolled by. Gradually a great ecclesiastical system emerged which purported to be the depository of truth, transmitted by apostolic succession from Peter. But this was counterfeit, a pompous caricature of all that our Lord originally vouchsafed to His disciples. The true faith hardly surfaced, and this is why little if anything is found about it in the history books. It was the way of life of the underground church, the remnant church, who with quiet faith, confidence, and persistence kept the gospel flame alive, and by prayer overcame the darkness of their day. This is not to say that the outward visible church contained NO true men of God. Far from it. But theirs was not an easy ride. The history books are replete with stories of bestiality and inhumanity inflicted upon them, not by the world, but by entrenched sacerdotalism. Of such men and women, “this world is not worthy.”
Fifteen centuries rolled by before any major crack appeared in this outward system. But the Reformation must be understood in the right way, and not made into a new god. Certain brands of short-sighted evangelicalism would see the Protestant Churches as the bastions of “TRUTH”, as against the Roman system as the “LIE”, but this is far from the case. The Reformation was an explosion within the established system which sent fragments of itself throughout the world. Many of these fragments differed only slightly from the mother body. And although they were now islands instead of being part of the Roman mainland, they were not, by virtue of this, an expression of complete restoration to pristine apostolic Christianity. To view the Reformation in such a light is to perpetuate the falsehood that Christ’s church may be identified with this or that ecclesiastical movement. In fact, the true church, the Body of Christ, is the organic body of all true believers, and God alone knows just who they are, and when He comes again, He will call upon His angels to gather them together from the four winds of heaven. Some will be drawn from this church, and some from that, and some from no recognised establishment at all. This is the true church, the underground church, the church that has no name, receives little publicity, and is often largely unknown except by the persecution it receives.
Since the Reformation, the Protestant island churches, as fragments of the explosion, have themselves broken up again into many smaller fragments. Indeed there are now so many small pieces that it would be difficult to count them. None of these fragments represents Christ’s church, though (as we said before) members of the Body of Christ will be found in most if not all of them. How can we understand this progressive shattering of the parent bodies? The spiritual achievements of the Reformation may be seen from heaven as the outcome of spiritual warfare between agencies of light and darkness, and members of the true underground church were waging war on the Satanic darkness through their prayers. The Reformation, which started in 1517 and has been going on ever since, may be seen as the visible outcome of that warfare. Each new facet of truth recovered represents a battle won by the saints of the Most High God. But each new piece of truth became the ‘stone of stumbling’ between the various church members, and this was the cause of the progressive splitting. The results may seem on the surface to be sad, because they reflect the hard-heartedness of humankind to dwell together in peace and love, but on the other hand they also show the fact that a continuing warfare was being waged, and it was also being won! And that is good news indeed.
However, in recent years quite a new thing has transpired. Rome, the old parent body, itself appears to have ‘rediscovered’ a facet of early truth, instead of grinding on inexorably without any change. The “Catholic Charismatic Movement” has demonstrated to the world that the baptism of the spirit and the miracle gifts are just as much part of their spectrum as any of the Protestant churches, and it has caused the rest of the so-called “Christian world” to stop in its tracks and take stock of what it means. The outcome of this happening gave a great boost to the Ecumenical Movement, which had been seeking to bring together all the scattered fragments, and enabled the Protestant churches to extend hands of friendship and fellowship to the Church of Rome. And Rome was more than willing to cooperate, because once this movement has gained the momentum it sought, the Pope would once again be recognised as the head of the whole world church. Whether the rest of the ‘fragments’ altogether favour or desire that, is beside the point. Rome has repeatedly stated that it will not give way on any single issue of its creed. That which began as a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individual believers within the Catholic communion, has subsequently been seized upon by the enemy as a means of authenticating the ‘system’, and he seems to have gained considerable ground.
