THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES
REPRESENTING THE PLAN OF THE AGES
Ages--The Harvests--Planes of Actual and Reckoned Standing--The
Course of our Lord Jesus--The Course of His Followers--Three Classes
in the Nominal Church--Separation in the Harvest--The Anointed
Class Glorified--The Great Tribulation Class--The Tares Burned--
The World Blessed--The Outcome Glorious.
THE back of this volume is attached a chart
representing the plan of God for the world's salvation. By
it we have sought to aid the mind, through the eye, in understanding
something of the progressive character of God's plan, and the
progressive steps which must be taken by all who ever attain the
complete "change" from the human to the divine nature.
we have an outline of the three great dispensations, A, B,
C--the first of these, A, lasting from man's creation
to the flood; the second, B, from the flood to the commencement
of the Millennial reign of Christ, at his second advent; and the
third, or "Dispensation of the Fulness of Times," C,
lasting from the beginning of Christ's reign for "ages to
come." (Eph. 1:10; 2:7) These three great dispensations are
frequently referred to in the Scriptures: A is called "the
world that was" B by our Lord Jesus is called "this
world," by Paul "the present evil world," by Peter
"the world that now is." C is called "the
world to come, wherein dwelleth righteousness," in contrast
with the present evil world. Now evil rules and the righteous
suffer, while in the world to come this order is to be reversed:
righteousness will rule and evil-doers will suffer, and finally
all evil will be destroyed.
each of these three great dispensations, epochs or "worlds"
God's plan with reference to men has a distinct and separate outline;
yet each is but a part of the one great plan which, when complete,
will exhibit the divine wisdom --though these parts considered
separately fail to show their deep design. Since the first "world"
("heavens and earth," or that order of things) passed
away at the time of the flood, it follows that it must have been
a different order from "this present evil world," of
which our Lord said Satan is the prince; hence the prince of this
present evil world was not the prince of the world that was before
the flood, although he was not without influence then. Several
scriptures throw light on God's dealings during that time, and
thus give a clear insight into his plan as a whole. The thought
suggested by these is that the first "world," or the
dispensation before the flood, was under the supervision and special
ministration of angels, who were permitted to try what they could
do to recover the fallen and degenerate race. Doubtless,
with God's permission, they were anxious to try it; for their
interest was manifested in the singing and shouting for joy over
the works of creation. (Job 38:7) That angels were the permitted,
though unsuccessful rulers of that first epoch is not only indicated
by all references to that period, but it may reasonably be inferred
from the Apostle's remark when, contrasting the present dispensation
with the past and the future, he says (Heb. 2:5), "Unto the
angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come."
No; that world is to be under the control of the Lord Jesus and
his joint-heirs; and hence it will not only be a more righteous
administration than that of "the present evil world,"
but it will also be more successful than that of the first world
or dispensation under the "ministration of angels,"
whose inability to reclaim the race is manifest from <PAGE
221> the fact that man's
wickedness became so great that God in his wrath and righteous
indignation destroyed with a flood the whole of the race then
living with the exception of eight persons. Gen. 7:13
the "present evil world," man is permitted to try governing
himself; but by reason of the fall he is under the control of
Satan, the "prince of this world," against whose secret
machinations and intrigues he has vainly striven in his efforts
at self-government during the long period from the flood to the
present time. This attempted reign of man under Satan is to end
in the greatest time of trouble the world has ever known. And
thus will have been proven the futility, not only of angelic power
to save the race, but also of man's own efforts to reach satisfactory
second of these great dispensations, B, is composed of
three distinct ages, each of which, as a progressive step, leads
upward and onward in God's plan.
D was the one during which God's special dealings were
with such patriarchs as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
E is the Jewish Age, or the period following the death
of Jacob, during which all of his posterity were treated by God
as his special charge--"his people." To
these he showed special favors, and declared, "You only
have I known (recognized with favor) of all the families of the
earth." (Amos 3:2) These, as a nation, were typical of the
Christian Church, the "holy nation, the peculiar people."
The promises made to them were typical of the "better promises"
made to us. Their journey through the wilderness to the land of
promise was typical of our journey through the wilderness of sin
to the heavenly Canaan. Their sacrifices justified them typically,
not really; for the blood of bulls and goats can never take away
sin. (Heb. 10:4) But in the Gospel Age, F, we have the
"better sacrifices," <PAGE
222> which do make atonement for the sins of the
whole world. We have the "royal priesthood," composed
of all those who offer themselves to God "living sacrifices,"
holy and acceptable, through Jesus Christ, who is the Chief or
"High Priest of our profession." (Heb. 3:1) In the Gospel
age we find the realities of which the Jewish age and its services
and ordinances were shadows. Heb. 10:1
Gospel age, F, is the period during which the body of Christ
is called out of the world, and shown by faith the crown of life,
and the exceeding great and precious promises whereby (by obedience
to the call and its requirements) they may become partakers of
the divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:4) Evil is
still permitted to reign over or rule the world, in order that
by contact with it these may be tried to see whether they are
willing to give up the human nature with its privileges and blessings,
a living sacrifice, being made conformable to Jesus' death, that
they may be accounted worthy to be in his likeness in the resurrection.
third great dispensation, C, is to be composed of many
ages--"The Ages to Come." The first of these, the Millennial
age, G, is the only one concerning which we have any definite
information. It is the thousand years during which Christ will
reign over and thereby bless all the families of the earth, accomplishing
the "restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all
the holy prophets." (Acts 3:19-21) During that age, sin and
death shall be forever blotted out; for "Christ must reign
till he hath put all enemies under his feet....The last enemy
that shall be destroyed is death"--Adamic death. (1 Cor.
