It alters the believer’s entire state of mind to recognize that we live in a church world in apostasy that is hastening to its final consummation and judgment. It is a sobering spiritual realization. Instead of a church world or dispensation being sustained by God in sovereign power, as will be the case in the succeeding one, we have the present one dependent on man’s faithfulness and responsibility. It is ready to be cut off in judgment, bringing it to an unceremonious end. When the Jewish dispensation failed, judgment soon came from God in the form of the Roman army. God started a new work, a new planting, in the new revelation of the kingdom of heaven. It is obvious from the parables that tell the story of this new dispensation that evil entered in early on, and that in time it too would end in failure and judgment.
God’s Testimony of Apostasy in Christendom
Here is the testimony of Scripture concerning the end of the age. Before the Son of Man is revealed, it will be like the days of Noah and the days of Lot (Luke 17:26-30). There will be eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage. There will be all the general things and cares of life that are easily found in the church world; and that day will come upon them as a thief in the night. This passage references the days in the past just before great judgments and destructions were brought on the earth by God. Clearly the last days will be marked by this ‘life going on as usual’ attitude. This will characterize the state of the dispensation at the end. It describes a general malaise and disconnection from God and spiritual realities. You can almost hear it being said already, “Peace, safety…”
We may say emphatically by the authority of Scripture, “…for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first…”(II Thess. 2:3) In the church world it will be apostasy first – this leaves little room for a day of blessing and revival that so many want us to believe in and look for. The Scriptures tell us that apostasy will precede the end of Christendom. The consequence of this will be a cutting off of the Gentile dispensation. It will not be restoration or recovery. Those that speak such things are not speaking in faith, but in pretention, and their promises are unfounded.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves…” (II Tim. 3:1-5) This is the authority of God’s Word. It is the testimony of the Holy Spirit through Paul concerning professing Christianity’s return to a state of heathenism. The Spirit is not speaking of the world, but of that which will ‘have a form of godliness but denying the power.’ It is Christendom He speaks of. We are instructed by the Spirit to turn away from such religious evil (II Tim. 3:5).
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know it is the last hour. They went out from us…” (I John 2:18-19) This is not speaking of antichrists coming from the evil world, but from among us. The antichrists and the apostasy are within the church world, this was set in place in John’s time. True Christians will know, and this passage is the proof of it, that it is the last days, that apostasy is here, and antichrists are present.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons…” (I Tim. 4:1) Also the Spirit says, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work…” (II Thess. 2:7) There remains a hindrance at this time to the revealing of the man of sin, but the basic principle and mystery of iniquity was already at work early on in the church world. When the hindrance is finally removed, the great agent of this mysterious principle of sin comes forth. He will be the unhindered ripening in the fullness of this principle of iniquity that is now everywhere working in professing Christianity. The man of sin will be destroyed by the Lord’s appearing (II Thess. 2:8). The Scriptures prove that the dispensation is prone to apostasy. The consequences must be the judgment of God and a cutting off of the Gentile dispensation.
Christendom is not expecting the Coming of the Lord
The Spirit of God through Peter predicts that in the church world there will be widespread derision concerning the expectation of the Lord’s second coming (II Pet. 3:3-4). “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking in their own lusts, saying, where is the promise of His coming?” This is like the evil servant who says, ‘my master delays his coming’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and to get drunk with the drunkards. This is the Lord’s own prediction of ecclesiastical abuse and worldliness in Christendom (Luke 12:45-46).This has been going on in professing Christianity for hundreds of years. The church world has lost the expectation of His soon coming, and has become very comfortable with life in the world.
This is what things are like today: “They ate, they drank, they married wives, and they were given in marriage…” (Luke 17:27) This is life in the world. It does not have the thoughts of God or faithfulness to God, or the expectation of His coming. It does not have the consideration that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy of comparison with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). It is a mindset about today and life on this earth, and what is mine and how I can be happy, and at all cost it doesn’t want to suffer with Him. This is what many of our Christian teachings amount to today—it is all about life in this world and on this earth and how we can improve this present time. It is a funny sort of Jesus who can help make life better for you, get control of your emotions, and improve your self-worth and self-confidence. But the real Jesus said, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)
How about this: ‘They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built…” (Luke 17:28) This is occupation with the things of the world and an emphasis of life on this earth. We sit back and say this is spoken of the world. But I say the world is thoroughly found throughout the professing church, and that this looks just like the church and what she does now. The teachings of Christendom emphasize this present life, but unfortunately not sufferings, and not suffering with Him so you will share in the glory with Him later. Rather, by emphasizing our lives, we can learn to reign as kings through the faith and grace teachers and their assorted doctrines.
Unsound Doctrine for Itching Ears
2 Timothy 4:3-4
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
This is not a warning of what might happen. It is the Holy Spirit declaring what definitely will happen. The church world will not endure sound doctrine. It will not endure the truth of God or the words of Jesus Christ. It will have its own teachings by which the ears of the masses of professing Christianity may be scratched. They will have their own flavor and brand of Christianity. They will not adhere to the Word of God.
What characterizes the dispensation of the kingdom of heaven is apostasy, perilous times, departure from the faith, and a mystery of iniquity growing and ripening. “But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (II Tim. 3:13) Peter says, “…there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies… And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words.” (II Pet. 2:1-3) Paul tells us again, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.” (Phil. 3:18-19) All of these unsavory characters and characteristics find a continuance in the church world because ‘corrupt men were allowed to creep in unawares’ (Jude 4). The mystery of iniquity was already working in the church in the first century. It has only been ripening and growing and increasing since that time. The church world is in apostasy now! It is only by the gracious patience of God that things continue on, His longsuffering meaning salvation for some (II Pet. 3:9, 15).
Christendom and Denominationalism
In the beginning of the dispensation there was apostolic power and spiritual energy in the church body to either suppress evil or cast it out. The presence of Paul delayed the display of apostasy early on. We know this because he said that after his death, “… savage wolves would come in among them, not sparing the flock.” He said that, “… evil men would rise up from among them, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:29-31). Hasn’t this already taken place long ago in the church world? Aren’t these things repeated today in Christendom? Haven’t men divided up Christianity with self-righteous impunity, creating their own callings and kingdoms, all contrary to the very Word of God? Where is the one Lord, one body, one Spirit, one baptism? (Eph. 4:1-5) Where is the unity of the one body of Christ when we justify more denominations than we can possibly count? How is this not dividing up Christ? How is this not a violation of the Word of God? How then is it not evil and corruption? It does not matter if you can find good men and good hearts in every denomination. That does not justify what man has done in dividing up the body of Christ and in direct violation of God’s word.
