The Bible Review
(April 10, 1990)
In This Issue
“Why The Bible Review?” by Leo Wierzbowski, editor of The Berean Review
“God’s Poetry” by B. Bagby, reprinted from Bible Explorations vol. 1, no. 1
“The Sovereignty of God” by Oscar Baker, reprinted from Truth For Today vol. 15, no. 2
“Heavenly Places” by Charles Welch, reprinted from The Berean Expositor vol. 1
Subscription Information and Permission to Distribute
Why The Bible Review?
The purposes of The Bible Review are: 1) To reprint interesting, provocative, and edifying articles on Bible teachings concerning the church in this dispensation of grace; 2) To demonstrate Bible study methods that all may profit from; and 3) To encourage all to have that Berean spirit (see Acts 17:10-11) which has ears to hear and a mind to test what is heard.
In my searching around on the computer networks that I have access to, I couldn’t find a periodical that might meet the above goals. So, I wrote to a few of my favorite publishers and they graciously gave me permission to reproduce their articles — The Bible Review was born! Not every article in the Review will meet each and every purpose, but all the articles taken together should.
The Bible Review is only distributed electronically — printed/mailed copies are not available. However, near the end of the Review is subscription information for the printed/mailed publications that are the sources for the articles contained in the Review.
It is my prayer that this electronic periodical can be used by God in some way as He works out His purpose. I also hope that you may find an article or two of interest to you — enough to make you open your Bible and search it and see the wonderful truths contained therein. Your comments and suggestions are welcome — see the last page for my email addresses.
God’s Poetry by B. Bagby, reprinted from Bible Explorations
For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made (poiema), even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. (Rom. 1:20)
For we are His workmanship (poiema), created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)
The English word poem, derived from the Greek poiema, is found in the above two verses. Poetry is often used as a way of describing the beauty of something. The scriptural account of God’s poetry is no exception. In each verse there is mention of a creation. In Romans the context speaks of the original creation which Adam knew. In Ephesians the context speaks of a new creation related to the church which is His body. These are two important truths a believer should know and hold dear.
(l) The Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator. Although this may seem to be a simple truth, we need not look far to see that even among believers today there are schemes and devices of men which attempt to incorporate the theory of evolution into the Biblical record of creation. Rom. 1:18-21 indicates that the men who sank so low into unrighteousness, ‘knew God’. Because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful …(vs.21). And had a knowledge of this truth and ‘suppressed it’. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold (suppress) the truth in unrighteousness. (vs.18)
(2) The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the new creation. Eph. 2:10 speaks of a poem which is related to the ‘one new man’ found in vs. 2:15. This ‘one new man’ was created (or is a new creation) in Christ Jesus unto good works. In Col. 1:15-19 we find terms concerning Christ which exalts Him far above human perception.
vs. 15: He is the image of the invisible God. Everything that the finite human mind can know about the almighty infinite God can only be perceived in the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only by the things which He accomplished here on earth, but also by the things He is now accomplishing in Heavenly places.
He is the Firstborn of every creature, i.e. every new creation. While it is true that Christ is the firstborn (first resurrected) of any creature, the subject matter here is the new creation.
vs. 16:The new creation is by Him and for Him.
vs. 17: He is before all things. This speaks of His position in relation to all of the thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers of the new creation mentioned in vs. 16.
By Him all things consist, i.e. are held together. The things concerning the new creation are held together by Christ. It is commonly taught that this refers to things of the original creation and all physical matter. However, the emphasis here is on the new creation. He has total control of His purposes with the church which is His body.
vs. 18: He is the Head of the body, the church…that in all things He might have the preeminence. If it is still not clear as to the high position which the Lord holds, there is additional emphasis put on the fact that He is above all things. He is preeminent!
vs. 19: In Him all fullness dwells. This engulfs all of the above terms. It includes every attribute of the Godhead. (see Col. 2.9)
The scriptures teach us that Christ is not only Creator of heaven and earth but of the new creation concerning the church which is His body. For those who are members of this new creation and are part of His poetry, may we appreciate this exalted position of our Lord so that we may walk in the good works which He has before prepared for us.
