“And suddenly out came a Canaanite woman from the district and started shouting, “Lord, son of David take pity on me. My daughter is tormented by a devil”. But he said not a word in answer to her. And his disciples went and pleaded with him, saying “give her what she wants, because she keeps shouting after us. He said in reply. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” But the woman had come up and was bowing low before him. “Lord”, she said, “help me.” He replied, “it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs” (MT15:22-26).

There is a happy outcome for the Gentile woman as you will probably know. But Jesus makes it quite clear; He had been sent to the Jews (the lost sheep of Israel) so that they might be restored and fitted for the Kingdom role promised to them in Scripture; that is why He initially refused to heal this Gentile woman’s daughter. Jesus did not “test the woman’s faith” by lying; He affirmed with His own disciples (v24) that He had been sent by the Father to minister to His own people (the Jews). What He had spoken He had spoken: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”. Does this shock you? – it did me until I grasped Paul’s revelation concerning “the fellowship pertaining to the secret plan hidden in the Father from the previous age” (cf. Eph3:9-11). Sharing His Father’s compassionate nature (Jn14:9) Jesus was willing to aid such Gentile folk who came to Him for help. But it is evident if one reads carefully through the gospel narratives that John the Baptist, Jesus and initially His disciples ministered and preached almost exclusively to the Jews (cf. especially Mt10:5-6). Through the avoidable failure of what Jesus described as “this evil generation”, the privileges they were to inherit have passed to (or rather are to be shared with) elect individuals drawn from every nation through elective grace, who by nature and birth are just as unworthy to be a nation of priests and kings to our God (Rev5:10) as those who happened to be the seed of Isaac. As Paul later commented:


What Jesus had spoken He had spoken, and what Paul has written he has written. Take them at their word and one might begin to grasp the context of Israel and the Church within broader benign providence as outlined in my book* – for it was never the case that God only intended to rescue and reconcile Israel to Himself, but it was the expectation that only the Jews would be the princes of His Kingdom, the royal priesthood of God (Ex19:5, 6 cf. 1Pet2:9). Joining the messianic community required soul-healing through cleansing and restored divine communion whilst still in mortal flesh. This is what Paul and the New Testament as a whole means by “salvation”, Paul’s Good News being that this privilege had now been afforded to people drawn from every nation through the establishment of a world-wide Church. Now, hopefully, Romans chapter 11 vv11,12&15 and Romans 8:19-23 in particular should begin to make sense and bring joy to every good heart.

*A free PDF available HERE


Another important parable that Jesus Himself interprets. It is surely instructive to examine every parable of Jesus recorded in Scripture and ask oneself in all honestly, does this fit with my current understanding of the gospel and what my particular church teaches concerning it? My heart, mind and conscience affirms that the Lord’s teaching, not just in the two parables highlighted in these posts but taken as a package cannot be made to fit the concept of gospel salvation that I first embraced as a Christian more than 40 years ago. For example, my understanding at the time was “once saved always saved”, contradicted absolutely by the parable of the sower. Those who receive the seed on the stony ground receive the gospel with joy (and so will be perceived by themselves and others to have acted upon it) but it does not last for they have no root in themselves; likewise, those whose seed was sown amongst thorns and are distracted by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches. This is an observable reality; it is not “all of grace” or else the seed would either be in good ground or snatched away altogether. Paul might appear to be contradicting this (and himself elsewhere) in Phil1:6, but he is referring to the Church of Philippi as a whole that he was confident God would continue the work He had begun in them, not necessarily every individual. God will never forsake the individual, but the latter may depart from God as all the apostles elsewhere testify. It also needs to be pointed out that the parable concerns those who hear “the word of the Kingdom”, and a faithful rendition of it at that. In view of historical cultural and religious formation that will be the minority of people who have occupied the planet.

