OF WHEN - Part Three



Published 11th May, 2018

By John Aldworth

We live in the day of man. Man sits in judgment and his opinions are held sacrosanct. Never mind that his views defy both logic and the Bible, they must be believed. Education, science, false religion, the law and Government all demand that God-defying theories and false beliefs be obeyed to the letter.

Actually for some six thousand years now man has sat in judgment on the truth of God and in his view found it wanting. From the serpent whispering “yea, hath God said?’ through to the physicist Stephen Hawking’s pronouncement that today’s science makes God “redundant in the creation of the universe”, man has always made up his own story as he goes along. Nimrod led all mankind in rebellion after the Flood and built the tower of Babel. As folklore around the world records, he “pushed back the sky” to make room for man to dwell beneath it without heeding the commandments or truth of God.

But it was when the rulers of Israel came to arrest, try and crucify Jesus, the Son of Man that the day of man reached its zenith of wickedness. The Lord told them:

Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple ye stretched forth no hands against Me: but this your hour (hora, Strong’s 5610, primarily meaning day) and the power of darkness (Luke 22:53).

Jesus was saying that because this was the day of man the satanically inspired Jewish religious leaders were able to take and crucify Him. It was ‘their day’ then and it is still their day, man's day, now. But, watch out, his day, the Day of Christ, is coming.

The Day of Christ is mentioned in several places in Paul’s epistles. What’s more, all the Old Testament prophets spoke of this glorious day when Christ will reign from heaven, men’s hearts will be turned toward Him and the earth and all creatures in it will be restored to their original creation beauty.

Sadly, right now we still live in the day of man. Today, as he has for thousands of years man judges God, his servants and the truth of his Word the Bible, and finds fault with them. Now, as then, he dismisses as idiots those who believe God’s word and relentlessly persecutes them. But very soon it will be God’s turn to judge because a great new day is coming. The day of Christ will give mankind a divine “check up from the neck up” and change human thinking forever. This day is described in various places in Paul’s epistles as “the Day of Christ” but, just as importantly, it is also a day of judgement.

Now, let me ask, what do the words “day of judgement” bring to mind? Do you envisage people suddenly being sent either to heaven or hell? Or does an image of the earth being destroyed and burnt up cross your mind?

Can I suggest you banish such thoughts from your mind and instead join me in a Bible study which will show a truer picture? For the day of judgment, which is also the day of Christ, is really about changing man’s thinking rather than sending him to hell.

For proof there really will be a day of Christ see Rom. 2:5, 13:12-13, 1 Cor. 1:8, 1 Cor. 3:13, Phil. 1:10, 2:16, 2 Thess. 2:2, Eph. 4:30, Tim. 1:12, 18, 4:8, Heb. 4:7-8, 10:25. The good news is that this new era of God dispensing Himself into mankind will be about putting things right rather than damning those who have got it wrong. Proverbs 23:7 says of man that “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”. And Shakespeare echoes this thought, writing that “there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so”. All the corruption, violence, poverty and evil in the world can be traced back to one root cause. Simply put, it is “stinking thinking” that determinedly leaves God out of the equation. As the Psalmist has it, “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God”.

So what does the Bible say about this coming day of judgement? What does it say about the “day of man” and his judgement in the “Day of Christ”? Turn to 1 Cor. 4:4-5 where the Apostle Paul writes:

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgement: yea I judge not my own self. For I know nothing by my self; yet am I not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me is the Lord.

“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart: and then shall every man have praise of God”.

It’s important to realise that 1 Cor. 4:5 is not describing the Lord’s Second Coming. Those who think it does make the mistake of confusing the Lord’s appearing in the Day of Christ with his coming during the tribulation to bring in the Day of the LordAppearing is epiphanea, Strong’s 2015, meaning a manifestation or shining forth. It describes the time when Christ will shine forth from heaven (Titus 2:13. 2 Tim. 4:1). In contrast, coming (as in his second coming), is parousia, Strong’s 3952, meaning a full personal and official coming and staying. It denotes the Lord’s physical coming to earth to bring in his millennial reign.

