2. Judging the Infirm

The Dais or “Judgment Seat”
of God and His Christ

 Chapter Two

JUDGING the infirm in faith is forbidden in view of the dais (Rom.14:13). The believer will escape the judgment of his sins at the great white throne, but few can avoid condemnation by their fellow saints in the present life! A man of faith has no religious scruples as to what he eats, but one infirm in faith may make much ado about foods. Possibly he wishes to conform to the law of Moses. So also in regard to the observance of days. Some go in for Sabbath or Sunday observance, as specially dedicated to God. Others see it as a shadow of our cessation of work for salvation, and dedicate every day to the Deity. Who is right? Should not those who are filled with faith judge those who fail to see the fullness of our salvation, and set them right? No. They should rather bear with their weakness and graciously seek to confirm them in faith.
indent.gif (54 bytes)There are believers today who stress these very things. They would have it that the observance of a day is essential, that Sunday is the mark of the beast, and that food is the very foundation of godliness. This is based upon the law of Moses, and the failure to see that it was given to Israel, not to the nations, and that it was intended to test, and not to save them, but to show them that works can never save. Judging will not help, but hinder, at the present time. It may be well to acknowledge the presence and value of these things in God’s dealings with His earthly people, and so lead the weak ones on to the realities which the law foreshadowed.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Although Paul makes it plain who is at fault, yet he does not force anyone to walk according to a faith that he does not possess. Paul leaves little doubt as to his own conviction. It is the infirm who confine themselves to greens. Paul evidently believed in eating all things. Eating or not eating and observance or non-observance are not vital. The essential thing is our attitude toward God. Unbelievers, in judging, condemn themselves (Rom.2:1). So, also, no individual saint is equipped for judging in such matters, for all of us shall be presented at the dais of God, where all will be adjusted to the ideal.

