1 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me……. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” John 14:1-7
It is imperative for God’s elect to have sufficient knowledge about our eternal home. Every person longs for stability in the midst of this changing world. Hence, ultimate security can only come from knowing that we have an eternal home with God when we leave this world.
In the passage above, Jesus Christ speaks about eternal home for God’s elect who are established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. Let us examine the need for this eternal home, how Christ describes heaven and what it takes to enter heaven.
What Is Heaven?
When we speak about heaven, we do not mean the atmosphere or the vastness of space but rather we are referring to the heaven of heavens. This is where God and His holy angels dwell with the spirits of just men made perfect. The Bible uses several names for heaven. It is called a heavenly country Heb 11:16, the city with foundations whose builder is God Heb 11:10, the paradise Lk 23:43, the Father’s house and throughout the NT it is called the Kingdom of God.
Why Do We Need Heaven?
Heaven is the ultimate answer to the longing in all human heart for an eternal home. This desire has been intrinsic to mankind since the days of Adam and Eve. After they were created, they enjoyed ultimate fellowship with God. Their sin against God cause them to be alienated and expelled from paradise. As a result, there is now profound ignorance, alienation and deadness in the hearts of people because of Adam’s sin. Our hearts were also darkened and cut off from fellowship with God until we met the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that saved our souls. God has prepared an eternal home for God’s elect. Our present existence in this fallen world is filled with trouble, tears, pain, poverty and misery. This is why we must believe by faith in the finished work of Christ through His baptism, death and resurrection to enter heaven.
Heaven Our Home With God
After telling the disciples not to worry, Jesus began in John 14:2 to describe the heavenly home He has prepared for them. “In my Father’s house there are many rooms.” The Greek word for ‘rooms’ mean permanent residence for God’s elect. Heaven is not a house or building but rather a home where we will enjoy sweet fellowship with God. Our heavenly Father planned our salvation within the righteousness of God. Though through Adam and Eve we were expelled because of sin but now through the redeeming power of Christ’s baptism and death, we are accepted into heaven. The goal of our lives is to be in heaven with God. Heaven is described as a glorious place 1 Cor 2:9; Rev 21:10-11, heaven is a place of rest and security Deut 33:27; Lk 11:25 and heaven is a place where we will recognize all God’s elect. Mt 8:11
Jesus Prepares A Place For Us
In John 14:3, Jesus told His disciples that He is going there to prepare a place. What did He mean by that? In fact, the Father’s house already exist. The problem is that we cannot go to heaven as we are because no unholy being can enter it. We are by nature born sinners and the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness of men. We can only enter after Christ Who has gone and prepared a place for God’s elect through His baptism, death and resurrection. Isa 38:17; Micah 7:19; Ps 103:12 Sin cast us out from God’s presence but now through Jesus Christ we can come before God’s presence.
The Only Way To Heaven
The remaining passage assures God’s elect how they will reach the heavenly home. Jesus declared that He is the Way, Truth and Life. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. The only way to God is through Jesus Christ. Prov 14:12; Acts 4:12; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 John 5:12
It is absolutely impossible to enter heaven any way other than through Jesus Christ. There is no other way, no other truth and no other life. The center and circumference of a true believer is Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “deny yourself, take up the cross and follow me.” There is so much pseudo Christianity throughout the world and such Christianity has no power to save. The vast majority of people who confess to be Christians are not established in the Gospel Truth of God’s Righteousness which has the power to save. Unfortunately, many are misled by false teaching because they seek temporal relief and carnal blessings. They have no interest in heaven. In fact, they do not even desire heaven because they are having such a good time here on earth. Ps 73:25 To reach our heavenly home, we must have total entrustment of our will, mind and emotions to Jesus Christ alone.
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [a]through His Spirit who dwells in you. “ Rom 8:11
God’s elect ought to recognize that their righteous soul infuses healthy body. Only those established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection can possess Spirit infused healthy bodies. As a result, the Spirit infused life enjoys a healthy walking relationship with God.
A healthy walking relationship with God involves companionship, dialogue, intimacy, joint decision-making, mutual delight and shared dominion.
The walking relationship that Adam lost in the garden was restored in Christ which is why God’s arm of grace has been pulling God’s elect into a closer walk with Him.
God still likes to walk with God’s elect today. It is designed of God to establish God’s elect in an intimate friendship with Him that is walked out through the course of our every day lives. The goal is to have a habitual fellowship with the Lord. Let us discover through the life of Enoch what a Spirit infused walking relationship with God is :
Enoch was the first man in the Bible who walked with God. Gen 5:22-24 Even though man began to call upon the name of the Lord in the early days, Enoch was the first man to uncover the true delight of walking with God. He found something even Adam did not experience. He pressed into God until he learned how to have a habitual fellowship with God through every facet of life.
To find that dimension of a relationship certainly require an intense spiritual pursuit. By taking Enoch up to glory, God was not trying to get us impressed with Enoch’s piety. This was a unique experience that God used to emphasize a specific point. God’s point was, “I love to walk with My elect! Enoch was the first elect to truly walk with Me, so I decided to highlight his example by doing something extraordinary with him. I took him up to paradise to underscore how much I value and desire a daily walking relationship with God’s elect.”
Enoch’s example continued to witness to all generations of the great zeal God has to walk with His elect. When the zeal of God captivates God’s elect, it will ignite them with a great passion to walk with God and to be His friend. Imagine being Enoch, living 365 years and having this growing relationship with God. One can only wonder what depth of intimacy Enoch uncovered. As we draw close to God, He will not likely take us up to heaven as He did with Enoch. However, God desires to reveal the beauty of His Face to God’s elect. As we walk with Him, God will open the Scripture to us through the spirit of wisdom and revelation to reveal the light of the glory of God. When we walk with God, we enter the dimension where God unfolds the secrets of His Kingdom. These are the paths that our predecessors of the righteousness of faith trod before us. Noah knew the secret of walking with God Gen 6:9 as did Abraham Gen 24:40. Through Christ, we too can explore the glorious riches of knowing God’s righteousness because we are infused in the Spirit.
God wants to walk with God’s elect before He works through them. God will wait to act until He finds His elect through whom He can work. To put it bluntly, God works with His friends. When God has a friend, divine activity accelerates. When God has a useful vessel that has been prepared for noble purposes, He will use that vessel. God is looking especially for three crucial qualities namely humility, faithfulness and loyalty. God wants to work with friends who are loyal to Him, no matter what. The Lord will test our fidelity. When we prove ourselves as His friends through the greatest calamities of life, we qualify as useful vessels for His righteousness.
Jesus was the quintessential example of a Man who walked with God. He walked so closely with God because He was always infused in the Spirit. When the disciples awaken Jesus out of a deep sleep, He silenced the storm. What an amazing attainment, to be awakened out of a deep sleep and to be instantly in the Spirit. The secret place is where we develop a walking relationship or habitual fellowship with God. The secret place is not the destination, it is only the catalyst. Hidden in the secret place, we learn what God is looking for as friends and we find out what pleases Him. Our inner chamber with Him becomes our training ground for a life that is rooted and grounded in God’s love.
12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power……. 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Cor 6:12-20
It is imperative for God’s elect born of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness to know what God says about our physical body.
I have listened to thousands of sermons on what God has to say about our souls, minds, wills and our emotions but not much on our bodies. While our culture is obsessed with physical beauty and sexy bodies, God’s elect seem to ignore their bodies as if they don’t matter.
The Bible talks quite extensively on our physical body. For the sake of brevity, let me show just one passage of the Bible taken from 1 Cor 6:12-20. The passage is definitely a no-holds barred description of what God considers to the right and wrong use of our bodies. We learn five radical truths about our bodies as God’s elect that run counter culturally to everything we hear today.
God’s Property 1 Cor 6:13
The physical body of God’s elect belong to God. It is God’s property and not ours. We don’t own it, God does. God created our body and He expects us to use it the way He intended for it to be used. We naturally rebel against this idea. Our culture teaches us that our bodies belongs to us and we can do whatever we want with it. In contrary, God says our bodies were created by Him and loaned to us. He expects it to bring glory to Him. As such, we should not compartmentalize our lives and think that we can divorce our bodies and live as if only our spirit matters. God owns our body!
Purchased Possession 1 Cor 6:20
Jesus paid for our bodies when He received the baptism of righteousness from John the Baptist at the River Jordan and died for us on the cross. Owners often think something they own as more valuable than it really is. The reality is, something is usually valued with whatever someone is willing to pay for it. If we want to know how valuable our life is to God, just contemplate on the willingness of Jesus to be baptized and die on the cross. His arms outstretched and nailed to the cross. Jesus was showing this is how valuable we are to Him.
We are priceless to Jesus. If we are worth dying for, don’t we think God wants us to take care of ourselves as God’s elect. The fact is, Jesus has made the investment in us, He paid for our lives with His precious blood and expects us to take care of His investment.
Spirit Indwelt 1 Cor 6:19
God’s Spirit lives in the physical body of God’s elect. When we believe by faith in the righteousness of God that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection, we are declared sinless and righteous. God puts His Spirit inside us as a guarantee of our redemption in Christ. When God puts His Spirit inside us, our body becomes a temple of God, residence for His love. Hence, we would be deemed as abusing God’s temple if we deprive it of rest, sleep, over eat, put too much of stress on it and fail to take care of it.
Godly Stewardship 1 Cor 6:12
God expects us to take care of our bodies. God’s elect are not the owners of their physical body but are merely caretakers or managers of it. Taking care of our body is an issue of spiritual stewardship which many of us tend to fail. In fact, God tells us that one day we will have to give an account for how well we managed everything He gave to us, including our body. God’s elect must know that our life on earth is a test, a trust and a temporary assignment. Our lives as God’s elect is a preparation for the next life which will last forever in eternity. God is testing us on earth to see what He can trust us with in eternity. He is watching how we use our time, our money, our talents, our opportunities, our minds and our body. Do not be short sighted in light of eternity.
Spiritual Body 1 Cor 6:14
God has promised to resurrect the body of God’s elect after they die. God never waste anything. He gets the maximum use out of all He creates. Right now we are living in the 1.0 version of our body. We will get the 2.0 version of our body at our resurrection when Christ returns. We don’t really know what our resurrected bodied will be like but we do have a few clues. We know that after Jesus came out from the grave, He walked around Jerusalem for forty days in the resurrected body. Jesus was seen multiple time by many different groups of people, including one event where more than 500 people saw and talked with Him. Through Jesus’ example, we know that other people will still recognize us in the new 2.0 version of our bodies. However, there will be one major difference where the spiritual bodies of God’s elect will be perfect, without blemish, no broken parts, no wounds and no pain.
