And He, Indeed it is Who gives the apostles, the prophets, the
evangelists, the pastors and teachers for the readjusting of the saints, with a
view to the work of dispensing for the upbuilding of the body Christ, until we should all
attain to the unity of faith, and the realization of a son of God, to mature
manhood, to the adult stature of Christ's complement, that we should by no
means still be min- ors (Eph.4:11-14).
WITH the Readjustment of the Eons (Chapter VI) and the revelation of the
"secret designated before the eons for our glory" (1 Cor. 2:7,8; Eph.3:9-12),
there was created a necessity for "the readjusting of the saints" that they
might attain to the unity of faith and the realization of their sonship, maturity, and the
transcendent spiritual blessings and grace glorious with which they have been graced in
the Beloved in the Secret Administration which now obtains. That we may better appreciate
the realities of the spiritual blessings which are ours in Christ Jesus, it will be
helpful to go back and consider the elementary course of instruction, termed the
"first principles" of the oracles of God (Heb.5:12) by which God schooled the
sons of Israel, leading them to Christ, the great Antitype.
First, it is to be noted that, God dealt with His earthly people as with a child. All
from Moses to Christ were in the primary grade, so to speak, their text book being
composed of types and shadows, outward forms, and ordinances of a divine service carried
on in connection with a divine dwelling place. Through this arrangement of material forms,
God addressed Himself to their senses, and by means of the object lessons or "first
principles", instituted a parallel between the material and the spiritual. The
removal of bodily defilement by water, served to illustrate the cleansing of spiritual
uncleanness by means of His Word. A tabernacle, or a temple, made of gold and silver and
brass, of linen, of wood, and various other materials, typified His glorious dwelling
place, while the order of divine service carried on through a priesthood, constituted the
way of approach for blessing (Exodus, chapters 25,26, and 27).
In due time, Christ came (Gal.4:4), the great Antitype of it all, and at the cross
revealed the heart of God fully and perfectly. Since then God has "filled up",
or completed His Word, and now offers a complete course. Christ Himself is our Text
Book. In Him there is maturity (Col.1:25-28).
Wherefore, leaving the rudiments of the word of Christ, we should be brought
on to maturity, not disrupting again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and
faith on God, of the teaching of baptizings, besides the imposition of hands as well as
the resurrection of the dead, and eonian judgment. And this will we be doing if God
should be permitting (Heb.6:1-3).
This Scripture reveals that it is not God's purpose that His people should always
remain on the way and never reach the goal (Heb.5:11-14). However, instead of the Hebrews leaving
the rudiments of the Word of Christ for maturity, they forsook them for apostasy.
instead, by going back to Judaism, they crucified for themselves the Son of God again,
holding Him up to infamy. Yet while thinking upon Israel's sad plight here in the sixth of
Hebrews, there rings a solemn warning in our ears:
Beware, that no one shall be despoiling You through philosophy and empty
seduction, in accord with human tradition, in accord with the elements of the world, and
not in accord with CHRIST (Col.2:8).
Beloved reader, this solemn admonition was not written simply to fill up space in God's
Word! It is a mighty appeal from the great loving heart of God to His saints in behalf of
their perfection, or completeness, in Christ. Yet in spite of its warning,
think of the multiplied multitudes who have gone blindly into the snares and toils of men.
True, exultant joy and heart satisfaction are found only by those who know
their completeness in Christ, and that can only be found by heeding this divine
PHILOSOPHY AND HUMAN TRADITION
From the very first of these studies, I have warned against philosophy and empty
seduction in accord with human tradition. I have been scrupulously tedious that it find no
place in the work. The Scriptures in their purity have been continually emphasized as
sufficient to make us wise unto salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus, and to fit us
out for every good work. I realize the mighty power of tradition, having observed very
sorrowfully, through years of evangelism, its effect among the saints of various faiths
and orders. Over and over again, I have seen them brought face to face with some blessed
truth in God's Word, recognize and acknowledge it, but turn their back upon it for their
traditions. O how I would that God might be pleased to use this feeble effort to sound
forth His "Beware"! that everyone who reads it may be blessed with the full
heart-satisfying realization of their completeness in Christ.
