God, All In All
by J. Preston Eby
GOD has a plan! At the beginning of the Church age the world was visited by events so momentous in their power and glory that all things were changed from that time onward. In the eternal realm before the ages were formed, and ages before man first saw the light of earth's day, the almighty Lord set in motion His omniscient and immutable purpose for the ages which were to follow. As a year is filled with weeks and a week is filled with days and a day is filled with hours, so time is filled with ages and ages with dispensations. Let it be thoroughly known that our all-wise heavenly Father planned the events of each successive age from the very first age unto the ages of ages far beyond the comprehension of mortal man.
The plan of the ages conceived in the heart of Him who purposed all things after the counsel of His own will is being worked out one step at a time in each succeeding age in like manner as people who read these lines have often planned in advance the work for each successive day of a week or each week of a year. Is it not true that many of the wives and business men now reading this booklet have plans in mind for today and tomorrow and perhaps even months and years in the future? Whether consciously or unconsciously we all plan ahead, daily and hourly working toward some human goal.
Each week a portion of your pay check goes into social security or some pension plan in preparation for a day of retirement that lies years distant in the future. Accumulation of property, savings, investments, etc. are all part of well-laid plans for a day when there will be time for relaxation, travel, and other projects and accomplishments. If you remove plan and purpose from your life then your sheltered harbors will become whirlpools and all your cherished hopes and dreams will become dark clouds and empty holes. And, precious friend of mine, if you remove God's plan of the ages from your understanding, then your spiritual treasure house of hope is left full of gaping holes where thieves break through and steal, and you yourself are left as hopeless as a crow in the ocean or a prince-charming lost in the great Sahara.
When we think of a plan, we think of something involving more than just a single element. An architect's plan for a building consists of drawings and specifications descriptive of its several floors, including styles of plumbing, decoration, arrangement of rooms, etc. Unless each floor of the building is to be identical to every other floor, necessarily the drawings and specifications for any given floor do not harmonize with the details of the other floors. No one, however, would construe this to mean that the architect is incompetent, nor that his plans and specifications are contradictory. God's plan, like the plan of a building, is also made up of many parts. Instead of different floors, however, it embraces epochs and ages. Through each of these ages the divine plan has steadily progressed toward completion. Only when it is complete, and mankind sees the final result, will they all be able to appreciate the wisdom, justice, love, and power of the Divine Architect.
Such a view as this opens to us entirely new and greater vistas of the love and mercy and wisdom and power and glory of God. It is not any longer a question of the Church working to get a few souls saved, but it has become a question of the working out of God's plan and purpose for all people and for the ages He has created. All the ages are created for Jesus the Christ. As we read in Heb. 1:2 from the Diaglott, "In the last of these days, spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and ON ACCOUNT OF WHOM, also He constituted the ages."
Eph. 3:11 also speaks of this, the Diaglott says....... according to a PLAN OF THE AGES, which He FORMED FOR THE ANOINTED JESUS, our Lord." Herein lies the great work of God in this age and in all ages yet to come. It is all for Jesus Christ!
In God's blessed Book numerous ages are visible, stretching in a vast panorama from the first ray of light in chapter one of Genesis to the end of the dispensation of the fullness of times when all shall be subdued unto God and God becomes all in all. As the years have gone by the Holy Spirit has convinced me more and more that it is intensely important to the spiritual growth and understanding of every Son of God to know the intention of God in each successive age as it unfolds. Some precious saints have in ignorance stated, "I am not concerned about what God may do away out there in the ages to come; it is enough to know what He wants me to be doing right now! " That sounds very wise and spiritual, and it gives me pain to say it, but the truth cannot be denied that such a statement is really an excuse, a "cop-out" to absolve these dear ones from searching the Scriptures or exposing themselves to the revelation of God's beautiful plan of the ages. Furthermore, it saves them the trouble of getting involved in some controversy! What spiritual cowards we are!
Failure to understand God's plan of the ages will leave us on the rocks of ignorance and unbelief and we will spend our lives in the shallows, chanting aimlessly about God's acts and blessings, but never knowing or embracing His purposes. I am convinced that those who reject or deliberately side-step the great truth of God's plan of the ages and the reconciliation of all things to God will never be a part of that blessed company of Sons who are destined to set creation free! How can any one be God's instrument to bring deliverance to the whole creation while he closes his eyes and stops his ears and shuts up his heart to the beautiful revelation of His purposes?
There is nothing that opens the wellsprings of love, of faith and understanding, in the human heart like the knowledge of His purpose. What infinite joy, what satisfaction and assurance floods our souls when for the first time in our lives our great and wonderful Father is seen to be a God of purpose, knowing the end from the beginning because He planned the beginning and planned the end! He created all things and made all things and brought all things into being that His glorious purpose might be fulfilled. It was this triumphant knowledge that gripped the heart of the apostle Paul when writing to the Romans, he drew aside the veil to give the saints a clearer view into the mysteries that lay hidden in God's mind from the foundation of the ages.
This is what he plainly stated: "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God." Now take particular notice of the words that follow: "For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him (God) who has subjected the same in hope. Because the creation itself ALSO shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the son of God " (Rom. 8:18-21).
Frankly, I never cease to be amazed at those who profess to yearn for the Sons of God to be manifested, who continually quote the Scripture about the whole creation groaning, waiting for the manifestation of the Sons of God, because the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God - and then when you tell them that the Sons of God shall really, truly, actually, factually, completely set all creation free they get upset and call you a heretic, or ask foolish questions like, "What good is it to believe that?"
If God isn't going to do what He said; if Christ isn't going to actually draw all men unto Himself; if the whole of creation is not going to be delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God; if God will not make all men alive in the Christ; if the last enemy, death, and hell shall never be destroyed; if the devil is going to possess the souls of the vast majority of men forever; if God is never going to become all in all; then I fail to see what is the purpose of all this qualifying for sonship, for a glorious ministry in the age and ages to come, for there is no ministry for the sons. We may as well forget about sonship, forget about being kings and priests unto God, forget about God setting all creation free, content ourselves with the present Church program, and be satisfied that while untold billions are damned for ever God shall have His sweet little handful of saints to rejoice with Him in heaven!
While the preparatory features of God's plan of the ages have all been related to the one harmonious program, they have varied in detail. This means that in our study of the Bible it is necessary properly to apply its promises and prophecies, else there will be seeming contradictions. That part of the divine plan which was developed prior to Christ's first advent was different from that which God has been doing since. His plans for the ages yet to come are again different from what is being done today.
An example or two will help to illustrate this point. In the second Psalm there is a prophecy which applies to Christ. Here the heavenly Father says to His beloved Son, "Ask of Me, and I shall give You the heathen (nations) for Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; The shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel" (Ps. 2:8-9). When Jesus came in the flesh, He did not ask for the nations of the world at all. Instead of that He said, "I pray not for the world, but for them which The has given Me out of the world" (Jn. 17:9). Does this mean that the prophecy of the second Psalm is not in harmony with what the Christ came to do? Not at all! It simply means that the fulfillment of this prophecy belongs to a different epoch in God's plan of the ages.