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were [a]assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:19-23
God’s elect established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection are endowed with peace, power and purpose. The Bible has two parts : OT and NT. The NT has 27 books, four gospels to tell the life of Jesus, 21 letters to explain the meaning of Jesus for our lives, one history about the early church and one prophecy. All 27 of them deal with Jesus as alive, risen from the dead and the central living reality today in the hearts of God’s elect and the world.
The passage above describes on Jesus first appearance to all His frightened disciples after the resurrection. What did the risen Christ do and say to them? The Scripture reveals three facts on how Jesus dealt with them.
Furthermore, He prophetically bestowed three gifts on how to receive peace, power by His Spirit and our main purpose for existence.
Three Facts In What Jesus Did V19
The three facts on how the risen Christ deals with God’s elect today.
a. The doors were locked
Jesus did not have to open the door. He simply was there. This means that in our life, Jesus can access to where no one else can. He can access where no counsellors can, He can go where no doctors can go and He can reach us anywhere and anytime. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead fits Him to do what no one else can do. It is a healing wonder to contemplate that in all the complete layers of our life, which neither we nor anyone else can understand, are familiar territory to Jesus.
b. They were afraid
Their fear is totally understandable since their leader had been crucified. In this fallen world under the rule of Satan, the need for risen Christ is paramount. Fear originates from Satan and paralyses one’s life. The risen Christ will come when we cry out to Him in our fear. He helps us. Isa 41:10
c. Jesus came to them and stood in their midst
The point here is that the risen Christ came right into the middle of their meeting. He did not come to the edge and call out through the wall and deal with them as a distant deity. This is what Jesus wants for God’s elect today. He wants us to experience Him, to know Him and to enter into our lives where no one else can go. The risen Christ is within us and among us.
Three Gifts In What Jesus Says V20
What did Jesus say in His first appearance to His disciples? He gave them three gifts namely, peace, power and purpose. Many lives are ruined by conflict, weaknesses and aimlessness as a result of sin.
a. Peace be with you
We don’t initiate peace with Jesus by our actions. Jesus initiates peace with us. It is important to note that before Jesus says anything about power or purpose, He wants to establish peace. The order here is really important. The peace that Jesus gives is before and underneath any of our empowered actions or any of our purposeful deeds. The peace that Jesus offers the disciples is the peace Jesus attained through His baptism, death and resurrection. There are five relationships where the risen Christ brings peace into the lives of God’s elect. They are peace with Jesus, peace with God the Father, peace with others in Christ, peace with ourselves and peace with the world. Peace is first and it is a gift from God. All else is the effect of peace, not the cause.
b. Power by the Spirit
In vs 21-22, Jesus gives power and purpose to the disciples who are to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus was going to pour out the Holy Spirit when He ascends into Heaven. Acts 2:33 That happens about seven weeks after His resurrection. In John 20:22, Jesus performs a kind of acted out parable, “He breathed on them and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit.” He didn’t say, receive Him at the very moment. He said in effect, realize that my breath, my life, my word will be in the Holy Spirit. John 14:18 The power of the Holy Spirit is the only hope for accomplishing the purpose God has for God’s elect. Jesus declared that purpose in verse 21b, “as the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
c. Our main purpose for existence
Jesus comes to us and gives us His peace with God. Then He gives God’s elect power to do the kind of things that mere human cannot do like defeating our selfishness, loving others and treasuring Christ above all. Along with peace and power, Jesus gives us our central purpose for existence. Our great purpose of life is to do the will of God for the glory of God. In vs 23, Jesus alludes the ultimate purpose to His disciples “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” What Jesus is saying is this “when we tell people about the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection through the power of the Holy Spirit, I am the One speaking through you, so that if anyone believes my Gospel Truth, I will forgive them. If anyone does not believe, I will not forgive them.”
“15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?…….19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body [a]and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Cor 6:15-20
When we speak of the church, we are often referring to the building where we meet throughout the week and gather for worship. However, this building is not the church!
The church is the universal, invisible and mystical body made up of God’s elect who are born anew to an ever living hope through faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The hearts of God’s elect becomes the sanctuary where the Spirit of the Almighty God dwells.
I do not know how that reality touches you but it is a sobering realization to me. God lives in us. Therefore, everywhere we go, everything we do, everything that touches us, in effect, touches God. This is the reason why Paul tells the elect at the Corinthian churches that they are God’s temple.
I want to focus on the concept of God’s elect being the temple of God. In doing so, to draw some comparisons between this earthly, physical temples and the temple that stood there in Jerusalem. There are several comparisons between our bodies and the original Temple of God. It may be your body but it is still God’s temple.
A Place Of Dedication
The earthly Temple was a place wholly dedicated to God and His glory. Nothing that defiled was allowed on the grounds. When something out of the ordinary occurred, God took immediate steps to take care of the problem. Lev 10:1-2 These earthly bodies we dwell in are also set apart for His glory. According to our text, God’s elect at NCCkl has no right to use his/her body for anything other than that which glorifies the Lord. 1 Cor 6:19b – 20. The reason? We have been bought with a price! The precious and eternal blood of Christ. In truth, when we come to the saving knowledge of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, we gave up all claims to our body and what we desire to do with it. We do not belong to ourselves, we belong to the Lord.
A Place Of Devotion
The Temple was a place where people gathered to worship God. They came to the temple and glorified the Lord. It was a place where songs were sung, prayers were offered, hands were raised, praise was rendered and God was magnified. Isa 56:7 Just as that temple was devoted to God as a place of worship, our bodies are to be places where God is worshipped. The truth is, these bodies are to render worship to the One and Only God. The question may arise, “how can I worship God with my body?” The answers are many. We can present our bodies as a living sacrifice Rom 12:1-2, practice His Presence Heb 13:5, praise Him continually Ps 47:1 and offer them for service Rom 6:16.
A Place Of Duty
The Temple was a place where people carried out the duties they had been given by the Lord. They did things such as offering sacrifices, tithes, offerings, gifts and prayers. It was place where duties were performed. Our bodies are also places where we are to carry out duties we have been bestowed by God. There are many areas where we are duty bound before the Lord. In witnessing, in worship, in prayer, in tithing, in obedience, in holiness, in righteousness and in many other ways.
A Place of Death
The old Temple in Jerusalem was the scene of many deaths. Millions of animals were taken there and slain on the altars in obedience to God’s command. Where there was praise, singing and worship in this great place, there was also the stench of death. Every time anyone went to the temple, they were immediately confronted with a death scene. Like it or not, people should be confronted with the same scene when they come into contact with God’s temples, our bodies. We are challenged to be dead to certain things in this world. We are totally a new creation born again in Christ. Therefore, we are expected to be dead to our old way of life and to the way of life held so dear by this world systems. Col 3:1-9, we are told to put off or consider ourselves dead to certain activities. Among these are fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affections, evil lusts, covetousness and lying.
A Place Of Display
When people saw the Temple standing there in Jerusalem, they were reminded of God. They were reminded that there is a God in Heaven Who loves sinners and has made a way for their redemption. Likewise, we as temples of the Lord, are witness to the world that we had been redeemed. Every time the world sees God’s elect, they see a manifestation of the power and the grace of God. This is why Paul referred to the Corinthian believers as his epistle. 2 Cor 3:2. Paul is telling them that everywhere they turn, everywhere they go, they are living and breathing love letters to humanity. Letters that say to sinners, “what has God done for me, He can do it in you.” We may be the only sermons some people may ever hear or see. This message of God’s mighty work of salvation in our lives needs to be seen in the eyes of man. Whether we like it or not, we are a witness for Jesus Christ. Our lives either speak well of Jesus or we bring dishonor to Him by the things we do and how we live. Phil 1:27 Yes, it is our body but we are God’s elect, it is still the temple of God.
“31 When the Lord saw that Leah was [a]unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren…35 Then she stopped bearing.” Gen 29:31-35
God’s elect who are unlovable in a physical sense are blessed by God. The passage above in Genesis says, “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb but Rachel was barren.” God allowed Leah to have four sons by Jacob. She named her first son Reuben, the second son Simeon, third son Levi and the fourth Judah. Its is written that Leah was recognized and loved by her husband only after she gave birth to four sons. What does this mean? This means that God saw that Leah was not favoured, He opened her womb up so that she could be loved by her husband.
The phrase “she was unloved” means she wasn’t lovable because she was not attractive physically compared to Jacob’s second wife Rachel. Leah did not have anything attractive in the physical sense. I believe God is teaching us a valuable lesson through this story. We learn that the more humanly unattractive we are to the world, the more spiritual blessings God gives us. Likewise, the more loving and admirable we are to this world, the less spiritual blessings we may receive from God. Listed below are several aspects seen in the life of Leah :
Rachel was much loved by her husband in a physical sense. Leah wasn’t loved by her husband. However, God opened Leah’s womb and allowed her to have Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. God blessed Leah’s anointed life with spiritual blessings. He blessed her with Reuben meaning “behold a son” God saw her plight, Simeon meaning “He has heard” God heard her cry, Levi meaning “joining” God united with her, Judah meaning “praising” glorifying God all the days of her life. Her sons’ names have special meanings to teach us on how God demonstrated His unconditional love to those unloved who seek God because of their sense of lack in the physical form and appearance.
Whoever wants to be God’s elect like Leah should give up human attractiveness and seek God’s blessings. We cannot follow God unless we live a sacrificial life, give up our physical possessions, abilities and looks as our source of security. What does this mean? It means that we should give up our human beauty to become God’s elect. I am not saying we should destroy whatever worthwhile aspects we already have but we should discard the desire to be acknowledged and praised by people and place our hope in God.
This unlovable Leah gave birth to healthy children. What is the most troublesome and challenging aspect for us as God’s elect in following God’s Righteousness? It is our desire to become favoured and acknowledged by
others. God wants us to discard such carnal desires. When we the born again righteous do not place our hope in God but in the world, we will never produce any spiritual children. Those who are loved and praised by people do not bear spiritual children. What am I trying to convey here is that those who do not seek to be lovely and to be acknowledged by others but put their hearts before God will bear many spiritual children and live a fruitful life as Leah.
