Second Foursome to the Mystery
Is Pentecost the birth-hour of
the Christian church?
Many Scripture scholars and believers, believe that Pentecost is the birth-hour of the Christian Church or of the congregation. Then the Church began and started the interim dispensation that precedes the establishment of the Kingdom to Israel. Thus many. Then the Church became a world church, then the moment came when the national swaddling-bands were taken away and the Church was dressed with the robe needed for its passage through the world. Thus others. Let us examine whether the Scriptures have a basis for this.
Pentecost is one of the Israelite feasts. We read about it in Lev. 23:4: « These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons » And then follow successively:
The LORD'S passover, v. 5
The feast of unleavened bread, seven days, v. 6 — 8;
The bringing and moving the sheaf of the first fruits the other day after the Sabbath, v. 9 — 14;
The new meal offering on the 50th day, v. 15-22; this is Pentecost, because Pentecost means 50th day;
The memorial of blowing the trumpets on the first of the seventh month, v. 23 — 25;
The Day of Atonement on the tenth of the seventh month, v. 26 — 32;
The feast of tabernacles, seven days, v. 33 — 43.
So 7 feasts. These are all for Israel. « And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD », v. 44
All these things have a different higher meaning. The true Passover sacrifice is Christ, 1 Cor. 5:7. Passover sees Christ's death. The feast of unleavened bread is the joy of sincerity and truth, 1 Cor. 5:8. The sheaf of the first fruits typifies the resurrection. The new meal offering typifies Pentecost. The memory of the blowing of trumpets is Israel's future collection. The Day of Atonement is when Israel will humble themselves before Him whom they have pierced and the iniquity of the land will in one day be taken away, Zec. 3:9. The feast of tabernacles typifies the tranquility of the coming aion.
We believe that the anti typical, the counter image of these things as far as interpretation is concerned, relates to Israel. The Lord spoke these things to Israel. They will also have to explain them anti typically for Israel. Of the last three, this is clear, they are Israel in the future. The first four are also for Israel. What Paul in 1 Cor. 5 says, then applies to the Jew, like several things (1 Cor 10 and 11). He therefore mentions in v. 1 the nations in contrast with the Jews to whom he addresses himself.
The proof that Pentecost is entirely Israeli, gives Acts 2. Peter addresses them as: « Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem », v. 14; as: « Ye men of Israel », v. 22; as: « all the house of Israel », v. 36.
It will be noted that we lose sight of v. 5 that speaks of « devout men, out of every nation under heaven ». We answer this, that it does not say: of all peoples, but: of all people. Furthermore, the beginning of the verse says: « And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews ». And v. 10 says: « and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes ». From this it follows that there was no uncircumcised gentile at Pentecost. They btw, did not have access to the temple either, at least not to the court of the Jews. One will argue against this, that v. 9 and 10 speak of strangers and those hearers are addressed in the languages in which they were born. As far as the Jews are concerned, it applies here that they first lived in those other countries and learned the national language from childhood; as far as the proselytes are concerned, only with this difference, that it was for them the actual national language, for the Jews from a foreign. It is certain that they were Jews and proselytes, that is, circumcised from Israel and from the Gentiles. But no uncircumcised Gentiles, that's where Paul was sent.
One might doubt that and think that we are too short-sighted here and that the Spirit has indeed been poured out on uncircumcised Gentile believers. Let us then refer to Acts 10 as proof that this is not so, the history of Cornelius, therefore a decade after Pentecost. It is known that Peter first needed a vision and then an additional word to make him go to Cornelius, see v. 9 — 20. He took some from the Circumcision, the believers from the Circumcision, 10:23, 45. There were six, 11:12. One knows what happened: Cornelius and many assembled together, 10:27 received the gift of holy spirit, 10:45. Did the Jews considered this something normal? Did Peter say: This is a repetition of Pentecost, when many Gentiles also received the Spirit? No, all the believers from the Circumcision are astonished that the gift of the holy spirit was also poured out upon the Gentiles, 10:45. More than that: those from the Circumcision quarrel later with Peter, 11:2, 3, proof that they did not know about the Gentiles. Peter first remembered Christ's word in Caesarea, 11:16. So not at Pentecost.