The Sovereignty of God by Oscar Baker, reprinted from Truth For Today
To assume that God is absolutely sovereign is taking too much for granted. It has been used as a premise in reasoning, and has been the foundation for much error. When man presumes to assume that God is absolutely sovereign, he immediately begins to sit in judgment over God. He concludes what God can do and cannot do. He asserts that God made Satan as he is, that God is the author of sin, and so is responsible for all the mess and misery the world is in.
And not only that, but such men set the devil up as another god and then point out that he is a better recruiter of men than God is. And there is an important point they have missed. Do all who do not belong to God belong to Satan? Just who are the children of the devil?
Now if God is absolutely sovereign, then why is there a goal of the ages in the which God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28) ? Just how could one improve on absolute sovereignty?
Maybe these folks never realized that God is limited, not only by His nature, but also by circumstances. By nature He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). He cannot destroy Satan yet, but will in due time . He could not take Israel out of Egypt till the iniquity of the Amorite was full. When here in flesh He could not take His people under His wing as a hen does her chickens just for the simple reason that they would not. He could not do many mighty wonders in His home community because of their unbelief. And we could go on with a catalog of the limitations of God. Is He completely sovereign? If not, Why?
Did you ever hear of delegated authority? When a sovereign delegates authority to another, does he retain all his sovereignty, or does he surrender some of it? Is not even the Millennium delegated authority? And will it not end some day when the son gives all authority over to the Father?
A certain cherub was created at one time and given dominion, he was made a covering cherub. God set him so (Ezekiel 28:14).
When man was made and set in the garden in Eden he was given dominion (Genesis 1:26) .
Satan, the sum of wisdom and beauty, sinned with his eyes open. He was not deceived. His end is certain and there is no deviation from his judgment. Now his time is getting short and he is trying to squirm out of his predicament. He is trying to get sympathy by telling that God made him as he is . He is blaming God for all his troubles and misery.
Man is taking the cue from Satan and setting up the same sing-song. Man has made a mess of his dominion. Political,economic,religious,and social conditions are just what man has made them. Now he tries to blame God!
The one-talent servant tried to rationalize in the same manner. He blamed his failure on his master. But he was judged wicked and slothful nonetheless. He had to give an account.
When God will try to wake mankind up with judgments, men will only blaspheme and blame their miseries on Him even as they do now. They will not change. Does God intervene? Will He take back dominion some day? What think you?
Heavenly Places by Charles Welch, reprinted from The Berean Expositor
In a former article we were considering the “dispensation of the mystery,” and were reminded of its heavenly character. In this present article we desire to consider the references to the heavenly aspect of this mystery a little more closely. Five times does the word translated “heavenly places” occur in the epistle to the Ephesians, and the spiritual significance of five is grace.
The blessed truth connected with the heavenly places is a fitting witness to the “riches of His grace,” and the “glory of His grace.” There are not a few who seek to discredit the emphasis upon the peculiar and exclusive teaching of the Prison epistles by the remark that the word translated “heavenly places” occurs in other passages of Scripture, particularly in Hebrews. Twenty times in all the word occurs in the New Testament, distributed as follows: in the Gospels, twice; in the Epistles before Acts xxviii., five times (grace); in the Prison Epistles, seven times (spiritual perfection); and in Hebrews, six times (the number of man, imperfection, and of that age which immediately precedes the new creation, viz., the millennial kingdom).
There is, however, a most important distinction to be noticed between the five occurrences in Ephesians, and the fifteen elsewhere. The word in Ephesians is in the dative plural, en tois epouraniois, “in the heavenlies”– speaking of locality, whereas the word in the other passages signifies “heavenly,” but not necessarily “in heaven.” Those who tasted of the “heavenly gift” in Heb. vi.4 certainly did not taste a gift that was up in heaven, but which was heavenly. So the “heavenly” country or city of Heb. xi.16 will be seen “coming down from God out of heaven”; it will not be enjoyed “in heaven.” The expression “in the heavenlies” (the dative plural) is peculiar to the epistle to the Ephesians. If we deny the distinction, surely we must not resent it if anyone doubts our belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures.
