Bible: What are The Two Programs?
People would be prone to think the Old and New Testaments are the two programs. But is that true? To understand the truth about this, let’s look at the very first verse of the Bible.
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. [Emphasis added]
Here we have a statement that introduces the answer to our question. We see something similar at the very end of the Bible.
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. [Emphasis added]
Here in these passages, you have a summary statement about these two programs. One is to do with the Earth and the other is to do with Heaven. Another way of titling the two is with the words prophecy and mystery. We find in the Bible that God has a prophetic program and mystery program. The apostle Peter tells us that the program he represented was from the beginning of history.
21 Whom [speaking of Christ] the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. [Emphasis added]
Here Peter is telling us of his work in the prophetic program. On the other hand, we have the apostle Paul who tells us his ministry and message were associated with a mystery program.
25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets [literally the prophetic scriptures because in the original Greek text, “prophets” is an adjective, not a noun], according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: [Emphasis added]
It becomes clear that, if words mean anything, Peter and Paul are speaking of two different things. Something spoken “since the world began” cannot be the same as something “kept secret since the world began.” It has always amazed me that so many people, even most preachers, miss this simple but important truth.
The prophetic program focuses on the nation Israel and an earthly kingdom where Gentiles [non-Jews] receive salvation through that kingdom.
5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. [Emphasis added]
In the second giving of the law, we see more on this. The word deuteronomy itself actually means second law.
20 But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you [Israel] forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day. [Emphasis added]
They would receive salvation through this kingdom on Earth. Even Gentiles would profit from it.
3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light [speaking of Israel], and kings to the brightness of thy rising. [Emphasis added]
On the other hand, there’s the mystery program that gives attention to the Body of Christ church which is in place today.
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. [Emphasis added]
He speaks more of this in the next chapter of Ephesians.
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
This speaks of the position in Christ every believer today shares, both Jews and Gentiles, in this present Dispensation of the Grace of God.
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. [Emphasis added]
What a marvelous demonstration of God’s grace this is and will be! And all this will be apart from most of Israel. Rarely will a Jew accept Christ as his Messiah and Savior.
Romans 11:11-12 & 25-26
11 I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall [be utterly cast down]? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles [Gentiles have benefitted from their spiritual fall], for to provoke them to jealousy.
12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel [regenerate Israel, believing Israel, true Israel] shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: [Emphasis added]
Only by recognizing these two separate entities, Israel [the prophetic program] and the Body of Christ [the mystery program], can confusion be avoided. This principle is at the heart of what is commonly spoken of as the right division of Scripture. It is in this manner that we’re to study the Bible.
II Timothy 2:15
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]
The primary reason for denominationalism is that people refuse to accept the reality of these two distinct programs put forth in the Bible. Running them together has led to the confusion, controversy, and division we see so common today.
We are in the mystery program today that began with the salvation of the apostle Paul. There was then a transition period [the timeframe of the book of Acts] during which time it fully replaced the prophetic program. That prophetic program existed throughout the “Old Testament,” the time of the Four Gospels, the early Acts period, and is now suspended for a time. We are now living in a period that is spoken of as the Dispensation of the Grace of God. It is this program that had been a mystery [a secret] held in the mind of God until it was revealed through the apostle Paul.
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me [the apostle Paul] 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 fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: [Emphasis added]
If God had not kept all this a secret, Satan would have hindered the crucifixion of Christ. By no means would he have promoted it as he did.
I Corinthians 2:6-8
6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect [mature]: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. [Emphasis added]
By hiding it and keeping it a secret, God let Satan defeat himself. It was the cross and resurrection of Christ that provided God with His strategic victory over Satan. I’ve always thought this to be the greatest of all examples of God working all things, even the worst of things, out for good [Romans 8:28].
From the time these things were first revealed, Satan has worked to keep this message a mystery, a secret. He doesn’t want people to learn about Christ’s accomplishments through His death, burial, and resurrection. I can confidently say, most people we all know have no idea what Christ accomplished for our salvation. Most people can’t even provide a clear explanation of the gospel message of today. And many more wouldn’t even know what you were talking about if you brought the subject up in a conversation.
II Corinthians 4:3-4
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. [Emphasis added]
Yes, in our time, it is this second program that Satan seeks to hide. That’s because it is through the message it proclaims that people can be saved eternally in our time. No work on the individual’s part is demanded at all. There are many good things you should want to do as a result of the salvation God graciously gave you, but works by no means serve as the means to one’s salvation.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. [Emphasis added]
Jesus Christ came into the word to provide a way of salvation man could not achieve on his own. That’s why we speak of Him as our Savior. Christ didn’t help US save ourselves—He IS our Savior. This is summed up very well in this passage.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]
You have family, friends, and neighbors who need to hear about this.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher [someone who will proclaim it]?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! [Emphasis added]
Anytime anyone ever gets saved it is because someone took some initiative to get the message to them. Will you be that person for someone? What an honor it is to deliver such a valuable message!