While this is the "Dispensation of Grace," and God's purpose during it is to gather out a "People for His Name"-the CHURCH, the world out of which the Church is being gathered is called-
'"THE PRESENT EVIL AGE"
Gal. 1:4. (R.V.).
That this "Age" is EVIL is seen in the character of its civilization. After nearly 1900 years of Gospel preaching the world is in a worse state, in proportion to its light, than it was in the days of Christ, and seems headed toward some great crisis. The spirit of lawlessness is in the air, and despite all efforts to quench it, it is strangely becoming unmanageable and perverse and determined to break away from all authority and law.
How are we to account for this? Has God lost His control over the world, or is He permitting some other agency to have its way?
The answer is that there are
"TWO OPPOSING SPIRITS"
at work in the world in this Dispensation. The "HOLY SPIRIT" who is engaged in gathering out the elect body of the Church, and the "SPIRIT OF EVIL." These are called in 1Cor. 2:12, the "SPIRIT WHICH IS OF GOD, " and the "SPIRIT OF THE WORLD, " and in , the "SPIRIT OF TRUTH" and the "SPIRIT OF ERROR." The Spirit of Error is the source of all the "STRONG DELUSIONS" (2 'I'hess. 2:11) that are in the world today, and as the "End of the Age" draws near they are being rapidly multiplied, and it requires the utmost vigilance not to be caught in their net. just as the Church is indwelt and guided by the "HOLY SPIRIT, it so the World outside the Church -is indwelt and guided by the "SPIRIT OF THE WORLD" (1Cor. 2:12), or "UNHOLY SPIRIT." And as the "HOLY SPIRIT" is a PERSON, so the "SPIRIT OF THE WORLD" is a PERSON.
"And you hath He quickened, (by His Holy Spirit), who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the 'COURSE (AGE) OF THIS WORLD, ' according to the Prince of the 'Power of the Air,' (Satan) the 'SPIRIT' (Evil Spirit) that now worketh (energizes) in the-
CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE
hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
From this we see that the "SPIRIT OF THE WORLD" is SATAN.
The world refused to accept the rule of God when it crucified His Son, and chose
Barabbas instead of Christ, thus exalting Satan to the position of the "GOD OF THIS AGE, " for Satan is
not spoken of as the God of any other Age than this. It was Satan's ambition to be like God that caused his fall
( ), and he has not as yet given up that ambition, and it is his purpose and plan to exalt himself in the person
of Antichrist, whom he will indwell, and sit in the "Temple of God," (the rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem),
AS GOD, and have the people worship him as such. that day shall not come, except there come a
falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
. is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? Rev. 13:4, .
This Dispensation is spoken of in the Scriptures as "MAN'S DAY." Writing to the Corinthians Paul says, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of 'man's judgement."' The margin reads of-"MAN'S DAY." 1Cor. 4:3. This then is the day of the GLORIFICATION OF MAN. The day in' which the works of man are exalted and praised. We cannot explain the great advance in knowledge and the mechanic arts of the past hundred years, apart from God, only on the supposition that there is some superhuman being who imparts this knowledge and who controls the affairs of the mechanical and commercial world. And worthy of note that it was not the descendants of Seth, the people of the Antediluvian Dispensation, but the descendants of the ungodly people of that period, who invented metal working devised musical instruments (doubtless for pleasure), and built cities for commercial and other purposes. Now we know that Satan's gospel is the-
"GOSPEL OF PROGRESS."
He preached it in the Garden of Eden when he promised that if she would eat of the fruit of the Tree of the "Knowledge of Good and Evil," her eyes would be opened, and she and Adam would be as "Gods, " knowing good and evil. Gen. 3:5.
It was the promise of KNOWLEDGE that caused the downfall of the human race, and when Adam and Eve followed Satan's advice they committed the race to the acceptance of his LEADERSHIP AND PROGRAM.
It is not likely that the Holy God imparted to the ungodly race of Cain the knowledge to invent things that would lead to the down fall of the race and help to bring on the Flood. Neither is it supposed that a God of Love would impart to men the knowledge that would enable them to invent such hellish instruments of warfare as were used in the great European War. It is clear then that is some "SUPERNATURAL BEING" who is at the head of the "WORLD SYSTEM, " and that that "Being" is-"SATAN." His program is to build up a magnificent Civilization without God. The phrase "Christian Civilization" is an invention of the "God of this Age." There can be no such thing, for Christianity and Civilization have nothing in common. There can be no Christian civilization without Christ, and when He comes back He will bring to an end the boasted civilization of this Age, and set up a NEW CIVILIZATION over which Satan shall have no control, for he will then be a prisoner,' in the Pit. It is clear that if this world could be made a fit place for men to live in without God, it could not have had a more masterly leader than Satan, and that if he has failed it is not his fault, but is due to the wilfulness of man.
There are but two classes of people spoken of in the New Testament. The "CHILDREN OF GOD, " and the "CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL." "In this the 'CHILDREN OF GOD' are manifest, and the 'CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL:' whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God." 1John 3:10. Here all who "doeth not righteousness" are classed as "CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL, " and in Eph. 2:2 are called the "CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE". There is no possibility of union between them, therefore there cannot be any such thing as the "BROTHERHOOD OF MAN, " which popularly understood is the union of all religious bodies and sects, such as Christians, Jews, Atheists, Unitarians, Mohammedans, Buddhists, Confucianists, etc., in a Federation of Religions.
