gloryIn my message on “The End of Grace,” I professed the belief that the way God brings His current dispensation of grace to a close is by a sudden, mass revelation of truth. I set forth this idea based upon the statement in II Timothy 3:8-9, which reads:

8. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9. but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

This statement is made concerning men in the last days (II Timothy 3:2.) It makes the almost sensational statement that the folly of men who resist the truth will become manifest, that is, clearly obvious, to all. It is clear that the folly of such men is not manifest to all today. Many people are taken in and completely fooled by the cunning words of those who set themselves against the truth. The only way the folly of such men will be clear to all is if the same thing happens as happened in the case of Jannes and Jambres. It was the powerful work of God that showed these men up for the charlatans they were. And it could only be a powerful work of God that could ever cause the folly of truth-resisters to be evident to all, even to themselves. This verse suggest a sudden, powerful, worldwide revelation by which God makes His truth plain to all men.

Some might be having serious reservations about what I am saying at this point. They might ask where this “mass revelation” to all men at once that I speak of regarding II Timothy 3:8-9 is in the rest of Scripture? Surely I cannot build a “mountain out of a molehill” with this one passage, and use it to claim such a wondrous event if it is not set forth in the rest of the Scriptures. But never fear, dear reader. These statements are not made based solely upon this one passage. This is by no means the only place in Scripture that speaks of this truth. Another example is Psalm 22:27, which reads,

All the ends of the world Shall remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations Shall worship before You.

The word here for “remember” is not used (in Hebrew) in the way we use the word, that is, remembering something you once knew that you have forgotten. Rather, it carries the idea of suddenly having something intrude itself on your consciousness; “be imprinted on your mind,” we might put it. The ends of the world (symbolic for the most remote places) will have something imprinted on their minds. They will have something intrude on their thoughts that has never been there before. And the result of this miraculous impartation of knowledge will be that they will turn to the LORD, and that all the families of the nations shall worship before Him. What an incredible time this will be!

There are many other passages that justify this idea of the sudden nature of the revelation that ends the dispensation of grace and enlightens the world regarding the changing administration of God. A great passage that sets forth this truth is Psalm 64. Let us examine this psalm together, and see what is has to say regarding a sudden, mass revelation of the truth of God.

A Psalm of David.
1. Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation;
Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.

Here the psalmist calls upon God to hear his voice in his meditation. The Biblical concept of meditation is not of sitting with your legs crossed in a funny position and emptying your mind of all thoughts. Rather, it is of thinking upon things, mulling them over, and pondering them. In this case, the Psalmist is pondering the enemy, and all the fearful things that he can accomplish. Thus, he calls upon God to give heed to his request regarding the enemy, and to preserve his life from them. Surely David, more than most of us, experienced the truth of enemies of God that literally wanted to take away his life.

2. Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
From the rebellion of the workers of iniquity,

David now calls upon the LORD to hide him away from the secret plots of wicked men, and from the rebellion of those who work iniquity. Ever do such men rebel against what is good and right in this world. In David’s day they rebelled against him and his righteous government. In our day too they rebel against the things that are true and upright, and seek to pervert justice and promote the things that are wicked.

3. Who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
And bend their bows to shoot their arrows–bitter words,

Here these wicked rebels are described as preparing their tongues like weapons. Their tongues are the swords they are going to use to battle against those who are upright. Their bows are bent to shoot their arrows. Again, these are not physical weapons, but the arrows they shoot are the bitter words they aim against the righteous. How many good people have been destroyed by the bitter words of their enemies!

4. That they may shoot in secret at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him and do not fear.

Not openly do these wicked ones face the blameless. Instead, they shoot at him in secret, hoping to take him by surprise by their wicked and slanderous accusations. They are not afraid in their wicked actions, but have complete confidence that their deceptive rhetoric will win the day for them.

5. They encourage themselves in an evil matter;
They talk of laying snares secretly;
They say, “Who will see them?”
6. They devise iniquities:
“We have perfected a shrewd scheme.”
Both the inward thought and the heart of man are deep.

These wicked ones encourage each other in evil matters. We cannot help but think of television programs and movies, teachers and politicians, newspapers and magazines, all of which encourage men to do things that are wrong. They support these things, they justify them, and they seek to get others to indulge in them. Truly on every hand do we see wicked men doing this very thing!

Not only so, but they also take men in the secret snares they have laid. They think that no one, not even God, will see their deeds, or call them into account. They congratulate each other on the cleverness of their schemes, and on their rebellion against God. Very deep within them runs their bent towards wicked deeds and lawlessness. So what will God do about this sad state of affairs? How will He bring about the defeat of such wicked men once and for all? That question is answered in the remainder of the Psalm.