In Rev. 2:26-27 Jesus quotes a portion of the second Psalm and applies it to the overcomers out of the Church age, promising that they are to share with Him in ruling the nations with a rod of iron when the time comes for Him to ask for and receive the nations for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession. "And he that overcomes ... to him I will give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father." This is in harmony with numerous other New Testament promises to the overcoming saints of God, which show that they are to be joint-heirs with Him in His inheritance of the nations (Rom. 8:17; II Tim. 2:12). It is in harmony also with Jesus' prayer on behalf of His disciples, wherein He reveals that His purpose in calling them to be associated with Him in the Father's work is that the world might believe on him through them. Can we not see by this that when the time element is properly understood Jesus is to possess and rule the nations, but first there is the great task of calling and preparing those who will be partners with Him in that universal rulership which will bring the triumph of His Kingdom in all realms from pole to pole!
In the true and eloquent words of another: "The plan and order of God for this age was stated by the apostle James with clearness, brevity and eloquence when he, speaking to the apostles and brethren at Jerusalem with the anointing of the Spirit upon him, uttered this remarkable statement: 'Simon has declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles (nations) to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this (that is, after He has taken out a people for His name) I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men (the rest, the remainder of men) might seek after the Lord and all the Gentiles (nations) upon whom My name is called, says the Lord, who does all these things. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world (ages)' (Acts 15:14-18).
"Once God's plan for this age, outlined above by the inspired lips of the apostle James, has gripped your heart and laid hold upon your understanding, then you will clearly see that everything - yes, absolutely everything in this entire age - is working out just exactly as the omniscient God intended that it should. God is taking out a people. He is not calling all people now. He is taking out a people for His name. Jesus is the Christ. To be in Christ means that you have taken His name. To be in Christ is to be a Son of God, born of incorruptible seed as Jesus is a Son of God. To be in Christ is to be a member of the body of Christ . To be a member of the body of Christ is to be a king, a priest, a royal generation, an holy people. To be a sharer of His glorious name is to be prepared by God for the ages to come in which those chosen ones shall show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. Being thus called to bear His name is to be prepared to reign with Him in the ages to come, in which ages the Lord will gather the residue of mankind and eventually all the Gentiles whosoever and wheresoever they may be. That is the true purpose of the ministry of the Sons of God for which all creation groans and travails. Once you see the clearness of this plan, confusion drops away like a millstone into the depths of the sea and the order of the plan of God begins to take its place.
"The reason God's children make such frantic, though futile, efforts to compass land and sea to get the whole world converted in this age is because they cannot see that God is first calling out a people for His name that through them in the dispensation of the fullness of times He will gather all things into Christ. Be it known that in this age God's special purpose and program is to take out a people for His name - that is, a people to bear the name of Christ, the in-Christed - that in ages yet to come (and there are several of them) these elect saints shall rule the world and gather all things in earth and heaven into our wonderful Lord and Saviour (Eph. 1:10) " - The Page.
These "called out" people are, also call the "firstfruits" company. "Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of FIRSTFRUITS of His creatures" (James 1:18; Rom. 8:23; 11:6). Those who stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb are called "the FIRSTFRUITS unto God and the Lamb" (Rev. 14:4). Praise God! Just as, year after year, a sheaf of grain (Lev. 23:10) was waved before the Lord as a token of the coming crop, so the members of Christ's body in their triumph over the power of sin and death are but a beginning of what God shall gather unto Himself, to be followed in due course by the whole harvest of all the grain in the field - "the field is the world " (Mat. 13:38). It is an obvious fact that there can be no "firstfruits" except there be a great HARVEST to follow! But before God's salvation can be realized by "the residue of men," there must first come forth the "firstfruits" (a redeemed, holy people) through whom this reconciliation might be ministered.
God not only chose the members of the body of Christ, He not only predestinated them to the adoption of Sons, but He also did for them exactly what He did with Christ. He has "quickened us together with Christ, and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:5-6). God has given the body of Christ the highest standing that it is possible to give, in Christ, to be like Him, and to sit upon His throne. But that is not just to honor those who have been transformed by His grace. It is part of God's program for the Sons of God "in the ages to come."
What is that program? Here it is: "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Jesus Christ" (Eph. 2:7). "That He might show ..." "Show" is from a Greek word meaning "to exhibit, to put on display like a work of art, to demonstrate."
The Amplified Bible reads, "He did this that He might clearly DEMONSTRATE through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace in kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus."
Kenneth Wuest translates, "In order that He might EXHIBIT ... in the ages that pile themselves upon one another in continuous succession the surpassing wealth of His grace in kindness to us in Christ Jesus." Show ... demonstrate ... exhibit the riches of His grace - to whom? Not to those who already know it - that would be useless nonsense. But to those who do not know it! And not as an expression of God's scorn, ridicule, or cynicism, saying to the multitudes of hopelessly lost men and women, "Just look at what you missed!" That would be no demonstration of the riches of grace nor would it be an exhibit of His unsurpassed kindness! But, praise His name, in the ages to come He shall put His grace and kindness toward us on display that the entire creation may walk across the stage of His cosmic theater and behold and see and finally come to understand what God has provided for all men in Christ.
But the objection will be made that "in the ages to come" men will not deserve an opportunity to accept Christ. Of course there will be countless billions there who have never had an opportunity for salvation, who never heard the name of Christ, whose hearts were never touched by His gracious Spirit. But there will be other countless millions who have heard the message and have rejected it. So men who ought to know better say, "Let them go to hell! They will be getting just exactly what they deserve!" Alas, how many so-called Sons of God I meet across the land who actually fear that some poor, lost, hell-bent sinner might not get everything he deserves! God have mercy upon them.
May I now state that I do not deserve the grace of God. And without any thought of being insulting, but just to state the fact according to God's estimation, you do not deserve the grace of God, either! All men are undeserving sinners. That is why it takes grace to save. "For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). Have you noticed that these beautiful verses follow immediately the statement, "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Jesus Christ?" And why do these verses begin with the word "for?" The word "for" shows a relationship between what precedes and what follows. In the ages to come He will demonstrate and exhibit His grace, for He has already shown it to us, the members of His body, whom He will use as the demonstration!
So God chooses a "firstfruit," a few undeserving sinners in this age; calls them, saves them, sanctifies them, transforms them into the image of Christ, fills them with His mind, clothes them with Ms glory, that through them He may demonstrate His grace to other undeserving sinners "in the ages to come." And the demonstration will be convincing, too. It will accomplish what God intends that it shall accomplish, praise His wonderful name!
Paul wrote to his beloved son Timothy, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to he saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (I Tim. 2:3-6). Praise God, He "gave Himself a ransom for all," in order that he might bless all, and give to every man all that Christ purchased for men.
To claim that He gave a "ransom for all " and yet to claim that only a mere handful of the ransomed ones will ever receive any benefit from it, is absurd; for it would imply either that God accepted the ransom-price and then unjustly refused to grant the release of the redeemed, or else that the Lord, after redeeming all, was either unable or unwilling to carry out the original benevolent design. The unchangeableness of the divine plan, no less than the perfection of the divine justice and love, repels and contradicts such a thought, and gives us blessed assurance that the original plan, of which the "ransom for all" was the basis, will be fully carried out in God's own "due time," and, will bring to all men everywhere the blessing of release from the power of sin and death, and a return to the rights and liberties of sons of God, as enjoyed before sin and the curse.
