GOD IN CONSUMMATION
BY: A. E. SAXBY
[Taken from his book “God in Creation, Redemption, Judgment and Consummation”]
THE SCOPE OF THE CONSUMMATION
INCLUSION, NOT EXCLUSION
CONSUMMATION, NOT CATASTROPHE
CONSTRAINT, NOT COMPULSION
VIVIFICATION, NOT CORRUPTION
God has not left us in doubt as to His ultimate purpose in creation. In the plainest terms He has made known to men what is to be the end of the long drawn–out history of sin and redemption. It seems as if the Author of Scripture has, by design – laid out, the vision of the consummation in the simplest words, and has preserved them from the marring hand of translators so that it is easy to learn what is the goal to which all creation turns.
True, those passages that proclaim so definitely His ultimate purpose may fail to enlighten us because we read them through eyes that are blinded by traditional teaching. We may miss the goal by a fixed gaze upon the road thereto. We may mistake the proximate purposes – as Finney calls them – for the ultimate purposes. We may mistake the judgments of the Kingdom for the goal of God’s purposes, not recognizing that they are simply the means by which His goal is reached. We may be perplexed about the outworking of some statements which have to do with the process God is pursuing to reach His ultimate purpose, and we may not be able to fit them thoroughly into the mosaic of revelation. But if we have a definite, repeated, and clear pronouncement in His Word to rest upon, we may know that what He has promised He is able also to perform, and that He will reach the goal to which He moves.
We have already quoted some of these magnificent passages, sufficient to convince all who are after truth, and who are not intent upon simply establishing their own foregone conclusions. We propose calling our readers’ attention in this article to four more statements. They all point unmistakably to the same goal. With Divine foresight the Author of Scripture has met every argument that has ever been raised against the truth of God’s ultimate, universal, and complete triumph, so that the open heart and eye cannot fail to see the truth.
The first passage dealt with the scope of this consummation. “All things in the heavens and the earth will be gathered together in Christ.” (Eph. 1, 10)
The second reveals the position of all things in the heavens and the earth. They will be “reconciled” to God. (CoI. 1, 20). The third gives us a scene of worship, thus making known the attitude of the vast throng that will be gathered and reconciled. (Phil. 2:10–11) The fourth passage emphasizes the intrinsic condition of the vast multitude, while it also endorses that which the other passages have to say of their scope, their position, and their attitude. (1 Cor. 15:22–28).
Lest we may limit the scope, this last passage deliberately includes God’s “enemies.” It strengthens the position by showing that there is not only reconciliation but subjection. The attitude of worship is endorsed by the reminder that there will not only be a confession of Christ’s Lordship, but also a complete possession of creation by God, since He then becomes “all in all;” while it adds a further evidence in the condition that all who died in Adam will reach. They will be quickened with the life that made the last Adam ALIVE – not simply resurrected – from the dead. With this vision in his mind it is little wonder that Paul closes his masterly summary of the whole truth in Romans, with the doxology “For of Him and through Him and to Him are ALL THINGS to whom be the glory for the ages. Amen.”
If God has declared His purpose once, it should be enough to settle the fact. He has seen fit to repeat it and emphasize it from every point of view, until there is no loophole of escape from the conclusion that God will yet arrive at His goal.
These passages will bear the closest inspection, for the finer the scrutiny the fuller is their manifest meaning. Even in our Authorized Version the meaning lies upon the surface if we believe what the passages say, and the more we probe their depths the fuller their message stands revealed. In no case do the context and the translation deny one iota of their meaning. In every case they confirm their truth. Never did such a galaxy of stars shine with more splendor in the firmament of revelation.
THE SCOPE OF THE CONSUMMATION
That God’s children may not be in doubt as to the issue of creation, God makes known the mystery of His will, that has its spring in His good pleasure. He purposes, “that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together ALL THINGS in Christ, both which are in the heavens and which are on the earth; even in Him.” (Eph. 1:10) This phrase “gather together” only comes in one other place in the New Testament, where it is translated “briefly comprehended” – (Rom. 13:9) – the whole of the law being briefly comprehended or “summed up” in one sentence. Coneybeare and Howson’s well–known translation and commentary says that the phrase means “literally, to unite all things under one head, in union with Christ.” No less an one than Chrysostom is quoted by these commentators in support. Other versions of the New Testament agree with this. The Headship of Christ over all creatures, “both the things” which are in the heavens and in the earth, is clearly expressed here in this final summary of the issue of the work of creation.
