Last Updated on :Thursday, November 20, 2014
(ii) IN THE RESURRECTION ERA
"The grace" designed for the saints, and purposed to come through Jesus Christ, was not intended to be revealed all at one time. The grace, or gift of holy spirit, was to be rained upon the saints at two different periods. The spirit in Joel shows this. "Be glad", saith he, "ye children of Zion, and rejoice in Yahweh your Elohim; for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month" (Joel 2:23). The original of this text is quite remarkable. The Hebrew reads, "For he hath given to you the Teacher of Righteousness, and he shall cause to descend for you a rain; a teacher and a latter rain in the first month". This teacher hath been given in the person of Jesus; and the Father who gave him caused to descend upon the children of Zion, the saints, "a rain" when on Pentecost He poured out His spirit upon the apostles and their brethren. This as the substitute for Jesus guided them into all the truth, and showed them things to come. Christ is "the Lord the Spirit", "a quickening spirit"; (1 Cor. 15:45) and from him Holy spirit-rain came in the third month, or fifty days after the passover and crucifixion. But there is to be "a teacher and a latter rain in the first month". (Joel 2:23) That is in the month Nisan, or when the passover shall be fulfilled in the kingdom of God (Ezek. 45:21; Luke 22:15-18). The result of the appearing of this teacher in the time of the latter rain will be that the sons of Zion will "eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of Yahweh your Elohim that hath dealt wondrously with them; and his people shall never be ashamed. And they shall know that I am in the midst of Israel; and that I " -- the Spirit made flesh, and glorified, and so both Lord and Christ personal and mystical -"am Yahweh your Elohim, and none else; and my people shall never be ashamed" (Joel 2:26 and 27). But the people of Yahweh, political and spiritual, are now put to shame. Israel after the flesh is a by-word and a proverb; and so is Israel after the spirit, or the saints, who have been, are, and will be prevailed against by the enemy until the Ancient of Days shall be revealed in power and great glory. Joel's prediction, then, has not been yet fulfilled, and the latter rain of spirit in the first month is yet in future.
Now when it shall have come to pass that Israel and the saints are no more put to shame by their enemies, "the latter rain in the first month" will descend. For immediately after predicting that His people shall never be put to shame, the Spirit in Joel saith, "and it shall come to pass afterward I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh". (Joel 2:28) Peter referred to this prophecy of the baptism of spirit and said of the outpouring on Pentecost, "This is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel". (Acts 2:16) It was "the earnest of the spirit", (2 Cor. 5:5) not the full measure of it; "the earnest of the inheritance", (Eph. 1:14) not the inheritance itself. Thus Paul saith to the spirituals, He that hath anointed us (or christened us with spirit) is the Deity, who hath also sealed us and given the earnest of the spirit in our hearts" (2 Cor. 1:21 and 22); and again, "In Christ also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance for a redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of his glory" (Eph. 1:13 and 14). The remarks of Peter by no means limited Joel's prophecy to the third month of the year of the ascension of Jesus. Peter referred more especially to the Teacher or the Comforter, not to "the latter rain in the first month". (Joel 2:23) Joel's prophecy covers the whole ground in saying "he will cause to come down for you a rain"; (Joel 2:23) not a continuing rain for eighteen hundred or more years from the descent on Pentecost to the second advent of Christ, but a copious shower in the Apostolic age, followed by a long, dry time in which everything is parched up: and then, when this drought shall end, the "latter rain in the first month". (Joel 2:23)
The spirit-rain of the Pentecostian era was bestowed upon certain of the saints to qualify them officially, that they might exercise the gifts for the public benefit -- "for the building up of the body of the Christ". (Jude 20; Eph. 4:12) Paul tells us how long this arrangement was to continue. "Till", says he, "we shall come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God -- into a perfect man; into a measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ." (Eph. 4:13) This limits the gifts to the above apostolic saints; that is to those contemporary with the apostles, but who may have nevertheless outlived them many years. He testifies to this effect very plainly in 1 Cor. 13:8, where he speaks of the cessation of the baptismal gifts of prophesying, of tongues, and of the word of knowledge; "Prophecies", says he, "shall be brought to an end; tongues shall be caused to cease; knowledge shall pass away". This was finally accomplished when the spirit spued the Laodicean community out of his mouth. The spirit-baptism was withheld because its gifts were abused, as every other good has been that has been committed to the guardianship of flesh and blood.