1 Corinthians 1:12-13
“Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
Is Christ divided? This was the startling appeal of Paul in the first century church, questioning such a possibility. It only took a few centuries before the dividing up of Christ was the norm. And today the denominations of Christendom are exactly this. They are an offence against the Word of God and the revealed doctrine of the true church. In no way can we justify them as the will of God revealed in Scripture. It is evil and corruption introduced by man.
The Beginnings of Division
Historical Note: There were undeniable divisions and schisms in Christianity early on. When Paul was at Antioch with the Gentile Christians, men came down from the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:1-2). This was the very beginning of divisions. They came to spy out the liberty of the Gentile Christians (Gal. 2:1-5). This serious problem and potential splitting of the early church was averted by the intervention of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives direct revelation to Paul to go up to Jerusalem to settle the matter (Gal. 2:2). He was directed by the Spirit to speak in defense of the true gospel, and his ministry and work among the Gentiles. God also reminds Peter of the vision and audible voice of the Spirit in the matter of Cornelius’ household and conversion of the first Gentiles (Acts 15:7-12). The power of the Holy Spirit was present to keep the early church from splitting in two – a Jewish church and a Gentile church. But there is no doubt what the root cause of this potential division was:
“But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
This is the judaizing of the Christian faith. The problem is spelled out clearly for us by the Spirit. This was the main issue at the Jerusalem council. There was potential for the splitting into two churches: a church bound by the law in Jerusalem, and a church free from the law at Antioch. It was settled by the Spirit and the wisdom of God, the Jerusalem leaders declaring the Antioch Christians free from observing the law. Unity of the body of Christ was preserved, but the judaizing influence would continue to fester underneath the surface, even among many that were at this early council. This is the evil leaven that is ongoing in Christendom in some measure or form, and penetrates throughout to the end (Matt. 13:33).
Years later in Antioch, when Peter was visiting and enjoying fellowship and communion with the Gentile believers, even eating many meals with them, the judaizing leaven rears its ugly head again (Gal. 2:11-19). This time the judaizers were sent by James from the Jerusalem church. Peter is found at fault and playing the hypocrite, not holding to the truth of the gospel, bowing under the pressure of the scrutiny of the concision (Phil. 3:2-3). Barnabas is also involved in their hypocrisy (Gal. 2:13). But in this case the power of apostolic authority in Paul settled the issue, at least on the surface.
The Jerusalem Church
It is fairly obvious from this example the direction the Jerusalem church was heading, and that the Spirit of God was no longer going to halt this pattern. Peter’s hypocrisy was denying the reality of his earlier visions and obedience. James, in his position in the church at Jerusalem, was becoming the main proponent of the leaven. Barnabas, Paul’s partner in ministry, is in the middle of the deception. Basically Paul and the Gentile Christians are left to themselves, excluded. Even the Jewish Christians at Antioch followed Peter’s example (Gal. 2:13).
For a time God allowed the church at Jerusalem to play a prominent role in the beginnings of His new work and planting. Jerusalem was where the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit began at Pentecost – the beginning of both the kingdom of heaven and the church. Yet the Jerusalem church always had its Judaism, and Jewish ways, and temple use, etc. In the beginning they were more in the character of a believing Jewish remnant in the midst of an unbelieving nation. In many ways this is how the Jerusalem church should be viewed. It is how the twelve disciples are viewed, in types and shadows, in many of their circumstances (John 20:24-28).
The Jerusalem church served God’s purposes during a time of transition between the Jewish dispensation and the dispensation of the kingdom of heaven. This church was instrumental in presenting God’s last invitation of grace to the nation of Israel (Matt. 22:2-7). It served God’s purposes for the transition between Judaism and Christianity. It is understandable for the church at Jerusalem to be so Jewish in character and ways. God allowed it for a time – this time of transition. And this explains why James’ epistle must be seen as inspired by the Spirit and part of the cannon of Scripture. In a sense it explains Peter and John’s epistles. Please look to whom these letters were written. Peter, James, and John do not write to the Gentile church.
But God would not permit the Jerusalem church to go on indefinitely in its Jewish ways. Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews is a warning. It was written to Hebrews who had a profession of Christ, but because of severe persecution, were considering renouncing their profession and returning to Judaism. The eventual instruction of the Spirit for them is to come outside the camp, where Jesus is (Heb. 13:11-13). This camp is Israel and Judaism (the law). As Christians they were to quit the camp and to bear the reproach of Christ outside the gate. This was timely advice. God would soon have the Romans destroy Jerusalem and the temple. This event not only stopped the practice of Judaism and effectively set Israel aside in their calling, but also served to put an end to the Jerusalem church and its influence. This was God’s intention and plan. However, beyond the destruction of Jerusalem, the professing church still had the judaizers spinning their deceptions. The church world continued to have its problems with unity (John 17:20-21, Eph. 4:3-4).
When Christendom was split between east and west in the eleventh century, the Roman part claimed to be the universal church in its label – Catholic. But this action of splitting from the eastern orthodox part guaranteed there would no longer be a universal body in Christendom. Man had allowed schisms to enter in despite his pretentious claims of unity. In the professing church world there would never again be one body.
The Reformation, then Protestantism
From the time Ephesus left its first estate, the professing church has been declining into apostasy according to the clearest and most unmistakable testimonies of Scripture. The church world is not capable of restoring what existed in apostolic times – unity, power, and love. The evidence that proves this point beyond doubt is the existence of Protestantism. In the Reformation we have the energy of the Holy Spirit bringing forth enlightenment and rediscovery of certain lost Biblical truths. This was the sovereign work of God. But when man was given responsibility to care for the grace of God given and the work God had done, what were the results? – Divisions and denominations. Protestantism is filled with many forms, churches, and organizations. All of this is contrary to the authority of the word of God – that same authority the Reformation had rediscovered.
We foolishly think that a church on every street corner is a sign of Jesus Christ being exalted and the church growing and prospering. Every church feels they have a right to be there, making up their own callings and justifying their own purpose. Is Christ divided? Protestantism is a smorgasbord of choices where the individual is guaranteed to find something he likes or something that comforts him. We think and judge in human and worldly ways. How can all this division and schism possibly return to Pentecostal power? It represents the failure of man when given responsibility for the care of God’s work in the Reformation. The professing church and Protestantism is not the pillar of the truth of God in the world (I Tim. 3:15). Christendom in general and Protestantism more specifically, is the work of man.
What does it mean that the professing church is in ruin? I ask anyone to show me the unity of the body of Christ today? The unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace does not exist in Christendom. Therefore the corporate entity cannot have a walk worthy of its calling – that is, to be the habitation of God through the Spirit on earth as the one body (Eph. 2:22). Such unity has not existed for centuries in Christendom and cannot exist today. The conscience of the believer cannot be satisfied with this sinful state.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, (2) with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, (3) endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.”
