Our Place In Gods Plan
WE WISH to call attention to a very special blessing which may come
to us through this partitioning of the word of truth; that is, a safeguard from
certain spiritual dangers which threaten the ecclesia more than ever today. God warns us
against these as follows: Now the spirit is saying explicitly, that, in subsequent
eras, some will be withdrawing from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and the
teachings of demons (1 Tim.4:1).
Gods Word discloses
much concerning these world-mights of darkness. We learn from Ephesians (6:11,12) that
they are the real adversaries of the ecclesia. And no wonder, for it is destined to occupy
the regions up above us where they now dwell. The rapture is probably the signal for them
to be driven out of their present place. For this reason we can understand their unbounded
hate of believers today, as well as their untiring efforts to hinder these from attaining
maturity. Alas! What dense ignorance prevails among the children of God concerning this
dark subject! The majority consider themselves quite safe if they do not sin willfully.
They look at Satan as only a tempter, and think that all that he does appears manifestly
bad. They have no idea that, in the very celestial regions into which they have been
transported in spirit, the most embittered conflict is to be fought with the
counter-worker, and that he spies upon and permeates no others so much as those who are
striving for true holiness. To this end he transfigures himself into a messenger of light,
and his servants are transfigured as servants of righteousness (2 Cor.11:14). He knows
very well that he cannot entangle such as these by open temptation to sin.
Gods Word assures us
that, in the last days, that is, in our time, men will depart from the faith. Only
believers can fall from the faith. In second Thessalonians (2:9) Paul speaks of
Satans power, and signs, and false miracles. What a warning against the lack of care
of most saints, who imagine that all that seems miraculous must be from God! This
conflicts with the Apocalypse, which predicts signs and wonders only of the wild beast,
while the saints suffer and are persecuted.
How is it possible, in
spite of the purest intentions, to be so deceived? One of the causes is the mixing
together of truths which should be kept apart. Through striving to attain to the
Pentecostal signs and miracles as the highest pinnacle of grace, a dangerous confusion of
two different administrations takes place.
Paul mentions one of the
chief features of our time: Gods administration which is in faith (1
Tim.1:4). According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is a conviction concerning matters which
are not being observed. And 2 Cor.5:7 says explicitly, by faith are we
walking, and not by perception. Here we see that faith and perception are
contrasted, to warn us to base our inner life on that which is not observed as yet
Faith, in itself, is not
new, but, in the past, it was connected with much that could be seen. Again and again the
ancient men of God desired tangible proofs of Gods power. Today, however, God-given
faith is strong enough to get along without visible evidence. One who craves this,
nevertheless, need not fall away from God and Christ entirely, yet he leaves the path of
highest, purest faith, which is confident even in the dark. At Pentecost, along with
faith, the saints continued to have much to see that astonished them. It is from this
stage of minority that we should be separated.
And not this alone.
Minority is connected with a great danger, for it may become a point of contact with dark,
deceptive powers, who take advantage of it, as an entering wedge, for their operations.
The longing for miracles, even on the part of believers, opens a door to demons, and
ignorance may make the saints think that their deceptions are divine. This leads to
visions, voices, messages, heavenly music and speaking in tongues, accompanied by
hysterical happiness, as if electric waves ran through the body. Numberless victims have
been cheated by such means because they did not know that God now operates on our spirit,
not our body. Yet, God be thanked, many have been delivered out of this pitfall, and now
warn others of the danger of feeling God with the senses, for this is a sly trick of the
adversary, to draw his victims to himself. This is done with such cunning craft, that
those deceived imagine that their emotions are evidence of their special nearness to
In this light we must test
the teaching concerning the messengers, or so-called angels anew. We meet this
ministry very often in connection with the saints in Israel. We find them again in the
Apocalypse, which is on Jewish ground. And it is good to understand that God sends
heavenly beings to those who have their allotment on earth. Even Paul partook of such help
while he was still in the service of the kingdom. But in his epistles we look in vain for
the evidence of such a ministry. Divine revelation puts it in an altogether different
light in its relation to us. We are to judge them, and are a theater for their
We are called to the
highest heights in the universe, in Christ. Our place is above the heavenly hosts. We
acknowledge their lofty position. But, because of our place in Christ, we are in a much
closer relationship to God, our Father, than they. As far as leading and helping in our
life of faith is concerned, we have something far better than they. As sons of God we are
led by His spirit, but never forcibly driven or compelled as is often done by lying
spirits. Above all, we have His Word, and are able to walk in His brightest light, because
the epistles directed to us are His highest revelation. Demons, disguised as messengers of
light, on the contrary, seek to get their dupes to obey deceptive voices and commandments,
without searching the Scriptures. Often their commands are in direct contradiction to its
Whoever has recognized his
position in Gods plan does not look for the service of messengers, but rather takes
a stand against it. It has often occurred that such supposed messengers of light have been
exposed as demons. Even when they quote the Bible and speak the truth, they must not be
trusted. Remember the case of the maid with the python spirit (Acts 16:16), who followed
Paul and cried after him, These men are slaves of God most high, who are announcing
to you a way of salvation. But Paul was exasperated by it, and charged the spirit to
In the present
administration it is no longer necessary to test the spirits, as before. Supernatural
voices and messages are to be refused, since the Word of God has been completed. In view
of the earnest warnings of the Scriptures, because of the possibility of being deceived by
messengers of light, all self-confidence is questionable.