From this it is clear, that it was even for believers of the Circumcision strange, that uncircumcised Gentiles received the Spirit. How then can the Church be liberated from the national swaddling-bands on the day of Pentecost? How then, can the church have already begun, which is one with Christ? These assertions are therefore Scripturally incorrect. Pentecost was only for Israel. Not for uncircumcised Gentiles.
Is the bride the body? ↑
One of the generally accepted opinions today is, that the Body of Christ is the Bride. One therefore speaks of: the Bride of Christ, a term that Scripture does not have. The term « the Bride » does not occur anywhere in Paul's Letters.
Those who speak of the Body as the Bride do not have a proper understanding of Paul's ministry and the dispensation of the mystery. They confuse or identify the groups. The Bride is a group from Israel. We know how this people is called Jehovah's wife, Isa. 54:6, He had married them, Jer. 31:32. Israel was whoring from the Lord, Hos. 2, Eze. 16. Yet the Lord wants to take it back, Jer. 3:1 and will again grant the banns, Hos. 2. Through the times the Lord left to Israel a remnant that was renewed to repentance, that Jehovah sought again as the Man, Isa. 54:1 — 8; Jer. 3:12 — 22. This part is brought to Zion, v. 6. It is written down in Zion and in Jerusalem, Isa. 4:3. In mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call, Joel 2:32. (Isa. 54:6). The Pentecostal Church of Acts also belonged to that group Acts 2. They had gone to Jerusalem, Acts 2:5.
The O.T. teaches that there was a marriage relationship between Jehovah and the people of Israel. This relationship was broken by Israel as an adulterous nation. Every time He called them back, but as a nation they did not hear. That only did the remnant. They are the Bride, (the not yet married woman) the renewed part. The New Covenant is established with them. They will dwell in Zion and in Jerusalem, Jer. 3:14, their reproach is taken away, Isa. 54:4 and further. It is the daughters of Zion, Isa. 4:4. There will be a shelter over her dwellings, v. 5. See also Jes. 62:1, 4. That Bride Group already existed in Christ's days, Joh. 3:29, it was no secret. The Bride is Jerusalem, those who are gathered in Zion, the Woman is Israel. Israel's renewal comes from Jerusalem. There is the Lord's throne once. The Bride is thus a part of Israel. Other groups are the guests, Mat. 22:1 — 6, the servants, Mat. 22:3, 4; Joh. 2:5, the virgins who go out to meet the Bridegroom, Mat. 25, « the wedding children », Mat. 9:15, the friends of the Bridegrooms, and more.
The true destination of the Bride is the New Jerusalem, Rev. 21. In the coming aion she may still live in the Old Jerusalem, she expects the city, which has foundations. The hope of the Bride is directed to the Jerusalem that will descend once. Only keep in mind here that other groups will be in this city. Solomon e.g. had all kinds of servants and princes in Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is not limited to the Bride alone, but includes several groups. Paul points to this in Gal. 4.
The Bride becomes the Woman of the Lamb, Rev. 21:9. The title: the Lamb, only occurs in relation to Israel. Paul does not use him. The term: Woman of the Lamb proves that the Bride is married. Rev. 21 thus describes the situation after the future aion of Hos. 2.
One sees that Woman and Bride are to be found in the O.T. that both belong to the traceable, that the Bride is associated with Jerusalem and Zion, that part of it was gathered at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. How can one now think that the church that is His Body began at Pentecost? The Pentecostal Church is part of the Bridal Church. And this one is from Israel. However, she is not on the line of the Pauline revelation, which is extra-Israelite. All who learn that the Body is the Bride do not, in the essence of the matter, overcome the Reformation. They actually put the present group back into Israel's place. Making a distinction between Israel and the Church is a step forward, but if it is not followed by others and one does not distinguish three spheres, the confusion remains and people still strand within the heads of the new port, which one wants to enter, namely distinguishing the groups. Israel and the Bride still belong to the families of the earth. Why does one confuse them with those of the heavens? And why does one not see the over-heavenly?