15:25,26) That will be the great reconstruction period. Associated
with Christ Jesus in that reign will be the Church, his bride,
his body, even as he promised, saying, "To him that overcometh
will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I <PAGE
223> also overcame, and am set down with my Father
in his throne." Rev. 3:21
"Ages to Come," H, following the great reconstruction
period, are to be ages of perfection, blessedness and happiness,
regarding the work of which, the Scriptures are silent. It is
enough to know, at this distance, that they will be ages of glory
and blessing under divine favor.
of these dispensations has its distinct seasons for the beginning
and development of its work, and each ends with a harvest manifesting
its fruits. The harvest at the close of the Jewish age was a period
of forty years, lasting from the beginning of Jesus' ministry,
when he was anointed of God by the Spirit (Acts 10:37,38),
A.D. 29, until the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. In this
harvest the Jewish age ended and the Gospel age began. There was
a lapping of these dispensations, as represented in the diagram.
Jewish age ended in a measure when, at the end of his three and
one-half years' ministry, the Lord rejected that nation, saying,
"Your house is left unto you desolate." (Matt 23:38)
Yet there was favor shown them for three
and one-half years after this, by the confining to them of the
Gospel call, in harmony with the prophet's declaration (Dan. 9:24-27)
regarding seventy weeks (of years) of favor toward them, in the
midst of the last of which, Messiah should be cut off (die), but
not for himself. "Christ died [not for himself, but] for
our sins," and thus caused the sacrifice and the oblation
to cease, in the midst of the week--three and one-half years before
the expiration of the seventy covenant weeks of Jewish favor.
When the true sacrifice had been made, of course the typical ones
could no longer be recognized by Jehovah.
was, then, a fuller sense in which that Jewish age closed with
the end of the seventieth week, or three and one-half <PAGE
224> years after the cross--after which the Gospel
was preached to the Gentiles also, beginning with Cornelius. (Acts
10:45) This ended their age so far as God's favor toward and recognition
of the Jewish church was concerned; their national existence terminated
in the great time of trouble which followed.
that period of the Jewish harvest the Gospel age had its beginning.
The design of this age is the call, development and trial of "the
Christ of God"--Head and body. This is the Spirit dispensation;
hence, it is proper to say that the Gospel age began with the
anointing of Jesus "with the Holy Spirit and with power"
(Acts 10:38; Luke 3:22; 4:1,18) at the time of his baptism. In
relation to the Church, his body, it commenced three and a half
"harvest" constitutes the closing period of the Gospel
age also, during which there is again a lapping of two ages--
the Gospel age ending, and the Restitution or Millennial age beginning.
The Gospel age closes by stages, as did its pattern or "shadow,"
the Jewish age. As there the first seven years of the harvest
were devoted in a special sense to a work in and for Israel after
the flesh, and were years of favor, so here we find a similar
seven years indicated as having the same bearing upon the Gospel
Church, to be followed by a period of trouble ("fire")
upon the world, as a punishment for wickedness, and as a preparation
for the reign of righteousness--of which more again.
Path to Glory
L, M, N, P, R, each represents a different plane. N
is the plane of perfect human nature. Adam was on this
plane before he sinned; but from the moment of disobedience he
fell to the depraved or sinful plane, R, on which all his
posterity are born. This corresponds to the "Broad Way"
which leads <PAGE 225> to
destruction. P represents the plane of typical justification,
reckoned as effected by the sacrifices of the Law. It was not
actual perfection, for "the Law made nothing perfect."
represents not only the plane of human perfection, as once occupied
by the perfect man, Adam, but also the standing of all justified
persons. "Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures,"
and in consequence all believers in Christ--all who accept of
his perfect and finished work as their justifier--are, through
faith, reckoned of God as justified, as though perfect men, as
though they had never been sinners. In God's sight, then, all
who accept of Christ as their Redeemer are reckonedly on the plane
of human perfection, N. This is the only standpoint from
which man may approach God, or have any communion with him. All
on this plane God calls sons--human sons. Adam was thus a son
(Luke 3:38), and had communion before he became disobedient. All
who accept of our Lord Jesus' finished ransom work are counted
or reckoned as restored to primitive purity; and in consequence
they have fellowship or communion with God.
the Gospel age God has made a special offer to justified human
beings, telling them that on certain conditions they may experience
a change of nature, that they may cease to be earthly, human beings,
and become heavenly, spiritual beings, like Christ, their Redeemer.