But let us emphasise again the difference between the true church and the visible organisation of churches. The whole visible system is described in Revelation as Babylon, (not just the Roman church, as many would have us believe). And God repeatedly calls to his children to “come out of her and be not partaker of her sins.” And this does not necessarily mean the physical departure of believers from all the churches where they have fellowship (though some might even recommend that). Rather does it mean the establishing of an individual walk with God, and the building up of a spiritual strength which can, if necessary, resist any external pressure to capitulate. No man can walk by faith whilst leaning upon his brother. No man may hang his coat upon another’s hook. There is but ONE NAIL IN A SURE PLACE, and that is God Himself, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Fellowship between believers is good, wholesome, and essential to our Christian growth, but leaders who arrogate to themselves awesome positions of self- importance, in fact usurp the rightful place of our ONE MEDIATOR, and this is a great offence in the sight of God. Likewise, congregations who allow such leaders to operate without question become flocks of stupid sheep who fail to maintain the identity of the ONE TRUE SHEPHERD.
We have been looking at two things working alongside each other in this article, the new truths that are emerging, and the conflicts within the churches. It will now be profitable to look more closely at the aspects of this new truth, beginning with the Reformation epoch. Luther was the first man to be closely associated with the rediscovery of what is “justification by faith.” This bright ray of sunshine shone strongly in the 16th century, against a background of “justification by works.” Let no one diminish the glory of the new truth whereby the vilest of sinners is made clean by one repentant look at the dying Son of God at Calvary. The Protestant world is now awash with music of praise because of this discovery, as each and every hymn writer strains to express his joy for others to share, and it is indeed a great part of our Christian heritage.
But the Reformation produced obscurity as well as light. Because of the Roman dogma that favoured a ‘works-based-salvation’ the new movements of the Reformation treated anything of this nature as anathema. Ever since then there has been a deep misunderstanding about the nature of ‘faith-works’ and the rewards that God gives at the end of our course. Some Protestants cannot see anything but a grace-gift, and vigorously oppose everything to do with a doctrine of rewards. But the New Testament is full of allusions to reward, and therefore such Protestants have emphasised one truth and soft-pedalled another in the process.
So there is more truth to recover in this direction. But the almost universal misuse of the word GOSPEL does not help us in finding it. The Greek word EUANGELION means “GOOD NEWS” and it would appear that many have failed to appreciate just how wonderfully great the GOOD NEWS is. When Paul referred to ‘the Gospel of the grace of God’ he was speaking of all that Jesus accomplished at Calvary. Have we appreciated how vast that work was? And if the ‘gospel of God’s grace’ is the beginning of God’s works in man, then the ‘gospel of the Kingdom’ is the outcome. This was the joy that was set before the Son of God, whereby He endured the cross, for the joy of bringing many sons to glory in the Kingdom. These two aspects of the gospel must not be confused. The good news of God’s grace speaks of the free gift of life to the repentant sinner, “not by works, lest any man should boast.” The good news of the Kingdom speaks of rewards obtained at the end of a life of faith, when Jesus says, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’ The gospel of God’s grace cannot in any way be equated with rewards, otherwise grace is no longer grace. But our position in the Kingdom depends upon our faith-works, and in this respect, rewards and disappointments are inevitable. But one word of caution.‘Works’ must not be equated with the sweat of human toil and endeavour, but rather with a walk of faith, and this is clearly exemplified in the lives of O.T. saints, and recorded in Hebrews chapter 11.
Consequent upon the Reformation came the understanding of Eternal Life for those who believe. Eternal Life was understood to be God’s gracious gift to those who believe, a gift of pure grace, as we said before, “not by works lest any man should boast.” (Eph.2:9) The Reformers were hot in their preaching that there was nothing we could do to have this life. And so greatly did they argue their case, against the background of Rome with its indulgences, that the whole truth suffered by the exaggeration of one of its parts. Furthermore, the Reformers, even those who were Greek scholars, did little research on the word translated ‘eternal’ (AION) and easily fell into the trap of equating it with ‘everlasting.’ Had they done this research, they would have saved us today from the terrible misconceptions that abound in the churches, not so much about eternal LIFE, as about eternal PUNISHMENT. The over-indulgent thrill of excitement about ‘eternal life’ had inadvertently obscured an attendant truth of no less importance. More about this in due course.
