The Administration of the Sacred Secret

[This article was taken from our book The Gift of Holy Spirit: The Power to be like Christ.]

Different administrations have different rules

Christians need to understand the wonderful gift of holy spirit that God has given to us and appreciate the grace we have. We also need to understand why God called the very time in which we live “…the administration of the grace of God…” (Eph. 3:2-Darby Translation-DHB). Why is this age, the age of the Christian Church, singled out by God to be called the administration of “grace”? To understand this, we must understand the uniqueness of the Church and see the difference between what we have today and what God gave to people at other times and other ages.

Throughout history, God has changed the “rules” by which He wants men to live. Every student of the Bible realizes this to one degree or another. For example, before the Church started in Acts 2, God required animal sacrifice, but now He no longer does. Even a cursory study of Scripture shows that God has “administered” the people of earth differently at different times, and so many theologians call the time period covered by a given set of rules an “administration” or “dispensation.” [1] The systematic theology that recognizes these different administrations or dispensations is referred to as “Dispensationalism.” [2]

Examples of God changing the rules from administration to administration abound. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve to eat plants only (Gen. 1:29), but after the Flood, God changed the rules and allowed man to eat meat also (Gen. 9:3), and He still allows us to eat meat today. Another clear example concerns the Sabbath. Before the Mosaic Law, there was no specific law concerning the Sabbath. When God gave the Law to Moses, He changed the rules, and commanded that anyone who worked on the Sabbath should be put to death (Exod. 31:14). Today, in the Administration of Grace, God has changed the rules again, and it is not a sin to work on the Sabbath (Rom. 14:5; Col. 2:16 and 17). Of course, it is still a good idea to take a day of rest.

Another clear example of God changing the rules from administration to administration involves the rules concerning marriage. Before the Mosaic Law, God allowed men to marry a sister or other close relative. Abraham, for example, married Sarah, his half sister (Gen. 20:12). A man could also have more than one wife in those days. God changed the rules when He gave the Law to Moses, and forbade marrying a half-sister (Lev. 18:9) or other close relative (Lev. 18 and 20), but He still allowed a man to have more than one wife. [3] In the Administration of Grace in which we live today, God has changed the marriage regulations again. Today He forbids polygamy, saying that each man is to have his “own” wife and each woman her “own” husband (1 Cor. 7:2).

When Christians do not recognize or understand the administrations in the Bible, they cannot resolve its apparent contradictions, and become confused as to which commands to obey and which to not obey. It is of the utmost importance that the Christian who wants to obey God’s instructions understands the administrations in the Bible. If he does not, he may well end up obeying a command in the Bible that was not written to him. For example, what if a Christian took more than one wife, saying that the Bible said it was okay to do, and quoted Exodus 21:10? Can a Christian marry more than one wife just because a verse somewhere in the Bible says it is allowable? No, because we must consider where the Bible says that, and to whom was God addressing that regulation. If a person has psoriasis (sores and flakes on the skin), does he have to wear torn clothes, not brush his hair, cover his mouth with cloth, live outside of town, and cry “Unclean” when he walks down the street? Yet that is what the Bible says (Lev. 13:45 and 46). Thankfully, those commandments were part of the rules God gave to the Jews, and God has given the Christian Church different rules to live by. Neither do we have to wear tassels on the outside of our garments (Num. 15:38), nor do Christian men have to go to Jerusalem three times a year (Deut. 16:16). Jews under God’s Law were commanded to do these things, but now God has changed the rules for Christians. So if we want to obey God, we must obey the rules written to us. [4]

The Administrations in the Bible

There are eight administrations in the Bible, and knowing exactly when they begin and end, and the rules distinctly associated with each, is indispensable in explaining many of the apparent contradictions in Scripture. The eight administrations are:

1) Original Paradise (Creation to the Fall),
2) Conscience (Fall to the Flood),
3) Civil Government (Flood to the Mosaic Law),
4) The Mosaic Law (the giving of the Law until Pentecost),
5) the Administration of the Grace of God, also called the Administration of the Sacred Secret (from Pentecost until the Rapture),
6) Tribulation (from the Rapture to the end of Armageddon),
7) Christ’s Millennial Kingdom (lasts 1,000 years),
8) Final Paradise (will last forever). [5]

Martin Anstey wrote: “In this matter the golden rule is, ‘Distinguish the dispensations and the difficulties will disappear.’” [6]

The administration in which we live today began on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost (Acts 2), when the gift of holy spirit was given to everyone who believed. This new administration is called by a couple of different names. It is called “…the administration of God’s grace…” (Eph. 3:2. We usually call it “the Administration of Grace”) and “…the administration of the sacred secret…” (Eph.3:9-Rotherham). God had specific reasons for using the names that He did. He calls it the Administration of “Grace” because Christians enjoy the grace of God in a manner and to an extent that was not given to people of previous administrations. God has always given grace to mankind, but He has so abounded in His grace to the Church that He calls the very time we live the “…administration of the grace of God…” (DHB). God kept to Himself the knowledge of the blessings and grace that we have today, and so He also calls this administration the “…administration of the sacred secret…” (Rotherham).

“Mystery” or “Sacred Secret”?

Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible calls the administration that we live in “…the administration of the sacred secret…,” while the NIV says “…the administration of this mystery….”

Ephesians 3:9 (Rotherham)
And to bring to light—What is the administration of the sacred secret which had been hidden away from the ages in God, who did all things create.

Ephesians 3:9 (NIV)
and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.

Why the difference? Throughout the history of the Christian Church, scholars and theologians have propounded doctrines they considered “mysteries,” and therefore the concept of the “mysterious” things of God has become part of Christian doctrine. Thus many versions of the Bible translate the Greek word musterion as “mystery.” This is unfortunate because musterion does not mean “mystery.” “Mystery” is a transliteration of the word musterion, not a translation of it. A “transliteration” is when the letters of a word in one language are brought across into another language. The prefix “trans” means “across,” and the Latin littera means “letter.” Thus, “transliteration” is literally “bringing across the letters.” In contrast, “translation” is bringing the meaning of a word in one language across into another language. If we are going to bring the meaning of the Greek into English, we must translate, not transliterate.

The English word “mystery” means something that is incomprehensible, beyond understanding, unknowable. Thus it is common in religious circles to speak of things such as the “Trinity” or Transubstantiation [7] as “mysteries” because they cannot be understood. In contrast, a “secret” is something that is known by someone but unknown by others. [8] A surprise birthday party is a “secret” to the person having the birthday, but known by those who will attend it. The Greek word musterion means “sacred secret,” that is, a secret in the sacred or spiritual realm that must be made known by God.

It is well documented by scholars that musterion refers to a secret, and not to our standard meaning of “mystery.”

