Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Little Flock of the past, and yet to come

I love your blog, but I couldn't find an answer to this question on it.  You say that the Little Flock was sealed at least by the time of the writing of Romans.  If this is the case, what was the need for the warning passages such as Hebrews 6:4-8?  It seems from passages like John 6 that they were already eternally secure.  Can you please explain?

It is fairly simple to see when you look at Paul’s epistles (Romans through Philemon) that the place the Little Flock fits into historically and in the plan and purpose of God’s word is in the dispensation of the grace of God.

2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Paul is not simply saying to rightly divide scripture from scripture, i.e. Paul’s epistles from the rest of scripture; but he is saying that the books other than those written by Paul (Genesis – Acts; Hebrews – Revelation) are what the Bible calls prophecy and contain doctrine of and pertinent to the prophetic program.  They are not part of the dispensation of the grace of God; and neither is the doctrine contained them.

Therefore, when this dispensation of grace is over, so will the application of the doctrine in Paul’s epistles.  When the rapture of the church the body of Christ occurs, the books of Romans through Philemon will no longer be in effect.  We can read and study Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the book of Acts, but we know they don’t apply today.

But Paul’s epistles do apply today.  That is how God is operating in this dispensation of grace.  Romans through Philemon are the books that are in effect now in this present dispensation.  After the resurrection of the body of Christ to heavenly places, they will still be a part of scripture and the future Tribulation saints will be able to read these books, but they will not apply to them.

If a Tribulation saint was to go to these verses…

Romans 4:4-6
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousnessSeeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

…and he tried to say that he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ by faith alone, the book of James (which will be in effect at that time) will say, ‘Don’t you know that faith without works is dead?’

James 2:14-20
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?   Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

We can read the book of James but it doesn’t apply to us today.  If we try to show our faith in God by our works in order to be justified in the eyes of God it won’t work.  We can’t add works to the finished work of the cross.

Romans 3:28
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

But that only applies today in the dispensation of the grace of God.  God is dispensing pure grace; he is dealing with humanity in pure grace today.

Ephesians 3:2
If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

I say all this because the books of Hebrews through Revelation go back to the prophetic program; to a law-keeping program; to a performance-based acceptance system.  God goes back to dealing with Israel and the nations the same way that he did before the dispensation of grace.

So the books of Genesis through Acts and Hebrews through Revelation fit the prophetic Law program which has a performance-based acceptance system that includes some type of ‘work’ in order to show faith.

The Little Flock is that believing remnant of Jews…

Luke 12:32
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

…those kingdom saints who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah at the time when Paul was saved.

Acts 9:3-6
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.  And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

So, we are not talking about the future, post-rapture Little Flock.  When the book of Hebrews goes back into effect all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who trusted in him alone (I Corinthians 15:3-4) will have been raptured and the only people left on earth will be all those who did not trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.  They will all be unbelievers according to God.

2 Thessalonians 2:10
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

God will then reinstate the prophetic program and he will bring back from the dead a believing remnant of Jews.

Romans 11:23
And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

He will use the Spirit of God and the word to do that.  But it won’t be through Paul’s epistles; it will be through the Old Testament, Matthew through Acts, and Hebrews through Revelation.

So we must understand that when we read those warning passages such as Hebrews 6:4-6, that God’s purpose in writing those books was to prepare the future Little Flock for the time period that follows the dispensation of grace when those books will be in effect.

We can read the book of Genesis that was written by Moses 3,500 years ago and we know it doesn’t apply to us today but it applied back then.  The Bible is written in past, present and future, according to the purpose of God.

Ephesians 2:7, 11, 13
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. … Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;  … But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

That is important to understand.  For one thing, that is the whole point of the book of John.  John is a writer about the future – prophecy.

The warning passages about continuing in the faith such as those in Hebrews 6 and 10 will be the way that God will deal with the Hebrew people in that day.  They will go back to the performance-based acceptance system found in Hebrews through Revelation that is not in effect in the present dispensation of grace.

There was a Little Flock of Jews who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ at the time that Paul was saved and the dispensation of grace began.

Romans 11:5-7
Even so then at this present time [the dispensation of grace] also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. [the Little Flock; the believing remnant]

God went from dealing with them on a performance-based acceptance system (faith + works) to a grace-based (faith alone) acceptance.

And if by grace, then is it no more of works [they don’t have to work anymore]: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Paul is contrasting grace and works.

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for: but the election hath obtained it,

The earthly Kingdom!  That is what prophecy is all about – a kingdom invested in the nation of Israel on this earth.  The Little Flock hath obtained the Kingdom and they will serve the Lord.  They have eternal life.

   and the rest were blinded.

