1-6-2 God's World

God is believer-centric; to Him, His 'world' is the believers. He speaks of " Macedonia and Achaia" as meaning 'the believers in Macedonia and Achaia' (Rom. 15:26). “Samaria…received the word of God” (Acts 8:14)- not everyone in Samaria, but those who did are counted as “Samaria” to God. The field of the ecclesia is “the world” to God; and note how the Corinth ecclesia were “God’s field” (1 Cor. 3:9 Gk.). Often Scripture speaks as if " all men" will be raised. Rom. 2:6-9 speaks of " every man" being judged at the second coming. We know that literally " all men" will not be. But the believers are " all things" to God and Christ. " All things" is a title of the church in Ephesians and Colossians, and " any man" evidently means 'any believer' in 1 Cor. 8:10. Christ said that He did not pray for the world, but for " all mine...them which thou gavest me out of the world" . There are times, too, when Paul speaks as if " all" who are raised will be saved. Again, we know that this is not true. But once we appreciate that he saw " all" men as referring to the faithful, problems disappear. In like manner, Rom. 3:19 (A.V.mg.) defines " all the world" as those " subject to the judgment of God" - which is only the responsible. The Lord Jesus took away the sin “of the world”, but the Jews died in their sins; “the world” whose sins were taken away is therefore the world of believers. " Every knee shall bow to me...every tongue shall confess...so then every one of us shall give account" (Rom. 14:11,12) is another example- 'all men', 'every man' means 'every one of us the responsible'. " The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men" (Tit. 2:11)- certainly not to every human being that has ever lived; but to the " all men" of the new creation. The Lord tasted death " for every man" (Heb. 2:9)- for every one who has a representative part in His sacrifice through baptism. Christ " reconciled the world" in that He obtained forgiveness for us (2 Cor. 5:19)- we are " the world" which was reconciled, we are the " all things" purged by His blood (Heb. 9:22). 1 Cor. 4:9 seems to make a difference between " the world" and " men" , as if Paul is using " the world" here as meaning 'the world of believers'. The Lord was " a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:6), although it was only us, the redeemed, who were ransomed by Him out of sin's slavery (Lk. 1:68; Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:18; Rom. 8:13; Rev. 5:9; 14:3,4). The “all flesh” upon whom the Spirit was poured out in the first century was clearly enough a reference to those who believed and were baptized (Acts 2:17).

Is. 60:2 speaks of the sun rising upon Zion- as if Zion was the whole earth to God. Ps. 89:12 shows how God reckons the points of the compass with reference to Jerusalem: " The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor  and Hermon shall rejoice" . Likewise " the sea" is often used to show that the west is intended, the Mediterranean being to the west of Jerusalem (Num. 2:18; Josh. 16:5,6; Ez. 42:19). " The east" is put for Persia, Media and the lands east of Jerusalem (Ez. 25:4; Mt. 2:1); " the south" for Egypt, south of Canaan (Jer. 13:19; Dan. 11:5), or for the Negev, the hill country south of Jerusalem (Gen. 12:9; 13:1,3; Ez. 20:46,47); " the north" is put for Babylon (Jer. 1:13-15 etc.).

The Lord died so that the world may have life (Jn. 6:51); but only those who eat His words and assimilate the true meaning of His cross will share this life; therefore " the world" refers to all who would believe. It is for them (us, by His grace), not even for those who respond but ultimately fall away, that the Lord gave His all. We are " the world" to Him. Let's not dilute the specialness of His love and the wonder of our calling to these things. We ought to be deeply, deeply moved by the fact that we have been called into God's world, into His sphere of vision. He even created the different types of meats " to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth" (1 Tim. 4:3); they were made for us, not the world, and therefore we ought to give thanks for our food with this realization.

The " all men" of our 'world' should therefore be limited to those who constitute God's world, as here defined. If we are “all things” to God, He and the things of His Truth must be “all things” to us. They must be the very atmosphere we breathe, the guide in our every decision.  Where we live, how accessible it is to other believers, where and what we study, how much time we spend working for those extra, unnecessary things in life... if  the Truth is our “all things”, the perspective of God’s Kingdom will quite naturally overshadow all our ways in this world.

Remember in all this that all things are for our sakes. The whole world geopolitics are arranged by God in accordance with the needs of His people and in response to their prayers. Thus the amazing fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s was surely so that the Gospel could spread more strongly there. Likewise, Egypt was given into the hand of their enemies so that Judah might learn something from this (Jer. 44:29).

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