Musterion: In the New Testament it denotes, not the mysterious (as with the English Word), but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God. [9]

But whereas “mystery” may mean, and in contemporary usage often does mean, a secret for which no answer can be found, this is not the connotation of the term mysterion in classical and biblical Greek. In the New Testament, mysterion signifies a secret which is being, or even has been, revealed, which is also divine in scope, and needs to be made known by God to men through his Spirit. [10]

The mystery of the New Testament has been described as an ‘open secret’; matters previously kept secret in God’s eternal purposes have now been or are being revealed (Eph. 3:3-5; 1 Cor. 2:7-8). [11]

Scholars’ assertion that the word musterion does not mean “mystery,” but instead refers to a secret that can be known, is confirmed by many verses of Scripture. The verses quoted below make two points that the Bible student must know if he wants to understand the Administration of the Sacred Secret. The first is that the Sacred Secret was hidden from earlier generations and in earlier ages. The second is that God has now made it known. God began to reveal it after the resurrection of Christ and completed revealing it when He made it known to the Apostle Paul. Since Christians can know the Sacred Secret, it cannot be a “mystery” in the sense that most people think of today, i.e., something that cannot be known.

Romans 16:25b and 26a
(25b) …the mystery [musterion] hidden for long ages past,
(26a) but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God…

Ephesians 3:4 and 5
(4) In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery [musterion] of Christ,
(5) which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.

Colossians 1:26
the mystery [musterion] that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.

1 Corinthians 2:7-10a
(7) No, we speak of God’s secret [musterion] wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
(8) None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
(9) However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—
(10a) but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit…

The Sacred Secret was hidden so completely that verse 9 says that before God revealed it, no mind had even conceived what God prepared for us. That is why it is called a “sacred secret,” why it needed to be revealed by God (Eph. 3:3), and why it was “unsearchable” (Eph. 3:8) in Scripture. Sadly, these verses in Corinthians often get quoted out of context. It is not uncommon to hear a preacher read these verses and then teach that God has things in store for us in the future that no eye has seen or ear heard. That is not what the verses are saying. Quoting the Old Testament, they say that what was not known or even thought about back then has now been revealed to the Christian Church. The evidence is clear: the musterion of the Church is a sacred secret that was hidden but is now known by those who care to take the time to learn it. [12]

“Sacred Secret,” not just “Secret”

Why is it a “sacred secret” and not just a “secret”? The Greek language uses musterion for secrets in the sacred or religious sphere but another word, kruptos, for secrets that are in the secular realm. Examples of kruptos include: Jesus said to give alms in secret (Matt. 6:4-KJV); he taught that every secret thing will be brought to light (Mark 4:22-KJV); he went to Jerusalem in secret (John 7:10-KJV); God will judge men’s secrets (Rom. 2:16); and, prophecy reveals the secrets of the heart (1 Cor. 14:24 and 25). [13]

Anyone reading the Greek New Testament knows whether God is speaking of a secular secret (kruptos) or a sacred secret (musterion). A good English version will make that difference too. If both kruptos and musterion are translated as “secret,” the difference between the Greek words is lost to English readers, and if translators use “secret” for kruptos and “mystery” for musterion, the English Bible is made to say something that it just does not say, that is, the things of God are mysterious. [14]

Is there a way to translate kruptos and musterion such that the meaning of the Greek words is communicated clearly into English? Yes, there is. There is no place in the New Testament where musterion cannot be fittingly translated as “sacred secret,” which is exactly what Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible does. If we translate kruptos as “secret,” and musterion as “sacred secret,” the meaning of the Greek is communicated clearly, and we English-speaking people are in a better position to know and understand what God says in His Word.

Why Hide the Sacred Secret?

Once we understand that this administration was a “sacred secret,” certain questions immediately come to mind: “From whom was it hidden?” “Why did God hide it?” “When and how was it revealed?” “How can I learn about it?” These are logical questions, and they are all answered in the Church Epistles, the letters from the Lord to his Church. We have seen that God has revealed the Sacred Secret to us (Rom. 16:25 and 26; 1 Cor. 2:7-10; Eph. 3:3-5; Col. 1:26 and 27). God kept the Sacred Secret hidden during the Old Testament and Gospels, first revealing it to Paul and then, in the Church Epistles, to the Christians and the world.

Ephesians 3:2 and 3
(2) Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me [Paul] for you,
(3) that is, the mystery [Sacred Secret] made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.

Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus that he got his understanding of the Sacred Secret by revelation, and he said the same thing to the Galatians.

Galatians 1:11 and 12
(11) I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.
(12) I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

The Administration of the Secret was not revealed to men before the Lord revealed it to the Apostle Paul. If it had been, there would have been no reason for Jesus to reveal it to Paul by revelation and no reason for Paul to make the point that he got his knowledge directly from Christ. Had the information been revealed before the Lord gave it in the seven Church Epistles, then someone could have taught it to Paul, or he could have learned it from reading the Old Testament. Instead, Paul learned it directly from Christ because it was a secret until then. The Sacred Secret was unknown before the resurrection of Christ, so Christians must carefully read and re-read the epistles to the Christian Church (Acts-Jude) if they are going to truly understand the spiritual riches God has conferred specifically upon Christians.

The book of Corinthians gives even more understanding why God hid the administration of Grace and did not reveal it until after Christ’s crucifixion. The Administration of the Sacred Secret is so wonderful, and what Christians have in Christ is so glorious and powerful, that had the Devil and his demons known it, they would not have crucified the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 2:7 and 8
(7) No, we speak of God’s secret [musterion] wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
(8) None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. [15]

Christians have permanent salvation and the fullness of holy spirit within them, which Colossians refers to as “…Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Satan would rather have had Jesus Christ remain alive than deal with thousands of Christians, each of whom has the fullness of Christ within. However, the Devil did not find out about the Christian Church until after he had crucified the Lord, and then it was too late.

As we begin to study the particulars of this administration, we must constantly keep in mind that what we have in Christ was a secret not revealed to anyone until after the resurrection of Christ. Not understanding that, many Christians teach that the Old Testament or Gospels foretold the things that we have today, such as secure salvation. Not so. If God says that the things revealed to and for us did not even enter into the heart of man until after Jesus was crucified, then that must be the case, even if there are similarities between what we have today and what was foretold for Israel’s future and the Millennial Kingdom. Throughout history, people knew there were future administrations coming that would have new rules and blessings, but they did not know about the Administration of the Sacred Secret, which God kept hidden.

In spite of the verses that teach the Administration of the Sacred Secret was hidden in God and unknown until He revealed it after Pentecost, most Christians interpret certain verses in the Gospels as if it were already known at that time. This produces two unfortunate results. First, the wonderful uniqueness of the Christian Church is lost, and the things that God has done only for the Church become hazy and confused. Second, the true meaning of some verses in the Gospels is lost. For example, if someone says that John 3:3 (NRSV), “Very, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above,” applies to the Christian New Birth, he totally misses the fact that Christ was actually speaking of the First Resurrection, which occurs at the start of his Millennial Kingdom. [16]

The need to hide this administration from the Adversary can be seen by noting that no other administration besides the Administration of the Sacred Secret is said to be “secret.” God revealed information about other administrations coming in the future to the people who lived before them. For example, the Old Testament and Gospels foretold the coming of the Tribulation that will precede Christ’s decent to earth with his armies at which time he will fight the Battle of Armageddon and conquer the earth. The Old Testament and Gospels also have prophecies of the glorious kingdom on earth, which we now know will last 1,000 years. We also know that there will be a Final Paradise that will last forever. In contrast to future administrations that were known or implied in the Old Testament and Gospels, the Administration of the Sacred Secret was kept secret because, as Corinthians tells us, had the Devil known about it, he would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The Purpose of the Sacred Secret

Although God may have a number of reasons for doing all the wonderful things that He has done in the Administration of the Sacred Secret, two reasons are written clearly in His Word. Ephesians says that God’s purpose in making plain the Sacred Secret was in order to make His wisdom known by means of the Church to all the principalities and powers, which refers to all God’s spiritual rulers, and especially the Devil and his demons.