A receptive mood for
communications and special directions from above is usually accompanied by the rejection
of the will and understanding. Those who have had no experience in this matter may think
this a superior spiritual attainment. They imagine that every use of these faculties is
fleshly, and hinders God from leading and enlightening them directly by
supernatural means. Many do not seem to suspect that spiritualistic mediums use the same
methods, in order to open up the world of spirits. In a medium the personality is replaced
by a demon, which now works through its victim. If a believer becomes a medium by means of
the accompanying passivity so that God may will for him (and he will certainly
become a medium by such practices), he gives demons the possibility of willing for him,
and blindly leading him. The deceiving spirit will, of course, avoid acting as such, and
appear as in spiritistic seances. It will, rather, try hard to be godly and pious.
Numberless witnesses are in evidence who have been thus deceived, but later delivered.
At the time when modern
Pentecostalism had its greatest triumph, a book appeared, written by its chief advocate,
which taught: God must will for you. If you use your own will, He cannot work through you.
You must not think for yourself, but must be led blindly. You must not act yourself, but
must, like an automaton, allow Gods power to overwhelm you. Only then can He use
your members in His service. This is not a literal citation, but gives the gist of what
the book teaches. The result was disastrous. Many of the truest and most earnest seekers
after holiness were deceived, dragged into impossible situations, and often broke down
physically, or became mentally ill, and had the greatest difficulty in becoming free
Such a viewpoint implies a
lessening of the saving power of God, as regards our intellect. Sin does not ruin
our will, but enslaves it, so that a human cannot do what he wills. Yet through
faith in the death and resurrection of Christ we become subject to a greater power, that
of grace, and Gods spirit, and these set our wills free. It is true that it is not
elevated to an independent position, but the will of God, as revealed in His Word,
leads it, so that the human knows what to will. He is then prepared, with an enlightened
mind, and sound understanding, to recognize Gods will, and to do it. The will which
has been freed from the slavery of sin is again ready to function as God created it.
So also with the
understanding. So dangerous is a diseased mind, so useful is a sound understanding. It is
a noble organ of the inner human, created to be used in the service of God. Sanity is
SAVE-DISPOSition in the Original, so is related to salvation and disposition. The normal
use of sanity is therefore savingly disposed. In a state of unbelief, under the dominion
of sin, however, it is insanity. This wonderful creation of God is renewed in
believers and useful for its pristine purpose. Paul refers to sanity (1 Tim.2:9,15;
2 Tim.1:7) several times.
Now a liberated will and a
spiritually enlightened understanding may work together, hand in hand. The understanding
may weigh, test, decide. It is able, on the basis of the Scriptures, to recognize the
right way. It is able to see through deceptive teaching. Then the will must come with its
decision to choose the right and reject the false. This is sufficient to bar the door of
the inner life to the unclean spirits. Let it be understood that, not in the will or in
the understanding lies the power over them, yet they are a bulwark against them.
For this reason the powers
of darkness are so bent on characterizing the use of the will and understanding as
unspiritual. They are wholly dependent on the exclusion of these gifts, so that they may
take possession of their victims altogether.
This is like a householder
who refuses to use his arm in order to lock out unclean intruders. But on the way of faith
that kind of passivity may do much more damage. There are cases in which a weak
understanding and ruined nerves were the result of such passivity, due to ignorance and
the cunning and cleverness of these evil spirits. And that is just what these demons
Fortunately such severe
cases are not very frequent. That, however, is due to the protective grace of Christ, for
He is Head of these powers also, and He does not allow them an unlimited field. But, if He
permitted them to have free course into His beloved ecclesia, the results, due to its
spiritual minority, would be unpredictable! Many of His children, at seeing a white
specter, or hearing a soft voice speaking biblical things, or
heavenly music, or being suffused with feelings of bliss in the body, would
immediately deduce that they were being favored with a special revelation from God. How
thankful we should be that the majority are shielded from such deceptions, even though
many long for them and invite them.
Alas! Too many think they
stand on the false foundation of Pentecost. And this it is, even if it does not lead to
the worst results, which is connected with the danger that they will remain minors. This
the demons do not attack with the same ferocity as the desire for spiritual maturity.
Therefore they seek to enthuse their dupes for these wonderful signs. When they see that
they are not able to entangle a child of God in sin and worldliness, they seek at least to
keep it in the infancy of faith.
The inner eye, enlightened
by the spirit, is able to see how, especially in our day, the attacks of the powers of
evil flame forth most heavily against the ecclesia. Wherever possible, they seek to
intrude. But the ignorance and passivity of believers are not their only points of
contact. When one knowingly harbors a secret sin, it gives them a hook on which to fasten
their dangerous holds, by means of which they can jerk the fleshly believer to and fro.
Yet, a true insight in this holy war should not make us afraid of these spiritual powers,
but rather of ourselves, as we, without the correct leading of Gods Word and spirit,
must reckon with the possibility of exposing ourselves to attack.
On this battlefield clarity
concerning every phase of salvation is absolutely essential. We are saved by the precious
blood of Christ. Nevertheless, in order to stand against the stratagems of the
counter-worker, we must have on our spiritual panoply. Our God, in His fatherly concern,
has provided all that we need in the sixth of Ephesians. Among these is found the large
shield of faith, by which we will be able to extinguish all the fiery arrows of the wicked
one. But the craving to see miracles would imply leaving the safe shelter of this shield.
Mostly young converts, with
little experience, but with much zeal, who strive for the highest things, are in danger of
falling for the visible evidences. They imagine that they meet only divine powers in the
sphere of the spirit, and everything supernatural must be from God. The more wonderful,
the more desirable do the gifts and powers appear to them. Yet plain and clear is
Pauls admonition: And still am I showing you a path suited to transcendence.
These words cannot be emphasized too much in the ecclesia today, if it is not to remain
bogged down in minority.
We must not fail to mention
what the apostle Peter writes of Pauls revelations: which the unlearned and
unstable are twisting, as the rest of the Scriptures also, to their own destruction
(2 Peter 3:16).
To be sure, Paul presents
solid food fit for the mature. Yet even at that time the truths he taught were distorted.
This continued in the course of the churchs history, until they became almost
totally obscured and forgotten. Their rediscovery, which began with the Reformation,
provides the light that we need today. God is commencing to complete the ecclesia, and,
ever since then, one concealing cover after another has been removed from His Word. Those
who will not take the pains to examine the Scriptures to see if these have it thus (Acts
17:11) are like a miner who will not do the necessary digging to follow a rich gold vein.
By means of these recently
recovered truths, our Lord provides us with those gracious gifts which will mature the
saints for their future high calling among the heavenly hosts above. What we acquire of it
in our short earthly life will prepare us for our celestial service in the oncoming eons.
May we be persuaded by the
exhortations: Be disposed to that which is above, not to that on the earth
(Col.3:2), not being removed from the expectation of the evangel . . . of which I,
Paul, became the dispenser (Col.1:23)! May we not fall back to that of the
Israelitish kingdom evangel and Pentecost! How it broadens our heart, and brightens our
inner eyes with heavenly light when we consider our transcendent celestial glories!
Indeed, for one who has once begun to enjoy only a little of this glorious grace, it will
be easy to leave the whole Israelitish ground and to enter fully into our own far greater
In this light the
exhortation to correctly cut the word of truth, is by no means a superfluous or useless
matter. It unlocks treasures of which we had no previous anticipation, and enriches our
life and walk. The light which it brings us saves us from many an error. From the evil
results of mixing the Pentecostal with the present ecclesia we are shielded. Many factors
which disturb the unity of the spirit are avoided, and the love of the members of
Christs body for one another can develop with less to hinder, for in our common
heavenly expectation it has the best opportunity to grow.
In this atmosphere of love
and grace the various services of the evangelist, pastors and teachers may be carried out
in fullest harmony, each supplying his part in bringing the ecclesia to full development
To Him Who is able to do
superexcessively above all that we are requesting or apprehending, according to the power
that is operating in us, to Him be glory in the ecclesia and in Christ Jesus for all the
generations of the eon of the eons! Amen!
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