Gradually the hope of the second coming of Christ began to dawn upon believers. This was a great recovery indeed, and we are now able to see that this “blessed hope” and expectation was a sure goal for the early church, and pervaded all the writings of the New Testament. So great was the joy of believing in the Saviour’s return that many of them gladly, but painfully, endured the most bestial tortures for their faith. Stephen, the first martyr, called out saying, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56) It was as though Jesus had arisen from His seat to come in judgment. A few minutes later he was to stand before his Lord and Master, there to be rewarded for his bravery and courage, having made a good confession of faith. But today the truth of the second coming does not attract the same attention amongst believers, and with many it certainly does not express itself as the daily yearning and hope that the early church possessed.
Around the turn of the century came the experimental knowledge of the baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Although there were what might be called sporadic outbreaks of this throughout history, most people think of the events that followed the happenings at Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California, and the rise of the Pentecostal Churches in this land. (Elim & A.O.G.) Only during this century have we found the widespread operation of power gifts in the churches, and it was to be expected that the new truth would cause yet further splits in an already fragmented church. Having gained some momentum in the years from 1920 to 1960, the neo-pentecostals (as they have been called) spearheaded the massive, excitable, and surging Charismatic-Renewal movement that now extends right across the world, and is said to be the fastest growing church movement of this century. Although many still view the whole episode with intense distrust, more and more are becoming aware that God is the Author of the outpouring, and therefore “new truth” is with us.
But here again, the recovery of lost truth has led to the veiling of something else. Almost without exception, the Pentecostals are indeed “Pentecostals.” In other words they see and interpret this movement of God in terms of what they have read in the Book of Acts. They look upon the gifts as a restoration of the early church, a recovery of something lost, and speak about “getting back to Pentecostal-style Christianity.” They fail to appreciate that “Our God is marching on”, as the old song puts it. Pentecost was a magnificent event in history, a non-repeatable event, something that God performed once and once only. But some might protest and say, “We have the same gifts, and the same baptism of the spirit, so why is it not Pentecost again?” To use a simple analogy, just because a wheelbarrow, a bicycle, and a car all use wheels for their mode of movement, it by no means suggests that they are identical! The purposes of God in the days in which we now live are quite different to those of nearly 2000 years ago. At Pentecost God was equipping and founding His church in its infancy. Today God is winding up the affairs of the church prior to the manifestation of the Kingdom of God. It would be more appropriate to speak of the approach of Tabernacles now, not Pentecost.
None of us is able to say just how much “gospel” there is or will be, and perhaps there never will be an end to the revelations of a mighty God, as successive ages roll on. Undoubtedly God has many more plans, more secrets to reveal, for the good and development of those whom He has created, whether they be human beings or angels. And some of God’s children have been exercised of recent years by the way in which the Holy Spirit has been opening out the understanding, and expressing new revelations, some of which are then seen (once again) to be as old as the hills, but have been lost through the dark ages. And it has been thrilling to find that, as a result of such revelations, documents are coming to light which speak the same things from way back, thereby to make a link across the centuries. These are very exciting days, and it is as though God is on the point of opening vast flood-gates of understanding for all His people.
But the question then presents itself, just how many will be glad, how many will be receptive, how many will want their ‘neat little package’ untied to make room for more? Some brethren have already tried to share new things with other believers, because they know that God always gives His gifts, not to be kept for personal pleasure, but for the building up and edification of the whole Body of Christ. The trouble is that very often this produces quite the opposite to the intended effect. Instead of a building up process taking place, fragmenting occurs. Ostracism, dis-fellowshipping, cries of heresy and teaching of demons, these become the responses of some. And this barrage of hostility comes mainly from WITHIN the established churches rather than from outside. Sadly it seems to be a repeat of what happened in Paul’s day. He was given sacred secrets, or ‘mysteries’ never before revealed to man, and it was his joy to make these available to all those evangelised. The Jews, to whom the message had first to go, vehemently rejected it, trying their best to stamp it out. Apart from a thin scarlet cord, a remnant, this is still the Jewish line. But the Gentiles, who possessed no ‘established traditions’ were on the whole glad to receive the good tidings when Paul preached. In this manner the mainly Gentile church was established throughout the then known world.
