Tag Archives: Citizenship of the Believer

The Rapture

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The word rapture refers to an event which will mark the end of the Church Age and which will be an occasion of great joy to Christian believers. All believers, both those who have died and those who are alive at the time, will be taken up to meet Jesus Christ, who will have returned to “the air”, earth’s atmosphere. Then, the Christians and the Lord Jesus will return to heaven together. At the time of the Rapture, Christ will not set foot on earth; and He will be visible only to believers. READ 1 Thess. 4:17; Acts 1:11.

The Rapture is to be distinguished from the Second Advent of Christ. While the Rapture sets the stage for the Second Coming, these are two separate events. A chart giving comparisons between these two future appearances of Christ is found in a later section of this article.

There has been controversy for many generations concerning the timing of the final events in human history. The position held by the majority of categorical and fundamental Bible teachers is as follows:

  • We are presently in the dispensation known as the Church Age, and we do not know when this age will end.
  • The Rapture will occur at the end of the Church Age; and the day of the Rapture will be the first day of the sever-year period known as the Great Tribulation.
  • The Second Coming of Christ will occur on the last day of the Tribulation period and will usher in the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ.

The statements above are part of a position, or viewpoint, concerning the chronology of the final events of human history, a doctrinal concept known as the Pre–Tribulation Rapture / Pre–Millennium Tribulation view. There are several other schools of though among Christian scholars; and this article does not attempt to sort out the differences in these viewpoints categorically.

The study of the various points of view, and an examination of the proofs that the Pre-Tribulation/Pre-Millennial position is the correct one, is indeed a fascinating study. But the students needs considerable background to handle such research, including a thorough knowledge of general prophecy, a good general orientation to the whole Bible, and a lot of practice in tracing threads of logic through interwoven networks of Bible doctrine. For the time being we will settle for …

A Description of the Rapture

The Rapture was promised by the Lord Jesus Christ just before His crucifixion, John 14:1–3. At the Rapture, He keeps His promise and fulfills the prophecy. The Rapture completes the Redemption of the body because the believer receives a resurrection body at that time, Phil. 3:20,21; 1 John 3:1,2. It would be useful at this point to read the description of the Rapture in 1 Cor. 15:51–53 and then to note the comments below concerning the terminology used.

mystery – a doctrine “hidden” from the Old Testament saints. The Rapture is pertinent only to the Church Age and was never revealed to believers living before the beginning of the Church Age.

we shall not all sleep — i.e., there will be some believers alive at the time of the Rapture.

we shall all be changed – refers to the resurrection body.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye – a reference to the time element. The Rapture is not a long, drawn out process of evacuation. We will be with Christ instantly.

the dead shall be raised incorruptible – the resurrection body does not include the decay and corruption of sin and death.

we shall all be changed – another reference to the new physical body and new personal attributes associated with the resurrection body.

this corruptible must put on incorruption -the most important feature of the resurrection body is that there will be no Sin Nature.

this mortal must put on immortality – the believer will not die but will receive an immortal body.

The dead in Christ (believers who have died previous to the Rapture) will be raised first. Then, those who are still alive will be taken up. 1 Thess. 4:16,17.

The Rapture is a rendezvous for living and dead Christians. Confidence in the Rapture is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Thess. 4:18.

In principle, the Lord Jesus Christ is the “first fruits” of the believer, as noted in 1 Cor. 15:20–23. Read this passage first, then note the following comments:

firstfruits – pictures the resurrection of Christ which is a guarantee of our bodily resurrection.

by man came death – through Adam came spiritual death with the end result of physical death for every human.

by man came also the resurrection – by Jesus Christ, in His humanity, came spiritual resurrection (salvation) followed by physical resurrection, Phil. 3:21.

The word “hope”, translated from the Greek word ἐλπίς (elpis), meaning “confidence”, is a technical designation for the Rapture in at least three Bible passages, including:

  • The living hope, 1 Peter 1:3
  • The blessed hope, Titus 2:13
  • The purifying hope, 1 John 3:3

The Rapture takes the sting out of death, 1 Cor. 15:54–56. Therefore, the Rapture removes the despair of bereavement, 1 Thess. 4:13–18. This confidence in the Rapture comes through the obtaining of wisdom, discernment, and knowledge of the Plan of God, Job 19:25–27. The edified believer has confidence. The result is blessing, peace, a relaxed mental attitude, and stability.

The believer has a “reservation” in heaven, 1 Peter 1:4; Eph. 2:6. The Rapture takes the believer to the “mansion” which Christ has prepared in advance, John 14.

The testing which the believer and the Church endure during the Church Age is terminated with the Rapture. The Body of Christ is no longer a target of Satan in spiritual warfare.

It is not known, and cannot be predicted, when the Rapture will occur. Nevertheless, the Bible directs us to pursue certain activities while waiting for the Rapture. These are given in the last section of this article. Meanwhile, take a look at …

What to do While Waiting for the Rapture

Stay in Fellowship. “And now, little children, abide in Him; that when He shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28

Employ the Faith-Rest techniques. “Now we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by forged letters as from us, as that day of Christ is at hand.” 2 Thess. 2:1,2

Have Confidence. “Being confident of this very things, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6

Have Patience. “Be patient, therefore, unto the coming of the Lord…” James 5:7

Grow in Christ by continuing to be edified. “…be ye also patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:8 See also Isaiah 33:4 and 2 Tim. 2:15

Contrasts Between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ

The Rapture

The Second Coming of Christ

Only believers see Christ. The Rapture is private. Heb. 9:28; Acts 1:11

Every eye shall see Him. The Second Coming of Christ is public. Rev. 1:7

Christ meets believers in the air, 1 Thess. 4:17

Christ sets foot on the Mount of Olives, Zech. 14:4

Believers are taken off the earth, John 14:3

Unbelievers are taken off the earth, Mt. 24:37f

Believers go to heaven, 1 Thess. 4:17

At the Second Coming, believers come back to earth with Christ, 1 Thess. 3:13; Col. 3:4;, 2 Thess 4:13; Zech. 14:5

There is no timetable for the Rapture

The Second Coming is seven years after the Rapture, Matt. 24:29-30

Believers are rewarded. 1 Cor. 3:11-15; Rev. 22:12

Unbelievers are judged at the Second Coming; the Baptism of Fire takes place, Matt. 25:31,32,46

The Rapture is a source of comfort to the believer, 1 Thess. 4:18

The Second Coming of Christ is a source of terror for the unbeliever, Rev. 6:15-17

There are no changes in nature associated with the Rapture

There are many changes in nature associated with the Second Coming, Isa. 35

The world is not judged at the Rapture.

The people of the world are judged, Jude 15

The Rapture is a mystery of the Church Age, 1 Cor. 15:51

The Second Coming is the subject of extensive prophecy in the Old Testament.

The unconditional covenants such as those with Abraham and David are not fulfilled at the Rapture.

The covenants are fulfilled at the Second Coming; Israel inherits her possessions.

There is no dealing with Satan or demons at the Rapture.

At the Second Coming, Satan is bound for a thousand years, Rev. 20:2.

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Peace of God, and Peace with God

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The word peace in the Bible, from the Greek word (EIREINEI), refers to a mental attitude of tranquility based on a relationship with God in the Christian way of life. It is a word which describes the result of a person’s correct response to God’s grace.

The Bible uses peace in two ways. There is personal peace with God which comes when a person accepts Jesus Christ as savior. Then, there is the peace of God which is available on a daily basis as the believer participates in the Christian way of life according to the plan of God.

So, where you find peace mentioned in the Bible it refers either to the reconciliation of a Christian in salvation, as in Ephesians 2:14,17, or to the mental attitude found in the believers described in 2 Timothy 1:7.

Peace with God – Peace in Salvation

Peace with God is never available apart from grace. The cross of Christ is the focal point of grace and is the source of peace. Jesus Christ is our eternal peace.

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Grace removed the barrier and made peace between man and God. So, when the unbeliever responds to grace by faith, the result is peace.

Ephesians 2:14-18 provides a good illustration of how God made it possible for anyone to have peace with God, with special emphasis on the fact that such different people as Jews and Gentiles have a clear opportunity for accepting Christ.

Verse 14 deals with peace as a product of reconciliation. Verse 15 explains that the enmity between God and man, that which we call the barrier, was abolished once and for all. Verses 16 to 18 explain that the enmity has been slain for both Jews and Gentiles so that now those who were near to God, the Jews, and those who were far off, non Jews, have been brought into union with Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Peace in the Christian Way of Life

In our lifetime we can experience peace on a daily basis. When the believer responds by faith to grace, God provides many blessings which can result in great inner happiness.