Ephesians 3:10
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

This verse is so weighty that it is proper to take a moment and ponder it. God’s purpose in revealing the Sacred Secret was that He could reveal His wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms through the Church, that is, through us. [17] What a tremendous responsibility we have! If we do not obey God, or rise up in our faith, or take advantage of the power of holy spirit that He has given us, the manifold wisdom of God will not be fully displayed. However, when we walk in the power of holy spirit, being confident of the things God has given us in this wonderful Administration of Grace, then His manifold wisdom is fully displayed. We must realize that in no other administration did God say that He displayed His wisdom through people. God never says, for example, that Israel made known His wisdom. In His grace, God has done something for the Church that makes us unique, and we owe it to our heavenly Father to be sure of our salvation and walk in the spiritual power we have been given.

Another reason for the Administration of the Sacred Secret was so that God could glorify us, His children.

1 Corinthians 2:7
No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.

Some people find it uncomfortable that the Christian Church was destined by God to have special glory, so let’s be clear about it: God has given the Church special blessings that He did not give to men in earlier generations, and He did it to show His wisdom and also for our glory. Do we deserve this special glory? No. It is strictly by grace, and is one reason why one of the two names for this administration is “…the administration of the grace of God…” (Eph. 3:2-DHB). When we understand the Father-child relationship that we Christians have in this wonderful Administration of Grace, it is easier to see why God would glorify us. It is natural for parents to be proud of their children and to want to give them special blessings. It was God’s good pleasure to give us the glory we now have in the Administration of the Sacred Secret, and now it should be our pleasure to study it and live accordingly before Him.

The glorious Administration of the Sacred Secret

God has glorified the believers in the Administration of the Sacred Secret above the believers in previous administrations. Where would we look in the Bible to learn about the glory we have been given, and the specific details and blessings of the Administration of the Sacred Secret? Not in the Old Testament, because it was written before Jesus was crucified. Not in the Gospels, because almost all the events of the Gospels occurred before Jesus was crucified. We find these wonderful and vital truths in Acts through Jude, which are the writings to the Christian Church. [18]

It would be convenient if all the unique and wonderful things God has done for Christians were written in a list, but that is generally not how God reveals information. He wants us to take the time to read, study, and pray in order to learn about the blessings He has given us. God desires us to spend time with Him via His Book. Then, as we read and compare Scripture with Scripture, the spiritual blessings He has given us become clearer and clearer. God loved us enough to do these things for us, and now it is our turn to love Him enough to read the Bible carefully and discover what He has done. “Okay,” you ask, “What are we looking for?” We are looking for things unique to the Christian Church that were not revealed in the Old Testament or in the Gospels before Jesus died.

During the administrations prior to the Church Age, God gave many blessings to mankind, but we today have even more. The Administration of Grace is compared to the Law Administration in 2 Corinthians 3. What does God say about the Administration of the Law, which came immediately before the Administration of Grace? He says it was “glorious,” but then He calls it “…the ministration [ministry] of death…” (2 Cor. 3:7-KJV). Furthermore, He calls it “…the ministration [ministry] of condemnation…” just two verses later. Then, in 2 Corinthians 3:10 (KJV), Scripture tells us that the Law had “no glory” in comparison to the glory that we have today. Anyone who reads 2 Corinthians 3:6-10 will see that God has elevated the Administration of Grace far above the Law Administration.

The Father-child relationship in the Administration of the Sacred Secret

There is hardly an area of a Christian’s life that is not influenced by the Sacred Secret. It deals with our relationship to God, salvation, the gift of holy spirit in us, our relation to others who are saved, and our hope. It would take a small book to set forth completely even the one truth that salvation in the Administration of the Sacred Secret is permanent. Nevertheless, each Christian should understand “the big picture” of the Sacred Secret in order to clearly see what God has done for our glory, appreciate the grace we have been given, and, for the purposes of this book, gain a better understanding of the gift of holy spirit we have been given and why it is unique to the Christian Church.

The essence, or the “chewy caramel center,” of the Sacred Secret that makes it so unique and wonderful is that God has chosen to change the relationship He had with people from a Lord-servant relationship to a Father-child relationship, and to bring people into His family by birth. The New Birth that each Christian has is not a metaphor; it is a literal birth. God contributes spiritual seed (1 Pet. 1:23), and the Christian is “born again.” The change to a Father-child relationship has sweeping implications, affecting how God relates to Christians and how they relate to Him. Christians are born into the family of God, partake of His divine nature, and are His children by birth, which sets the standard for how God’s love is shown to Christians; it is unconditional and irrevocable.

God is love (1 John 4:8), and has always loved, but true love is dealing with people according to the relationship that exists between the two parties. Before the Administration of the Sacred Secret, God dealt with mankind as a Lord over those He rules. Israel was God’s servant (Isa. 41:8), and God called His faithful believer’s servants. [19] He gave people commands to follow and made covenants with them. In a covenant, both parties agree to do something, and true love is “tough love” when one of the parties fails to keep his commitment. Thus, the pattern we see in the Old Testament is that when His people obeyed, He blessed them, and when they turned from Him, He turned from them. When Israel, God’s chosen people, turned away from Him, He turned from them, finally so completely that in Hosea, He told them they were no longer His people (Hosea 1:9). This truth was spoken another way in Isaiah 50:1 and Jeremiah 3:8, using the analogy of a marriage: God gave Israel a bill of divorce and sent her away.

In contrast to the Lord-servant relationship that God had with people in the Old Testament, the relationship He has with Christians is a family relationship. God never made a covenant with the Christian Church. Christians are ministers (servants, administrators) of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:6) in that we partake of some of its blessings and will be minister’s of it when it is in effect in Christ’s kingdom. Nevertheless, the New Covenant was foretold to, and made with, Israel (Heb. 8:8-10; Jer. 31:31-34). Jesus ratified it in his blood before the Sacred Secret was ever revealed. The covenant blessings that were promised in the Old Testament, such as perfect health, deserts blooming, no hunger, and no war, are not yet realized, but will be in the Millennial Kingdom.

No specific covenant was ever made between God and the Church. Instead, God gives birth to Christians, who are born into His family. This is why family terminology is used liberally in the Church Epistles. God calls Himself “Father” more than 70 times from Acts to Jude; He calls individual Christians “children,” and “sons;” “brothers” of Jesus; “heirs of God;” recipients of His “seed;” partakers of His divine “nature;” “born” and “adopted” into His family; able to call Him “Abba;” and the list goes on.

