During the summer of 1973, corrupt political practice was on the front page of every newspaper in the United States of America. Under investigation by a special Senate sub-committee was the President himself, Richard Milhouse Nixon. He had engineered what became known as the “Watergate” cover-up, and the committee was grilling his associates under the bright lights of the television cameras. It was under those burning klieg lamps, in front of a national television audience, that then Republican Senator Howard Baker asked the now-famous question, “What did the President know and when did he know it?” Similarly, we must ask the same question of the Scriptures: What did Jesus know and when did he know it?
Each human being must determine whether he will live his life according to a standard that he himself devises, one that someone else devised and passed along to him, or the standard that God Almighty devised: His written Word. Along with millions of other people, you and I have chosen the Word of God, as found in the Bible, as the flawless communication of the Creator to His created ones. Therefore, when it comes to determining truth regarding a particular matter, we ask: “What does the Bible say?” So far, so good. But we must take it further and add to that question the words, TO WHOM?
The truth that Jews (the bloodline of Israel), Gentiles (all people who are neither Jews nor Christians), and the Church of God (Christians) are the only three categories of people ever to live on the earth can be gleaned from Scripture as a whole, but in the following verse it is succinctly stated. Set in the context of maintaining one’s Christian conscience and glorifying God in behavioral matters such as eating and drinking, it often goes unrecognized for the valuable nugget of truth it casually offers to the careful reader.
1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV)
Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
As Adam was neither a Jew nor a Christian, it is clear that Gentiles came first. Then, in Genesis 32, Israel was born out of Jacob. Had the people of Israel fulfilled God’s calling for them, there would have been no third kind of people, but they failed miserably, even killing the Messiah He sent to them, and God’s program for them was temporarily suspended. Then, on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, via the theretofore unheard of “New Birth,” about 3000 Jews became the first Christians. As we will see, the time period in which Paul wrote, biblically designated as “the administration of the Sacred Secret” (Eph. 3:9), and in which we are now still living, is the only administration on the spectrum of Scripture from Paradise lost (Genesis) to Paradise regained (Revelation) during which all three of these groups of people co-exist.
Properly translated as “administration,” the Greek word oikonomia is used only nine times in the New Testament. Coming from the Greek words “house” and “law,” it means “the law of the house.” Scripturally, it refers to the standard by which God dealt with those on earth during that particular time. The “administrations” set forth in Scripture are the thrilling record of God’s righteous and resourceful responses to the free will decisions of mankind. They magnificently show how our loving God relentlessly worked, first, to bring to pass the birth of the “Promised Seed” whose coming He had announced immediately after the Fall of Adam and Eve in the original Paradise, and then help His only begotten Son fulfill his function as the Redeemer, all the way to his dying words, “It is finished.”
One of the most stupendous verses in Scripture has seemingly gone almost unnoticed by the vast majority of Christians throughout the centuries. It is 1 Corinthians 2:8, and I think it should be a “pop-up” verse with fireworks and music. It says that if Satan had known the “Sacred Secret,” designed by God to be the central doctrine of Scripture for Christians, and upon which we will elaborate, HE WOULD NOT HAVE CRUCIFIED JESUS CHRIST!
But in His perfect wisdom, our awesome God kept the Sacred Secret a secret from Satan, who then did crucify Jesus. When the risen Lord Jesus then learned and progressively revealed the Sacred Secret to the Apostle Paul, who wrote it in the Church Epistles, Satan realized his crucial mistake. Recognizing his grave error (as in “digging his own”), his goal then became to keep the Sacred Secret a secret from the world, and especially from those who choose to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and are thus equipped to defeat him in daily spiritual combat just as Jesus did. This indispensable truth was the first thing Satan almost completely eradicated from the consciousness of Christianity, and he did so shortly after Paul’s death in about 70 A.D. Yet he could not expunge it from the pages of God’s written Word, where, as the “Hope Diamond” of Christianity, it continued to gleam brightly, particularly in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, the apex of revelation to the Church, the Body of Christ.
For about 1800 years, the Sacred Secret lay nearly dormant in the collective consciousness of Christendom. Church history shows that, during that time, only a very few Christians, scattered chronologically and geographically, recognized the basic truth of a pre-Tribulation “Rapture” or “Gathering Together” of the Church. Then, about 1830, an English-Irish man named John Darby led a movement that made known the basic truth of a dispensational view of Scripture on a much more widespread scale. Shortly after the turn of the century, his work was amplified by C. I. Scofield, and since then millions of Christians have seen the biblical validity of a dispensational view of Scripture and how it is the only approach by which to resolve the otherwise myriad of contradictions therein.