However, in 1 Cor. 4:5 the word “come” - as in “until the Lord come” - is neither epiphanea nor parousia. It is erchomai, Strong’s 2064, which basically means to “come and go” but can also mean "appear" for it is at his appearing that He will inaugaurate his heavenly rule over earth (2 Tim. 4:1).. And the use of it here makes clear that is in the Day of Christ that the judgement Paul speaks of in 1 Cor. 4:4-5 takes place. For, while ruling and reigning from heaven in his “heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:1) Christ will also come and go to visit the earth at times. Proof of that is found in Ezekiel where the door to the east is reserved for the Prince (of glory), i.e. Christ, to come in (Ezek. 43: 1-4) and in Malachi:

The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant in whom ye delight... (Malachi 3:1).

This latter prophecy was not exhausted by the Lord’s first coming and his cleansing of the temple. It will be further fulfilled in the day of Christ when the Lord visits his resurrected apostles and Old Testament saints in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem to have communion with them. Remember He said he would no more eat of the Passover or drink of the fruit of the vine ‘until the kingdom of God shall come’ (Luke 22:16-18). Importantly, the kingdom of God only comes into being in the day of Christ at the Lord’s appearing. Read this in Titus 2:13 and 2 Tim. 4:1 which says:

I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.

As an aside, may I ask, do you have a King James Bible?  If so I hope you have a “good” and not “naughty” version of the KJB. What I mean by that is that a “good” KJB version has the original margin notes of the 1611 translators printed in it while a “naughty” version does not. Therefore it’s “naughty” because as a witness it does not tell “the whole truth”. This is clearly seen in the words “man’s judgement” in 1 Cor.4:4. In the “good” KJB the margin note referring to judgement reads “Lit. day”, but in the “naughty” version it is omitted. Put the margin note “day” together with “man’s judgement” in the text and you have “man’s day of judgement” which fits and fully bears out the context of 1 Cor. 4:1-7.

The thrust of Paul’s teaching here is that rather than negatively judging Paul and his fellow workers the Corinthians should consider them as “ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God”. The apostle is merely Christ’s servant and merely obeys the Master’s orders. He is also a steward (dispenser) of the mysteries (hitherto hidden secrets now revealed) and should be respected as such. Unwarranted criticism, based on ignorance, ceases when God’s apostles are viewed in this light.

Ultimately, true judgement of a servant can be determined only by the Lord and that will only happen in “the day” (i.e. the Day of Christ) when He brings to light the hidden things of darkness and makes manifest the counsels of the hearts. In other words God’s judgement of ministers (indeed of all men) is postponed until the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ “who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:1). And this, of course, takes place in the Day of Christ.

This is why Paul says that to him it is a very small thing that he should be judged as an apostle (or criticised) by the Corinthians, or critically dismissed by the world in this the day of man’s judgement (vs. 3). He further explains that he does not even judge (that is, critically assess) himself “For I know nothing of (or against) myself yet I am not hereby justified but He that judgeth me is the Lord”. If even Paul as an apostle is not judged by the Lord in this the day of man’s judgement, then neither should man judge him “before the time”, he argues.

Discerning Bible students will see a golden nugget of dispensational truth in 1Cor. 4:3. It is that while for 6,000 years it has been “man’s day of judgment”, the “Day of Christ” (Phil. 1:6,10 and 2:16), which is the start of God’s day of judgement, is now at hand. In this day there will be true judgement for, unlike man, the Lord judgeth after the heart and not the outward appearance. He weighs the motives not the mistakes, the believer’s faith not his failures. For example, the Lord considered David a man after his own heart and one who by faith in God served his generation. Yet David was also a self confessed murderer and adulterer.

In the coming day of judgement it will not be God but man that is in the dock. Man will be charged and found guilty. Humanity’s lofty thoughts and proud institutions will be brought crashing down; the political and economic systems will implode; hierarchies will topple, and worship of God “in spirit and in truth” (John. 4:23) will replace present man-made religious systems.

Now, it is a principle with God that “judgement must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter. 4:17) and that will also be true in the Day of Christ. A picture of how God will judge Christendom for its rejection of His grace and truth is amply set out in the epistles of the Apostle Paul.