Isaiah 26:3,4 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

In the Christian way of life, peace comes through fellowship with God followed by daily growth and advancement in spiritual things which brings stability, a relaxed mental attitude, orientation to the plan of God, occupation with Christ and the ability to employ faith rest principles in all areas of life.

Read Philippians 4:6-9

Peace or tranquility, precedes the enjoyment of prosperity. It is part of the preparation for prosperity. One must have peace to have the capacity for prosperity. God may hold prosperity back until there is the capacity to enjoy it.

Acts 9:31 “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied.”

Read Jeremiah 29:1-7

Any loss of peace is followed by adjustment to the plan of God. Confession and restoration to fellowship, faith rest a relaxed mental attitude and peace will appear in the new situation from God’s viewpoint and follower of Christ can choose to accept God’s best plan for you.

The man or woman who receive grace and peace from the Lord is in perfect position for spiritual production and reproduction.

Read James 3:13-18

The peace of God is shown through wisdom. The Christian has to choose to follow God’s wisdom which is first pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits which is unwavering without hypocrisy. The Christian can choose to follow the wisdom of the world which is leads to bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder and every evil thing. Choosing God’s wisdom leads to peace in every day decision making. God allows you to make this choice of which source of wisdom to follow every day.

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Hope

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Hope is the mental attitude of confidence that results from learning and applying Bible truth regarding the future.

In Bible usage, “hope” (Greek: ελπις) is synonymous with “confidence” or “expectation of a good outcome.” Growth in confidence comes along with growth in Christ. Applied knowledge of Bible principles of time and eternity leads to supreme confidence in God’s word.

The Christian has confidence in

  • an eternal inheritance, 1 Pet. 1:4,5
  • the new home in the future, John 14:1-3
  • the resurrection body, 1 Cor. 15:51-57

See also 1 Th. 4:16-18; (verse context does not seem to fit.) and 1 John 3:1,2.

The hope of Israel is in their coming Messiah (the second coming of Christ, His kingdom on earth, and the new earth of eternity.

Luke 1:67-79; 2:28-32; Acts 26:6,7; 28:20; Eph. 2:12.

The Abrahamic Covenant (amplified by the Palestinian, Davidic, and New Covenants) promised to Israel the land of Canaan, the eternal seed (the Messiah), and blessing (new birth). Israel’s hope lies in these promises of God.

Abraham’s hope was directed to the promise of a new city, the new Jerusalem, Heb. 11:9,10.

The hope for the church is the blessed hope of the rapture. Titus 2:13-15; 1 John 3:2,3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18

Hope is derived from such passages as (this verse does not fit this context). which it is stated that there will be no more death, tears, pain, etc.

The hope or confidence we have in Christ has caused death to lose its sting and the grave to lose its victory. 1 Cor. 15:54-58.

The word hopeless should never be in the Christian’s vocabulary

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The Christian Walk

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Besides the examples of physical walking in the Bible, there are many references to two types of spiritual walking:

  • Walking which is advancing in the Christian life through the use of divine power, and
  • Walking in evil or controlled by the sin nature and using human energy, results in stagnation, retrogression or backsliding.

So, in walking, a Christian is either advancing or retreating. To advance, a believer must walk according to God’s plan, stay in fellowship and grow in Christ. To retreat in the spiritual life is to reside in Satan’s cosmic system.

Therefore, walking denotes many functions, both pro and con, in the spiritual life.

New Testament Words for Walking

The Greek word (peripatew) means to walk or to walk around. It is used for literal walking in Matt. 4:18. But peripatew is used primarily for the function of the plan of God in the church age in such passages as:

Rom. 6:4, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk (peripatew) in newness of life.”

Gal. 5:16, 17, “But I say, walk (peripatew) by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

Eph. 4:1, 2, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk (peripatew) in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,”

Eph. 5:1, 2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk (peripatew) in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

The spiritual walk of believers who are out of fellowship is described in the following:

1 Cor. 3:1-3, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking (peripatew) like mere men?”

Phil. 3:17-19, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk (peripatew) according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk (peripatew), of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.”

The way of life of an unbeliever is also described by the word walk:

Eph. 2:1-3, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked (peripatew) according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Col. 3:5-7, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked (peripatew), when you were living in them.”

The Greek word (stoichew) means to march in step; to march in rank; to walk in agreement with; to function in a system; to follow a leader from the ranks. It is used in the New Testament primarily for functioning under God’s plan and advancing in that plan to spiritual maturity.

Gal. 5:25, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk (stoichew) by the Spirit.”

Stoichew is used for the pattern of salvation by faith in Christ also called walking by faith.

Rom. 4:11, 12, “and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be reckoned to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps (stoichew) of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.”

Stoichew is used for following the rules of the new spiritual life in

Gal. 6:16, “And those who will walk (stoichew) by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

Phil. 3:16, “however, let us keep living by that same standard (stoichew) to which we have attained.”

The word poreuomai) means to go; to proceed; to travel; to conduct oneself in a certain manner; to live; to walk. It is used for national degeneration:

Acts 14:16, “And in the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go poreuomai) their own ways;”

It is used for the carnal life pattern of the unbeliever:

1 Pet. 4:3, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued poreuomai) a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.”

Jude 16-18, “These are grumblers, finding fault, following after poreuomai) their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there shall be mockers, following after poreuomai) their own ungodly lusts.“”

See also 2 Pet. 2:10

It is used for occupation with the person of Jesus Christ on the part of believers:

Acts 9:31, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and, going on poreuomai) in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”

The Greek (anastrephw) originally meant in the Attic Greek to upset; to overrun; to associate. Its figurative meaning was to behave or to function in terms of human conduct. It was also used for the practice of principles.

In the Bible, anastrephw is used for the conduct and the lifestyle of the unbeliever in Eph. 2:3.

It is used for motivation for Christian integrity.

Heb. 13:18, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct (anastrephw) ourselves honorably in all things.”

It is used for the operation of the sin nature.

Eph. 4:22, “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside (anastrephw) the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,”

It is used for life and conduct in Christian way of life.

2 Pet. 3:11, 12, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct (anastrephw) and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”

The Greek word (orthopedew) means to walk straight. It is used for legalistic modus operandi and resultant hypocrisy in Gal. 2:14; in other words, they were not walking straight.

Walking in the Light vs. Walking in Darkness

Walking in the light is a term used specifically for the believer’s execution of God’s will, plan and purpose for the church age. The concept of walking in the light is found in Eph. 5:8, “You were once in darkness , but now you are light in the Lord. Begin walking (peripatew) as children of light.”

This command is a reference to experiential sanctification. Walking in the light is synonymous for the Christian way of life.

Just as walking in the darkness is incompatible with walking in light, so Christian degeneracy is incompatible with the plan of God.

Walking in the light is compatible with the status of being in the light. Walking in darkness is not compatible with the status of being in the light. A Christian walking in darkness is degenerate, whether moral, immoral or both.

The command to walk in the light means that God intends for a Christian to be filled with the Spirit and to learn the word of God under the filling of the Spirit.

The Lord Jesus is our precedent for walking in the light:

1 John 2:6, “The person who says he abides in Him, he himself ought to keep walking in the same manner as He walked.”

Our example for the Christian walk is the Lord Jesus Christ during the His life on earth, not the walk of Old Testament believers.

Walking as children of light means we are to become spiritually mature believers.

The power for walking comes from using the power of the Holy Spirit on the inside, Gal. 5:16, walk by means of the Spirit. This is a command to remain in fellowship with God the Holy Spirit. Being in fellowship is the only way we can execute God’s plan.

Walking describes the purpose of living in the operational will of God to glorify God in the church age.

We are commanded in 1 Thess. 2:12, “so that you may walk in a manner worthy of God who elected you into His kingdom and glory.” This is a general reference to the fulfillment of the plan of God.

If we are going to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord after we believe in Christ, then we must be filled with the Spirit, and continually expose ourselves to the teaching of the word of God.

If we do all of this, then we fulfill 1 John 1:7, “If we keep walking in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.”

The challenge of walking in the light is found in Rom. 6:4, “Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism, in order that as Christ has been raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so that we too might walk in newness of life.”

  • Walking in newness of life means we walk in the light of the word of God.
  • We walk in newness of life because we are in union with Christ.
  • Walking in newness of life means using all of the assets God has provided for us: the availability of divine power; the indwelling of the Trinity; our portfolio of spiritual blessings; our universal priesthood and ambassadorship, etc.