INCLUSION, NOT EXCLUSION
is the principle upon which this consummation will be effected. This is to take place in time in a dispensation of the fullness of times.” It must be subsequent to the judgment of Rev. 20, for there is no sign of such inclusion in the latter passage, but rather the opposite. It is effected in that “age of the ages,” that last age which is the crown of all other time periods, referred to in the same Epistle as follows: “Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages.” (Eph. 3:21) Thus we have the scope of ultimate redemption and the period of its accomplishment.
CONSUMMATION, NOT CATASTROPHE
When we turn to the second passage, in the first chapter of Colossians, we find first of all an amplification of the term “the things in earth and in the heavens.” We discover that the things in earth relate to all things that God has created and over which He presides, obviously the world of men and their interests. The things in the heavens are enumerated as “thrones, dominions, principalities and powers” (verses 16 and I7), those spirit beings of which glimpses are given occasionally in Scripture.
These two spheres “visible and invisible” are ultimately to be reconciled by the blood of that Cross, which already had availed to reconcile the Colossians believers, who were enemies in mind and works (Verses 20 and 21). Exactly the same word is used in both cases to express the position into which some had already been brought, and into which it is God’s ultimate purpose to bring the rest of His creation. In all these verses the strongest words that could be selected have been chosen to emphasize each point. This word “reconcile” is the stronger of two words which could have been used, and Rotherham rightly translates it “fully reconcile.” We know that he is right, for the reconciliation effected in those already saved by the Cross of Christ is the fullest possible. The significance of this passage is seen more fully still when its drift is observed. Paul was combating the Gnostic claim that Christ was only one of the angelic hierarchy. His reply to their claim was, that, in common with the earthly beings, the heavenly hosts themselves stood in need of His atonement. So that the position into which some of His creatures have been brought by the work of His Cross, and into which it is His purpose to bring ALL THINGS in the earth and in the heavens, is one of complete reconciliation.
The argument that “‘all things’ does not mean people” is confuted by the use of the word “reconcile.” The inanimate creation is to be “delivered from the bondage of corruption” into which its association with sin has brought it, but it needs no reconciliation. Such a need presupposes sin and enmity to God; and demands the action of intelligence and choice, of all of which only sentient beings are capable.
CONSTRAINT, NOT COMPULSION
If, however, proof is still needed that people and not mere inanimate creation is meant, we shall find it as we put the third passage in Phil. 2:10 –11, under the X –rays. Here, the introduction of the bent knee and the confessing tongue “of all things in heaven, and things in the earth and things under the earth,” at once refutes the claim that people are not intended. Every word of these two verses (Phil. 2:10–11) is teaming with the fullest meaning. To begin with, we may notice that the idea of mere forced acknowledgment of Christ’s Lordship, which is the most that some of the Lord’s people will allow that this passage gives to Him, is met by several clear indications to the contrary.
In the first place, the preposition “at” must be exchanged for the word “in” to meet the requirements of the original, as readers of the Revised Version will note. “In the Name of Jesus,” is the term used everywhere in the New Testament to express an attitude of intelligent, willing consent and co–operation. “In the Name of Jesus rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6)
The word “bow” is selected to denote willing worship, as will be seen by comparison with its use in other settings. It is the word used when Paul “bows” the knee to the Father. (Eph. 3:14). The seven thousand men whom God reserved for Himself at Carmel had not “bowed the knee to Baal.” (Rom. 11:4) They had refused to give this false God willing worship. When, however, a mockery of worship was accorded Jesus in His trial before Pilate, another word is chosen by the Holy Ghost (Mark 15:19) than that used in the passages that we have quoted, where willing adoration is offered. Any one who takes the trouble to compare these words in his anxiety to arrive at the truth, will find these points verified. What surprises us, more than anything else in this discussion, is, that so many of God’s people show no disposition to get at the truth, and seem to be satisfied with assumption and tradition.