What is the nature of the new outpouring? What new truths are being vouchsafed to the church? Jesus said that every man trained in the ways of the Kingdom would bring forth out of his treasures things old and things new. If we state briefly some of these areas of understanding, we recognise that it will cause misunderstanding to some, and fear to others, and even outrage, but truths cannot be hidden. No light may logically be placed beneath a bushel. Jesus said that the things He had told the disciples in secret, they were to shout from the rooftops. And in due course they did! Likewise today the principles are the same, and it seems that the time is now right, and for those who have ears to hear and hearts to understand, who knows how much more will added unto them? If the statements here made are going to cause turmoil, then we hope that the turmoil will replace complacency, for out of the turmoil will come the vision that there are even more rungs to the great ladder of enlightenment, rungs that hitherto have been shrouded in mist and clouds. But as God causes those clouds to rise, the rungs become apparent, and the new body of truth is for the joy, benefit, and rejoicing of the whole Body of Christ.
1. THE FOUNDATION STONE OF BELIEF. This is justification by faith. Jesus also referred to it as being ‘born again’, a spiritual rebirth as definite as ordinary human birth. The one who looks to the Lord Jesus, and His death at Calvary, and repents of his sins is granted NEW LIFE, is released from the bondage of sin and death, and is ready to walk by faith. Although this will not be ‘new’ to many, it has to be stated here as a basis on which other things can be expressed.
2. THE SUPERSTRUCTURE. God provides us with a pattern of good works on which to walk. This is the walk of faith, and requires obedience, courage, and activity on the part of the believer. All this will ultimately be assessed by the Lord, and tested by fire. If we build using ‘gold, silver, and precious stones,’ they will become our reward, but if we use ‘wood, hay, and stubble’ then we shall find to our embarrassment that we have nothing left. Only the foundation stone will remain. That cannot be taken away. Many of the parables of the Kingdom have to do with this process of Christian living. Rewards and punishments are there spoken of, and show that we have to make proper use of ‘talents’ that are given to us in order to gain a reward.
3. THE PURPOSE OF THIS BUILDING. The superstructure mentioned above must not be confused with the building of a spiritual temple out of individual believers. Although both subjects have attracted the same symbol, (i.e. that of building) they are quite distinct. The building that we are required to construct is the means by which God assesses our ability to govern in His Kingdom. Although one may enter that Kingdom possessing only the foundation stone, (the free-gift of God to all who believe,) the Lord is looking for those who will prove themselves worthy of positions of responsibility. Those who learn to overcome, to conquer their own weaknesses, and deal effectively with the ‘world, the flesh, and the devil’ will be seen by the Lord as having proved themselves in this life, and their reward will be to administer justice, law and order, and good government in God’s Kingdom. Some will “be seated on twelve thrones governing the twelve tribes of Israel” as Jesus promised his disciples, others may administer justice in cities, towns, and villages, according to their several abilities.
4. ETERNAL LIFE. We have already said that the word ‘eternal’ is not synonymous with ‘everlasting.’ Length of time is not always latent in the Greek word AION. It is a word that possesses more the ideas of QUALITY and CHARACTER, rather than QUANTITY. It is clear from Genesis 3 that God finds the idea of man ‘living for ever’ quite abhorrent, and hence the Cherubim that were placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden. The only safe way to translate AION in the expression ‘eternal life’ is to use an expression like ‘life on a higher plane.’ We are not saying that this exalted life will NOT be everlasting. What we are saying is that the thought of ‘everlasting’ is not contained in the word AION.
5. THE EFFECT OF CALVARY. Calvary is often thought of as bringing about the reversal of the fall. But this is only part of the whole story of the cross. Think about it logically. Adam and Eve were perfect human beings. They fell by their sin. Jesus came to reverse the effects of the fall. Therefore with the advent of ‘new birth’ man is legally entitled to have back that which he lost in Adam. Therefore in the days to come, in resurrection, all those who were ‘in Adam’ and who have died, may now be ‘made alive again in Christ.’ One’s hope therefore is to live on this earth as Adam and Eve lived, with perfect bodies, and the added benefit of being proof against sin. Herein the justice of God is vindicated, because Jesus took the place of all, and therefore we are able to have that which our first parents lost at the fall. The scales of divine justice have thereby been balanced in our favour by the Cross. But this is not all. On a certain occasion Jesus said, “Those who are worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, will be EQUAL TO ANGELS.” (Luke 20:35-36) There is something extra here, quite beyond the requirements of justice. It is hoped that the realisation of this will create a deep sense of joy to some, as they appreciate perhaps for the first time, the extreme riches of God’s grace to man.