The faith rest principle is also a mandate for walking. Faith rest exercise provides the poise of the Christian life. Applying faith rest you control your own life under God’s plan for your life.

2 Cor. 5:7, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”

Col. 2:6, “As you have received Christ Jesus to yourselves, so keep walking by means of Him.”

The concept of walking is used for the function of problem solving in the Christian way of life.

Eph. 5:1, 2, “Become imitators of your God as beloved posterity, and begin walking in the sphere of love…”

Learning and using the problem solving devices moves you along in executing the plan of God, which is walking in the light.

Eph. 4:1 ,2, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, encourage you to walk in a manner worthy of your station in life into which you have been called with all humility and true sensitivity with perseverance, tolerate one another by means of love.”

All of these commands to keep walking are commands to keep learning doctrine, to keep advancing spiritually in the Christian way of life.

Walking in Darkness is Related to Satan’s Strategy of Evil

Walking is used as a warning against the cosmic system. John 8:12 is the prophecy of this.

Living in Satan’s system is called walking.

Phil. 3:18, 19, “For many keep walking, concerning whom I have often told you, even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ. Whose termination is destruction, whose God is their emotions, whose fame comes by means of dishonor, who keep on thinking about earthly things.”

1 John 1:6, “If we contend that we have fellowship with Him and keep walking in darkness, we lie and do not live the truth.”

1 Cor. 3:3, “For you are still carnal, since there is jealousy and strife. And you keep walking in accordance with men.”

Life in the cosmic system also called evil is called walking in darkness.

John 11:9, 10, “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

Eph. 4:17-19, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;”

Walking is Related to Executing God’s Plan.

Eph. 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared in advance that we should be walking by means of them.”

  • At salvation we became His creation, a new spiritual species.
  • We are to walk by means of the things prepared by God for us in eternity past, such as the problem solving devices. The result is divine good: gold, silver, precious stones

Col. 1:9, 10, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

This is the point at which you fulfill all the commands for walking.

Walking is used for a mandate to advance to the objective of spiritual maturity.

1 Thess. 4:1, “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more.”

More References to Walking

Walking by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit:

Rom. 8:1-4, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

Basic Christian living: we received Christ by faith, so now we walk by faith.

2 Cor. 5:7, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”

Col. 2:6, “As you have received Christ Jesus to yourselves, so keep walking in Him.”

Building up momentum in spiritual things:

3 John 4, “I have no greater joy that this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

Eph. 5:16-17, “making the most of you time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is”

Col. 1:9, 10, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord , to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

Walking related to the application of doctrine:

Col. 4:5, 6, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”

Eph. 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

Testing as part of the Christian walk:

Read Rom. 13:13-14; Eph. 4:17; Phil. 3:17-19

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Peace of God, and Peace with God

Christian Peace

Peace with God, and the Peace of God

The word peace in the Bible, from the Greek word (EIREINEI), refers to a mental attitude of tranquility based on a relationship with God in the Christian way of life. It is a word which describes the result of a person’s correct response to God’s grace.

The Bible uses peace in two ways. There is personal peace with God which comes when a person accepts Jesus Christ as savior. Then, there is the peace of God which is available on a daily basis as the believer participates in the Christian way of life according to the plan of God.

So, where you find peace mentioned in the Bible it refers either to the reconciliation of a Christian in salvation, as in Ephesians 2:14,17, or to the mental attitude found in the believers described in 2 Timothy 1:7.

Peace with God – Peace in Salvation

Peace with God is never available apart from grace. The cross of Christ is the focal point of grace and is the source of peace. Jesus Christ is our eternal peace.

Romans 5:1Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace removed the barrier and made peace between man and God. So, when the unbeliever responds to grace by faith, the result is peace.

Ephesians 2:14-18 provides a good illustration of how God made it possible for anyone to have peace with God, with special emphasis on the fact that such different people as Jews and Gentiles have a clear opportunity for accepting Christ.

Verse 14 deals with peace as a product of reconciliation. Verse 15 explains that the enmity between God and man, that which we call the barrier, was abolished once and for all. Verses 16 to 18 explain that the enmity has been slain for both Jews and Gentiles so that now those who were near to God, the Jews, and those who were far off, non Jews, have been brought into union with Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Peace in the Christian Way of Life

In our lifetime we can experience peace on a daily basis. When the believer responds by faith to grace, God provides many blessings which can result in great inner happiness.

Isaiah 26:3,4Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.

In the Christian way of life, peace comes through fellowship with God followed by daily growth and advancement in spiritual things which brings stability, a relaxed mental attitude, orientation to the plan of God, occupation with Christ and the ability to employ faith rest principles in all areas of life.

Read Philippians 4:6-9

Peace or tranquility, precedes the enjoyment of prosperity. It is part of the preparation for prosperity. One must have peace to have the capacity for prosperity. God may hold prosperity back until there is the capacity to enjoy it.

Acts 9:31Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied.

Read Jeremiah 29:1-7

Any loss of peace is followed by adjustment to the plan of God. Confession and restoration to fellowship, faith rest a relaxed mental attitude and peace will appear in the new situation from God’s viewpoint and follower of Christ can choose to accept God’s best plan for you.

The man or woman who receive grace and peace from the Lord is in perfect position for spiritual production and reproduction.

Read James 3:13-18

The peace of God is shown through wisdom. The Christian has to choose to follow God’s wisdom which is first pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits which is unwavering without hypocrisy. The Christian can choose to follow the wisdom of the world which is leads to bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder and every evil thing. Choosing God’s wisdom leads to peace in every day decision making. God allows you to make this choice of which source of wisdom to follow every day.

A publication of http://www.GraceNotes.info

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Fellowship, the Koinonia of the Church

by Pastor Chester McCalley

In Acts 2, the church is born having an initial membership of something more than 3000 men and women. The life of this group developed in four specific areas, described in Acts 2:42. These areas were doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer.

These four areas of fellowship are described in two couplets, that is, doctrine and fellowship are linked together, and breaking of bread and prayer are linked together.

The Greek term for fellowship is κοινονια (koinonia). The following is a brief word study on the meaning of koinonia as it relates to man. Fellowship with God, as described in 1 John 1 is not included in this study.

Definition

The word koinonia carries the basic idea of having something in common. The word is related to κοινη (koine), meaning common, which we use to refer to koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament, which was common to many people at a certain time in history. Jude 3 speaks of our common (koine) salvation, referring to a salvation known and shared by all believers. The best way to bring the meaning of koinonia into English is to speak of joint participation in something.

Areas of Joint Participation or Fellowship in the Early Church

Koinonia in Material Things

Romans 15:26, 27. The word contribution is koinonia.

2 Cor. 8:4, fellowship

2 Cor. 9:1, distribution

Gal. 6:6, communicate with

Phil. 4:15, communicated

Note that in each passage there is joint participation in something material – money.

Koinonia in Suffering

Phil. 3:10, fellowship

1 Peter 4:13, partakers. Here is a godly believer participating in the suffering area.

Koinonia in Evil

2 John 11, partaker in evil

1 Cor. 10:20, fellowship in evil

In these two passages joint participation may be had in evil by expressing cordiality toward doctrinal error or by association with idolatry. Matt. 23:30 speaks of koinonia in murder.

Koinonia in the Incarnation of Christ

Hebrews 2:14 shows that Christ became a joint participant with us when He took on a human body.

Koinonia at the Lord’s Table

I Cor. 10:16 says that we have communion or koinonia with the blood and body of Christ.

Koinonia in Spreading the Gospel

Gal. 2:6-9 tells how Peter, Paul and other apostles were given the right hands of fellowship indicating joint participation in the spread of the gospel.

Koinonia in Salvation

2 Peter 1:4 says that by the word of God we become partakers of the divine nature.

Koinonia in the Holy Spirit

2 Cor. 13:14 and Phil. 2:1 both indicate a joint participation of the believer and the Holy Spirit.

Koinonia in a Common Effort

Luke 5:10 expresses this where James, John and Simon are called partners or koinonia. The joint participation was in the fishing business which they all shared.

Summary

Fellowship in the New Testament means joint participation in some area, defined by context. In no passage is fellowship presented as a goal or end in itself. It is merely the by product of common goals or possessions. The more the believer discovers the salvation common to all other believers, the more fellowship occurs.

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Authority, God’s Chain of Command

Introduction

Authority is defined as the power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior. Persons in command.