THE ELEMENTS OF THE WORLD
We are also warned to beware of philosophy and empty seduction in accord with "the
elements of the world". This brings us face to face with the study of that which has
despoiled Christendom today to such an extent that if Paul were permitted to return he
would find his worst fears realized. He takes up the subject with the Galatian saints, by
relating his former condition and that of his Jewish brethren, when they were enslaved
under the bondage of the elements of the world, saying:
"Thus we, also, when we were minors, were enslaved under the
elements of the world. Now when the full time came, God delegates His Son, Come of a
woman, come under law, that He should be reclaiming those under law, that we
may be getting the place of a son" (Gal.4:3-5).
Here we find that the sons of Israel, during the period of adolescence, were in bondage
under "the elements of the world". These "rudiments," or elementary
religious observances, are "infirm and poor" (verse 9), and are set in contrast
with Christ and our completeness in Him (Col.2:10). They were necessary in the education
of Israel, and served an essential purpose in the progress of revelation, but no one,
knowing the liberty of sonship, would tolerate their shackles for an instant. Some of the
nations, coming to know God, and obtaining the "spirit by hearing of faith,"
were despoiled through their endeavoring to be "made perfect by the flesh"
"But then, indeed, having no perception of God, you are slaves of those who, by
nature, are not gods. Yet now, knowing God, yet rather being known by God, how are you
turning back again to the infirm and poor elements for which you want to slave
again anew," (Gal.4:8,9)
In this Scripture we find Paul putting the Mosaic ceremonial on a par with heathen
rites! The gentiles, whom Paul addresses here, were not turning back to their
previous idolatry, but to observances under the law which they had not practiced before,
yet, in God's sight, it is all the same as if they had returned to their old rites of
heathenism! But what are these "infirm and poor elements" for which they want to
slave anew? Let us read it seriously:
"You are scrutinizing days and months and seasons and years"
There we have it as clear as language can make it. Dear reader, do you observe any of
these things? If you do, you are under bondage and being despoiled in the
sight of God. Think of poor despoiled Christendom! What would Paul say if he could look
upon their ritualistic observance of days, months, seasons, and years? Would he not be afraid
of them indeed, and lament in bitterness of heart that his "labor had been bestowed
in vain" (Gal.4:11)? Remember, dear reader, that only by heeding God's
"Beware"! can we have freedom from all this bondage from which Christ frees us
and rest complete in Him. Yet today, on all sides, we find the saints enslaved to the
elements of the world, being taught, through the directions and teachings of men, to
observe days, months, seasons, and years as a means of being pleasing to God, when, in
reality, it ignores His warning against all such and denies the completeness He has
made for them in Christ! It is serious beyond expression. Yet the warning against it
all is so unmistakably clear, that no one who will give ear to God's holy Word need go
astray in the matter:
"Let no one, then, be judging you in food or in drink or in a particular festival,
or new moon, or sabbaths, which are a shadow of those things which are future--but the
body is of the Christ" (Col.2:16,17).
In spite of this charge, think how God's saints are being "judged" on every
side, and being told to observe days and abstain from foods and drinks as a part of their religion!
Through the edicts of men and false translation, the saints have been seduced into
believing that Sunday is the "first day of the week" or "the Lord's
Day" of the Bible, and that it should be religiously observed. It comes as a
tremendous shock to know that the Scriptures, correctly translated, say nothing concerning
the "first day of the week." Sunday, a, heathen holiday, in accord with the
directions and teachings of men, has become a spurious sabbath, the observance of which
has become the badge of apostate Christendom! For the benefit of those who do not know and
may question the truth of this statement, let us give ear to the voice of historians:
"Unquestionably the first law, either ecclesiastical or civil by which the
sabbatical observance of that day [Sunday] is known to have been ordained, is the edict of
Constantine, 321 A. D." (Chambers Encyclopedia, article "Sabbath").