Some believers--justified persons--are satisfied with what joy
and peace they have through believing in the forgiveness of their
sins, and so do not heed the voice which calls them to come up
higher. Others, moved by the love of God as shown in their ransom
from sin, and feeling that they are not their own, having been
bought with a price, say, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to
do?" Such have the Lord's answer through Paul, who says,
"I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies <PAGE
226> of God, that ye present your bodies a living
sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, your reasonable service."
(Rom. 12:1) What does the Apostle mean by thus urging the presentation
of ourselves as living sacrifices? He means that we should consecrate
to God's service every power and talent we possess, that henceforth
we may live not for self, nor for friends, nor for family, nor
for the world, nor for anything else but for, and in the obedient
service of, him who bought us with his own precious blood.
since God would not accept of blemished or imperfect typical sacrifices,
and since we all became sinners through Adam, can we be acceptable
sacrifices? Paul shows that it is only because we are holy that
we are acceptable sacrifices. We are not holy like Jesus, who
knew no sin, for we are of the condemned race; nor yet because
we have entirely succeeded in reaching perfection of conduct,
for we reckon not to have attained that perfection to which we
are called; but we have this treasure in (fragile and leaky) earthen
vessels, that the glory of our ultimate perfection may be seen
to be of God's favor, and not of our own ability. But our holiness,
and our acceptableness to God as sacrifices, come from the fact
that God has justified us freely from all sin, through our faith
in Christ's sacrifice on our behalf.
many as appreciate and obey this call rejoice to be accounted
worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Christ, and look not
at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen--at
the "crown of life"--"the prize of our high-calling
in Christ Jesus" and "the glory that shall be revealed
in us." These, from the moment of consecration to God, are
no longer reckoned as men, but as having been begotten of God
through the word of truth--no longer human, but thenceforth spiritual
children. They are now one step nearer the prize than when they
first believed. But their spiritual being is yet imperfect: they
are only begotten, not <PAGE
227> yet born of the Spirit. They are embryo
spiritual children, on plane M--the plane of spirit begetting.
Because begotten of the Spirit, they are no longer reckoned as
human, but as spiritual; for the human nature, once theirs, once
justified, they have now given up or reckoned dead--a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable to and accepted of God. They are now new creatures
in Christ Jesus: old things (human hopes, will and ambitions)
have passed away, and all things have become new; for "ye
are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit
of God dwell in you." (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 8:9) If you have
been begotten of the Spirit, "ye (as human beings) are dead,
and your life is hid with Christ in God."
L represents the condition of perfect spiritual
being; but before plane L can be reached, the conditions
of our covenant must be carried out. It is one thing to covenant
with God that we will be dead to all human things, and a further
thing to perform that covenant throughout our earthly career--keeping
the "body under" (dead), keeping our own will out of
sight, and performing only the Lord's will. The entrance upon
plane L is called birth, or the full entrance into life
as a spirit being. The entire Church will enter on this plane
when gathered out (selected) from the world in the "harvest"
or end of the Gospel age. The "dead in Christ shall rise
first." Then we, who are alive and remain, shall be changed
in a moment--made perfect spiritual beings with bodies like unto
Christ's glorious body (for "this mortal must put on immortality").
Then, that which is perfect having come, that which is in part
(the begotten condition with the various hindrances of the flesh
to which we are now subject) shall be done away.
there is a still further step to be taken beyond a perfection
of spiritual being, viz., to "the glory that shall follow"
--plane K. We do not here refer to a glory of person, but
to a glory of power or office. The reaching of plane L
<PAGE 228> brings
full personal glory; i.e., glorious being, like unto Christ. But
after we are thus perfected, and made entirely like our Lord and
Head, we are to be associated with him in the "glory"
of power and office--to sit with him in his throne, even as he,
after being perfected at his resurrection, was exalted to the
right hand of the Majesty on high. Thus shall we enter everlasting
glory, plane K.
us now carefully study the chart and note its illustrations of
the various features of the plan of God. In these illustrations
we use the pyramid figure to represent perfection, because of
its fitness and because of evident reference to it in the Scriptures.
was a perfect being, pyramid a. Notice its position --on
plane N, which represents human perfection. On plane R,
the plane of sin and imperfection or the depraved plane, the topless
pyramid, b, an imperfect figure, represents fallen Adam
and his posterity--depraved, sinful and condemned.
and others of that day, justified to fellowship with God on account
of faith, are represented by a pyramid (c) on plane N.