The most important earthly influence in a person’s life is that which comes from his relationship with his parents. The newborn child enters life completely dependent upon, and completely subservient to, an all powerful authority, his mother and father. As a child grows, he adjusts continuously in his responses to that parental authority, for better or for worse depending on the training he receives. He also gradually becomes aware of other influences of authority in society; those of his schools, of the various levels of government and law enforcement, of the people for whom he works, of his church, and of the authority of God Himself.

As an adult, a person often has two roles simultaneously. He is not only subject to authority of various kinds all of his lifetime, but he may also himself be in a position of power and influence over others, perhaps as parent, military officer, executive, or judge. A person’s ability to respond properly to authority, and his ability to exercise authority, depend on his orientation to divine principles of authority categorized in the Bible. As least three things are necessary to the proper response to authority. They are:

  • Careful training by parents in correct standards of submission to authority
  • A consistent daily walk with the Lord
  • An ever growing categorical knowledge of Biblical principles of authority accompanied by personal acceptance of the teaching leading to personal application in the life.

When any of these factors is missing, a person will accept non Biblical, humanistic principles of leadership, or the response to leadership, with the usually bad results that derive from a poor understanding of scriptural standards.

This paper explores the subject of authority in several ways. First we examine the source of all spiritual and temporal authority, God the creator. The Bible is the textbook for the study. God has delegated authority to His Son, Jesus Christ, who, in turn, has passed certain leadership responsibilities to human beings, the apostles. The apostles retained this mantle of authority as they were given the divine enabling to write the word of God for believers to read and understand.

The next consideration in this discussion is the Biblical teaching on a variety of types of authority, including parental, governmental, and ecclesiastical authority. Finally, the paper will describe some ways in which children and young people can be trained in Biblical principles of authority and in the proper responses to and uses of leadership. There will be a few paragraphs in the final section about chain of command which is intended to show believers the mechanics of a proper relationship to both divine and human authority.

The Source of Authority in Christianity

In all Christian activity some form of authority is exercised, either the authority of one individual over others, or the authority of an organization over individuals. The administration of leadership takes on so many varied forms that believers often become confused as to what constitutes legitimate Biblical authority. Some Christians in positions of leadership exercise Biblical principles of authority, others use human standards mixed with divine principles. Any Christian leader who is not well versed in the Biblical doctrines relating to authority is likely to use a combination of proper and improper authority.

All correct authority in Christian activity must derive from the Christian system itself: that is, a Christian leader must find his credentials of leadership in the word of God. Authority is of two kinds, primary and delegated authority.

Primary authority grows out of the relationship of those who have the right to command and those whose duty it is to obey. The basis of all primary authority in Christianity is the person of God. We are His; He made us. We are the creatures of His hand and the product of His intelligence. He is our maker, preserver and benefactor. He, therefore, has the absolute right to command; and it is our absolute duty to obey Him. God has seen fit only occasionally to govern man by His personal and primary authority. He usually delegates authority to others. He rules by His representatives.

Delegated authority is a right to command and enforce obedience which can be given to another by the party holding primary authority.

God’s Primary Authority Was Delegated to the Lord Jesus Christ

The first delegation of authority in Christianity was from God the Father to God the Son. Hebrews 1:1-2a, “God, who gave to our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son.” Jesus said, “The word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s Who sent me.” (John 12:49) “No man knows who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” (John 14:6) Jesus closes His ministry on earth, and leads off His great commission to the apostles with the statement, “All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)

The Son stands nearest the Father in delegated authority. He is the “brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person.” (Hebrews 1:3) “It has pleased the Father than in Him should all fullness dwell.” (Colossians 1:19) When the Father acknowledged Christ after His baptism, He said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Christ was not only the delegate of God on earth, he is also the “image of the invisible God,” (Colossians 1:15) and He said to His doubting disciples, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

There are several important inferences to be drawn from the concept of the authority of Jesus Christ. First, Jesus Christ is a manifestation of the power of God. Whether His power is seen in the material world or in the spiritual, our attention is arrested and our interest is challenged. God’s power is part of life itself. It is the agency through which God’s mind controls matter. It is the hand by which God’s purpose takes form in the world.

There is a difference between power and force. Force startles and frightens us. Power, when directed by intelligent love, is always pleasing to us. There is force in a lightning bolt. It shatters the sky, can kill living beings, cleaves a tree in half, or burns a building to the ground. There is power when an intelligent mind uses electricity to drive a train or light a city. Jesus Christ, who is God himself, is a manifestation of the power of God, not of the force of God.

Authority Passes to the Apostles

The Transfer of Authority to the Apostles

As long as Jesus was on earth, He talked with men face to face. Men were directly under His command, and could claim His promises directly. But He has passed away from earth and does not rule anymore by His own direct authority. Just as the Father delegated His authority to the Son, so Jesus delegated His authority to the apostles.

In John 17 are the following statements:

  • God gave the Son power over all flesh.
  • This power was given that He might bestow eternal life on all men.
  • Eternal life is bestowed through the knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
  • God gave the Son certain men out of the world, that He might teach them all that God had given him.
  • All men should believe on Christ through the word of the disciples.

In the transfer of authority from God the Father to the Son there was no danger of error or mistake. The Son, being divine, could receive without misunderstanding all that the Father communicated. But the apostles were human with all the weaknesses and imperfections of their humanity. There was danger, therefore, that they might not correctly understand or apprehend the communication which Christ made to them.

It became necessary, therefore, for some power or influence to be exerted on their minds to preserve them from error either in taking in or in giving out the lessons which they received. Therefore, Christ promised them the Holy Spirit, who was to guide them into all truth in the conveying of the gospel to the world.

1 Cor. 2:9-13, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. Now, we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but in words which the Holy Spirit teaches.

The Apostles’ Use of Delegated Authority

The Spirit guided apostles are the representatives of God on earth for the purpose of making known His will to the sons of men. Their teaching is Christ’s teaching. Their authority is the authority of the Lord. “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” (John 20:21) So, when the apostles completed the revelation of the will of God in Jesus Christ, that revelation became the perfect law of liberty to which nothing could rightfully be added or taken away.

Anyone who teaches men to disobey the plain commandments of the apostles cannot be guided by the same Holy Spirit that inspired them to proclaim these commandments. The same Holy Spirit which led an apostle to proclaim truth will not lead anyone else to ignore or to disobey that truth.

Any attempt to add to, or subtract from, the words of the apostles, or to substitute other teaching in the place of their teaching, is not of God. Satan had no opportunity to corrupt the truth as it proceeded from the Father to the Son, or from the Son to the apostles. But his opportunity arrived when the apostles began proclaiming the gospel to mankind as they preached. “Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:12)

The Apostles’ Exercise of Judgment

The apostles are administering the authority of God even today, through the written word of God which they wrote under divine inspiration. They began administering that authority on the Day of Pentecost. Their first judgment was, “These men are not drunk as you suppose, but this is that spoken of by the prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:15-16) The world’s judgment, that “these men are full of new wine”, was wrong; the apostles’ judgment was correct.

The apostles’ second judgment was, “This same Jesus whom ye have taken with wicked hand and slain, God has raised up and made both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:23-24) Their third judgment was concerning convicted sinners, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38)

Thus, in all their sermons and writings they delivered judgments for spiritual Israel which stand as authoritative today as when first delivered. There is nothing that is essential to the well being of Christian believers that has not been a subject for the apostles’ judgment. They are ambassadors of Christ. God acted through them and they represent Christ. “As though God did beseech you by us, we pray in Christ’s place, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20)

Practical Considerations Related to Apostolic Authority

In Dr. G. A. Jacob’s book, Ecclesiastical Polity of the New Testament, there are quotations worth repeating. This book is worth thoughtful reading, and it shows the trend among some modern Christian thinkers to get back to the principles of the apostles. From the book:

The church of the apostolic period is the only church in which there is found an authority justly claiming the acknowledgment of Christian bodies in other times. Such authority is found in this church, not because it possessed a truer catholicity, or a purer constitution, or a more primitive antiquity than belong to succeeding ages, for neither antiquity, purity of form, or catholicity confers any right to govern or command; but because it was under the immediate rule and guidance of the apostles. It is their infallible judgment alone, as exhibited in this church, which has a legitimate claim to our submission. Of the church of no other period can the same be said, because the apostles had no successors to their office. They stand alone as the divinely inspired teachers, legislators, and rulers in Christ’s church and kingdom. They stand alone as men appointed and commissioned by Christ Himself, and not by man.