In his statement to Timothy, Paul gives us the key to the seeming delay in the blessing of the whole race with the life-giving streams of that precious fountain flowing from Immanuel's veins. He says that Christ "gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
In I Jn. 2:2 the apostle John makes it clear that "Christ is the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. " Thus it is plain to all who have eyes to see that the application of the merit of Christ's sacrifice on behalf of sin is to be made in two seperate parts- first for "ours;" that is, for the members of Christ's own body; and then, later, in due time "for the sins of the whole world."
Surely these are simple words that even a child can understand! I do not hesitate to emphasize the blessed truth that during this Church age the merit of Christ's atonement is being applied only on behalf of the members of Christ's body, the Church, which is the firstfruits of the result of that all-inclusive sacrifice.
In relation to this truth it is important that we get a clear idea, not only of the structure of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, but also that we should know something of the actors therein, and their significance as types. There are three groups: first, Israel, called "the Camp," then the Levites, and finally Aaron and his house, "the Priesthood." Israel is used in many instances to typify the Church, the body of Christ. For instance, when they left Egyptian bondage, they were a type of God's children who hear His call to come out from the world and follow Him into His Kingdom.
The wilderness journey represented the tedious pilgrimage through which many pass, seeking the promised Canaan of rest - "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." As in the type, so in reality, the promised Canaan of rest is not far off, if God's children had faith enough to go up and at once enter in by faith. God has made abundant provision for them: yet they journey through the Wilderness of Sin, seeking rest and finding none, because they lack faith in God's promises. Some wander thus a long time; and some never enter the Kingdom realm because of unbelief. But while Israel, according to the flesh, is thus and in other ways used to typify Spiritual Israel, yet as we are now examining it, in its relation to the Tabernacle, it is a totally different type. The whole of Israel lay totally outside the Tabernacle, outside of the place of sacrifice, outside of the ministry of the Priesthood, outside of the presence and glory of God, separated by the white curtain of Christ's righteousness from all that lay within. Thus "the Camp" was separated from all holy things by the curtain of white linen, representing to those within a wall of righteousness by faith, but to those without a wall of unbelief which hindered their view of and access to the holy things within. There was only one gateway to enter the "Court"; the type thus testifying that there is but one way of access to God - one "gate" - Jesus. "I am the way ... no man comes unto the Father but by Me. " "I am the door, by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved" (Jn. 14:6; 10:9). The sin-offering, sacrifice, atonement, etc., made typical for them, were typical of the "better sacrifices" made on behalf of the whole world; for thus we read, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world " (I Jn. 2:2; Heb. 9:23).
In a word, Israel , as well as the Tabernacle, Priests, Levites and sacrifices, was a type. And what was there done in symbol with and for Israel is, since the coming of Christ, being carried out on a higher plane, and on a larger scale, the latter being the reality, of which that was the type or shadow. As Israel typified the world so the tribe of Levites typified the "household of faith," or all believers in Jesus who know Him in the forgiveness of sins. But the Priesthood, the house of Aaron, one body under one chief or High Priest, was typical of the "little flock," the "overcomers," which, with its "Head" or High Priest, is a Royal Priesthood, the members of which, after this present time of preparation and processing, are KINGS AND PRIESTS unto God, and given authority over all nations and over all of mankind (Rev. 5:10; 2:26-27). Thus viewed, we see Jesus the High Priest, not a priest of the Aaronic order, which was but the type of a greater and grander profession or order the Head of the real Priesthood of which others were but figures (Heb. 3:1; 4:14). The Aaronic Priesthood typified chiefly the humiliation and sufferings of the Christ, less His future glory - Melchizedec being the type of the Christ as a Kingly or Royal Priesthood.
The "Outer Court" of the Tabernacle represented the condition of Justification, entered through faith in Christ, the "gate." Into this "Court" only Levites (typical of all believers ) were allowed to come, during the Day of Atonement. These had access to the "Brazen Altar" and to the "Laver," and did service in the "Court," but had no right as merely Levites (believers) to go into the Holy Place or the Holiest of All; no, nor even to look into it (Num. 4:19-20).
The apostle Peter shows who were typified by the Aaronic Priests when, addressing those who were sanctified , he says, "You are...an holy priesthood to offer up sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." "You are ... a royal priesthood" (I Pet. 1:2; 2:5,9). That the Head or Chief Priest of this Priesthood, this "little flock," is our Lord Jesus, is repeatedly mentioned by the apostles. I give but one quotation: "Holy brethren (the Royal Priesthood), partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and High Priest of our profession (our order of priests), Christ Jesus" (Heb. 3:1).
On the Day of Atonement the High Priest carried the blood of the sacrificed bullock into the Holiest Place, there to be sprinkled upon and before the mercy seat in the presence of God. This was done on behalf of Aaron "and for his house" - the Priesthood (Lev. 16:6, 11, 14). Paul says this transaction was a picture of the presentation before God of the merit of Christ's sacrifice on behalf of the church. He writes, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for US (saints)" (Heb. 9:24). It is important to note that on the Day of Atonement there were two sets of sacrifices offered, two rams, two goats, and two burnt offerings. All these sacrifices point to Christ and His redeeming work, and this in no way indicates that Christ died twice; but it clearly reveals two distinct and separate aspects of the atonement - showing that the merits of Christ' s sacrifice are applied in two parts: first for "us," the body of Christ during the Church age, and later for "the whole world."
That the merits of Christ's redemption are applied in two separate parts is clearly seen in the offering of the two rams on the Day of Atonement. Many Scriptures could be cited, but we shall content ourselves with one example which clearly points out the two aspects of the application of Christ's redeeming work.
"And Aaron shall come into the Tabernacle of the congregation (the Holy Place) and shall put off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the Holy Place (the "Most Holy") and he shall leave them there; and he shall wash his flesh with water in the Holy Place and put on his (usual) garments and come forth and offer His burnt offering and the burnt offering for the people, and make atonement for Himself (the Christ, Head and body, the Church) and for the people " (Lev. 16:23-24).
It is obvious that no atonement needed to be made for our great antitypical High Priest, Jesus, for He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," yet, in the shadow of good things to come, an atonement was made for Aaron and his house. This ram for Aaron included all the members of his family, the priesthood, and in type, therefore, covers all the members of Christ's Body, the royal priesthood -- and we did indeed need an atonement! Can we not clearly see by this that there were two rams, two sacrifices, one for the Priesthood, and another for the people? There should be no question in the mind of any who are willing to face facts that there are two applications of Christ's atonement, first for the body of Christ during this age, and later "for the whole world." Glory!
When every living stone has been readied and permanently placed within the living walls of that glorious body of Kings and Priests, that wonderful temple of Sons, then from this glorious living temple shall flow forth the Living Waters that Ezekiel saw in the Spirit many centuries ago and wherever the river flows everything shall live. All the waters of the sea (restless surging masses of humanity) shall be healed and even the owls and the dragons of the deep shall lift up their voices in praise and worship to the Lord of hosts, praise His worthy name!
In the hour in which we live the vast majority of Christians are more miserable than most other people in the world. They are only enduring this life in order to eventually get to heaven where they imagine they will spend the next billion trillion years or so singing, playing harps, and dancing. I am quite sure that if such people would admit the truth, they would admit that even a thousand years of singing, shouting, playing harp music and dancing around in white robes would become very boring, to say the least. I find that most of these people can't endure five hours in a meeting even if the glory is failing all around! The problem is that their theology leaves them with nothing constructive to do and all eternity to do it in!
