Home > End Times, Prophecy, The Coming Tribulation [booklet] > Chapter 1. Prophecy and Mystery – Hermeneutical Foundation

Chapter 1. Prophecy and Mystery – Hermeneutical Foundation

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Improperly dividing the Word of truth is the cause for more heresy and misunderstanding than any other single factor I know of. For instance, there are vast distinctions between things given to Israel by prophecy (Promised Land, Davidic Covenant, etc), and those given to the church- not by prophecy, but by the revelation of hidden mysteries given to Paul (Col. 1:26)- such as the mystery of Christ in His Body, the Church (Eph. 1:9-10; 5:32; Col. 1:26-27), the blindness of Israel (Rom. 11:25), the rapture of the church (1 Cor. 15:51-53). These components remain unseen to those who simply divide the bible into Old and New Testaments. Dispensational scholar Cornelius Stam writes:
The supposition that the most important division of the Bible is that between the Old and New Testaments has often been expressed in the statement: “The Old Testament is for the Jews; the New Testament is for us.” This is quite incorrect, however.           First of all, the titles Old Testament and New Testament are not accurate designations of the two sections of the Bible which they are supposed to represent. To the Apostle Paul was committed the greatest revelation of all time: “the mystery,” the secret of the gospel and of God’s eternal purpose (Col. 1:25,26). To him was entrusted “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:1-3). His ministry superseded that of Peter and the eleven as, upon Israel’s continued rejection of Christ and His kingdom, he became the apostle to the nations (Rom. 11:13). Solemn recognition was given to this fact by the leaders of the twelve (including Peter himself) as they gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, acknowledging Paul’s divine commission to go to the Gentiles, and agreeing thenceforth to confine their own ministry to Israel (Gal. 2:2,7,9). In connection with this commission Paul was also the divinely appointed minister of the Church of the present dispensation, “the Body of Christ” (Col. 1:24,25).1 No other Bible writer has one single word to say about “the Church which is [Christ’s] Body.” None of the other apostles mention it. Not only would we seek in vain for such phraseology in their writings, but we would seek in vain for any discussion of the subject, for they do not discuss the Church of which believers today are members. But Paul, who wrote more of the books of the Bible than any other writer, deals consistently with those truths which concern “the Church which is His Body” (Eph. 1:19-23).
The Revelation Lost Sight Of
But this great revelation and the glorious truths associated with it have been largely lost to the professing Church. The Church of Rome ignores the facts we have stated above, though they are clearly set forth in her own translations of the Bible. She insists that the true Church of today is a perpetuation of that which was founded by Christ while on earth; a kingdom to be established on earth, over which Peter and the eleven were appointed to be heads and rulers during His absence. And even though our Lord said nothing about a prolonged absence or of any succession of such rulers, Rome declares that her present pope is a successor to Peter and, as such, the Vicar of Christ and supreme Head of the Church on earth [Editor’s Note: this is blasphemy]. Consistent with this she holds that she is laboring to fulfill the “great commission” given to Peter and the eleven, requiring water baptism for the remission of sins and claiming to possess miraculous powers. But Protestantism, while boasting freedom from the tyranny of Rome, has by no means emerged entirely from the shadows of the dark ages. She still suffers a Roman hangover. While renouncing papal authority, she nevertheless still clings to the Roman teaching that the Church of today is a perpetuation of that to which our Lord referred in Matthew 16:16-18 and that it is God’s kingdom on earth [Editor’s Note: this  is a Satanic heresy called Replacement Theology- more later]. She too seeks to carry out the “great commission” given to Peter and the eleven, though half-heartedly, for she cannot make up her mind whether water baptism is or is not necessary to the remission of sins and is also confused and disagreed as to whether or not she possesses the miraculous powers of what she calls the “great commission.” Martin Luther, under God, shook Europe to its foundations with a partial recovery of Pauline truth, but the Protestant Church has done little to further that recovery, so that rather than recognizing the distinctive character of Paul’s position as our apostle, most Protestants think of him simply as one of the apostles, along with Peter and the eleven. In taking so short a step away from Rome the Protestant Church has assumed a very weak position, for if Paul is to be considered as one with the twelve, Rome can easily prove that Peter, not Paul, was appointed as their chief (See Matt. 16:19; Acts 1:15; 2:14,38; 5:29, etc.).  We will now contrast Prophecy (for Israel) and with Mystery for the church also by Stam, first by defining each:
Prophecy: That which was spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. It pertains to specific promises of God to and through the nation of Israel. All of those promises are in an earthly setting. They are both literal and visible.