Can we return to the days of Pentecost and apostolic order? Such an attainment is outside the range of possibility today. The renewal of an apostolic church would make the restoration of apostles an absolute imperative. Then also the denominations of Christendom would have to unite and act as one, voluntarily laying down all divisions and differences. The possibility of such a desire does not exist. The restoration of the first estate is not possible. But you say, with God all things are possible! But you ask amiss, and God will not do it. We would be asking God to compromise Himself, His own integrity. He will not give divine power to the unholy mess we have created.
A Form of Godliness
“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
I know this was spoken to Israel, but it characterizes Christendom today. In the church world in the last days, perilous times will come. Men will have a form of godliness, but will deny the power of life in Christ (II Tim. 3:5). The professing church draws near to the Father and the Son with their mouths and lips, but the heart of the corporate church world is far from God. We teach the teachings of men as if it were the Word of God and sound doctrine (II Tim. 3:12-4:4).
Christendom and Man’s Responsibility
Paul’s desire and vigor was to keep all perfect for the coming of the Lord, presenting every man perfect in Jesus Christ (Col. 1:28, I Thess. 3:13; 5:23, I Cor. 1:8). Yet at the end of his ministry he says, “…I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:20-21) This is what has been going on in the church world from Paul’s days. Men are basically motivated to seek their own, and not the things of God. Men are self-motivated to build their own, and not to enter in to the true work of God. Has every man heeded how they have built on the foundation that Paul laid?
While men slept the enemy came in and sowed tares (Matt. 13:25). This was in the beginning of the kingdom of heaven, and the crop of professing Christianity has been spoiled in the field ever since. However, in our teachings in the church world we do not even acknowledge that a spoiled crop exists. If this is true, then we are not acknowledging the evil and corruption around us. We are blind to these realities, as blind as the multitudes were to whom He spoke these parables (Matt. 13:13-15).
The spiritually-minded believer will see the spoiled crop of Christendom and realize it is ruined. The Scriptures instructs us to turn away from evil and have no part in it. But the temptation is to think you can do something about it and remedy the situation. Yet this is only spiritual pride and arrogance, and the evil leaven working. In the actual parable Jesus says,“Let both grow together until the harvest…” The question becomes, where do you get your commission to fix the spoiled crop? How is this according to the will of God? You say, “Well, at least I will try!” I’ll remind you again of the words of the parable. The servants of the owner asked, “Do you want us then to go and gather them up?” His response was, “No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat…” The Lord is saying, do not try to do this or you will be guilty of doing something even more irresponsible than your sleeping at the beginning. You say, “What about revival?” I do not see the Lord promising that, certainly not to the spoiled crop. There is no promise of revival or success of the dispensation.
The book of Jude describes the history of the apostasy in the church world. (v.3) “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.(v.4) For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” The evil had crept in by the neglect of men in the church in the apostles’ days. Jude couldn’t speak to them about what he intended, but has to exhort them to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints! He then says (v.5), “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” The book of Jude shows the progression of the apostasy in the church world.
- Cain – natural evil and enmity against God (v. 11).
- Balaam – religious corruption for wealth and profit (v. 11).
- Korah – open hostility and rebellion to the priesthood and royalty of Jesus Christ (v. 11). In Korah’s rebellion they all perish.
What had already found its way into the church world would become the target of the direct judgment of the Lord at His coming (vs. 14-15). It was the ‘coming in’ of these and not the ‘going out’ of them that would elicit the wrath of God in judgment. The ‘coming in’ was early on, in the days of the apostles. It remains present and growing until the judgment at the end of the age, that is, the entire time the church is on the earth. They were ‘spots’ in their feasts of charity in the church, among the Christians, and there without fear. They exalt themselves to places of importance, and loved the best places as the Pharisees did in Israel (v. 12).
If we look at the book of Acts we see the work of God at the beginning of the church. We read, “…and the Lord added to the assembly daily those that were to be saved.” If we look at the present picture we have of Christendom, there exists little similarity in comparison to the book of Acts. What we find are opposites and that the church failed to keep its first estate. Through mercy and sovereign grace God has maintained a witness to Himself in the earth. However man, given the responsibility for the care of God’s house has failed as he has in every previous dispensation.
The Principle of Responsibility
Here is this great Scriptural principle again: Responsibility attaches itself to every creature that can be conscious of a relationship with God, the Creator. Whenever there is awareness of this relationship, there is obligation in it to God. The Creator expects obedience in the creature, and therefore looks for the production of this fruit or result.
1. In the creature that has a holy nature preserved by God, responsibility is seen as obedience delighted in. These are the elect angels, who have not left their first estate.
2. In a nature in innocence, where thankfulness for the goodness of God is displayed as was seen in Adam and Eve before the fall. Responsibility was tested by obedience to the one command from God.
3. In a state of sin of the fallen nature of man – a man in Adam, in the flesh, and a sinner – which does not alter the fact that he has been placed in relationships with God and his neighbor, and responsibility is to be met in those relationships.
When the law was given to man (given only to Israel as representing all mankind), we see the first five commandments dealing with man’s relationship with God (Deut. 5:6-15). If man obeyed the first five laws he would have produced a certain ‘human righteousness’—an obeying or ‘doing right’ in his relationship. Man also had been placed in a relationship with his fellow creatures – his neighbor. We see the second five commandments address responsibility in this relationship (Deut. 5:16-21). If man obeyed the second five laws he would produce a certain ‘doing right’ toward his neighbor. We then can see that the law presents a standard or measure for man ‘doing right’ and it was given to him as required responsibility.
When Jesus was asked concerning the law as to which commandment was the greatest, He sums up the whole essence of the law in two distinct areas – man’s responsibility to first love God and then his responsibility to love his neighbor as himself (Matt. 22:36-40). In this biblical sense, it is interesting that sin in man at the beginning becomes complete by Adam sinning against God and then Cain sinning against his neighbor.
Sin entered the world through Adam. Man was chased out of the garden as fallen and a sinner. Yet the presence of sin in the flesh, and the fruit of sin in the committing sins or acts of unrighteousness, never changes the original relationships man was placed in. And it never changes his responsibility in those relationships. If the relationship still exists, then the responsibility is still present. What then are the consequences of sin entering the world through the first man? It is simply this – it is now impossible for man to obey or ‘do right’ in any and all of his relationships.
What the Scriptures teach is the utter depravity of fallen man in his ability to obey and ‘do right’. He cannot fulfill his responsibilities as required – not in obedience and not in ‘human righteousness’. Why would God say all man’s righteousness is but filthy rags in His sight if any of it is acceptable to Him? (Isa. 64:6) Why would God say of the children of men that there are none that do good, no, not one? (Ps. 14:2-3) God’s nature is holy and righteous. We should always consider the true nature of God before declaring what they think should be acceptable to Him.
