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Volume 6 - Page 138 of 151 Index | Zoom | |
The Three Spheres Considered.
pp. 173 - 175
Before we can deal with the distinctive hope that is held by the One Body, it will be
necessary to point out that the future destinies of mankind fall within three spheres.
THERE IS THE EARTHLY.--Israel as a nation must occupy the chief place among
the nations of the earth, fulfilling the unconditional covenants made by God with the
fathers. This covenant of God relative to Israel's future position as a great nation is
entirely removed from any condition of faith on their part. The very ones who were
"enemies" because of the gospel were "beloved" because of the fathers, "for the gifts
and calling of God are without repentance."
THERE IS THE HEAVENLY.--This sphere is connected with faith. Abel, Enoch,
Noah, Abraham, and all the attested ones of Heb. 11:, believed God and walked by faith.
These, of whom Abraham is the example, looked for a heavenly country and a heavenly
city. They did not enter it at death, and the same hope was carried over into the times of
the New Testament and was entertained by those who believed the gospel. These had
visions of the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, these expected to meet the Lord in the air,
for these the Lord Jesus said he was going to prepare a place.
THERE IS THE SUPER-CELESTIAL.--At the revelation of the dispensation of the
mystery, a new sphere was opened up as a place of blessing and of hope. This sphere we
may term the super-celestial, it is "above the heavens," that is, above the firmament of
this present creation, it is far above all, it is at the very right hand of God. This sphere is
the sphere of the hope of those who are members of the One Body. If Paul's prison
ministry in connection with the teaching of Ephesians is exactly the same as that of the
earlier epistles (Corinthians, Thessalonians, etc.), then the hope is the same, and it may
still be true that we entertain "the hope of Israel" (see Acts 28:). If, however, Paul's
prison ministry commenced a new line of teaching altogether, if it revealed a new
dispensation, and had a new sphere for its operations, then the hope of that dispensation
must correspond with the new sphere of its calling.
It may be that some readers have not given much thought to the claims of the Apostle
Paul to a two-fold ministry, and as it is vital to a true understanding of our hope, we feel
that none will begrudge the space given up to its re-consideration.
It will be remembered that it was the continual practice of the Apostle Paul to go to
the synagogues of the town he visited, notwithstanding that he may have been most
cruelly treated in the synagogue or by the Jews in the town previously visited. There
came a stage, however, when he entered a synagogue for the last time. This final
synagogue witness is recorded in Acts 19: 8, 9, and we find that the Apostle
"Went into the synagogue and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing
and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were