|- J. Preston Eby -
Our next, and final, preposition reveals the ultimate GOAL! What has been provided in Christ is a re-turn, a re-storation, a re-newing, a re-demption, a re-concilation, a re-surrection, a re-stitution. The prefix "re" means BACK, AGAIN, ANEW - and all the words with this prefix speak of something that LEFT ITS PLACE AND HAS NOW MADE ITS CIRCUIT AND COME BACK TO THE POINT OF ITS BEGINNING.
Let me give you now a scripture that shows the hand of God in this and the extensive scope of both the departure from, and the returning unto, God. I quote from Ps. 90:1-3. "Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth or the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. T-H-O-U TURNEST MAN TO DESTRUCTION; and sayest, RETURN, YE CHILDREN OF MEN." You could never read this word "return" here, if you had not first read that man had been "turned" away to destruction. In this passage the word "destruction" has this meaning in the original: A COMPLETE COLLAPSE, a falling apart, crumbling man to a contrite condition. After turning man to destruction God then says, "RETURN TO ME, yea children of men."
There was a day when Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus (Mars Hill Auditorium) declared to the philosophers of Athens, "The God who produced and formed the world and all things in it, made from one common origin, one source, all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined their allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation - their settlements, lands, abodes; SO THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK GOD, IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MIGHT FEEL AFTER HIM AND FIND HIM, although He is is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, FOR WE ARE ALSO HIS OFFSPRING" (Acts 17:24-28, Amplified).
Oh, yes, He turned us to destruction, but planted deep within the subconsciousness of every man the secret command to return, which is revealed in that inner desire, yearning, craving, seeking, feeling, compulsion which is never satisfied until man does find himself at home in God once more. All the religiousness of men, from the witch doctor in the jungle to the modernist in the pulpit in America, is the manifestation of this FEELING AFTER GOD, IF HAPLY THEY MIGHT FIND HIM. While mankind in general is still lost in the hellish darkness of sin and death, yet there is a firstfruit company whose hearts have been charged by the inward call to return, and with the Shulamite maiden in the Song of Solomon share this blessed experience: "By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loveth: I sought Him but I found Him not. I will arise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broadways I will seek Him whom my soul loveth: I sought Him but I found Him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw yea Him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I FOUND HIM WHOM MY SOUL LOVETH: I HELD HIM, AND WOULD NOT LET HIM GO" (S. of S. 3:1-4). As the Spirit has witnessed through the prophet: "And yea shall seek Me, and find Me, when yea shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13).
Mankind is yet groping about in the dense darkness of the camal mind, knowing not that HE is standing right there in the shadows, were their eyes opened to see. Yet He hath appointed a day - O glorious day! - when His light shall shine forth and the plan shall be completed as the apostle saith, "For God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan, and it is this: He purposed long ago in His sovereign will that all human history should be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in heaven or earth should find its perfection and fulfillment in Him. IN CHRIST we have been given an inheritance, since we were destined for this, by the One who works out all His purposes according to the design of His own will" (Eph. 1:9-11, Phillips).
This great law of circularity by which all things in God's creation are seen to return to the place of their beginning, in its spiritual significance, is expressed in our text: "For FROM HIM (EK: out of), and THROUGH HIM (DIA: by means of), and TO HIM (EIS: into), are all things." The Authorized Version says and to Him are all things." The preposition "to" is from the Greek EIS meaning INTO the exact converse of the first statement, "OUT OF Him are all things." The preposition EIS denotes motion with a GOAL - a forward movement with an arrival at a determined point. A careful investigation will show that the sense is never limited to the motion towards, but always extends to the entrance and arrival into. Thus the pen of inspiration has proclaimed the wonderful truth that not only has all come out of God, not only will all be made to pass redemptively through Jesus Christ, but all will ultimately come back into God in the same state of unity, harmony and perfection of its primeval existence.
That wondrous "Golden Text" of the Bible is the best known and perhaps the most loved passage of scripture in the world. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn. 3:16). Critics of the ultimate salvation of all men have been quick to point out the word "whosoever" in an effort to show that not all will believe in Jesus, making it a limited thing, only the "whosoever" that believes receives everlasting life. This erroneous notion arises from an inattention to the simple facts of the Greek text. "Whosoever" translates the Greek word PAS which means ALL, EVERYONE. Passages such as the following employ the word PAS: "...gathered ALL (PAS) the chief priests..." "...slew ALL (PAS) the children..." "EVERY (PAS) word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God", "...healing ALL MANNER (PAS) of sickness and disease among the people", "...giveth light to ALL (PAS) that are in the world", "EVERY (PAS) good tree bringeth forth good fruit", "...so death passed upon ALL (PAS) men, for that ALL (PAS) have sinned...therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon ALL (PAS) men to condenmation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL (PAS) men unto justification of life", "...the WHOLE (PAS) creation groaneth..." "...who is over ALL (PAS), God blessed for ever", "...concluded ALL (PAS) in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon ALL (PAS)", "...gather together in one ALL (PAS) things..." "...reconcile ALL (PAS) things unto Himself", and the list runs on almost endlessly, for there are literally hundreds of passages where this word PAS is translated ALL or EVERY. A literal translation from the Greek would read, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that EVERYONE BELIEVING INTO HIM should not perish, but may be having life eonian."
Everyone believing into Him. What a thought! Certainly there is no forced limitation there, no exclusion, no set boundary; the mighty God, he blessed Redeemer of the world excludes none, leaving the gate open wide for EVERYMAN to believe and come home into God.
