The Time Element in Scriptures
by C. R. Stam
How many Scriptural problems would be solved, how many seeming contradictions explained, if we were more careful to note the time element, emphasized so strongly in the Word of God.
In Romans 5:12 we learn that sin entered the human race by Adam. Then later “the law entered” (Ver. 20). But still later the Apostle Paul arose to say: “But now, the righteousness of God without the law is manifested” (Rom. 3:21).
Early in man’s history blood sacrifices were required for acceptance with God (See Gen. 4:4; Heb. 11:4), later circumcision and the Law (Gen. 17:14; Ex. 19:5), and still later, repentance and water baptism (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38). But not until Paul do we learn of salvation by grace through faith alone, on the basis of Christ’s finished, all-sufficient work of redemption!
This is why the Apostle refers in Gal. 3:23 to “the faith which should afterward be revealed.” This is why he declares that our Lord “gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”, and adds: “whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an apostle” (I Tim. 2:6,7).
It is only as we recognize the time element in Scripture that we see the difference between “the kingdom of heaven” and “the Body of Christ,” between “the gospel of the kingdom” and “the gospel of the grace of God,” between the “dispensation of law” and “the dispensation of the grace of God.”
A comparison of Romans 3:21 and 26 shows how this time element is emphasized in Scripture. After discussing the function of the Law in Verses 19 and 20, the Apostle Paul declares: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested…” Then, in Ver. 26 he states that it is God’s purpose: “To declare, I say, at this time His [Christ’s] righteousness; that He [God] might be just and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”