So what is this “Sacred Secret,” which if Satan had known, he would have allowed Jesus to live? Simply put, it is that on the Day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2, a completely new group of people appeared on earth. Up to that moment in the Temple, there were only Jews and Gentiles populating the planet, but in a record-setting multiple birth, the twelve apostles and a number of other people were the first to be “born again.” This new group is called the “Body” of Christ (Eph. 1:22 and 23) because each member is directly connected to the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, and each member has a specific function coordinated thereby. As the Body of Christ, these believers are collectively referred to in Ephesians 2:15 as “one new man.”
The Sacred Secret is that the man Jesus, who could only be in one place at a time while he lived on the earth, has now diversified himself in a body of incredibly diversified people, not only geographically, but also in personality and individual abilities. Each member of this new creation is directly and irrevocably connected to the Head of the Body, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has infused each “body part” with the gift of holy spirit, whereby each is equipped to do battle against our spiritual enemy. Each can do the works that Jesus did and thereby “re-present” him all over the world.
The distinguishing characteristic of the Administration of the Sacred Secret is that these unique people have a unique salvation, unlike the salvation experienced by anyone in any other administration. They have been saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8) in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and are thus born again of incorruptible seed (1 Pet. 1:23 – KJV), making their salvation absolutely permanent, no matter what their behavior is from then on. These people, known as “Christians,” are now, collectively, the “Temple” of God, His dwelling place (Eph. 2:21 and 22).
Part of the Sacred Secret is the true hope that Christians have. Contrary to what many have been taught, but in accord with Scripture, all Christians will one day, with no “sign” preceding the event, be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17). After a period of about seven years in “heaven,” all Christians will accompany the Lord Jesus back to the earth to fight with him at the Battle of Armageddon (we win, by the way), and then be with him during his Millennial reign on earth. As a simple study will show, the final dwelling place for all Christians, as well as all those saved Jews and Gentiles, will be on the new earth, not in “heaven.”
Psalm 19 and other sections of Scripture show that the story of the redemption of man is heralded in the heavenly constellations. All the pertinent information from the Old Testament, the Four Gospels, and the book of Revelation is emblazoned in the celestial message. What is not written in the stars is the Sacred Secret. No, as Philippians 2:15 (NIV) says, it is Christians who are now to “…shine like stars in the universe” by holding forth the Word of life to a dying world. And the Word we must hold forth is most especially that written in the Church Epistles, the primary curriculum for Christians.
We must recognize and distinguish between which parts of the Bible are addressed to or speaking about Israel (past, present, future), Gentiles (past, present, future), or Christians (present, future). If we do not, God’s magnificent written revelation to mankind, that which He has magnified above His name (Ps. 138:2 – KJV) and that which contains all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3 – KJV), will never make sense, nor will one be able to apply it for successful Christian living.
But how does our exposition of Scripture differ from other pre-Tribulational, pre-Millennial, “Dispensational” perspectives? And why do we firmly believe that this approach is more appealing to scriptural logic in resolving its otherwise apparent contradictions, as well as more applicable to daily Christian life? Here we will give you the short answers to those questions, which we plan to develop in a book when we can. The differences that we will set before you stem from our drawing a finer biblical line between that Scripture written to or about believers from the bloodline of Israel and that Scripture written to or about Christians, those who, from the Day of Pentecost until the “Rapture,” confess Jesus Christ as Lord as per Romans 10:9. Not only is the Old Testament (Genesis through Malachi) written to and about only Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), but so are the Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), which actually conclude the Old Testament, and so is the book of Revelation.
Nowhere in the Old Testament, the Four Gospels prior to the resurrection of Jesus, or the book of Revelation is there a direct reference to what we today know as Christianity, nor to the people we today call “Christians.”
Why not? Because it was “…not made known to men in other generations…” (Eph. 3:5). Besides that, it was “unsearchable” (Eph. 3:8). Why? Because it was “hidden in God” (Eph. 3:9). If the italicized statement in the above paragraph is new information to you, your mind may be racing with such questions as:
- Isn’t the Church the “bride” of Christ referred to in the Old Testament?
- Wasn’t Jesus talking to Nicodemus about being “born again” in John 3?