To possess the fullness of the mighty anointing of God's Spirit of power and holiness for this life only would be like putting a five thousand horse power engine in a common automobile. That would be more power than could possibly be used in any automobile made for common use. Such power would actually destroy any automobile in which it was placed. It would be of no benefit in any way, but become a very real danger. We are admonished to "go on to perfection" and "put on the whole armor of God" and "be filled with all the fullness of God" and "grow up into Him in all things" and are promised that "we shall be like Him" and do "greater works" than Jesus did.
But if such awesome glory and power is to be used only through the fleeting years of this present life, or expended throughout eternity in singing, shouting, and dancing - what a waste! This life could not under any circumstances endure to possess the FULL anointing of God. Therefore this anointing must be for another work than we find in this life or this present age. There must be something beyond upon which this anointing is to be used, else why would the Lord spend such long time, and work with such meticulous care to bring forth a body in the fullness of His life and victory? If we do not see any ministry beyond this life for which we can use this anointing, we are then truly the most miserable of all men, for we actually possess something which is of very little use. God has not allowed anything like the real fullness of this mighty anointing to come into actual use. It is, for the most part, resting in a dormant state within the body of Christ. The anointing of God is far, far greater than the Church has ever witnessed, even as the hydrogen bomb is far more powerful than the hand grenade. Truly that is but a feeble comparison, but what comparison can we make between all the fullness of God and the "measure" we have thus far experienced?
Perhaps now we can understand why God has reserved the ages to come to put the fullness of His grace and glory and power on display and in demonstration through the perfected, overcoming, and fully anointed Sons of God! Thank God! He has not called us to such glory and virtue and authority to see nothing more come of it than we now see about us, but all we are learning and acquiring and attaining during this present time is but preparation for the greater glory yet to be revealed in us and the greater work still to be done.
One of the grandest passages of Scripture to be found in all the pages of God's wonderful Word is in I Cor. 15:20-28 and is accentuated by this remarkable proclamation: "...as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Would God that I had the voice of a trumpet that I could sound from the highest mountain peak this message that "as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ SHALL ALL be made alive!" Just what does it mean for ALL to be "made alive?" First we must understand what it means for ALL to "die." I will speak very plainly about that condition or state of being that we call death. Who are the dead? Of course some one will say that is a foolish question because it is so obvious that the dead are those who have departed this life, their bodies lie buried in the earth.
But far more than our decease was brought in by Adam, and something which affects our souls much more than the sleep which ends our earth consciousness. God did not say to Adam, "In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die" (Gen. 2:17). If He had, Adam would have fallen over dead in the very day he sinned. He would then have had no progeny of sinners. In the precise language of the Hebrew He said, "And dying, you shall die." That is, there would be a process of dying as well as a condition of death. As we now know, there is a long process of disintegration, with which we are all acquainted, even though we are accustomed to calling it life! Ever since Adam sinned, he and his descendants have been dying. It isn't that death "catches up with us." Death is a part of us, from the very moment of conception until the day it triumphs over us. Like ripe fruit plucked from the tree, our bloom soon passes away. In Adam, all are dying, even while they walk about on two feet. That is the "life" that we inherited from our disobedient parent.
But death is much more than this! No more precise definition of death can be given than the one provided by God Himself : "For to be carnally minded IS DEATH; but to be spiritually minded IS LIFE and peace" (Rom. 8:6). This is the process of death, descending from the purity of the realm of the spiritual, to thus awaken to the realm of the flesh, to mind the things of the flesh. And as long as we remain carnally minded, we remain in the state of death. It is not speaking of dead bodies, but of a dead-consciousness of God. Those who are not in any sense conscious of God, or His life, or what God is doing about them. They know not God or His will or His work, it is as foreign to them as though they were far away in some other part of God's universe. The sad part of it is that many of the dead are professing Christians. The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians and said, "Awake you that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." Were these words directed to bodies in the cemetery? How foolish! It was written to professed Christians in the Church at Ephesus. Can we not see that in God's sight, death is not so much concerned with the fleshly body as with the consciousness of God's life.
The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be, for it minds only the things of the flesh, and fulfills the desires of the self-will, all of which perishes. Paul describes this natural state this way, "And you - who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Eph. 2:1-3). The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and death has passed upon ALL MEN, for that ALL HAVE SINNED.
This inworking of the mystery of iniquity has brought every man into the death of the carnal mind, terminating our consciousness of the spiritual realm, and causing us to become very self conscious in the flesh realm. Anybody apart from God in Christ is dead, whether in this life, or in any other. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I Jn. 5:12). Physical death is only one of the results of a previous spiritual death. When Adam sinned, fellowship was broken between himself and the realm of God. It was not merely his physical demise after 930 years that constituted his death, but his separation from God on the very day he sinned was the inner reality of his death. That is the real death! And all the sorrows, frustrations, heartaches, pains, sicknesses, sufferings, disappointments, tragedies, and torments of this poor mortal existence are all part and parcel of the realm of death - truly the condition and state of being of all men "in Adam."
Let us now see how it is that "in Christ" all shall be made alive. The verse under consideration is found in I Cor. 15:22, and this whole chapter deals with resurrection. The word resurrection is so inadequate to express the true thought or idea that the Holy Spirit is conveying to us. The common conception of this word carries with it the idea of opening all the graves in the world and the arising out of them of the physical bodies of those who have died. But since death is something more than dead bodies, you can be assured, dear ones, that resurrection is something far beyond bringing bodies out of tombs. To have a false or limited view of the resurrection is to have a false and limited view of God's work throughout the ages until now. If our view of the resurrection is dwarfed, then our whole view of God's plan is dwarfed.
So we read that in Christ all shall be made alive. The contrast is not between corpses and walking bodies, but between the dying process and the life process in God. The Greek text actually reads, "As in Adam all are dying , so in the Christ shall all be made alive." The terms "are dying" and "shall be made alive" are in the incomplete tense in the original, which denotes an action in progress. The long drawn out activity of death in dragging men down to sin, death, and the grave is put in contrast with the endless activity of life imparting holiness, power, incorruption, and glory. All who endured the first shall enjoy the second. Here is a message for mankind which should lift it above its misery! The process of His life, and hence, the process of resurrection has already commenced with us! Truly "He hath quickened Us together with Christ...and hath raised us up " so that "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above" (Eph. 2:5-6; Col. 3:1).
To be "made alive" is more than some instantaneous event to take place some time in the distant future. "Made alive" is not a blasting open of graves and the coming forth of the bodies that have been buried in them. "Made alive" does not point to some event when people will go soaring off into the heavens. When Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus, He rebuked Martha for looking for some manner of event in the far distant future and told her that the resurrection and the life was standing there before them. "I am the resurrection and the life." Oh, saints of God, do you not see that the eternal Father within the Christ was and is the resurrection? "I live by the Father," Jesus declared. The resurrection was not some thing that happened to Jesus, not some event of which He was a partaker, not some day marked by the calendar. The resurrection was and is A MAN! "I AM" - there it is! "I AM the resurrection and the life." To possess the Man, to put on the Man, to come into union with the Man is to have resurrection, for the Man IS the resurrection. "In Christ shall all be made alive."