But this is where the leaven comes in to appeal to man’s pride and emotions. Satan is the source of the lies and he whispers in man’s ear, “Has God really said this? Utter depravity? That sounds harsh and extreme. Surely this isn’t what God has declared. Surely this is not the correct understanding!” We believe the beguiling words of the deceiver in order to feel better about ‘self’ and to improve our self-esteem. It is trusting in mere humanism, where man at all times is at the center and is the focus of attention. It props man up to be something in his own eyes that he is not (Rom. 12:3). God spent 4000 years prior to the cross testing man’s responsibility, proving man’s depravity in principle. Yet almost immediately after the cross we take back up the evil leaven in our Judaizing and Arminianizing ways. We refuse to be instructed by God. We may as well rebuild the tower of Babel! These are all the same ungodly corruptions of God’s word and truth. It is as if we are completely ignorant of what God was doing for the 4000 years between the promise of the seed of the woman and the time when He arrived. Even in the making of this promise in the judgment of the serpent, God shows that the first Adam was wholly passed by. The first Adam was not the seed of the woman. God didn’t place the promise of hope in him. Man in the flesh, man in Adam, is utterly depraved. This is what God proved; this is what the Scriptures teach.
The Failure of Man in Responsibility
The history of man in responsibility shows a pattern of 100% failure. This is the story of mankind in Scripture:
- Adam in paradise failed in his responsibility to obey the one command of His Creator. Adam sins against God.
- Cain killed his brother Abel. He sinned against his neighbor. Early on man’s sin was complete in regards to the relationships he was placed in, and the responsibility attached to these relationships.
- The world from Adam to Noah becomes so evil God had to destroy it by a flood.
- Noah got drunk after exiting the ark when the principle of government and the sword is placed into his hands, his son disparaging his authority.
- God sovereignly chose Abram out of a world filling with idolatry – the new abomination that Satan brings forth in the earth after the flood (Josh. 24:2-3).
- When Moses brings the tablets down the mountain the first time, Israel already has the golden calf and is worshipping it.
- The priesthood fails in its first order of service. Aaron’s sons offer strange fire. They are judged immediately and destroyed.
- Royalty fails in Saul, Israel’s king chosen after fleshly appearance. David steals another man’s wife. Solomon, the son of David, has many wives, and with them many gods to serve and please. Israel is divided into two kingdoms.
- The prophets are discarded, starting with Samuel, because Israel wanted a king to rule over them. Most of the true prophets are abused, beaten, imprisoned, and killed (Matt. 21:35-36). False prophets fill up the void for Israel, ones who will prophesy good and pleasant things for the kings and nation.
- Israel uses the law contrary to its purpose, and thinking they are doing it they believe they are righteous and have life. God’s purpose for giving it was death and condemnation. Israel excels in human pride and accomplishment.
- Israel’s idolatry and apostasy against God becomes so bad that God says to them, “For you are not my people, and I will not be your God.” (Hos. 1:9) God removes His presence from them, and the Ark of the Covenant, the throne of God, is lost forever.
- When the Gentiles are given responsibility for world government it fails in the idolatry of Nebuchadnezzar, the blasphemy of Belshazzar, and the self-deification of Darius. What ensues from responsibility in government given to the Gentiles are four beasts – wild, ravenous, unruly, idolatrous, and apostate in character. What characterizes the beasts is a mind of their own will in which they do not answer in responsibility to God.
Jesus tells a parable about the vineyard of God that represented the nation of Israel. In it He directly implicates the failure of Israel in responsibility over time (Matt. 21:33-40). Their final failure was the rejection and killing of God’s Son, when He was sent to them (vs. 37-39). Look at the failure and evil that surrounds this parable:
- The King of Israel, their promised Messiah, enters into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1-11). Immediately He clears the temple of its consumerism and profiteering, and addresses the indignation of the leadership (Matt. 21:12-16).
- The next morning He curses the fig tree, symbolic of Israel specifically, and all man in Adam in general. These cannot produce fruit unto God and must be condemned (Matt. 21:18-19).
- In the literal explanation of the parable, the kingdom of God is taken away from Israel for rejecting the Son, and judgment is pronounced (Matt. 21:42-44).
- In the following parable (Matt. 22:1-14) the Jews are those who reject the free invitation to the wedding of the king’s son. This parable speaks of the time from Pentecost to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (v. 7). The servants of the king who were spitefully treated and killed are the disciples (v. 6).
- “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Their evil attempts to trap Him in His words (Matt. 22:15-18). But the reality is evident – Israel’s king is Caesar.
- The present generation of Israel is pronounced guilty of all the righteous blood shed on the face of the earth, from Abel to Zechariah (Matt. 23:29-36)
- Israel is set aside and made desolate as the house of God (Matt. 23:37-39).
- Pilate presents Jesus as King of the Jews (Matt. 27:11, 29, 37). Israel would have no other king but Caesar, and says, “His blood be on us and on our children.” (Matt. 27:25) The fourth beast, the Roman Empire, represented by Pilate, rejects Him as do His own. Yet Jesus was the true King of Israel and the world.
Man was tried in his innocence in the garden, listened to the serpent, and fell. He was tried without law and sin reigned. When man was given the law and he lived under it, he was guilty of transgressing it. Afterwards, when man was fully shown to be a sinner and a transgressor, God came in goodness, not imputing his sins to him, and man would not have God (II Cor. 5:19). The history of responsible man was ended at that point in time – at the cross. Israel also had lost all claims to the fulfillment of the promises and kingdom of God by rejecting Him in whom the fulfillment of promises and the kingdom was to be found.
Is Christendom any different?
We think there is a better outcome in Christendom, when man is given responsibility there. But this is not the case and we deceive ourselves. The professing church has not escaped the common pattern of disobedience and ruin any more than what came before it. The responsibility of man on the earth will be judged – this is an unwavering principle of Scripture. The fact is that the professing church in this world is subject to judgment and its performance is judged in Revelation 2; 3. The biblical conclusion is that it has lost its position as a light-bearer in the world. God had to do this when the general assembly departed from its first position. His action of removing the candlestick is part of the overall principle. If professing Christianity does not show Jesus Christ to the world, then it is a false witness for God and has to be set aside. God may have patience with the general body, and has done so, showing remarkable longsuffering with it. He may propose its repentance and return to the first estate, but if this is not done, then the candlestick is removed. The first position must be maintained or God’s glory and truth are falsified.
God judges the performance of the professing church as a failure. When God looked in the place where there should have been righteousness, He found iniquity. The corruption of that which should have stood for the good is the worst of all corruptions. We clearly find in Scripture and in the history of man that all responsibility fails and is judged. Against this record there is only one exception – that which will be sustained and upheld by the power of the Son of God reigning as the last Man in the dispensation of the fullness of times (Eph. 1:10).
