Kaipaki, Sunday June 21
NEW - WHO IS SPEAKING
FROM HEAVEN NOW?
By John Aldworth
Posted 20 June 2015
Allow me to pose the question: Who in this the dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:2) is speaking from heaven?
We learn from Heb. 12:25-26 that in the Acts period, the Pentecostal dispensation, it was the Lord. The verses plainly state:
See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. For if they escaped not that refused him that spake on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaketh from heaven. Whose voice then shook the earth, but now hath He promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only but also heaven.
Examples of the Lord speaking from heaven after his ascension to sit down at the right hand of the ‘Majesty on high’ include the following:
- His speaking to Saul to convert him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6). Verse three tells that the light that shone around Paul came from heaven; and if the light came from thence so did the voice.
- His speaking to Peter in Acts 10:11-13 when the apostle in a trance ‘saw heaven opened’ and heard a voice, saying, ’Rise Peter, kill and eat’.
Also the Lord ‘spake from heaven’ through prophecies in the in the Acts period Church of God. Taken together these examples were enough for the writer of Hebrews to urge his readers ‘not to refuse Him that speaketh from heaven’.
That was then, this is now. Is the Lord still speaking from heaven today? Many think so. Moreover they think he is speaking specially through them through prophecies, predictions and words of wisdom and knowledge. I know because years ago I was one of them.
But the truth is that all such supernatural manifestations, including speaking in tongues, have ceased. They were special signs given during the Pentecostal Acts period to witness of the Lord as Messiah to Israel and of his resurrection. But when God set Israel aside and sent salvation in the person of Jesus to the Gentiles in Acts 28:28, the miraculous ceased.
And so did the Lord’s speaking from heaven. We do not find the Lord speaking from heaven in any of Paul’s prison epistles. The Person we find addressing us instead is the Father and He does so in love to save us by grace. Furthermore He speaks only through one chosen spokesperson, the Apostle Paul.
Paul explains that this change in the way God speaks and, as we shall see, saves people, comes firstly because he is ‘an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God’ (Eph.1:1). Secondly, because it is to and through him – and through no one else - that the Father has revealed to us Gentiles the mystery and the dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:1-3).
To make this clear, verse two says that God the Father gave this dispensation of grace of God to Paul and verse three explains how He did it: ‘How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery …’ In plain English this means that God spoke to Paul. And since God the Father dwells in heaven and has never left his habitation, it means the Father spoke from heaven to Paul.
And it is through Paul’s message that the Father both speaks to us and acts mightily in love towards us. Eph. 2:4-5 sums up what He does:
But God for his great love wherewith He loved us. Even when we were dead in trespasses and sins hath quickened us together (by grace ye are saved).
If we read the scriptures with the eye of faith I we see that the Father starts speaking to us as grace saved believers in Eph. 1:1-2 and keeps on speaking in almost every other verse right through chapters two and three. And it’s much the same in Colossians.
You see God is working now only through grace. As my friend Tom Ballinger has succinctly put it: If God cannot act in grace He does not act at all. And what is grace? It is the Father acting in love to make available to sinners needing saved all his ‘riches in glory by Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 4:19.
Grace is the Father making us part of all that Christ is and all that He has done for us – his holy life on earth, his death for our sin, his burial, resurrection, ascension, conquest of evil powers and even his position in the heavenlies at the right hand of the ‘the Majesty on high’. We are made to partake of all of that only because the Father has made us part of it by his grace.
You see He need not have done so. He could have left matters as they were in the Acts period when Jesus was preached as the risen Christ and Jew and Gentile either received Him as Saviour or did not. The record is clear; most did not.
But the Father would not leave matters so. He would not let all that his Son had suffered to accomplish for sinners to be put to waste. Israel might have spurned Him as their Messiah both before and after his crucifixion, and the Greeks (Gentiles) may have dismissed his resurrection as foolishness, but the Father determined to glorify his Son.