The Body was an absolute mystery or secret, not revealed until after Acts 28:28 that is, when Paul was a prisoner. For He plainly says that in his flesh He filled the remains of the afflictions of Christ for His Body, which is the Church, Col. 1:24. And from this he had become the minister of the dispensation of God given to him to complete the word of God, to supplement it, to bring it to fullness, v. 25. This suppletion is the mystery which has been hidden from aions and from generations, that is kept outside the aions and generations, v. 25. It concerns Christ, the hope of glory, is not for the Bride who is of Israel, but for the saints of the Nations, v. 26, 27. The Bride calls Christ: her Husband; the Church, His Body: her Head. The Head is His dominion over all things. The Body is not a Bride but a perfect man, Eph. 4:13. The association with the Head is not a marriage relationship, but an organic life relationship.
One often refer to Eph. 5:25 — 33 to show that the Church is the Bride. We notice that there is absolutely no Bride here, but it is said that just as Christ (the Head) loves the Church (the Body), the husband (the head of the woman) must love the woman (the supplement or part of the body of the man). The woman is regarded as the man's own body, v. 28. The members of Christ's body are of his flesh and of his bones, v. 30. Neither can the members of our body be our bride, nor can the members of Christ's Body be the Bride. Eph. 5 draws a parallel between the love of Christ to the congregation and that of man and woman. It notices the woman as the man's body. Not like his bride, because she is not yet the body of the man because she is not married to him yet. Paul speaks here of a great mystery, something that can not be unfolded here, but certainly does not refer to the relationship of bridegroom to bride which can not be called a great mystery. The case goes deeper.
Body and Bride are not the same, not identical. They form two groups, one from Israel, one from Gentiles (substantially). The last group, the fellow-body with Christ (not with believers from the Circumcision, as one begins to learn today) is only there under the dispensation, i.e. distribution of grace. Without it, there would be no Body of Christ.
The doctrine of the covenants ↑
Calvinism stands in the vision of the doctrine of covenants. The Old Covenant, according to Calvinism is also called the old dispensation, runs to Christ. Then the New Covenant begins, the new dispensation. So we live, according to the Calvinism, in the New Covenant. Something higher doesn't exist.
From where is this opinion? First of all, because Calvinism (and also other denominations of our days) does not distinguish. One confuse things. Second, because Calvinism denies the restoration of Israel and teaches that Israel has been replaced by the Church.
In order to get light, the Scriptures must be opened and God's Word be searched. What do we then find? That the New Covenant is made with Israel. One Sees:
Jer. 31:31 — 34 « Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. »
One sees, with whom the covenant is made: With the House of Israel and the House of Judah. One does not say that this is the « Church ». To find out, take a concordance and find out in which texts these terms occur even more. And when it turns out — and it wil — that they always designate Israel, then one keeps to the teaching that God gives and take the words of Jer. 31 for Israel.
There's something else here. There is talk of the fathers. God made a covenant with « their fathers ». Are these the fathers of those who like to call themselves spiritual Israel? Israel's fathers destroyed the first covenant, and Israel's House is now making a new covenant. This New Covenant is not made with the « Church ». It is with the House of Israel. With no other.
What mistake has now been made in the time of the Reformation? A double. Israel's restoration has been eliminated, so that, if there is mention of a new covenant, this must automatically be made with another « nation » than with what the Old Covenant was made with. At the same time, the position of the first and second Adam was involved and meant that, where the New Covenant is fixed in Christ, the Old Covenant is fixed in Adam, especially because Hos. 6:7 speaks of a covenant with Adam. Furthermore, one has started to speak of two Covenant Heads.
In order to solve the problems in this case, distinction is necessary. A covenant has been made with Abram Gal. 3:17. « On Christ » is not in the better manuscripts of the original text. This can also be called: the promise. This promise involves three kinds:
Abram becomes a big people.
He will be a blessing.
All the families of the earth will be blessed in him, Abram.
So point one deals with Israel. On that line now lies the first, the old covenant and the second, the new covenant. Not on the two other lines. God did not make a covenant with the nations. Not even with Abram's spiritual seed, those who will be a blessing with him. God only connects with Israel: « ... to whom ... the covenants ... », Rom. 9:4. This leaves the two other lines free. The Gentiles do not enter the New Covenant, because their fathers stood not in the Old Covenant.
Seen from the rear, it is included in the original covenant of Gen. 12:1 — 3, so that the ministry of the New Covenant to Israel is also an effect of that covenant. But now by God Himself.