"Constantine the Great made a law for the whole empire [321 A. D.] that Sunday
should be kept as a day of rest in all cities and towns; but he allowed the country people
to follow their work" (Encyclopedia Americana, article "Sabbath").
"The earliest recognition of the observance of Sunday as a legal duty is a
constitution of Constantine in 321 A. D., enacting that all courts of justice, inhabitants
of towns, and workshops were to be at rest on Sunday venerabili die Solis, with an
exception in favor of those engaged in agricultural labor" Encyclopedia Britannica,
ninth edition, article "Sunday").
Now let us hear Constantine's edict, which may be considered the original Sunday law,
and the model after which all Sunday laws since have been patterned:
"Let all the judges and town people, and the occupation of all trades rest on the
venerable day of the sun; but let those who are situated in the country, freely and at
full liberty, attend to the business of agriculture; because it often happens that no
other day is so fit for sowing corn and planting vines; lest the critical moment being let
slip, men should lose the commodities granted by heaven" (Edict of March 7, 321 A.
D., Corpus Juris Civilis Cod., lib. 3, tit. 12:3).
Here is unquestionable testimony that the observance of Sunday was only a commandment
of man. Not so much as a single line of Scripture authorizing its observance by the saints
can be found from Genesis to Revelation. Beginning with Constantine's edict in 321 A. D.,
followed by the combined efforts of church and state, together with apostasy from the
truth, there resulted an almost universal observance of the day by the time the King James
Version of 1611 was made. Then, apparently, to give scriptural support for the observance,
the translators actually corrupted the original text in a most unbelievable manner. Let
the reader examine any Greek text of the Scriptures, and study Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1, 2;
Luke 23:56-24:1; John 20:1,19; Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 and see what support he
finds for the phrase the "first day of the week" as is found in our common
Bible. The phrase in the Greek is mia ton sabbatoon, and reads literally "one
of the sabbaths". But it was glossed over in the following manner: They altered
"one" to read "first," inserted the word "day," and worse
yet, changed the plural "sabbaths" to the singular "week"! Can we
think of a more perfidious and deceptive act of man? And the corruption has been received
and is now defended by Christendom as an oracle of God! Some, through the seduction, think
they are in strict accord with truth by observing the Lord's supper on each
"Sunday", believing it to be the "first day of the week" of the Bible,
the day on which Christ arose from the dead, and that the early disciples met to break
bread on this day. But when we give scrupulous consideration to what has been revealed in
the original text, apart from the interpolated corruptions of men, we will find
that Christ was roused from the dread on Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, and that every
recorded meeting of the disciples in the Scriptures (during the Pentecostal administration
of the book of Acts) was on "one of the sabbaths" and not on Sunday. Not
until the apostles had all died and God's Word had been buried under three hundred years
of human tradition and, Constantine's edict had been enacted, does Sunday find any place
in the worship of the saints above any other day. Further more, to call it "the
Lord's Day" is simply overlaying one error with another! The Lord's day, of which
John speaks, is the, future day of Jehovah, into which John was transported in spirit
and permitted to view and record the terrible judgments by which the kingdom of God will
be inaugurated upon the earth. How absurd to insist that John saw and wrote the book of
Revelation on Sunday!