How? By grace is the short answer. The long answer details his plan to save sinners by quickening them out of death from sin, this by including in Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension. But having thus placed them in Christ as his right side the Father determined on more. He would make them part of the very body of his Son not just for now but for all eternity (Eph. 1:22-23).
So now sinners would be made perfect and ‘complete’ in Christ (Col. 2:10), ‘accepted in the Beloved’ (Eph. 1:6), delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the (heavenly) ‘kingdom of his dear Son’ (Col. 1:13). They would also be recreated (in the New Creation), albeit through suffering, to fit them for their role to ‘reign’ with Christ in his heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 2:12, Eph. 2:10, Col. 3:3-4).
In all this, the marvelous acts of grace set out one after the other in Paul’s prison epistles (Ephesians to Philemon) the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is silent. It is the Father who is describing all that He has done in his grace, so that the Apostle Paul can tell us all about it.
Why should our Lord be silent in this time, you ask? Answer: Because, unlike much of the organised church which bears his name, He always does what the Father commands. You see right now our Lord is set at God’s right hand in the heavenly places (Eph.1: 20). He is silent because He has been told to ‘Sit on my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool’ (Heb. 1:13). Having offered one sacrifice for sins forever he is ‘sat down, henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool’ (Heb. 10:13). He doesn’t say a word because He doesn’t need to. In grace the Father is saying and doing all.
Examples of this include the following:
Eph. 1:2: Sending grace and peace to believers.
Eph. 1:3: Blessing the saints with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.
Eph. 1:4: Choosing us in Him before the foundation of the new world to come, that is the Day of Christ (Phil. 1:6, 10).
Eph. 1:5: Predestinating us to the adoption of sons by Christ Jesus which will occur at our appearing with Christ in the Day of Christ (Col. 3:3-4).
Eph. 1:6: Making us accepted in the Beloved, i.e. his Son.
Eph. 1:7: Redemption through Christ’s blood, the forgiveness of sins through the riches of the Father’s grace.
Eph. 1:8-9: Abounding to us in wisdom, having made known unto his will.
Eph. 1: 11: Predestinated according to the purpose of Him (the Father) who works all things according to the counsel of his own will.
Notice that in Eph. 3:9 that the mystery was hid in God since the world began until revealed to Paul. Since it was hid in God then, obviously, only God, the Father Himself could reveal it, which is why we find Him speaking in the Pauline revelation, not Christ. Today Christ is also ‘hid in God’ (Col. 3:3), which is another reason that in this grace-mystery dispensation (Eph. 1:2) it is the Father speaks not the Son.
No wonder then that in Eph.3:14 that the Apostle Paul bows his knees unto ‘the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’, that he would grant that believers should be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.
If God’s word rightly divided is to be trusted then God has moved on. Today He is no longer calling believers to be saved by being water baptised, repenting of sin and asking Christ to come into their hearts. No longer is Christ baptising anyone with the Holy Ghost, nor today is sanctification being accomplished progressively by a work of ‘the Holy Spirit’ in anyone’s heart.
Why? Because God has already made us accepted in the Beloved (his Son), has already quickened out of death by sin, hath already ‘reconciled all things unto Himself in the body of his (Christ’s) flesh to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his (that is, the Father’s) sight.
And the purpose of all this is that you and I might know Him, the Father. For it is his own Spirit, the ‘Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (the Father) that He gives us in answer to the Apostle Paul’s prayer that He should so.
You see, just as the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, came to earth to ‘declare’ or reveal the Father unto men (John 1:18) so now the Father through his Spirit and by his grace reveals the Son in the hearts of those He quickens to receive Him as their Saviour.
So it is still true that as Christ said in John 6:44, ‘No man can come to Me except the Father, which hath sent Me, draw Him’. It is also true that as He said in John 6:65: ‘… no man come unto Me except it were given him of my Father’.
Even so no man is saved today except the Father ‘draw’ him, that is quicken him (or make him alive). And the Father does that by speaking from heaven to you and me through the writings of the Apostle Paul.
©John Aldworth, June, 2015.