Our faltering English allows us to believe on Christ or in Christ. But the more truthful tongue of inspiration prefers to believe into. The word in the original is the same preposition EIS meaning INTO. "...that everyone believing into Him might not perish..." Faith is a moving force. When we believe we do not stand on, or even in, but we are transferred from without to within. Out of the world and into God's Son. Not only is He the foundation beneath our feet, but He is above us and all around us. The true force of into is seen in the very next verse. As God dispatched His Son into the world, so faith moves us from outside of Him into Him. How much richer would be our life and experience if we should imitate God as beloved children, even in His ways of speaking! He seldom refers to the great change wrought by faith as a motionless position. Never is it faith in Him until after the great transaction is accomplished. Seldom, in John's gospel, do we read of believing on the Christ. Yet nearly forty times, in nearly every chapter, we read of believing INTO. In the third chapter alone it occurs four times. INTO suggests progression, carries with it a sense of growth, development and motion, a pressing on and an entrance into realities beyond.
Saving faith is not of ourself, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. Faith is the omnipotent power that will bring us back into ONENESS IN GOD. We shall be enabled to fully believe into Him. I think I can best illustrate it this way. If I took a bottle down to the ocean and filled it with ocean water, I could say, The ocean is in the bottle; but the bottle wouldn't be in the ocean, it would be in my hand: but if I got into a boat and went out into the ocean and dropped the bottle over the side and watched it as it disappeared beneath the waves, then I could say, The bottle is in the ocean. Now I could say, The ocean is in the bottle and the bottle is in the ocean. So you see, there is a world of difference between the ocean being in the bottle and the bottle being in the ocean.There is also a difference between Christ being in us and us being IN CHRIST. Christ can be in us without us being in Christ. Paul speaks of Christ in us, the hope of glory; and it is wonderful to know that HE dwells in one; but this is not the end of our salvation, it is just the beginning. We must follow on until we are IN CHRIST; and that means to be completely swallowed up into Him, as the bottle is swallowed up in the ocean. We are to be rooted and built up IN HIM.
In understanding how all things shall be restored into God, it might be helpful to consider what is taking place in the beginning of the new creation; for the new creation has already begun. The new creation is composed of those who are being created anew through and into the Christ. "Therefore, if any one is IN CHRIST he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and behold the new has come" (II Cor. 5:17, R.S.V.). Nothing can be clearer than this, that in this passage we are told of the beginning of the new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come.
The reference is to that firstfruit company who are the first to enter into the new. They become fully a new creation IN CHRIST. It is because they are IN CHRIST that they are a new creation. In the life of the one who is IN CHRIST, the old has passed away, and everything has become new. Now I know that this scripture is applied by most Christians to all believers; but if we will take time to consider this reverently and carefully, we can easily see that it does not pertain to the average believer today. When we first believe on the Lord a new beginning has commenced. A change has started; some of the old has passed away, and some new things have taken their place; but who among us can boast that EVERYTHING IN OUR LIFE became new when we first believed? Our salvation is a progressive work; it begins when we first turn to the Lord, and continues until we are complete IN CHRIST.
If we take this scripture in the simplicity of how it reads, it means that to be in Christ, everything pertaining to the old creation has been taken away: the old nature is gone; the old flesh is gone; the old mind is gone; the old desires are gone; the old emotions are gone; the old will is gone; the old habits are gone; all the old carnal tendencies are gone, and we have become an entirely new creation. Jesus often spoke of His Father being in Him. He said, "It is not I that do the works, it is My Father that dwelleth IN ME." The Father dwelt in the Son and worked through His Son to do His will. But this isn't all He said. When talking to His disciples in Jn. 14:10, He said, "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?" It wasn't just that the Father was in Him, but He was also in the Father. Several times He impressed this truth deeply upon His disciples. When He was praying to the Father for those God had given Him, that they might be one, that they might come into glorious unity, He prayed this way "That they all may be ONE; as Thou Father art in Me, and I in Thee, that they may be ONE IN US" (Jn. 17:21). This is a mutual dwelling, "as Thou Father art in Me, and I in Thee." The Father was dwelling in Him, and He was living in the Father. Only this mutual dwelling can bring oneness, the unity, the wholeness that God desires. It is not Christ in us that restores us into the oneness of God's nature; it is us in Christ. When the ocean is in the bottle you see the bottle first, and the ocean second. But when the bottle is in the ocean you see the ocean first, and the bottle afterwards, if, indeed, the bottle is seen at all. When Christ is in us we are still seen first, and Christ is seen second. But when we are swallowed up into Christ HE IS SEEN and we are lost in HIS FULLNESS.
And now He, Who is ONE, harmoniously works this victory into us, line upon line, precept upon precept, changing us by degrees, gathering all into Himself, that we might be restored into the same identity, or state of being as Himself. Not until all our desires, drives, longings, needs, are met in the very central supremacy of Christ can we know full peace and joy and righteousness and completeness. IN HIM all deficiencies are met, IN HIM there is balance, and "IN HIM all things consist (are held together)" (Col. 1: 17).
We have been so divided in ourselves! Torn between desires for the world, and desires for God. Vacillating back and forth between the cravings of the flesh, and the yearnings of the Spirit. We speak of the "old man" and then of the "new man", and we often wonder which one we really are, or if we are still trying to blend them both together. But no man can serve two masters, and thus we have passed through the conflict, to which shall we give obedience? It is evident that we still LACK FROM ELOHIM. Praise God for the present "through" Christ process, for the purgings which are a part of the way of the cross, for gradually we find that the flesh is stripped away, the old is put off, and the new shall arise, yes, our life shall totally be found in the singleness of Christ. Then shall we become one in ourselves, even as we become ONE IN HIM.
Writings in This Series: