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Part 4: The Abrahamic Covenant: An Ongoing, Unfulfilled Mystery?


In seeking the origins of a redefined Abrahamic Covenant, I found the following in Al Dagar's report on The World Christian Movement, Evangelism vs. Evangelization. This report can be read at Cross+Word(1):

"The Abrahamic Covenant

"[Ralph D.] Winter, and others involved in the World Christian Movement, state that Israel was first entrusted with the Gospel, but failed to present it to the nations. It began with Abraham who failed in his mission to be a blessing [to] all the nations, they say, by not taking the Gospel to the nations.

"The essence of the [World Christian Movement] teaching, however, is pretty well summed up in the following statements by Ralph D. Winter:

"'[Some Bible commentators] agree that Abraham was to begin to be blessed right away, but somehow they reason that two thousand years would have to pass before either Abraham or his descendants could begin "to be a blessing to all the families on earth." They suggest that Christ needed to come first and institute his Great Commission that Abraham's lineage needed to wait around for 2,000 years be [sic] before they would be called upon to go [to] the ends of the earth to be a blessing to all the world's peoples (this could be called "The Theory of the Hibernating Mandate."). . . .

"'A more recent and exciting interpretion [sic] (see Walter Kaiser's chapter four) observes that Israel, as far back as Abraham, was accountable to share that blessing with other nations. In the same way, since the time of the Apostle Paul, every nation which has contained any significant number of "children of Abraham's faith" has been similarly accountable (but both Israel and the other nations have mainly failed to carry out this mandate).

"'The greatest scandal in the Old Testament is that Israel tried to be blessed without trying very hard to be a blessing. . . .'"(2)

". . . . The idea that Abraham and Israel failed to fulfill the Great Commission in their time was formulated, or at least popularized, by Helen Barrett Montgomery . . . in the early 20th century. Ralph Winter attributes the social movement of that time to her ability to accomplish much in the way of teaching:

"'The amazing and powerful social movement which allowed her to do these things-and which amplified the effect of what she did-was probably the most significant movement in history for the completion of the Great Commission.'(3)

". . . [Montgomery's] teaching on missions, found in the Study Guide for the Perspectives course, outlines her belief that the Abrahamic Covenant is the basis for world missions today. She taught that throughout history everyone from Abraham to the present had failed to complete the Great Commission because the world had not been fully evangelized.

"She chastised the Church for failing to bring about what she considered total evangelization. And she warned that should the Church fail, God might replace it with something else:

"The Gospel will not fail. The Lord Jesus shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. The kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. But the Church may fail, may be set aside for another instrument. Today is the day of salvation for our Protestant churches. If we harden our hearts and close our eyes and refuse the plain call of God, other generations may see in us another Israel whose narrowness of vision was condemned by the very Scripture in which is our boast."(4)

Rather than God setting aside the Church for "another instrument," some in the Church have done just this. To me, the new global evangelization movement is one half of this instrument. The other half is the Toronto Blessing, firmly based on a "new" Abraham and Sarah and a "new" Isaac" as prophesied by Jane Lead in the late 1600s and the "prophets" in 1994. The redefinition of the Abrahamic Covenant appears to be the foundation for both movements, as shown by the words of Alan Vincent in Part 3.

There are many more likenesses that could be shared, but this will suffice. Dagar continues,

"Jesus said that He would be with us even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). Significantly, this is His closing statement to the Great Commission. The critics of the Church, as opposed to the churches, fail to see that the Church has not failed; those who remain true to Christ will minister the Gospel wherever He sends them. When we see the fleshly attempts to complete what these people think the Church has failed to do, we understand that, deep down, it is not the Church that has failed in their eyes. It is Christ and the Holy Spirit that have failed. As with most religious minds, God doesn't work hard enough or fast enough to satisfy them. Thus they succumb to false teaching and ungodly alliances to take over for God. They even go so far as to subordinate the New Covenant in Christ's blood to their concept of the Abrahamic covenant:

"With this we understand once and for all that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the missionary God of the mission-covenant, the 'Secret Mission!' Furthermore, these prominent references inaugurate the major narrative story of the Bible, which is essentially the unfolding story of the Secret Mission of God to all the nations ('Fulfillment'). It is not just the story of a nation blessed by God ('Fullness') in preparation for a task to be fulfilled 2,000 years later. We soon see that this covenant is in one sense the only Covenant in the Bible. It constitutes the grand plan, the only plan."(5)

"Some may say that Winter was careless in his words. But one with his knowledge of Scripture cannot so easily be dismissed. In effect, he does subordinate the New Covenant to the Abrahamic Covenant. Thus, the World Christian Movement infers that Jesus also failed, but commissioned His disciples to take up the cause to evangelize the world as fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant."