7. But God shall shoot at them with an arrow;
Suddenly they shall be wounded.

God’s response to these wicked men is pictured as Him shooting an arrow at them. An arrow flies very quickly to its target, and so it is described that “suddenly” they shall be wounded. Notice, this happens suddenly! And what is this arrow that God shoots at them that suddenly wounds these wicked men and stops them in their schemes? We do not need to go far to find the answer to this question, for remember that we have already seen the figure of an arrow in this psalm! In verse 3, we read of the arrows of the workers of iniquity, and they were revealed to be “bitter words.” So God’s arrows are likewise His words. But in God’s case, these are not bitter words of wickedness, but rather His righteous words of revelation.

What words are they that God shoots suddenly at the wicked? What revelation is this which He uses to stop them in their tracks, as we saw in II Timothy 3:9? I believe it is the same revelation mentioned in Psalm 22:27, which I discussed above, when “All the ends of the world Shall remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations Shall worship before You.” It is a revelation that the Holy Spirit will give. I believe these same words, this same revelation, is also what is described for us in John 16:7-8.

7. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

8. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

The word “Helper” here is the Greek word parakletos, from which we get our English word “paraclete.” A paraclete is one who comes alongside someone to help, much like a defense lawyer in a trial. Up until this point, the Lord Jesus Christ had been a Helper, a parakletos, to these disciples. Yet now He was going away, and He could do this task for them no longer. Yet here He reveals that it would be to their advantage that He was going away, for that meant the “Helper” would come to them. The Lord had already spoken of this Helper to them in John 14:16 and 15:26. In John 14:26, He identified this Helper as the Holy Spirit.

Now, the Lord reveals another work that this “Helper” is going to do. This is a different work than what He had said He would do in John 14 and 15, which things the Holy Spirit did do when He came upon them in the Acts period. This work is one that the Spirit will do for the “world.” The word “world” here is the Greek word kosmos, which has to do with the system, the order, and the arrangement of men upon earth. We well know that it is not just individuals who are wicked, but that the entire system or order of men upon earth itself is wicked. There are wicked customs, wicked laws, wicked practices, wicked forms of entertainment, wicked ways of doing business, wicked ways of setting up a household…wickedness just runs rampant in this world. And yet, it is this world itself, this very system or order that we live in, that will one day be convicted of certain things by the Holy Spirit.

It is no use trying to limit the work of the Spirit here to just the believers, just because His work in chapters 14 and 15 was just with the believers. This is not talking about what the Spirit does for believers, but rather about what He will yet do for the world. I say yet do, for the world has never yet been convicted of its sin. The world has never yet been convicted regarding righteousness. The world has never yet been convicted about judgment. Individuals have, yes, but the world, the very system and order itself, has never thus been convicted. Yet I believe that this passage is true, and that this is a work that the Holy Spirit will do someday for the world. And I believe that Psalm 64 is picturing that very time.

Let us continue with Psalm 64, then, and learn what happens next after wicked men are wounded by the arrow of God’s words.

8. So He will make them stumble over their own tongue;
All who see them shall flee away.

The idea here is that their own tongue is used against them. I checked many versions here, and most agree on this. I always use the New King James Version in my writings. Another rendering is in the King James Version:

8. So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away.

It would seem that this revelation with which God shoots wicked men is of such a convincing nature that those who previously were outspoken against all that is good will now turn their tongues upon themselves in remonstrance against what they once were. Otis Q. Sellers suggests that this means that they give themselves a tongue-lashing. I incorporated an idea similar to this in writing a play we recently performed at our church. In the play, Paul has just experienced seeing Christ on the Damascus road, and is now contemplating what has happened to him. While doing so, he speaks against himself, realizing that what he did before was wrong when he was so viciously opposing Christ, even admitting that he deserves to die for what he did. I believe this is the same thing that happens to these enemies of the LORD here. Their previous words and actions are inexcusable, even in their own eyes, and so they give themselves a tongue-lashing.

Now do not mistake my meaning. I am not saying that everyone this happens to is immediately saved, or becomes a great servant of the Lord like Paul did. Just realizing you were wrong is not enough to bring salvation to anyone. Nor is giving yourself a tongue-lashing synonymous with saving faith. I am not suggesting that men are universally redeemed here. Yet one thing is true: all are suddenly un-deceived, un-brainwashed even, and made to know the truth regarding sin, righteousness, and judgment. From this point on, none of these can claim ignorance regarding these things. What their response after this might be, or what their final fate will be, remains to be seen, and is in the hand of God.