Mystery: The preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, until the Lord gave to the Apostle Paul an abundance of visions and revelations about the heavenly aspects of God’s purpose and plan. (Definitions from AV1611.com)
Prophecy and Israel
  1. Concerns a kingdom; a political organization (Dan. 2:44; Matt. 6:10).
  2. The   kingdom to be established on earth (Jer. 23:5; Matt. 6:10).
  3. Christ to be its King  (Jer. 23:5; Isa.  9:6,7).
  4. The  kingdom prophesied “since the world began” (Luke 1:68-70; Acts 3:21).
  5. Israel to  be  given supremacy over the nations (Isa.  60:10-12; 61:6).
  6. The  Gentiles to be blessed through Israel’s instrumentality (Gen. 22:17,18; Zech. 8:13).
  7. The  Gentiles to be blessed through  Israel’s rise (Isa. 60:1-3; Zech. 8:22,23).
  8. Prophecy mainly concerns nations as such  (Isa.2:4; Ezek. 37:21,22).
  9. Prophecy concerns blessings, both material and spiritual,on earth  (Isa.  2:3,4; 11:1-9; etc.).
  10. Prophecy concerns Christ’s coming to the earth (Isa.  59:20; Zech. 14:4).
  11. In  prophecy salvation by grace through faith alone  is not contemplated.
  12. The proclamation of the  prophetic program com- mitted particularly to  the  twelve (Matt. 10:5-7; Acts 1:6-8; 3:19-26).
  13. The  prophetic program revealed through many of God’s servants (Luke 1:70; II Pet.  1:21).
  14. Old testament writers frequently did not  understand the prophecies made known through them (Dan.  12:8-10;  I Pet.  1:10-12).
Mystery and the Church
  1. Concerns a body; a living organism (I Cor. 12:12,27; Eph. 4:12-16).
  2. The body given a position in heaven (Eph. 1:3; 2:5-6; Col. 3:1-3).
  3. Christ its living Head (Eph. 1:19-23; Col. 1:18).
  4. The  body  chosen in  Christ before the world began, but “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:4-11; 3:5-9).
  5. Jew and  Gentile placed on the same level before God (Rom. 10:12; 11:32; Eph. 2:16,17).
  6. The  Gentiles blessed through  Israel’s obstinacy (Acts 13:44-46; Rom. 11:28-32).
  7. The  Gentiles blessed through Israel’s fall (Acts 28:27,28; Rom. 11:11,12,15).
  8. The mystery concerns individuals (Rom. 10:12,13; II Cor. 5:14-17).
  9. The  mystery concerns “all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies” (Eph. 1:3; Col. 3:1-3).
  10. The  mystery explains Christ’s present  absence from  the earth  (Eph. 1:20-23;  Col. 3:1-3).
  11. Salvation by  grace through faith alone lies  at the  very  heart of the  mystery (Rom. 3:21-26;  4:5; Eph. 2:8,9).
  12. The proclamation of the mystery committed particularly to Paul  (Eph. 3:1-3,8,9; Col. 1:24-27).
  13. The  mystery revealed through one man: Paul (Gal. 1:1,11,12; 2:2,7,9;  Eph. 3:2,3).
  14. Paul both   understood and   longed   that  others might understand the  mystery revealed through him  (Eph. 1:15-23;  3:14-21;  Col. 1:9-10; 2:1-3).
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