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THE PATH OF EXPEDIENCE

indent.gif (54 bytes)In his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul elaborates on this theme. He says “All is allowed me, but all is not expedient. All is allowed me, but I will not be put under its authority by anything. Foods for the bowels and the bowels for foods, yet God will be discarding these as well as those” (1 Cor.6:13). There is, therefore, great latitude allowed, and need for wisdom in the choice of nurture for our bodies. While we are not under the law of Moses, we may rest assured that its precepts, as regards food, are based on a superhuman knowledge of their qualities and values, as well as a perfect understanding of the human frame and its needs, for they come from the Creator and Sustainer of all that lives. Careful consideration of His connections with human nourishment will help us to judge the many different and conflicting teachings of men intelligently.
indent.gif (54 bytes)In preparing mankind for their future mission, God has varied their food in the course of the administrations. This great principle seems to be unknown to food-specialists today, who reason from the tiny sphere in which they move, but do not take into account God’s program or His future plans for the race. To begin with, in the garden of Eden, Adam was confined to herbage and trees seeding seed (Gen.1:25), This, no doubt, was the ideal food for the time, before death came in and his body began its prolonged period of dying and decay. Evidently this diet could sustain life, but not cure the curse of mortality. Yet it kept Adam and the antediluvians alive much longer than any of the race after the flood.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Not realizing that our present life is only a prelude to that which is to come, and is devoted to the experience of evil, that man may be humbled by it (Ecc.1:13), we are prone to envy the long-lived mortals of that early day, instead of being thankful that we are not called upon to suffer so long. God has mercifully shortened the lives of men, even as He has condensed all judgment periods, for that is His strange work, the necessary, though painful, preparation for the real life which follows resurrection and vivification. Conditions since the great catastrophe in Noah’s day are much more trying on our physical frames than they were before, when there were no repeated changes from the cold to heat, no summer and winter. Our experience of evil is condensed into a shorter life-span, but is probably more replete with suffering and decay than that of the long-lived antediluvians.
indent.gif (54 bytes)After the deluge, God, in His wisdom and in accord with His purpose, changed the diet of mankind to include every animal of the earth and every flyer of the heavens and all that crawls on the ground and all the fishes of the sea, as well as the green herbage (Gen.9:1-3). In order to avoid added suffering for the animals, however, their blood, in which their soul or sensation resides, could not be eaten, hence must be poured out. So it was decreed in connection with the sacrifices also. The animals did not suffer death pangs because the blood was first drained away. To this day the Jews often have their own shochat for they do not deem the usual methods of slaughter to be in conformity with their law or the earlier directions to Moses.
indent.gif (54 bytes)The next great change in the regulation of human food was revealed in the law given through Moses to Israel. In this the eating of animals was restricted to those termed “clean” in contrast to the “unclean.” This distinction had already been made by Noah, when he took the animals into the ark. Only the “clean” were fit for sacrifice (Gen.7:2). It was not applied to human diet except in Israel. It was never given to the other nations. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly a very wise regulation, in accord with nature and human flesh, and well worthy of our consideration, but purely as a matter of expedience. In Israel any failure to observe the least precept was a transgression and brought condemnation. There can be no condemnation for us, since we are not under the law and have God’s righteousness, not our own.