Do not have these things a deeper background? They have that, but that does not remove the foreground, Israel. What then is the spiritual lesson? This, that the Old Covenant portrays, not first of all that man is lost in Adam, but that the born-again man wants to serve God from his own strength. Israel, God's first-born son (Exodus 4:22), wanted to serve God from its own strength. And that is not possible. In it it had to fail. And it failed. Israel, who sought the law of righteousness, has not come to the law of righteousness, because they sought it, not by faith, but by works, Rom. 9:31, 32. This is what every born-again will want to do, for God first enters the covenants with the born-again, just as He did with the nation of Israel that had been redeemed from Egypt, at least by Him as a nation. In the New Covenant He will teach them that He must accomplish it. This now is the spiritual lesson that every born-again of God will receive. But this does not prove that one is therefore spiritual Israel. One then becomes only spiritual man. 1 Cor. 3:1 speaks of carnal, not of spiritual Israel. One must therefore distinguish between the national and the supra-national, between what is addressed to Israel and what we can apply.
The Old Covenant is the ministry of condemnation, the New Covenant is the ministry of righteousness, 2 Cor. 3:9. The ministry of condemnation caused death on many offenses. We name the eating of the leavened during the days of unleavened bread, Exo. 12:15, 19, the failure of the circumcision Gen. 17:14, the breaking of the Sabbath, Ex. 31:14, from the Passover, Num. 9:13, the eating of the peace-offering, of fat and blood, Lev. 7:20, 25, 27; 17:14, doing the abominations of Canaan, Lev. 18:29 (see v. 1 — 18), not humbling themselves on the great Day of Atonement, Lev. 23:29, doing something with a raised hand, Num. 15:30, 31, murder Exo. 21:14; Deut. 19:11 — 14. See furthermore, Lev. 17:4; 19:8; 20:17, 18; 22:3. The New Covenant brings a new heart and a new spirit, Ez. 36:26, and righteousness, Rom. 8:30. It gives believers access to God, peace, Rom. 5:1, reconciliation, 2 Cor. 5:18 — 20; Rom. 5:10 and sets them in the position of sons (the adoption of children, Galatians 4:5, Romans 8:15, 23), but not on that of the perfect man, Eph. 4:13. More is needed for that. And that more is given by and in the dispensation of the Mystery. The New Covenant is, as an effect of the Original Covenant for Israel, based on the spiritual side, but not yet the end of God's salvation. The crowning part is found in Paul's later revelation. By this he brings the Word of God to his fullness, Col. 1:25, and the ministry of righteousness to its end-point, places man in and through, and also with Christ in the zenith, the summit of the glory of God, by which now all things are fulfilled.
The new covenant and
the dispensation of the mystery. ↑
We have already pointed out that the dispensation of the mystery carries on and gives more than the pinnacle of the New Covenant. The pinnacle of the New Covenant is to become conformed to the image of God's Son, Rom. 8:29, that of the dispensation of the Mystery to the Lord Jesus Christ, a richer title.
The New Covenant starts with the regeneration and ends in justification. It does not give the atonement in a Body to God and being sit together above all. If the New Covenant works, Israel is present. Next to it are the Nations. The New Covenant thus shows a two, in fact a three-line: the Great Nation, the families of the earth or the Nations of the earth, and those who are a blessing above both, Gen. 12:1 — 3; 22:17, 18. The New Covenant does not work without Israel being there. God can apply the truths in our dispensation and does so, but that is something else then that we now, taken to the dispensation, would live in it.
Israel comes once in the national regeneration, which also entails its spiritual rebirth, Mat. 19:28; Eze. 36:24 — 32. Then the Gentiles will also convert to God. For Israel, then, the New Covenant works, for the Gentiles the Original Covenant: In Abram and his seed all nations are blessed, as long as this condition is not present, the New Covenant, which was in pre-operation during Acts, is not finished, Heb. 8:8 source text. The New Covenant is a going from glory to glory, 2 Cor. 3:18.