I appeal, therefore, from the Nicene Fathers to the apostles of Christ; from patristic literature to the New Testament; from ecclesiastical authority and practice of post apostolic centuries to the primitive church of the apostolic age. To go back to that time, and to endeavor, as far as possible, to reproduce the church of the New Testament, is most needful for us now, if we would preserve a faithful and distinct knowledge of Christian truth among our people. By realizing, as far as we may, the ideal of that church in our own community, we shall best maintain its liberty and purity, and we shall best meet the peculiar dangers of the present time and prepare for the future.

From the Apostles to Us – Lines of Authority

In the previous section, the transmission of divine authority to human beings is marked out in three phases: (1) God delegated all authority on earth to the Son, Jesus Christ; (2) the Son delegated teaching authority to the apostles; and (3) the apostles wrote authoritatively concerning the uses of and submission to authority on the part of believers of the church age.

Thus, every standard for the administration of authority over human beings by other people is derived from the teachings of the apostles as recorded in the Bible. The apostles wrote with the delegated power of God and were divinely inspired and controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, we are obliged to give absolute obedience to instructions from the Bible.

Three types of delegated authority are described in this section: (1) authority in human society; (2) ecclesiastical (local church) authority; and (3) parental authority. By careful study of the scripture passages related to these topics, a believer should be able to gain a great deal of discernment into the problems of proper response to authority.

Authority in Human Society

The teachings of the Bible indicate that established civil authority is to be obeyed explicitly except where such obedience would cause the believer to deviate from direct Bible teaching. That is to say, God does not delegate any authority that would allow someone to overrule His expressed commands or to compromise a divine principle. The statement of Christ, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21) bears out this principle.

Bible References to Specific Types of Authority

  • The authority of the rulers of federal, state, and local government: Rom. 12; 1 Tim. 2.
  • The authority of a judge on the bench: 1 Cor. 6:1-8.
  • The authority of a business owner or executive: Col. 3; Eph. 5; 1 Tim. 6.
  • The authority of an athletic coach: 1 Cor. 9:24-27.
  • The authority of the military chain of command: Matt. 8:8-10.

See the following passages also for references to the concept of authority in many areas of human society:

Matt. 22:19-21; 17:25‑27

1 Pet. 2:13-18

1 Cor. 7:21-24

Eph. 6:5-9

1 Tim. 6:1, 2

Deut. 17:12, 13

Rom. 13:1-7.

Christian Life Principles Related to Authority

Submission to authority means doing the unpleasant thing as well as the pleasant. Therefore, there is a need for self discipline. Gal. 5:23 and 2 Thess. 3:8-15 point out that self control is a result of Christian growth. The entire book of Proverbs deals extensively with this issue. The believer can expect that as he grows in Christ his desire to be submissive to the Lord will grow, as will his ability to be a faithful servant.

A correct understanding of the concept of authority will cause a believer to gain respect for the privacy of others. He will learn that certain aspects of other people’s lives do not fall under his jurisdiction. So he will be much less inclined to invade privacy, judge, malign, gossip, etc .

The correct use of Biblical principles of authority also develops in the believer a respect for other people’s personal property. There are many passages in the Bible about stealing, covetousness, and the protection of property. Spiritual growth involves an acceptance of these principles as the believer better understands authority.

Respect for the rights of others to function in their own place under God’s plan is a basic principle of authority. Other people have the right to make decisions without interference. Mature believers do not judge others, to not bully others into conforming, do not attempt to exercise authority which has not been delegated to them. “…to his own master he stands or falls…” (Romans 14:4)

Ecclesiastical Authority

Scripture references to local church authority are found in Titus 1:5-16; 2:15–3:2; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Matt. 16:16-19; 18:18, 19.

Spiritual leaders are not elected, hired or appointed. They emerge. As the child of God experiences the development of his spiritual gifts, these gifts are recognized by others in the body of Christ. He will be given a place in which to exercise his gifts.

In Acts 6:1-7, for example, it can be seen that the first deacons were recognized as spiritually minded and filled with the Holy Spirit. These attributes of personal character, the results of years of growth as believers, were evident in these men’s lives. They emerged as leaders. The vote taken was merely an agreement that the majority of the local body recognized the mature lives of these men. There may have been others who coveted places of leadership. But such others were not recognized. The chosen deacons were selected to serve, not to be served. Nevertheless, in serving they did great works.

In becoming part of a local church, a Christian tacitly approves of the leadership structure of that church. By remaining with that congregation, he signifies that he accepts the pastoral teaching authority and the leadership of others in authority. The Bible commands submission to local church authority.

1 Peter 5:5, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.

To submit means to recognize the chain of command and to refrain from undermining that authority. This is a command to all believers; and nearly all trouble in local churches comes from the violation of this principle. The troublemakers in a church are those who undermine authority by criticism, by conspiracies or by other methods. It is the duty of the pastor teacher to guard against this and to nip it in the bud. The early Christians willingly placed themselves under the leadership of the pastor and deacons because they were known to be ordained of God and that one could profit from their guidance and leadership.

Parental Authority – Chain of Command

Case Study No. 1

A twenty-one year old girl returned home with an engagement ring and her boy friend in tow. After meeting and conversing with the young man, the parents told their daughter in private that they did not approve of her marrying this person at this time and that she should wait for a year or two. They stated their belief the marriage will not work and this fellow is not for you. The daughter argued that she felt that the Lord had brought they two of them together and that since they were both Christians it would be all right to marry right away.

What would be the correct answer in counseling with this young woman? Should she:

  1. Go ahead with her marriage plans if she thinks it is the Lord’s will for her, or
  2. Follow her parents’ wishes and wait until they give approval?

Case Study No. 2

An eighteen year old Christian young man announced to his unsaved father that the Lord had called him into the ministry and that he was thinking of going to Bible school to prepare for the pastorate. The father was strictly against such a move, and he advised his son to enter university instead, to prepare for a vocation. He told his son that he should have a profession to fall back on in case he should fail in the ministry. He wanted his son to get his college degree first; then, if he still wanted to be a pastor, he could pursue that career.

What advice should be given to the son in this case? Should he:

  1. Follow his father’s wishes and enter the university, or
  2. Follow his own desires and go to bible school?

Case Study No. 3

A teenage girl wanted to attend a certain Bible teaching church, but her mother refused to allow this. So the girl began to attend secretly as often as she could. Her mother found out and was very angry. She told her daughter that she should be at home attending to her chores around the house instead of spending so much time with those kids.

Should the teenage girl:

  1. Continue to attend Bible sessions secretly in order to get good teaching, or
  2. obey her mother’s wishes?

The answer in all three cases above is: respect the parent’s wishes! The following section describes the reasons for this answer.

The Biblical Basis for a Child’s Absolute Submission

The following commands from scripture indicate the extent to which God has committed Himself to working with children through their parents. Notice the spiritual condition and personality of the parent are not listed as conditions to obedience of these commands.

Eph. 6:1-3, “The right thing for you to do is to obey your parents as those whom the Lord has set over you. Honor your father and mother … that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

Col. 3:20, “Obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”

Prov. 6:20-23, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother; bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou wakest, it shall talk with thee; for the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; the reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”

The Focus of Response is the Lord, not the Parent

Part of God’s purpose for placing parents in authority is to teach obedience to Himself. God is able to accomplish His purposes in our lives through those He places in authority over us, regardless of whether they are good leaders.

The Lord has beautiful and significant plans for those who love and respect Him (Mal. 3:16, 17). We will be His jewels; we will be treated as the sons of God. When a young person reacts against the tools of authority that God has place in his life, he is reacting against God Himself. Severe warnings are given in the Bible about this.

Prov. 30:17, “The eye that mocketh at his father and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

Heb. 12:5-6, “. . . My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Essential Insights in Identifying God as the Source of Authority

In order to properly identify the hand of God in the authority which is exercised over us, several insights are necessary.

We must learn to differentiate between position and personality. One of the first objections to obeying authority is, “I can not respect the one I am supposed to obey.” But it is possible to respect a person’s position of authority while at the same time being aware of character deficiencies which need correction.

A teenager might way, “Why should I listen to my parents? They tell me not to do certain things, but they go out and do the same things themselves!” But this young person fails to distinguish between his parents’ position and their character. The young man would be quick to see the error of his line of reasoning if his friend stated, “They other day I got stopped for speeding, but the policeman has such a bad personality that I tore up the ticket.”

Some say, “My parents do not even try to understand me, so why should I listen to them?” Here again, there is a failure to distinguish between position and personality. It is more important that the young person understand what God is trying to accomplish than that his parents understand him. God knows that those He places in authority will have character deficiencies? But He is able to work in spite of these deficiencies.