The Faithfulness of God
Man has been unfaithful. Man has failed consistently and comprehensively when tested in responsibility. Israel, God’s chosen people and nation, have failed miserably. The professing church has followed this same pattern found in the history of mankind. The professing church has failed as the light and witness for God on the earth. However, none of these things change God. None of these things hinder the faithfulness of God. God will do everything He has promised to do. He cannot do otherwise. He is the one true living God.
“For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:
“That You may be justified in Your words,
And may overcome when You are judged.”
Regardless of man’s failure and unfaithfulness, God will remain faithful. And guess what? None of these things touch the sovereignty of God. His counsel and plans move forward unhindered. They continue on in His patient mercy and sovereign grace. They continue on in His hidden providence, until all is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
In contrast, man’s continual failure in responsibility serves to glorify the faithfulness and sovereign grace of God. There are difficult but important biblical lessons to learn here as a result – that God must be everything, and man is nothing. That God receives all the glory, and there is no reason for boasting in man whatsoever. God will do all things in the future by His sovereign grace and power. When Christ returns it is the destruction of evil by righteous judgment and fiery indignation (Rev. 19:15-21). The coming millennium is the rule of Christ in power and righteousness (Rev. 12:10, Mark 9:1). This is what qualifies as the work of God. Its results stand in stark contrast to the actions, performance, and will of man. The entire counsel of Scripture proves the utter failure of man in his works.
Man in Adam is fallen and utterly depraved. There is no redeeming value in him. God never saw value in him, which we assume would require God to respond in kind. God did not set His love on the believer because of something in him, but rather, He set His love on us because of what is in Himself, what is in God. God is love – it is an intrinsic attribute of His. God chose, in Himself, to set His love upon us. This is the simple biblical truth, but for contemporary man it is a very difficult thing to admit.
The Dispensational Pattern
Every previous dispensation as well as the present one follow the same pattern:
- Man fails in responsibility, and that failure is usually immediate. The failure is apostasy, in one or more of its various forms. There may be a period of decay or decline from the starting point, but apostasy is established and sets in.
- The dispensation continues on in the grace, longsuffering, and mercy of God until the full ripening of the apostasy has come. It must be judged by God. This is the point where the longsuffering of God is exhausted.
- There is never a recovery midstream or before the end. The patience and longsuffering of God never undoes the apostasy that is established in any dispensation, but rather, carries the dispensation on in grace and mercy. The consequences of the first failure are never undone.
The Last Four Church States
The progression of professing Christianity in responsibility on the earth is shown to us in Revelation 2; 3. Jesus judges the responsibility of the spoiled crop in the field. The two chapters clearly show in detail the apostasy and failure of the church world and the dispensation. The addresses to the seven churches are very much threats of judgment, except for the encouragement given to the faithful remnant (Philadelphia).
The last four churches survive the progression of time in the messages. They are four distinct states we can see forming Christendom at its end. Thyatira, the fourth church of the seven, is the last church given ecclesiastical character. She existed on her own as the ‘professing church’ for over 1100 years previous to the Reformation. The remaining three churches are associated with Protestantism. However, the final three are never acknowledged as having any proper corporate church position. The characters of Christ associated with the last three are never anything John saw of Christ in the midst of the candlesticks.
1.) Jezebel in Thyatira is Romanism. She teaches corruption and idolatry. She knows the depths of Satan in her worldliness and births her own children in the corruption. She influences many others to accept her teachings. She goes on to the tribulation.
2.) Sardis is spiritually dead, having no life, and is Protestantism after the Reformation. It results in denominationalism and personal judgment of the Word of God.
3.) Philadelphia is the weak but faithful remnant, holding on to His word and name, and practicing the word of His patience. His exhortation to them is, “Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast what you have…” He basically tells the believing remnant to hold true to Him in the midst of all the corruption of the professing church, and that He will be with them soon.
4.) Laodicea is upside down. Its impression of itself is the opposite of Christ’s impression of it. For Laodicea, evil is good and good is evil. It has earthly wealth and a high opinion of itself. But Christ says it is spiritually wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. This is the evangelical church world.
These are the four distinct entities that Christ gives. Together they form the present state of Christendom. My question to you personally, one believer to another – which of the four looks like what you are involved in? Which of the four is your local church a microcosm of?
The first four churches tell the history of what men call ‘the apostolic succession’ of the professing church. This is man pretending to hold the authority of Christ, passing it on from man to man in its corruption and evil lust for power. This results in the harlot Jezebel and the list of popes in the Roman church. Certainly the Greek Orthodox Church is included in Jezebel and ‘succession’, for the split of west from east did not occur until the turn of the millennium (@1000 AD). In Thyatira the judgment will come on Jezebel, all her children she birthed in her corruptions, and all those who hold to her doctrines.
The Reformation brings a divergent path from Jezebel. The last three churches can easily be seen as representing the history of Protestantism.
The Last Two Churches
Perhaps there is a better way of looking at the four ending churches. Corporately both Romanism and Protestantism exist in Christendom. Jezebel is corruption and Sardis is spiritually dead. Both Thyatira and Sardis had a remnant surviving within. These two small remnants form Philadelphia, the remnant church. Then Romanism and Protestantism, along with the development of Evangelical Christianity, form Laodicea and has its candlestick removed. In this view, which I believe to be the most scripturally sound, there are only two representative churches at the end – Philadelphia and Laodicea. Together the two form the whole of Christendom. One is wheat, and the other is nothing but tares. Christ stands outside Laodicea knocking on its door, but no one inside hears Him. The wheat is removed from the field. The tares are bundled together and left behind, to be burned (Matt. 13:30).
Failure at the Beginning
When the Lord was ready to leave this earth and ascend back to His Father He gave a commandment to the apostles,“Go ye and make disciples of all nations.” This was their special commission from the Lord who chose them. He had been raised from the dead, and had been given all power and authority in heaven and earth. Where is the fulfillment of these words by the twelve apostles? Jesus also instructed them, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves…when you are persecuted in one city, flee to the next.” But when the great persecution arose in Jerusalem at the time of Stephen’s death, all of the church was scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, except the twelve apostles (Acts 8:1). Where is the fulfillment by the twelve? There is no account recorded by the Holy Spirit in all of Scripture of the twelve going into all the world and preaching the gospel to every creature. This shows that the command given on which the dispensation balanced, as to the revealed testimony of Scripture, remained unfulfilled by those to whom it was committed.
God does intervene in an extraordinary way in sovereign grace, and a new arrangement is made. The twelve would be apostles to the circumcised (Gal. 2:6-9). God chose Paul in sovereign grace, and use him to be the apostle to the uncircumcised, that is, to the Gentiles. He was raised up by God as ‘one born out of due time,’ totally distinct, and ‘not of man, nor by man.’ (Gal. 1:1) He was not an apostle with the twelve, nor an apostle from the twelve, but one entirely independent from them in all his qualifications (Gal. 1:11-23). He was the apostle to the nations (Rom. 11:13).
