Secret Service Theologian



Chapter One. Some Questions Raised
Chapter Two. The Eternal Word of God
Chapter Three. Blessing for Gentiles
Chapter Four. Grace Enthroned
Chapter Five. The Mystery of Christ
Chapter Six. The Lord Jesus’ Return
Chapter Seven. The Gentile Church
Chapter Eight. The Second Coming, When?
Chapter Nine. Meantime, the Church Age
Chapter Ten. Why the Great Delay?
Chapter Eleven. The "Bema" of Christ
Chapter Twelve. Evangelization of the World
1. The Eras of Servitude
2. Is the Church the Bride of Christ?
3. The Lord’s Coming in Greek Words
4. Philippians 3:8-14
5. Exclusion from Millennial Kingdom.


THE early demand for a new edition of "Forgotten Truths" gives proof that truths which have been let slip by so many are still cherished by not a few.
The only adverse criticism the book has evoked is that which was anticipated in the closing pages of Chap. 12.
In the early years of my Christian life I was greatly perplexed and distressed by the supposed position that the plain and simple words of such Scriptures as John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 2:6 were not true, save in a cryptic sense understood only by the initiated. For, I was told, the overshadowing truth of Divine sovereignty in election barred our taking them literally. But half a century ago a friend of those days - the late Dr. Horatius Bonar - delivered me from this strangely prevalent error. He taught me that truths may seem to us irreconcilable only because our finite minds cannot understand the Infinite; and we must never allow our faulty apprehension of the eternal counsels of God to hinder unquestioning faith in the words of Holy Scripture.
Nor was this a plausible effort to evade the special difficulty raised by a misuse of the great truth of election; for a kindred mystery permeates our whole existence. We are conscious of possessing a free and independent will which enables us to turn hither and thither as we please, and to do good or evil. Were it otherwise, indeed, the Divine judgment of the sinner would be unjust. And yet, when we review the consequences of our conduct, we recognize the hand of God. True it is that we think of Him only when the consequences are serious; but, as the Lord explicitly taught, His sovereignty declares itself even in the fall of a sparrow.
All this has its counterpart in relation to the promise of the Coming. The believer and the infidel are agreed that in Apostolic times the saints were taught to regard the Lord’s return as a hope that might be realized during their lifetime. But now we are asked to acknowledge that the infidel is right in maintaining that this was entirely a mistake! For, it is argued, the Lord cannot come till "the number of His elect" is complete. And Ephesians 1:4 is construed to mean that at some epoch in time, prior to 4004 B.C. (or whatever date be fixed for "the foundation of the world"), people now living were made beneficiaries of God’s favour. It follows, therefore, that, as "the number of the elect" was not complete prior to this twentieth century of our era, the Advent could not have taken place at any period in the past; and possibly the thirtieth century may dawn before the promise is fulfilled! And when in amazement we seek for some explanation of the words, "Surely I am coming quickly," we are told that "with the Lord a thousand years are as one day" (2 Peter 3:8.). But does any one really imagine that there is a celestial timepiece with a thousand-year dial! Is it not clear as light from the language of these and kindred Scriptures, such as Psalm 90:4, that eternity is God’s domain? Therefore is it that His judgments are unsearchable and His ways past finding out. For eternity is not unlimited time, but the antithesis of time; whereas time is the law of our being, "the condition under which all created things exist" (Trench, Synonyms).
Those who put a special meaning on certain words in Gospel texts can plead with truth that these words are sometimes used in a restricted sense. But no plea of the kind is tenable here. "I am surely coming quickly":" Yet a very little while and the Coming One will come, and will not delay." These words are too definite to admit of any second meaning; and to refuse to take them literally is equivalent to challenging their truth. But how then can we explain the fact that they are still unfulfilled? A solution of that most perplexing difficulty is supplied by the following pages.
R. A.


THE lapse of time has not effaced from my memory the details of a conversation of many years ago with a liberal-minded and cultured Jewish Rabbi. He introduced himself by telling me that he was a student of the New Testament, and that my friend, the then Chief Rabbi, had recommended one of my expository books to his attention. "We regard Jesus as one of the greatest of our Rabbis," was one of his opening remarks. And he added, "It was not he that founded Christianity, but your Paul." I astonished him by replying that beneath his assertion there lay a truth which the theology of Christendom had let slip. For the words of the Lord Jesus (1) were explicit: "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel"; "Salvation is of the Jews." In this connection I cited also the Apostle’s words, that "Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the Fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy." (Romans 15:8) And this I explained by reference to the Lord’s parable of the great supper. "You were the invited guests," I said, "for to you pertained the Fathers and the promises, whereas the Gentiles are beholden to uncovenanted mercy. But though by nature the waifs and strays of the highways and the streets, grace has given us a place of special favour and nearness to God."
The pleasant tenor of a prolonged conversation was interrupted at one point by an outburst about "the persecutions and cruelties his nation had suffered from the Christian religion." This evoked a no less indignant outburst on my part at his confounding the religion of Christendom with the Christianity of the New Testament. I assured him that the best Christian theologians of our own time were free from the ignorance which in other days claimed for "the Christian Church" (2) all the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures, leaving nothing for Israel but the threatened judgments. And I exemplified my statement by quoting Dean Alford’s scathing words (7) about the evil history and predicted doom of "the Christian Church.": I said that while in the past the Christians seem to have skipped the 11th chapter of Romans, nowadays we studied it. We recognized, therefore, that the people of the Abrahamic covenant were "the natural branches" of the olive tree which symbolizes the position of testimony and blessing upon earth, and that they would yet be restored to the place they had lost by unbelief; "for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." (Romans 11:13-29)
This is but an outline of a discussion which ended, as it had begun, in a most amicable tone and spirit, my companion repeatedly assuring me of the interest and surprise my words excited in his mind. But the questions raised and the truths involved are far too large and too important for treatment here in this incidental fashion; and I proceed to offer a more definite and systematic statement of them. (8)
Chapter Two

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