When did that happen?  At the salvation of Saul of Tarsus – the beginning of the dispensation of grace.

So the warning passages in Hebrews were not applied to the Little Flock in Paul’s day.  That group of believers died off 2,000 years ago.  God will raise up a new Little Flock in the future; but it will not be a part of the dispensation of grace like the former one because the dispensation of grace will be over and done with.  They will be like the old Little Flock was before the beginning of the dispensation of grace when Paul was saved.  The new Little Flock will again be under a performance-based acceptance system just as the old one was up until the moment Paul was saved.  They will need Hebrews through Revelation and all those warning passages which are in each of those books.

James 2:14, 17, 20, 24, 26
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.  For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

The Lord Jesus Christ tells those churches in Revelation 2 and 3, ‘I know thy works.’ 

You also wrote that John 6 seems to indicate that this group of believers was eternally secure already.  It is interesting that you quoted from the book of John.  We don’t see passages like that in Matthew, Mark or Luke.  The Gospel of John stands alone out of the four gospels which are the four presentations of Christ to Israel, because it is the only one that talks futuristically.  For example,

John 3:13
And no man hath ascended up to heaven,

At the time that the Lord said this to Nicodemus, he hadn’t yet ascended to heaven; he hadn’t even died yet.

but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

He wasn’t in heaven; he was still on the earth.  There are many more instances of this type of futuristic language in the book of John.

The book of Matthew presents the Lord Jesus to Israel as King and Messiah.  All the language of Matthew is consistent with that.  Talking about the future, the Lord said:

Matthew 24:36
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Mark presents the Lord Jesus Christ to the nation of Israel as the suffering servant.  Throughout the book of Mark we see the Lord doing and working as the Servant.

Mark 13:32
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

John 15:15
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant [The Lord Jesus is servant.] knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Even though the Lord Jesus Christ is God and never ever ceased being God, he limited the independent use of his deity to conform to the will of the Father.  So how can the God Man, how can Christ who is 100% God say in Mark 13:32 that no man knoweth the time, not even the Son?  He said that only the Father knew because it was consistent with the book of Mark – a servant knoweth not what his master doeth.  He didn’t mention in Matthew or Luke that the Son didn’t know. 

In the book of Luke we see Christ’s prayer life, his humanity.  Luke contains the long account of his birth.  We see him teaching in the Temple when he was 12 years old.  That is only found in Luke.

But John is futuristic.  He wrote the Gospel of John, First, Second and Third John and the book of Revelation.  They are all futuristic.

Paul says,

Romans 4:17
…, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

How does the book of John present the Lord Jesus?  As Jehovah God, who speaks futuristically.

John 3:13
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Christ is saying that while he is standing there with Nicodemus.  He is saying that he has ascended up to heaven and that he is in heaven.  He had yet to do either one.  He was speaking prophecy, that is, prophetically.  That is why the book of John is the only Gospel that seems to indicate that the Little Flock already had eternal life.  He is speaking futuristically.

John 20:22
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

People think that they must have first received the Holy Ghost there and then in John 20:22, and again in Acts two.

Acts 2:1-4
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The problem with that is that not all 12 apostles were there when the Lord breathed on them in John 20:22.  There are to be 12 apostles sitting on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.  Judas was dead and gone.  There were only 11 apostles at that time.  Matthias did not become the twelfth apostle until Acts 1.

What Christ was doing was prophesying what he would do.  He did not give the Holy Ghost twice.  And that is only mentioned in John and consistent with its futuristic language.

In summary, there was a Little Flock of Jewish believers at the time Paul was saved.  They were under a performance-based acceptance system.  Hebrews through Revelation would have applied to them until the beginning of the dispensation of grace.  But once God changed the program to grace…

2 Corinthians 5:18
And all things are of God,

…those Jews who were trusting in the Lord Jesus as Messiah at the start of the dispensation of grace in which God is dealing with all humanity based upon grace, that Little Flock of believers all received the Kingdom. 

When this dispensation is complete at the rapture, God’s dealing with mankind by grace upon grace alone will end.  God will go back to the performance-based acceptance system of faith + works.  That is when the books of Hebrews through Revelation will again apply.  Therefore, the future Little Flock will be under the same system that the past Little Flock was under before Paul.

The reason that out of the four gospels, only the gospel of John says that they have eternal security is because it is the only gospel that speaks futuristically.  This will happen for the Little Flock in the Kingdom.  Matthew, Mark and Luke do not speak in those terms.

Hopefully this helps...Maranatha!

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