indent.gif (54 bytes)If the reader will pardon a personal word, a single example will illustrate the matter. I am not a Jew, and I like the taste of pork, but my stomach absolutely refuses to digest it. This seems to indicate that the more sensitive we are, the more we will be in harmony with the dietetic regulations of the Mosaic law. There seems to be little doubt that, even though the Jews did not live up to it fully, the measure in which they did so gave them a physical stamina and vitality exceeding that of the other nations. They have probably suffered more, as a nation, than any other, but they survive, nevertheless. Yet, though I cannot eat pork, I do not by any means object if others use it for food. Since God has not prohibited it, why should I? For me it is expedient not to eat pork. That is not binding on anyone else.
indent.gif (54 bytes)As to “clean” flesh, the words and example of our Lord should be conclusive. He alone, of all mankind, was not dying as He lived, so that His body was absolutely free of all impurity. Yet there can be no doubt that He ate the passover lamb every year. And, when He wished to provide His disciples with a meal, He gave them food fish (a special term, opsarion) on a charcoal fire, with bread (John.21:9). When I lived in Tiberias, on lake Galilee, the best single item of food was fish, freshly caught and served Jewish style, in the restaurant where we took our noonday meal. I found it very palatable and wholesome, and was thrilled to be on a diet recommended by the example of the greatest Dietician of them all. In a parable He spoke of a fish and an egg as good gifts (Luke 11:12). He fed four thousand men, and their women and children by miraculously multiplying a few small fishes (Matt.15: 34).
indent.gif (54 bytes)It seems that the infirm believers to whom Paul refers were vegetarians, who confined their food to greens. Much could be said in favor of a meat-less diet, especially in an ultra-civilized community, and particularly in a warm climate. Flesh decays rapidly, and in doing so becomes more tender. Hence some dealers even pride themselves on “aging” it. Others use preservatives, which are harmful. So that it may be expedient not to eat meat, not because it is meat, but because it is tampered with and spoiled before it reaches the consumer.
indent.gif (54 bytes)The priests and Levites in Israel lived largely on the flesh of the sacrifices. This they did for many generations, century after century, so probably constituted the best practical test ever made of the effect of meat on the human constitution. This is all the more conclusive in view of the fact that they were required to be physically perfect. Any defect barred them from exercising the priesthood. If feeding on flesh is in itself harmful, it might not be apparent in one generation. But when it is the principal part of the diet of father and son continuously for more than a thousand years it surely should be evident. So it seems clear from the Scriptures that whatever harm comes to us from meat-eating is due to abuses connected with it rather than from the flesh itself.
indent.gif (54 bytes)The same is true of many other foods, even vegetables. Because the soil is depleted and does not produce healthy plants, they are the prey of blights and insects. To rid them of these, sprays and chemicals are used which not only kill the parasites, but are poisonous to the consumer. So that it may be expedient not to eat vegetables, also, if they are grown under injurious conditions. In fact, in these days of “processed” and “synthetic” foods, grown on soil prodded by chemicals, the only course that is absolutely safe is to abstain from all food which has not been grown and prepared under ideal conditions. For many of us this would mean starvation, so it is wiser to leave the matter in God’s hands and seek to secure such foods as seem to approach the ideal.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Daniel is often cited in favor of vegetarianism. But his scruples were of a different order. He refused the king’s rich food on religious grounds, because it had been offered to idols, and the law forbade the eating of such things. Nor did he eat vegetables. The Hebrew word denotes seeds, that part of plants which contains the germ of a new life. This is most nutritious, as all who feed animals are aware. A horse must have grain to supplement hay, if much work is required. We may include peas and beans under vegetables, for they are also seeds.

