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"ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME IN
HEAVEN AND IN EARTH"

by Keith R. Blades

 
The above words, recorded in Matthew 28:18, were uttered by the Lord Jesus Christ to His apostles following His resurrection from the dead and just before returning to His Father. Though the words are few and simple in themselves, what the Lord conveyed by them to His apostles was highly significant. They were not simply words that declared His victory over death, but they were words that declared His capability and right to begin to now execute the remainder of what the Davidic covenant called for Him to do as Israel’s Christ. Specifically they were words that declared to His apostles that He was in the position at that very time to fulfill all that had been prophesied concerning vanquishing Israel’s enemies, purging out the apostate element, restoring the kingdom to Israel, and so glorifying her. In short, therefore, they were words that announced that He was in the position to execute all that the final installment in Israel’s program — ‘the day of His power’ — called for. Hence these few words were full of promise and expectation concerning the fulfillment of God’s program with Israel. They proclaimed to the apostles the good news that the Lord was in possession of all the power and authority necessary to finish off the climactic stage in Israel’s program and to then establish the kingdom of heaven on this earth. And in view of the truth of those words, the Lord commissioned His apostles to fulfill their special role as His apostles during that final installment to the program.

These words, therefore, were indeed highly significant words for the apostles to hear. And they understood and appreciated what they meant. However they ought to be also highly significant to us, though for an entirely different reason. This is because what they signified has yet to be fulfilled. The Lord’s ‘day of power’ has yet to occur.

The Background to These Words

As Israel’s Christ, the Lord Jesus particularly came into this world to be Israel’s "horn of salvation." He came to redeem and to deliver Israel in fulfillment of all of the mandates of the Davidic covenant. In so doing, the Lord would not only suffer for them as their Redeemer, but He would also deliver them from the hands of their enemies, avenge God’s cause with them on this earth, and glorify them. He would powerfully execute the "days of vengeance" spoken of by the prophets and so destroy Israel’s enemies. And He would then powerfully and without successful opposition establish Himself as "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" on this earth, ruling and reigning in Zion. The prophets repeatedly proclaimed these things, and they were the hope of Israel, as the following examples testify.

4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.

5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:4-7)

 

20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.

21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.

22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.

23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously. (Isaiah 24:20-23)

 

1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thy enemies.

3 Thy people shall be willing IN THE DAY OF THY POWER;…

5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.

6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.

7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head. (Psalm 110:1-3,5-7)

The foregoing passages make it plain that the Lord Jesus Christ, in redeeming and saving Israel, was not only going to suffer for them. He would also execute the wrath of Almighty God upon their enemies in the ‘day of His power,’ and reign victoriously through and with Israel over this earth in the glory of their kingdom, just as promised in the Davidic and Abrahamic covenants.

Wherefore at the beginning of the climactic stage in Israel’s program, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, spoke about this aspect of Christ’s work as he declared the reality of what God was doing at that time.

68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,

69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,

75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. (Luke 1:68-75)

The execution of the Christ’s power as Israel’s "horn of salvation" in judging and destroying her enemies was anticipated with great longing, as the nation looked for her "consolation" through the son of David. And the fact that the time for that aspect of His work was nigh, was pointed out by the Lord to his disciples when He told them,…

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)

 

49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I if it be already kindled?

50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! (Luke 12:49-50)

Though "already kindled" the Lord was not going to have "the day of his wrath," purge His nation, and vanquish her enemies, until He first suffered in her behalf. However once having done so, then in accordance with the remaining mandates of the Davidic covenant He would be given "the sure mercies of David" with the power and authority to "put all things under his feet." Then, just as is set forth in the 2nd Psalm, the Father would say to Him,...

8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalm 2:8-9)

This, once again, was the powerful position Jesus Christ was in when following His resurrection He declared to His apostles, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." He, in accordance with the Davidic covenant, was now in the position to subdue all things unto Himself. He was now in the position to have His day of power and to so fulfill all the things written concerning the "days of vengeance."

The Readiness for the Execution of The Lord’s Power

In the opening chapters of the book of Acts we read about the arrival of the "last days" in Israel’s program and the urgent need for Israel to realize that they were on the verge of having the Lord’s day of power come upon them. Hence after certifying that their prophesied "last days" had begun, Peter proclaimed to Israel concerning Christ,…

34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:34-36)

And again, as recorded in Acts 3, he announced unto the people,…

22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. (Act 3:22-24)

Finally, Stephen, after indicting the rulers of Israel for their persistent rebelliousness against God, particularly in view of God’s extension of mercy to them, proclaimed to them that the Lord was now ready to ‘make His enemies His footstool.’

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus STANDING on the right hand of God,

56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man STANDING on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55-56)

With Stephen’s announcement the nation of Israel (and the world as a whole) was ripe for receiving the execution of the Lord’s "all power." The Lord had taken His position in preparation for administering the judgments of His indignation and fierce anger, just as had been expected.

The Unexpected Staying of The Lord’s Power

However instead of doing what had been expected, the Lord Jesus Christ did something totally unexpected. As Acts 9 records, He came back from heaven and re-appeared to Saul of Tarsus (Paul) on the road to Damascus. In so doing, the Lord raised him up as a brand new apostle and sent him out to declare the longsuffering of God and that God was making a great dispensational change. To Paul God revealed that He was temporarily suspending His program with Israel and was bringing in a dispensation of His grace for us Gentiles. Wherefore Paul testifies, for example, in Ephesians 3:1ff,…

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

6 That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: (Ephesians 3:1-6)

Instead of pouring out His wrath and administering His "days of vengeance," God revealed to the apostle Paul "the mystery of Christ," which He had kept secret in ages and generations past.