In terms of the gospel itself, as a young Evangelical I had understood it primarily to be a matter of “fiducial disposition” – in particular a conviction of moral impotence; an awareness and acknowledgement of my inability to do by nature anything pleasing to God, resulting in the saving act of “apprehending gospel mercy” or “closing with Christ’s offers of mercy” as my old Reformed text books would refer to the matter. To the chagrin of many it is necessary to demonstrate this to be erroneous if God’s broader providence is to be affirmed. God’s plan of loving goodness for His creation can only be perceived and underpinned from Scripture by acknowledging the reality of natural law (hinted at in Mt18:6, Acts17:26-28; Jn1:9; Rom2:14,15, Rom10:6-8), and recognized by the earliest Church Fathers such as Justyn Martyr, Irenaeus and Origen; also by distinguishing between the forensic (pardoning) and participatory (spiritually empowering) benefits of the Atonement. Such a distinction can only be understood in the context of a synergistic, sacramental economy of grace that many Christians currently reject; hence the unavoidable need for a root and branch deconstruction of the theology I had embraced for the first 28 years of my Christian life; acknowledging also that the distinctive teachings of a first millennium Catholic Doctor (Augustine) and the way he interpreted Paul lay behind many of these misconceptions.

I sense from responses I have received that many would long for the kind of providence I have been outlining. Regrettably unless one is content to become a scriptural liberal or mere wishful thinker that cannot be achieved without acknowledging that all of us within our particular traditions may have got certain matters (Paul’s writings especially) substantially wrong in the past. From such an honest  predisposition might the Body of Christ be healed and united so that a unified rendering of the Good News of God’s coming Kingdom can be proclaimed to the nations and those who are to be its princes can be suitably tutored  and equipped to provide an offering of righteousness to their Lord and Saviour at His coming.

A PDF of my e-book available HERE


 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘an enemy has done this.’ the servants said to him, ‘do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ but he said, ‘no, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “first gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn  (Mt13:24-30)

As with the Old Testament, I am drawing out passages that came to my attention or have particular relevance to the subject of my book, being divine providence. Of course it is “only a parable” but fortunately we have Jesus Himself to interpret it for us. Firstly, regarding the story being told it is to be noted that the seed sown by the sower (the Son of Man v37) is good; intrinsically good. That is referring to the children of the Kingdom who may be equated to the sheep in the Matthew 25 parable who demonstrated by their compassion that they were “of God” and would be accepted as subjects of God’s eternal Kingdom. The enemy (the devil v39) planted the tares. These represent those who are elsewhere described as children of the devil or “derived from the Evil One” (Greek: ek tou ponerou 1Jn3:12, referring to Cain).

Still more significantly in terms of challenging traditional perspectives is that the seeds (good and bad) were planted in a field that represents the world, not the Church (v38) as many commentators would wish to make out. Not all the good seed is in the Church, and (regrettably) not all the wicked seed outside of it. Quoting briefly from my book* with regard to this parable:


The wicked are to be “taken out from the midst of the righteous” (Mt13:49 Greek), not the righteous “taken up to Heaven from the midst of the wicked” albeit that the living elect are temporarily “raptured”, that is gathered to Christ so as to be shielded from the aforementioned judicial mayhem and climax of tribulation which the rest of the world must patiently endure (cf. Lk17:34-36). The “darnel” is to be removed because it is poisoning the wheat; the wicked are to be destroyed because they are polluting God’s Earth and perverting its people, not because “their righteousness would not avail before a Holy God”. They had rebelled against the light of God with which they had been innately provided, with dire consequences for themselves and humanity. At Judgement such will be perceived to be abhorrent by all true humanity (Is66:24). So shall creation be purged so that the tabernacle of God can be with men, for He will dwell with them and they shall be His people (cf. Rev21:3NKJV) [Fellowship of the Secret ch.2]

*A free PDF available HERE


  “For I (Jesus) have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Mt10:35,36)

I mention this in the context of Jesus’ herald, John the Baptist (aka Elijah). It was said of him by angels:

And (John) will bring back many of the ‘Israelites’ to the lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before (Christ) to reconcile fathers to their children and the disobedient to the good sense of the upright, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him (lk1:16-17njb)

And in the Old Testament, the closing verses stated:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” (Mal4:5,6 – Catholic editions= Mal3:23-24)

Do we still think Malachi and the Angel Gabriel had “happy families” in mind for the work of the one who was tasked to restore everything (apokatastesai panta –Mt17:11) before the great and dreadful day of the Lord? People have proposed that view simply because there is no obvious alternative in terms of racial or ecclesiological groupings who could meaningfully be regarded as fathers and children. But that was in Malachi’s day; today is quite another matter. There are Christians and their Jewish fathers of the faith on the one hand; Catholic/Orthodox Christians and the children of the Reformation on the other. Regardless of who was to blame for those divisions there is certainly scope for reconciliation now, and in view of the last phrase in the Old Testament, should we not earnestly attend to the matter, and even anticipate a prophet (or prophetic movement) that will facilitate the process?

