Paul’s writings alone reveal the existence of the Body of Christ. He wrote, “To me, less than the least of all saints, was granted this grace: to bring the evangel of the untraceable riches of Christ to the nations, and to enlighten all as to what is the administration of the secret, which has been concealed from the eons in God, Who creates all, that now may be made known to the sovereignties and the authorities among the celestials, through the ecclesia, the multifarious wisdom of God, in accord with the purpose of the eons, which He makes in Christ Jesus, our Lord” Eph. 3:8-11.
In order to understand the Bible, it is important to use a consistent, accurate translation of the original languages. The Concordant Literal translation was made with the goal of maintaining the original purity of Divine revelation, minimizing the influence of the personal views of the translators. http://www.concordant.org/
The longest period of time mentioned in Scripture is the “eon”. An eon is sometimes translated “age” in certain versions. The word “eon” is transliterated from the Greek “aion”. Other words transliterated in the CLV are “baptize”, “ecclesia” (out-called company) and “evangel” (well message). The Greek adjective relating to eon is rendered “eonian”. Something which is eonian occurs during one or more eons or ages.
Each eon has an end, including the current eon. Matt. 13:39, 40, 49; 28:20. It is also apparent that each eon has a beginning, for after the present eon is “the coming eon”. Luke 18:30; Heb. 6:5.
God is King of kings and Lord of lords. 1Tim. 6:15. Likewise, the most exalted of the Hebrew holy places are called “the Holies of Holies”. Heb. 9. The oncoming eons are the final two eons and the most glorious, for Christ will be reigning over mankind, and His Body, the ecclesia will be immortal during that time. So the last two eons are called “the eons of the eons”. Rev. 5:13; 11:15. And the Adversary who is deceiving them was cast into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the wild beast and where the false prophet are also. And they will be tormented day and night for the eons of the eons. Rev 20:10.
The eons vary in length- the next eon is somewhat longer than 1,000 years. The current eon has been going on for close to 5,000 years according to my understanding, if not more, and no one but the Father knows when Christ will return to earth -that will end this eon and begin the "Millennium". The eon before this one lasted 2,000 years or so, perhaps longer, and ended with the flood of Noah. There are a total of 5 or maybe 4 eons revealed. The last eon is when the new heaven and new earth are here and no one will die then, although the second death will still hold many. The division between two eons is marked by judgment and earthquake.
God’s wisdom was designated before the eons. 1Cor. 2:7. In spirit the consummations of the eons have already attained to the ecclesia. 1Cor 10:11. We are now reconciled to God, just as all will be at the consummation of vivification, which seems to roughly synchronize with the consummation of the eons. 1Cor. 15:28.
Sodom and Gomorrah are lying before us, a specimen, experiencing the justice of fire eonian. Jude 7. The fire of their destruction went out long ago. Since an eon is a period of time, having a beginning and an end, “eonian” cannot mean “eternal”, because an adjective must derive its meaning from the parent noun. When Jesus returns to earth in vengeance, those who are not acquainted with God will incur the justice of eonian extermination. 2Thes. 1:7-9.
Matthew 25:31-46 is often misunderstood. It deals with the judgment of the nations (perhaps represented by their leaders- vs. 32). The rewards and punishments given will be in accordance with how each nation treated the nation of Israel (Christ’s brethren- vs. 40; see Ro. 9:3). Two general groups are mentioned, the sheep and the kids. The “sheep” receive eonian life- vs. 46. The “kids” receive eonian fire or chastening- vs. 41,46. (The word chastening -“kolasis” in Greek- always refers, in the Bible and elsewhere, to a corrective judgment meant to benefit the one being judged. Due to the false “translation” of eonian as eternal, kolasis was then rendered punishment, since it was assumed that since the judgment was everlasting, it could not be corrective.) This chastening, characterized as fire, will prevail during the oncoming eon, lasting over 1,000 years. Rev. 20:1, 2, 7-9. Eonian life will last for the eons of the eons- the 1,000 years as well as the eon of the new earth- Rev. 21 & 22.
