Present TruthTom 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.|
|Galations, Hebrews, and John||52 A.D.|
|1 and 2 Thessalonians||53 A.D.|
|1 and 2, and 3 John||55 A.D.|
|1 and 2 Corinthians||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.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Most men have always been of the opinion that God has required of them that they DO SOMETHING. However, God has chosen not to have man do something but believe something. God speaks – man’s responsibility is to believe that which God speaks. Our text tells us that faith is hearing God and believing what He says. Since man’s beginning, God has communicated with him at “Sundry times and in divers manners.” Whenever God thus communicated with man, it has been man’s responsibility to believe the report which came from God. God has placed an extremely high premium upon His Word. Faith believes the report which comes from God.
Notice even in God’s earliest dealings with man, He says to Adam, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). God tested Adam by giving him something specific to believe. Present Truth for Adam in the garden was to freely eat of every tree except one, and in the day that he would take a bite of the one exception he would surely die.
Eve knew of this because Adam told her about the “free-trees” and about the one which was forbidden. She talks with the Serpent about what God had said. Of course she got God’s Word all messed up. She forgot to say they could eat freely (Genesis 3:2); she added to what God said, for she told the Serpent that they could not touch the forbidden tree (v. 3). Also there was a lack of respect for the words God chose to use, for she says, “lest ye die.” When God spoke to Adam, He was much more emphatic for He said, “Thou shall surely die.” The difference was that she didn’t say what God had said but rather what she wanted Him to have said. “Lest ye die” radiates the”law of chance”and”statistical probability” to which the modern day Ph.D. loves to refer to when he deals with dogmatic truth from God, such as “surely die.”
As Genesis 3 is read, you become aware with man’s desire to acquire knowledge. The Serpent appeals to Eve’s desire to know, “In the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as the gods, knowing good and evil” (v. 5). The forbidden tree was the “tree of knowledge.”
If Eve could only know, for she thought “seeing is believing,” like most of her present day children. What we see is what we know. Note the connection in this as the Serpent connected seeing and knowing, “in the day ye eat. . .your eyes shall be opened. . .knowing good and evil.” Thus, what is seen is what is known. That was Eve’s interest. God was interested in FAITH. Faith is believing what God said.
Adam did not hearken unto what God said regarding the tree of knowledge, but instead he hearkened unto the voice of his wife and did eat. Present Truth for Adam and Eve in the garden was to eat freely of every tree in the garden except one, for in the day that they would eat thereof they “shalt surely die.” After they were expelled from the garden it was no longer Present Truth. Evidently, they were told not to enter into the garden again because a Cherubim was placed east of the garden to guard the way back to the Tree of Life.
Adam’s sons, Cain and Abel, received a report from God. They were not told to eat freely of every tree but one because the Truth connected with the garden was Truth which belonged to the past. God spoke to Cain and Abel concerning a sacrificial lamb. God must have spoken to them concerning the offering of a lamb, for Hebrews 11:4 says, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” Note that it was BY FAITH: for it to have been by faith, God had to have spoken about it. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing (cometh) by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Had not God spoken to Abel and Cain concerning it, it would have been by chance or fancy or imagination. It most certainly could not have been by faith.
A close reading of Genesis 4 and Hebrews 11:4 reveals that God told both Cain and Abel to bring a blood sacrifice to an altar at an appropriate time. The two boys had the responsibility to believe all that God had said. They were to believe that which God had spoken to their parents in the garden. They were to distinguish, however, that God was no longer speaking on the basis of “Garden Truth” but rather on different grounds. Truth relating to the garden was now set aside. The basis for God dealing with man was changed. Consequently, the latest report from God was different from the previous one which had been made known to their parents in the garden.
Abel believed the latest report from God and brought at the appointed time the proper sacrifice to which God had respect. Cain, at the appointed time, brought a bloodless sacrifice to which God did not have respect. Abel brought what God said, therefore, his was by faith. Cain did not bring what God said was acceptable, but rather Cain brought what he imagined would please God. Cain brought the fruit of his labor; i.e. vegetables from the ground. Abel offered the “blood of the lamb”; Cain brought “turnips”: you “can’t get blood out of a turnip.” Remember — for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22).
God did not have respect to Cain’s offering because it was not BY FAITH. It could be said that Present Truth in Cain and Abel’s day was the bringing of a lamb to the altar and the shedding of its blood. By the shedding of the lamb’s blood, it signified that Abel identified himself with the lamb, and that the lamb was dying in Abel’s stead as Abel’s substitute. God accepted Abel in the person of his substitute. It could be said that this establishes man’s means of access to God, i.e. by means of blood. The blood of an innocent substitute provides the way of access to God. This is a principle which culminates finally in God offering His Own Son as God’s Lamb. God’s Lamb sheds His blood for the sin of the world.
