Present Truth – Part 1Tom Ballinger
In each of God’s ages and dispensations there has been truth generated from God that was peculiar and particular to that age or dispensation to which it pertained. By that we mean that in each age God made known a truth which related directly to the calling that then stood before God.
It has ever been the responsibility of God’s people in each age and dispensation to distinguish Present Truth.
By so doing they acknowledge what God has spoken directly to them. God deals on the principle of faith. That is to say, God speaks, and man’s responsibility in any age has been that of believing that which comes from God. To believe the report that comes from God is faith. Romans 10:17 says. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing (cometh) by the Word of God,” i.e. faith cometh by what we hear through the Word of God. Faith believes all that comes from God. But the FAITHFUL distinguish that which relates directly to them and are obedient. In all the ages the requirement was for each saint to believe the report that came from God.
God Spoke Directly
In some ages God spoke directly to man, such as Cain and Abel, Enoch and Noah and etc. What He spoke to each was not the same. What God spoke to Cain and Abel was not what He spoke to Enoch. What He spoke to Enoch was not what He spoke to Noah. What He spoke to Noah was not what He later spoke to Abraham. Jehovah did not tell Noah to get up and get out of his own country and go into another. Nor did He tell Abraham to build an ark. Each one who heard a report from God was to believe the report.
God Spoke By The Prophets
In other ages God spoke to man by the mouth of the prophets (Hebrews 1:1). Those who lived in Israel when God spoke to “the fathers by the prophets” were required to believe not only Present Truth as spoken by the prophets, but they were required to believe all truth that had been put In writing. (i.e. the Old Testament)
God Spoke By His Son
In yet another age (the last of Israel’s days) God spoke to the Hebrews by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2). Those who lived and heard the words which the Lord Jesus spoke as the Son was Present\
Truth at the time. Those who lived and heard the words at the time the Lord Jesus spoke them had a greater responsibility than did the saints that preceded them. They had to believe all that had been recorded in the Word of God, that is, what God had spoken directly to individual men as recorded in Scripture, what God had spoken to the fathers of Israel by the prophets, and they most assuredly had to believe THE LATEST REPORT which came from God. That being the words the Lord Jesus Christ spoke. The generation alive at the time of Christ had to believe Present Truth in order to become a partaker of the coming Kingdom. After the Lord Jesus was rejected by Israel as their King, the Lord in resurrection sent out those who “heard him.”
God Spoke By The Apostles
They went out with an amnesty to Israel. If Israel would repent for having crucified their Messiah, God would send back the Crucified One and He would sit on the Throne of David and the Kingdom would be restored to Israel. Those who had heard the Son (Hebrews 2:3) were the twelve apostles. They were to preach and teach those things that the Lord had begun to speak. Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and James were also given the responsibility to put down the things in writing that the Holy Ghost told them to write. What they spoke was God’s word for that day and age; that was Present Truth at that time.
Present Truth Divides
Present Truth has always been the dividing line among God’s people. In each age God has had those who believed “unto eternal life” but rejected the latest report from God. Many saints fail to believe the latest revelation from God. They only believe that which relates to “salvation,” they fail to go and grow from “faith to faith” (Romans 1:17). Consequently, they cannot please God because it is required of stewards that they be found fully believing all that God has revealed (I Corinthians 4:2).
The Apostle Peter urged his readers to be established in Present Truth when he said in 2 Peter 1:12, “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the PRESENT TRUTH.” Notice his emphasis on the believer knowing and being established in PRESENT TRUTH. The good minister of Jesus Christ is to put the believer in remembrance of present truth, and to establish the saint in truth for today so that they might be rooted and grounded in it. Many of those that were possessors of eternal life in Israel failed to be established in Present Truth, many failed to see Present Truth, consequently, they would miss the Kingdom. In plainer words those who failed to believe the Kingdom message would not be made a partaker of it. Thereby they would not be admitted into the kingdom when it is established. Remember, the Lord rewards according to faith. The Gospel of the Kingdom was preached and those who believed the message that the King would return and the Kingdom would be set up were assured that they would live with Christ in the promised Kingdom. Those who did not believe the report from God regarding the Kingdom would miss it when it was set up. They might have been redeemed and would enjoy eternal life on the new earth but they very definitely will miss the Kingdom.
God Tests Man By Giving Him Something To Believe
God has always tested man by giving him something to believe. Most Christians think God would have them DO SOMETHING, but that is not the case. He would have them to believe something. Whenever God made known additional truth, He tested man to see whether or not man would believe the latest report from Him. Man generally failed to believe God’s latest revelation.
When John the Baptist came preaching REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND those who believed were believing PRESENT TRUTH. After that when the Lord Jesus said REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND. that too was PRESENT TRUTH. The Lord told the disciples to pray,
“OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME. THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH. AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.”
This prayer was appropriate for the time that was then present (i.e. when the Lord instructed them). It related to the fact that the Kingdom was at hand.
Even after Israel rejected and crucified their King, the King was raised from the dead and Peter announced to the multitude that despite the fact that they (Israel) had taken and “by wicked hands have crucified and slain” their King that if they would
“REPENT…AND BE CONVERTED. THAT THEIR SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUT. . .THE TIMES OF REFRESHING WOULD COME FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD: AND GOD WOULD SEND JESUS CHRIST… .WHOM THE HEAVEN MUST RECEIVE UNTIL THE RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS.”