The Father says of Christ, “…Thou art a priest for the (coming, 1,000 year) eon according to the order of Melchizedek.” Heb. 7:17. After that, there will be no more temple, nor priests. Rev. 21:22. Once the eons are completed, God will abolish death and sin and thus He will be All in all. It is clear that when death is abolished for all mankind that this will include the second death. The only difference between the first death and the second is that those who experience the second death die a second time, since they will be raised to face judgment at the Great White Throne. Rev 20:11-15. Death is called “sleep”. Jn 11:11-14; 1Thes 4:13-18; 1Cor. 15:17, 18. See Ps. 115:17; Is. 38:18,19. Death is the last enemy that will be destroyed. 1Cor. 15:26.
Nowhere in the Bible is there a single word meaning “eternal” or “everlasting”. Nevertheless, it is clear that our life will be everlasting, for we are promised that we will be immortal and that we will ever be with the Lord. 1Cor. 15:52,53; Phil. 3:21; 1Thes. 4:18.
In 2Tim 1:9 we read of God’s “own purpose and the grace which is given to us in Christ Jesus before times eonian.” (It would be nonsensical to declare that something occurred before “eternal” times.) It was through His Son, Jesus, that the Father “makes the eons”. Heb. 1:2. For there is one God, and one Mediator of God and mankind, a Man, Christ Jesus, Who is giving Himself a correspondent Ransom for all (the testimony in its own eras) 1Tim. 2:5,6. God did not pay a Ransom for all only to receive but some to His Bosom.
“in all wisdom and prudence making known to us the secret of His will (in accord with His delight, which He purposed in Him) to have an administration of the complement of the eras, to head up all in the Christ- both that in the heavens and that on the earth” Eph 1:8-10. Here is the last season or era of time revealed in Scripture. Once all in heaven and earth is headed up in the Christ, His mission will be completed. He will then subject Himself to His Father, that God may be All in all. 1Cor. 15:20-28.
Science and faith
What about the fossil record and other evidence for life on earth having existed for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years? Scientific evidence is open to interpretation, as are the Bible, the Quran and other writings considered holy. While faith is based on reason, it also extends beyond the evidence. No human being can prove or disprove any particular understanding of human origins. Nor can we be certain from the historical and fossil records whether or not mankind and dinosaurs ever lived at the same time. Fossilized footprints of both have been discovered together in Texas. Ancient pottery has been found depicting not only animals commonly accepted to have lived at that time, but also life-like representations of dinosaurs. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is said to have had a “dragon” in captivity. In fact, legends of dragons abound, even a few reaching into the nineteenth century, if not later. It may be that due to changes in climate and growing human populations, certain species of dinosaurs were severely endangered long before extinction. Those few surviving longest were probably not extremely large. Most of the more recent reports of land-dwelling “dragons” came from large and little known jungles and swamps. Those environments would have provided food and protection from human attack. There is interesting information on these topics sometimes on the Dr Carl Baugh program on TBN. On a somewhat related note, a National Geographic article once described hairs found somewhere in Asia, I believe, and claimed by locals to belong to a “ape-man” of some sort. Scientific examination concluded the fur came from a simian species not yet known to science. New animal and plant species are discovered regularly and no doubt species regularly go extinct which were never discovered, at least not by any one commonly referred to as a “modern scientist”.
It is likewise true that we can neither prove nor disprove an historic flood, whether global or regional, destroying all mankind. Legends from many ethnic groups relate the flood story. Each person must make their own judgments on these matters.
Q & A
Q: If God was not created, how did He come into existence, and what existed before Him?
A: God is self-existent. He created all of Himself; time/space, energy/matter. It was through His Son, Jesus, that the Father “makes the eons”; in fact, He made all through Christ. Heb. 1:2; Col. 1:17. There was no time before He created time, thus there was no time when He was not God, the All-Sufficient. All creation depends upon Him- He depends on no one.