Having seen the unique character of these five passages, we will quote them in their order, and seek to exhibit their blessed meaning. Before we quote the passages, however, we desire to throw light upon the meaning conveyed by this term by reference to another, and then by comparing the passages together we may be enabled to more clearly see the sphere of our blessedness. The word we desire to consider is that translated “saint.” Fifteen times does the word hagios (saint) occur in Ephesians. Fifteen is of course 5 x3, the superlative of grace (5=grace; 3=completeness, resurrection, &c.), and is consequently connected with the five-fold occurrence of “heavenly places.” To many passages in the A.V. we do not take exception, but there is one form in which this word “saint ” occurs that may teach much more than our English Version allows.
The genitive plural of hagios is ton hagion, in masculine, feminine, and neuter. Consequently the context must decide whether the word means “of the saints” (masc. or fem.), or “of the holy places or things” (neuter). Heb. ix. 23 and 24 will illustrate our meaning. “Better sacrifices ” is the plural of majesty for “the infinitely better sacrifice.” Likewise “holy places ” refers to the “most holy place.” Readers have only to refer back in this chapter for ample evidence that the “holiest of all” is meant here. The most holy place made with hands was a type of the true holiest of all, not made with hands, which Scripture declares to be “heaven itself.”
Let us read “of the saints” as “of the heavenly holiest of all” in the following passages, and see how much we learn thereby :
“Now therefore ye are no more guests* and foreigners, but fellowcitizens of the heavenly holiest of all, and of the household of God” (Eph. ii.19, *note: Gentile believers before Acts 28 did not stand upon equality with Israel so far as dispensational privileges were concerned, see Rom 9 – 11).
This is parallel with Phil. iii.20, “Our citizenship (politeuma, fellowcitizen being sumpolitai) is in heaven,” heaven itself being the true holiest of all.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath made you sufficient for the inheritance of the holiest of all in the light” (Col. i.12).
Believers are not going to have “saints ” for their inheritance; they have their inheritance in the light, in heaven itself, the true holiest of all. This lifts the believer above the petty things of sense and time. What has he to do with ordinances, types, shadows, when his inheritance is centred in the real, true holiest of all in the light?
Returning now to the statement of Scripture concerning the “heavenly places,” we can see that these, equally, refer to the same position of glory. The five occurrences are related thus:Ä
A | Eph. i.3. Spiritual blessings.
B | Eph. i.20. Christ raised far above principalities and powers.
C | Eph. ii.6. Christ and His church raised and seated in the
holiest of all.
B | Eph. iii.10. The church a witness to principalities and powers.
A | Eph. vi.12. Spiritual wickednesses.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spir;tual blessings in heavenly places (or in the holiest of aII) in Christ” (Eph. i.3).
“Ye see your calling, brethren.” Let us seek to walk worthy of the calling wherewith we have been called. If our inheritance, our blessing, our sphere is “above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God,” let us find our all there. Earthly promises, blessings, and inheritances are for the earthly people (Israel), and through them the Abrahamic blessings will flow out unto all nations. For the time being Israel has been set aside, Abrahamic blessings have discontinued, and a mystery, hitherto kept a perfect secret, has been made known. Unlike the Abrahamic promises, its sphere is “in the heavenlies.” Unlike Abrahamic promises, the Jew takes exactly the same place as the Gentile, both as regards salvation and dispensational blessings.
We are living under an economy of grace that is unparalleled in its riches, and its glories. It reaches out beyond the pale of Judah to the ends of the earth; it includes in its boundless scope the forgiveness of “all trespasses “; it reaches down to the depths of sin, and places the saved “far above” in the holiest of all; it points the saved sinner away from self unto Him “who hath made us sufficient” for such an inheritance; it shuts the believer up to the Lord of glory, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” It enjoins no ritual, no observance, no ceremony of any kind whatsoever. These have all, divine and human, been nailed to, and cancelled by, the cross of Christ. Our endeavour is now to be directed to keeping (not making) the unity of the Spirit. There faction ends; there peace rules; there is found no confidence in the flesh; there is a blessed condition of absolute independence of all else except the Lord. Once again we repeat,
“Ye see your calling brethren.”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly holiest of all.”
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