Abraham was a member of the depraved human family and by nature
belonged with the rest on plane R; but Paul tells us that
Abraham was justified by faith; that is, he was reckoned of God
a sinless and perfect man because of his faith. This, in God's
estimation, lifted him up above the world of depraved sinful men
to plane N; and though actually still imperfect, he was
received into the favor that Adam had lost, viz., communion with
God as a "friend." (James 2:23) All on the perfect (sinless)
plane N are friends of God, and he is a friend of theirs;
but sinners (on plane R) are at enmity against God--"enemies
through wicked works."
world of mankind after the flood, represented by figure d,
was still on plane R--still at enmity, where it continues
<PAGE 229> until
the Gospel Church is selected and the Millennial age begins.
after the flesh," during the Jewish age, when the typical
sacrifices of bulls and goats cleansed them (not really, but typically,
"for the Law made nothing perfect"-- Heb. 7:19), were
typically justified, hence they are (e) on plane P,
the plane of typical justification, which lasted from the giving
of the Law at Mount Sinai until Jesus made an end of the Law,
nailing it to his cross. There the typical justification ended
by the institution of the "better sacrifices" than the
Jewish types, those which actually "take away the sin of
the world" and "make the comers thereunto [actually]
perfect." Heb. 10:1
fire of trial and trouble through which fleshly Israel passed,
when Jesus was present, sifting them and taking out of their nominal
church the wheat, the "Israelites indeed," and especially
when, after the separation of the wheat, he "burned up the
chaff [the refuse part of that system] with unquenchable
fire," is illustrated by figure f. It was a time of
trouble which they were powerless to avert. See Luke 3:17,21,22;
1 Thess. 2:16.
at the age of thirty years, was a perfect, mature man (g),
having left the glory of the spiritual condition and become a
man in order that he (by the grace of God) should taste
death for every man. The justice of God's law is absolute: an
eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and a life for a life. It
was necessary that a perfect man should die for mankind,
because the claims of justice could be met in no other way. The
death of an angel could no more pay the penalty and release man
than could the death of "bulls and of goats, which can never
take away sin." Therefore, he who is termed "the Beginning
of the creation of God" became a man, was "made
flesh," that he might give that ransom (corresponding price)
which would redeem mankind. He must <PAGE
230> have been a perfect man else he could have
done no more than any member of the fallen race to pay the price.
He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners."
He took the same form or likeness which sinners have-- "the
likeness of sinful flesh"--the human likeness. But he took
that likeness in its perfection: he did not partake of its sin
nor did he share its imperfection, except as he voluntarily shared
the sorrows and pains of some during his ministry, taking their
pains and infirmities as he imparted to them his vitality and
health and strength. It is written that
"Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses"
(Isa. 53:4), and "virtue [life, vitality, vigor] went out
of him and healed them all." Mark 5:30; Luke 6:19; Matt.
found in fashion as a (perfect) man, he humbled himself and became
obedient unto death. He presented himself to God, saying, "Lo,
I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy
will, O God"--and symbolized this consecration by a baptism
in water. When he thus presented himself, consecrated his being,
his offering was holy (pure) and acceptable to God, who showed
his acceptance by filling him with his Spirit and power--when
the holy Spirit came upon him, thus anointing him.
filling with the Spirit was the begetting to a new nature --the
divine--which should be fully developed or born when he had fully
accomplished the offering--the sacrifice of the human nature.
This begetting was a step up from human conditions, and is shown
by pyramid h, on plane M, the plane of spirit begetting.
On this plane Jesus spent three and one-half years of his life--until
his human existence ended on the cross. Then, after being dead
three days, he was raised to life--to the perfection of spirit
being (i, plane L), born of the Spirit--"the
first born from the dead." "That which is born
of the Spirit is spirit." Jesus, therefore, at and
<PAGE 231> after
his resurrection, was a spirit--a spirit being, and no longer
a human being in any sense.
after his resurrection he had power to appear, and did appear,
as a man, in order that he might teach his disciples and prove
to them that he was no longer dead; but he was not a man, and
was no longer controlled by human conditions, but could go and
come as the wind (even when the doors were shut), and none could
tell whence he came or whither he went. "So is every
one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) Compare
the moment of his consecration to sacrifice, at the time of his
baptism, the human had been reckoned dead-- and there the new
nature was reckoned begun, which was completed at the resurrection,
when he reached the perfect spirit plane, L--was raised
a spiritual body.
days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended to the majesty on
high--the plane of divine glory, K (pyramid k).
During the Gospel age he has been in glory (l), "set
down with the Father on his throne," and Head over his Church
on earth--her director and guide. During this entire Gospel age
the Church has been in process of development, discipline and
trial, to the intent that in the end or harvest of the age she
may become his bride and joint-heir. Hence she has fellowship
in his sufferings, that she may be also glorified together with
him (plane K), when the proper time comes.
steps of the Church to glory are the same as those of her Leader
and Lord, who "hath set us an example that we should walk
in his footsteps"--except that the Church starts from a lower
plane. Our Lord, as we have seen, came into the world on the plane
of human perfection, N, while all we of the Adamic race
are on a lower plane, R--the plane of sin, imperfection
and enmity against God. The first thing necessary for us, then,
is to be justified, and thus to reach plane
<PAGE 232> N.
