Testing Things That Differ

By: Pastor Marvin Duncan

Why God Became A Man In The Person Of Jesus Christ

In Philippians 1:10, the Apostle Paul says, “APPROVE THINGS THAT ARE EXCELLENT.” A more understandable translation of what Paul said might be, TEST THINGS THAT ARE DIFFERENT. To grasp more clearly what Paul was thinking, we have to connect this verse with what Paul said in Second Timothy 2:15 when he told Timothy to “STUDY TO SHOW THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD, A WORKMAN THAT NEEDETH NOT TO BE ASHAMED, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH.” Some Bible students have not give this admonition as much attention as they should and the result has been disastrous in fully understanding the Word of God. Some have tried to “divide” the Word of God between the Old and New Testaments. But even in this attempt they have erred in not realizing that the Old Testaments did not begin at Genesis 1:1, but rather when God made His covenant with the nation Israel. Others have adopted different methods of dividing the Scriptures, but if we allow the Scriptures themselves to determine how the Word is to be divided, we’ll have no problems in understanding what Paul was talking about.

To begin with, we must remove from our minds some of the things we have been taught and allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves. I was taught as a youngster that the Bible contained ONE PROGRAM that was consistent through out the Scriptures. I was also taught that all of the Bible was written to us and we were to conform or lives to ALL that the Bible taught. It wasn’t until much later that I realized the Bible contained TWO PROGRAMS and these were far different from each other. There was no way I could be consistent in my Christian life if I tried to obey everything I read in the Bible.

To set the foundation for this study, we must recognize that the Bible does contain two different programs and that it is impossible for anyone to conform to both of these programs. We cannot keep the Law of Moses and live by Grace at the same time. Let us notice two Scriptures that are very clear as to their meaning; then let us consider these two passages of Scripture in light of the admonition found in Philippines 1:10 and Second Timothy 2:15.

In Acts 3:21 we have the writer speaking about our Lord Jesus Christ and saying that He must remain in the heavens “UNTIL THE TIMES OF RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS, WHICH GOD HATH SPOKEN BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN.” It is clear from this verse that there was a program that God had made known SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN. He made this program known through all the Prophets that had spoken before this statement was made. This program had to do with God’s plan for the EARTH and it was to be carried out through the nation of Israel.

When Israel refused To have Christ reign over them, God temporally set that program aside, along with the nation of Israel, and called out a special Apostle, Paul, to whom He revealed His SECRET program which had to do with the HEAVENS. This Heavenly program was to include all mankind regardless of their nationality. We find this spoken of in Romans 16:25-26. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13) tells his Roman readers, “NOW TO HIM
THAT IS OF POWER TO ESTABLISH YOU ACCORD- ING TO MY GOSPEL, EVEN THE PREACHING OF JESUS CHRIST. ACCORDING TO THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY, WHICH WAS KEPT SECRET SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN. BUT NOW IS MADE MANIFEST, AND BY THE PROPHETIC SCRIPTURES ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT OF THE EVERLASTING GOD, MADE KNOWN TO ALL NATIONS FOR THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH.”

When this present dispensation of God’s SECRET program has run it’s course, God will return His dealings to His program for the Earth and will re-establish the nation of Israel as His chosen people through whom He will carry out that program. We see this in Romans 11:25-26.

With this foundation, let us begin our study of the Scriptures to see how we are to TEST THE THINGS THAT DIFFER.

TWO SPHERES OF CREATION

We will find from a study of the Scriptures that God created “THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH” (Genesis 1:1). Notice that God did not say that He created the UNIVERSE, which He could have done, but He specifically states that He created TWO distinct spheres. This is because He has a special purpose for the Earth and special purpose for Heaven. These purposes are different in nature and different as to who will be involved in each. Our Bible is a
progressive Revelation of these purposes.

God’s purpose for the Earth is the subject of PROPHECY (Second Peter 1:16-19) while God’s purpose for the Heaven is the subject of THE MYSTERY (Ephesians 2:4-10 & 3:1-4).

All of the Scriptures except Paul’s epistles look forward to the fulfillment of God’s purpose for the Earth. This fulfillment will come when “THE EARTH SHALL BE FULL OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD, AS THE WATERS COVER THE SEA” (Isaiah 11:9).

God’s special purpose for Heaven was kept hidden in His own heart of love until man’s sin and rebellion had reached its climax. Then He saved “THE CHIEF OF SINNERS” (Paul) and revealed to him the truths of the MYSTERY (the
secret) and the future hope of the Church which is to be caught up to heaven.

RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH

The Word of God (the Bible) is not RIGHTLY DIVIDED by separating the Old Testament from the New Testament, nor is it rightly divided between LAW AND GRACE. It is not rightly divided between – PROPHECY and FUTURE PROPHECY. It is only rightly divided between PROPHECY and MYSTERY (God’s Secret program).

While there are DISTINCTIONS between God’s two programs, there is also a CONNECTION, for the prophetic program could not be fulfilled until the Mystery had been revealed. The connection between Prophecy and Mystery is even more vital than the distinctions because both purpose are centered in Christ. Prophecy centers in Christ as KING OF ISRAEL and as KING OF THE KINGS of the earth. The Mystery centers in Christ as the GLORIOUS HEAD of the Church, the Body of Christ (God’s heavenly redeemed people).

God’s purpose in Christ will not have been accomplished until all Heaven and Earth have been gathered together as one in Christ ( Ephesians 1:7-10).

THE INCARNATION AND PROPHECY

God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of PROPHECY. We see this in Matthew 1:23 (which is a quotation of Isaiah 7:14) where we read, “BEHOLD, A VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BRING FORTH A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL IS NAME EMANUEL, WHICH BEING INTERPRETED IS, GOD WITH US.” Zacharias summed up the Prophets by his utterance at the birth of John in Luke 1:67-76.

Jesus Christ was the SON OF DAVID as well as the SON OF GOD. His coming was (1) to redeem His people ISRAEL and (2) fulfill God’s covenant with Abraham to bless Israel and make her a blessing to the world (Matthew 1:1). The reason for DAVID and ABRAHAM being connected with Christ is that the KINGDOM had been promised to David’s seed and the LAND had been promised to Abraham’s seed. To REDEEM the inheritance for Israel, Christ must be Son of both.

All of these prophecies have to do with the EARTH, no Heaven. According to prophecy, ISRAEL was to be gathered to their promised LAND (Ezekiel 37:14-21) and exalted above the NATIONS (Isaiah 2:1-2), with Messiah as their
KING (Zephaniah 3:15). Through Israel, all nations of the EARTH were to be blessed (Zechariah 8:13 & Malachi 3:12).

The KING and the KINGDOM were rejected by Israel and the fulfillment of these prophecies is being held in beyance while God unfolds His SECRET PROGRAM. Let us not read the MYSTERY into the Old Testament or we will confuse Prophecy with the Mystery. Here is where we must Test Things That Differ. Keep in mind that God did not reveal His Secret program to anyone until after Israel rejected the offer of the Kingdom. Then it was revealed to Paul, God’s Apostle to the Gentiles (the nations of the world).

The SON OF GOD came according to Prophecy as the SON OF DAVID and the SON OF ABRAHAM in order to reign in glory over Israel and over the Earth. His being stricken for the transgression of His people (Isaiah 53:8), His
bearing away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and His crushing the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15), all for part of this great prophetic purpose. This is why the angels proclaimed to Mary “THE LORD SHALL GIVE UNTO HIM THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER DAVID” (Luke 1:32). This is why our Lord Himself said “BLESSED ARE THE MEEK: FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH” (Matthew 5:5). This is why Christ taught His disciples to pray “THEY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN” (Matthew 6:10). This is why Peter offered this promise to the nation of Israel. “REPENT …THE TIMES OF REFRESHING SHALL COME FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD: AND HE SHALL SEND JESUS CHRIST, WHICH BEFORE WAS PREACHED UNTO YOU” (Acts 3:19-20).

THE INCARNATION AND THE MYSTERY

It isn’t until we come to Paul’s epistles that we find another and GREATER purpose in the incarnation – a purpose which had been KEPT SECRET since the world began ( Romans 16:25 Ephesians 3:2,5-6).

a. That God was to become ONE WITH THE HUMAN RACE was NO SECRET. The prophets had foretold this . The Prophetic purpose for the incarnation was that the SON OF GOD might ultimately reign over Israel and bring peace and blessings to the whole EARTH.

b. The SECRET PURPOSE had to do with the World’s RE- JECTION of Christ and this SECRET PURPOSE was made known ONLY after Israel turned in rebellion against her RISEN, GLORIFIED MESSIAH.

To understand this better, we must first see how completely our Lord was identified with the HUMAN RACE. We’ll take up this subject in another study.

http://www.graceandthetruth.com/articles/testing_things_differ.htm

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