Related post concerning the final Elijah HERE

A PDF of “Fellowship of the Secret” is available HERE


I say unto you that many come from the east and from the west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven whereas the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt9:11,12)

I quoted from my book in the last post to indicate that Jesus had taught His disciples to expect His return to Earth to be quite imminent: they “would not have finished going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man returned in glory” (Mt10:23). The situation is, we simply do not know what Prophet Jesus knew and when He knew it (His wisdom we are told evolved and developed cf. Lk2:52), but we can categorically state that He did not know everything, for He told His disciples as much (Mt24:36). That even applied after His resurrection (Acts1:7). However, the verse quoted from Matthew 9 (above) indicates that Jesus as Prophet was aware that Gentiles would one day sit alongside the likes of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whereas certain “children of the Kingdom” would be excluded; the point being that the “children of the Kingdom” had always been understood to be the Jews, not Orientals or Westerners.

Again it may be necessary to affirm that “the Kingdom of Heaven” is not here referring to the place spirits go to after death but “the Kingdom of God” as other apostles described the concept, being a kingdom on terra firma derived from heavenly authority and run on heavenly principles, in contrast to the kingdoms of this world as they are currently ordered under the malign influence of “Archon tou kosmou” – you know who (Jn12:31).

Regardless of what the incarnated Jesus knew or didn’t know concerning “the secret plan hidden in God (the Father) who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph3:9), i.e. the fact that the current age would not be the fulfilment of OT prophecy but the age of the Church in which elect Gentiles would augment the ranks of those who were to inherit the “privileges of the sanctified” (Acts26:18) as joint-heirs with Israel and the Lord of Glory (Rom8:17), Jesus had certainly not clarified the matter with His disciples. Peter and his company simply did not grasp it at all (Acts11:17,18); nor were they anticipating  a thirteenth apostle being appointed after Christ’s ascension, which is why Matthias was chosen to replace Judas before Pentecost. Neither had I grasped these matters – this is certainly not my previous understanding but it is what I was shown by the Spirit and has been verified to my own satisfaction by its ability to resolve every known tension in Scripture. Once perceived, it has radical (and wonderful) implications for divine providence and the hopes of the Jewish faithful, but it also affirms the sacerdotal nature of the Church, being linked to the fact that the benefits of the atonement apply at two levels: the forensic (2Cor5:19) and participatory (Jn6:54-57), all of which is covered in detail in my book* (ch.3) and will no doubt be referred to again in later posts.



Matthew Chapter 4

I am drawing out passages, now from the New Testament which particularly came to my attention during the writing of “The Fellowship of the Secret”. In fact, its title was going to be along the lines of  “A Guide to the Gospel of the Kingdom” for that concept was humanly speaking what triggered my thinking especially in the context of the “Olivet Discourse” v14: “And THIS gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations and then the end shall come”. Typical of how my mind works I was intrigued by Jesus’ reference to THIS gospel [Greek: TOUTO to euaggelion] being preached as a witness to the world.

Could Jesus have been referring to the gospel age? – I think not. For a start the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus and certainly his apostles will have been preaching will have borne little resemblance to what the Church has focused on for the last 2000 years. Christ’s death and resurrection, let alone the soteriological implications of it, will not have been mentioned – His own disciples had no idea their Master was going to die and be resurrected, let alone for what purpose (cf. Lk9:44-46: Lk18:33-34: Mt10:1-20). The Church has rightly placed a heavy focus on the death and resurrection of Christ, but that cannot have been “this gospel of the Kingdom” that Jesus and the apostles were preaching. I am clear that Jesus was referring to a one-off evangelistic global mission, not an entire  dispensation when He spoke of “this gospel” being preached followed by “the end”.

This may be too radical for some readers but it is in line with what I subsequently understood Paul to be saying in Eph3:9-12 and Heb11:11-15 concerning the fellowship pertaining to the secret plan hidden in the Father from earlier ages (and earlier prophets): God’s plan to incorporate elect Gentiles into the royal priesthood and holy ‘nation’, the Messianic community that had been anticipated by the OT prophets to be restricted to the physical seed of Isaac. So what were the disciples preaching and doing when Jesus sent them out as recorded in Mt10? They were announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, which has nothing to do with going to heaven when you die but what was expected to occur on earth! They were to be calling people to repentance (as does the Church but for many of us that’s where the comparison ends), for they were also to heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out devils (10:8).