In order to be clear in this matter, one must see something of the purpose of the aions. After the 1000 years, « the endless eternity » or « the eternal state » does not start. Paul speaks of the aions to come, Eph. 2:7, great world eras. On the new earth there are still months, Rev. 22:2, so time, is not the timeless eternity that one learns. In the future aion Israel is in the regeneration, in the one next to it the New Jerusalem comes down and Israel stands in the justification. Paul's gospel already anticipates this, Gal. 4.
However, the aions have an end, Heb. 9:26. (This text has been misrepresented in KJV Christ has not been revealed in the end of the ages, but has been revealed for the extinguishing of sin in the end of the ages, through His sacrifice). After the aions there is a higher glory. And that glory is already being given in the dispensation of the mystery to the members of Christ's Body. They already come here to the after-aionic glory, while others from preparatory dispensations are not yet. The New Covenant gives a glory that still falls within the aions, the dispensation of the Mystery goes above the aions.
The New Covenant is for Israel and works with Israel as a central nation. The dispensation of the Mystery works without Israel as a nation. The New Covenant gives Israel a new heart and a new spirit, Eze. 36:26, is the registration of God's laws in the heart, Jer. 31:31 — 34; Heb. 8:8 — 12. This is the beginning. It continues to pass in justification by faith. With this, Israel's ceremonies are lifted: there is no more temple on the new earth. With regeneration, remembrance of sin, Eze. 36:31, with the justification the first things have gone away, Rev. 21:4, God dwells with men, v. 3, all things are made new, v. 5, there is reconciliation.
The dispensation of the Mystery gives more. On the new earth, we see the Tabernacle of God among men, Rev. 21, in the dispensation of the Mystery man is placed at God's right hand, Eph. 2:6, 7, with Christ set above all things, a state of glory is given, which can be just as well called post-aionic, there is mention of a promise in Christ. This promise concerns the glory of sitting at God's right hand, Psa. 110:1. This surpasses all glory that the aions will be showing.
The Dispensation of Mystery is an addition to the Abrahamic line, a continuation and extension. Paul's gospel is the precursor to it, not the end of it. It is a new sphere that is opened, a going above the endpoint of the New Covenant. The Dispensation of Mystery was the reconciliation of two currents, Jew and Gentile, that exist as long as the New Covenant works, in one Body to God, Eph. 2:15. As soon as this stops and the Jew comes forward again, the Dispensation of Mystery is completed and God starts working again along the lines of Original and New Covenant. In the dispensation of the Mystery one can obtain a position in Christ at God's right hand. This is not mentioned anywhere in the New Covenant. The New Covenant is the going from glory to glory, the dispensation of the Mystery is resting in the height of glory. This glory of the Dispensation of Mystery goes as far above that of the New Covenant as the sitting of Christ in God's right hand goes beyond His already glorious Melchizedek Priesthood. In the latter He is the Priest of the Supreme, in the first He is the Supreme Self in complete rest.
Whoever does not distinguish between the New Covenant and the Dispensation of the Mystery, is also unfamiliar with the steps of the way of salvation. God is already working out from glory to glory, what He gives to others in passing through the aions. He is already doing this in the spirit; by His Spirit. In this dispensation this has been detached from all symbols or instances. It is pure faith. This is the highest to which God carries. Not seen — still believed. All representation of Christ's work in baptism or supper is shadow. Without condemning those who think they should be kept, we believe that in this dispensation God wants to perform something invisible to Him Who inhabits an inaccessible light and that, where Christ is hidden in God, all representation is also temporarily lifted. It is a matter of faith here. Not seen — still believed. Not imaged — still accepted. Not to stay with what was formerly needed, but proceeded to Him Who is above. The seeking of things that are above is not the need of what is imagery on earth. Everything falls away for the highest reality.
Who stands in the New Covenant, still needs to have an image. Not he who stands in the dispensation of the Mystery. He has the fullness in Christ Himself. The New Covenant leads from glory to glory, the dispensation of the Mystery has the hope of glory in it. What is internal in the heart needs no image anymore. This dispensation therefore surpasses the New Covenant just as the midday sun surpasses the rising sun in radiance and glow. The dispensation of the Mystery seeks that which is above because Christ dwells fully in the heart, Eph. 3:17. The New Covenant asks for change, 2 Cor. 3:18, the dispensation of the Mystery has the perfect: Christ in us and fulfills all the fullness of God, Eph. 3:19.