Psalm 76:10, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; . . .

Prov. 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

See also 1 Peter 2:18-20.

God can develop mature attitudes through His use of authority. He can use those who are the hardest to get along with to motivate us to develop mature attitudes. In each of the three case studies which are described above, the parent in authority detected an immature attitude on the part of the young person.

In Case Study No. 1, the marriage was disapproved because the parents detected underlying attitudes in both their daughter and her fiancé which would have made them incompatible in marriage. Each has a negative attitude of self will. Each expected to be the center of the stage. Neither had learned submission to authority. They had no concept of deference to one another or regard for the wishes of the other. Proper attitudes could be learned by the young people, if they would follow the advice to wait.

In Case Study No. 2, the father detected in his son attitudes of ungratefulness, stubbornness and insensitivity to the feelings of others. Even though he was not a believer, the father realized that these attitudes would cause his son to fail in the ministry. The fact that his father had some apprehension of his son’s failure in the ministry should have been a significant warning to the son that he might be wrong.

In Case Study No. 3, the teenaged girl, by responding properly to her mother would allow her mother to see that her old attitudes had changed as a result of attending the church, and she would be advancing the most powerful argument for her mother to allow her to continue attending the church.

God’s concern is that our attitudes become consistent with those of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was subject to the authority of His parents asHe was growing up. Because of this response, He grew in wisdom, stature,and in favor with God and man. He “humbled himself and became obedient…” (Phil. 2:8)

Discerning Basic Intentions

The basic intentions of those in authority must be discerned. Daniel “purposed that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat.” (Daniel 1:8) Yet the authorities were not trying to make him violate his convictions; they were genuinely concerned about his appearance before the king. Daniel was in the right frame of mind to help the officer in charge work out a compromise.

In Case Study No. 1, the basic intentions of the parents who disapproved their daughter’s marriage were not to restrict her happiness but rather to help her achieve a lasting happiness. They intended to pass on to her the insights and lessons which they had learned, sometimes the hard way. They intended for her to avoid a lot of future complications which they knew would occur if she made the wrong choice in marriage. They intended to derive pleasure and joy from their daughter’s happy marriage.

In Case Study No. 2, the basic intention of the father for the son was not to talk him out of the ministry but to provide him with the tools for being successful in life. He intended to use the boy’s college education to build mature attitudes in his son. He wanted to be proud of his son’s achievements. He intended to rest in the fact that his son was building security in his vocation. He intended that his son be grateful and appreciative for what he had done for him. He intended to keep a channel of communication open so that his son would be responsive in the future.

In Case Study No. 3, the basic intentions of the teenage girl’s mother were not to stop the girl from going to church, but to develop obedience toward her parents. This obedience involved assuming responsibilities around the house rather than running off all the time. The mother observed that some of her daughter’s friends were not obeying their parents and often condemned their parents for not being spiritual. She did not want her daughter to develop these attitudes and practices.

Developing Creative Alternatives

Creative alternatives can be developed. Mature attitudes, along with insight into basic intentions, prepare the way for the development of creative alternatives or compromises. Daniel worked out an alternative which would not violate his moral convictions. As you read the study in the book of Daniel, notice the respect, the creativity and the careful choice of wording in Daniel’s request. He asked to be given a chance to show he was right; but he expressed his willingness to obey the officer in any case.

Alternatives for the girl who wanted to get married

  • Discuss with her parents the qualities she should look for in a husband.
  • Give her parents ample opportunity to become acquainted with the boyfriend before there was any discussion of marriage.
  • Ask her parents to point out areas where both she and her boyfriend could improve.
  • Request that her parents set up guidelines to help her discern whether she has met the right life partner.
  • Be willing to show deference to her parents on the timing of the marriage.

Alternatives for the young man who wanted to go into the ministry

  • Accept the challenge of motivating new spiritual interest in his father. This is the best preparation he could have for the ministry since this is one of the most important functions of the ministry.
  • Work out with his father and his minister areas of training at the university which would be useful in both the ministry and in another vocation.
  • Develop a personal program of Bible study while at the university; and use the university experience as an opportunity for a ministry with students.

Alternatives for the teenage girl

  • Ask forgiveness for her past attitudes and actions which were wrong.
  • Commit her mother to the Lord prior to her request to attend the youth group, understanding that the Lord would be speaking through her mother.
  • Determine ahead of time that she would silently thank the Lord for whatever answer her mother gave, and continue to develop right attitudes in the home.

The Results of Obedience to Parents

It is always right to obey God, even when that obedience interrupts or disturbs our plans. Obedience to parents is one of the most essential habits for young people to learn; and parents should insist on obedience from the time their children are babies. A great deal of rebellion can be prevented by parents using Biblical principles in training their children. See Exo. 21:15-17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 21:18-21; Matt. 15:3-6.

Divine discipline and other unpleasant results of rebellion are totally avoidable. The great inner peace, the happiness, the wonderful blessings of living the plan of God for the life are unmistakably the greatest experiences a person can have.

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Forgiveness

The word “forgive” is a Grace word, in the English as well as in the Greek (ajfesi~). An early meaning in English was “to give or to grant”. Then, forgive came to mean “to remit a debt; to give up resentment or claim for requital; to pardon an offense.”

All of us are debtors to others, to society as a whole. And we often feel that people owe us many things in our human relationships. We feel we are owed courtesy and consideration. Sometimes we think that we are owed reward or status or promotion in some enterprise, or on the job. We are certainly owed fair treatment, justice, restitution and many other things.

But, many people in America are spiritually, ethically, and morally bankrupt. They simply cannot pay society what they owe! They are thoughtless, selfish, ungracious. What should a Christian do about all of the debts owed to him.  Answer: forgive them, as Christ forgave you.

A Christian who practices Grace thinking (divine viewpoint) will become a forgiving person. To forgive means “to give up a claim; to cease bearing resentment”.

The rich man in Luke 7 was able to forgive the two debtors because he was prosperous. He gave to them out of his prosperity. A person can only give to others out of what God has already provided in the way of prosperity. In terms of money, the principle is “Let him that stole, steal no more; rather, let him labor, doing with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Eph. 4:28)

As a growing Christian, you have many other kinds of prosperity, by the Grace of God. You have intellectual prosperity (divine viewpoint). You have spiritual prosperity (peace with God). You have emotional prosperity (relaxed mental attitude). You have financial prosperity (mastery of details of life). You have social prosperity (stable marriage, stable family life, etc.).

Wherever in your life you find that someone else owes you something, you have the wherewithal to forgive him! God has forgiven all of us who are absolutely without resources of our own. And He is not expecting or demanding some kind of payment in return for His Grace gifts. And we are to be channels of Grace to the world. “Out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” (context John 7:37-39)

This topic of forgiveness is part of a larger Grace Notes publication on the doctrine of Grace.

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Baptism of the Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit’s work by which he places each believer into Union with Christ.

Introduction.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is one of seven salvation ministries by God the Holy Spirit.

  1. Efficacious grace
  2. Regeneration
  3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit
  4. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit
  5. The filling of the Holy Spirit
  6. The sealing of the Holy Spirit

Spiritual gifts

You can find a full description of the salvation ministries of the Holy Spirit in the topic “Holy Spirit, Salvation Ministries.”

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is one of seven Bible baptisms.

  1. The Baptism of Moses
  2. The Baptism of the Cup, or the Baptism of the Cross
  3. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
  4. The Baptism of Fire
  5. The Baptism of John
  6. The Baptism of Jesus.
  7. Christian Baptism, the water baptism of the believer

These topics are covered in the topic “Baptism.”

Definition.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a real baptism, an actual identification takes place. It is one of the seven ministries of the God the Holy Spirit at salvation, in which God the Holy Spirit, at the moment a person believes in Christ, enters the new believer into union with Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the means of forming the royal family of God during the church age. It is a function of the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit at salvation. By being entered into union with Christ, we are adopted as royal family of God. We are a new spiritual species.

This union with Christ is called positional sanctification or the sanctification of the body, Eph 5:25-27.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an emotional experience, 1 Cor 12:13.

It is a function of the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit putting every believer into union with Christ, making him a new spiritual species.

There is only one baptism that unifies the royal family of God.

1 Cor 12:13, “For by means of one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves of free, all were made to drink into one Spirit.

Eph 4:5, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

Rom 6:3-5, “Do you not know that all of us have been baptized into Jesus Christ? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into His death, in order that as Christ was raised again from the dead to the glory of the Father, we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death , and not only this , we shall also be united in the likeness of His resurrection.