How is this accomplished? Is it by good works? No; sinners can
do no good works. We could not commend ourselves to God, so "God
commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8) Then the condition upon which
we come to the justified or perfect human plane is that Christ
died for our sins, redeemed us and lifted us up, "through
faith in his blood," to the perfect plane, from which, in
Adam, we fell. "We are justified [lifted to plane N]
by faith." And "being justified by faith,
we have peace with God" (Rom. 5:1), and are no longer esteemed
by God as enemies, but as justified human sons, on the same plane
as Adam and our Lord Jesus, except that they were actually perfect,
while we are merely reckoned so by God. This reckoned justification
we realize through faith in God's Word, which says, Ye are "bought,"
"redeemed," "justified freely from all things."
We stand in God's sight blameless, spotless and holy in the robes
of Christ's righteousness imputed to us by faith. Our sins he
consented to have imputed to him, that he might bear our
penalty for us; and he died on our behalf, as though he were the
sinner. His righteousness is consequently imputed to all
who accept of his redemption, and brings with it all the rights
and blessings originally possessed before sin entered. It restores
us to life and to fellowship with God. This fellowship we may
have at once by the exercise of faith, and the life and fuller
fellowship and joy are assured--in God's "due time."
remember that while justification is a blessed thing, it does
not change our nature:7
we are still human beings. <PAGE
233> We are saved from the wretched state of sin
and alienation from God, and instead of being human sinners we
are human sons; and now, because we are sons, God speaks to us
as such. During the Gospel age he has been calling for the "little
flock" of "joint-heirs," saying, "My son,
give me thine heart"--that is, give yourself, all your earthly
powers, your will, your talents, your all, to me, even as Jesus
hath set you an example; and I will make you a son on a higher
plane than the human. I will make you a spiritual son, with a
spirit body like the risen Jesus--"the express image of the
Father's person." If you will give up all of the earthly
hopes, ambitions, aims, etc., consecrate the human nature entirely,
and use it up in my service, I will give you a higher nature than
the rest of your race; I will make you a "partaker of the
divine nature"--an "heir of God and a joint-heir with
Jesus Christ, if so be that you suffer with him, that you
may be also glorified together."
who rightly value this prize set before them in the gospel gladly
lay aside every weight and run with patience the appointed race,
that they may win it. Our works were not called for to secure
our justification: our Lord Jesus did all the work that could
be done to that end, and when, by faith, we accepted of his finished
work, we were justified, lifted to plane N. But now, if
we would go further, we cannot go without works. True, we must
not lose our faith, else we will thereby lose our justification;
but being justified, and continuing in faith, we are able (through
the grace given unto us by our begetting of the Spirit) to do
works, to bring forth fruit acceptable to God. And God requires
this; <PAGE 234> for
it is the sacrifice we covenanted to make. God requires that we
show our appreciation of the great prize by giving all that we
have and are for it; not to men, but to God--a sacrifice holy
and, through Christ, acceptable to him--our reasonable service.
we present all these things, we say: Lord, how wouldst thou have
me deliver this, my sacrifice, my time, talent, influence, etc.,
to thee? Then, examining God's Word for an answer, we hear his
voice instructing us to deliver our all to him as our Lord
Jesus did, by doing good unto all men as we have opportunity,
especially to the household of faith--serving them with spiritual
or with natural food, clothing them in Christ's righteousness
or with the earthly raiment, as we may have ability, or as they
may need. Having consecrated all, we are begotten of the
Spirit, we have reached plane M; and now, through the power
given unto us, if we use it, we will be able to perform all of
our covenant, and to come off conquerors, and more than conquerors,
through (the power or Spirit of) him who loved us and bought us
with his own precious blood. But, thus walking in the footsteps
think the victory won,
Nor once at ease sit down.
Thine arduous work will not be done
Till thou hast gained thy crown."