This is what Paul is speaking of in the fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians. He bases his argument on the fact of whether or not the Christ has risen from the dead. In verse sixteen we read from the Diaglott, "For if dead persons are not raised up, neither has Christ been raised." Please notice, and most other translations bear this out, Paul says, "If dead persons are not (present tense) raised up." He did not say, "If dead persons will not (future tense) be raised up." He placed it in the present, that if the dead are not raised up, then Christ is not raised! If Jesus the Christ is the only one so far raised from the dead, He is most surely having a lonely time of it, and He too is looking with wistful eyes into the unknown future, waiting for the graves to open. But there is a note of triumph in Paul's epistle, and that epistle comes right out of Paul's own personal experience when he proclaims in verse twenty, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept." Ah, the word "sleep" is in the past tense, them that slept. This can but mean that they are not sleeping now, and Christ has already led forth from the dominion of death an unknown host who are with Him in the life of the resurrection!
Truly the resurrection is not a future hope - it is a present reality. As those in Adam "are dying" so in Christ men "are being made alive." Receiving of His life we find it to be a resurrection life. The word "resurrection" is from the Greek word ANASTASIS meaning a standing or rising up. It denotes much more than our English word resurrection which we term to mean a restoring to life again. The Greek word means the whole process of advancing and rising up until the highest possible realm is reached, and our goal is nothing short than full conformation into the image of God; that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him.
Resurrection is the process of standing up and advancing, it is arising from the dust and the low realm of the earthy, to bear the image of the heavenly. Resurrection is the process of having our life lifted up from the earth, to be raised to the heavenlies, joined in one with the fullness of the Spirit of God. Our alienation and separation from God, with all the dreadful attending sorrows, are already beginning to end in this life as through Christ we ARE MADE ALIVE! And, blessed be His name, in Christ shall ALL be made alive!
In the face of a hope so blessed and glorious as this, some have raised an objection, contending that not ALL who die in Adam will be made alive in Christ. These assert that in each case the "all" is limited, so that it is only all who are in Christ that shall be made alive. The idea is that it is not the same all who die in Adam that are made alive in Christ. All who have ever lived were "in Adam" and therefore died, they say, but only a few have by faith come to be "in Christ" - and only "all in Christ" are given life. If that were true, this booklet would be a short one and our story soon told. I do not hesitate to say that that is indeed a crafty and cunning - but devious - argument. It reveals the crass ignorance of those who employ it. It shows that either they have not read the Scripture, or they have read it but, like the Ethiopian Eunuch, understand not what they read and need "some man to teach them."
It has been said that if the average Christian knew what his Bible is talking about, he would burn it as a dangerous and heretical writing. There is much more truth to this statement than most of us would like to admit. False doctrine is founded on error. While professing to believe and teach the Word, yet it can do nothing but contradict it. Most of its efforts are therefore an attempt to make the Word conform to its own ignorant imaginings. While it loudly proclaims the Bible to be true and professes to believe it, yet it must continually change and explain its truths in such a way as to make them uphold its own reasonings. God's true ministers are those who have come to the place where they dare to believe God, though it makes all men liars. And anyone who will serve the Lord faithfully by declaring His truth is bound to be unpopular with all the ministers in apostasy, because he must then continually expose their shame.
And the assertion that all who die in Adam will not be made alive in the Christ is very sly and cunning and deceptive. It is a flat contradiction of the Word of God. Furthermore, it is a Christ dishonoring blasphemy straight out of the pit. The simple truth is that the argument is a subtle play on words, while missing or ignoring altogether what Paul really said. His statement in I Cor. 15:22 can be made to say what these deceivers make it say only when it is taken out of context. It must be read in connection with all the verses surrounding it. As soon as this principle is faithfully followed, it becomes plain.
Here is what Paul says in the verse under consideration: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" -but that is not the end of the matter! Paul does not drop his thought or change his subject at the end of that sentence. The very same thought is continued in the next verse where the apostle states, "But every man in His own order." That is, all who shall be made alive in the Christ will be made alive by an order, in sequence, according to a progressive arrangement, determined by group, position, degree or rank. The Scriptures make it very plain that all are not saved at the same time. "Who gave Himself a ransom for all; to be testified in due time " (I Tim. 2:6). At the present time God is saving only those He has called unto the special salvation of the ages (I Cor. 1:26-30; 1 Tim. 6:12). He will use these to bring about the salvation of the rest (Eph. 1:9-12; 2:6-10; Rom. 8:18-23).
The Greek word translated "order" is TAGMA and means a "group," or "rank," or "band," or "company." TAGMA actually comes from a root word meaning to appoint, determine, or set in array, as used in Acts 13:38, "and as many as were ordained (set in array) to eternal life believed." The thought is of soldiers marching in bands, companies, regiments or battalions. As in times of war the country calls age groups and forms them into companies of men, so in like manner the Spirit of God calls to resurrection and life every man in his own time, order, and rank. Man holds no power to hasten that order even for an hour; neither has he power to delay it.
While men who understand nothing of the plan of God go rushing far and wide, desperately trying to convert the world "before it is eternally too late, " the Almighty God in matchless serenity sits on His glorious throne, beholding with joy His on-going purpose of the ages as it develops in magnificent harmony, and sends forth His Spirit at just the proper time to call "every man in his own order. "
As one has so beautifully written,"Jesus clearly taught that No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him,' giving indication that the initiative is God's, as He causes us to come in His time, to be in that order, that rank that He has determined for us. But He also made it clear, that regardless of the timing of our call, when the Father draws us to Himself, the process continues until ALL have been brought to Him, for He said, 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me' (Jn. 12:32). 'Every man in his own order' is also very reassuring, for it promises that in His own time and calling for each one, He will bring them into the fullness of His life. The Spirit draws, awakens, illumines, imparts life - according to the will of God for each individual. Each in his own rank. There is no merit upon man for this choosing - 'It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, BUT OF GOD that shows mercy' (Rom. 9:16). And when He draws us we can only bow in humble thanksgiving for this expression of His love toward us, and receive Him, yield to Him, and follow after Him with our whole heart." - Gospel Echoes.
And now, let us see what the order is. "In Christ shall all be made alive - but every man in his own order." And then the apostle lists three unmistakable and successive orders in which EVERY MAN is made alive. Hear it! "But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under His feet ... and when all things shall be subdued unto Him , then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be ALL IN ALL" (I Cor. 15:23-28). Let me present the three orders:
1. Christ the firstfruits
2. Afterwards those who are Christ's at His coming
3. Then the end ... all enemies ... all things subdued ... until God is ALL IN ALL.
What a demonstration of love and grace and power! The mighty working of HIS LIFE in this third group shows us that the impetus given to God's purpose by the resurrection of Christ from the dead does not expend itself until all others are made alive in Him; until all sovereignty and authority and power in opposition to Him is broken; until all enemies are placed under Christ's feet, subdued unto Him; until the last enemy, death itself, is abolished and there is no more death abiding in any creature anywhere; until all in the universe is included in the Kingdom of the Son; until the Son Himself has handed over the Kingdom and all its subjects to the Father and God has become All in all - everything to everyone everywhere! What an impetus! The resurrection of Christ from the dead sets in motion a chain of happenings which carry on and do not stop until God's great purpose in the ages is fully consummated.