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THE FOOD OF THE FUTURE

indent.gif (54 bytes)Such has been the food situation during the evil eons. In the next two eons, after the return of Christ to the earth, when man no longer is allowed to ruin the soil, and the Prince of Peace rules over the nations, then will come the turning point in human nutrition. Many efforts have been made to produce a cure-all for man’s mortal ills, but the best are only temporary palliatives, for it is God’s intention that man learn his own limitations during the eons of evil. He planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden which brought upon mankind their many miseries. In the future this will be reversed. Not only will the trees of the field yield their fruit (Ezek.34:27), but He will plant an entirely new variety of fruit tree on the banks of the river of life, that flows out from the temple in the holy oblation.

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THE TREE OF LIFE

indent.gif (54 bytes)This is the tree men are looking for, but cannot find! Ever so often our attention is called to some wonder plant which will keep us in health and cure all our ills. And there is no doubt that many are highly beneficial, when used aright. Just now papaya is highly recommended. But, alas, there never was a river of life like that in the next eon, and no trees like those, for they not only bring forth fruit monthly, but their leaves are an infallible healing agent (Ezek.47:12). Yet in the next eon, on the new earth, we will see it again in an even more potent form. It will bear twelve fruits, suited to each month, and the leaves will suffice for the cure of the nations (Rev.22:2).
indent.gif (54 bytes)In the millennium, under the benign rule of the great Healer, Who not only can cure disease, but control the very elements which are so important in the production of food, there will be a return to nature, which will eliminate most of the ills which inhere in our present artificial mode of life. This is beautifully expressed in the Scriptures by seating each family under its own vine and fig tree. I have tried several times to imitate this. In the first garden I planted I had a trellis of grapes, as well as a fig and olive tree. But my health broke down and I started another in the country. Then my wife’s health demanded that we return to the city. Now we have a fig tree, but there is not enough soil to support it, and the figs are bad. Alas! this is not the millennium! And all my efforts have not availed to transform it into that healthful and happy era.
indent.gif (54 bytes)The nations will take a secondary place, even in the thousand years, hence we do not read of any food or medicine for them. But in the new earth the leaves of the tree of life will be devoted to the cure of the nations. Priesthood and the temple are gone, so God dwells with the aliens and provides for their mortal ills. Death will not have been abolished, so it still operates in mortal men. But God Himself provides a cure-all, so that food will no longer affect their health. The only diet which is mentioned is fruit, as it was in the beginning, in the garden of Eden.
indent.gif (54 bytes)We, who form the figurative body of Christ, who are blessed with every spiritual blessing among the celestials, will need much more than the leaves of a tree of life to keep us from perishing in our new environment. Humanity cannot exist outside earth’s atmosphere. The warmth of the sun, the oxygen of the air, the plants of the soil are all essential to the race of mankind as at present constituted. Therefore our bodies shall be changed from soulish to spiritual bodies, like that of our Lord, who poured out His soul, or shed His blood, and reappeared in resurrection without it. He spoke of His body as “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39), rather than the usual “flesh and blood.” To be sure, He ate part of a broiled fish before them, but that was not because He was hungry, or needed it, but to prove to them the reality of His resurrection.
indent.gif (54 bytes)All the energy on earth comes from the sun. We may get it indirectly, through coal or water power, or we may derive warmth from it directly by means of sunshine. So it is with the vital energy needed for life and activity. With a soulish body we must get it indirectly through food. But it seems that a spiritual, immortal body may be equipped to derive it directly from its source in God. In that case we will need no intermediate carriers of energy, no food, no warmth, to replenish our supply. To put it figuratively, we replace our coal stove with an electric heater, we are tuned by radio or radar to the infinite source of life. No longer do we dig for coal and feed it into our furnace. All this is done for us. The God Who created us and vivified us also sustains us by His infinite power.
indent.gif (54 bytes)No one can draw up a diet suitable to every place on earth. In the polar regions, where there are no plants, there is no food except flesh. At the other extreme, on the equator, the requirements are almost the reverse. And so throughout the range of climates, the food should conform to conditions. A menu of oranges and bananas served north of the arctic circle might taste delicious, but it would never sustain anyone in those cold regions. Neither would a dish of blubber be acceptable when crossing the equator. So also we should conform to God’s varied program. The food provided for mankind in Eden was changed after the deluge. It was modified later by the law, in Israel. In this era of spiritual blessings it takes a minor place. In the millennium it includes healing as well as sustenance, and in the new earth this is expanded to include the nations.
indent.gif (54 bytes)As to the present administration, we have a few hints which show that physical perfection is not now in view. Paul had his “thorn” or splinter in the flesh, lest he should be lifted up, as well he might at the transcendent revelations he received. Paul entreated, not once nor twice, but thrice, for its removal. Then he was given the reason why he should bear it. The Lord protests to him, “Sufficient for you is My grace, for My power in infirmity is being perfected.” This is the era for the revelation of God’s grace, in which His spiritual power, not our physical perfection, is to be displayed.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Many of us today are able to sympathize with Timothy, Paul’s spiritual heir, for he was frequently infirm due to his weak stomach (1 Tim.5:23). How striking! The two leading characters in the present administration suffer from physical infirmities. There was a time when even a handkerchief that had touched Paul’s skin was sufficient to drive diseases away from others (Acts 19:12). That was when he was still connected with the heralding of the kingdom to Israel. But now he cannot even heal himself or Timothy. Certainly he would have sent him a handkerchief if it would have cured him! Instead, he prescribes a sip of wine in place of water. To this day much of the water in Eastern lands is dangerous to drink. In Athens, though I detested the taste of the wine, I dared not drink the water. I cannot drink the chlorinated water of modern science, so am forced to buy special spring water for drinking purposes.
indent.gif (54 bytes)One reason why the subject of food was prominent at the beginning of the present administration was that the kingdom apostles and elders at Jerusalem had written a decree to the saints among the nations enjoining them, among other things, to abstain from what is strangled and from blood (Acts 15:20). But later, when the secret of the present administration was made known, with its purely spiritual blessings, the apostle writes to the Colossians “Let no one, then, be judging you in food or in drink...If, then, you die together with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as living in the world, are you subject to decrees...which things are all for corruption from use, directions and teachings of men...not of any value, toward the surfeiting of the flesh” (Col.2:16-23)?
indent.gif (54 bytes)It is a great relief to realize that God operates through spiritual forces today, and can use physical infirmity to accomplish His ends. Nevertheless, those who seek to have a part in His service should eat, not that which appeals to their palate, for their soul’s satisfaction, but that which fits them for His service. But let us not judge others in such earthly, transitory matters in this era of spiritual blessing. Especially let us not imitate Job’s associates and charge those with sin who are being humbled in God’s great school of evil. Let us leave all judging until the dais, when the motives of all will be revealed and all will have praise of God.