The word "disobedience" means obstinate rebellion. How futile then is the effort of the "Children of Disobedience" to make the earth a more comfortable habitation for man, and bring in a Millennium by a Federation of all Religious Bodies when the bulk of mankind is in OBSTINATE REBELLION against God, and will not have His Son to reign over them, but are spending every energy to produce a "Godless Civilization" and make way for Satan's "MASTERPIECE" the "MAN OF SIN."
Satan is the "DECEIVER OF THE WORLD." Rev. 12:9. He raises "false hopes, "
and deludes by the-"DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES" (Mat-t. 13:22), the "DECEITFULNESS OF SIN" (Heb. 1,
3:13) and the "DECEITFULNESS OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS."Even him, whose coming is after the working of
Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
. He causes the "exercise of the imagination, " and by "strong delusions, " and "seducing spirits, " he tries to make men believe that his plans for the world's betterment are right. His advocates point to the great increase in scientific knowledge and invention, the great advance in methods of world-wide communication by land, sea, and air, and the various inventions that lighten labor and add to domestic comfort, and claim that the world is growing better, not only because of these, but because of the great philanthropies of men that have founded colleges, libraries, hospitals and great charitable institutions, forgetting that these things only tend to the physical helpfulness of man and have little to do with his moral character, and overlooking the fact that, in spite of all this advancement of civilization, the world today sits on the mouth of a volcano, whose interior is a "foaming cauldron" of social unrest and commercial rottenness.
When the "God of this Age" discovered that he could not stamp out the Church by PERSECUTION, he changed his tactics and now seeks to neutralize her efforts by SEDUCTION. His method is to divert her efforts for the evangelization of the world, to methods of "Social Betterment," and thus make the world a better place to live in, forgetting that, as the natural man cannot be spiritually saved by CULTURE, neither can the world, therefore all efforts to save the world by "Social Betterment" are futile. And when the Church lends her aid to such methods she confesses that Christ's method of saving the world IS INSUFFICIENT, and thus discounts the power of the Gospel. Christian men give vast sums of money for the "Social, Intellectual, and Physical Betterment of the world," rather than for the evangelization of the world. They even go farther and form societies for the investigation of "adverse social conditions," such as poverty, vice, ignorance, etc., and appoint specialists at high salaries to investigate and see if they can discover the cause of all the sin, misery and wretchedness there is in the world, forgetting that in so doing they are wasting their money, for the Bible told us centuries ago that the cause was SIN. If the proper thing to do is to remedy a thing at its source, let the Church apply the remedy of the Gospel and save the individual, and by thus doing save society.
The common opinion is, that all the "'ills of society" are in men's surroundings, or environment, whereas they are in MAN HIMSELF. Hence all human schemes for the "Betterment of Society" must begin in the man himself. That is, man must first be REGENERATED by the Holy Spirit. All the schemes of men to make this world a better place to "live in, " seem to be to make the world a better place to "SIN IN, " because they increase the facilities for sin. her
The "God of this Age" knows that if the Church was to give self exclusively to the work
of "World Evangelization" he would lose her service in building his great "Civilization Structure," so he is
just as anxious to keep her in his power, and postpone the time of her "Exodus," (and remain unto the
coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
), as Pharaoh was to keep Israel in Egypt at work on his stone cities Rameses and Pithom. To this end he keeps her busy "making bricks without straw," and thus blinds her eyes to the light of the "Glorious Gospel of Christ, " (the doctrine of the Pre-Millennial Coming of the Lord), knowing that once she gets a vision of that she will refuse to any longer work for his "World Betterment" schemes.
The unification of the nations of the earth is a scheme to reverse the judgment of God on Babel, and resume the building of "THE TOWER" that is to exalt the name of man. .
There are two "Distinct Bodies" in this "Present Evil Age" in the process of formation.
1. The "BODY OF CHRIST"-THE CHURCH.
2. The "BODY OF ANTICHRIST."
The first is being gathered by the "SPIRIT OF GOD" (Holy Spirit, )l Cor. 12:3,
Cor. 12:13, and the second by the "SPIRIT OF EVIL, " that now worketh (energizes) in the "Children of
Disobedience." hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
. The difference between the "Body" the Holy Spirit is forming, and the "Body" the "Spirit of Evil" is forming, is, that the former is united to a "LIVING HEAD, " (Christ-him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
), while the latter has no living head, for it is simply an "Organization, " while the "Body of Christ" is an "ORGANISM." Since the "Fall" and death of Adam the human race has been headless, but when the "Body," or "Organization," that the "Spirit of Evil" (Satan) is forming is complete, he (Satan) will produce its "HEAD, " who will be the ANTICHRIST, thus reversing the Divine order of first the "HEAD" (Christ) and then the "BODY"-the Church.
We are told that the Lord at His "Second Coming" will depose and punish two distinct governing bodies. that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. Isa. 24:21.
1. "The 'HIGH ONES' that are on high."
That is Satan and the "Evil Powers of the Air." places. Eph. 6:12.
2. "The 'KINGS OF THE EARTH' upon the earth."
That is the Anti-Christian World Powers represented by the "Ten Federated Kings" under the control of Antichrist. .
The heavens will then be cleansed of all the "Powers of Evil," and their place will be taken and occupied by Christ and the Saints who constitute the Church, and they will reign during the Millennium from the heavens over the earth, as Satan and his hosts do now. I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Rev. 20:4.