What love! What wondrous love! The might of God's strength which operated in Christ, raising Him from the dead, was sufficient to exalt Him to the highest pinnacle of the universe, thus ensuring that all His enemies would be reconciled to Him, that every opposing power would .be made subordinate to Him, that all sin and death in every realm and in every man and in every creature throughout all the unbounded heavens would be so swallowed up of His life until God would be all in all, bless His glorious name! The gospel of the grace of God! May it flood our hearts that they may, indeed, be illuminated with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
After "Christ the firstfruits" and "those who are Christ's at His coming" notice the words - "then comes the end." Paul is talking about the "order" in which all are to be made alive. As I have pointed out, the word "order" means a group, or rank, or band, like succeeding groups or bands in a parade. "Christ the firstfruits" is the first order; "they that are Christ's" are the second order; and the Greek says, "Then the end," an expression that is not unlike "bringing up the rear." It constitutes the "end rank" or the last order to be made alive in Christ. Paul is writing about three orders or classes of mankind to be made alive in Christ, and these three orders constitute ALL of mankind. Paul seems to pile up words to make clear his meaning that all things in the universe are to be brought into subjection to God.
In I Cor. 15:22-28 he uses the word "all" twelve times, and in just the last two verses he repeats the idea of subjection six times. One wonders what else He could have written to make men understand his meaning. He is saying as clearly as words can say that the ultimate goal of God is the bringing into subjection of all beings in the universe, in heaven, in earth, and in the underworld!
"Then comes the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies UNDER HIS FEET. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He says all things are PUT UNDER Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did PUT all things UNDER HIM. And when ALL THINGS shall be SUBDUED UNTO Him, then shall the Son also Himself BE SUBJECT unto Him that PUT ALL THINGS under Him, that God may be all in all" (I Cor. 15:24-28).
In the 27th and 28th verses one single verb meaning "put in subjection" is used six times. It is variously translated as "put under," "subdues," and "be subject." Paul chooses this word to make clear his meaning that all things in the universe are to be brought into subjection to God. To bring into subjection is to bring into obedience. There can be no reconciliation, no harmony, no orderly Kingdom, no "God all in all" without a subjugation; and as God accepts nothing but a willing obedience, He plans to bring ALL to a willing obedience to His will. God does not make anyone do anything. But He certainly knows how to "make" us WILLING! God didn't "make" Jonah go to Nineveh, but He did make him willing to go!
"Who will transform the body of our humiliation into a conformity with His glorious body, according to the energy by which He is able to subject all things to Himself" (Phil. 3:21). The power that transforms our bodies into the likeness of His glorious body, is the same power that will subdue ALL THINGS unto Him. They will become His subjects, and own Him as their King. Some erroneously teach that THINGS does not mean people, that it only means nature, thrones, governmental positions, etc. If so, God loves the created inanimate THINGS more than man who was made in His image! That is but another of Babylon's infamous lies, a deceitful smokescreen to keep the Lord's precious people from the truth. The Scriptures plainly repudiate such an untenable position.
Of course ALL THINGS includes ALL PEOPLE! Numerous passages could be cited, but I share only two briefly, to establish the point.
"Therefore let no man glory in men. For ALL THINGS are yours; whether PAUL, or APOLLOS, or CEPHAS, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; ALL are yours" (I Cor. 3:21-22). It should be plain to anyone that people Paul, Apollos, and Cephas - are among the ALL THINGS that Paul enumerates as belonging to the saints. Such other items as "the world" and "life" are included with them as "things." No less illustrious a personage than our blessed Lord Jesus Christ is called in Scripture a "thing." "The angel answered and said unto her ... that HOLY THING which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Lk. 1:35).
The real proof, however, lies right within the passage under consideration. "For HE hath put ALL THINGS under His feet. But when He says ALL THINGS are put under Him, it is manifest that HE is excepted, which did put ALL THINGS under Him" (I Cor. 15:27). Now, I am sure that all will admit that GOD is a person. God is not an inanimate object or an abstract governmental position. He is a living being! And He is the only thing, according to Paul, that is not subdued unto the Christ. Thus the internal evidence in our text reveals beyond any shadow of a doubt that within the scope of the "all things" subdued unto Christ and delivered up to the Father are ALL LIVING BEINGS other than God Himself. None can contradict this fact but those so bound in the darkness of error that they no longer care what the Word of God says - they will fight to the end for their man-made traditions!
The description, moreover, of this consummation in the verses quoted is so sweeping that words and terms mean nothing at all if it does not set forth total and universal homage paid by willing hearts to Christ, and thus to God. Some have the idea that the subjection referred to is something like the subjection of the Jews in the Nazi concentration camps during the second world war. Those who hold that view envision billions of people confined to the lake of fire screaming, cursing, hating and blaspheming God in their torments, but subjected, confined, held by force, unable to escape, or to ever again be free to spread their sin and rebellion through God's universe - but never changed. But notice, precious friend of mine, the very same Greek word that suffices to describe the complete and loving subjection of the Son to the Father, is used to declare what is the nature of the submission of all things under the Son's rule and reign. There will be nothing anywhere that is any longer antagonistic to God, therefore the reason why Christ's redemptive reign comes to an end, and He hands over to God all the subjugated and loyal realms of heaven and earth and hell that He may become "All in All." The same word for "subdue" is used in other places for the kind of subjection that Christ yielded to His parents, that the Church gives to Christ, and that God's children render to their Father - the identical subjugation into which Christ will bring all things when the consummation of His reign arrives.
This kind of total subjugation to God is that which is being wrought in the "firstfruit company" in this hour. Have you totally surrendered yourself to God? This is what God demands. In numerous places, in various ways, in different words, God says the same thing over and over again. And yet, sometimes it seems that we fail to get the message: Yield yourselves to God. Submit yourselves to Christ. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices. Die to self. Lay down your life. Present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead. Yield not your members as instruments of unrighteousness but as instruments of righteousness unto God. Put off the old man. Put on the mind of Christ. Walk in the Spirit. Over and over again, God says the same thing. And what He now requires of us, His firstfruits, He ultimately requires of the whole creation! He wants us to yield ourselves to Him. Andrew Murray, in a great monograph on this subject, calls our attention to the encounter that King Ahab had with Ben-hadad, king of Syria. From that encounter, Murray draws a very significant lesson. Perhaps you recall the situation.
Ben-hadad ruled over Syria, located to the north of Israel. The wicked King Ahab was the monarch reigning over the Northern Kingdom from the capital city of Samaria. Ben-hadad gathered together his hosts which he described as more numerous than all the dust of Samaria. He, along with thirty-two other kings, attacked and devastated the countryside of Israel. Finally they surrounded the capital of Samaria. And here they stood in a vast unnumbered seriate array of tanks, thousands upon thousands of foot soldiers, chariots, and horsemen - all with their bright and beautiful shields and spears and armor shining in the sun. Totally surrounding the city for as far as the eye could see, they "warred against Samaria," we are told.