The critical point is not just that Christendom is in a bad state now. But like all dispensations, it failed at the beginning, not long after man was given responsibility to care for the sovereign work of God. Failure then will bring in certain judgment from God. He will not allow the evil to go on indefinitely, though He now bears long and patiently with it. As I said previously, this does not impugn the faithfulness of God. It exalts His faithfulness and glorifies Him. God will always keep and preserve a remnant. They will prosper according to the measure of faith and grace God has given them. His grace is sufficient for them in all situations and circumstances. These are those who have ears to hear all the Spirit is saying and the Son of Man is judging concerning the churches (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).
The Failure of man vs. the Sovereign Work of God
It is the failure of man in responsibility that is the central issue. We must recognize it and be willing to admit it. This failure has been consistent and comprehensive by man, from the beginning of time. It is not a difficult task to trace this failure in Scripture, as we did above. The important point is this: the failure is no different in the church age or the time of the covenant and gospel of grace, or whatever label we put on present things. But this is exactly what I find the leadership in Christendom unwilling to see and admit. Covenant theologians, dispensationalists, and the ministry in general, all point to a future feat of great human exploit in winning or changing the world. A feat of winning or fundamentally changing America by man’s preaching and spreading of the gospel. These aspirations are beyond the Scriptures, and contrary to God’s thoughts and plan.
What is the essence of God’s thoughts on the return of Jesus Christ to this earth? He rides a white horse in glory with a double-edged sword out of His mouth by which He strikes the nations. He will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Rev. 19:11-15). Satan is bound for a thousand years, the heads of the two beasts thrown into the lake of fire, their armies completely destroyed. He separates the sheep from the goats, and rules the nations. His judgment in righteousness is a rod of iron by which He rules until every enemy is put under His feet (I Cor. 15:24-25). The overriding thought of God concerning these things is this – God will do by His own work what man has always failed in doing by his work and responsibility.This failure also includes the time of the church on earth. These events I described are the sovereign work, power, judgment, and wrath of Almighty God. They come about because of the growing and ever increasing evil and corruption of the world and man. It is not a world getting better or changing for the good. My point is this: it doesn’t describe a world changed by grace, by the turning of the other cheek, or by the preaching of the gospel. The world doesn’t change by the influence of these things. Improving the world for good is not the purpose for preaching of the gospel.
The Gates of Hell
There is another important point that needs to be brought up concerning how predictable the failure of man in responsibility is, even during the time of the church on earth. Our temptation is to think the church should be able to succeed where Israel so miserably failed, because the church was founded on true redemption and grace. One part of this statement is true. The true church has title to position and privileges in Jesus Christ that Israel would be envious of – if they had any spiritual knowledge or comprehension of this. But, as believers, we are still in our bodies of flesh, and we do not have the end of our salvation yet. There is no perfection for the church short of her rapture and glorification. This makes all the difference.
What are the three great evils for the believer to contend with? They are the world, the flesh, and the devil. The first Adam fell to the wiles of the devil when he was innocent, and when there was no world or flesh. His sin was the greatest of sins and the human race was condemned in him (Rom. 5:16-19).
Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” The gates of hell prevailed against man when he was innocent. They prevailed against man when he was in the world without the law. When man received the law of God, the gates of hell prevailed again. When the Gentiles were given civil rule of the earth, Satan inspired them from his place in the heavens above. When God comes into the world by goodness and grace, the gates of hell motivates the Jews to hand Him over to the Gentiles to put Him to death.
Satan cannot touch the body of Christ, the true church. The planted wheat remains wheat. But we see the gates of hell have prevailed against the crop in the field and it is ruined. The professing church has failed in its responsibility. Please note that despite true redemption and grace positioning and privileging the church, Satan is still in the heavens as god of this world and he influences the course of this age. I have previously shown that he is in the heavens to corrupt professing Christianity and its testimony on earth. This he has done well. The gates of hell have prevailed against Christendom. Its candlestick is all but snuffed out.
As long as Satan is not bound in the bottomless pit, man will always be found to fail when given responsibility on the earth (Rev. 20:1-3). I believe every believer should be able to see and admit this reality. You can easily see this in the Scriptures. I do not speak of the individual responsibility of the believer, but rather the corporate responsibility of the professing church as represented by the candlestick. It is ruined and cannot be recovered. Only the patience and longsuffering of God allows the continuance of the age and the church on earth.
As a student of the Scriptures, just ask yourself these questions: Why is Satan bound in the bottomless pit for the entire time of the thousand years? What is the importance of this difference in the coming age from the previous one? Why remove him from the heavens? Why not allow him to roam the earth? It isn’t the work of the church that accomplishes these things. It isn’t the preaching of the gospel of grace. It is the sovereign power and work of God. All these events have their purpose in the counsels of God. I pray that all readers will have eyes to see and understand these truths by the teaching of the Spirit in God’s word.
Only God’s Judgments can change the World
How will the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea? How is this going to happen? Many say by our efforts in preaching the gospel. But where do you find that? The passage below explains how it actually happens. The earth and the world do not change by grace or the gospel – not for righteousness.
“For when Your judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
Let grace be shown to the wicked,
Yet he will not learn righteousness;
In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly,
And will not behold the majesty of the Lord.”
Unless the judgments of God are brought to the world from heaven above, the world will not be changed and will not learn righteousness. The world is not changed by grace. The world is not won by the gospel. The world will only change after Christ physically returns and judges it. When He appears and establishes His kingdom, it will be a time of judgment. The Psalms speak of His millennial kingdom as the time when, “…judgment shall return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.” (Psalms 94:15) This is the truth of Scripture. I would rather agree with God than jump on the bandwagon of presumptuous human thoughts and endeavors.
The cross of Christ, by His blood and God’s grace, has wrought divine righteousness for every believer. But the cross has not produced righteousness for the world. Rather it was quite the opposite. Righteousness was in the person of Christ. Judgment was with Pilate and the leaders of the Jews. However, when Christ appears again, righteousness and judgment will be joined together in the millennial earth. “For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with His truth.” (Psalm 96:13) And we read (Acts 17:31), “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
The professing church is corrupt. Satan has planted evil in her, by tares and leaven. She has invited the world inside, the throne of Satan. She is beyond recovery. This is the Son of Man’s actual appraisal of her. She cannot save herself, let alone save the world.
What is the judgment of the Son of Man? Jezebel of Thyatira, and those with her, will be cast into the great tribulation and He kills her children (Rev. 2:21-23). He comes to Sardis as He comes to the world – as a thief in the night (Rev. 3:3). He spews Laodicea out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16). All three of these are sobering judgments and endings.
“Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.”
This is what the kingdom of heaven looks like – wheat and tares mixed together in the crop in the field. The crop is the work of the Son of Man and the work of Satan. It has been this mixture of good and evil for some time, as it is now. It remains like this to the end of the age.
Christendom and the Individual Believer
This is the final question to be decided with respect to the condition of professing Christianity. Will we be held individually responsible, and are we judged as such, in light of having been warned, if we continue to walk in that which the Lord has already declared judgment on? The answer to this question must weigh heavily on every believer. And particularly the question must weigh upon every minister, for these are the ones Paul is speaking to when he implores,“But let each one take heed how he builds on it” (the foundation of God’s building – I Cor. 3:9-10). If we entertain hope of re-establishing the church through recovery and revival, then we deny at the very same time the unity of the body of Christ and the responsibility of the professing church.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Rev. 2, 3
These are the words of Christ spoken after each of the seven messages to Christendom in Revelation. The messages are His judgments of the professing church. This phrase tells every true believer that it is his personal responsibility to hear and understand what Christ is saying. We are responsible to recognize Christ’s judgment of the state and condition of the church, and to heed His words at all times. We are called upon to be guided by His words and to act upon them. This is obedience to God’s word and obedience to Christ. And it is hearing what the Spirit is actually saying.
We also realize that it is the professing church that is being judged. The church can no longer be an authority for us if Christ is judging it. If there is evil and corruption within (we are told by the Scriptures it is evil growing and ripening), how can the outer public body be a safe haven for us? The church is a judged object, not an authority or safe refuge. Jesus expressly tells us to heed what the Spirit is saying, not what the church is saying.
We must notice the irony of Ephesus being the first of the churches looked at. The decline and decay begins with her. She is the one in whom Christendom’s candlestick is threatened. In the beginning Ephesus had the highest level of knowledge, blessing, and privilege. She was the vessel of great grace, yet represents the church’s departure from its first estate. The soberness of this reality should not be lost on any believer. It serves to prove whether you have ears to hear Christ and the Spirit.
- There’s an old man that has been preaching for years the same depressing message of judgment from God on the horizon. How edifying is that? He really is an odd bird. Now he and his small family are over that hill and across the valley building a large boat they call an ark. They say that God will bring the rain. Now who has ever heard of such a thing? That cannot be of God. What they are saying and what they are doing is simply madness! It cannot be of God because there are only six of them and there are a thousand with us. That proves it. We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing (Luke 17:26-27). We know God is blessing this.
- There’s this odd character hiding out in the cave over there. He must be afraid and running from something. He must be guilty of doing something really bad. Get this – He thinks he represents God and the rest of the nation is against him! Talk about visions of grandeur (I Kings 19:9-10).
In this case we know that God preserved an elect remnant of 7000 that had not bowed their knees to Baal (I Kings 19:18). But we have to admit that this was a remnant that stayed hidden, and preferred it that way. They did not come to the support of the man of God standing up to the ungodly nation given over to idolatry and apostasy.
- There is the message of Jeremiah in the midst of unbelieving and ungodly Judah. The succession of kings had become accustomed to gathering prophets who would speak only good and pleasing things to them. They heaped up prophets to themselves, according to their own desires, having ears that needed itching (II Tim. 4:3-4). They were guilty of turning away from the truth, and turning to lies and deceptions. Standing up for the true message from God, Jeremiah ends up in a deep dark hole in the prison – his present reward and reality for his faithfulness.
I wish I could teach something different to you, and bring you a different message, but the Spirit of God and His Word will not allow this. In this chapter I have set before you the testimony of Scripture concerning the ripening evil of Christendom in the last days. God allowed the evil to begin and show itself early in the history of the professing church. His purpose for this was to include in His word His thoughts concerning the nature and character of the evil. What was already manifested in the early church becomes the ground for final judgment. This is the testimony of the Spirit found in God’s word. God saw fit to make arrangement for this before the cannon of Scripture was complete. It is intended for the church in the last days.
You judge the message, if it is of God and of His Word. Having read, you will be responsible for this, and then to act according to your spiritual judgment, whatever it may be. I have tried my best to be responsible to speak and to teach from the word of God. I attempt to write only God’s thoughts and this from His Word taught by His Spirit. The question remains: Will you acknowledge the ruin of the corporate body?
Chapter 18: Endnotes
 Often the carnality of the human mind in the flesh (in Adam) or the untrained spiritual mind of the believer will see things and teach things opposite of what God’s mind is and what God’s Word teaches. Examples of this are such things as the law of Moses. This is clearly taught in the epistles of Paul as the administration of death and condemnation (II Cor. 3). In its Old Testament form it can never be anything different than this. It should never be represented as having the ability to provide life and righteousness. It is neither good for the believer’s justification or for his walk of faith on this earth. If the law is not of faith (Gal. 3:12), how can it produce a walk of faith for the true Christian? It simply cannot. The law of Moses is the religion of the Jews. It is Judaism. In many ways Judaism is the opposite of Christianity. It is a walk by sight, by physical senses. It is not Christianity. When our teachers use the teachings of Judaism (which are decidedly different in character and principle from Christianity, and which cannot produce faith which is the basis of Christianity), and mix them with the teachings for the church, you have the evil leaven of the Judaizing of the faith.
Another example of these contradictory understandings from the truth of God’s Word is the proper biblical teaching of the principle of grace in redemption, delivering from the principle of sin (Rom. 6:1-7). Yet we are accused of giving the believer a license to sin – licentiousness. The proper teaching of grace will never lead a true believer to licentiousness. The true believer will eventually know that by God’s grace he has died and has been freed from sin (Rom. 6:7). The life he now has is the life of Christ raised from the dead. By it he lives to God as Christ does (Rom. 6:7-13). This is hardly the teaching of licentiousness to the believer. The only ones that will take God’s grace as a license to sin are the tares in professing Christianity. Those who accuse the proper teaching of grace as a license to sin are often true believers simply demonstrating an ignorance and carnal understanding of sound biblical doctrine.
A third example of this contradictory understanding is the biblical teaching of the sovereign choice of God. The Scriptural basis for all the choices of God is the exaltation of His own glory. The vessels of mercy are prepared beforehand for glory – this is the believer, those that He called, those that He chose, and those that He prepared (Rom. 9:20-24). Yet the carnal understanding sees unfairness and unrighteousness in the choice of God (Rom. 9:14).