In the January 1986 issue of Mission Frontiers Magazine (pages 17-18), Ralph D. Winter began a series entitled "THE 'SECRET' MISSION, A Theology of Redemption" in which he explained his view of God's covenant with Abraham as it relates to missions. The apparent premise of the series is that through the fall, man lost to Satan his dominion over the world, and now man's hope is to take back, through preaching the gospel, the dominion he lost. The strategy, then, is to evangelize resident people groups in all the nations and in this way take the nations for Christ.

In his series, Winter emphasized the struggle against "the evil empire"(6) as the hope of taking back the earth. The personal war against the adversary, he said, is to "expand God's rule to the ends of the earth, to the last of all the world's people,"(7) through "the blessing of God- that is, to be discipled, to be reconciled through the death of His Son, to live in the fulness of His Spirit, and by His grace to 'put on the full armor of God, that (they) may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil."(8) Since then, the stand against the schemes of the devil has brought forth such practices as spiritual mapping of cities, evangelizing people groups (nations), spiritual warfare for the purpose of displacing the spiritual entities ruling cities, prayer walking and data-basing. All these methods will supposedly prepare fields for evangelization, and will result in taking all the cities of the world for God and the establishment of His rule. Winter states that this situation was established by the Abrahamic Covenant:

"For 4000 years, then we have been in a Covenant-instituted and -guided counter-effort, an essentially 'wartime' situation. . ."(9)

According to Winter, God's goal in establishing this wartime situation was to fulfill His covenant with Abraham for the purpose of expanding His rule to the ends of the earth:

"Arrayed against the kingdom of evil is the Kingdom of God, now drawn into what turns out to be a secret mission to push darkness back and expand God's rule to the ends of the earth, to the last of all the world's people.(10)

Having set up the idea that the Church must constantly wage a battle, Winter now brings forth his "secret mission," so named because of past unbelief and/or disobedience. The purpose of this mission is for the Kingdom of God, "arrayed against the kingdom of evil," to "push darkness back and expand God's rule to the ends of the earth, to the LAST of ALL the world's people" (CAPS mine).

Preach the gospel to all men on earth? Yes. But are we to extend God's rule to the last of all the world's people? No, there is no such command in Scripture. The gospel certainly establishes the rule of God in people's hearts through Christ's finished work and its acceptance by any individual. Yet the simplicity of that fact is clouded by the strategies I described above, such as spiritual mapping (by which demons controlling cities are supposedly displaced by the Church so God's rule in that city can be established through people accepting the gospel). But, in truth, the gospel is to be preached to prepare all who believe for the day when Christ alone personally establishes God's rule over the cities of the world:

(Rev 19:15-16 KJV) And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. {16} And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Winter writes,

"Why must this mission continue seemingly forever to be a 'mystery,' a 'secret'? Paul called it that in Romans 16:25 because that is what in fact it actually was, not because this is what it ought to have been! It became so and continues today to be so - but by default, due to unbelief, to delayed or partial obedience, or to the triumph in our lives of 'the cares, riches and pleasures of this world'"(11)

The truth is that Abraham couldn't have know about the mystery of which Paul spoke. The mystery was that Jews and Gentiles would be made one body in Christ, and in Abraham's time, Israel didn't even exist! Yet Winter says it wasn't supposed to be a mystery. Furthermore, God kept it a secret until He revealed it to Paul.

Let's take a look at Romans 16:25-26 and see if the Church could possibly be in unbelief or disobedience concerning Paul's words and the establishing of God's rule in the world:

Romans 16:25 "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, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. . . ."

These scriptures clearly show that Paul is referring to Christians being established AS INDIVIDUALS in the gospel in which they already believed! Paul is not talking about extending the rule of God to the ends of the earth in order to take the world back from the devil. He says the mystery WAS kept secret since the world began. But IT IS NOW MADE MANIFEST in Paul's time, and according to God's command, that GOSPEL is being "made known to all nations" so that individuals in the nations can obey it by faith and receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith and Christ's righteousness. In this the mystery of God is being fulfilled until it is complete: that the Jews and Gentiles in Christ are one body with the wall of separation removed. That's all Paul is saying. There is no "secret mission" today, nor is there anything in these verses implying that we are to extend God's rule to the ends of the earth. We are not to establish God's rule, but INDIVIDUALS according to the gospel, while loving the promise of His coming when all things will be placed under His feet. Winter has turned God's mystery of THE REVEALED GOSPEL into a "secret mission" for dominion that the Church is slowly waking up to, and in our day has finally begun, he indicates, to pursue.