Just how long the battle continued, we are not told. It may have been an extended period of time, but one thing is certain. The rebellious King Ahab of Samaria was brought to complete submission to Ben-hadad. All hope for King Ahab fled. There was to be no victory for him. There was to be no conditional surrender. Instead, he lost everything. The message came from Ben-hadad: "Thus says Ben-hadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. " When Ahab received this message he didn't resist - and curse and blaspheme Ben-hadad. No! He responded, "My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am yours, and all that I have." Now, what Ben-hadad demanded was absolute and total surrender. And what Ahab gave was total surrender: "I am yours, and all that I have." Ah, here is a picture of that which God demands of us, who are in rebellion against Him, the just and only Potentate. God comes to us and demands that we surrender to Him. He demands it of the whole creation! This is what it means when it says that He subjects to Himself ALL RULE AND ALL AUTHORITY AND POWER AND ALL THINGS. Glory to His name!
It seems that, usually, we are ready to do almost anything but surrender ourselves to God. I recall the time when the British general came to surrender to Washington. The general began with a flowery speech in which he praised Washington for his magnificent military tactics and the way he had conducted the campaigns. He was eloquently praising Washington when Washington suddenly interrupted him with these words: "Your sword, sir!" Similarly, we come to offer God the flattery of our lips, the praise of our hymns. And God is saying to us, "Your sword, sir!" Surrender is what God wants! Total surrender of our lives!
The following words by George D. Watson will help us see the unsurpassable beauty and majesty of what it really means to be SUBDUED UNTO God.
"Before God can launch us out into the breadth and sweetness of His service, and entrust to us great things for Himself, we must be perfectly subdued in every part of our nature to His will and disposition of His mind. We must be subdued in our hearts, in our wills, in our words, in our tempers, in our manners; subdued through and through so thoroughly that we will be flexible to all His purposes and plans. We must be subdued that harshness, severity, criticism, slugishness, laziness, impetuousity, and all wanting our way, even in religious matters, must be subdued out of us. Conversion will not finish this work.
"We must be subdued, not merely in our own opinion, not merely think ourselves subdued, not only subdued in the esteem of our friends and fellow workers, but subdued so perfectly that the all-seeing eye of God can look us through, and the omniscient One knows that we are subdued. God must conquer the man that He can trust with His great thoughts and plans. The Holy Ghost must saturate us with a divine conquest, before He can use us to conquer other souls. The Lord will begin to subdue us with gentle means; and if we sink lovingly and promptly into His mind, the work will be done; but, if we have flint or iron in our nature, and it is necessary, He will use heroic means and put us between the millstones and grind us to powder, until He can mold us without any resistance to His purpose. We must be so subdued that we can hold our tongues, and walk softly with God, keep our eyes upon Jesus, attend to our own work, and do God's will promptly and lovingly, glad to have a place in His Kingdom.
"Oh! it is grand to be absolutely conquered by the Holy Ghost, and swing out a thousand miles from everybody and everything into the ocean of God's presence. When we are subdued in the sight of God, He will work miracles in us, and power in experience, in healing, in finance, in service, in gentleness, and in sweetness of the inner heart life; miracles of grace that will astonish us and surprise our friends, and utterly amaze our enemies, when they come to know the magnitude of what God has wrought. Let us get subdued in every way, in everything!"
Oh, the ineffable glory to be revealed when all rule and all authority and all power and all enemies and all things shall be subdued unto Christ and God shall be all in all! What anticipation this stirs in our hearts!
Oh! the beauty of God's plan of the ages! "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). It is a fundamental and wonderful fact that salvation is of the Lord and not man, but the Lord does not save all in this age. Why not? He does save some; and if He saves some, why not others? Is it because they are too sinful and depraved? No; for the apostle wrote, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief " (I Tim. 1:15). Therefore, if God saved the "chief" of sinners, none are excluded because of their depravity. Why then does God not now save all? Is it because some are too stony-hearted to be won? No; because of the most stony-hearted people of all it is written, that God will yet "take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh" (Eze. 11:9). Then is it because some are so stubborn, so intractable, so defiant, so incorrigible that God is unable to woo them to Himself?
I shall answer that question by asking another. Beloved, was there not a time when you walked in the counsel of the ungodly, stood in the way of sinners, sat in the seat of the scornful, and with them said, "We will not have this Man to reign over us" (Lk. 19:14)? Was there not a time when you "would not come to Christ that you might have life" (Jn. 5:40)? With shamed face most of those who read these lines have to acknowledge there was. But how is it that all is now changed? What was it that brought you from haughty self-sufficiency to a humble suppliant, from one that was at enmity with God to one that is at peace with Him, from lawlessness to subjection, from hate to love? And, as one born of the Spirit, you will readily reply, " By the grace of God I am what I am" (I Cor. 15:10).
What is it that caused you to put your trust in Christ? Is it because you were more intelligent than your fellows, and quicker to discern your need of salvation? Perish the thought - " Who makes you to differ from another ? And what have you that you did not receive? Now if you didn't receive it, why do you glory, as if you had not received it" (I Cor. 4:7)? Then do you not see that it is due to no lack of power in God, nor to His refusal to coerce man, that other rebels are not now saved too? If God was able to subdue your heart, then is He not able to do the same for others? Assuredly He is! Then how inconsistent, how illogical, how foolish of men to argue that God is unable to save the masses of hell-bent humanity because they will not let Him. Do you say, "But the time came when I was willing , willing to receive Christ as my Saviour." True, but it was the Lord who made you willing! (Ps. 110:3; Phil. 2:13).
Why then does He not make other sinners willing? The answer is of course: He will! "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive. BUT EVERY MAN IN HIS OWN ORDER: a firstfruit Anointed; afterwards they that are Christ's at His appearing. Then... the end, when ... ALL SHALL BE SUBDUED UNTO HIM ... that God may be ALL IN ALL."
I shall fight that battle for the supremacy of Christ while there is a drop of blood in my body. I shall claim that every foot of this earth and every man upon this earth and under the earth belongs to Christ, for He made the earth and He made every man. He tasted death for every man, and therefore, every foot of the earth; and every man on the earth and under the earth belongs to Christ my Lord. They are His by right of creation and by right of redemption. I claim for His this great and universal Kingdom. The Church has forgotten that Christ came to establish a Kingdom and that it must break in pieces and CONSUME (take into itself) every other kingdom including the devil's kingdom. The Gospel which Christ preached was the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The hope and aim of all His work was the establishment of the Kingdom of God. When the end shall come, He shall deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, and in it will be everything God created, that God may be ALL IN ALL.
We who preach this Gospel of the all-inclusive redemption of Christ preach not a Gospel of limited atonement, nor of a partial Kingdom, nor of a Christ who was a failure, nor of a devil who wins the battle for souls and possesses the souls of untold billions throughout an endless eternity. Such a doctrine would be blasphemy! We preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and of the triumph of that Kingdom in every realm. We demand that every man upon this God's earth, and under the earth, and in heaven and hell and throughout the universe, shall bow the knee and glorify God by calling Jesus Lord and serving and obeying Him with a willing heart. God shall grant it! If it takes ages upon ages, God shall grant it! After all, what difference does it make as to how long God chooses to take to bring any given thing to pass? The Church world has long been in a frenzy to get the world destroyed and the sinners into hell and all the saints into heaven for eternity. it sort of reminds me of someone driving at dangerous speeds to get somewhere in a hurry so he can sit down and do nothing. Such people have no conception at all of God's all-wise plan, nor of the intensity of His love, nor of the omnipotence of His power. But God will have the last laugh! Life and death are in HIS hands, none other. God gives life or takes it away. His express will is that ALL be saved, for God " will have all men to be saved" (I Tim. 2:4). He will get His way. You can count on it!