When we recognize God's "Beware!" and allow no one to judge us concerning
festivals, new moons, or sabbaths, which are a shadow of those things which
are future, but hold to the Head- -Christ--in Whom we have our completeness, then,
and then only, will we be pleasing to our heavenly Father in this Secret Administration,
and have no reason for marring His holy Word to uphold unscriptural practices. To
religiously observe days, months, seasons, and years is turning back from the Substance to
the shadow. Paul states the attitude for the saints in the matter in Romans fourteen, five
"One, indeed, is deciding for one day against another day, yet one is deciding for
everyday. Let each one be fully assured in his own mind. He who is disposed to a day is
disposed to it to the Lord; and he who is eating is, eating to the Lord, for he is
There is nothing wrong in setting aside a day to the Lord. Custom has now made Sunday
the most convenient for this purpose, but we are not to look upon it as a day
sanctioned by God for divine worship above any other day. The observance of a day as a
matter of law-keeping, or as a means of salvation, whether it be Sunday or the seventh day
sabbath, is condemned in the Scriptures in this administration of grace wherein God made
us complete in Christ.
YOU ARE COMPLETE IN HIM
"...in Him the entire complement of the Deity is dwelling bodily. And you are
complete in Him" (Col.2:9,10).
It seems difficult for the saints to discern that the divine religion given to Israel
in the flesh, of another administration, may become the greatest hindrance toward an
appreciation of the grace and spiritual blessings which are ours in Christ Jesus in the
present secret administration. As our Complement, He is the end of all religion,
and any return to ritualism despoils us and we lose the enjoyment of our possessions
through Legality levying an attachment on us. Christ Himself is the Substance of which all
ritual was but the shadow. The blood of Christ alone, unaided by any
accessory or adjunct of any kind, apart from the observance of any fleshly rites or
ordinances--the blood of Christ alone in the fresh unsupported vigor and power of its
solitary majesty, clears the way to the very presence of God, perfect and complete.
Being then complete in Christ, anything we may do with a view to effecting our salvation
before God only sullies and tarnishes the perfect work He has wrought in Him for us. It
means even more, for any attempt to observe the "first principles" today, makes
Christ of no effect, we fall out of grace, and become debtors to do the whole law.
It is an offense far worse than Adam committed in Eden. Dear reader, heed God's
"Beware!" and rest in the peace which comes through the blessed realization of
your completeness in His Anointed.
"...in Whom you were circumcised also with a circumcision not made with hands in
the stripping off of the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ" (Col.2:11).
Circumcision was but a shadow. The substance is Christ. It figured death. He fulfilled
it. This is circumcision indeed; though "not made with hands", it was
accomplished on the cross apart from us altogether, yet is the only real, the only
true circumcision. The sons of Israel were not circumcised they only shadowed
it in their naimcision. Now, we in Christ, are circumcision in reality. Paul
admonishes us to
"...beware of the maimcision, for we are the circumcision who
are offering divine service to God in spirit, and are glorying in Christ Jesus, and have
no confidence in flesh" (Phil.3:3).
Here we find that circumcision is not obsolete, but a present, powerful, potent truth.
Christ, the believer's Fullness, or Complement, descended into death itself, in the
stripping off of the body of flesh in His death on the cross. In Him we are circumcised
with a circumcision not made with hands. This is circumcision perfect and complete.
Anything we might add in this respect would only be an offence toward God. But how
glorious to think of the wonderful, the marvelous grace of God, to make such a full
deliverance for us, complete and apart from any ordinance we perform on the flesh
ourselves. Yet our circumcision is only a part of the truth of our completeness in Christ.
It leaves Him on the cross, lifeless. There must be a burial and resurrection. This brings
us to the consideration of baptism.
"Being entombed together with Him in baptism (in Whom you were roused together
also, through faith in the operation of God, Who rouses Him from among the dead,..."
Here is baptism such as the sons of Israel never knew. Their ceremonial cleansing in
water was only a weak type of the real baptismal cleansing through Christ's burial and
resurrection by the powerful operation of God. We have died together with Him, and have
been buried together with Him and raised from the grave also not "a watery grave by
the strong arm of the baptizer", but in Him, by an Almighty arm"--through
faith in the operation of God, Who rouses Him from among the dead". Just as we
are not circumcised in flesh, but in spirit, so also with baptism. His baptism,
just as His circumcision, we reckon as our own. He was buried; so were we. He arose; we
also are risen. He ascended and was seated at the right hand of God among the celestials;
so are we. By the power of His spirit we enter into the blessed potent truth and have
access, complete and perfect, to the very presence of our heavenly Father. How preciously
satisfying is the thought to the weary heart!