One reason that “Father” does not seem unique to the epistles to the Church (Acts-Jude) is that Jesus instructed his apostles to pray using “Father” in the Gospels, before the Administration of the Sacred Secret. However, in the Eastern culture, “Father” was a term that was used in a variety of ways. Father was used:

  • In the literal and common way it is used today (Gen. 22:7).
  • Of a grandfather (Gen. 28:13. Hebrew has no word “grandfather”).
  • Of a male ancestor (Josh. 24:3).
  • Of the originator of something. Thus Jabel was the “father” of tent dwellers (Gen. 4:20), Jubal was the “father” of those who play the harp and flute (Gen. 4:21), and Abraham was the “…the father of all who believe…” (Rom. 4:11).
  • Of someone who provided protection and help (Job 29:16).
  • Of someone who could counsel and give advice. Joseph was made a “father” to Pharaoh (Gen. 45:8); Micah asked the wandering Levite to be a “father” to him, but the Danites wanted him to be a “father” to them (Judg. 17:10 and 18:19).
  • Of someone worthy of honor and respect. Elisha called Elijah “father” (2 Kings 2:12), Naaman’s servants called him “father” (2 Kings 5:13); the king of Israel called Elisha “father” (2 Kings 6:21).

The point is that the term “father” in the Eastern culture did not necessarily refer to birth. In the Old Testament, people thought of God as a Lord to be feared and obeyed. Jesus changed people’s perception of God from that distant relationship to a more intimate relationship. However, Jesus never taught that one day God would be a Father in the literal sense. It was not known until the Sacred Secret was revealed that God, in the Administration of Grace, actually gives birth to people by contributing spiritual seed, and that people have God’s very nature born inside them and become part of His family. Those things are part of the Sacred Secret.

The family relationship is totally different from the covenant relationship. In a covenant relationship, if a person breaks the covenant, the blessings of the covenant are forfeited, but in a family, no matter how horribly a child behaves, he or she is still a member of the family. It is because God changed the way He dealt with people from a Lord-servant relationship to a Father-child relationship that the “rules” concerning salvation changed. Salvation has always been an act of grace because no one can save himself. It is always God who gives everlasting life. But before the Administration of the Sacred Secret salvation came by faith demonstrated as obedience, or by doing godly works. This is made quite clear in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 6:25
And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”

It is also why throughout the Old Testament there is constant reference to “the wicked,” those who do not do godly works, and “the righteous,” those who do godly works (Psalm 1 is a good example of this). Romans and Ephesians show us that God changed what He requires of us to be saved, and today we have salvation through Jesus Christ. It is appropriate that now, since the death of Christ, God would make salvation available by the recognition of the death of His Son, the Christ, as the sacrifice for sin, and not by doing good works.

Romans 3:21 and 22a
(21) But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
(22a) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe…

Ephesians 2:8 and 9
(8) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
(9) not by works, so that no one can boast.

If in the Administration of Grace a person cannot be saved by doing good works, then he cannot become unsaved by not doing them. If a Christian believes that someone who commits adultery is unsaved, for example, then the way to be saved would be to believe in Jesus and do the good work of not committing adultery. This is salvation by works; what a person does determines whether or not he is saved. That is precisely what Ephesians says is not the case in this administration. Our salvation, as Romans says, is “apart from law,” that is apart from the kind of works that the Law required. The verses above are just a couple that show God has made salvation available through faith in Jesus Christ and without works, and He has made the way of salvation easy and the instructions clear:

Romans 10:9
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

In the Administration of Grace salvation is easy, and it is easy for us because it cost God and Jesus so much. Arguably the most important “rule change” in the Administration of Grace, made possible because of the Father-child relationship, is that salvation is now permanent. No Christian can lose his salvation. This is a huge change from the Old Testament and Gospel periods when a person could lose his salvation. Therefore, we should expect that God has clearly told us that salvation is permanent, something He has in fact done. Of course, to see it one has to pay careful attention to the vocabulary of the writings to the Christian Church (Acts-Jude) in comparison with the writings of the Old Testament and Gospels.

The Permanence of Christian salvation

It is in comparing what is written to each administration that the permanence of salvation in the Administration of Grace shows up clearly. First, there is the family vocabulary. As we have already pointed out, God is called the Father of each believer and we are said to be God’s children. We understand the permanence of birth when it comes to our own children, because once they are born, they are our children no matter what they do or what happens to them. No child can be “un-born.” The same is true for God’s family and the New Birth. In contrast, before the Age of Grace, a person’s salvation was not secure; he could lose it if he turned against God. [20]

A. Birth

In the Administration of the Sacred Secret, God uses three different Greek words for “born” to show that a Christian is born into His family, and that his birth is permanent. One of them is anagennao, which is built from the prefix ana, “again,” and the root gennao, “to be born.” Anagennao literally means “born again,” and it is used specifically of Christians (1 Pet. 1:3 and 23). Another word that reveals the Christian’s birth experience is paliggenesia, which appears in Titus 3:5 as “rebirth.” This word is from palin, “again, anew” and genesis, “origin, beginning, birth.” It literally means a “new origin” or “rebirth.” A third word is in James 1:18, which reads that God “…chose to give us birth through the word….” The Greek word translated “birth” is apokueo and means “to bring forth from the womb, to give birth to.”

The three separate and distinct words for “birth” used in reference to the individual’s salvation by New Birth are used only in letters written to the Christian Church. These words are not used of an individual New Birth before the Day of Pentecost, nor are they used in the book of Revelation, which concerns those on earth after the Rapture. Adding to the evidence are 1 John 2:29, 4:7, and other scriptures stating that Christians are “born” [gennao] of God. These verses use the standard word for birth that is used throughout the New Testament for the birth of human babies, but only in the letters to the Church is gennao used of the spiritual birth of an individual. [21] There would be no point in God telling us that Christians were “born,” “born again,” of “new origin,” and “given birth to,” if in fact we were not born and the idea of birth and the permanence of it was not real for Christians. In fact, if Christians could be “un-born,” unsaved, then one could argue that God was misleading us by using the word birth. Once something is born, it cannot be unborn. That is absolutely a fact of nature, and the major reason that God uses so many words for birth for the Christian, and does not use any of them for believers in the Old Testament who could lose their salvation.

B. Adoption

Another word that indicates the permanence of Christian salvation, and one that occurs only in the Church Epistles, is huiothesia, which means “adoption.” Vine notes that huiothesia means, “…the place and condition of a son given to one to whom it does not naturally belong.” [22] “Adoption” occurs in Romans 8:15 and 23, 9:4; Galatians 4:5; and Ephesians 1:5 (all KJV). [23] Birth seems so much more desirable than adoption that it is fair to ask why God would even use “adoption.” The answer is that in the Roman world a naturally born baby could be disowned from the family, but an adopted child could not. Many early believers were Roman citizens, and using the word “adoption” was one of God’s ways to let the Church know that children brought into His family could not be taken from it. [24]

God worked very hard to communicate the permanence of salvation, so in books that have a distinctively Jewish flavor such as Peter, James, and Titus, God uses words for “birth,” while in books that were addressed to people who had a Gentile background, such as Romans, Ephesians, and Galatians, God uses the word “adoption.” The same truth is communicated by each word: salvation is permanent. The permanence of salvation is a major part of the Sacred Secret, and no verse in the Old Testament even hints that one day God would make salvation permanent.

Some people believe that a Christian can make the freewill decision to repent of his Christian faith and become unsaved, but this is not the case. There are some decisions one makes that change him in a permanent way, and choosing salvation is one of them. When a person becomes a Christian, his very nature is changed permanently, and he cannot reverse that by another freewill decision. We accept this thinking when it comes to our flesh. If a person makes the freewill decision to blind himself, he cannot then make the freewill decision to regain his sight. The change is permanent. The New Birth permanently changes us, and cannot be undone by a simple freewill decision.