6. THE MAGNITUDE OF CALVARY. For whom did Christ die? The evangelical world answers this by saying that potentially Christ died for all men, but in practice it is only effective for those who believe. But the New Testament does not teach this. The modern ideas of evangelicals do not correspond with New Testament revealed truth. Consider the following verses, and ask yourself whether you are prepared to accept what is said, simply and without compromise. Read the contexts as well, to make sure that the words have not been wrenched out of place to mean something other than they were intended to mean.
(a) Rom.5:18. As through one offence, judgment came upon ALL MEN unto condemnation, so by the righteousness of One came the free gift upon ALL unto justification of life. (No mention of LIFE ON A HIGHER PLANE here. It is death versus life)
(b) Heb.9:26. Christ has now been manifested for the annulment of sin through His sacrifice. (How much sin? Yours? Mine? All believers? Or the whole world?)
(c) 1 Jn.2:2. He is the mercy seat for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world. (Belief is better than argument here.)
(d) 1 Cor.15:22. As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. (This verse has the same teaching as Rom.5:18)
(e) Heb.2:9. He has tasted death on behalf of every man.
(f) 2 Cor.5:15. He died on behalf of all. To a growing number of people these days, the clear truth is shining through the pages of Scripture, that at the cross Jesus erased THE WHOLE STAIN OF SIN FROM THE UNIVERSE. It may take long ages for the Lord to accomplish all that He set out to do, but the final outcome is already settled in the person of His Son. “At the name of Jesus EVERY knee shall bow”, and not by force of arms, but voluntarily, by the exercise of the human will. Ultimately God will ‘make all things new.’
7. THE GREAT DIVIDE. When Christ returns, there will be a great sorting out process. This sorting out will by no means just divide believers from unbelievers. But within the great company of those who have been born again there will be a division, because some will try to claim what they imagine is logical to expect, and crying out “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons, and do many mighty works,” will then be told, “Depart, I know you not.” This is a sobering thought. There are some works which produce an increasing maturity through the discipline of circumstances, (the way of the cross), but there are other works which engender pride, even though performed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and can even lead to the audacity of questioning Christ’s judgment. Gifts of the Holy Spirit are always CHARISMA (grace-gifts). They are not a measure of a person’s maturity. They cannot be ‘added up’ to make an assessment of our standing before God. We need to search our hearts in this respect.
8. PAYMENT FOR SIN. There is a sense in which all sin must be paid for, otherwise the scales of divine justice can never be balanced. At Calvary, Jesus removed the stain of sin from an evil conscience, and God gave us new life. But the Scriptures are insistent that “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” And in case we think that believers might be excused in some way, we are told “There is no respect of persons with God.” The Old Testament gives the pattern. The sheep-stealer has first to restore his sheep fourfold, and then take a lamb to the door of the tent to be slain for his trespass. Restoration had to precede redemption. Likewise Jesus spoke of leaving gifts at the altar whilst we seek restoration with our neighbours. The principle is seen at work quite clearly in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Unfortunately, this truth does not receive very much attention from believers, except (significantly) during times of revival, when the Holy Spirit has laid it heavily upon human hearts.
9. THE MEANING OF HELL. This is an extension of the last point. Some people have their ‘hell’ on this earth. Blessed is the man who, at the point of death, not only knows that all his sins are forgiven, but that all his sins are paid for humanly, and restitution has been made for all wrongs. Such a man will have robes that are “clean AND bright.” But many will die with grey robes, and will subsequently have to go through a process of refinement to make them wholly acceptable to the Lord. In the Book of Revelation we are told that white robes are the ‘righteous deeds of the saints’ and have nothing to do with the basic gift of life in believing. Some will argue hotly against this, saying that it is a return to the old Roman belief in purgatory. But a moment’s reflection will demonstrate that the word ‘purgatory’ merely means to ‘purge’ us of all that is as yet undone in the human process of restitution. Just because Rome abused the teaching, we should not discard it as though it were erroneous. Many things were thrown out at the Reformation which should rather have been cleaned up and restored to their original place in the teaching of the church. If this be part of ‘hell’ it should not cause the believer to be too worried. But everything will have to be sorted out. God requires it from us all.