I said all the above to get to the example we find in the chapter. It is a contradiction of the truth of God’s word and counsels to believe and teach that we will experience revival and recovery in the current dispensation, and that man, by the gospel, will win nation after nation, and will fill the earth with the glory of the Lord. This is opposite of the mind of God and is not in agreement with God’s Word. There is not one dispensation in the history of Scripture, when placed in the responsibility of man, which did not end in failure and the judgment of God. It didn’t matter if it was God’s government of the earth, the law, the prophets, priesthood, or royalty. When man was tested in responsibility he failed every time, as he originally did in the garden when in a far better position. The Jewish dispensation ended with Israel crucifying their Messiah and King!
The only dispensation that will not fail is the dispensation of the fullness of times, the millennium. It will be sustained by the power of God over the earth in righteous judgment in the kingdom of the Son of Man. This coming dispensation is a dispensation of judgment on the earth. It is very much in contrast to grace and the longsuffering of God’s patience. That is why it is the last dispensation! Regardless of dispensation, it is always true that the individual is saved by the sovereign grace of God. The children of promise, whoever they may be individually, walk in the steps of faith as Abraham as being heirs of the promises (Rom. 4:11-16, Gal. 3:6-9, 14, 22, 29). In the present dispensation the church has not seen and yet she believes (John 20:29). In the coming dispensation the future Jewish remnant must see with their eyes in order to know their Messiah (John 20:27-29, Zech. 12:10-14). It is a dispensation where every eye will see (Rev. 1:7).
But the present dispensation of the kingdom of heaven in mystery is in apostasy and corruption, headed for failure, and will incur the just judgment of God. The opposite of this is not possible, regardless of the many prayers of the few faithful.
We often begin to think and teach that we can accomplish anything if we try hard enough and organize enough. That is Arminian thinking and it is wrong. If we pray long enough God will do it. That is Arminian thinking and it is wrong. If we fast and pray this entire month for our nation, we will see miraculous things and God will save America and heal our land. That is definitely Jewish thinking with an Arminian effort. It is all wrong. What is all important is the mind of God, the will of God, and the purpose of God’s counsel found in His Word. He will accomplish all His counsel in His sovereignty. It will be His glory alone that is exalted.
 We have noted and documented man’s failures in responsibility from the beginning of time in the garden. God will truly accomplish all of what man could never be responsible to accomplish. This will be done through His Son, and the rule and reign of the Son of Man over the millennial earth. Where the first Adam ruined the ‘rest of God’ with man on the earth, the second Adam will establish rest for man on the earth, bringing peace through His rule in righteousness. Where the first Adam succumbed to the temptation of the evil one, the second Adam overcame him and spoiled his goods. Through death Jesus destroys him who had the power of death. Adam fails in responsibility, but the Lord Jesus fulfills Adam’s responsibilities for the glory of God as the second Adam. Where government failed in Noah, it will succeed in the kingdom of the Son of Man. Where the law, written on tablets of stone, could not be accomplished by Israel for their blessing, God will do in a new covenant by writing His law on minds and hearts. Israel will fulfill it, and be exalted and prosper in the land. Where priesthood failed in Aaron’s and Eli’s sons, it will be found most excellent for Israel’s blessing by the Melchizedek priest in their temple, who had neither beginning of days nor end of life. Israel’s blessings will be realized as was Abraham’s, after the defeat of their enemies (Heb. 7:1-3). Also Christ is High Priest for the church, and will save all its members to the uttermost by the end of His ministry (Heb. 7:25-27). Also the Gentile supremacy of civil dominion will be put down and reversed by the King of kings and Lord of lords destroying all Gentile rule (Dan. 2:34-35), and in turn, ruling over the Gentile nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:26-27). It will be in Christ the Gentiles will trust. Where Solomon, the son of David failed in faithfulness, Jewish royalty will be gloriously fulfilled by the true Son of David in the Messianic kingdom over Israel.
So also the church (although separated and no part of the above dealings of God with man on the earth), having failed in showing forth God’s glory in its time of responsibility, will be raised up by God in the rapture, and will be made perfect, holy, and blameless in the presence of God eternally (Eph. 1:3-4). She will be the accomplishment of the heavenly glory of Christ through the ages to come (Eph. 2:6-7). It is the same principle and pattern from beginning to end. First, the responsibility of man ends in failure, then divine success in sovereign grace and power in the second Adam.
We easily trace through Scripture the record of the failure of man. In every circumstance of testing responsibility in man God has never found obedience. Man’s failure has been 100%. It is complete and proven to be so by God Himself. In the end God makes good all the failure of man by and through His own sovereign work. In the end all is made good by God in and through the second Man, Jesus Christ – this is to the praise of God’s glory. These are the two great facts of the testimony of Scripture – man’s complete failure in his work and responsibility (100% – utter depravity), and God’s own workmanship in sovereign grace to undo and make good all of the failure. The realization of these two biblical truths serve to meet the pride of the human heart, whether believer or unbeliever, whether the world or the professing church. The natural tendency of the human heart is to self-dependency. This is the evil leaven that has infected and saturated all of the doctrine of Christendom and has produced its results – the corruption and ruin of the professing church. Yet the full realization of these two truths should have destroyed long ago all the leaven – all the Judaizing and Arminianizing influence. But it has not destroyed it. Rather the professing church has taken the leaven back up and fully embraced it. It has done this to its irreconcilable ruin.
Even though the professing church is in ruin and with no recourse, still the spiritual believer can fully realize the two truths and their consequences. He may walk with God individually, and do so faithfully, even in the midst of a ruined Christendom. Jesus Christ gives His grace to the believer, which translates into His strength in us, when we remain conscious of our human weakness and infirmity (II Cor. 12:9). This is similar to the critical understanding that every unbeliever must realize before coming to faith in Christ – he stands before God as a sinner and enemy of God, who is utterly depraved and lost and without any hope or strength (Rom. 5:6, 8, 10, Luke 19:10, Eph. 2:12). It is necessary that the unbeliever should feel himself condemned before God, and learn that from this point on all depends on God’s unmerited grace. The unbeliever cannot be saved through self-dependence. Neither can the believer walk with God while maintaining any trace of self-dependence. This is why the professing church is in ruin.
 The true church is the body of Christ. Individual believers, sealed by the Spirit of God as sons, are baptized by this same Spirit into the one corporate body of Christ (I Cor. 12:12-13). All believers are gathered unto Him as to a living stone. We also as living stones are built up a spiritual house (I Pet. 2:4-5). The illustration here is to the resurrected life of Christ and all are living stones in Him and built up with Him. There are no dead stones here. There are no tares – the sons of the wicked one – in this allusion. This is what Christ builds, the body of Christ, and is the sovereign work of God. The exceedingly great power of God that raised Christ up and set Him at the right hand of God, is the same sovereign power that raised up the church and exalted it far above all principalities and powers. The members of the body are the members of Christ, and livingly secure in Him. This is the work of God. This cannot fail and Satan cannot touch it.