The newness of life refers to our being a new spiritual species and royal family of God. So Rom 6:3-5 teaches identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.

The many references to positional sanctification, or the baptism of the Holy Spirit are often found in the preposition phrase EN + the locative of CHRISTOS, translated “in Christ.” Almost everywhere this phrase is found, it is reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit and resulting union with Christ.

1 Cor 15:22, “In Adam all die; so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Cf. Rom 8:1.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is related to the church age only. This ministry of the Holy Spirit is not found in the Old Testament, and there are no eschatological references to it beyond the church age.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the function of any spiritual gift.

Because the baptism of the Holy Spirit is universally provided for all church age believers, it is not in any sense experiential. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an act of the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit. Any time God uses His divine power, whether it is the omnipotence of God the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, it excludes any form of experiential cooperation. That’s grace!

The baptism of the Holy Spirit could not occur until there was the strategic victory of Jesus Christ in the angelic conflict. The Levitical priesthood was inadequate for the church age. Now there was the need for a universal priesthood, since every believer was now a target of Satan.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred first in Jerusalem and included the gift of tongues to warn the Jews of the coming of the fifth cycle of discipline. Acts 2.

Union with Christ is a permanent identification which distinguishes Christianity from religion. In religion, man by man’s efforts seeks to gain the approval of God. In Christianity, the believer through union with Christ has a permanent relationship with God.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit forms the body of Christ, He being the head. Our Lord’s gift to His body is found in Rom 12; 1 Cor 12; Eph 4.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit Creates the Royal Family of God.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the means of providing a royal family for our Lord’s third royal title. The royal family of God also know as the universal Church or body of Christ, is formed at the moment of personal salvation through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Equal privilege for all church age believers is based on the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, a doctrine which involves the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, equal privilege in the royal family of God is related to two doctrinal facts:

  1. The omnipotence of the Holy Spirit creates a royal family of God, the body of Christ, as an organism, not as an institution.
  2. Simultaneously, from the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit creates a new spiritual species for spiritual living (not for psychological living) in the devil’s world. Every church age believer is a part of this unique spiritual species.

Furthermore, the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit also provides equal opportunity for the fulfillment of the one plan of God through walking in fellowship under the control of the Holy Spirit.

The teaching ministry of the Spirit in a believer who is walking in fellowship is the fulfilling power of the Christian way of life. The Holy Spirit is a teacher, as in Jn 14:26, 16:12-14; 1 Cor 2:9-16; 1 Jn 2:27.

God the Holy Spirit is the One who teaches us Bible truth, which gives us the capacity for the new spiritual life provided by Him at salvation with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The Analogy of the Head and the Body.

The body of Christ is the family of God. The head is incomplete without the body. The humanity of Christ is incomplete without a royal family for Him.

This analogy teaches that the Church cannot be a living organism without union with Christ. The fulfillment of the head completing the body and the body completing the head is found in the prophecy given by our Lord in Jn 14:20, “you in Me and 1 in you.” “You in Me” refers to church age believers in union with Christ from the baptism of the Holy Spirit resulting in positional sanctification. “I in you” refers to the indwelling of Jesus Christ, a vital union between the head and the body.

All church age believers are formed into one body and one royal family, Eph 2:16, 4:4-5, 5:30-32; Col 1:24, 2:19

The Holy Spirit is the agent in the formation of the body of Christ, the church universal and the royal family of God. This is done by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

God the Father appointed Jesus Christ as the head of the body as a part of His third royal title. Synonyms for the royal family of God are:

  1. The Body of Christ
  2. The Church
  3. The Bride of Christ.

The Characteristics of the Baptism of the Spirit.

  • It is not an experience, and it is not related to human feeling.
  • It is not progressive. Therefore, it cannot be improved in either time or eternity. Our union with Christ is perfect from salvation.
  • It is not related to any human merit or ability. There is nothing you can do to have the baptism of the Spirit.
  • It is obtained in full at the moment of salvation. It is not a post-salvation experience. It is not a “second blessing.” Union with Christ is a completed ministry by the Holy Spirit. Hence, it cannot be reversed by any human failure.
  • It is eternal and unchangeable in nature. It cannot be canceled or changed by God or man. It is a part of your eternal security. No renunciation; no sin, human good, or evil; no moral or immoral degeneracy can cancel this ministry of the Holy Spirit.
  • The baptism of the Holy Spirit is known and understood only through perception of the mystery doctrine of the church age. Therefore, it cannot be applied in a state of ignorance. It is invisible, not subject to empiricism; it is subject to cognition of Bible doctrine only.

The Mechanics of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Gal 3:26-28, “For all of you are the sons of God [royal family] through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you were baptized into Christ, and you have put on [clothed yourselves] with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

There are no racial distinctions or racial prejudices in the royal family of God.

There were many slaves in the Roman Empire. Paul told slaves not to seek their freedom. “Neither slave nor free” means there are no social distinctions in the royal family of God.

Both male and female are equally in union with Christ and belong to the royal family. In a Christian marriage, You are not marrying someone who is beneath you.

Since the baptism of the Spirit is obtained in full at the moment of salvation, it cannot be reversed by any human failure.

The baptism of the Spirit is provided for all believers at the moment of salvation. Therefore it is a unifying factor, in that it is the means of forming the royal family of God.

The universality of the baptism of the Spirit precludes the possibility of it ever being experiential. It does not distinguish one believer from another; it does not make one believer superior or inferior to another.

1 Cor 12:13 is considered to be the key passage on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. “By means of one Spirit [omnipotence of the Spirit], we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free. Furthermore, all were caused to drink by one Spirit.”

In union with Christ, all human distinctions are removed by the formation of the royal family of God. Neither race nor status in life is an issue. No racial, social or economic distinctions are made.

Drinking, like eating, is an illustration of the non-meritorious character of faith as the only means of salvation. All kinds of people can swallow. The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the moment of personal faith in Christ.

The last phrase is the fulfillment of our Lord’s invitation, given in Jn 7:37-39, when Christ prophesied that we would all drink of the Holy Spirit by our non-meritorious faith. “Now on the last day of the great feast, Jesus stood up and shouted, saying, `If any person is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said,”Streams of living water will flow from within him.’ Now this He communicated concerning the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were about to receive. For the Spirit was not yet given, because Christ was not yet glorified.

John 7:38 teaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs when we believe in Jesus Christ at the point of our salvation. “Streams of living water will flow from within him” is a prophecy of the filling of the Spirit, i.e., residence, function, momentum inside the Christian during the church age only.

The Prophecy of the Baptism of the Spirit.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was never mentioned in the Old Testament because it is a part of the mystery doctrine for the church age.

But the baptism of the Spirit was prophesied by the Lord Jesus Christ before the church age, in the upper room discourse.

Jn 14:20, “On that day [Pentecost] you shall know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.”

I am in My Father” is the identity of divine essence indicating that Jesus Christ is eternal God, coequal with God the Father.

You in Me” is the prophecy of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and resultant positional sanctification, being in union with Christ.

“I in you” refers to the indwelling of Jesus Christ.

Just before His ascension, our Lord said to the disciples in Acts 1:5, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now [ten days].

This prophecy was fulfilled ten days after our Lord uttered it in Acts 1:5.

The Baptism of the Spirit Begins the Church Age.

The prophecies about the baptism of the Holy Spirit were fulfilled on the day the church age began, around 32 A. D. Jesus prophesied the church age as future,

Mt 16:18. “Jesus said, `I say to you [Peter] that you are PETROS [little stone] and on this PETRA [giant rock, Jesus Christ] I will build My church; and the gates of hell will not overcome it.’

The future active indicative of OIKODOMEO, translated “will build” is important, for it indicates that no Church had existed up until that time, and no church would exist until after the resurrection and ascension of Christ. God the Father will actually do the building, but it will be built on Jesus Christ, the Rock.

On the day of Pentecost, the baptism of the Spirit took all the believers present and entered them into union with Christ. At the same time, God the Son gave the first spiritual gifts. One of the first gifts to be exercised was the gift of tongues, simply because in Jerusalem during the Feast of Pentecost were thousands of Jews who spoke many different languages.

According to Isa. 28, the gift of tongues was used as a last warning to Israel that they were going out as a client nation to God.

Though not mentioned in Acts 2, we know the baptism of the Spirit occurred on the day of Pentecost because of Peter’s retrospection in Acts 11. At the Gentile Pentecost, Acts 11:15-17, Peter recognized that what happened to them on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 2) was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Acts 1:5. In retrospective exposition, Peter said, “And as I [Peter] began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He did on us at the beginning [Pentecost, Acts 2:3]. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say [Acts 1:5 is the one recorded example], `John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.‘Therefore, if God gave to them [Gentiles] the same gift as to us [Jews], when they had believed in the Lord Jesus, who was I that I should stand in God’s way?’”