In 1 Cor. 3:13, for example, Paul teaches that:

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day (that is, the Day of Christ) shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”

The day” mentioned here must be the Day of Christ, since it is mentioned as such in the context (see 1 Cor. 1:8). And in the Day of Christ religious Christianity with all its pomp and ceremony, lies and corruption will be burned up. Responsible for keeping billions from true faith in Christ the denominations will vanish in a puff of smoke. But those who have truly believed, though their works be burned up, will be preserved through the fire.

The upshot is that only that which has been truly founded on Christ, found in Christ and built by God Himself will survive when tried by the fire in the Day of Christ.

It is appropriate that the predicted doom of unscriptural, unspiritual Christendom is pronounced here in 1 Cor. 3:13 because the organised denominational churches, almost without exception, have refused to embrace the full and free universal salvation of mankind by quickening and being saved “by grace through faith, not of works” as found in the dispensation of the grace of God taught in Paul’s prison epistles. They have clung instead to doctrines intended for Israel and not for Gentiles.

For example, most Christians believe they have been “born again” based on Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus in John 3. Yet this cannot be true. Why? Put simply, it’s because they were not ‘born’, in the sense Jesus meant, the first time.

Notice in John 3:7 the Lord says to Nicodemus (and to all Israel), “Ye must be born again”. “Ye” is plural and refers to the whole nation. You see, all Israelites were “first born” when the nation was delivered by God from Egypt.

            Exodus 4:22: Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn.

But after many centuries of turning from God and breaking his covenant Israelites in Jesus’ time were unfit to enter their promised kingdom. Therefore Israel needed to be born a second time of the Spirit. This was to be achieved under the New Covenant:          

A new heart also will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you … And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to talk in my statutes … (Ezek. 34:24-28).

Jews who received the Spirit of the New Covenant (Christ coming to them in the form of the Holy Ghost) at Pentecost became part of the “born again” nation of Israel, the “little flock” that became the “Church of God” in the Acts period and to which chosen Gentiles were added by God. Their destiny is to be resurrected to form the reconstituted nation of Israel when when Christ restores the kingdom to them.

Then came a huge change in dispensation. A new revelation, that of the “mystery” (Eph. 3:1-4), was revealed by the Lord to the Apostle Paul in prison in Rome. He was to minister to Gentiles a future place in “heavenly kingdom” of Christ (2 Tim. 4:8). As grace-saved believers of the nations they will also rule and reign with Christ on earth but with an authority given them with Christ “in the heavenlies”.

Like Israelites also destined for the earthly kingdom, Gentiles needed to receive the Spirit to partake of this inheritance. But they could not be “born a second time” because they were never born unto God in the flesh in the first place. Instead today Gentiles (and Jews for that matter, indeed all men) are “quickened” (that is, made alive unto God) out of sin and death (Eph. 2:1 and 5) by the Spirit of the Father. Rather than being part of New Covenant Israel, they are instead made partakers of entirely new creation called the “one new man” (2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 2:15-16). This is why the Apostle Paul never mentions the words “born again”, which describe Israel’s spiritual rebirth into the New Covenant, in his prison epistles written to Gentiles.

Yes, today we are not “born again” but “quickened together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5) and raised up “together with Him to sit with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). In the day of Christ this “One New Man” will rule and reign with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12) over those both in heaven and on earth.

Importantly, a day is with the Lord as a thousand years (2 Pet. 3:8). For the record there are four great days that are mentioned in scripture, some lasting longer than others. They are:

  • The day of man - 1 Cor. 3:13, 1 Cor. 4:3, Luke 22:53.
  • The Day of Christ - Rom. 2:5, 13:12-13, 1 Cor. 1:8, 1 Cor. 3:13, Phil. 1:10, 2:16, 2 Thess. 2:2, Eph. 4:30, Tim. 1:12, 18, 4:8, Heb. 4:7-8, 10:25
  • The Day of the Lord – 1 Thess. 5:2, Joel 2:1, 2 Pet. 3:10.
  • The Day of God - 2 Peter 3:12, Rev. 16:14.

Series to be continued.