Q: Of what does matter consist and what are the known phases of matter?
A: Matter consists, at least in part, of super-concentrated energy. Among its phases (states) are the following:
The phase that matter assumes depends upon such variables as the elements of which it consists, pressure and temperature. The sun contains 99.9 % of the matter in our solar system.
Peter said of Jesus, “And there is no salvation in any other one, for neither is there any other name, given under heaven among men, in which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Yet Romans 9 is clear that “to whom He will, He is merciful, yet whom He will, He is hardening.” Here is revealed the sublime truth that out of one kneading of clay, God makes two types of vessels, one for honor, yet one for dishonor. As for the vessels of honor, Romans 8:30 tells us that those who God designates beforehand, He later calls, justifies, and at the proper time, glorifies.
Since God is love, and wills all to be saved, how are we to understand the revelation in Romans 9 that the vessels whom God hardens are adapted for destruction? At least two questions present themselves to us. First, how can He blame them for fulfilling His intentions? (vs. 19.) Second, how can they be created for destruction if God desires their salvation and sent His beloved Son to die for all? 1Jn. 2:2; 2Cor. 5:14,15; Ro. 5:18,19; Jn 12:32; Titus 2:11.
To the first question Paul’s answer is simple and should be accepted by faith: “O man! Who are you, to be sure, who are answering again to God? That which is molded will not protest to the molder, “Why do You make me thus?” Who are we to tell God how to judge sin? With a proper understanding of the original language and in believing all the Scriptures, we see that all divine judgments against sin have in view the correction and improvement of the one being judged. The judgment may even be “eonian”, and an eon is the longest time period mentioned in the Bible. But punishment or destruction are never “eternal”, for death and sin will one day be abolished for all mankind. Ro. 5:18,19; 1Tim. 6:13.
As for the destruction which will surely befall the vessels of indignation, we can rest in this assurance: For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all. Ro. 11:32. While mistranslations such as “eternal fire” and “everlasting punishment” have clouded the minds of many, the facts are these: God’s mercy is permanent; His indignation is not.
God is love. Therefore, He is patient and kind. He isn’t jealous nor incensed. He is not taking account of evil, but is expecting all. 1Cor. 13:4-7; 2Cor. 5:18,19; Col. 1:20.
God shows no favoritism or partiality. Eph. 6:9; Ro 2:11. James 2:1-9 harmonizes with Romans 9 in showing that God does not choose some for salvation now because of anything in them. Rather, the purpose of God is displayed in His choice and calling of the individuals He sees best for the display of His grace in the oncoming eons. Eph 1:4-6, 2:7. “…Jacob I love, yet Esau I hate.” Ro 9:13. The simple difference between God’s relation to Jacob and to Esau was that He looked upon Esau as he was, and He looked upon Jacob as he was to be.
God did not appoint us to indignation
As believers, our expectation is salvation. 1Thes. 5:8-11. Jesus is our rescuer out of the coming indignation. 1Thes. 1:10.
2 Thessalonians 2 gives much to console us. Firstly, we read that “God prefers (us) from the beginning for salvation” –vs 13. There is clear teaching about the day of the Lord, which is the same as the day of indignation. God is love and thus, in truth, He is not incensed. 1Cor. 13:5. See 2Cor. 5:19 and John 3:17. However, God portrays Himself as having characteristics belonging to humankind or other creatures. This is done in order to help us understand Him ultimately, although it may temporarily hide His true nature. We read of God’s hand, His heart, His face, His wings, etc. We read in Genesis 6 that He was sorry He had created mankind. This was not the case in the ultimate sense, for He doesn’t make mistakes. He does grieve over the evil and sufferings which afflict creation but not in the sense that He wishes He had done something differently, but rather in light of His goal, which is peace and joy for all creation.