God’s elect should not expect human love. We have received the remission of sins and become born again with the indwelling Holy Spirit. What do we still desire in our hearts? Don’t we want to have something lovable and praiseworthy before others? Most people have desires to have favour in their flesh. We are living in a time of individuality and self preservation. People are trying all kinds of things to be attractive and impressive. Even those who have become born again have these inner desires to have such favours bestowed upon them. In other words, they want to be recognized and loved by other people. If we really want to be loved by God, we should give up seeking after such human adoration and prominence. Since Leah did not receive any favours from any human perspective, she could fear God, become united with Him as a woman of faith and live a purposeful life.
Jesus wasn’t in the people’s favour list just like Leah. When we become God’s elect, we should give up our own righteousness. When the Lord came to this earth, there was no beauty in Him that we should desire Him. Isa 53:2 This is why only a few people followed Him. He was admired only by those few who knew Jesus to be the Son of God and Saviour of sinners. He was hated and despised by the rest. We should be devoid of what people think as adorable. I don’t mean we should get rid of our attractiveness on purpose but we must live the righteous life and give up anything that we can boast about – for example our own righteousness, our own loveliness and our own abilities.
It does not matter if we lack any personal attractiveness or any special abilities. We are good as long as our hearts are set towards God and we rejoice and take pride in Him. Therefore, we should not be so concerned with our external advantages or appearances.
We should show our true selves and come to God just as we are. Only then we will be able not to rely on our personal attachments anymore but rely only on God.
“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet 3:21
The terms “save” and “salvation” are sometimes used by the Bible writers to convey the idea of a person being delivered from danger or destruction. Exo 14:13 Often, though, these terms refer to deliverance from sin. Mt 1:21 Since death is caused by sin, people who are saved from sin have the hope of living forever. John 3:16-17 To gain salvation, we must exercise faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. 1 John 5:5-6
The Bible shows that we must have works or act of obedience to prove that our faith is alive. John 2:24,26 However, this does not mean that we can earn salvation by our own efforts. It is by grace we have been saved through faith and not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Eph 2:8
Can We Lose Out On Salvation?
Yes, just as a person saved from drowning could fall or jump back into water, a person who has been saved from sin but fails to keep exercising faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness could lose out on salvation. For this reason, the Bible urges God’s elect who have received salvation by grace to contend for the precious faith till the end. Jude 3 It also warns those who have been saved to keep working out their salvation with fear and trembling. Phil 2:12; Col 1:23
Will Everyone Be Saved?
No, some people will not be saved. 2 Thess 2:9-10. When Jesus was asked, “are those being saved few?” He replied, “exert yourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow door because many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be able.” Lk 13:22-24
How Do You Get Saved?
We should believe in God’s Word just as it is. If we believe in Jesus Christ without believing in His baptism by John the Baptist, can we still be saved from all our sins? Can we become God’s children without believing in Jesus’ baptism? Can we still go to Heaven? Can we still become the royal family spiritually on this earth? To these questions, I can clearly say, “NO” without any hesitance. God said in Gen 17 that if we do not believe in the baptism (physical circumcision) of Jesus Christ, we cannot be His people.
God’s covenant with Abraham is the same as today’s covenant that God saves those who believe in the baptism Jesus received and His blood on the cross. This is not a religious doctrine. This is not a doctrine we at NCCkl made up. This Truth becomes even clearer when we faithfully preach and teach about it from the Bible. Many people nowadays misunderstand this Truth because of their own thoughts and their own eschew denominational doctrine. Therefore, we should not blindly believe in and follow such a doctrine saying, ‘Jesus has saved me anyway.’ We should rather set aside our thoughts and believe in God’s Word of Righteousness just as it is. Mk 8:34
Today, whoever wants to be saved should believe in the Word of promise that God gave to Abraham.
Every truth seeker should believe in the work of salvation as it was accomplished by Jesus Christ. Our Savior came to this earth, took all our sins away by being baptized and shed His blood on the cross. When we do not believe in this work of righteousness like this, we will never be saved.
God explicitly said, “And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.” Gen 17:14 God said that He would save us through circumcision. Likewise, God promised that those who have faith in the baptism Jesus received and His blood on the cross would become His children.
God gave his Word to Abraham and His descendants, saying, “my covenant will be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” God said His covenant is in our flesh. Then where do we have this sign that we receive the remission of sins and are saved? We have this sign in our heart. We have become God’s children by being circumcised spiritually when we believed in the baptism of Christ. We have handed all our sins to Jesus by believing that the Lord bore all our sins through His baptism. We become sinless and righteous children of God by believing that Jesus carried all our sins to the cross, died there and rose again to save us. Only then we can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit Who seals our redemption for eternity.
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” Heb 4:11
Rest is one of the greatest gift that God gives to those who are established in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.
Rest is synonymous to peace that is enjoyed from a kingdom life on earth.
Christ’s rest is not a rest from work, rather a harmonious working of all the faculties and affections of a soul. It resonates through the will, emotions, reasonings, imaginations and conscience of those born again by the righteousness of faith.
God’s rest is deep and profound that involves the soul and spirit. It supersedes the rest derived when we are physically tired, sleepy or worn out from our labor. Let us examine what hinders us from entering into God’s rest, the spiritual significance of God’s rest and the benefits of entering into God’s rest.
Hindrances To Entering Into God’s Rest
- Lack of faith and knowledge in God’s Word.
- Unbelief and hardening of heart.
- Held captive by the deception of sin.
- Relying on own wisdom to handle matters.
- Worry and anxiety over uncertainties.
- Not accepting the life of grace by faith.
- Not allowing the Holy Spirit to live through us.
- Not giving glory to God in everything we do.
Spiritual Significance of God’s Rest
- It is a peaceful existence that enhances and enriches our life in all circumstances.
- It reminds about our obedience to God’s Word.
- It is a rest that calms our fears and gives a sense of stability to face the future with confidence regardless of situations.
- It is a lifestyle that enables the believer to be composed by knowing that all things works for the good of those who love God and called according to His purpose.
- It is a state of rest and tranquility knowing that no weapons formed against us shall prosper.
- It is a supernatural and divine gift that enables us to endure trials joyfully.
- It is a super glorious grace to do the impossible for the glory of God.
Benefits Of Entering Into God’s Rest.
- God’s elect are encouraged to enter into God’s rest so that their physical labors of life on earth are meaningful and rewarding even in their after life.
- God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest are filled with satisfaction and fulfilment in all things they do.
- God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live for God.
- God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest will recognize that the Word of God is true and powerful.
- God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest can come boldly to the throne of grace and obtain God’s mercy and help in times of need.
- God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest will cease from weariness and struggles in life. They would be refreshed in their minds and bodies to achieve God’s vision and goals.
- God’s elect who have entered into God’s rest would find their final rest in Christ when their labors in this life ends. They enter into God’s ultimate rest.
“Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.,” Ps 26:2
Health specialist often prescribe a detox to cleanse our bodies and restore our health. Often God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness need a spiritual detox. On occasion, our inner being needs this process to remove toxin that have crept into our minds through life experience. Spiritual toxin can destroy our lives and the lives of others. Spiritual detox involves cleansing, recalibrating and an invigorating soul treatment.
Spiritual detox enables us to clearly hear the Sprit’s voice and see our Savior high and lifted up.
We would not intentionally eat or drink a poison that could harm or destroy our body. Instead, we may be consuming poison that is hazardous to our inner selves without even realizing it. Toxic attitudes, behaviors and cultural influences that we allow into our inner beings exposes us to danger. We cannot avoid contact with such toxins in this fallen world but we don’t have to be contaminated by them. We can detoxify our inner being and experience kingdom life attained through Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.
God’s elect must realize that everything counts. Absolutely everything that we allow into our mind has an impact on how we grow or don’t grow spiritually. The little choices that we make everyday add up to a significant effect on our inner being. As such we must take our everyday decisions seriously to stay away from toxins.
God’s elect must identify the lies that deceives and replace them with the truth. Examine our lives for toxic such as behavior patterns that harm our spiritual effectiveness, emotions that lead us away from God’s truth and the kind of people we spend time with. We need to seek God’s wisdom to discern which of all those are toxic to us.
God’s elect must cleanse their thoughts at all times. Since spiritual battles are ultimately either won or lost in the mind, it is crucial to pay attention to what thoughts we are focusing on. Our thoughts shape what kind of person we become. If we think unhealthy thoughts, we will become an unhealthy person. Likewise, if we think healthy thoughts that reflect God’s truth, we will become more like Jesus. We ought to meditate on God’s wonderful qualities so that we may detox ourselves from worldly impurities.
God’s elect must choose words that build and not one that undermines. Recognize the incredible power of words to bring about either good or evil. God’s Word of Righteousness create and heal while carnal words harm and destroy. Always endeavor to speak, write or communicate choice of words that reflect God’s truth. Carefully analyse as well the words that you hear if they reflect God’s truth.
God’s elect must dig up bitter roots from their inner selves. When we allow bitterness to take root, it poisons and hinders us from experiencing the grace of God. We ought to get rid of bitterness by following God’s command to forgive people who have hurt us. We can rely on the strength that God gives to forgive others.
God’s elect must get rid of envy that contaminates their inner selves. Envying people who have what we want but don’t have will only poison us. We should stop comparing ourselves with others. Instead, we should be overflowing with thankfulness for all the blessings that God has rendered to us. Cultivate an attitude to seek God’s wisdom in all circumstances in order to practice contentment.
God’s elect must break free from fear the enemy infuses into their inner beings. Whenever we feel afraid we must constantly remind ourselves that fear is not from God. Instead, fear originates from the evil one. God has given us a spirit of power, love and peace, not fear. Rather than placing our faith in all the ‘what-ifs’ of life and feeling afraid of what may or may not happen, we ought to place our faith in God Who is in control of all things. We ought to pay attention to specific and persistent fears because they reveal the areas in which our trust in God is the least. The closer we draw to God, the less we will struggle with fear. God’s promises are antidote for fear.
“Be still, and know that I am God;,” Ps 46:10a
The gift of peace is bestowed upon God’s elect who place their faith solely on the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. Most Christians who are not established in the righteousness of faith do not understand peace as a positive concept. All they know is the negative aspect of peace, which is merely the absence of trouble. The biblical concept of peace does not focus on the absence of trouble. Biblical peace is unrelated to circumstances, it is a goodness of life that is not troubled by what happens on the outside. The Apostle Paul said he could be content in any circumstances and he demonstrated that he had peace even in the jail at Philippi. He sang and remained confident that God was being gracious to him.