The Kingdom of Heaven (literally reign of the heavens) referred to by other apostles as the “Kingdom of God” was to bring the joyful news that sickness, death and the reign of evil was about to be abolished on earth; the power of Satan was about to be usurped by what the Saviour was shortly to undergo on mankind’s behalf at Calvary. However, the reality is that substantial elements of what the Son of Man’ Passion accomplished for humanity will not be realized until His coming again in glory. That is because of what I refer to as “the fellowship of the secret”, i.e. what Paul is alluding to in Ephesians3:9-12 and reaffirming in Heb11:11-15, being a substantial realignment of God’s redemptive strategy for the World and its people as it had been set out and prophesied in the Old Testament. And that had been as a result of the Jews’ rejection of the Apostles’ message about the risen ascended Messiah (cf. Acts13:46) . 

More clues to follow in subsequent posts, or obtain free PDF of my e-book HERE


Again, the devil took Jesus up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “all these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the lord your God, and him only you shall serve (Mt4:8-10)

Actually, Jesus doesn’t positively affirm Satan’s role here, He just doesn’t deny it. Satan’s devolved authority as Head of the World order is affirmed elsewhere (Jn12:31), interestingly in the context of Christ’s impending crucifixion. It is the Saviour’s most direct reference to the purpose of His death: to put an end to Satan’s rule (same verse). But what possible right could Satan have to rule the Earth? Be assured, none whatsoever: God and Satan are not opposing deities, they are Creator and corrupted creature. The parallel account in Luke makes it clearer; when Satan suggests Jesus should worship him in order to receive such authority, he reminds Jesus that such authority “emoi paradedotai”  “has been given up to me” by the only One who had the power to do so: God Himself (cf. Rom8:20).

Such an arrangement has a biblical precedent (Job1:6-12). It is all quite extraordinary when you think about it but God’s ways are  beyond our natural understanding. Clearly it relates to the event at Eden but it could only be a providential arrangement with (not an obligation to) Satan who could have no inherent rights over God’s property.  It is an ingenious contrivance on the Creator’s part (for He is sovereign), but one will not discern any positivity to it until one has understood the mystery of evil, considered in the final two chapters of my book. It will be seen to be an act of outstanding love by the Creator with a view to His purposes for humanity. For God had been perfectly entitled to enjoy unbroken felicity but for mankind’s sake He was prepared to endure the agony of observing His only begotten Son’s humiliation and death. Of course mankind also suffers at Satan’s hand but it is for a glorious purpose which the Eastern Church in particular refers to as “theosis”. God does not merely wish for man to return to his original state of righteousness but for him to be raised to divinity, united to His Son and participate with Him in His glorious reign throughout eternity. God alone knew how best that might be achieved (it is hinted at in an extraordinary verse in Hebrews – ch2v10). Satan for the present is no doubt relishing his power and malign influence within the world but he is also fulfilling a purpose which will make his demise all the more bitter for himself and his party, and all the sweeter for God, His Christ, His elect and all who shall be “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom8:21).


John the Baptist warns of wrath to come

And so to the New Testament, continuing to draw out passages that particularly came to my attention during the writing of “The Fellowship of the Secret” (free PDF HERE).

“But when (John) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?   Therefore, bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘we have Abraham as our father.’ for I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.  And even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clean out his threshing floor, and gather his wheat into the barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Mt3:7-12NKJV)

But it was not to be; the wrath to come never came. The scariest thing the Pharisees and their kind had to endure in their day was Jesus’s overturning of the market tables outside the temple. Disconcerting and inconvenient for sure but it’s hardly second Thessalonians chapter one:  “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who refuse the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with age-enduring destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when He comes, in that day, to be glorified in his saints and to be admired among all those who believe, just as our testimony among you was believed” (2Thes1:7-10).