crown will be won when we, like our faithful Brother Paul, have
fought a good fight and finished the course, but not sooner. Until
then, the flame and incense of our sacrifice of labor and service
must ascend daily--a sacrifice of sweet odor unto God, acceptable
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
of this overcoming class who "sleep" will be raised
spirit beings, plane L, and those of the same class who
are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord will be <PAGE
235> "changed" to the same plane of
spirit being, and will not "sleep" for a moment, though
the "change" will necessitate the dissolution of the
earthen vessel. No longer weak, earthly, mortal, corruptible beings,
these will then be fully born of the Spirit--heavenly, spiritual,
incorruptible, immortal beings. 1 Cor. 15:44,52
know not how long it will be after their "change," or
perfecting as spirit beings (plane L), before they, as
a full and complete company, will be glorified (plane K)
with the Lord, united with him in power and great glory. This
unifying and full glorification of the entire body of Christ with
the Head we understand to be the "marriage of the Lamb"
to his Bride, when she shall fully enter into the joys of her
again at the chart--n, m, p, q are four distinct classes
which unitedly represent the nominal Gospel Church as a whole,
claiming to be the body of Christ. Both the n and m
classes are on the spirit-begotten plane, M. These two
classes have existed together throughout the Gospel age; both
covenanted with God to become living sacrifices; both were "accepted
in the beloved" and begotten by the Spirit as "new
creatures." The difference between them is this: n
represents those who are fulfilling their covenant and are dead
with Christ to earthly will, aims and ambitions, while m
represents the larger company of the spirit-begotten children
who have covenanted, but who, alas! shrink back from the performance
of their covenant. The n class consists of the overcomers
who will be the Bride of Christ, who will sit with the Lord in
his throne in glory--plane K. This is the "little
flock" to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the
Kingdom. (Luke 12:32) Those of the m class shrink from
the death of the human will, but God still loves them, and therefore
will bring them by the way of adversity and trouble to plane L,
the perfect spiritual plane. But they will <PAGE
236> have lost the right to plane K, the
throne of glory, because they were not overcomers. If we prize
our Father's love, if we desire our Lord's approval, if we aspire
to be members of his body, his Bride, and to sit in his throne,
we must fulfil our covenant of sacrifice faithfully and willingly.
majority of the nominal Church is represented by section
p. Notice that they are not on plane M, but on plane
N. They are justified but not sanctified. They are not
fully consecrated to God, and not begotten, therefore, as spirit
beings. They are higher than the world, however, because they
accept of Jesus as their ransom from sin; but they have not accepted
the high-calling of this age to become part of the spiritual family
of God. If they continue in faith and fully submit to the righteous
laws of Christ's Kingdom, in the Times of Restitution, they will
finally attain the likeness of the perfect earthly man, Adam.
They will completely recover all that was lost through him. They
will attain the same human perfection, mental, moral and physical,
and will again be in the image of God, as Adam was; for to all
this they were redeemed. And their position of justification,
plane N, as those who have heard and believed in the salvation
through Christ, is a special blessing which they by faith enjoy
sooner than the general world (for all shall be brought to an
accurate knowledge of the Truth, in the Millennial age). These,
however, will have had the advantage of an earlier start and some
progress in the right direction. But class p fails to improve
the real benefit of this faith justification in the present time.
It is granted now for the special purpose of enabling some to
make the acceptable sacrifice, and to become the n class
as members of "the body of Christ." Those of class p
receive the favor of God [justification] "in vain"
(2 Cor. 6:1): they fail to use it to go on and present themselves
acceptable sacrifices, during this time in <PAGE
237> which sacrifices are acceptable to God. Those
of this class, though not "saints," not members of the
consecrated "body," are called "brethren"
by the Apostle. (Rom. 12:1) In the same sense the entire race,
when restored, will forever be brethren of the Christ, and the
children of God, though of a different nature. God is the Father
of all in harmony with him, on every plane and of every
class connected with the nominal Church, which never did believe
in Jesus as the sacrifice for its sins, and which consequently
is not justified--not on plane N--is represented below
plane N, by section q. These are "wolves in
sheep's clothing" yet they call themselves Christians, and
are recognized as members of the nominal Church. They are not
truly believers in Christ as their Redeemer; they belong to plane
R; they are part of the world, and are out of place in
the Church and a great injury to it. In this mixed condition,
with these various classes, n, m, p, and q, mingling
together and all calling themselves Christians, the Church has
existed throughout the Gospel age. As our Lord foretold, the nominal
kingdom of heaven (the nominal Church) is like a field sown with
wheat and tares. And he said he would "let both grow together
until the harvest" in the end of the age. In the time of
harvest he will say unto the reapers ("the angels"--messengers),
Gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them,
but gather the wheat into my barn. Matt. 13:38,41,49
words of our Lord show us that while he purposed that both should
grow together during the age, and be recognized as members of
the nominal Church, he also purposed that there should come a
time of separation between these different elements, when those
who are truly the Church, his saints (n) approved and owned
of God, should be made manifest. Matt. 13:39
the Gospel age the good seed has been growing, and tares or counterfeits
also. "The good seed are the children of the kingdom,"
the spiritual children, classes n and m, while "the
tares are the children of the wicked one." All of class q,
and many of class p, are therefore "tares" for
"no man can serve two masters," and "his servants
you are to whom you render service." As those in class p
do not consecrate their service and talents to the Lord that bought
them--a reasonable service--doubtless they give much of their
time and talent really in opposition to God, and hence in the
service of the enemy.
notice on the chart the harvest or end of the Gospel age; notice
the two parts into which it is divided--seven years and thirty-three
years, the exact parallel of the harvest of the Jewish age. This
harvest, like the Jewish one, is to be first a time of trial and
sifting upon the Church, and afterward a time of wrath or pouring
out of the "seven last plagues" upon the world, including
the nominal Church. The Jewish Church was the "shadow"
or pattern on the fleshly plane of all that the Gospel Church
enjoys on the spiritual plane. That which tried fleshly Israel
in the harvest of their age was THE TRUTH then presented to them.