The gift of peace the Bible is speaking of enables God’s elect to remain calm in fearful and adverse circumstances.
Let us examine the greatest gift of peace that God has given to NCCkl.
- The Nature Of Peace
The NT speaks of two kinds of peace – the objective peace that has to do with our relationship to God and the subjective peace that has to do with our experience in life. The natural man lacks peace with God. We all come into the world fighting against God because we are part of the rebellion that started with Adam and Eve. Rom 5:10 says we were enemies of God. When we believe in the baptism, death and resurrection of Jesus, we cease being enemies of God. We come over to God’s side and the hostility is ended. This is how we have attained objective peace through the righteous work of Christ. However, in John 14:27, the peace that Jesus speaks is subjective and experiential. It is tranquility of the soul, a settled and a positive peace that withstands even in circumstances. It is supernatural, permanent and positive with no side effects. It is the firm conviction that God Who spared not His own Son will also along with Him freely gives us all things. Rom 8:32 This divine and supernatural peace cannot be figured out on a human level.
- The Source Of Peace
This subjective peace has its foundation in the objective peace with God. The peace of God is not obtainable by those who are not at peace with God. God alone brings peace. In fact, in Phil 4:9, 1 Thess 5:23 and again in Heb 13:20, God Himself is called ‘God of peace.’ Christ is seen throughout the NT as the dispenser of peace. Jesus Christ gives us His own personal peace. It was tested, it was His own shield and His own helmet that served Him in battle. He gave it to us when He left. It gives us the same serenity in danger, the same calm in trouble and the same freedom from anxiety.
- The Giver Of Peace
The Holy Spirit is the giver of this peace and He dispenses it as a gift. Gal 5:22 says one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. We might ask, if it was Christ’s peace, why is the Holy Spirit giving it? The answer is in John 16:14 which says, “ He will glorify Me, for He will take Mine and will disclose it to you.” The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to take the things of Christ and give them to us. Notice that every promises Jesus made to His troubled disciples on the night before His death was rooted in the coming of the Holy Spirit. Christ promised life, union with deity, full understanding and peace to those who are His disciples but it is the Spirit of God Who takes the things of Christ and gives them to us.
- The Contrast of Peace
The world’s peace is worthless. The only peace this world can know is shallow and unfulfilling. Most people’s pursuit of peace is only an attempt to get away from problems. The fact is, apart from God, there is no real peace in this world. Yet, people try desperately to hold on to this kind of mock peace. It is futile pursuit. Godless individuals can never know true peace. They might know only a momentary tranquility – a shallow feeling, perhaps stimulated by positive circumstances mixed with a lot of ignorance. In fact, if unsaved people know what destiny awaits them without God, the illusion of peace born out of ignorance would evaporate instantly. People today live in a form of existential shock. They don’t understand their own being, they don’t know who they are and where they are going. The truth is peace has nothing to do with emotions and environment. If you lack peace, it is not because of your mother, father, the church or bad experience. The Bible tells us why people don’t know peace. Jer 17:9 says the heart is desperately wicked. Isa 48:22 says there is no peace for the wicked. A wicked heart without faith in the Righteousness of God that constitutes Jesus’ baptism and death can never have peace.
- The Result Of Peace
Jesus shows us the proper response to His gift of peace. John 14:27 If we lay hold of the gift of the very peace of Christ, we will have calm, untroubled hearts regardless of external circumstances. If we have troubled heart, it is because we do not believe God. We don’t trust His gift of peace. Anxiety and turmoil seldom focus on present circumstances. Normally, anxiety is trouble borrowed from either past or future. Some people worry about things that might not happen. Other’s anxieties come out of the past. Both the future and the past are under the care of God. God promises to supply our future need. Don’t worry about tomorrow or yesterday, Jesus said “each day has enough trouble of its own.” Mt 6:34 Concentrate on trusting God for today’s needs. The peace of Christ is an unending source of strength in the midst of difficulties. Perfect peace comes when our focus is off the problem, of the trouble and constantly on Christ. Most people who lack the gift of peace simply have not taken the time to pursue it.
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. “ Rom 8:6
Being spiritually minded for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness is a matter of life and death. Apostle Paul said in Rom 8:6, “to set the mind on the flesh is death but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” The phrase “set the mind on the Spirit” includes our attitude and not just the mindset. It resonates the image and disposition of mind that is driven by the Spirit. It exalts, values and cherishes God.
Spiritually minded believers sees people and thinks with a relentless God consciousness.
At NCCkl, we yearn to be spiritually minded at all times. How to be spiritually minded and experience the Kingdom peace on earth?
- Realization 2 Cor 4:16-18
We ought to realize our outer nature is wasting away and the inner nature must be renewed by setting our minds on things that are above. A lack of awareness of the transformation within us would lead to a life of hopelessness and despair. A spiritual mind brings forth the true realization of our identity in Christ.
- Purity Mt 5:27-29
We ought to take radical steps to keep our minds pure for the Holy Spirit to dwell richly in our hearts. God inspires spiritually minded believers that are pure and sincere to do great exploits for His glory on earth. Purity of mind is an indispensable character trait that cannot be compromised if we want to serve His Righteousness and Church with boldness and power.
- Joy Ps 43:4
We ought to make God the gladness of all our joys. It simply means that in all our joys God should be the gladness of the joy. Every joy should become a joy in the Lord. If joy cannot offer a taste of who God is and be cherished, then it is unspiritual joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength to live a Kingdom life on earth through the Holy Spirit.
- Sober Lk 8:14
We ought to remember Jesus’ warning about what chokes spiritual life. It is an undeniable fact that cares, riches and pleasure of carnal life hinders spiritual vitality. The cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for worldly things enter in and choke the spiritual mind and cause it to be unfruitful.
- Delight Eph 5:2
We ought to ponder what is good to God and what He delights in. For we must be the aroma of Christ to God. God’s delight is not in our strength or power but He delights in those who hope in His steadfast love and grace.
- Companion 1 Cor 15:33
We ought to be friends with spiritually minded people. Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Bad company often corrupts spiritual mindedness.
- Eternity 2 Cor 5:8
We ought to ponder on our life that will very soon be without a body. How attached are all our joys to our physical body? Think about how short life is. Man is like grass and all his achievements are like flowers of the grass. The grass withers, achievement crumbles but the Word of God remains forever.
- Alive Gal 5:24
We ought to remember that we who are baptized into Christ by faith at the River Jordan have been crucified with Christ. As such, we died to all passions and desires of the world. The basic key to spiritual mindedness is a deep sense of knowing that we have died and risen in Christ, having forgiven and justified.
- Suffering 2 Cor 5:8-9
We ought to accept God’s appointed suffering as discipline to bring about greater spiritual mindedness. It is for discipline that we are to endure. God is treating us as His children. For the moment of discipline may seem painful rather than pleasant but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” Ps 144:1
God’s elect who place their faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection are living on earth in the enemy’s territory. As a result, we experience spiritual warfare and ought to be always on the alert. The enemy comes in like a flood, trying to fill us with doubt, fear and discouragement. He tries to bring division in our relationship.
However, only those who trust in God’s righteousness are able to walk in peace and experience victory.
If we want to be peacemakers, agent of restoration or a communicator of the Gospel, we must be clad in God’s armor. We must also understand the seriousness of spiritual warfare. How can we walk and maintain peace in the midst of an unrelenting attack from the enemy? It is possible to walk in peace only when we adhere to:
- We must be a lover of God first and then a warrior.
Jesus must be our all in all. We must concentrate on our relationship with Him. Abiding and intimacy are two indispensable components. We must cultivate and harness our relationship with Jesus to maintain peace at all times. The enemy is crafty and he knows where our power and weakness lie. Deut 6:5
- We must develop a life of praise and worship.
Worship is a powerful tool for spiritual warfare. I personally find worship to be my greatest strategy in seeing breakthrough in all circumstances. Prayer and worship infuses peace into our inner beings. God opens the door for His grace and peace to come into our hearts when facing adverse situations. Ps 18:46
- We must persevere and resist the devil.
The enemy is intent to stop us as we move forward in the things of God. We need perseverance to maintain peace at all times. After all we are living in the enemy’s territory and are bound to be oppressed by evil forces. However, we are empowered to destroy the work of the devil in Christ. In fact, Jesus destroyed the work of the devil through His baptism and death. More so, at His resurrection, He sealed Satan’s defeat forever. We ought to take our stand against the enemy, not give any ground and retreat. We must resist the enemy and draw near to God. James 4:7-8
- We must handle adversities in God’s way and with His peace in the midst of difficulties.
The enemy brings on discouraging thoughts, false reasoning, doubts and disappointments. He tries to steal our peace. If we choose to trust God’s Word and strengthen our intimacy with Jesus, then the clouds of darkness will soon disappear. The godly relationship will eventually lead us to a sustained peace. It is part of God working in us to test our endurance so that we may mature and know how to maintain peace in all circumstances. Eph 6:10
- We must thank God even in adverse situations because He is stretching us.
God is developing our spiritual muscles so that we may be able to maintain peace in the midst of spiritual warfare. It is God’s plan to strengthen our faith and confidence on His ability to mature us. No matter how difficult it may be, we must continue to believe His love will see us through. God loves us. This is why He permits whatever trials we may be facing. It is for our good. We must see adverse circumstances from God’s perspective and let His peace rule in our hearts. Col 3:15
We must not walk our spiritual lives with our own strength. Listed above are some of the ways that we can maintain God’s peace in the midst of warfare. Let us live a life of total dependence on God by loving Him and standing firm on His Word in order to maintain peace in our inner beings.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid..” John 14:27
Kingdom peace comes to God’s elect through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism. death and resurrection. Furthermore, only those who are established in the righteousness of faith and trust in the Word of God experience the kingdom peace. Nearing the time of Jesus’ captivity and death, He gave a message to His disciples that all of us yearn for : “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid..” In reality, our hearts do become troubled because we live in fear of safety, health and finance. Sometimes the slightest aggravation can upset us for the rest of the day.
I call it ‘kingdom peace’ because ‘outer peace’ in the world is always short-lived and fleeting. This condition arises as an outcome of sin and its pervasive grip on us. Kingdom peace has nothing to do with the circumstances and events of the world. In fact, if we are divinely born and divinely nourished, even turmoil could permeate a purer heart peace, also the heavier the griefs, the more serene kingdom peace reigns within our hearts.