- Wasn’t Jesus talking about Christians when he said, “…I will build my church…” (Matt. 16:18)?
- Isn’t John 14:1-3 talking about the Rapture?
- Aren’t the references in Revelation 2 and 3 to the “church” at Ephesus, etc. talking about Christians?
The answer to each of these questions is NO, and we encourage you to look more deeply into the body of our work as we develop it on our website (The Administrations in Scripture) and in our forthcoming book, and give us the opportunity to present to you what we believe the Word of God says about these critical matters, and how its truths apply to your daily life.
To whet your appetite, consider that Jesus said he was sent “…only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matt. 15:24). He never met a Christian because there were none until the Day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2. What Jesus said was directed specifically to Jews and Gentiles, not Christians. The Four Gospels are the record of the fulfillment of all the Old Testament Messianic prophecies regarding the first coming of Christ to the earth to Israel—his suffering. The book of Revelation is the record of the fulfillment of all the rest of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies regarding the second coming of Christ to the earth to Israel—his glory.
The book of Revelation is the complement to the Old Testament (which includes the Four Gospels, as Jesus came during the Law administration), and is a literal “Book-end” to Genesis. All that began there is concluded in Revelation. A study of the book of Revelation shows conclusively that all of the language therein is “Jewish,” that is, it strictly follows that of the Old Testament and the Four Gospels. None of it is akin to the language of Christianity as found in the Church Epistles. The Christian Church is not specifically mentioned anywhere in Revelation, although by putting together other parts of the Word we do know that we Christians are among those who accompany the Lord Jesus when he comes again to the earth to rule in his Millennial Kingdom.
In between the events recorded in the Four Gospels (which conclude with Jesus’ rejection by the nation of Israel, his death, resurrection, and ascension) and those recorded in the book of Revelation (which chronicles the period of Israel’s tribulation known in Scripture as “…the time of Jacob’s trouble…” [Jer. 30:7 – KJV]) is the time period in which we are now living: “the administration of the Sacred Secret.”
There is a glaring contradiction created by non-dispensational thinking that is simply and elegantly explained by recognizing that not even Jesus knew “the Sacred Secret.” Prerequisite to grasping that eye-opening truth is recognizing that Jesus was actually who he said he was, the Son of God, and not “God the Son,” as purported by those who believe the strange doctrine of the “Trinity,” which, like mercury, cannot be grasped, primarily because it is nowhere in the Word of God. In regard to understanding what we are about to explain, it becomes clear that if we think Jesus is God, we “cannot get there from here.”
To answer the question, “What did Jesus know?” we need look only at what he said during his earthly ministry. He knew everything revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures (Genesis through Malachi), and he knew it flawlessly, as evidenced by the first recorded words of his earthly ministry, which was specifically directed to ISRAEL, the people who for centuries were supposed to have been reading the prophecies of his coming and thus recognize him as the promised Messiah (Rom. 15:8 and 9).
(16) He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.
(17) The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
(18) “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
(19) to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(20) Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
First of all, that scroll was about three feet high and about 60 feet long, without chapters or verses numbered, and all the words were run together in the customary script of the day. Here are the verses from Isaiah that Jesus quoted. Please note that he stopped right in the middle of a sentence.
Isaiah 61:1 and 2
(1) The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
(2) to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
Why did Jesus come to a screeching halt after the word “favor”? Because he knew, from the Old Testament, that the “day of vengeance of our God” would not come to pass until his second coming to the earth to Israel, when he will come as the Lion of Judah. At his first coming, he was the Lamb of God, who would lay down his life for the sins of the world.
Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus made many statements that simply cannot be understood apart from an administrational view of the Bible. Let us consider four of them, which refer to events that would precede the inauguration of his Kingdom.
When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
(49) Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’
(50) Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world,
(51) from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.
Just as he made plain during his ministry, Jesus was speaking to Jews, not Christians, and these clear and straightforward statements refer to the literal, future Kingdom of which he spoke so often. He believed that his Kingdom would be established seven years after his death and resurrection, based upon his flawlessly accurate understanding of Old Testament prophecies (e.g., Dan. 9:24–27) that we now know are to be fulfilled in the future according to the book of Revelation. But what he said did not come to pass when he said they would. The Jewish people to whom Jesus spoke are long gone, and still he has not returned to the earth. So how do we reconcile those statements with the rest of Scripture? How do we understand them without Jesus’ integrity being compromised? Never have we found any other explanation we think makes sense, and we ask you to consider the one we set forth here.