After Abel offered the acceptable sacrifice and others learned that the means of access to God was by blood, we learn of a subsequent revelation given to man. This revelation concerned an impending judgment and a way of escape. This was proclaimed by the Prophet Enoch. “And Enoch also, the 7th from Adam, prophesied of these saying,…” Notice, “prophesied” clearly indicates God spoke to Enoch telling him what to say. Enoch believed God and prophesied saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment upon all…” (Jude 14). Genesis 5 informs us that he walked with God for 300 years after he begat Methuselah. This indicates that Enoch was in agreement with what God told him. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Of course the answer is emphatically no! For 300 years Enoch prophesied, believing all that God revealed to him.
Enoch believed the truth regarding the “blood of the lamb” as the means of access to God. He believed a subsequent revelation from the Lord which caused him to walk with God; being in full agreement with what God had made known unto him. That is the example of a WALK OF FAITH.
Faith is progressive. Enoch’s faith did not stop with the sacrifice; it moved on and believed the latest report from God. It concerned the judgment and the escape. By FAITH he was translated. In Plainer Words, God rewarded Enoch according to his faith. Since his translation was BY FAITH, the Lord must have spoken him about it. Enoch believed what he heard from God concerning the translation, therefore, it was by faith. Faith was not the vehicle that translated Enoch but rather the grounds for God taking him. Enoch had the testimony before his translation, “that he pleased God (Hebrews 11:5). It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). It is apparent that if any others had; believed, they too would have been translated. Present Truth in Enoch’s day consisted of:
1. a substitutionary sacrifice and
2. a translation of saints
Probably, as today, many believed the report about the “blood of the Lamb” but did not specifically believe truth that related to the Present. As it is today, there are many who believe Jesus Christ was God’s Lamb and that He bore away the sin of the world, but they never get any further in their Christian life than the cross. They never progress in faith any further than the Sacrifice. They can never “walk with God” because they did not agree with Him regarding His present purposes. Many are trying to bring in a Kingdom, many are attempting to spread one, and some are praying for one to come; all of which are dispensationally incorrect. The vast majority of Christians ignore the truth concerning the Great Secret made known to Paul, the prisoner, “by revelation.” This concerns an invisible church over which Christ Jesus is Head. Those who walk with God believe the latest report from Him. The latest report from God was written by the pen of Paul, the Prisoner of the Lord. But most act as though the Prison Epistles are not in the Bible; many don’t even know what are the Prison Epistles.
Others knew of Enoch’s translation for he spoke of it for years as he warned of the impending judgment. He walked with God and was not: for God took him. Hebrews 11:5 says that Enoch “was not found.” This speaks to us of the fact that those who believed enough to have their sins taken care of by the sacrifice of an innocent’ lamb, did not believe the additional report concerning the translations.
In Hebrews 11, Noah follows Enoch in the list of the “elders” who had obtained a good report by believing all that God had revealed. A study of Noah reveals that he had Abel’s faith, and he also had the faith of Enoch. That’s not all, he had something more. He was given additional revelation from God. He was called upon believe something more than Abel and Enoch were required to believe. He was given additional information on the judgment. He was told that it would be by water. He was told that God would use water from heaven (rain). Hebrews 11 tells us how the “report,” which Noah believed, was heard. His faith came by “hearing” this report. The report came to him by the Word of God: “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
There was no other way for Noah to have known about the flood and how he was to have been delivered out of it.
He was told to build an ark. God even told him how it was to be done. 2 Peter 2:5 says that Noah ‘3 a preacher of righteousness. He preached concerning the coming judgment. He warned of things not seen as yet. I would imagine that, as a preacher, he told how to be delivered through the flood that was to come. Many, perhaps, in his day even showed signs of initial faith in Present Truth. They probably ordered the lumber and began to build them an ark. But they grew “weary in well doing”, their intentions were good, however, they never got around to finishing it. The day the rains began, perhaps many back yards had the makings of arks in them. Noah, however, “prepared an ark to the saving of his house” – note that it was BY FAITH. It could not be said that others prepared one by faith, for they did not finish theirs. Many today treat Present Truth, as did those in Noah’s day. Many start out but are “moved away from the hope of the gospel.” They fail to “make their calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). It could be said in Noah’s day that only his household believed Present Truth.
Present Truth for the four examples given could be outlined thusly:
1. Adam – free trees vs. forbidden one
2. Cain and Abel – the blood sacrifice
3. Enoch – translation before the judgment
4. Noah – the ark to go through the Flood
It was required of each to believe all that had been revealed previously. It was absolutely imperative for each to believe specifically what God had spoken to them. Each one was called upon to believe Present Truth. Truth relating to Adam was not truth relating to Cain, Abel, Enoch, or Noah. This study is to point the reader to the necessity of rightly dividing truth. May these examples illustrate the fact that God at different times spoke to different people concerning different subjects. Each was required to believe all that God had revealed, especially that which was spoken as an additional revelation.
The latest report from God is found in the epistles written by Paul the Prisoner. God speaks to the Church of the One Body today, not audibly, nor in visions, nor in dreams, but through His word. Truth for today comes to us in the Prison Epistles.