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DISCRIMINATIONS OF REASONINGS

indent.gif (54 bytes)The cause of many of the innumerable differences which afflict the saints in both doctrine and deportment is accurately described by Paul as discriminations based on reasonings. Instead of believing precisely what is revealed in God’s word, deductions are loosely made without proper premises and by means of illogical reasoning. We can easily forgive the early believers for this practice, as only a portion of the truth for today was revealed, and they were eager to know more. In fact, we owe much in Paul’s corrective epistles to this false method, for he provides the saints with premises and straightens out their logic by means of further revelations for their faith.
indent.gif (54 bytes)I once was of the opinion that the remedy for this was lessons in logic, so I gave some attention to the science. I have seen special articles explaining the proper processes of reasoning intended to help believers in their study of God’s Word. No doubt this and, indeed, any clarity of thought may assist in avoiding some of the worst practices used in Biblical interpretation. But long experience has shown me that the mortal mind is far too poor an instrument to reason out from revelation beyond what is written. I have seen what appeared to be perfectly logical deductions from one part of Scripture refuted by the plain statements of another.
indent.gif (54 bytes)In connection with the infirm in faith it is said that everything which is not out of faith is sin (Rom.14:23). And this seems to be the case especially when reasoning replaces faith. It is a mistake to apply our wits to the inspired record, partly because our faith itself is so feeble, but mostly because the impressions we receive from His written word are sometimes so cloudy and lacking in definition and exactitude that they form no adequate basis for logical deductions. They are almost always tinged or tainted with unscriptural preconceptions and traditional notions which influence and distort the reasoning process and lead it to false conclusions.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Theology is this very thing. It is supposed to be a systematic restatement of divine revelation in scientific form. It puts a part from here and a portion from there together to set forth “the existence, character, and attributes of God, and His laws and government.” But separating what God has joined from His context and uniting what He has kept apart into our own context can only produce a confused, composite picture. As this can be done in a great variety of ways with contradictory results, the theologians have devoted a large part of their labors to debating their differences, but seldom convincing one another, and never producing a satisfactory solution which could stand the test of Scripture.
indent.gif (54 bytes)As individuals and groups vary in their social, national and religious background, they are almost certain to differ in their reasoning postulates and processes, so that, even if they start with the same scriptures as premises, they may arrive at totally different conclusions. Then, if they only partially and imperfectly believe the passages to begin with, we cannot expect aught but discord. And this is what we see around us, not only in apostate Christendom, but among zealous, earnest saints, eager to do God’s will, and wishing above all things to please Him and to hold nothing but His truth in its fullness and purity.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Is there a more excellent way? Can we avoid the pitfalls of our own mental infirmities and the handicaps of our environment? There is. It is faith, raised to its highest decree of certainty and exactitude. It lies in the microscopic examination of God’s revelation. In the study of nature men seldom reason, but examine and compare and use every means to assist their physical infirmities. Because we realized this very early in our career we determined to help the saints as well as ourselves by providing instruments of precision to aid our feeble senses to determine as accurately as possible the meaning of each word in the divine vocabulary as well as the force of the grammar by means of better concordances. If consulted they will help to counteract our bias and prejudice, and correct our misconceptions, as no other means of which we know.
indent.gif (54 bytes)As very few saints today have grasped even the elementary truths of Paul’s early epistles, they are prone to “Prove” their propositions by false premises from previous revelation, and irrational reasoning based on these, instead of believing Paul’s distinct message and going on to the maturity of his prison epistles. In this regard most of the saints are immature, if not infirm, in faith, even those who are reputed to be giants in that realm so far as confidence in God for their daily needs is concerned. But even an infant can trust its nurse. Such reliance is not a sign of maturity. We bear the babe in our arms which has not learned to walk. So should we bear with the infirm in faith.