Was it not completed? – then let it be repeated. That is the  interpretive principle for prophecy  applied from an understanding of “The Fellowship of the Secret” . So even NOW the axe is laid to the trees. Therefore, every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire… … …



“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.  He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Mal4:5,6NAS; Mal3:23-24 in Catholic editions)

So ends the Old Testament. From one perspective that prophecy was undoubtedly referring to John the Baptist, for such was his annunciation:

But the angel said to him, “do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.  You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.  For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.  It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (lk1:13-17)

But from the dual perspective outlined in my book* much of this is yet to happen for the “great and terrible day of the Lord” has been put on hold in view of the “fellowship pertaining to the secret plan hidden in God from the previous age” (Eph3:9-11), in which Gentiles were unexpectedly included amongst the people destined with faithful Jews to be a  “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy ‘nation’, a peculiar people to show forth the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into his marvellous light (1Pet2:9). The task of enlightening, restoring and above all uniting such a people so that a unified witness might be provided before the end of current arrangements on Earth (cf. Mt24:14) would appear to be needed. As for the “fathers and children” needing reconciliation I have come to understand it to be referring to our Jewish fathers of the faith and their Gentile children on the one hand and Catholic/Orthodox believers with the children of the Reformation on the other.

  • FREE e-book version available HERE 

 Illustration: The Prophet Malachi, painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna, c. 1310 (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo) – courtesy Wikipedia


 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’’  ( Zecharia 8:23NASB)

The minor prophet Zecharia has quite a lot to say about the “Day” (or age) to follow this which I may comment on in subsequent posts. The above verse reaffirms the fact that Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist and even Jesus Himself in the Olivet discourse spoke of the age to be heralded by Christ’s coming in glory occurring within a generation of His birth, not preceded by an epoch we know as the gospel/Church age in which Gentiles are summoned to play an equal part with Jews within the sanctified community  we know of as “Church” (ekklesia – literally the called-out ones). No surprise then that the twelve disciples had little clue about the arrangement, not least Peter, who although clear enough that Gentiles should be evangelised (i.e. called to acknowledge Christ as Lord, repent and be baptised in His name) but not to receive the same gift of salvation as Jews (Acts11:17-18) resulting in eternal life, which I explain elsewhere is not  referring to “going to heaven when you die” but restored communion with God and His Christ (Jn17:3; Col1:27) even whilst still inhabiting  what Paul describes as the vessel or tent that is one day to be replaced by a body more attuned to a glorious, sin-free destiny (1Cor15:53).

Paul had been enlightened by the risen Christ, called out of time as the thirteenth faithful apostle (after Matthias) and provided with some entirely new revelation I have referred to in shorthand as the “fellowship of the secret”:*

Unto me (Paul), who is the most inferior of all the saints, was this grace granted that I should preach among the (Gentile) nations, the unsearchable riches of Christ to enlighten all regarding the fellowship of the secret hidden in God (the Father)through the ages, who created all things through Jesus Christ, that through the Church should NOW be made known to the sovereignties and authorities in the heavens, the multi-faceted nature of God’s wisdom according to the purpose of the ages made in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph3:8-11 cf. Greek)

In other words, it was not until the establishment of the Church, indeed by its establishment, that this mystery concerning the Gentiles’ portion, salvific inheritance and the dispensation pertaining to it was revealed by God even to the principalities and powers of Heaven, having been “hidden in God” from the earlier age. That is why none of the Old Testament prophesies depict the gospel age or Church in the form it has taken, for it was never envisaged (or at least disclosed) that the Gentiles would be included amongst Christ’s consecrated band of enlighteners, rather that they would become enlightened through association with the Jews, God’s elect people as my featured verse makes clear (Zech8:23). But now according to Paul’s good news, the Gentiles could be made holy so as to be incorporated within that consecrated fellowship and inherit all its privileges (Acts26:18).

Once this mystery is grasped, the role of God’s chosen people may be perceived within a vastly broader providential context:  the Church and Israel before her was never the totality of those God intended to reconcile to Himself, but His royal priesthood for the world (Ex19:5, 6 cf. 1Pet2:9). That should also be evident from Romans 11:11-15 in which Paul states that “salvation” has been brought to the Gentiles as a result of Jewish failure, yet God’s declared intention had always been that all people everywhere are given the opportunity to be healed and come to a knowledge of the truth (1Tim2:4) so that the world as a whole may be purged and restored.

  • A free PDF of the e-book is available HERE

Exploring the mystery of divine providence