Part 2 of 3
GENUINE PREHISTORIC CREATURES
Just as the "promise" is linked with the "purpose" made "before the world began" they both in turn are found in Ephesians 1:3, 4:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
"ACCORDING AS HE HATH CHOSEN US IN HIM BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF
THE WORLD, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love."
Thus we see that the members of the Body of Christ are, indeed, genuinely "prehistoric creatures," having been "chosen in Him before the foundation of the world!" And this is all the more revealing as we more carefully examine the phrase "before the world began,"
First, there is a clear dispensational truth here.
· The "Body of Christ" is said to issue forth from a purpose and promise made "before"– before Abraham, before Adam, yes, even "before the foundation of the world."
· Thus the "body of Christ" is separate and distinct from that which pertains to the earthly promises and blessings of the Kingdom on earth belonging to Israel, for these are said to have been prepared "FROM (SINCE) the foundation of the world:"
"WHEN THE SON OF MAN SHALL COME IN HIS GLORY, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: "And before Him shall be gathered all nations…. "Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit THE KINGDOM PREPARED FOR YOU FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD" (Matt. 25:31-34).
The distinction is clear: "prepared from the foundation of the world" versus "chosen before the foundation of the world."
The difference is the difference between "prophecy" concerning
and that of Paul's "mystery" gospel – these are two great subjects of the Bible. Israel
That this is not an artificial distinction is demonstrated by the fact that both Peter and Paul use this very distinction to summarize their ministries.
· Listen as Peter explains to his Pentecostal hearers just where they stood in the program of God, describing his message to them as that "which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets (of
) since the world began" (Acts 3:21). Israel
· Then by contrast hear Paul entitle the message committed to his trust as "the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was Kept Secret since the world began" (Rom. 16:25). If words have meaning these two programs are not the same!
God had a prophetic purpose – one which He has spoken about and made known since He placed man on the earth. He also, we now know, had a secret purpose – one which He did not speak about and make known until it was revealed to the Apostle Paul (see Eph. 3:1-9, Col. 1:24-26).
· The prophetic program centers in His purposes for His kingdom nation,
on earth. Israel
· The "mystery" program centers in "the Body of Christ" and His purposes for it, unto heaven (Philippians 3:20-21).
These are two distinct programs; two distinct agencies to accomplish these programs.
· In the former we see God's purpose to restore the earth under His authority through the instrumentality of a kingdom vested in the nation
· In the latter is demonstrated His intent to do the same with "the heavenly places" through the instrumentality of "the Body of Christ" – a purpose now revealed during the interval occasioned by the setting aside of Israel and the interruption of the prophetic program (Rom 11:25).
God's purpose for the Body of Christ was established before Genesis 1:1 but was kept secret– "the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:9). Only now, "in due time," has He manifested His "eternal purpose" in Christ through the revelation given to and through the Apostle Paul.
And that these two programs have a common goal is also clear. Through the revelation committed to Paul we are enabled to understand the ultimate in "insider information" - "the mystery of the Father's will"! Speaking of the blessings which the Father has bestowed on member of "the Body of Christ," Paul writes:
"HAVING MADE KNOWN UNTO US THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself: "THAT IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULLNESS OF TIMES HE MIGHT GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, BOTH WHICH ARE IN HEAVEN, AND WHICH ARE ON EARTH; EVEN IN HIM" (Eph. 1:9, 10).
The Father's ultimate intention is to have all of heaven and earth center in and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, that He along might have the preeminence (cf. Phil. 2:9-11, Col. 1:16-19).
That "the body of Christ" centers in Christ is touchingly illustrated by the phrase "before the foundation of the world." It occurs only three times in our Bible – each having to do with Christ Himself or with the members of His Body. If the three passages are placed side by side the obvious connections are easily seen:
"Father. . . .Thou LOVEDST Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)
"…He hath chosen us before the foundation of the world, that we should be HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME before Him IN LOVE." (Eph. 1:4)
"…Christ…a lamb WITHOUT BLEMISH AND WITHOUT SPOT: who was verily ordained before the foundation of the world…" (1 Pet. 1:19-20)
Just as Christ was loved by the Father before the foundation of the world, so the Body of Christ was "chosen in love." And just as Christ was foreordained before the foundation of the world to be a "lamb without blemish and without spot," so also His Body was likewise chosen "before foundation of the world" to be "holy and without blame" - in Christ!