The truth then due was the sickle, and it separated the "Israelites
indeed" from the nominal Jewish Church; and of the true wheat
there was but a fragment compared to the professors. So also is
the harvest of this age. The harvest of the Gospel age, like that
of the Jewish age, is under the supervision of the chief reaper,
our Lord Jesus, who must then be present. (Rev. 14:14) The first
work of our Lord in the harvest of this age will be to separate
the true from the false. The nominal Church, because of her mixed
condition, the <PAGE 239> Lord
calls "Babylon"--confusion; and the harvest is the time
for separating the different classes in the nominal Church, and
for ripening and perfecting the n class. Wheat will be
separated from tares, ripe wheat from unripe, etc. Those in class
n are a "first fruits" of the wheat, and after
being separated they will, in due time, become Christ's Bride,
and be forever with and like her Lord.
separation of this little flock from Babylon is shown by figure
s. She is on the way to become one with the Lord,
and to bear his name and share his glory. The glorified Christ,
Head and body, is shown by figure w. Figures t, u,
and v represent Babylon--the nominal Church--falling, going
to pieces during "the time of trouble" in the "day
of our Lord." Though this may seem to be a dreadful thing,
yet it will actually be of great advantage to all the true wheat.
Babylon falls because she is not what she claims to be. The Church
nominal contains many hypocrites, who have associated themselves
with her because of her honorable standing in the eyes of the
world, and who, by their conduct are making Babylon a stench in
the nostrils of the world. The Lord always knew their real character,
but, according to his purpose he lets them alone until the harvest,
when he will "gather out of [or from] his kingdom [true Church,
and bind in bundles] all things that offend, and them which do
iniquity, and cast them into a furnace of fire [trouble, destructive
to their nominal system and false profession].... Then shall the
righteous [the n class] shine forth as the sun in the kingdom
of their Father." (Matt. 13:41-43) The trouble coming upon
the Church will be occasioned in great measure by the growth of
Infidelity and Spiritism, of various kinds, which will be severe
trials because Babylon holds so many doctrines contrary to God's
Word. As in the harvest of the Jewish age the cross of
Christ was to the Jew, expecting glory and power, a stumbling
block, and to the worldly-wise Greek, foolishness, so in the harvest
<PAGE 240> of the
Gospel age it will again be the stone of stumbling and rock of
one who has built upon Christ anything else than the gold, silver
and precious stones of truth, and a character consistent therewith,
will find himself sorely beset during the time of wrath ("fire");
for all the wood, hay and stubble of doctrine and practice will
be consumed. Those who have built properly, and who consequently
possess the approved character, are represented by figure s,
while t represents the "great company," begotten
of the Spirit, but who have built with wood, hay and stubble--wheat,
but not fully ripened at the time of the gathering of the first
fruits (s). They (t) lose the prize of the throne
and the divine nature, but will finally reach birth as spirit
beings of an order lower than the divine nature. Though these
are truly consecrated, they are overcome by the worldly spirit
to such and extent that they fail to render their lives in sacrifice.
Even in "the harvest," while the living members of the
Bride are being separated from others by the truth, the
ears of others, including class t, will be dull of hearing.
They will be slow to believe and slow to act in that time of separation.
They will, no doubt, be greatly dismayed when they afterward realize
that the Bride has been completed and united to the Lord, and
that they, because so listless and overcharged, have lost that
great prize; but the beauty of God's plan, which they will then
begin to discern as one of love, both for them and for all the
world of mankind, will quite overcome their grief, and they will
shout "Alleluia! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let
us be glad, and rejoice, and give honor to him, for the marriage
of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready."
(Rev. 19:6,7) Notice, too, the abundant provision of the Lord:
the message is sent to them-- Though you are not the Bride of
the Lamb, you may be present at the marriage supper--"Blessed
are they which <PAGE 241> are
called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb." (Verse 9) This
company will, in due time, through the Lord's chastisements, come
fully into harmony with him and his plan, and will wash their
robes, that they may ultimately reach a position next to the Bride--y,
on the spiritual plane, L. Rev. 7:14,15
time of trouble, as it will affect the world, will be after Babylon
has begun to fall and disintegrate. It will be an overturning
of all human society and governments, preparing the world for
the reign of righteousness. During the time of trouble, fleshly
Israel (e), which was cast off until the fulness of the
Gentiles be come in, will be restored to God's favor, and the
Gospel Church, or spiritual Israel, will be completed and glorified.
During the Millennial age Israel will be the chief nation of earth,
at the head of all on the earthly plane of being, into oneness
and harmony with which all the obedient will be gradually drawn.
restoration to perfect human nature, as well as that of the world
in general, will be a gradual work, requiring all of the Millennial
age for its full accomplishment. During that thousand years' reign
of Christ, the results of Adamic death will be gradually swallowed
up or destroyed. Its various stages--sickness, pain and weakness,
as well as the tomb--will yield obedience to the Great Restorer's
power, until at the end of that age the great pyramid of our chart
will be complete. The Christ (x) will be the head of all
things--of the great company, of angels, and of men--next to the
Father; next in order or rank will be the great company, spirit
beings (y), and next, angels; then Israel after the flesh
(z), including only Israelites indeed, at the head of earthly
nations; then the world of men (w), restored to perfection
of being, like the head of the human race, Adam, before he sinned.