C. Imperishable seed

The “birth” in a Christian’s New Birth is not just a metaphor, but a spiritual reality that involves spiritual “seed.”

1 Peter 1:23
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Christians have been born of the “seed” of God, which is imperishable. Nothing like this verse occurs in the Old Testament or Gospels. Furthermore, as with any birth, the seed of the father has the nature of the father, which then becomes the nature of the child. [25] Our new nature is spiritual because our Father is God, who is spirit (John 4:24). Therefore, we are “…partakers of the divine nature…” (2 Pet. 1:4-KJV). No Jew or Gentile before the start of the Christian Church was ever said to be a partaker of the nature of God, not even those such as Moses, Deborah, or David who had holy spirit upon them.

D. Holy ones

Christians are literally born into God’s family by spiritual seed, becoming children of God. We have God’s nature born in us, so we are, like our Father, “holy” by nature. This is why Christians are “holy ones,” which many versions call “saints.”

Romans 1:7a (KJV)
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints

1 Corinthians 1:2a (KJV)
Unto the church of God which is at Corinth…called to be saints

Ephesians 1:1a (KJV)
Paul,…to the saints which are at Ephesus…

Unfortunately, in modern English the word “saints” has come to mean people who are especially good, or especially godly. However, the Greek word means “holy ones,” and every Christian is holy, not because he lives a good life, but because he has the holy nature of God born in him. That is why the Church Epistles start out, “To the holy ones” even though some of the Christians in the Church do not behave in a godly manner. It is important to note that no one in the Old Testament or Gospels was said to be holy unless they lived a holy life, and that is because no one had a holy nature until God had children by birth, who would then have His holy nature. Christians today have the responsibility to let their holy inner nature show forth by living a holy life. However, if they do not, they are still the children of God and still holy.

E. Sealed

God is holy, and God is spirit, so the nature of God that is born within us is holy spirit. The birth is permanent, so another way God tells us of the permanence of our salvation is by saying we are “sealed” with holy spirit.

Ephesians 1:13 (ESV) [26]
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit [holy spirit],

The uniqueness of this verse can be seen by trying to find a comparable verse anywhere in the Old Testament or Gospels. None exist, because before the Administration of Grace people were not “sealed” with holy spirit. Instead of being part of their nature, it was conditionally upon them and could be taken away if they disobeyed God. In contrast, God seals Christians with holy spirit, a clear indication that their salvation is permanent. What would be the point of using the word “sealed” if in fact what we were sealed with could leave us? We seal a jar so that what is in it stays in, and God seals us for the same purpose. We are not in danger of our holy spirit leaving us. It is sealed in us.

F. Guaranteed

The holy spirit nature of God that is sealed in us is a guarantee of our everlasting life.

2 Corinthians 5:5
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit [spirit] as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

The words “deposit, guaranteeing” (NIV), or “guarantee” (ESV, RSV, NRSV), “pledge” (NASB), or “earnest” (KJV), are the translations of the Greek word arrabon, which originally was a Phoenician word used in their trading. It was a down payment or pledge of the full amount that was to follow. In our case, the holy spirit that we have now is the down payment of all that “is to come” in the future, including our new bodies that will be fashioned like Christ’s glorious body. There are no verses in the Old Testament or Gospels saying holy spirit guaranteed salvation because it did not guarantee salvation before the Church Age. If a person who lived during the Old Testament had holy spirit, but became hardhearted against God, he, like King Saul, could lose it. Thus in the Old Testament the presence of holy spirit did not guarantee anything. Today, because holy spirit is the very nature of God born inside us, and because birth is permanent, the presence of holy spirit in a Christian is indeed a “guarantee” that he will be with the Lord forever.

G. Unable to be Separated from God’s Love

We are God’s children and we are guaranteed to be taken into heaven at the Rapture. No wonder Romans assures us that nothing will separate us from the love of Christ.

Romans 8:35-39
(35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
(36) As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
(37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
(38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
(39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Are there any such verses in the Old Testament or Gospels that say that a believer will never be able to be separated from God’s love? No, there are not. In fact, that very point is made right in verse 36, which quotes Psalm 44:22, showing that God’s people could be separated from His love and support during Old Testament times, and other Old Testament verses confirm that. In the Old Testament Lord-servant relationships, God’s righteousness required Him to turn from His people when they turned from Him, but that same righteousness now requires Him to honor His Father-child relationship with each Christian. We are God’s family in a literal and unique way, and nothing will ever be able to separate Christians from the love of God. Hallelujah!

If a Christian were able to lose his salvation, he might die unsaved. If that were to happen he would definitely be separated from the love of God, because he would be burned up in the Lake of Fire. [27] The only credible way Scripture could say that nothing, not even “death” (v. 38), can separate the Christian from the love of God is if there is no way a Christian can become unsaved.

H. Citizens of heaven

We are members by birth of God’s heavenly family, so we are rightly said to have our “citizenship in heaven.”

Philippians 3:20a
But our citizenship is in heaven…

The only reason that we are said to be citizens of heaven is our salvation is secure in Christ. We were born into God’s family and cannot be unborn. No one in the Old Testament or Gospels was ever said to be a citizen of heaven, because before the Administration of Grace salvation was not secure. In fact, our heavenly position is so secure, that Ephesians tells us that we are actually seated in heaven with Christ.

Ephesians 2:6
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

We are physically on earth now, but our future seat in heaven is so secure that God speaks of it, by way of the idiom of the Prophetic Perfect, as an accomplished reality. In order for a Christian to become unsaved he would have to be yanked out of heaven, but then there would have been no reason to say he was going to be there in the first place. [28]

I. New creations

Every Christian has a new and divine nature, so he is called a “new creation.”

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

The NIV is exactly right in saying Christians become “a new creation.” The Greek word ktisis means “creation.” There are some versions that say we become a “new creature” instead of a new creation, and it is true that because we are new creations we are new creatures, but we must understand that the reason we are new is that God has created in us something that is brand new. The word “new” is kainos, which means new in quality. [29] Colossians makes a different point, but one that involves the same concept of a new creation.

Colossians 3:10
and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

The word “new” in this verse is neos, which means new in time. [30] When a Christian is born again, at that very moment he is “new.” The new, spiritual creation within him is new in time because it is newer than his old self, and it is also new in quality. Whereas the old man was dead in sin (Eph. 2:2), the new creation inside us is totally new in quality. As Colossians says, each Christian should “put on” the new self, i.e., live outwardly what God has created inwardly.

When an unsaved person is saved, he is a new creation, freshly “born” into God’s family. It is clear that a person’s new birth is a one-time event and not a “process” or something that happens over time. Unlike other administrations where salvation was dependent on how the person lived his whole life, in the Administration of Grace salvation is a one-time event that cannot be “undone.” When a person believes, he is “created” both new in time and in quality. Nothing like this was ever said of believers before the Christian Church began on Pentecost, and being a new creation is part of the “grace” of the Administration of Grace.