As the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament make known, the Kingdom was not established at that time, but was deferred to an unknown future time (e.g., Acts 1:6 and 7). The problem then becomes explaining how Jesus could have been so mistaken about something that was such an integral part of his message: the soon coming of the Kingdom. If Jesus always did the will of God and spoke truly from his Father’s heart, how could he not have known that the Kingdom was not coming when he said it was?
Theologians have attempted to explain this by saying that he was not referring to the coming of his literal Kingdom, but to either his Transfiguration or to the Day of Pentecost. They argue that he “came into his glory” in a temporal way at the Transfiguration. But the Transfiguration was an unknown future event, of which there was no prophetic anticipation or fore–warning by Jesus. How could he have expected his disciples to understand that he was talking about something of which they could have had no advance knowledge? Would they not have naturally thought he was talking about the well known Kingdom that they and their ancestors had expected for centuries? There is simply no good reason to equate the well known and expected “Kingdom” with an unknown and unexpected vision of that Kingdom.
If Jesus were speaking of the Transfiguration, then what he said makes no sense and is not even factual. He said, “…some who are standing here will not taste death [i.e., die] before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:28). However, the Transfiguration occurred shortly after Christ made the statement. In Matthew, it occurs in the very next chapter, and less than a month after his statement that some would not die. It is safe to say that all of his disciples were still alive a month later. Maybe one had died in that time, but that is still no justification for him to say that only “some” would be alive. Furthermore, because only Peter, James, and John were present at the Transfiguration, and they were strictly told to tell no one about it (Matt. 17:9), Jesus saying to his disciples that “some” would not die before then makes no sense.
The only reason anyone says that the Transfiguration or the Day of Pentecost is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 16:28 is that the people he was speaking to died without seeing his Kingdom, which makes him clearly mistaken in what he said. Without an adequate explanation, this fact is a rather stark embarrassment to the Christian faith. But this is precisely the kind of apparent contradiction that is resolved by having an administrational (dispensational) view of Scripture.
Like the prophets of old, Jesus could not go beyond what was previously written in Scripture or had been particularly revealed to him. Drawing from what the prophets had written, he would have expected certain events to take place in a certain order. His first coming was to involve his suffering, and end in death. After being resurrected, he expected seven years of Tribulation (Dan. 9:24–27; Jer. 30:7) before returning to earth to establish his Kingdom and fulfill the New Covenant with Israel (e.g., Jer. 31:31-34). Although many Christians believe that the Church is part of the New Covenant, God’s Word clearly shows that the New Convenant will be with the same people to whom God gave the Old Covenant, and that, of course, is Israel.
The words Jesus used when he said that “…this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” were simple and straightforward. “All” those things were not fulfilled, and the generation is dead and gone. If the end of the world had come during that generation, everyone would applaud how accurate and simple to understand Christ’s words were. However, as we have pointed out, he could speak only what he knew, and he could know only what God revealed to him. The truth is that this current Administration of the Grace of God has delayed Christ’s coming, and a dispensational view of Scripture resolves this contradiction quite simply and elegantly. Other explanations strike us as exceptionally convoluted and contrived.
So was Jesus wrong? Not exactly. In fact, he was absolutely right—as far as he knew. Jesus was not wrong as much as he was uninformed, and that because he could not have been informed. It was not only wise of God to conceal the Sacred Secret from Jesus, it was also loving. How so? Because His not making it known to Jesus allowed him to speak from his heart with complete conviction and honesty, and that convinced Satan, who took the bait and sealed his own doom. Now, do we think Jesus could have kept the Sacred Secret? Sure, but had Jesus known it, he would have had to accompany statements like the four we cited above with a “Wink, wink” or an unspoken mental asterisk.
At some point in time after God raised Jesus from the dead, either before or after his ascension (let us know if you can determine from Scripture which, as to date we have not), God told His Son the Sacred Secret. Do you think Jesus was offended and retorted, “I could’ve kept that secret!”? No. It is more likely that he said something like, “Awesome! Now I can be all over the world, in essence, by dwelling and working within each member of my Body who chooses to follow my lead. Rather than being only one place at a time, I can now bring truth, light, love, and life any place on earth where a Christian works with me and becomes like me.” If you are a Christian, why not give your all for the One who gave himself for you? It is only via his Body, the Church, that the Lord Jesus can make known God’s manifold wisdom to mankind.