So when we read of God’s indignation, we must remember that it is a display of His love, in that his purpose is to bring creation into glorious freedom. Ro. 8:18-22. God’s indignation displays His power (Ro. 9:22) and shows that good and not evil is the goal He has set for creation.
Paul’s evangel of pure grace is the message intended for the ecclesia which is Christ’s body. In fact, no other Bible writer even makes direct mention of this ecclesia. All the other Bible authors direct their message to Israelites, God’s chosen people. Our salvation is based on God’s choice in grace. In harmony with this, Christ’s body will not experience God’s indignation. 2Thes. 2:7,8 reveals that the lawless one will be unveiled only when the present detainer may be coming to be out of the midst. This refers to the body of Christ. Afterwards, the wild beast from the sea will be “given authority to do what he wills forty-two months”. Rev 13:5.
Romans 11:25-28 shows that once the complement of the nations enters, all Israel will be saved. It mentions the new covenant of Jer. 31:31-37. See also Heb. 8:10 and John 3:3. Salvation will be through Israel once Christ’s Body is removed from earth. See Isaiah 56 and 66. Christ will come in the air for the ecclesia; years later He will come to earth to rule. See Matt. 25:31-46 (the judgment of the nations) and Matt. 19:28. His coming to earth to reign is also mentioned in 2Thes. 2:8, part B: “the advent of His presence”. Then Christ will rule with a rod of iron and Israel will be head of all nations as so many scriptures promise. See Rev. 19:15; 12:5; 2:26,27; Zech. 14:1-9; Micah 4. Daniel 2:31-45 describes a series of kingdoms that God sets over the earth. Finally, God will set up a kingdom represented by a stone cut out of a mountain without hands. The stone “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Vs. 35. This is in agreement with Christ’s model prayer for Israel: “Our Father Who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, on earth also.” Matt. 6:9,10. Christ told them, “Happy are the meek, for they shall be enjoying the allotment of the land.” Matt. 5:5.
1John was written especially for believing Israel during the day of the Lord. 2:8: “…for the darkness is passing by, and the true light is already appearing.” 2:17,18: “And the (present) world is passing by, and its desire, yet he who is doing the will of God is remaining for the eon. (the 1,000 years). Little children, it is the last hour…” 3:9: “Everyone who is begotten of God is not doing sin, for His seed is remaining in him, and he can not be sinning, for he is begotten of God.” (The law will be written on their hearts; this is also referred to as the new birth and the new covenant.) See 1Jn. 5:2-4. 1Jn. 5:18,19: “We are aware that everyone who has been begotten of God is not sinning, but he who is begotten of God is keeping himself, and the wicked one is not touching him. We are aware that we are of God, and the whole world is lying in the wicked one.” The antichrist will be in power. Compare 5:21 with Rev. 13:15. The mark of the beast will be a sin to death. Rev. 14:9-12; 1Jn. 5:16.
God will have us in celestial places. We will judge the world and messengers (angels). 1Cor. 6:1-3. “Our realm is inherent in the heavens.” Phil. 3:20. Eph. 2:6,7: “and rouses us together and seats us together among the celestials, in Christ Jesus, that, in the oncoming eons, He should be displaying the transcendent riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” We will be “the complement of the One completing the all in all.” Eph 1:23. The heavens include the air surrounding the earth, so it is not at all impossible that Christ will rule on the earth as well as be with the ecclesia. We will have spiritual bodies. 1Cor. 15:44. The bodies of those dwelling on earth in the oncoming eons may be of a different nature, yet they will be glorious nonetheless.