9. All men shall fear,
And shall declare the work of God;
For they shall wisely consider His doing.

We have heretofore learned the results of this great revelation regarding men who are acting in wickedness and as enemies of God when this mass enlightenment and unveiling of truth takes place. Now, in this verse, we see the effect this has upon the bulk of mankind. These are those who perhaps were not opposed to God or actively working against Him, yet neither were they necessarily close followers of God or particularly concerned with Him and His works before this time. Yet now, all these are also recipients of this great revelation regarding the truth.

The response of this group of people is not to tongue-lash themselves, as that of the wicked was. Instead, their response is to fear. All men, just the general populace of mankind, now learns to reverence the one true God. Moreover, they declare his works. To whom do they declare it? There is no doubt but that they declare it to each other. This becomes THE topic of conversation. We have the phrase in our day, “Everyone is talking about it.” Of course, this phrase is often used hyperbolically, such as regarding TV shows that their producers WISH everyone was talking about. Yet at this time, this universal statement will not be hyperbole. Everyone literally WILL be talking about the work of God. His powerful movement to take over the world will be the topic of every conversation.

The reason for all this declaration will be because everyone shall wisely consider what God is doing. It seems that very few in our day consider what it is exactly that God is doing in our world. Considering popular reference to the topic, it seems that many believe that God’s primary work is to decide when people die, and to cause natural disasters to happen. Others imagine that His work is to build something they call “the church,” and that all that He does is related to this. Then, they make the church to be the organizations of men we see on every hand. Yet these things are not the work of God today. Few indeed seem to understand that the work of God today is to govern the world through grace. They do not know the mystery, that Christ has centered His secret work among the nations. They do not imagine the truth that His grace is producing unsearchable riches that are being enjoyed by the world. They have no idea what God is doing, and so they cannot consider it.

Different indeed will be that day to come. God’s work will not be secret. It will not be hidden. God’s work will be open and manifest, and all will be able to see and know it. This will cause all men to wisely consider these truths, and to ponder what He is now doing in the earth, for the purpose of bringing His government into the world.

10. The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and trust in Him.
And all the upright in heart shall glory.

We have seen how the wicked respond to this light, and how the general population responds to it. Finally now we see how the righteous respond to it. Of course, we must keep in mind that the righteous of this day, and the righteous of all history, have not been those who are sinless or perfect, but rather those who have had righteousness imputed to them through their faith in God, and their belief of the Word He has given to them. This future day will have its righteous, just as every age has. These will be those who have faith in the right message regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, and His death, burial, and resurrection. Through their belief of the gospel they will be considered righteous.

Now these righteous of the day when God sends forth His light shall be glad in the LORD. Indeed, how could any righteous man fail, upon seeing the truth go forth to enlighten all concerning that which he has faithfully believed and proclaimed, to rejoice in what has come to pass for the world? This will be a day when all who love God and His truth will have cause to rejoice! Moreover, this will cause these righteous men to trust in the LORD. Today, we know that we live in a day when the LORD leaves us to make our decisions on our own. We have the guidance given in His Word, yet beyond that, we must make our own choices. When the day comes that the LORD breaks His silence and speaks the truth to the world, however, it shall be that all righteous men can cease from their own plans and labors, and rather place all their trust in the LORD. To do this in our day would result in calamity, for we do not have His direct leadership and guidance over our lives. Yet in that day, all can trust their every move to Him, and He will keep them in all their ways.

Finally, all those who have an upright heart will glory. This word is halal, pronounced “haw-lal” in Hebrew, and means to praise or to speak well of or to boast. These people who are upright in their hearts shall praise the LORD, speak well of Him, and boast in what He has done. All this will result from the arrow of God’s words, shot at the wicked to stop them in their tracks, and graciously provided to all men, even to the righteous, to cause them to see and understand His truth.

What a great day it will be when all this comes to pass! It is like nothing we have seen up until now. Paul (or Saul) on the Damascus road gives us a single example of what this might be like. Yet in the future, the sudden revelation that changes everything will not happen to just one man, as it did in the case of Paul, but rather will blaze forth to enlighten the whole world. All men will receive light from the LORD, suddenly, and even in the midst of their wickedness. That is what this Psalm is talking about.

This is how I would answer the questions, “What ends the dispensation of grace? What draws all that God has done since the close of the apostolic period to its own end? How does the end of grace come?” I believe that the end of the dispensation of grace comes with the most gracious act God has ever done: the enlightenment of the world to the truth. God’s sudden revelation is something the world does not deserve. It is something the world will never deserve. Yet someday it will come, and will close out in a most fitting way the great display of God’s grace to the world that He has now been showing for over nineteen hundred and forty years. It will be the greatest act of grace, short of the cross, that God has ever shown to the world, or ever could show to the world. It will be the enlightenment of all people to the truth. May God quickly send that sudden revelation to the earth, for it surely is what this dark and deceived world needs the most!