As for unbelievers, often little or nothing has been squared up by the time of death. Some indeed will have enormous wrongs to put right, and having lived lives that are proud and self-righteous, they will indeed experience a process of restitution and refinement which could well be pictured as ‘fire’, because on this earth, the burning of fire is the most painful of all flesh wounds. Even in this life, some people refer to a refining process they have experienced, as a fiery ordeal. It is mentally very painful, and the more so in proportion to the degree by which we have transgressed the laws of God in our behaviour. But this process, painful though it may be, cannot and does not last for ever. Has anyone tried thinking about it? Suppose you were to start paying for your sins tomorrow, and as an unbeliever you expected to pay for ever. In one year’s time you think about the next year. After 10 years you think of the next ten. After 1000 you think about the next 1000. After 1,000,000 years you think about the next 1,000,000 and even then there is no end. What sort of torture is this? What kind of God could inflict such punishment upon people? What degree of waywardness could ever possibly attract even 1,000,000 years of punishment? Even more cogent is the question, what sort of God could throughout ‘all eternity’ contemplate and even watch the sort of hell-fire that is commonly represented in pictures? Is this our impression of the Father that Jesus came to reveal in His life? Surely this question does not require a printed answer.
In the New Testament we meet the expression ‘everlasting punishment’ and so we must deal with it. If, as Protestants, we hold to the view that the Authorised Version is the inspired translation from the Greek, then we shall be in a fix. But thankfully, only a minority of Christians hold this view. Clearly, if there is any verbal inspiration, it can only apply to the original Greek, and sometimes the textual critics are far from unanimity about that in places! However, in one particular place in Matthew 25, the words are identical to those which speak of ‘eternal life.’ We have already seen that the word ‘eternal’ means an intensity, a higher character, etc. It is therefore simple to arrive at a wholly correct understanding of the expression in this passage. It must mean punishment of a greater, more painful, more terrible kind than normal punishment. Even on this earth we have courts of justice which try to make the ‘punishment fit the crime.’ If our earthly systems of justice fail through human error and perversion, then we should not be surprised. But with God’s justice we should have no reservation. Every crime ever committed by man will receive its just punishment, and every good work will receive its just reward, whether of believers or unbelievers. Ask a lawyer. Would he be willing to accept that God’s justice is any LESS than that which is applied in the best courts of law this world has to offer?
And what of the end of the unbelievers? Has it ever crossed the minds of those who hotly advocate ‘everlasting hell-fire’ what a terrible disgrace it is to the character of God, what an affront it is to His divine justice? When the punishment of people is complete, then they are given life in resurrection on this earth. What do the hell-fire people think about all those who have never even HEARD about Jesus Christ? How do they understand Jesus’ words when He said, “If the mighty works that were done in you (Capernaum) were done in Sodom, then it would have lasted until this day, because it would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. And I say that it will be MORE TOLERABLE for them in the day of judgment.” One cannot shrug one’s shoulders and dismiss the subject as though they were going to be put in a less-hot part of the lake of fire for ever. Biblical figures of speech MUST be properly interpreted otherwise they make a mockery of some part of God’s character.
Much more could be said on this subject, and needs to be said, and we hope that very soon it will be said, loud and clear. In 1867 Andrew Jukes wrote on the subject in a very scholarly way. The title of the book is “The Second Death and the Restitution of All Things.” In 1878 Rev.A.R.Symonds wrote “The Ultimate reconciliation and Subjection of All Souls to God under the Kingdom of Christ”. In 1890 Thomas Allin wrote“Christ Triumphant, or Universalism Asserted as the Hope of the Gospel on the Authority of Reason, the Fathers, and Holy Scripture.”Each of these scholarly volumes of last century opens up the subject in an exciting manner.
10. EQUAL TO THE ANGELS. Why does God grant this inestimable privilege to some who tread this earth? The answer may be found in connection with the first sin in heaven, when Satan and his angels defected from their proper place, and tempted mankind in the Garden of Eden. Jesus said that He had witnessed Satan fall from heaven. But those very same angelic beings, with Satan as their head, were originally placed by God as dominions and powers over the earth. Because of their fall, God requires that those very same positions of authority be made up from amongst human-kind, and as Jesus said, ‘many of the first will be last, and the last will be first.’
11. THE FALLEN ANGELS. After the crucifixion, and whilst in the spirit, Jesus went and preached to the angels who sinned before the Flood, in the days of Noah. What was His message? Some point out that the word for preach is not to evangelise, but to proclaim, and they say that Jesus merely went to them to proclaim His victory. We cannot accept this. In common parlance today, this would amount to gloating, and such an attitude would be quite unbecoming for the Son of God. Whether proclamation or actual preaching, Jesus went to them in their prison house and spoke to them. What could have been His message? Logic demands that it must have been a favourable message, and therefore we believe that it was a message ofhope for days to come. It is our studied belief that in the coming season even fallen angels will find an opportunity to bow their knee to Jesus, and accept that He is their Lord. We know that this will be treated as a monstrous assertion by some, in the present climate of opinion, but it has to be said, and the more often it is said the more rapidly will believers wake up to the fact that God has much more work to do, and much more glory to gain for so doing.
12. THE END OF THE PRESENT AGE AND THE RETURN OF CHRIST. The second coming represents the terminus for the remnant church, after which time no further opportunity will be available for anyone to attain the ‘prize of the high calling,’ because the Lord will have ‘made up His jewels’ (Mal.3:17) and this means that the full number of heavenly appointments to governorship will have been recorded in heaven. At this juncture, the Kingdom of God will be visibly manifested to the world, and God will begin dealing with NATIONS in the manner described in the parable of the sheep and the goats. (Matt.25)
13. THE BAPTISM AND GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Paul spoke of the filling of the spirit as the daily requirement of a believer, thus enabling him to walk in the spirit, and walk by faith, and walk well-pleasing to the Lord. But at certain times, God has made available many special miracles. These were intended to serve a specific function, and were never intended to be the continuous function of the church for all times. In these days, the presence of the gifts is meant to alert people to the near coming of Christ, and the new offer of the Kingdom. And as before, the gifts when seen are meant to engender repentance and faith, not a merry-go-round of feasting and jollification. They are the ‘powers of an age to come’ (Heb.6) and therefore they are but foretastes of the Kingdom. Many people have been seriously disturbed by the fact that they have NOT been healed, even though they have been prayed for with the laying on of hands, and anointed with oil, and faith has been high in both donor and recipient. The reason is seldom explained. There is no continuous and universal ministry of healing in the church. All healing miracles are SIGNS, and when they occur they do so by divine permission and purpose, to fulfil the plan of God for the end of the age in which we now live. Remember again what Jesus said about Sodom, that they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes if He had performed His miracles there. How much repentance is observed today at the witness of miracles? How many people are convicted by the mighty presence of God in the place, thereby to cause them to sense their own unworthiness and sin? One has read about it in the revivals of the past, but there seems little evidence of it in the Western World at this present time.
14. ISRAEL & THE JEWS. Some might expect a statement on this subject, but we have little to say. Bible prophecies refer to ISRAEL, not the JEWS. The present nation of Israel is a misnomer. It is the nation of Jewry, and represents just two-twelfths of the whole. As such it is impossible to apply Biblical prophecy, as the other ten-twelfths remain unrecognised. We prefer to concentrate our attention on that which is known, rather than that which is unknown. Nevertheless, we are aware that this negative statement will act as a positive corrective to some.
Finally, the authors would like to add a personal note. The foregoing exposition has been of vital importance and significance to us for nearly 20 years, and has been recorded at greater length in the seven volumes of our book, “Except the Lord build the House.” We claim no monopoly on these truths, believing rather that the Holy Spirit has been giving similar enlightenment to individuals the world over. Our statement is rather as a testimony to that which we most surely believe, and we are conscious that the Kingdom of God is now very near, whereby we ask that the “God who began a good work in us, will bring it to completion (not just for ourselves, but for all who are thus exercised) in the Day of Christ” to the glory of God.