At this point, we should stop and reflect on what we know about believers in the Old Testament and in the Gospels. They are never called new creations; they are never said to be born again (in fact, no Old Testament individual is ever called “born” of God); they are never said to be citizens of heaven; they are never said to have incorruptible seed from God; they are never said to have a holy nature, they are never said to be sealed with holy spirit, nor is holy spirit upon them said to be a guarantee of their everlasting life. In fact, it is specifically because these things are not mentioned in the Old Testament and Gospels that some Bible students have a hard time believing God actually did them for Christians.

Many Bible students think that God always deals with people the same way, and that He will deal with us the way He dealt with Moses, Miriam, Ruth, or David. However, that is not the case. God makes the rules, and what He decided to do for the Christian Church was not “business as usual.” God has done something for Christians that was never done before the Church Age, and it is something He kept as a Sacred Secret until after Jesus was crucified.

Once we understand that permanent salvation is due to spiritual birth by receiving the seed and nature of God, and is something special that God has done for the Christian Church, we can better understand why Christians have debated for years whether or not salvation is permanent. There are verses that seem to support both positions. This is due to the fact that salvation was not permanent before the Age of Grace, so verses from the Old Testament and Gospels show that. On the other hand, verses from the Church Epistles show that salvation is permanent. People who try to integrate the Bible into a “whole” rather than pay attention to the specific rules God gave to each administration will find verses they cannot reconcile with their position. Why are there verses in the Old Testament and Gospels that clearly indicate a person can lose his salvation, and verses in the Epistles that clearly state a Christian’s salvation is secure? The answer is that God’s rules regarding salvation have changed. Once we understand that Scripture must be examined with the individual administrations or dispensations in mind, the entire subject of salvation fits together. [31]

The Christian and the gift of holy spirit

God has given His gift of holy spirit to the Church in a way that is totally different than He has ever given it before. In fact, it is so totally different that before the Day of Pentecost Scripture teaches that “…for as yet there was no Spirit [spirit]…” (John 7:39-NRSV). [32] Nevertheless, we will summarize a few points. Each and every believer is sealed with God’s gift of holy spirit when he gets saved (Eph. 1:13). The gift of holy spirit is imperishable seed (1 Pet. 1:23), the very nature of God. This is born inside each believer, which is why Christians are said to be “born again” of the very nature of God, which becomes our new and spiritual nature. Every Christian is “filled” with holy spirit, “anointed” (completely covered) in holy spirit, and baptized (fully immersed) in holy spirit. To emphasize the fact that we cannot lose the new nature sealed within us, God calls it a “guarantee” of our future hope (2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5; Eph. 1:14-RSV).

Before his ascension, Christ told the apostles that when they received holy spirit, they would receive “power” (Acts 1:8). The vast amount of spiritual power that each Christian has is summed up by God calling our holy spirit “…Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27b). Although we do not literally have Christ inside us, because the Lord Jesus is in heaven at the right hand of God, what we have is so powerful that it is called “Christ” in us, because it enables us to be like Jesus. If all Christians had was “Moses” in them, or “Samuel” in them, or “Deborah” in them, that would be pretty good, because those people walked in the power of God. However, God says that we have “Christ” in us, the power to do what Christ did, and to become like Christ in our lives.

Christians also have two new ways to outwardly manifest holy spirit that did not exist in the Old Testament or Gospels. We can speak in tongues and interpret tongues (1 Cor. 12:10, 14:2-5), which are manifestations not practiced or foretold in the Bible until after the resurrection of Christ. Although each Christian receives the gift of holy spirit the moment he is born again, he may not manifest it outwardly (such as by speaking in tongues). Just because a person does not manifest the holy spirit does not mean he does not have it.

When holy spirit is born in us it becomes part of our very nature and influences us like our fleshly nature influences us. In fact, because our fleshly nature and our spiritual nature both exert an influence on us, they are said to be “in conflict” (Gal. 5:17). They pull us in different directions. This is another difference between holy spirit “upon” in the Old Testament, and holy spirit born in us and part of our nature in the Administration of the Sacred Secret. The “helper” (John 14:26-ESV) helps us walk with God in a way unavailable in the Old Testament.

The Body of Christ

Another aspect of the Administration of the Sacred Secret deals with the reality that God has made all Christians together to be one body, the Body of Christ. There are many facets to this, and if we are going to appreciate all that God has given to us, we need to examine them.

First of all, God did away with the Jew-Gentile distinction, and has made every Christian (whether they were formerly Jews or formerly Gentiles) equal in Christ. Throughout the Old Testament God made the point that He considered the Jews “His people” and separate from the nations. Jews were Jews whether they believed God or not, and they were separate from Gentiles, even those Gentiles who believed. By the time of Christ, Gentiles who believed were called proselytes, and sometimes “God-fearers.” [33] Due to the long-standing separation between Jews and Gentiles, God knew it would take very clear revelation to convince people that He has changed the way He deals with both of them. Ephesians 2:11-22 and 3:6 are part of that revelation. There is no prophecy in the Old Testament or the Gospels foretelling that God would ever make Jews and Gentiles equal in Christ and part of one Body—their unity is part of the Sacred Secret.

Second, Jews and Gentiles will once again be separate after the Rapture of the Christian Church in the time period covered in the book of Revelation (cp. Rev. 7:4 and 9, 11:1 and 2). But in this one administration, the Administration of the Sacred Secret, when born-again Jews and Gentiles make up the one “Body of Christ,” they are not separate. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). What Christ did for the Jew and Gentile was “…to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace” (Eph. 2:15b). As we see from Galatians 3:28, what God did by making the Jews and Gentiles equal, He also did for males and females, and for slaves and freemen. The fact that each Christian is a part of the Body of Christ also elevates each one to a position of importance. This point is also made in 1 Corinthians 12:11-27.

Third, the “one body” of Christ is a spiritual entity that exists only in the Church Age. The idea of “one body” communicates some wonderful truths. First, there is a connectedness in the body that did not exist in the Old Testament. Just as the parts of a physical body are directly connected to, and communicate fluidly with, the head, the gift of holy spirit sealed inside each believer allows him to have intimate communication with God and Christ. Also, just as the parts of our fleshly bodies are inseparably connected, so is our spiritual body. We are in no danger of being “amputated” from the Body and losing our salvation or the love of God.

Identification with Christ

One of the unique blessings of the administration of the Sacred Secret is that each Christian is identified with Christ. Each Christian is part of the Body of Christ, so from God’s perspective, when Christ went through something, we Christians went through it also. For example, Jesus Christ died on the Cross, and in the eyes of God, when a person becomes a Christian and part of the Body of Christ, it is as if he was also crucified. Thus we were “crucified with” Christ (Rom. 6:6), we died with Christ (Rom. 6:8); we were buried with Christ (Rom. 6:4); we were raised from the dead with Christ (Eph. 2:6), we even ascended with him and are seated with him in heaven (Eph. 2:6), which is exactly where we will be after the Rapture.

Only by studying the language of identification can one see how new and different it is from the language of the Old Testament and Gospels. Jesus never told the apostles, “After I am crucified, because you believe in me you will be crucified with me.” However, from God’s perspective, when a Christian is born again, he or she was crucified, died, was buried, was resurrected, and was given a place in heaven with Christ. No wonder we cannot lose our salvation. How could a Christian become uncrucified, undead, unburied, unraised, and unseated?