Winter attributes the lack of knowledge of this mystery "to unbelief, to delayed or partial obedience, or to the triumph in our lives of 'the cares, riches and pleasures of this world.'" In the following paragraph, he lays this blame on everybody from Old Testament saints to present day Christians:

"As a result, a veil has dropped down over our eyes (II Cor. 3:14-18), and, tragically, for the vast majority of saints, whether in the Old Testament, the New Testament, or the post-Apostolic period, the reality of this cosmic struggle, the 'Kingdom Strikes Back,' continues to be a 'mystery' or a 'secret,' just as it was to the vast majority of the Jews in Jesus' day. We are supposed to be praying for this secret mission when we say, 'Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' Yet few understand these words in this light"(12).

He says this cosmic struggle supposedly came about because a veil was dropped over the eyes of God's people, a veil blinding us to realizing this mystery. But in the verses Winter refers to, Paul states the opposite. Rather than being unbelieving, Paul says we're already being changed by the REVEALED mystery because the Holy Spirit indwells the believer:

2 Cor 3 "14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

These verses say that when the Old Testament is read, meaning Moses, the Law, a veil comes upon the Jews. But in Christ, the "vail is done away." Paul then declares that the Church has no veil on its face, but that "we all, WITH OPEN FACE beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." This agrees with Romans 16:25-26 quoted above:

"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, . . ."

Rather than being one part of establishing God's rule to the ends of the earth, the individuals Paul is speaking to are those being prepared for Christ's coming, in which He will establish God's rule.

In their context, these verses are personal to each Christian concerning his being conformed to Christ. They aren't telling a corporate body to extend God's rule to the end of the earth. The purpose of God's mystery was given to Paul for the Church, and before that, Jesus Himself openly spoke of these things to his disciples:

Matthew 13 "35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."

The secret mystery of God was Paul's very preaching: that all men might come into the fellowship of that mystery, that now, in Christ, the Jews and Gentiles could be new creatures in unity according to the Spirit. But Winter adds a "secret mission" to the mystery based on his idea that God's "secret" was hidden until our day, because it isn't easy to find in Scripture unless you know what to look for. Therefore, says Winter, Abraham and Israel missed it for 2,000 years, and the Church missed it for another 2,000 years. But Paul wrote,

Ephesians 3 "8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9: And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ."

Colossians 1 "25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26: Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints."

Ephesians 3 "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."

Furthermore, we have been MADE STEWARDS of this mystery. Paul clearly related it to us so that we would NOT BE IGNORANT of it:

Romans 11 "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."

1 Corinthians 4:1: "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God."


(1) Cross+Word citing Al Dagar, The Media Spotlight, "The World Christian Movement: Evangelism vs. Evangelization," Vol. 22, #1 (April 1999).
(2) Dagar, Movement, citing Ralph D. Winter, "Four Men, Three Eras, Two Transitions: Modern Missions," Perspectives Reader, Op. Cit, pp. B-33-34.
(3) Dagar, Movement, citing Ralph D. Winter, Introduction to The Missionary Message of the Old Testament by Helen Barrett Montgomery, Perspectives Study Guide, Op. Cit., p. A-1.
(4) Dagar, Movement, citing Helen Barrett Montgomery, Ibid., pp. A-6-7.
(5) Dagar, Movement, citing Ralph D. Winter, "The 'Secret' Mission, Mission Frontiers Bulletin, Vol.8, No. 3, March 1986, p.10. (Emphasis Ours).
(6) Ralph D. Winter, Mission Frontiers Magazine, "THE 'SECRET' MISSION, A Theology of Redemption," January 1986, pages 17-18.
(7) Ibid.
(8) Ibid.
(9) Ibid.
(10) Ibid.
(11) Ibid.
(12) Ibid.
[End of Part 4.]


Part 1: A "New" Abraham Prophesied 300 Years Ago
Part 2: A "New" Abraham, A "New Child," A "New" Israel
Part 3: A Look At The Abrahamic Covenant
Part 4: The Abrahamic Covenant: An Ongoing, Unfulfilled Mystery?
Part 5: The Abrahamic Covenant: Everyone Failed To Fullfill It


Part 6: Salvation Is Of The Jews
Part 7: Israel Divided By The First Coming Of Christ
Part 8: The Mystery Of God Revealed To Save Both Jew And Gentile
Part 9: The Jews First, Then The Gentiles
Part 10: God Has Not Cast Away His People Israel
Part 11: A Closing Word

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