Psalm 47:2,3; Luke 10:17-20
Job 42:6; Matt. 11:21; Num. 19:1-3, 9, 17; Malachi 4:1-3
Rom. 12:20,21; Song 8:6; Num. 31:23; Is. 1:25; Mal. 3:2,3: Eze. 22:14-22; 2411: Zech. 13:8,9; 1Cor. 3:12-15; 2Pet. 3:12,13:John 5:35; Is. 6:6,7: Jer. 23:29, 5:14; 20:9; Lk. 24:31,32; Sal 119:105; Rev. 4:5; 5:6/2:18; Acts 2:3
The Deity is sovereign
If we believe that God is supreme, we must concede…
that He could have prevented sin if that were His plan.
that He has never been surprised, nor caught unprepared.
that while His command was that man not eat of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
His intention was that he eat of it. Romans 8:20,21.
that He will never fail to fulfill any purpose that He undertakes.
Both the evil and the good
Since good and evil spring from one common source, they cannot be mutually contradictory; they cannot be pitted against each other, like two deadly antagonists, bent on each other’s destruction, but each is necessary to the existence of the other. “Do not both the evil and the good come forth from the mouth of the Supreme?” Lamentations 3:38. If evil comes out of God’s mouth, that is, by His command, then He controls and directs and makes it subservient to His own ends; and if God controls it, then evil works for good, and leads to good. Is it only by accident that the speaker says “evil and good,” and not, as we usually put the phrase, “good and evil”? Good shall have the last word. Evil exists; but the finality and crown of existence is not evil, but good. There is much comfort in the unquestionable fact that the origin of both opposites is found in God. Gen. 2:16,17; Deut 32:39; Is. 45:7; Ro. 8:18-21.
The Most High has a purpose, and He is operating all things in line with His determination. To Him sin is no unforeseen accident, but a necessary incident. It does not thwart His purpose. It helps to realize it. The work He is prosecuting during the period of evil’s existence is not a “scheme” to repair damages wrought by sin; it is no afterthought necessitated by sin’s presence. If sin had been a surprise to God, outside of his primeval purpose, no remedial “scheme” would guarantee against a recurrence of such catastrophe. But the Divine object is to reveal His goodness, and sin is the only stage upon which goodness can act.
But if sin is the servant of good, it may be dismissed when its service is no longer needed. And here we reach the zenith of the doctrine of judgment:
Judgment in its highest and essential aspect is a predetermined agency appointed by the Most High for the accomplishment of that good purpose which He purposed for His own glory and for the good of the creature.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Affliction is always followed by mercy
Adversity is far from blinding our eyes to the benevolent facet of God's ways. Sometimes it is the very means by which they are opened. In trouble the value of past blessings is enhanced, and in trouble the need of God's compassion is most acutely felt. Nor is this all. The softening influence of sorrow on human nature seems to have a more direct effect upon our sense of Divine goodness. The afflicted one is, consciously or unconsciously, visited by the Spirit of God, and the effect of the visitation is that things hitherto hidden visualize themselves to the surprised sufferer. God's aim is to correct, not to overwhelm us. His ways are delicately adjusted to both His aim and our needs. A healing virtue inheres in His severest blows. Through disappointment hope is purged and elevated by the discovery of the vanity of its pursuits. The very experience of disappointment is a ground of fresh hope. Hebrews 2:10.
1Jn 4:8; Matt 19:26; Acts 17:24
Since God is love and all is possible for Him, certain facts are undeniable.
The way things are in the world is the way God chooses them to be.
Evil is God’s tool to perfect creation. He planted the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. To truly know good, we must experience evil as well. Darkness and suffering bring appreciation of light and joy. To know good and evil is to be like God and His Son. Genesis 3:22.
It is inconceivable that a God whose very essence is goodness could ever permanently harbor a grudge against anyone.
Since God promises a universal reconciliation, He will bring it to pass.
One point of clarification- God can do anything He wishes- He cannot deny Himself (2Tim 2:13), so He cannot sin, nor can He do the impossible, such as creating a rock so heavy He cannot move it.