How then can we have this kingdom peace in our spirits? Isa 26:3 gives us an answer : “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
Kingdom peace in a born again spirit originates from God. Our mind is the governing seat of power of our body. What is in our heart or whatever emotion is vying for control, signals are sent to and from the brain after which we take some action. Rightly so, Isaiah tells us that for kingdom peace to come, our mind must be focussed on the Lord. Who is the source? Jesus Christ. The point of governing in the Lord is important because in any governing seat of power we want to have the right person in control.
Most of the time we think we are in control but when we get angry, anger may take control of us. Often even God’s elect may lose the kingdom peace for a moment. Isaiah is saying we ought to keep our mind steadfast in order to maintain kingdom peace in our spirit at all times.
Therefore, if we want kingdom peace to reign within us, then we must allow the Prince of Peace to be in charge.
Isa 26:3 claims that God will keep us in kingdom peace when our hearts and minds are focused on him. However, staying focused is no simple matter because we are constantly distracted by other carnal thoughts and desires. Often we talk about attention deficit disorder among children but it is also rare for us to keep our attention focused on anything for long. Still the jewel of kingdom peace requires a mind fixed on God. Isaiah highlights that the key for a focused mind is in trusting God and His Word. Unfortunately, too many unanswered prayers, too many reversal in one’s life, too much pain and difficulty can cause more distrust that causes us to doubt God. Trust in the Lord is an indispensable ingredient to maintain a high level of focus on God to attain kingdom peace. There is a statement that the psalmist made about the kingdom peace, He says in Ps 119:165 “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” Kingdom peace resonates when we love God and negate our own emotions and feelings. Only God’s Word must reign supreme in us.
It is a sheer vain effort on ourselves to attain kingdom peace without placing total trust in God Who is in control of all things. Kingdom peace is a divine gift that only Jesus Christ can give according to His will and pleasure. God wants to give kingdom peace to God’s elect who have put their confidence and trust in the Gospel Word of God’s Righteousness. Only those who steadfastly abide in this Salvation Truth are demonstrating genuine trust in God’s love and His Word. God’s elect who trust in Jesus Who is the Prince of Peace and the source of control will enjoy a sense of peace in matters that pertain to God’s will and purposes. When we constantly operate within the mind of God instead of our own desires, a greater opportunity of experiencing the kingdom peace is made available from the Throne room of grace.
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10:31
God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection have long understood that we exist for the glory of God. Furthermore, we know that the ultimate purpose in life is only found in our Maker and Redeemer. The chief end of every person, the purpose behind their being is to glorify and enjoy God.
The glory of God is often described as God’s beauty and pre-eminence. We cannot add to God’s glory but we can reflect or magnify His glory in our lives. Apostle Paul puts it in the most practical way possible when he says “so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Now, how do we actually do this? We glorify God through :
Christ glorified in us when God is set as the highest in our thoughts and mind. We ought to have a venerable esteem of Him. We glorify God when He is exalted in mind and heart. We glorify when we find God to be greater than all things created or imagined. God is glorified in us when we admire Him for His person, work and promises. Ps 97:9
Christ glorified in us when we ascribe worth, praise and worship to Him in spirit and truth. Divine worship must be rendered according to how God Himself has appointed in the Word. The gathering of the saints in the Church on the Lord’s day is one of the primary way we glorify God but this feeds into both private and family worship as well. Ps 29:1-3
Christ glorified in us when we love Him. The love a Christian has for God is born of the Spirit and flourishes in faith. It is only small when our faith is small. God is glorified in us when our love for Him is true. This love is exuberant, not a few drops but a stream. We love Him with all that we are. Mt 22:37
Christ glorified in us when we obey Him out of a sense of love. This is when we abide in Him and serve His Righteousness. God is glorified in us through good works done in faith. God is pleased with such works not because they are perfect but because they are the fruit of faith and are perfected by His Son, Jesus Christ. John 15:8-10
Christ glorified in us when we testify to His person, work and worthiness in our words. We ought to advance the Kingdom of God by sharing the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which has the power to save lost souls. Greatness of God is reflected when we share the Gospel Word, bear witness to His grace on our lives in all its form and confess His sufficiency in all our afflictions for His glory. 1 Pet 2:9
How is Christ glorified in us? When we allow Christ to live through us at all times. In our days of peace, in days of hardship, in the valley of the shadow of death and in the pasture of comfort.
We were predestined, called, justified and raised to heavenly dignity to magnify God’s glory in all our lives. Rom 8:29
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Heb 12:1
It is an undeniable fact that most races are not won by the swift but one that endures to the end. The born again in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection should not allow anything to distract them from crossing the ultimate finish line. Like a race, our lives have a precise beginning time and a distinct ending point. Like it or not, we are all in a race from birth to death. There are many Scriptures in the Bible that describe life as being like a race. One of the biggest challenges in this life of faith in the righteousness of God is to stay focused and motivated till the end.
The ultimate finish line for our race in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness is our glorification in Christ.
Let us examine this word ‘glorification’ deemed as our ultimate finish line.
1. What Is Glorification?
Glorification is the completion, the consummation, the perfection and the full realization of salvation. Rom 8:30 Glorification is about victory. Eph 1:18-23 We shall share in this victory through our inheritance and glorification with Christ. Rom 8:11, 15, 16-17, 29, 1 Cor 15:54-57 Glorification is about change in both physical and spiritual. Implying our entrance spiritually into the presence of the Lord at death and our entrance physically into the presence of the Lord at His return. 1 Thess 4:13-18 In 1 Cor 15:35-57, Paul describes the process of our physical change that relates to our body that would become like Christ. Our bodies will go from weakness to glorification. Basically, glorification speaks about the newness of life in Christ Jesus. Rom 8:19-22, Rev 21:1-8
2. Preparing For Glorification
It is imperative for born again children of God who have received perfect remission of sin and the indwelling Holy Spirit by faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness to cultivate endurance to the end. We ought to follow Christ and others who have gone before us and ended their race in glorification. In the process we ourselves are able to lead others to the ultimate finish line. Endurance is cultivated by our life of faith in the Gospel Truth of God’s Righteousness. Our preparation for glorification is further strengthened and cultivated through our earnest anticipation of Christ’s return to take us home for eternity. 1 Cor 9:24-27
3. The Hope Of Glorification
Paul in Rom 8:31-39 highlights three important factors that solidifies our hope of glorification. Firstly, in vs 32, Paul declares that our inheritance in the saints is inevitable. God is faithful!! Secondly, in vs 34, Paul affirms that our Savior Jesus Christ, Who redeemed us from the curse of the law, sin and slavery to Satan is undefeatable. Jesus reigns!! Finally, in vs 37, Paul confirms that our victorious redemption through Jesus’ baptism and death is inescapable. God is love!! The hope of glorification is the fulfilment of our perfect salvation in Christ Jesus with the sealing of the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee for the ultimate finish line.
Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” John 12:28
The word ‘glorified’ is commonly used in some of our songs today. After all, the word ‘glory’ appears hundreds of times in the Bible. The original Hebrew and Greek words that are translated as ‘glory’ or ‘glorified’ implies beauty, to be lifted up, to shine, pure, worship, magnify, royal splendor, majesty and perfection. No wonder it is hard to pin the word down! It takes a word full of meaning to describe our Great God.
Jesus glorified God through His baptism, death and resurrection. John 12:23
When Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified, His disciples could not have imagined the horrible event that was about to take place. The disciples probably pictured something that could seem ‘glorious’ to them, something like Jesus being crowned king in the Temple. How could Jesus be talking about His own death? How could glory ever come out of death. John 12:27-28
Jesus knew that His baptism and death would tell the world more about God than any other event. God is love. 1 John 4:16 God’s love is flashed in all its glory through the baptism of righteousness that Jesus received from John the Baptist at the River Jordan where He shouldered the sins of the world and subsequently died on the cross for all man.
1. Baptism And Death Of Jesus
The baptism and death of Jesus are two indispensable components that fulfil God’s Righteousness. When Jesus cried out, “Father, glorify Your Name!…..His Father answered audibly…..in a booming voice. Then a voice came from Heaven, “I have glorified it and will glory it again.” John 12:28 God glorified His Name for the first time when Jesus received His baptism from John the Baptist as the Lamb of God from Heaven Who takes away the sins of the world. Mt 3:16-17 Then God glorified His Name again when Jesus died on the cross and three days later rose from the dead to secure our justification of faith in the righteousness of God.
2. Our Baptism, Death And Resurrection In Christ Glorifies God
We have no ability to give glory to God with our sinful nature. If we hope to glorify God, the first step is to baptize ourselves into Christ by faith so that our old self can be put to death with Christ. Jesus said, “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed but if it dies, it produces many seeds.” The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12;24-25. Jesus was telling the disciples that in the Kingdom of God a glorified new life comes only after death. God predestined sinful man to enter into Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection by faith to attain glorified life. God gave His glorious Son for us. He asks us to give up our lives for Him so that He may give us a glorified life on earth and eternity through His indwelling Spirit. Paul describes this in Romans 6:3-5.
3. Spiritual Baptism
Baptism gives a wonderful picture of what happens when we put our faith in Christ’s baptism of righteousness when John laid his hands to pass the sins of humanity at the River Jordan. In fact, all man were literally united with Christ in the spirit at that moment by becoming one in union so that all the sins committed from Adam to the last man can be carried by the body of Jesus to the cross for atonement. This spiritual dynamics is foreshadowed in the sacrificial system of the OT. Jesus experienced death for every individual person. Heb 2:9 In a very real way, our old self dies and a new glorified self in the spirit is resurrected.
Baptism is a burial. Burial is for the dead. We would not bury something that is still living. At the same time, we would not fail to bury something that is obviously dead. Being lowered into the water in baptism is a symbolic act that represents our old self has been put to death. Rising up out of the water represents the resurrection from the dead to a new glorified life by faith in the Righteousness of God. This new glorified life in the spirit begins because we are baptized with Jesus in His death and resurrection. It is a new life that will glorify God throughout eternity.
It is unfortunate that many Christians today are trying to die on their own apart from having faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. This is why Jesus said, “You must become like a little child in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Mt 18:3 Whether we are 4 or 94, I hope we can see that spiritual baptism (union) as the key to a glorified life in Christ. It is the most meaningful way we can respond to God’s Truth of Salvation by baptizing ourselves into Jesus’ death and resurrection. The point is, baptism gives glory to God by showing that we have united with Him as divine glorified children.
Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” John 8:34
Blessed Resurrection Day to all true believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. The Word of God graphically pictures mankind as being, not only sinful but also, as a result, in slavery to Satan in a slave market of sin. The Scriptures are very clear that there is only one way out of this dilemma. A redeemer, who is not himself in the slave market, must redeem all mankind out of it.
Jesus said, “everyone who commit sin is the slave of sin.” John 8:34 Since everyone commit sin, we are all slaves. It is a condition we are born into with Satan as the father and head of the fallen race for mankind. John 8:44 He energizes the unbelievers Eph 2:1-4 and he empowers the whole world system as well. 1 John 5:19 The evil in the world is not jus some impersonal force. We are dealing with the reality of a personal being so influential that the whole world has fallen prey to his devices. Eph 6:12
Jesus, The Liberator!
Into this insane ‘slave market of sin’ God sent a redeemer to “open men’s eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God.” Acts 26:18
Jesus, as our liberator was not a ‘after thought’, in fact it was by careful design in the plan of God.
God could not select from anyone to be the liberator of mankind, one had to meet the qualification of a redeemer.
Let us briefly review the qualifications of Jesus as the redeemer of mankind as we celebrate ‘Resurrection Day’ as a redeemed community.
- Sinless Redeemer John 8:35
First of all, the one who would redeem man from Satan’s slavery had to be without sin himself. Christ is the only Man, to be born on this earth since Adam who was not Himself a slave to sin. This is because of His unique conception. God was the father of His humanity and Jesus’ mother was a virgin. Since the culpability for sin is passed from human father to child, Jesus by-passed inherited sin because His ‘family tree’ on His Father’s side was not human but divine. Jesus also lived a life that was completely sinless.
- Kinsman Redeemer Heb 2:14-15
Secondly, the redeemer had to be ‘next of kin’ to the human race. Hebrews 2:14-15 explains why this was so: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” The price of redemption for man has always been the shed blood of an innocent substitute. Moses taught in the Law, “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.” Heb 9:22 However, the blood of animals could never atone the sin away, it can only cover it temporarily until God provided a complete remission of sins through His ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. Heb 10:11-13 Hence, the redemption price had to be shed blood of an innocent sacrifice, the redeemer had to be someone with blood in his veins who could actually experience death. In other words, a man but one who was completely innocent of any sins. This is why we read about Christ’ death in 1 Pet 1:19, that it accomplished redemption “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
- Mediating Redeemer 1 Tim 2:5-6
Thirdly, the redeemer had to be a mediator, one who was equal to both parties in the mediation – those in the slave market and the One seeking to release the slaves. In other words, the redeemer needed to be both God and Man. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, now the Man is Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself as a ransom to all.” 1 Tim 2:5-6
- Willing Redeemer John 10:17-18
Finally, in order for a person to become a redeemer, he must do so voluntarily. Certainly a slave was in no position to order a free man to liberate him. The free man would have to be motivated somehow to come and pay the ransom. When speaking of the life He was to give as a sacrifice for sin, Jesus told the Pharisees in John 10:17-18, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it away from Me but I lay it down on My own initiative,” The reason why? Jesus love for us. That love is what sent Him to the baptism and the cross, cancelling our debt of sin and purchasing us out of slavery to Satan.
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage..” Heb 2:14-15
Blessed Good Friday to all our true believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. Today we are here to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ that stands out as the most significant event in our Christian faith.
Let us take a brief glance at that day in history that forever altered God and man’s relationship – the day Jesus died. Here is how it happened. Jesus was nailed to the cross at about nine in the morning after receiving baptism of righteousness from John the Baptist at the River Jordan in which He took the sins of humanity upon Himself almost three years prior to this, He prayed for those who had nailed Him there. Then He made provision for His mother, turning her over to the keeping of His disciple, John. Just before noon He began His conversation with two criminals on each side of Him and one of them turned in repentance and believed in the Saviour. He was promised a place in paradise, beginning at the moment of His death.
At noonday God drew a veil of darkness over the whole earth. Until then Jesus had not uttered even a whimper. Then, all of a sudden, the silence was broken and Jesus cried out in His humanity, “Eloi, Eloi Lama Sabachthani,” which means “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” God had to turn His back on His own Son in His greatest hour of need because Christ had voluntarily allowed Himself to be made sin on our behalf. His scream was out of deep agony of soul because at this moment, the Second Person of the Godhead, Jesus, was separated from the other two members of the Godhead, the Father and the Holy Spirit. No one will ever be as alone as Jesus was there on the cross. He was separated from every person He had ever loved and trusted. Forsaken by His closest friends, forsaken by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, forsaken by all, He hung there in all aloneness that nobody will ever be able to fathom. Do you know why he did it? In order that we would never have to be alone again. Now He could tell those who believed in Him, “I will never desert you nor will I ever forsake you” Heb 13:5
The Cry That Shook The World
Friends, that is not the end of the story. Just before Jesus gave up His earthly life and commended His Spirit to the Father, He shouted a word which is the Magna Carta of all true believers in the Righteousness of God. That word in Aramaic is “tetelestai” Let this word burn like a fire brand in our hearts because that is the exact same word that a Roman judge would write across a released criminal’s Certificate of Debt to show that all his penalty had been paid and he was free at last. The word used in this way means ‘paid in full’ and is translated in many Bible as ‘It is finished.’
In the mind of God, ‘paid in full’ has been written across the Certificate of Debt of every man who will ever live because his debt of sin has been fully paid by Jesus.
However, if a man would be so foolish to insist on staying imprisoned by his sins, even though his debt has been paid, then the Certificate of Debt assuring his freedom is of no benefit to him. When he comes to the end of his life after living all by himself, he will have to pay the penalty of death and eternal separation from God Himself, though it is totally unnecessary.
There are several benefits in Christ’ redemptive work through His baptism and death after having our debt of sin cancelled.
- Freedom 1 Pet 1:18-19
True believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness have been set free from slavery of sin, Satan and death by the payment of ransom through the righteous work of Jesus’ baptism and death.
- God’s Possession Acts 20:28
True believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness are not only free but have become God’s personal property through the righteous work of Jesus’ baptism and death. God becomes responsible to us.
- Eternal Freedom Gal 3:13
True believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness are purchased out of Satan’s slavery forever and can never be sold as a slave again through the righteous work of Jesus’ baptism and death.
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:6
Christ’ whole life was lived in dependence upon the Father Who worked in Him by the Spirit. He related every circumstances He faced to the Father’s ability to handle it through His humanity. He could have walked any one of them of His own divine strength but for the sake of the example He wanted to leave us, He did not.
John said of Jesus, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as Jesus walked.” 1 John 2:6 Jesus Christ walked with His focus on the Father and the Father worked through Him by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection ought to walk with a focus on Jesus and He will work through us by the same Holy Spirit Who indwells us.
- How Can We Do This?
We must first know that the Holy Spirit has taken up permanent residence in us the moment we put our faith in the baptism and death of Christ. Rom 8:9 says that not to have the Holy Spirit in us is tantamount to not being a true believer in Christ. The Holy Spirit Who dwells us is a person Who is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son. Secondly, we should know that sin grieves the Holy Spirit but doesn’t cause Him to leave us. Eph 4:30 Jesus promised, “I will never desert you nor will I every forsake you.” Heb 13:5 The third thing we should know is that it is one thing for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us but quite another thing for Him to fill or control us. God wants us to be continually filled with the Spirit. The only way we can have this happen is to decide who runs the show in our lives. We need to make a once and for all decision to give the title deed of our lives to God. This does not mean that we are always going to do what God wants us to do. It does mean that we have come to a point in life where we have safely assessed what God has done for us through Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. We acknowledge that God has given us eternal life, put us into His forever family, given us an inheritance with His Son and made us kings and priests forever. Now we can say with confidence, ‘I can trust a God like that. If we give our life totally into His keeping, He will know how to handle it and do the best with it for His glory.’
- I Know Who Holds The Future
Ever since I met the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, I have this attitude: I don’t know what the future holds but I know who holds the future. I believe this is the attitude that God wants of us if we are going to have a life continually filled with the Spirit. However, we ought to mean it and give our life to God this way because He will be serious about taking it. We will be saying, ‘Lord, I want Your will, even though I don’t know now what it will be.’ As we get to know God in this intimate way, we will discover that we have not made a risky deal. God’s will for our life will go far beyond our wildest dreams. As God has been waiting for a blank cheque from us so that He could begin to fill in His marvelous plan and purpose. God wants us to decide who is master for our life.
- Walking In The Spirit
Sometimes it gets a bit confusing as to just how we are to live the new creation life. First we read that we are to be filled with the Spirit and that will give us the power we need. Then someone comes along and speaks of walking in the Spirit and tells us that will keep us from sinning. Someone else has found that walking by faith is a secret of Christian living. Just what is the formula anyway? Is there some point in our Christian lives where we must have a special encounter with the Holy Spirit which will alter the course of our lives and the way we live? I strongly believe that a true believer in the baptism and death of Jesus has received the perfect remission of sins to have the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead his life.
Let me share what I feel the Word teaches about this. Paul’s exhortation to the believers to be filled with the Spirit Eph 5:18, to walk in the Spirit Gal 5:16 and to walk by faith 2 Cor 5:7 all refer to the same principle of the believers coming to the conclusion that one can’t live for God. We must trust the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life in and through us. For many Christians the realization that the Holy Spirit wants to and is able to live the Christian life through us is such welcome news that when we begin to experience victory instead of defeat, we are literally overwhelmed. God does not want to give us a one-shot exposure to His power, however. He wants to give us a new pattern of living where He fills us moment by moment with new life and spiritual energy. Any encounter with the Holy Spirit which does not produce a whole new life is not the walk in the Spirit or fully of the Spirit that the New Testament teaches.
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” Isa 43:25
When a person becomes a true believer in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection, he is born into the family of God and out of the family of Satan. Satan does everything he can to keep us blinded to the offer of perfect remission of sins but at NCCkl we have thrown off his shackles and gone from death to life. This has absolutely infuriated Satan and each time someone responds to the Gospel of God’s Righteousness by faith, it is a slap on his face.