This restoration will be accomplished gradually during the Millennial
age--the "times of restitution." (Acts 3:21) Some,
however, will be destroyed from <PAGE
242> among the people: first, all who, under full
light and opportunity, for one hundred years refuse to make progress
toward righteousness and perfection (Isa. 65:20); and second,
those who, having progressed to perfection, in a final testing
at the close of the Millennium prove unfaithful. (Rev. 20:9) Such
die the second death, from which there is no resurrection or restitution
promised. But one full individual trial is provided. But one ransom
will ever be given. Christ dieth no more.
we look at our Father's great plan for the exaltation of the Church
and the blessing through it of Israel and all the families of
the earth by a restitution of all things, it reminds us of the
song of the angels: "Glory to God in the highest; on earth,
peace, good will toward men!" That will be the consummation
of God's plan--"the gathering together of all things in Christ."
Who will then say that God's plan has been a failure? Who will
then say that he has not overruled evil for good, and made the
wrath of both men and devils to praise him?
figure of a pyramid not only serves well the purpose of illustrating
perfect beings, but it continues to answer the purpose of illustration
in representing the oneness of the whole creation, as in the fulfilment
of God's plan it will be one when the harmony and perfection
of all things will be attained under the headship of Christ, the
Head, not only of the Church which is his body, but also of all
things in heaven and in earth. Eph. 1:10
Jesus was the "beginning," "the head," "the
topstone," the "chief (upper) corner-stone" of
this grand structure, which as yet is only commenced; and into
harmony with the lines and angles of the top-stone must every
understone be built. No matter how many kinds of stones may be
in this structure, no matter how many distinct natures there may
be among God's sons, earthly and heavenly, they all, <PAGE
243> to be everlastingly acceptable to him, must
be conformed to the image of his Son. All who will be of this
building must partake of the spirit of obedience to God, and of
love toward him and all his creatures (so amply illustrated in
Jesus), the fulfilment of the law--Thou shalt love the Lord with
all thy heart, mind, soul and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.
the process (as God's Word outlines this gathering together in
one of all things, both heavenly and earthly, under one head),
Christ Jesus, the Head, was first selected; secondly, the Church,
which is his body. Angels and other spirit classes will rank next;
then the worthies of Israel and the world. Beginning with the
highest, the ordering shall proceed until all who will
shall have been brought into harmony and oneness.
peculiarity is that this tried, chief, corner top-stone is laid
first and called a foundation stone. Thus is illustrated
the fact that the foundation of all hope toward God and righteousness
is laid, not on the earth, but in the heavens. And those built
under it and united to this heavenly foundation are held to it
by heavenly attractions and laws. And though this order is the
very opposite of an earthly building, how appropriate that the
stone in whose likeness the entire structure is to be found should
be laid first. And how appropriate also to find that our foundation
is laid upward, not downward; and that we, as living
stones, are "built up into him in all things."
Thus the work will progress during the Millennial age, until every
creature, of every nature, in heaven and in earth, will be praising
and serving God in conformity with the lines of perfect obedience.
The universe will then be clean; for in that day "It shall
come to pass that the soul that will not hear that Prophet shall
be cut off from among the people"--in the second death. Acts
Tabernacle of the Wilderness
same lesson shown in the Chart of the Ages is here taught in this
divinely arranged type, the lessons of which will be more fully
examined subsequently. We place it alongside, that the different
planes or steps to the Holy of Holies may be duly noted or appreciated,
as teaching the same steps already examined in detail. Outside
the court of the tabernacle lies the whole world in sin, on the
depraved plane, R. Entering through the "gate"
into the "court," we become believers or justified
persons, on plane N. Those who go forward in consecration
press to the door of the Tabernacle, and, entering in (plane M),
become priests. They are strengthened by the "shew bread,"
enlightened by the "candlestick" and enabled to offer
acceptable incense to God by Jesus Christ at the "Golden
Altar." Finally, in the first resurrection, they enter the
perfect spiritual condition, or "Most Holy" (plane L),
and are then associated with Jesus in the glory of the Kingdom,
little while, earth's fightings will be over;
A little while, her tears, be wiped away;
A little while, the power of Jehovah
Shall turn this darkness to Millennial Day.
little while, the ills that now o'erwhelm men
Shall to the memories of the past belong;
A little while, the love that once redeemed them
Shall change their weeping into grateful song.
little while! 'Tis ever drawing nearer--
The brighter dawning of that glorious day.
Praise God, the light is hourly growing clearer,
Shining more and more unto the perfect day."
THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES