In the article entitled HOPE we have referred to three
spheres of blessing, the earth, the heavenly city, and the position indicated in
Ephesians one, as "far above all". This aspect of truth is vital. It
gathers up unto itself all that is distinctive in what is called Dispensational
Truth, and we must spare no pains, nor begrudge the space needed to provide the
Scriptural evidence for believing that there are "three spheres of
blessing" revealed in the Scriptures.
Now because the term "sphere" does not occur in the Scriptures, is it
therefore unscriptural? According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word
"scriptural" is anything "based upon, derived from, or depending
upon Holy Scripture". Because, therefore, an English word does not appear
in Holy Scriptures, such word need not be unscriptural; it could only rightly be
called unscriptural if the idea contained in the term was not based upon,
derived from, or depended upon Holy Scripture. Therefore, to say regarding the
use of the term "sphere", "as it is not an inspired term we have
no means of fixing its force", as one who opposes this teaching affirmed,
seems either to manifest ignorance of the English language or to be an effort
unduly to influence the unwary. In either case the matter is no longer
disputable, for the use of the term "sphere of blessing" has been
proved to be both good English and Scriptural.
Our next step is to enumerate in Scriptural terms the actual "spheres of
blessing" that are spoken of in the Scriptures, and then to compare and
contrast them so that by trying the things that differ we may avoid confusion
and keep each calling in its appointed place. Let us begin with our own calling
as revealed in the Epistle to the Ephesians.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed
us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3).
At the moment we are not concerned with the kind of blessings here set forth,
namely, "spiritual", but with the "province",
"range" or "domain" in which these blessings naturally find
their setting, and we have but to record:
(1) The sphere of blessing found in Ephesians 1:3
is defined as "in heavenly places".
Again we are not yet concerned as to whether these "heavenly places"
are no higher than the firmament in which birds fly; whether they denote the
starry heavens; or whether they refer to a position far above all. All that we
are immediately concerned with is that a distinct "sphere" is
indicated by the words "in heavenly places".
We now turn to another part of the N.T., where we read of another sphere of
blessing: "blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth"
(Matt. 5:5). Once more, we are not concerned with the character of those here
referred to, nor with their inheritance, but exclusively with the
"sphere" of their inheritance, and we therefore record:
(2) A sphere of blessing is found in Matthew 5:5 which is defined as
We assume, but have not yet proved, that "the earth" and
"heavenly places" are two distinct spheres. Commonsense says that they
are distinct, but we leave the proof until later.
Here then are two spheres of blessing concerning which there is no controversy.
But in addition to these two, we discover what appears to be an intermediate
sphere of blessing, a sphere above "the earth", yet not "in
heavenly places". For this we turn to Galatians 3:14: "that the
blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ". The
question which now arises is, does this passage refer to a distinct sphere of
blessing, or is the blessing of Abraham to be enjoyed in one or other of the two
spheres already considered? A complete answer can only be given after careful
examination, but for .the sake of conciseness, we note that in this calling,
"there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is
neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28).
This unity does not sound like the constitution of a kingdom, which is what is
in view in Matthew five. Rather it so resembles the later revelation of
Ephesians that some have adopted the expression "all one in Christ
Jesus" with the idea that it declares the Unity of the spirit of Ephesians
four. Before seeing the proofs, most, if not all, will agree that Galatians 3:14
does not refer to an inheritance on the "earth". Yet when we read on
to Galatians 3:29, we are prevented from asserting that it belongs to the sphere
of the Mystery made known in Ephesians, for we find it stated: "and if ye
be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
So entirely contrary is it to the Scriptural teaching concerning the Mystery to
make it a fulfillment of any promise to Abraham that we must hesitate to place
this company, which is Abraham's seed, "in heavenly places". We
therefore search further in this epistle, and in the fourth chapter we find the
following statement: "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the
mother of us all . . . now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of
promise" (Gal. 4:26,28). "Jerusalem which is above", is neither
"on the earth" nor "in heavenly places far above all
principality", and as this city forms the theme of Hebrews 11:9-16 and
12:18-23, where the "heavenly country" is contrasted with the
"earth", we are obliged to record a third sphere of blessing.
(3) A third sphere of blessing, differing from that of Ephesians 1:3 and
that of Matthew 5:5 is recorded in the Epistles to the Galatians and the
Hebrews, and is associated with the heavenly Jerusalem, a sphere distinct on the
one hand from the earth and its kingdom, and on the other hand from the heavenly
places which are the sphere of the church of the Mystery.