It is because of this present dispensation of God’s longsuffering and grace that the Lord has not yet executed His day of wrath on this earth. It is because of the out-working of the "mystery of Christ" that the Lord has not yet fulfilled all His promises to Israel and reigned gloriously over her on this earth as their "horn of salvation."

However this present "dispensation of the grace of God" will not continue on indefinitely. As the apostle Paul declares in Romans 11:25-27, the "fulness of the Gentiles" will one day be "come in," and then God will resume His program and dealings with the nation of Israel. When He does so, the Lord will have His day in which He will show Himself to be the One to whom ‘all power in heaven and in earth’ has been given. As the apostle Paul says in reference to that time,…

15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; (I Timothy 6:15)

"All power" truly has been given unto the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord will indeed "rule in the midst of his enemies" and fulfill all the remaining mandates of the Davidic covenant with Israel on this earth. But this will not be until after He concludes this present dispensation of His longsuffering and grace to us Gentiles. Then, and only then, will He ‘take unto Himself His great power and reign.’
K. R. Blades


 
Paul, Paul, Paul

It is a delight beyond description to be able to understand and appreciate what God is doing in His plan and purpose. By "rightly dividing the word of truth" in accordance with the great dispensational change that God has made we can open the Bible and have the testimony of God’s word make sense. How marvelous it is to recognize the difference between God’s program and dealings with His nation Israel, and the program that He has in effect with us today as set forth in the epistles of the Apostle Paul. Confusion is completely dispelled when once we recognize the distinctiveness of Paul’s apostleship and message, and hence the distinctiveness of this present dispensation of God’s grace to us Gentiles. There is no need to be in a state of consternation or perplexity trying to apply promises, instructions, and doctrines to ourselves today, which God gave to Israel. There is no need for us to be forced to ‘spiritualize’ prophecies and teachings that God gave to Israel, because we mistakenly think that they somehow belong to us today. "Rightly dividing the word of truth" in accordance with the great dispensational change God has made frees us from perplexity, consternation, and contradiction.

Unfortunately, however, as we talk to people about these things, (especially about Paul’s special apostleship), often times our understanding and appreciation is not readily received. It is objected to and sometimes it is even vigorously opposed. Yet if a person is honest with himself, and also with God’s word, the reality of the distinctiveness of Paul’s apostleship and message is inescapable. And this is because God Himself has made it so. Nevertheless when we first confront people with the issue of Paul having a special and different apostleship, they often object.

I Object

The particular objection I am referring to goes something like this: ‘Oh, you are just making way too much out of the Apostle Paul.’ Or, ‘Paul, Paul, Paul; that’s all you ever talk about. You exalt him above the Lord Jesus.’ Or even, ‘You can follow Paul if you want, but I’m following Jesus.’ These responses are often charged with a lot of emotion, but they are prompted by the emphasis that we lay upon the special nature of Paul’s apostleship. We, of course, do not exalt Paul above the Lord, nor follow him as a man. Yet we do magnify his office, as he himself did. And we do this because God Himself has purposely made a big deal out of the apostleship He gave to Paul. Moreover this very issue is something that God has designed to be a manifest token of the reality of the great dispensational change that He made when He raised up Paul to be His apostle of the Gentiles.

The Right to Glory

In Romans 15:8-21 the Apostle Paul underscores the issue of the great dispensational change that God has made in suspending His program with Israel and turning to us Gentiles. In the passage Paul "magnifies his office" as the "minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles" that he is. And in view of this being the case he declares,…

17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. (Romans 15:17)

Paul does "glory" a lot "through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God." Paul talks about himself and his ministry more than any other New Testament writer. Several hundred times in the course of his epistles he draws attention to himself either by name, or by the personal pronoun "I." And in doing so, over and over again we are confronted with the person of the Apostle Paul. But this is not done out of arrogance or egotism. Instead it is done because just as Paul says, he has "whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God." Paul, therefore, has a God-ordained reason not only for why he could glory, but also for why he should glory.

A Divinely Designed Marker

It is God Himself who has the Apostle Paul talk about himself as much as he does. Yet clearly not to magnify the man Paul, but to magnify the office of his apostleship and thereby draw attention to the great dispensational change that God has made in turning to the Gentiles. Paul’s apostleship, message, and ministry, is indeed new and different. It marks a great change from what was going on before. It is clearly different from what is recorded in the Gospel accounts when our Lord was here functioning as "a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." And what a change it is from the continuation of Israel’s program administered by Peter and the rest of the 12 apostles as set forth in the opening chapters of the book of Acts. God has indeed ushered in a great dispensational change to the praise of the glory of His grace, and He has magnified the office of the Apostle Paul to draw attention to the change.

A perusal of the number of times that Paul specifically talks about himself and his ministry shows that he deliberately does so to draw attention to this very issue of the great dispensational change that God has made through raising him up and making known unto him "the revelation of the mystery." Consider the following few examples:

15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace of God that is given unto me of God,

16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:15-16)

 

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)

 

25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of the grace of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God;

26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: (Colossians 1:25-26)

 

15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (I Timothy 1:15-16)

The self-consciousness of the Apostle Paul is two-fold. First, he himself clearly understood and appreciated the distinctiveness of his apostleship and message. And secondly Paul also knew that the very means by which God would draw attention to the great dispensational change that He has made, was through magnifying the office of his special apostleship.

Paul, therefore, had reason not only whereby he could glory through Jesus Christ, but again he had reason whereby he should do so. And so he did; and so should we. For it is a Divinely designed means of marking out the dispensation of God’s grace that is now in effect. — K. R. Blades

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