As our readers may know, Paul is here quoting from Isaiah 45. After bidding “all the ends of the earth” to look and be saved, God swears by Himself – the strongest determination being expressed by this form of speech – that unto Him “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear.” Again the greatest care has been observed in the Hebrew in the selection of the word translated “bow” in this passage, that a word indicative of whole –hearted worship and a word everywhere else used to denote the homage of the heart should be chosen. Moreover, on the two occasions that the word “swear” appears in this passage, it is the same word in the Hebrew. With that full purpose of heart that God swears by Himself to effect His end, every tongue shall swear to Him. The passage even gives the terms of the confession. “Surely shall one say – that is, the one that will thus swear – in the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” (Is. 45:22–24)
Turning back to the Philippian passage, equal care is shown in the choice of the word “confess.” It is the word – to give one instance of many – which Christ uses, when he says “I thank Thee, Father, etc.” (Matt. 11:25) Far removed is the thought in this word of forced unwilling worship, as one other point still further demonstrates.
The Lordship of Christ is the burden of the confession, when, thus, every knee and every tongue shall be engaged in worship. Scripture shows us that the confession of Christ’s Lordship is the outcome of an inner working of the Holy Ghost. To set Scripture to explain Scripture, is the most satisfactory method of exposition, as it is the only means by which the truth can be reached. The reader will easily recall the passage where confession of the Lord Jesus with the mouth, together with the belief of the heart in Him, is a sign of salvation. (Rom. 10:9). Also that other passage where confession of the Lordship of Christ is said to be the outcome of the work of the Holy Ghost. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Cor. 12:3) Of this company in Phil. 2:10–11, Mr. D. M. Panton says: “Now it is certain that this Scripture states that all creation, all persons whatsoever in the illimitable universe, will one day, personally and openly, confess Christ. ‘God hath highly exalted Him and given unto Him the Name which is above every other name’; that – in order that, as the purpose and result of the exaltation – in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow; the bent knee in dumb acknowledgment of a worshiping will; ‘of things in heaven’ – all unseen principalities and powers whatsoever, fallen and unfallen – ‘and things on earth’ – the totality of mankind – ‘and things under the earth’ – the abyss, the home of both the dead (Rom. 10:7) and demons (Luke 8:31), ‘and that every tongue’ – therefore every personality, human and angelic – ‘shall confess’ – confess, as the Greek word means, openly and plainly, the tongue confessing that before which the knee bows – ‘that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’ (Phil. 2:11) A name above every name, every knee bowed, every tongue confessing; not one knee unbent; not one tongue silent; no universality could be more complete.” Nevertheless Panton escapes from the admission he thus makes by the most extraordinary claim that, “It is clear that this universal homage is offered at the second advent.” Does not Mr. Panton see, that if this homage is offered at the second advent, it cannot be composed of “the totality of mankind,” for the second advent is previous to the Millennium, when multitudes of beings will be yet unborn, and at the close of which a number as great as the sand of the sea will revolt against the dominion of Christ. (Rev. 20:8) How hard do the lovers of Christ labor to prove that He will never be Lord of all creation in the fullest deepest sense!
This worship, furthermore, will be “to the glory of God the Father.” If compulsion, as to a judge, was the spring of such worship, it could hardly satisfy the heart of Him who pities as a father pities his children.
VIVIFICATION, NOT CORRUPTION
We come to the passage now, which in the vision of “things to come” brings us to the very end of time, when Christ will have reigned “for the ages of the ages.” (Rev. 11:15) Many have confused the scene in 1 Cor. 15, 22–28 with the close of the Millennium. It is easy to see that there are striking differences, which prove that the scene in Revelation 20 is an end of a period or age, and the scene in 1 Cor. 15, is THE END of all time, periods or ages.
The difference will be clearly observed if the diverse conditions are considered. In the former (Rev. 20) there is rebellion and the imposition of the second death. In the latter there is subjection and the destruction of death. Again, in the former we view Christ upon the throne judging the dead and promulgating a sentence upon the rebels, which takes effect in the future. (“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before the throne.” This is the translation preferred by the Revised Version, and by six out of seven of the foremost Greek texts. Schofield’s Bible adopts it also in the margin). In the latter (1 Cor. 1:15) we see Him delivering up a subjected Kingdom to the Father: the first is a scene of judgment, the second is one of victory. The enemies in the first are defiant: the enemies in the second are submissive.
Still another proof can be advanced, to show that these two scenes are at two totally different occasions, widely separate by indefinite time. The first (Rev. 20) occurs at the end of the Millennium, the Messianic age. The other is at the expiration of “the ages of the ages.” Since Christ reigns for “the ages of the ages” in His kingdom, He could not be said to deliver up His kingdom till the close of that period. Hence it is clear that the scene in Rev. 20 is not to be identified with the deliverance of the kingdom to the Father, because it takes place at the end of one age only, viz.: the Messianic reign.