However, after being saved, one of the most successful tactics Satan uses in neutralizing Christians is to get them to dwell on all of their failures. Once we begin to feel guilty about our performance in the Christian life, we are no longer any threat to Satan’s schemes.. He moves in on our blind side and steers us in the direction he wants to keep us ineffective and unproductive in the Kingdom of God.
There is nothing Satan likes better than to get us started on a guilt trip.
- Human Frailty
The weakness of human flesh is the number one reason why Christians fail in their relationship with God. We are always aware that in many ways we fall short of what we should be as Christians, it is only natural to assume that God must be displeased with our performance. The more we let God down, the more we assume His anger until such alienation sets into our minds that is virtually impossible for us to enjoy fellowship with God. The pitiful tragedy is that all this is just in our minds. God is not mad at us! I want to say something loud and clear, in no uncertain terms : “He has now reconciled us in His fleshly body, through death, in order to present us before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach”. Col 1:22 Can we think of another human being, including ourselves, who views us as totally holy and blameless? I can’t! Yet, in God’s eyes we are already perfect, not will be but are! This is not a status which is given on a temporary basis while we try to become worthy of it as Christians. Once God put us into union with His Son, we become clothed with His Righteousness and God sees us as holy and blameless because that is the way He views Jesus. Experientially we may be quite imperfect but our acceptance in God’s eyes is never based on how we perform but rather on the fact that we are in Christ and God accepts Him perfectly. Knowing these liberating facts on a moment by moment basis is the most important factor in living a life pleasing to God.
- Sin Syndrome
First, we knowingly sin. The inevitable result, when we fail to relate the sin to the baptism and death of Jesus, we develop guilt. Guilt always leads to estrangement. There is the syndrome : sin, guilt and estrangement. Now man cannot live with guilt and he tries to deal with guilt in one of two ways, both of them wrong. If he is a type who does not have a particularly sensitive conscience, he tries to justify himself. He makes excuses and offers valid reason why he did something. When we justify our actions, the result will be a feeling of lost fellowship with God because deep down inside we know that we have not been honest with ourselves or God. Another way man deals with guilt and it is equally wrong is to condemn himself. He sins over and over in the same area, guilt sets in and then he begins the guilt trip. Satan just sits back and relaxes when he gets us going on a guilt trip. A Christian caught in the guilt trip will begin to seek to do things for God in the energy of the flesh to appease God for the sense of guilt.
Saturating our minds on what Christ has accomplished through His baptism, death and resurrection is the only Gospel Truth that sets us free from this guilt trip.
- Satan Blinds Us From The Baptism And Death Of Jesus
Satan would like to blind us from all the wonderful truth found in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that saves us by grace through faith. In fact, he keeps trying to blind us everyday. We may not even realize it but the number one reason the power of God is short-circuited in our lives is that we have never learned what the baptism and death of Jesus means on a day-to-day basis. The baptism and death is the continuing basis of God accepting and forgiving us.
- The Believer’s Defense Attorney
It is the Lord’s desire that His children live godly lives and not sin but our omniscient Father, knowing our nature, made provision for his erring children . The Apostle John, in writing to the new believers of the day, said, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if one sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 The Word ‘propitiation’ means to turn away deserved wrath by the satisfaction of justice. What Christ did by His baptism of righteousness and death on the cross was to bear the compounded wrath of a Holy God on every sin that would ever be committed by every man who would ever live. God poured out all His anger that He would have against our sins on to Jesus as He hung on the cross. Now God has set Himself free on a perfectly just basis to keep on dealing with us in love, even when He disciplines us.
because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Pet 1:16
When God decided to make man, He picked up a handful of dust and shaped it into a man. Then He breathed into this creation’s nose the breath of lives and man became a living soul. Gen 2:7 Two kinds of life were born that day, soulish life which started the heart beating and blood flowing and created the soul and personality of man. The other, spiritual life which became the human spirit in man and enabled him to communicate with God Who is spirit. These two kinds of life found their home in the physical body of man and there was harmony in their inter workings.
When man sinned, his capacity to communicate with God ceased and a deadness developed in man’s relationship with God. The tragic result of this was that the soul and body of men were now left without a spiritual monitor and their whole development excluded the enlightening and restraining power of God. Instead of being God centered, man became self centered.
- The Restoration
The restoration of our spirit begins the day we believe in Jesus’ baptism and substitutionary death for us.
The moment we receive the perfect remission of sins by faith, our nonfunctioning human spirit is finally revived and given a new source of spiritual life, the Holy Spirit.
The Bible pictures the unregenerate man as ‘walking in darkness.’ That is why he can’t see that all the things he tries to substitute for Jesus in his life are only delusive counterfeits. When Adam sinned, his spirit became darkened without God’s inner illumination.
- The Light
At the heart of God’s plan to regenerate men was His intention of restoring the light to the darkened spirit of man. Apostle John pictured Jesus as the One Who would bring the light back to man. “In Him (Jesus) was life and the life was the light of men….He was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” John 1:4,9 Peter said the same thing of Jesus when he wrote of Him as the One Who has “called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Pet 2:9b The greatest authority on the subject of ‘light’ was Jesus Himself. He called Himself as the Light of the world. “He who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12
When a person is born again by the baptism and death of Jesus, the light really goes on inside him. For the first time he is able to understand the things of God and the spiritual realm. He believes by faith that through the righteous act of Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection, one is now sanctified and made perfect (holy) forever through the perfect offering of Christ. Heb 10:10, 14
- Walk As ‘Children Of Light’
It is because we had been given this inner light that Paul admonishes us in the way he does in Ephesians 5:1-8. There he talks about a number of sins that unregenerate man freely participates in. Then he says “. do not be partakers with them, for you were formerly darkness (unholy) but now are light (holy) in the Lord, walk as children of light.” Eph 5:7-8 This is a terrific description of born again believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. If there is anything this dark old world needs is light. That is why Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven.” Matt 5:16
- The Sixth Sense : Faith
When a man is born again, life is restored to his spirit and there, in the ‘inner man’ he is able to understand what holiness is and how to attain it. The things of the spiritual realm are no longer unreal and alien. The Holy Spirit come to take up residence in our recreated spirit and reveal the works that God had accomplished to make one holy and pure by faith alone.
The restoration of spiritual life gives back to man what Adam lost. It is called the ‘sixth sense’, faith. Faith is the eyesight of the spirit. It causes us to reach out to God to know Him and who we are now in Christ. Faith enables us to believe that what God says about us is true and absolute. The body has its five senses that make the material world real and the knowledge man gains through them is called ‘human viewpoint’ of life. The intimate knowledge of God can only be known through the sixth sense, faith and it is called the ‘divine viewpoint’ of life. Only the person who has been born again has a sixth sense enlightened and have both these viewpoints in him. The unregenerate person has only the human viewpoint
These two viewpoints of life are very often in conflict with each other. Both the recreated human spirit (the sixth sense) and the flesh (the five senses) bombard the soul (mind) with their viewpoints and these two are almost always opposed to one another. We ought to decide which viewpoint of life is going to dominate us in order to know how God has made us holy and experience the spiritual blessings bestowed to us in Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor 5:17
As a sincere believer in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, we may say, ‘well, God said I am sinless, righteous and have victory over sin and Satan because of my union with Christ but yet it doesn’t come out that way in my daily experience.’ We wonder if there is something wrong somewhere! More than likely there is something wrong and it probably has to do with a failure to understand the difference between our new eternal position in Christ and our daily experience of living the Christian life.
One is what we are in God’s estimation and the other is what we are in practice. A clear distinction must be made between these two relationship which each believer has with Christ. Our new position or union with Christ is a legal status which we have with God and it becomes absolutely true of us the moment we believe in the baptism, death and resurrection of Christ.
Our day to day living of the Christian life here in this world is the experiential side of redemption. It varies from moment to moment, depending on whether we walk with the Spirit of God or let our flesh dominate us.
- The Flesh Is No Friend Of God
The actual substance of the flesh is not what is usually meant by the references to it in the Bible. It generally refers to a principle of rebellion against God that is permeated all that we are in the Old Man. It is so unreformable that God did not even try to salvage it in the new creation. God simply pronounce it hopelessly rebellious and then proceeded to lay down the principles of how we could live in victory over it.
Whatever is wrapped up in the concept of the flesh, all men have it. It is only realm that unregenerate man can operate in, since soulish life is the only kind of life they have. The born again of the water and the Spirit has the flesh but it doesn’t have to live and operate in that realm because he is also alive in the realm of the spirit by virtue of his spiritual rebirth. Eph 2:1-3
God has a very dim view of the flesh whether it is believer or an unbeliever. This is because the flesh has a very dim view of God. In fact, Paul says it is hostile to God and anyone who operates consistently in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:7-8 A mind that is habitually controlled by the flesh is evidence that the person is still spiritually dead. Rom 8:6;Rom 7:18 It is obvious that these verses indicate that there is a ‘fallenness’ about us that is inherent in the flesh. This rebellious streak is sometimes spoken of as ‘sin’ as in 1 John 1:8. All men are born with this curse and it is not removed from us when we were born again, although victory over it is made available to us.
- The Two Sides Of The Flesh
At the Fall, when our spirit died, the body and soul merged together to comprise this spiritual foe we know as the flesh. It includes the ‘attitudes of the flesh’ as well as the ‘works of the flesh.’ These two sides of the flesh continue to manifest themselves through the life of the believer to the degree that he allows his soul to dominate him rather than his spirit.
a. Attitude of the flesh
The ‘attitude of the flesh’ are all the ideas, plans, schemes, imaginations and good works which proceed out of the human mind without the Holy Spirit being the source of them. They can be either good or bad, as the world views such things but in God’s estimation they are all unacceptable because the flesh is the source of them not the spirit. This ‘attitude of the flesh’ are sometimes hard to detect because they deal in the realm of ideas and thoughts which often times seem so noble. However, this soulish activities always have self somewhere at the center. Self-confidence and self-reliance are two notable traits of the soul. The world applauds these and they seem like such admirable qualities but God says, they indicate a reliance on the flesh rather than on the indwelling Holy Spirit.
b. Works of the flesh
The ‘works of the flesh’ are often referred to as the ‘lust of the flesh’ and this refer to the sins which are stimulated by the fleshly drives and passions. These traits are easy to spot in a life because they are usually pretty gross and overt. Paul list some of them in Gal 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness and revelries…”
- The Flesh Is Tricky
Where the believers of the Gospel Truth of God’s Righteousness get tripped up is in not realizing that the flesh is not only the sin tendency but also the self tendency. It is easier to spot the overt sins that originate out of the desires and demands of the flesh. However, the ‘attitude’ sins of the flesh are much more subtle and it often gets undetected in the Christian domain. That is because ‘only the Lord knows for sure’ what the source of the attitude is.
