The Fullness of Time

John David Clark, Sr. - August, 1995

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son"

The history of man has been the history of brutality, immorality, and idolatry - and the great mercy of God. Evolutionists paint a picture of the human race as constantly rising to ever-greater heights of intelligence and nobility, despite the undeniable fact that humankind is not becoming less brutal, immoral, and idolatrous. The truth is that humankind is not becoming more intelligent as time passes, but less intelligent. As a species, man is not ascending that imagined evolutionary ladder of progress; he is instead constantly descending into the abyss of pride and rebellion against God. Man did not come from apes, although it appears that he is determined to become like them.

The incredible technological advances made by mankind in this century notwithstanding, man is no wiser, no more tame, and no less superstitious than were the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The blessings which the Father bestowed upon the nations which showed respect for Christ Jesus is what has caused western civilization to flourish. The great difference between the white man who conquered this New World after Columbus's discovery and the Indians who lived here first was not that the whites were inherently better people. It was that respect for the gospel had made them a stronger people. God blessed Europeans with technological and scientific advances for their widespread (though at times wildly superstitious) regard for the Son of God. Had the Indians received the gospel first, Europeans would not have been able to take their land.

This nation has risen to heights of international power not through any strength of its own. It has been the blessing of God. While travelling in the Middle East not long ago I was forced to acknowledge the measure of God's blessing on our country here. We live in a virtual fairyland of technological, scientific, and medical wonders. None of the most powerful kings and rulers in human history - Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Solomon - imagined the conveniences which even our small children now take for granted. Clean water is considered as a right which can be demanded now by even the poorest family in America's cities. How difficult it is for us to imagine living in a time when the possession of clean water was a daily concern. We want light? Just flip a switch. We want our water hot? Just turn a different knob. We want ice? Just go to the refrigerator. Summer heat making you uncomfortable? Turn on the air conditioner. Winter too cold? Turn on the heat. Shoes, clothing, grocery stores, appliances, tools, these are simple conveniences to us and to our children, but they are things which even the richest people in history have not known as we know them.

We are living a life in this country which was unimaginable to all generations before this century and is unimaginable to most people of the earth even now. I looked into the dirty faces of children in the Middle East and knew that even in their dreams they could not possibly imagine the daily routine of my little ones at home; and neither could my children imagine a life such as theirs. But theirs reflects the real condition of fallen man; our life of ease in this country is not the normal human condition nor is it the permanent human condition on this earth. It is the blessing of God for the originators of our culture showing some respect to the name of Jesus. And to fail to give Him glory for the blessings He has bestowed is a crime, a crime which in its season will bear fruit as surely as we are now reaping blessings for an earlier respect for Christ.

For the sake of the gospel God blessed the Assyrian Empire. They repented at the preaching of Jonah, and God anointed that kingdom with military strength sufficient to carry out God's plan of destruction against the cities of northern Israel. Their riches and their power were from God, and when the Assyrians denied that truth, God struck them down in one night with such wrath that the empire never recovered (Isa.36-37). They thought it was by their own power that they stood at the pinnacle of success, but in one night learned different.

For the sake of the gospel God blessed the Babylonian Empire. Their achievements in astronomy and time-keeping and mathematics was the result of the mercy of God, and He anointed Nebuchadnezzar to take into the safety of captivity Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar also took Ezekiel, and Esther's parents, and Mordecai, and he gave the prophet Jeremiah the choice of coming into captivity or staying in Canaan. He saved alive all the Jews who obeyed Jeremiah and surrendered to him, and then he crushed the little kingdom of Judah like an ant beneath his sandal. Jerusalem was wasted, the temple plundered and burnt, and Judah's young king's eyes put out - after he had watched his children slaughtered at Nebuchadnezzar's feet. But the glory of Babylon was the gift of God, given to enable that Empire to fulfill God's purposes, and when King Nebuchadnezzar became puffed up and claimed the glory for himself, "there fell a voice from heaven, saying, `O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken. The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven [years] shall pass over thee, until thou know that THE MOST HIGH RULETH IN THE KINGDOM OF MEN, AND GIVETH IT TO WHOMSOEVER HE WILL.' The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar; and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws" (Dan.4).

When God restored the king's sanity, Nebuchadnezzar trembled before the Lord and sent messengers through his kingdom, ordering that all men reverence His holy name. His message concluded with these words, "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the God of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment. And those that walk in pride He is able to abase" (Dan.4:37). It was only when he made this confession that the mighty king was enabled by God to complete His purposes against Judah.

For the sake of the gospel, God blessed the Medo-Persian Empire, the kings of which sent God's people back to Canaan with money, protection, and permission - indeed, orders - to rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. The achievements of the Medes and Persians, including their insistence that even the king was subject to the laws of the empire, were more steps forward for mankind, delivering even the poorest of the people from the capriciousness of monarchs. Among the Egyptians, Pharaoh was a god; among the Medes and Persians the king was a man who, though king, was subject to the decrees of earlier kings as well as to his own. He could not even overrule his own laws.