This restoration of the Kingdom to Israel was offered to Israel all through the Book of Acts. The Apostle Paul had a ministry as the apostle to the Gentiles during this same period. His ministry was very broad and complex even as admitted by Peter himself in 2 Peter 3:15-16.
“And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
Paul’s Acts ministry was “hard to be understood” by the unlearned. While he explained many deep truths he also had the job of winning the Gentiles to Christ in an effort to provoke Israel to jealousy that they might “emulate” the Gentiles’ faith and be saved (see Romans 11:11-25).
Even though Paul developed in his Acts epistles a great many things which had not hitherto been explained, his ministry was still centered around Israel’s hope (see Acts 28:20 and Romans 15:12: Acts 26:5-7, 22 and etc.). God’s kingdom purposes were still Present Truth, and it persisted from Pentecost to Acts 28:28. However in Acts 28:17-28 we learn that Paul met with the Roman Jews, reasoned with them out of the OT concerning Jesus as their Messiah-King. Their response was one of not believing Present Truth. Thus God pronounced national and total blindness upon Israel. The salvation of God that had been of the Jews was taken from them and given over to the Gentiles. The Kingdom purposes ended abruptly with the close of the Book of Acts.
Thus all Truth that had been preached and written down during the course of time that ran from Acts 2 to 28 was set aside. The Scripture that was written during that dispensation became Truth of a past and by-gone age. We will set forth below as best we can the chronological order of the Books of the Acts period. Now the Acts period ran from A.D. 29 to A.D. 63.
|Book||Date of Writing|
|Mark and Revelation||43 A.D.|
|Gal. Heb. and John||52 A.D.|
|1 and 2 Thess.||53 A.D.|
|1 and 2, and 3 John||55 A.D.|
|1 and 2 Cor.||57 A.D.|
|Luke and Romans||58 A.D.|
|1 and 2 Peter||60 A.D.|
|Acts 28:28||63 A.D.|
This chronology is basically the work of Oscar M. Baker. We believe he has come closer to the dates of the writings than anyone thus far. Each of the books written above needs to be read in the light of the time they were written. Failure to do so creates confusion and contradiction. These should be read in the light that Israel stood before God as a nation, and as long as Israel stood before God nationally. His purposes were centered in and around the nation Israel and all of the attendant blessings that were to accompany the national revival were in view. The epistles of Paul during this time should be read recognizing the fact that what he wrote were “none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come” (Acts 26:22). All truth connected with that dispensation (Acts 2-28) is to be left behind. Only the truth that is RESTATED in a subsequent revelation is to be recognized as TRUTH FOR TODAY.
So the Apostle Paul finds himself no longer “bound for Israel’s hope” (Acts 28:20) but rather he finds that he is a “prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles” (Ephesians 3:1). After Israel’s blindness he learns that his bonds are not for Israel but they are for the purpose of him being an ambassador in bonds to make known the Mystery (Ephesians 6:19-20). Paul’s testimony as a free man and as a prisoner bound for Israel’s hope ends. A new ministry begins and he makes known God’s secret purpose for this age – the Dispensation of The Grace of God. The Lord Jesus Christ makes known to Paul the Prisoner by means of a special revelation,the “unsearchable riches of Christ,” which is Gentile-ward (Ephesians 3:1-13).
Present Truth is now found in that cluster of epistles written by the Apostle Paul after the dispensational crisis occurred in Acts 28:28. Present Truth concerns itself with the Church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all, heavenly places, all spiritual blessings, the right hand of the Father, accepted in the Beloved, ascended together with Him, seated together with Him and etc. We are not attempting to explain Present Truth, but hope only to point the reader to THE TESTIMONY OF THE LORD’S PRISONER (2 Timothy 1:8). for it is there that PRESENT TRUTH is to be found today
The epistles written after Israel’s blindness are below, and are the “testimony of the Lord’s prisoner
1 and 2 Timothy
The Bible record shows that Present Truth has never been popular, nor well received by the majority of established orthodoxy. Present Truth in each age has been the subject of scorn and ridicule as well as hatred. Notice the reaction to Present Truth when Jehudi read it into the ears of the king in Jeremiah 36:23. After Present Truth was read, not all of it of course only three or four pages, the king took his penknife and cut it up in pieces and cast it into the fire. Jeremiah wrote Present Truth in his day and he was considered a know-it-all, a crackpot, a schiz-matic, and an upsetter of folks. Present Truth has a way of doing that.
The same God who spoke directly to individual men at one time, who spoke ‘ ‘unto the fathers by the prophets.” who spoke to Israel by His Son and by those who had heard the Son, now speaks to us today. As in the days of old, who hears God speak? Very few. One time the voice of God came from heaven (John 12), and the people that stood by and heard it said that it thundered; others said an angel spake. Only a few recognize the voice of God as He speaks today. God speaks today through the writings of Paul, the prisoner. Present Truth – Peter says that he would not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of it. We too would put you in remembrance of Present Truth and pray that you might be established in it.