“the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
It is imperative for the believers in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know the Man that God became. One of the things that has made the OT Scriptures so enduring and always relevant is its prophetic emphasis. It can be clearly identified that nearly 300 of the prophecies about the Messiah actually found a literal fulfilment in the birth, baptism, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As we put together the pieces of prophecy in the OT concerning the Messiah, it becomes clear that in some way this promised Messiah would be both God and Man.
In the one Person of Jesus Christ there were two natures – undiminished deity and true humanity.
Jesus Christ Who, as God, always existed in the Godhead with the Father and the Holy Spirit and two thousand years ago left the Throne to come to earth and become a Man.
Let us enumerate seven reasons why God found it necessary to take on visible form and became the Man Jesus Christ.
- God Became A Man In Order To Be Savior Of Men
Jesus Christ called the Word, took on flesh and dwelt among men. On several occasions in the NT, Jesus is referred as ‘the second Adam.” It is because as a Man He perfectly fulfilled all the dreams and aspirations that God had originally had for the first Adam. The two conditions of mankind are often contrasted by what Adam brought down on man and what Jesus did to reverse it. 1 Cor 15:21-22; Rom 5:17-19 In order to qualify as a true human being who could undo sin’s damage, Jesus did not use His divine power while He was on earth. Jesus whole life was lived in total dependence upon the Father Who worked through Him by the Holy Spirit. This is the exact way that God intended for all men to live. If Jesus had ever withstood one temptation or performed one miracle using His own divine power, He would not have been qualified to be the Savior of men.
- He Had To Be Someone Who Could And Would Die For Men
What is sin’s penalty? Death. Can God die? Obviously not. Therefore the One Who would take the penalty of man had to be a true human being as well as truly God. Hebrews says that by the grace of God, Jesus came so He might taste death for everyone. Not only could Jesus die for men but He was willing to do so. Jesus was born to die!
- God Became A Man To Be A Mediator
A mediator is one who effects a reconciliation between estranged parties. 1 Tim 2:5 This mediator had to be the sinless Son of God in order to have the quality of righteousness acceptable to a holy God in the mediation. The mediator also had to be able to sympathize with the predicament of man and thus he had to also be a true man but a man who never sinned.
- God Had To Become A Man To Be A Priest
A priest is a man who represents humanity’s cause before God. He has to experience all the temptations and trials of men in order to be a sympathetic and knowledgeable intercessor for men. Heb 7:23-28 Jesus is a High Priest Who has been in our shoes and He knows what it is like to live under pressure and temptation. Heb 4:15-16
- He Had To Become Man To Be The Revealer Of God
Man, in his spiritual death had lost all accurate concept of God. God had to become visible in order that our soulish life could grasp and know God through Jesus Christ. John 14:9 In a very real sense, Jesus is a living photograph of the Father. All that God wanted revealed of Himself, He revealed in the person of His Son, Jesus. Jesus is also the revealer of God’s plan to redeem mankind. Heb 1:1-3
- He Had To Be A Man To Occupy King David’s Throne
Long ago God promised David he would have a greater son who would reign on his throne over Israel forever. 1 Chronicles 17:11-15 Jesus had to be born as a direct blood descendant of David in order to fulfill that prophecy. Both Mary and Joseph were direct descendants of King David. Through Mary, Jesus received the blood right to the Throne.
- God Had To Become A Man In Order To Be A Kinsman Redeemer
This is a concept taught in the OT, especially in the Book of Ruth. In the Law of Moses, whenever a Jewish person was put into slavery, the only one who could pay the ransom price was someone ‘near of kin’ Lev 25:25 This was to establish the principle that whoever would be the one to free mankind from its slavery to Satan would have to be a ‘near of kin’ to the ones being freed, in this case the human race. In taking on humanity, Jesus became a kinsman redeemer as the Son of Man.
“that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:19
One of the joyous word in the English language is ‘reconciliation’ because it demonstrates the power of restoration. It is not an exaggeration to say that relationships are the most important thing in life because the two greatest commandments in the Bible have to do with right relationship – first toward God and then toward one another. Whenever we see broken relationships toward God or in the church, we know that it is not pleasing to God. God is in the business of reconciling broken relationships.
- Reconciliation Produces Restoration
God demonstrated the power of reconciliation when He restored man into fellowship with Him through a threefold work of Christ on the cross. This power of reconciliation only has the effect upon those who have been baptized into Christ. Those who believe through faith that all their lifetime of sins had been laid by John the Baptist upon Jesus when He received the baptism of righteousness at the River Jordan.
The threefold righteous work that Jesus fulfilled are :
- Propitiation that brings man out from the wrath of God by satisfying God’s righteousness and justice through Jesus’ baptism and death.
- Redemption that brings man out from slavery to sin and Satan through the payment of Jesus Himself as a ransom.
- Substitutionary Death that brings man out from the penalty of death through the baptism and death of Christ in our place.
The above three righteous acts of Jesus has torn down the barrier that man’s sin has built up against God. Even though with the barrier gone, the relationship between God and man must be re-established. Reconciliation brings man out from his mental attitude of alienation from God.
With the barrier taken out of the way through the righteous work of Christ’s baptism, death and resurrection, the power of reconciliation brings man from alienation to restoration with God.
- Reconciliation Neutralizes Hostility
True reconciliation always does away with hostility. That is what Paul was speaking of when he said “and although you were formally alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death.” Col 1:21-22
If we think someone is holding something against us, then we will feel alienated and hostile toward them, simply out of self-defense. It is even more true when it comes to God when we feel our sins are still an issue. However, listen to this terrific good news from Paul, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and he has committed to us the Word of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:19 God is not holding our sins against us anymore. The power of reconciliation that God made available to us through the baptism and death of Jesus has neutralized His just anger at our sins.
- Reconciliation Permeates Grace
The parable about the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 is a most appropriate illustration of reconciliation. Obviously the father in this parable dearly loved the prodigal son or he never would have given him his inheritance. During all those long years, the father kept on loving the son and yearning for him to come home and be reconciled to him. When the prodigal son recognized how foolish he had been, he expected there to be stern barriers between him and his father if he wanted to come home.
However, when he got to the place of willingness on his own (repentance) to come back to his father, he found that instead of being barriers there, there was nothing but love and complete acceptance. There was no resentment or wrath in the father toward that son, even though there was plenty of reason for him to be upset. The father’s attitude was expressed in his statement to everyone “This son of mine was dead and has come to life again, he was lost and has been found.” This depicts a scenario of unlimited grace permeated by the father towards the prodigal son. A very radical change has taken place and it is called ‘power of reconciliation.’
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Rom 8:1
One of the greatest benefit of being justified is that God doesn’t condemn us anymore. Ever since we embrace the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, we should realize that on the basis of everything Apostle Paul has said in the first seven chapters of Romans about Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection has truly delivered us from all condemnation. This sets the stage for us to stop condemning ourselves and to believe others who try to make us feel guilty because we are not up to their ideas of what a Christian ought to be.
The sheer magnitude of these ‘no condemnation’ concept has obviously been hard for the church to handle all down to its history. However, if we just accept what Rom 8:1 says and not bring our own religious biasness to it, we can discover that Paul had good grounds on which to tell us there is no more condemnation for us. First of all, let us define what it means to no longer be condemned.
Condemned By Whom And For What?
There are two facets to the concept of ‘condemnation’. First, there is the genuine reality of the fact that when a person does not believe in the redemptive work of Christ’s baptism, death and resurrection, he is condemned to an eternal separation from God. Once that person has believed in Christ’s baptism and substitutionary death in his place, Jesus Himself promised, “truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and does not come into condemnation but he passed out of death into life.” John 5:24 The issue of eternal condemnation is a settled matter in the life of a true believer in Jesus. However, what is at stake in Rom 8:1 is whether, having been delivered from eternal condemnation, can a believer come back under any form of condemnation by God because of his behavior. The answer to that is an absolute NO.
The Grounds Of ‘No Condemnation’
God has already condemned Jesus in our place for every sin we will ever commit when Jesus received the sins of the world through the baptism from John the Baptist. For that reason, God cannot and will not condemn the one who believes in Jesus’ baptism and death on the cross. 1 Pet 3:18a.
In Rom 8:31-35, Paul sums up this argument by posing 5 penetrating questions, the answer of which form a powerful argument for God never again to legitimately condemn us or anyone else.
1. “If God is For Us, Who Is Against Us” vs 31
The very nature of the question implies that ‘whoever’ might be against us, they don’t amount to anything because the Almighty, Sovereign God of the Universe is for us.
2. “He Who Did Not Spare His Own Son But Delivered Him Up For Us All, How Will He Not Also With Him Freely Give Us All Things? Vs 32
The point here is that if, when we were still enemies of God, He gave up the most precious thing He had on our behalf, now that we are His children, will He give us less? Of course not! The ‘all things’ God promised to freely give us refers to the thousands of privileges and blessings outlined in the promises of God throughout the entire Bible. Part of the blessing is the knowledge of knowing that we can never be condemned again.
3. “Who Can Bring A Charge Against God’s Elect?” vs 33
Who has a right to bring accusation or condemnation against a person who has been declared sinless and righteous by the sovereign Judge of the universe? The answer is, ‘only the Judge Himself!’ Paul doesn’t even bother to answer the question with a NO because the answer is so obvious. God is the One Who justified man, so he is not about to declare man unjust and condemned again after Jesus having paid a heavy price for us.
4. “Who Was The One Who Condemns?” vs 34
There is a saying, ‘don’t count your critics, weigh them!’ That really applies here. There may be so many people, including ourselves, who will condemn us but there is only One Who has the right to and that is Jesus Himself. To do so would contradict the baptism of righteousness that Jesus received from John the Baptist that cause him to do four righteous act on our behalf. He died for us, was raised from the dead, sits on the right hand of God and intercedes even now for us. Rom 8:34
5. “Who Shall Separate Us From The Love of Christ?” vs 35
The question is, ‘is there anything, anyone or anywhere in this world or the spiritual realm, who can, by his condemnation, cause God’s unchangeable love to stop flowing towards us? The point of all that Paul said in Rom 8 is that there isn’t.