Now let us consider the progression from adolescence to maturity, from the flesh to the
spirit. The ministry of John the baptist and our Lord was characterized by one
baptism-- that in water. Yet John bore record concerning Christ:
"I, indeed, am baptizing you in water for repentance, yet He Who is coming
after me is stronger than I, Whose sandals I am not competent to bear. He will be
baptizing you in holy spirit and fire" (Matt.3:11).
And Christ, just as He was about to ascend, confirmed John's declaration, saying:
"John, indeed, baptizes in water, yet you shall be baptized in holy spirit
after not many of these days" (Acts 1:5).
Then from Pentecost until the close of the Peters administration two baptisms
obtained--water and spirit. However, in the dispensation of the evangel of God among the
nations by Paul, during the Transitional Administration (Acts 13 to 28), water is no
longer necessary, while the baptism of the spirit becomes the portion of all.
With Paul's imprisonment, for us the nations (Eph.3:1), It is revealing the presence
Secret Administration (Eph.3:9), they were to continue the "one baptism"
(Eph.4:5). The question arises: Is it water or spirit? The Ephesian epistle
gives the answer, "when believing, also, you are sealed with the holy spirit of
promise" (Eph.1:13). This alone entitles all to the spiritual blessings among the
celestials in Christ Jesus. It is now that 1 Corinthians 12:13 finds full recognition:
"For in one spirit we all are baptized into one body, whether Jews or
Greeks, whether slaves or free, and all are made to imbibe one spirit."
Without this baptism in the one spirit, there could never be the one body.
It is by the one spirit that we are united one to another and have access
into God's presence. Thus we see that by an abrupt change at Acts 13 has been away from
the outward expression by means of water, toward the end--the inward
reality, by means of the spirit.
All cleansing and sanctification (which water only figured) was really
done by spirit. Water came first to instruct the lower classes in God's school. But now, in
spirit, maturity, perfection, completeness, fullness, entirety, satisfaction--call it what
you may--has come (Col.2:9,10), and it is our glorious privilege to enter into the
joy of the solid, satisfying fullness of God's finished work. Whatever joys and glories
the future may have in store, even though our bodies be transfigured like unto His body
glorious at His coming, nothing can add to our completeness in Christ, which is already
our portion now in spirit. No ordinance upon the flesh, no prayer, no devotion, no
wilful ritual, no asceticism--nothing can make us more acceptable, for the spirit of God
has cleansed us to His perfect satisfaction and we are fully equipped for His presence,
blessed with every spiritual blessing among the celestials, holy and flawless in His
sight. Nothing can bring us nearer, nothing can make us dearer. "The consummations of
the eons have attained" to us. How can we hope for more?
Being, then, complete in Him, no fleshly rite can add to our completeness. If we do add
it, we are denying that His work in our behalf has fully met God's claims. We dishonor
that work by subtracting from its potency, and spoil it by adding something of our own
dead, putrefying flesh.
By recognizing God's "Beware!" and realizing our completeness in Christ, through
faith in the operation of God, may His grace keep us from being despoiled by
philosophy and empty seduction, in accord with human tradition, in accord with the
elements of the world, and constrain us to refuse these ordinances upon the flesh- -both
circumcision and baptism--and rest alone in Him in Whom there is no lack.
Complete in Christ my Saviour,
How precious is the thought!
God finds in me the pleasure,
For which He longed and sought.
Complete in Christ my Saviour,
On love alone I lean,
In self I seek no solace,
In Him alone I'm seen.
Complete in Christ my Saviour,
How can I hope for more?
His grace has brought each blessing
His love has kept in store.
Complete in Christ my Saviour,
My heart is satisfied,
For He is all sufficient,
What need for aught beside?