For the sake of the gospel, God blessed the Grecian Empire, most notably under Alexander the Great. Alexander's desire for a one-world government tolerant of different cultures and religions led to a new perspective among men on the role of government as a whole. Not only that, Alexander wanted a one-people world. He pushed for the intermarriage of nationalities in an effort to fuse the various peoples of earth and make them easier to govern. In one ceremony in which ten thousand of his troops married foreign wives, Alexander himself married the daughter of his conquered foe, King Darius of Persia. Probably most important of all - the Greeks pushed for the use of a common language among all nations. Greek became the language of trade and business, and ordinary people almost everywhere in the Near East and Europe were somewhat familiar with it. The time for Jesus's birth was nearing, and God was setting the stage for the spread of the gospel without the hindrance of a language barrier. Most if not all of the New Testament was originally written in Greek. But the Greeks became proud of their achievements in the arts, philosophy, and architecture, and the iron wheel of Rome rolled over the hills of Achaia and Macedonia on its way to world domination.

The last preparation for the gospel was God's blessing on the Romans. Almost half a century before Jesus's birth, God gave the reins of Roman government into the hands of Julius Caesar's nephew, who ruled with great prudence and strength. He initiated the Pax Romana, the Roman peace, a centuries-long span in which there was relative peace in the Near East and Europe - just in time for Jesus to come and for the apostles and churches to be able to take the gospel to the outer reaches of the known world. Not least of God's blessings on Rome was the desire and wisdom He gave to them to construct empire-wide roadways, greatly reducing the time and effort required to travel from one location to another. The apostles, especially Paul, spent many a day walking on Roman roads to spread the gospel. Rome's contribution of strict legal guidelines for the treatment of its citizens is also noteworthy. Because Rome was blessed with such a judicial system, Paul received a free trip to Rome and an audience before Caesar himself, winning souls to Christ even from Caesar's own household.

Unfortunately, beginning with the emperor Constantine about 330 AD, Rome adopted a deadened, twisted form of the faith of Christ as its official religion. The truth was suppressed as a new gospel was proclaimed with Rome's blessing and protection. This Roman version of the gospel, now respectable among men, was called Christianity, and it contained a number of blatantly heathen components, along with many Old Covenant symbols (holy water, holy days, political authority and military might, etc.). God's angry response to this perversion of His Son's gospel was what historians later were to call "The Dark Ages".

Before the Roman version of the faith of Christ emerged, civilization was continually being blessed, but afterward civilization retraced its steps. Barbarians overran Rome, and barbarism thereafter became the common lot of man in what was once the Roman Empire. Technological and scientific knowledge given by God to ancient men was (usually for superstitious reasons) lightly esteemed and then forgotten. Alexander's world-renowned library at Alexandria, Egypt, was lost to fire. Roman roadways fell into disrepair; swamps drained by Roman engineers to make farmland became swamps again; accurate astronomical calculations made by ancient scholars, geographic information, architectural abilities, mathematical understanding, medical discoveries, philosophies and works of art, the know-how of ordinary administration of civil life - virtually all the elements which make for a pleasant and productive life - were taken from men by the God Whose gospel they had rejected. The resulting Middle Ages, or Dark Ages, was the very worse time in human history for men to have spent their lives. It was a time of incredible fear and superstition, of constant uncertainty and ignorance. Civilization's progress had been halted by the same God Who had granted it. Only after about eight hundred years, when desperate men began to crawl out from beneath the heavy blanket of Catholic superstition did God grant again to men the ability to learn and to make great strides in knowledge and technical ability. Men of that time (roughly 1300-1700), recognizing that European civilization had been in a long, long stupor, called this re-awakening "The Renaissance" and revelled in their regained awareness of the universe.

The blessing of renewed scientific inquiry and social progress in general, as with God's blessings in the ancient empires, had a purpose: to prepare the way for the restoration of the true gospel. It has been a long time coming. The versions of Christianity which came out of Catholicism were not by any means completely free from the superstitions of Christianity; they were, however, increasingly free of the worst of that religion's doctrines and practices. Now it appears that the time is nearing for the true gospel to be heard again in the world. As we publish the truth which Christ has revealed to us, we are excited by the testimonies of a number of people across the country that, yes, they too have heard the call of Jesus to come out of Christianity in all its forms: Catholic and Protestant. When I heard the Spirit of God calling me out of Christianity in May of 1993, I thought I was the only one who heard it. Not so. What I am learning is that not only were others hearing the Voice and recognizing it as God's, but also that they had been hearing it years before I did.

We stand near the brink of another "fullness of time", another great refreshing of the holy Ghost - possibly the greatest ever. There must be suffering for mankind before it comes (we still need to be prodded into repentance and the blessings of God which follow), but it will come. When Jesus said that "this gospel" of the kingdom of God shall be preached in all the world, he was not referring to any of Christianity's versions of his gospel. He was referring to the gospel he purchased with his blood, a gospel which in its purity and power is virtually unknown, even to God's own children.

Fundamentals of that gospel are simple: "There is one body [the scattered saints], and one Spirit [the holy Ghost], one hope [salvation at the return of Jesus], one Lord [Jesus Christ], one faith [revealed by the Spirit to the church], one baptism [of the holy Ghost, with the evidence of speaking in other tongues], one God and Father of all." This is the foundation upon which all gospel truth is laid. All who endorse doctrines which contradict these truths are destined to perish, as did the ancient earthly empires which failed to honor God. Equally important is the fact that the true gospel is, as Paul said, "not in word but in power." The gospel of Christ is not a mere teaching; it is an experience of power. Pray to be found worthy, my friends, to partake of the fullness of the gospel of Christ. Even if our falling asleep precedes its arrival, we may help the next generation to partake of it by standing for the truth now against all the winds of doctrine and all the rejection and persecution which Christianity (and the rest of the evil elements of this world) have to offer.

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