indent.gif (54 bytes)It would be very easy to convict and condemn all who do not grasp the full revelation given to us by Paul, and, as a consequence, do not comport themselves accordingly, and have part in that fearful spectacle called Christendom, which is an utter outward contradiction to its inward reality. It should be the highest expression of vital, harmonious unity, like the human body, yet it appears to be a conglomeration of warring factions. It is more difficult to attain religious than political unity, and even when many church members do unite, it is usually because they have no vital faith or profound convictions. The disunity in the nominal church is evidence enough to condemn them.
indent.gif (54 bytes)A few practical examples may assist us in seeing how easy it is in these days for even earnest, enlightened saints to be deceived. First we will consider a case in which the A.V. supplies a false premise. When what purports to be God’s Word itself misleads, the reasoning is bound to go astray, and the only recourse, apart from a correct translation, is another scripture, correctly rendered. Even then it may not be clear which is right and which is wrong until we are further enlightened.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Many years ago, when the place of Paul in present truth began to be grasped by a few, there was a tendency to overshoot the mark and make almost everything “Jewish.” Based on Eph.2:15 and Col.2:14, “Having abolished...ordinances,” as the major premise, and the popular ecclesiastical idea that any rite or ceremony is an “ordinance,” especially the so-called “communion” and baptism, as the minor premise, both of these were denounced as “Jewish.” The logic is clear. Ordinances are abolished. The Lord’s dinner is an ordinance. Therefore, the Lord’s dinner is not to be observed in this administration.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Had we examined the contexts carefully, we never would have included the Lord’s dinner, for “razing the central wall of the barrier, nullifying the law of precepts in the decrees, that He should be creating the two, in Himself, into one new humanity,” etc., is all out of line with it. Abolishing the Lord’s dinner would not make a new humanity. The “ordinances” were divisive, the dinner is not. They contained a law of precepts. Not so the dinner. We took the word ordinances out of God’s context and gave it a theological meaning.
indent.gif (54 bytes)In Colossians this conflict is still clearer. How can “erasing the handwriting” refer to the dinner? Was it hostile to us, so that it was taken out of the midst and nailed to His cross? Such words cannot refer to the recollection of His death, which He gave to His disciples and, later, repeated to Paul, with variations to accord with this economy. A careful reading of the Authorized Version should have shown us that their “ordinances” were evidently very different from those so-called by theology. The mistranslation “ordinances,” in place of decrees, has led to much false reasoning.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Some who realize that our blessings are spiritual, and that in us, that is, in our flesh, dwells no good thing, reason that the Lord’s dinner is for the flesh, hence can have no place today. But the word flesh is not used in connection with it, for it represents the Lord’s body, broken for us. We must remember that the word flesh, used in this connection, is a figure which uses that part of the body which most easily goes to decay and corruption, for that which is evil in mankind. Our Lord might have used literal flesh and blood as His memorial. Instead he substitutes bread and the fruit of the vine, neither of which decay readily, and, at the same time show that we are not to take it literally, but as expressive of the sufferings and the blessings which we are to remember, which He has brought to us. He would not give a fleshly reminder even to the Circumcision, the fact that He repeated it to Paul, shows that it is not confined to His people according to the flesh.
indent.gif (54 bytes)The scripture which kept me from being deceived was 1 Cor. 11:23, “For I received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you.” Here was a long passage which clearly showed that the so-called “supper” was Pauline, not “Jewish.” He had not received it from Peter or the twelve, as one would expect, but got it by a special revelation from the Lord, and he delivered it to the Corinthians, who were not Jews. And he added that it was to continue until He come. In the very next chapter Paul intimates the great change from minority to maturity (13:10), but he did not say that the dinner should last until then, but until the Lord’s coming. All this is not logic, not a deduction, but plain fact, set out in detail. How can this contradiction be explained? It is always safer to believe an extended passage with many particulars than to base a conclusion on a single word or phrase, which may easily be misconstrued or mistranslated.