This is not all. The same word is used six times to designate the kind of submission to which all things, including Christ’s enemies, are brought. In our Authorized Version this word is translated in three different English ways, “put under” – “subdued” – “subject.” In the sentence where it is translated “subject,” it has reference to the nature of the submission of the Son, “then shall the Son Himself be subject unto Him.”
This gives a keynote to the situation, which it is possible the translators of the Authorized Version could not accept, since their theology did not admit of such a climax as the complete voluntary subjection of all things, including enemies, to the scepter of Christ. Yet here it is plainly written, that, with a subjection identical to that of the Son all things will finally yield to His sway. So complete will be this subjection that it becomes necessary in the statement to exempt God Himself from the general rule. “It is manifest that He is excepted which did subject all things unto Him.” Only entire voluntariness to God’s will, such as Christ yielded to the Father, could justify the expression that sums up the scene. God cannot be “ALL in ALL” where less than complete, universal obedience and homage is accorded Him. The language is so explicit, that only the bias of tradition can refuse to admit the unmistakable meaning of the terms in use.
We pause a moment to refer to the objection raised on the ground of the solitary use of this word “subject,” in the case of the devils who were “subject” to the disciples. (Luke 10:17) This is the only place where the word is used in a situation that seems to suggest less than voluntary subjection. It is the word used to express the obedience of Jesus to His parents (Luke 2: 51); of the subjection of the Church to Christ (Eph. 5:24); of the submission of believers to one another. (1 Peter 5:5) In every case but that of the devil’s submission, it is in a context that connects it with “a voluntary, conscientious, moral, dutiful, and often affectionate subjection.” Is the rule to cover the exception, or the exception to override the rule? If the latter, then a question stop is put to all the other examples of subjection, even to that of Christ! Two things must be remembered in the treatment of the story of the victory over the devils by the Apostles. First, that it is their verdict of the incident which governs the use of the word. As they beheld the instant response to the authority of that wondrous name, no other word could suggest itself to them. In the second place, if it was too strong a word to express the temporary submission of these spirits to Christ, it is nevertheless used by Paul to denote the subsequent subjection of all things to Christ in this passage under consideration. It is amazing that it is not recognized at once, what great glory would be gotten to Christ through the ultimate, entire, voluntary, glad subjection of all His enemies to Himself through the judgments of His Kingdom and grace of His Cross.
One other fact remains for consideration. It is the condition of the three orders into which all men finally group, every man in his own order. “For as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ shall ALL BE MADE ALIVE.”
All humanity is here divided into three orders, “every man in his own order.” Christ is the first fruits; then follow those who are His at His coming; then, at the consummation, come the rest of mankind. Notice that all are to pass into the same condition, though at different times. There is no distinction made between Christ and His people, or between His people and the residue of humanity, except that of their order in time. All are to be “made alive.” (renewed life, i.e., vivified) This is something more than physical resurrection. Others were raised from the dead previous to Christ’s resurrection, but only to natural life. Christ could say, “I am alive for the ages.” Using the same word in 1 Cor. 15:45, Paul speaks of Him as a “quickening spirit.” Adam was but a living soul, and could give only to his posterity that which he possessed. Christ has more than physical life to bestow, He has life and immortality, therefore He calls Himself “the Resurrection and the Life.” For the same reason it is written the Father raises the dead and quickeneth them – makes them alive. (John 5:21)
How different is that appearance of “the dead small and great” before the great white throne (Rev. 20:11) at the close of the Millennium. Summoned to a resurrection of terrible judgment, those that are not found written in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire which is the second death. Behold them now at the consummation, with death the last enemy abolished because its work is done, MADE ALIVE in their “own order,” to own the Lordship of that One through the merits of whose cross they have been brought in a glad subjection to His feet.
Thus the drama of creation begins with a scene in which the first Adam takes a step that leads all his posterity into ruin and death. It closes with a vision in which the last Adam presents to the Father, as a fruit of His Cross and Throne, a universe of beings delivered from sin and death, and worshiping in adoring wonder at His feet. This is the “purpose of the ages.” (Eph. 3:11). This is the goal of creation. Then will Christ see of the travail of His soul and be SATISFIED.
Saxby, A.E., London, England, God in Creation, Redemption, Judgment and Consummation.
Fallbrook, California, Van–Del Press,
GOD IN CONSUMMATION [A. E. Saxby] 1