The body of Christ, whether considered under the figure of a man or a house, belongs to two states; to that before the resurrection, and to that after it. In its former state it has its infancy and manhood. In the days of the apostles the institution was in its infancy, childhood, and, in the time of John's old age and exile, manhood, being three score years and ten. During these years its administrations were in part, that part consisting of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; so that the knowledge and the prophesyings were in part and not distributed to every member of the body. But in process of time that perfection came by which the body could sustain itself without baptismal gifts; and then "that which was in part was done away". (1 Cor. 13:10) The manifestation of the spirit being withheld, all that remained to the body, was "faith, hope, and love; these three; the greatest of which is love as defined by Paul in 1 Cor. 13:4-7,13 There was a manhood when the baptismal gifts ceased; and there shall be a manhood when we shall know experimentally even as we have known theoretically. This is the post-resurrectional maturity of the "perfect man", (Eph. 4:13; James 3:2) or body of Christ, every member of which will see "face to face". (1 Cor. 13:12) That which is perfect will have come in the full sense; and the members of the body will be none of them any more "children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive". (Eph. 4:14) They will all then be baptismally imbued with "the latter rain in the first month". (Joel 2:23) They will be spirit, and filled with spirit -- a God- manifestation of eternal power; and thus they will have "grown up into him in all things, who is the Head, even unto the Christ". (Eph. 4:15)
The baptism of the Spirit, then, is peculiar to certain seasons or epochs, and not common to all times from the first to the second advent. These epochs are:
1. -- The apostolic age;
2. -- The resurrection era.
Between these two periods is a long interval occupied by "the times of the Gentiles", (Luke 21:24) during which the Laodicean Apostasy prevails to the almost entire suppression of "the faith". These constitute a DRY TIME -- a time of drought, in which spirit is withheld. In all this long series of ages and generations there are no gifts and no other baptism than that of water. The gifts answered their purpose, and then ceased; and nothing remained but "faith, hope, and love", (1 Cor. 13:13) the product of the word read and studied by the honest and goodhearted. Baptism of spirit was for confirmation of the word preached by the apostles; and for the perfecting of the saints who were to do public service. It was only promised to genuine believers, and they only received it; though afterwards some, turning out to be like Demas, betrayed their trust, and misused it.
When a believer was baptized with spirit he did not necessarily possess all the gifts. There were diversities of gifts which were bestowed distributively. That is, one might speak foreign languages by inspiration, but he could not therefore work miracles: still another might be able to work miracles, but could not therefore speak other tongues than his own. The grace was distributed according to the will of the Deity who worked or operated the all (all the gifts) in all who received them; while those saints to whom no gifts were distributed were benefited by the labours of those who possessed them. Thus, "prophesying served for them who believed"; (1 Cor. 14:22) for "he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort"; (1 Cor. 14:3,4) and "he that prophesieth, edifieth the church". (1 Cor. 14:3,4) Therefore, in another place Paul saith, "despise not prophesying". (1 Thess. 5:20)
Baptismal grace seems to have been distributed into nine gifts:
-- The word of wisdom;
"All these worked that one and the self same spirit, distributing to every one severally as he would." (1 Cor. 12:11) The body was one thing, the members or organs of the body, another. To the organs of the body these nine gifts were distributed for the benefit of all the atoms of the body. The number of the organs in each ecclesia would depend on the size and necessities of it. The organs of a congregation of saints constituted collectively "the presbytery", (1 Tim. 4:14) or "eldership". They might be relatively many or few. By way of example, one congregation might have an eldership of nine, another of eighteen, and a third of twenty-seven. If the last, three saints might be endowed with the same gift; and three others with another; and so on. Or in another case, one saint might have a plurality of gifts, and thus fewer organs would suffice for a small church (ecclesia). Each of the thirteen apostles probably possessed all the gifts.