The Rapture

At the close of the Administration of the Sacred Secret, Christians are taken into heaven, an event known as the “Rapture” (1 Thess. 4:13-18). [34] We will stay with him there until we return to earth with him to fight and win the Battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21). Neither the Old Testament nor the Gospels tell believers that they will one day be in heaven. It says that they will get up from the grave and live on the earth (Ezek. 37:12-14). [35] Even after Christ died and was raised, the disciples, who did not yet know the Sacred Secret, asked if he was going to restore the Kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). They did not ask about going to heaven, because such an idea was not part of their theology or thinking. [36]

The Rapture of the Church is part of the Sacred Secret, so no Old Testament prophet spoke of it, nor did Jesus mention it in his teachings. This has caused some theologians to say there is no such thing as the Rapture. The reason Jesus never taught about it is that it was part of the Sacred Secret, and we have seen that the Sacred Secret, including the Rapture, was hidden in God until after the crucifixion. Therefore it makes perfect sense that the only place in the Bible where the Rapture appears is in the writings to the Christian Church, such as 1 Thessalonians.

New bodies like Christ’s glorious body

The last aspect of the Administration of the Sacred Secret that we will cover in this appendix is the new body that each Christian will receive at the Rapture. It was not a secret that in the First Resurrection Old Testament believers would be given healthy bodies (Isa. 29:18, 33:24, 35:5 and 6, etc.). Part of the revelation of the Administration of the Sacred Secret, however, is that at the Rapture, Christians will get bodies that will be like Christ’s glorious body (Phil. 3:21). Now that is something to look forward to! It would be one thing for us to be raised in bodies like we have now, except healthy. But we should be excited about knowing our bodies will become like Christ’s glorious body.

Christians now live in bodies that are perishable, but we will receive bodies that are imperishable (1 Cor. 15:42). Our fleshly body may die in dishonor, but we will be raised in glory. It may die in weakness, but it will be raised in power (1 Cor. 15:43). We currently have a natural body, but we will have a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). This is an amazing revelation that gives every Christian something exciting to look forward to in the future. This life can be very difficult indeed, and it can be especially hard if we are dealing with physical disabilities, ailments, and/or the breakdown of our bodies as we age. How empowering to know that when Christ comes for us we will not just have healthy bodies, but bodies like his glorious body.

With all the wonderful things we have been given as Christians, it is no wonder that God calls this Administration the Administration of Grace. Truly we have been given grace heaped upon grace. No wonder God commands us to be thankful (Col. 3:15). We should be very thankful for all He has done for us. No wonder He says that the Sacred Secret is for our glory. No wonder God says that the Old Testament revelation, which was certainly glorious, has “no glory” in comparison with what we have today. God has done so much for us, it behooves all of us to read and study the writings to the Christian Church (Acts—Jude) to continue to learn about all these things God has done for us. We will not find the great truths of the Sacred Secret anywhere else but there.

Endnotes

[1] The term “dispensation” refers to God “dispensing” His rules and justice to mankind. Similarly, “administration” refers to Him “administering” His rules and justice.
[2] Many theologians think that the systematic theology of Dispensationalism is an invention of man. It is common to hear theologians of other persuasions discount Dispensationalism, saying it was not even believed in the Church until late in the Reformation. That is not actually the case, and in fact “…dispensational-like statements can be found from the writings of the Church Fathers on,….” (Elwell, p. 322). Furthermore, Covenant Theology, the systematic theology that competes with Dispensationalism, was a theological latecomer itself. Covenant Theology “was one of the theological contributions that came to the Church through the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Undeveloped earlier, it made its appearance in the writings of Zwingli and Bullinger…From them it passed to Calvin and other Reformers….” (Elwell, p. 279). Many things Protestants believe today were “rediscovered” during the Reformation, and the real question is not when a certain doctrine was clarified theologically, but whether or not it is stated in Scripture. All Bible scholars acknowledge that God has at certain times changed some of the rules man is to live by. Covenant theologians, for example, recognize “various dispensations of history” (Elwell, p. 280) within their overarching Covenant of Grace, and that the gift of holy spirit has “brought rich gifts unknown in an earlier age” (Elwell, p. 280). [The quotations in this footnote are from Walter Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1984)].
[3] For more about God’s instructions regarding multiple wives, see our book, Sex & Scripture: A Biblical Study of Proper Sexual Behavior by John Schoenheit (Christian Educational Services, Indianapolis, IN, 2000), pp. 25-28.
[4] Many times a rule will be the same from one generation to another. For example, murder has always been a sin. We must study the entire Bible to understand what applies to us and what does not.
[5] For more information, see our booklet, Defending Dispensationalism (Christian Educational Services, Indianapolis, IN, 2001).
[6] Martin Anstey, How to Master the Bible (Pickering & Inglis, London), p. 23.
[7] Transubstantiation is the doctrine that the Communion bread becomes the flesh of Christ when blessed by the priest.
[8] We are using the word “mystery” and “secret” with great exactness and precision in this book. Unfortunately, they are not used with much precision in our everyday English, and so many people do not see the difference between them. If we are to have any hope of understanding the Bible, it is vital that we use biblical vocabulary precisely.
[9] James Strong, The New Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words (Thomas Nelson Publisher, Nashville, TN, 2001), p. 1247.
[10] Howard Marshall, editor, New Bible Dictionary (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1997), p. 795. Some sources use the English “Y” to translate the Greek letter upsilon. Thus some sources have musterion, while others have mysterion.
[11] Trent Butler, editor, Holman Bible Dictionary (Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1991), p. 998. (Other sources documenting that musterion means “secret” and not “mystery” include: William Smith, Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, reprinted 1981), Vol. 3, p. 2047, and Merrill Tenney, editor, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Regency Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI, 1976), Vol. 4, p. 330).
[12] All the examples of musterion quoted here refer to the Sacred Secret of the Christian Church. However, there are other sacred secrets as well. For example, Jesus told his disciples sacred secrets about the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10).
[13] Not only does the noun kruptos appear in the New Testament, the verb krupto appears many times as well, often translated as “hid” or “hidden.” Examples include: a city on a hill cannot be hidden (Matt. 5:14); the wicked servant hid his talent in the ground (Matt. 25:25); a Christian’s new life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3); and, Moses’ parents hid him after he was born (Heb. 11:23).
[14] Translating musterion as “mystery” has caused many problems in the Church. For one thing, people who are convinced that the things of God are mysterious quit trying to search the Scriptures, and do not bother to pray for answers to their questions—why should they if the subject is a “mystery” and no answers are available. Also, many false and illogical doctrines have been foisted upon Christians, who are told not to try to understand them because they are “mysteries.” If you are one who has not found the Bible believable, or have considered it too mysterious to understand, you will want to read our book, op. cit., The Bible: You Can Believe It.
[15] The “rulers of this age” are the Devil and his demons. Scholars and Bible teachers are divided over this point, many saying that they are earthly rulers such as Herod, Pilate, and the Jewish leaders, and many others asserting they are demons, not people. The reason for the division is that the context is misunderstood, and the vocabulary is ambiguous because it is general in nature and in one form or another is used of both earthly rulers and demonic rulers.