“Of the darkness there must come out the light.”–Robert Nestor Marley
Scripture must be fulfilled
(Divine foreknowledge, prophecy,
and the place of evil in God’s plan)
…"Men! Brethren! Fulfilled must be the scripture in which the Holy Spirit said before through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who becomes the guide of those apprehending Jesus” – Acts 1:16
Matthew 26: 21 And at their eating, He said, "Verily, I am saying to you that one of you shall be giving Me up."
John 13: 18,19,27 “Not concerning all of you am I speaking, for I am aware whom I choose, but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He who is masticating bread with Me lifts up his heel against Me. Henceforth I am speaking to you before it is occurring, that you should be believing, whenever it may be occurring, that I am”….And after the morsel, then, Satan entered into that man. Jesus, then, is saying to him, "What you are doing, do more quickly." (This clearly demonstrates that Christ foretold His betrayal to strengthen the faith of His disciples. We cannot accept the groundless claim that Judas “didn’t have to do it”. The common assertion that Jesus tried to dissuade Judas from betraying Him is simply mythological.)
Matthew 26: 54 How, then, may the scriptures be fulfilled, seeing that thus it must occur?" 55 In that hour Jesus said to the throngs, "As for a robber, you come out with swords and cudgels to apprehend Me! Daily was I seated with you, teaching in the sanctuary, and you do not hold Me. 56 Now the whole of this has occurred that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled." Then all His disciples, leaving Him, fled.
Luke 22: 53 At My being daily with you in the sanctuary, you do not stretch out your hands for Me, but this is your hour and the jurisdiction of darkness."
Luke 24: 44 Now He said to them, "These are My words, which I speak to you, still being with you, for all must be fulfilled that is written in the law of Moses and the prophets and Psalms concerning Me." 45 Then He opens up their mind to understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them that "Thus it is written, and thus must the Christ be suffering and rise from among the dead the third day
Luke 21: 9 Now whenever you should be hearing battles and turbulences you may not be dismayed, for these things must occur first, but not immediately is the consummation.
Rev. 1: 1 The Unveiling of Jesus Christ, which God gives to Him, to show to His slaves what must occur swiftly…
Rev. 22: 6 …"These sayings are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, commissions His messenger to show to His slaves what must occur swiftly.
1Corinthians 11: 19 For it must be that there are sects also among you, that those also who are qualified may be becoming apparent among you.
Hebrews 5: 13 For everyone who is partaking of milk is untried in the word of righteousness, for he is a minor. 14 Now solid nourishment is for the mature, who, because of habit, have faculties exercised for discriminating between the ideal and the evil.
Eccl 1: 13 I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.
Genesis 3: 22 And saying is Yahweh Elohim, "Behold! The human becomes as one of us, knowing good and evil…
Genesis 50: 19 And saying to them is Joseph, "You must not fear, for under Elohim am I. 20 And you, you devised against me evil, yet the Elohim devises it for me for good, that it may work out as at this day, to preserve alive many people.
Ephesians 1:11 in Him in Whom our lot was cast also, being designated beforehand according to the purpose of the One Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will
Romans 8: 28 Now we are aware that God is working all together for the good of those who are loving God, who are called according to the purpose 29 that, whom He foreknew, He designates beforehand, also, to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be Firstborn among many brethren. 30 Now whom He designates beforehand, these He calls also, and whom He calls, these He justifies also; now whom He justifies, these He glorifies also. 31 What then, shall we declare to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 Surely, He Who spares not His own Son, but gives Him up for us all, how shall He not, together with Him, also, be graciously granting us all? 33 Who will be indicting God's chosen ones? God, the Justifier? 34 Who is the Condemner? Christ Jesus, the One dying, yet rather being roused, Who is also at God's right hand, Who is pleading also for our sakes? 35 What shall be separating us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? Affliction, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 According as it is written that "On Thy account we are being put to death the whole day, We are reckoned as sheep for slaughter." 37 Nay! in all these we are more than conquering through Him Who loves us!