Baptism of spirit, then, developed the elderships of the churches (ecclesias) in the apostolic age; so that Paul could with great propriety address those who were constituents of them, and say, "Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the ecclesia of the Deity which he purchased with his own blood". (Acts 20:28) The spirit made them elders through baptism of spirit, and distributed them into orders according to the following ranks:
These were those who had the rule by divine authority, and to whom the private saints, hoi idiotai, were exhorted to yield obedience, as to those who watched for their souls and would have to give an account. These were they to whom Paul wrote in Gal. 6:1, saying, "If any man be overtaken in a fault, ye who are the spirituals (hoi pneumatikoi), restore such an one in the spirit of meekness". These also were they who taught the brethren in the word, and were by them to be supplied with all good things; "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things". (Gal. 6:6) And concerning them he says in another place, "We beseech you, brethren, to acknowledge them who labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake". (1 Thess. 5:12,13) "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and teaching. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward". (1 Tim. 5:17,18) They were not to be lightly accused, nor rebuked. No accusation was to be received against them but under two or three witnesses. They were not to be rebuked by their brethren, but entreated as fathers; but if they sinned, and the offence was proved, they were to be rebuked before all by the proper authority, and not by every one that chose to be impertinent.
Collectively, these orders were the lightstand of a congregation, through which the Holy Spirit shone into the surrounding darkness of Judaism and Gentilism. They are, therefore, apocalyptically symbolized by "a star", (Rev. 1:20) the angel or messenger star, whose mission was to illuminate by making known the manifold wisdom of the Deity.
Such were the members, or official organs, of the Body of which Christ was the Head in the apostolic age, styled by Paul, or rather likened to, the foot, the hand, the ear, the eye, and the organ of smell, in the body natural . . .
Peter says, "the elders that are among you, the elect (1 Peter 1:2), I exhort, who am also an elder . . . feed the flock of the deity, which is with you, overseeing it, not constrainedly, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over The Heritages, but being examples of the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Peter 5:1-4). The flock was composed of "the heritages", each congregation being a heritage or clergy. The holy orders were forbidden to usurp lordship over these clergies; but when the apostles passed away, they disregarded their interdict, reduced the clergies to abject vassalage, and arrogated to themselves the title of "the clergy, or heritage of God"!
From these premises, then, it is manifest that the only real clergy of the Deity among the Gentiles extant at present are those possessed of "the more excellent way" than the best of baptismal gifts (1 Cor. 12:31) -- those in whom "now abideth faith, hope and love".(1 Cor. 13:13) Those who being in Christ walk in the truth are the only clergy among men recognized of heaven. All others are usurpers, impostors, and deceivers of the people; and to be stripped of the woollen garment they have stolen to conceal their wolfishness, by all who are loyal to the throne of the spirit of God. If the reader comprehend the spiritual constitution of the One Body in the apostolic age, he will scarcely be astonished at what he beholds in antichristendom. The Laodicean Apostasy of the third and fourth centuries was familiar with, and almost an eye witness of, the apostolic constitution of the body of Christ. The gifts and the orders which went together, were as household words with its leaders. When the Spirit "spued them out of his mouth" (Rev. 3:16) by withdrawing spirit-baptism, they still retained the scripture-phraseology in speaking of them, and claimed to be as much the holy orders as ever. But this is characteristic of apostasy and superstition . . .
from the premises before us the reader may perceive the
utter impossibility of an apostolic organization of the
saints at this time. There are no spirituals among them
as in the beginning. By "spirituals" is meant
true believers distinguished from other believers by
being baptized with holy spirit as proved by its manifestations.
In a certain sense, all the saints are spiritual as opposed
to carnal, in so far as the word dwells in them with
all wisdom. What we would express may be comprehended
by comparing a saint with an unenlightened sinner. The
former understands the truth, loves it, rejoices in it,
walks in it, and thinks in harmony with it, and is therefore
spiritual, or spiritually minded. The unenlightened sinner,
be he "divine", "supervisor", "inventor",
or "patentee", of human systems, crotchets,
or institutions, is the reverse of all this. He is carnal,
or carnally-minded -- which is death; a mere "natural
man who receives not the things of the spirit of God,
for they are foolishness unto him. Neither can he know,
for they are spiritually discerned". (1 Cor. 2:14)
A congregation of saints may exist as the result of the
word intellectually believed and obeyed. Such, is "a
perfect man", (Eph. 4:15; James 3:2) relatively
to this imperfect state. There is no need of baptizing
him with the
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