In context, what the rulers did not know was the Sacred Secret (cp. v. 7, musterion). Neither earthly rulers or demonic powers could have known it, because it was hidden in God, as we have seen from many verses. In order to properly understand who the “rulers” are, the question we must answer is, “Who would not have crucified Christ if they had known the Sacred Secret?” Could it be that if the earthly rulers had known the Sacred Secret, including that mankind would have permanent salvation, the fullness of holy spirit, two more manifestation of holy spirit (speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues), and more, would they have so wanted to keep those blessings from mankind that they would not have crucified Christ? No, that cannot be what the verse is saying. In contrast, who loses if Christians are spiritually powerful? The Devil does. It is the Devil, who if he had known that every Christian would have all those blessings, including the power to cast out demons, would not have crucified Jesus. It is the Devil who would have rather dealt with one man, Jesus, than with an army of God on earth, multitudes of Christians, all secure in their salvation and empowered by holy spirit.

Those who teach that the rulers are worldly rulers usually point out that had the worldly rulers known God’s plan of salvation, or that Jesus was the Messiah, they would not have crucified him, and that may be true. However, as we have said, verse 7 refers to God’s wisdom in the “Sacred Secret.” Corinthians tells us there is a Sacred Secret that no mind had even conceived of, which if the rulers had known they would not have crucified Jesus. What is there about the Sacred Secret that would have kept Satan from crucifying Jesus? It is that now, in the Administration of the Sacred Secret, every Christian is spiritually powerful and equipped to stand against him. Satan was the only “ruler” who would have feared the Sacred Secret. Only by understanding that if Satan had known the Sacred Secret he would not have crucified the Lord can we understand the true reason for God keeping the Sacred Secret a secret and fully appreciate the enormity and power of what we have been given.
[16] The record of Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3) is covered in our book, op. cit., The Christian’s Hope, pp. 257-266.
[17] The rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms includes both angelic rulers and demonic rulers. The Devil is called “…the ruler of the kingdom of the air…” (Eph. 2:2) and is not cast completely out of heaven until just before Armageddon (Rev. 12:7-13). That war is not the same as the casting down portrayed in Revelation 12:4, which occurred when Satan rebelled against God (cp. Isa. 14:12ff).
[18] The book of Revelation is about a period of time after the Rapture, and is not written to the Christian Church. See E. W. Bullinger, Commentary on Revelation (Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, reprinted 1984), p. 3, and our audio seminar, “The Book of Revelation.”
[19] In contrast to Israel, which God calls a “servant,” never once is the Christian Church called God’s servant. Furthermore, in the Old Testament God called believer’s “servants.” Examples include: Abraham (Gen. 26:24), Moses (Num. 12:7), Caleb (Num. 14:24), David (2 Sam. 7:5), Hezekiah (2 Chron. 32:16), Job (Job 1:8), and Zerubbabel (Hag. 2:23). In those examples it is God who calls the believer a servant. Christians serve God, and call themselves servants (Rom. 1:1; James 1:1), but there is no verse in all the writing to the Christian Church where God calls any Christian a servant in the same manner as He says, for example, “Moses, my servant…” (Josh. 1:2).
[20] This will also be true in the Tribulation period, as is plain from the letters in the early chapters of the book of Revelation (Rev. 2:1-3:22).
[21] John 1:13 has occasionally been used to try to show that the New Birth was available before the Day of Pentecost. However, there is good evidence that the opening of the verse is singular and refers to Jesus Christ. There are very competent scholars who, for textual, contextual, and logical reasons, make the case that the opening words refer to Christ, not believers. Using the KJV, which much more literally follows the Greek text, the proper reading should be, “(John 1:12b) who believe on his name, (John 1:13) who [Jesus, referring back to “his name”] was “…born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” This verse is not referring to the New Birth that Christians have, it is referring to the birth of Jesus Christ, and verse 14 continues the theme and says that the logos “became flesh.” For more information, see R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel (Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, MN, 1961), pp. 63–70, and Bullinger, op. cit., Companion Bible, marginal note on John 1:13.
[22] Vine, op. cit, Lexicon, p. 24.
[23] Some versions translate huiosthesia as “sonship,” but “adoption” is correct. However, when one has been adopted, he is considered a son.
[24] For a more complete treatment of adoption in the Roman world, and to see that it established a permanent relationship, see Charles Welch, Just and the Justifier (The Berean Publishing Trust, London), pp. 208-213.
[25] In a human birth, both the father’s seed and the mother’s egg contribute to the nature of the child, but in the new birth we only need our spiritual Father, God, to contribute seed.
[26] We use the ESV here because it properly uses “sealed” as a verb, which it is in the Greek text.
[27] It is commonly taught that people who die unsaved burn forever. This is not correct. The Lake of Fire is the “second death” (Rev. 20:14). It would not be called “death” if in fact the people thrown into it did not die. For more on the final end of the unsaved, see our book, op. cit., Is There Death After Life, p. 47-51 and Edward Fudge, The Fire that Consumes (Providential Press, Houston, TX, 1982).
[28] For an extensive treatment of the Prophetic Perfect idiom, see our book, Appendix E, “The Prophetic Perfect,” op. cit., The Christian’s Hope.
[29] Richard Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1989), p. 233.
[30] Ibid., p. 233.
[31] There are a few “difficult” verses in Scripture written to the Church that some scholars have used to show that Christians can lose their salvation. Studying them reveals that in fact they are consistent with the truth that salvation is permanent, but it is not the purpose of this work to explain the few difficult verses in the Church Epistles. Nevertheless, a common rebuttal to the permanence of salvation is, “Well, if that were true, then Christians could do anything they want and still be saved.” While that may seem like a good argument, it is based on human feelings and not biblical evidence. Are we to be offended because God is good? The evidence in the text is quite clear that a Christian cannot lose his salvation. Nevertheless, there are good reasons a Christian should not sin even though his salvation is assured. The Bible says that those who practice sin become slaves to sin, which is not a desirable thing. Also, sin affects one’s future rewards (For more on this, see our book, op. cit., The Christian’s Hope, pp. 91-126). The fact that the Christian’s salvation is assured allows each of us to let go of anxiety and concern about the future and concentrate fully on pleasing the Lord whether we succeed or fail in our endeavors.
[32] For a more detailed explanation of John 7:39 see Appendix C, “The Promised Holy Spirit.”
[33] Acts 13:16 reads, “…Men of Israel and you who fear God…” (NASB). Although most versions say something similar to this, perhaps a better term is “God-fearers,” and it referred to the Gentiles who believed but who the Jews still considered separate from themselves, which is why when Paul taught in the Synagogues he addressed them separately. F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of Acts (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1988), p. 203.
[34] For much more detail on the Rapture, see our book, op. cit., The Christian’s Hope, pp. 21-34.
[35] Ibid., pp. 9-20.
[36] To see that believers will be on earth, not in heaven, see Ibid., To understand that before the Rapture (for Christians) or the restoration of the Kingdom (for Old Testament and Gospel believers), the dead are dead and not alive in heaven, see our book, op. cit. Is There Death After Life?

2 comments

  1. The revelation from this article is beyond words, but will try. I have always felt like God had to love me because of Jesus and felt more like a step child seeking approval. Tears of joy.

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