indent.gif (54 bytes)“Ordinances” were to be “abolished.” There is no scripture which says that the Lord’s dinner was abolished. Is it an ordinance? The word so translated in the A.V. is rendered decrees elsewhere. We read of decrees of Caesar (Luke 2:1; Acts 17:7) and decrees of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem (Acts 16:4). These decrees were not anything like ordinances. They demanded that the believers among the nations abstain from ceremonial pollution with idols, and prostitution, and what is strangled, and blood (Acts 15:20). In other words, the heads of the Kingdom put the nations under a shorter law. These precepts were nullified in order to break down the barriers between the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision in the new humanity (Eph.2:15). There is no thought of any “ordinances.”
indent.gif (54 bytes)Another case of reasoning by one of the greatest teachers God gave the saints in these latter days, will show how even the best of us may err if we substitute reasoning for revelation. Dr. Bullinger saw clearly that what he called “the great mystery” was not made known until Paul wrote Ephesians, for it is written, “Yet now, in Christ Jesus, you, who once are far off, are become near by the blood of Christ” (Eph.2:13). The now is emphatic both in form and position, so admits of no compromise. What, then, of the last paragraph of Paul’s Roman epistle (16:25-27)? Long before Ephesians was written it referred to a secret. How could this be?
indent.gif (54 bytes)Dr. Bullinger took the position that, as the secret certainly had not been revealed until Paul’s imprisonment, it must have been added to Romans at that time. But, when we study these secrets carefully, we see that they are not the same. Romans, very appropriately, concerns the conciliation of all mankind, discussed at length in the fifth and eleventh chapters. It concerns all humanity and God’s changed attitude toward them due to the callousness of Israel. In Ephesians the secret is limited to believers and speaks of the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision as joint enjoyers of a celestial allotment, and a joint body, and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus, in spirit (Eph.3:6). There is no need to remove the end of Romans. It fits perfectly in its place.
indent.gif (54 bytes)The failure to distinguish the various secrets was a serious hindrance to their acceptance and apprehension. In opposition to the plain and emphatic now (Eph.2:13), opponents set the words “as it was now revealed” (Eph.3:5), and inferred that the mystery had been revealed previously but not in the measure in which it is now made known. This allowed them to find the “church” anywhere in the Bible, as they had been doing. But, once again, the secret was not the same, but concerned Christ Himself and His headship. His rule over the earth had been divulged, but His celestial sovereignty was not made known until the saints, destined for the celestials, were in view. Practically all the reasoning about “the mystery” was futile and false. It was a hindrance rather than a help.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Let us take the subject of this series, the dais. How illuminating it is to see that, no matter what we may imagine, it is not connected with judgment or sin, as most of us supposed. How could we ever understand it when our version continually called it a “judgment seat?” This casts a black shadow on our justification, for a just man, especially one with God’s righteousness, should never be brought before the Judge. It would call God’s righteousness into question! But we need not be distressed about it, for God’s Word, as reflected in a concordant version, does not lead us into this dilemma.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Sin will not be considered at the dais, for all who will be presented there are sheltered by the blood of Christ. In this case our popular version is not to blame, for, though it follows the reading which should be rendered evil (kakon 2 Cor.5:11, see superlinear) it translates it bad, which seems to be the best reading and rendering. We have already pointed out the vast difference between evil and sin. We will see, as we delve deeper, there is also an important distinction between sinning and badness. Even before we grasp this, may the fact that sin is not in view at the dais appeal to our faith, and keep us from dragging it down to the level of the judgment accorded to those outside of Christ, without the righteousness of God.
indent.gif (54 bytes)Such is the view of the dais presented in Romans. It is a plea to graciously bear with those who are infirm in the faith, rather than to judge them, because we are to imitate God in His loving course at present, and leave the matter until the dais, when our Lord will review the conduct of all and give each his due. It may be compared with, or rather contrasted to, God’s judgments which introduce the coming kingdom. Then His indignation will devastate the earth, and Israel will be purged to play its part in the millennium. But, even as the heavens are higher than the earth, so also is the grace which is ours at the dais in the heavens superior to the justice that will visit the earth when it is renovated at the crisis of the eons.
indent.gif (54 bytes)The observance of days also comes under this rule. On account of its importance to many of the saints, we will give it a chapter for itself, and see if we can get beneath the outward shell and realize what it signifies, not only to us, but to God and His purpose in Christ.

A. E. Knoch

 

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