God all in all-- this will be the grand conclusion of the great drama of the world's history and of Christ's redemption. There will come a day - the glory is such we can form no conception of it, the mystery is so deep we cannot realize it - when the Son shall deliver up the Kingdom that God gave Him and which He won with His own blood and established and perfected from the throne of His glory. "He shall deliver up the Kingdom unto the Father ... that God may be all in all."
All in all -- such is the grand goal of our God! He will yet be everything to everyone of His creatures, as it is fitting He should be. Nothing less will satisfy His heart for "He has created all things, and for His pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11). Nothing less will vindicate His love or form a fit conclusion for the sin and sorrow and death of the ages. Let us with joy believe it! Let us exult as we receive it! Let us be "laborers together with God" to accomplish it! May this simple phrase, that the smallest child can utter, become the very basis of our being, the background of every act, the key to every occurrence, a light in every darkness, a balm for every wound, and our ages-lasting consolation and good hope.
Let us awake from the terrifying nightmare of Babylon's delusions and let us wing our spirits to God's glorious consummation. Here is a vision worthy of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ - GOD ALL IN ALL. And now, this ultimate reality must begin in us who have received the call to sonship. If this is what fills the heart of Christ; if this expresses the one end of the work of Christ, then, if I would have the spirit of Christ in me, the motto of my life must be: Everything made subject and swallowed up in Him "that God may be all in all." What a life that will be when that really becomes our banner! To serve the Father fully, wholly, only, to have Him all in all! I am praying, believing, and pressing on "that God may be all in all;" that the day of glory may be hastened. I am fighting the good fight of faith, and the Holy Spirit makes His wrestling within me with unutterable longing, "that God may be all in all."
Would that all the saints of God realized with what a grand cause we are working and praying; that all had some conception of the Kingdom we are partakers of, and what a manifestation of God we are preparing for! That He is not All in all at the present is quite obvious, for only a fraction have faintly felt that God was indeed ALL to them. Some have known Him as their Saviour, some have experienced Him as their healer, some have received gracious gifts from His hands, some have acknowledged Him as their Lord, some have found Him as their ALL. Happy are they who know Him thus! They have tasted of the cup ineffable, which quenches every thirst and brims with every blessing.
I am living for this, that Christ may have the Kingdom to deliver up to the Father, and then God will be all in all. I am living for Him, and I shall be there not only as a witness, but I will have a part in it all. The Kingdom delivered up, the Son made subject, and God all in all! I shall have a part in it and in adoring worship share the glory and blessedness. Let us take this home to our hearts that it may rule our lives - this one thought, this one faith, this one aim, this one joy: Christ lived and died and reigns; I live and die and in His power I reign only for this one thing, "that God may be all in all!" Everything in history is moving inexorably toward a day when Jesus will have conquered everything and everyone. Like a mountain of soil before a gigantic bulldozer steadily moving forward, all that can be conquered is being collected into the loving arms of Jesus, whose right it is to rule. He will then turn it over to God the Father "that God may be All in All."
When Christ ascended on high after His resurrection, He led many captives out of the pit and also set forth this greater purpose: "Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things " (Eph. 4:9-10). The message is clear - redemption does not include only the salvation of mankind, as wonderful and glorious as that aspect is, but it also includes the complete transformation of the entire universe so that God shall fill all things. There shall not be left one corner of this vast universe where He shall not be Lord and King. Everything everywhere shall be restored to the beautiful harmony and order of the love of God. Indeed, HE SHALL FILL ALL THINGS SO THAT "GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL."
V. Gelesnoff wrote:
"The current Evangelical Theology involves in its system belief in the deathlessness of sin, the indestructibility of error, and permanence of evil. That though there was a time in the history of the universe when sin in any shape or form did not exist, when no cry of pain or sense of guilt darkened the all-extensive bliss and holiness of creation, yet since sin has once effected an entrance into such a scene, it has come in NEVER TO GO OUT AGAIN, indestructible, unconquerable, ineradicable, endless. Absolute happiness and sinlessness have forever vanished like the phantom of a dream. The 'eternal state' is a universe endlessly finding room for myriads of souls rolling and writhing in the burning agonies of ceaseless flame, eternally sinful, vile and morally hideous. It pictures the final perfection (?) yet to be attained as having room for a vast cesspool of immoral and degraded beings, continually existing in opposition to God.
"This system of doctrine, though as old as man, as venerable as the tradition, as hoary as the pyramids, as 'orthodox' as anything in ancient or modern theology, is a misconception, a travesty of God's character, a caricature of His wisdom, and must be relegated to the scrapheap of ancestral error.
"Gladly do we turn from this figment of natural reason to the grand, simple statements of the unadorned Word of God. It looks forward to a time when God shall be all in all, when heaven and earth shall be purged from every stain of sin's pollution. It anticipates that glad occasion when every heart shall beat in unison with the heart of God; every mind shall harmonize with the Divine Wisdom and Purpose; every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord"
While we praise God for every moving of His Spirit and each step of His all-wise plan, the fact remains that none of the revivals of history have ever once-for-all defeated satan, sin, and death. No revival in any land has turned the whole world to God! No dealing of God with humanity has ever brought to pass the total triumph of His Kingdom in all realms! Sin and death still stalk across the earth, the vast masses of humanity held tight in their terrible clutches. Is there no deliverance for these? How truly the whole creation groans and travails in pain together, waiting, not for another Luther, nor another Paul, nor another Finney, nor another Peter, nor another Moody; waiting not for another Pentecost, nor for another healing campaign, nor for another prophet. "For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD" (Rom. 8:19). And why does all creation wait with bated breath, standing on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of God's Sons coming into their own? "For the creation itself ALSO shall be delivered ... INTO THE GLORIOUS LIBERTY OF THE SONS OF GOD!" (Rom. 8:21). Praise God!
Thank God, Dan 7:27 is really true! "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve Him!" Thank God, Eph. 1:10 is actually the fully inspired Word of God! "And this is in harmony with God's merciful purpose for the Government of the world when the times are ripe for it - the purpose which He has cherished in His own mind of restoring the whole creation to find its one Head in Christ; yes, things in heaven and things on earth, to find their one Head IN HIM" (Weymouth).
A little seed is the beginning of a great tree. A mustard seed becomes a tree in which the birds of the air can nestle. That great day of which our text speaks, when Christ shall deliver up the Kingdom to the Father, and God shall be All in All - that is the great tree of the Kingdom of God reaching its perfect consummation and glory. Oh, beloved, let us take the seed of that glory into our hearts and let us bow in lowly surrender and submission, saying "Amen, Lord; this be my one thought, this be my life - to yield myself to the unutterable yearnings of the Holy Spirit that I may not rest, but ever keep my vision set on that day the day of glory, when in very deed God shall be ALL IN ALL." God help everyone who reads these lines, God help us all to yield ourselves to Him, that we may be in the fullest and total sense the firstfruits of His redemption. Amen!
WILL GOD BE -
ALL in Few?...ALL in Many?...ALL in Most?...
SOME in Some?...SOME in All?...or - ALL in ALL?...
You can count on it! That is God's plan!