The Holy Spirit fell on them” refers to an experience Peter had in Caesarea. Gentiles came to his place in Joppa and asked him to come to Caesarea, which he did. As Peter began to speak on that occasion, the Gentiles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit as did the Jews on the day of Pentecost.

Peter recognized the Gentiles were a part of the body of Christ, for they had their own Pentecost, as it were. Therefore, the baptism of the Spirit applied equally to both Jew and Gentile; it was not a Jewish monopoly.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit Creates a New Spiritual Species

There have only been two new species created in human history. Israel was created as a new racial species; and the Church is a new spiritual species.

From the new racial species came the client nations to God in the dispensation of Israel and in the millennium.

From the new spiritual species, the Church becomes the basis for Gentile client nations to God.

As a result of the baptism of the Spirit, the new spiritual species was created which makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile. There is no racial distinction in Christ.

In Gal 6:15, this is described as “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, but a new [spiritual] species.”

2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new [spiritual] species. The old things have lost their power; behold, new things have come.

At the moment of entering the believer into union with Christ (positional sanctification), the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit creates a new spiritual species through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The new spiritual species is designed for unprecedented availability and delegation of divine power.

People like to think of “old things” as whatever were their bad habits which they have given up in the energy of the flesh. However, what you can do in the energy of the flesh cannot make you a new creature in Christ Jesus. Being made a new creature in Christ Jesus depends on the power of the Holy Spirit.

However, “the old things have lost their power” refers to:

  • Pre-salvation influences, which may continue if there is no perception of doctrine and spiritual growth;
  • Position in Adam and resultant spiritual death, Rom 5:12, 1 Cor 15:22, “In Adam all die; in Christ shall all be made alive.
  • The old sin nature. The old sin nature has lost its power; you can only give it back its power experientially through the function of your own negative volition;
  • The “old things” include genetic, environmental, and volitional handicaps. Whatever were your handicaps before salvation, they have lost their power over you and are no longer the handicaps to keep you from advancing in the spiritual life;
  • The function of human power in Satan’s cosmic system. By an act of negative volition, you can get under Satan’s power. But divine power has superseded cosmic power now.
  • People emphasis taking priority over God emphasis. The provision of divine power to the royal family of God makes it possible for relationship with God to take precedence over relationship with people.

New things have come” refers to:

  • The baptism of the Spirit.
  • The plan of God.
  • The unique equality factors in the protocol plan.
  • Our very own portfolio of invisible assets (blessings) prepared for us by the omnipotence of God the Father.
  • Our unique royal commissions of royal priesthood and royal ambassadorship. As a royal priest, we represent ourselves before God. As a royal ambassador, we represent God before the world.
  • The unique mystery doctrines.
  • The indwelling of all three persons of the Trinity.
  • The unique availability of divine power.
  • This is a dispensation of no prophecy, only historical trends.

The Application of the Baptism of the Spirit.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit demands that the believer think of himself as a person, totally apart from any form of superiority or inferiority. You are not to think of yourself as superior or inferior, or with any form of human prejudice or hypocrisy.

Spiritual living must replace psychological living.

Gal 3:26-28, “For you are all the sons [children] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you, who were baptized into Christ, have clothed yourselves with Christ [union with Christ]. Therefore, there is neither Jew nor Gentile [no racial distinctions in Christ], there is neither slave nor free [no social distinctions in Christ], there is neither male nor female [no sexual distinctions in Christ]; for you are all one in Christ.

The entire world (the unbeliever) is not the family of God. Only those who believe in Christ become the children of God, at which point the baptism of the Holy Spirit makes us in the church age royal family of God.

All church age believers have been baptized into Christ, losers and winners, spiritual and cosmic believers alike.

Clothed yourselves with Christ” means we are in union with the head. The head can exist without the body, but the body cannot exist without the head. In other words, the great power experiment of the hypostatic union, in which our Lord relied upon the omnipotence of God the Father and the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, has overflowed to the church age.

Jesus Christ was sustained in His humanity by the omnipotence of God the Father and the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit. We have been “clothed with Christ” in the sense that, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we have become a part of that same great power experiment, as the body of the head, Jesus Christ.

Jew and Greek are two distinct races, and the most famous races of the ancient world. The Jews thought of themselves as superior because of the Mosaic Law. The Greeks thought of themselves as superior because of their great history of thought and cultural genius in Attica and Ionia in the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. The Jews despised the culture of the Greeks. The Greeks viewed the Jew as having no culture, no philosophical background. So there was a great racial antagonism between these two races of the ancient world.

Racial prejudice is evil. Stupid people think in terms of racism. We do not have the right to think this way. Every time you are guilty of racial prejudice, confess it! Even the psychological conclusion that every race has its good and bad ones is at best human viewpoint.

The application of this doctrine is to begin to think of yourself as a person, not as a race. There is no such thing as either a superior or inferior race in Christianity. The royal family of God is the body of Christ, and all races in the world have responded to the Gospel and believed in Jesus Christ. Race is no issue, for every church age believer is in union with Christ.

There is neither slave nor free.” At the time this was written in the Roman Empire, there were a tremendous number of slaves. Many of the slaves were among the first church age believers. So this refers to social distinctions as they existed at the time of writing.

From the moment you believe in Christ, you are no longer to look at other believers in terms of social distinctions. You are no longer to regard any person as being socially beneath you or above you. Social distinctions are removed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

There is neither male nor female.” This helps to illustrate the principle; for boys will always be boys, and girls will always be girls. The difference between the two is obvious. However, the point here is that the old cultural, psychological distinctions which have been used for years, i.e., that one sex is better than the other, are all gone with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As a believer, to say you are better than a man or woman means you’\are arrogant.

This does not change authority principles which still stand as a part of establishment. But authority does not connote superiority in the royal family of God.

In your spiritual life, you no longer look at a man or woman through love or hatred, but spiritually you regard them as a member of the royal family of God. This is the only true non-sexual discrimination.

Christians involved in the sexual issues of our day (such as women’s liberation) are in psychological living. There is no place for such thinking. It is true there are certain things a man can do and a woman cannot, and vice-versa. But as we look at other believers, we must regard them as being just as much royal family of God as we are.

Bibliography (principal sources):

Braun, Ralph, “Categorical Notebooks”

Chafer, Lewis Sperry, “Systematic Theology”

McCalley, Chester, taped sermons and printed materials.

Strong, A. H., “Systematic Theology”

Thieme, R. B. Jr., taped sermons and printed materials.

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Union With Christ – Teaching related to all of the benefits and responsibilities of being “in Christ”.

At the time of his personal salvation, the Christian believer enters into a spiritual union with Jesus Christ and remains in that position forever. “Positional Truth” is the formal title for that wide class of Bible teaching on the subject of the Christian’s position in or union with Jesus Christ.

Union with Christ makes available to the believer a great number of spiritual benefits. These benefits can be used and enjoyed continuously during the believer’s remaining lifetime and will continue into eternity.

The nature of the believer’s position in Christ was foretold by the Lord Jesus Himself: (1) in the Bread of Life discourse, John 6:56; (2) in the Good Shepherd discourse, John 10:16; and (3) in the Upper Room discourse, John 14:20.

The Christian is placed spiritually in Christ through a mechanism known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. These mechanics are described in 1 Cor. 12:13 and Gal. 3:27,28. (A study of the seven baptisms of the Bible is a prerequisite to an understanding of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.)

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was foretold by Christ in Acts 1:5,8. This occurred for the first time on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-4 cf. 11:15,16. Therefore, Union with Christ was experienced by believers for the first time on the Day of Pentecost, making it an experience unique to Church Age believers.

Union with Christ is a fact for all believers, spiritual or carnal. 1 Cor. 1:2; cf. 1:11; 3:1–4

The believer’s position in Christ makes him a “new creature” in Christ, 2 Cor. 5:17.

The Christian is “in Christ” and has become a “new creature” in that he has a new birth, a new human spirit, and has the ability now to have fellowship with God. “Old things have passed away”, spiritual death is done away, and “all things are become new”, spiritual life is begun.

Union with Christ has several immediate results for every believer:

Regeneration

Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

John 3:5,6, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

The Indwelling Holy Spirit

The Sealing of the Holy Spirit

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Spiritual Gifts

The following is a list of the characteristics of the believer’s Union with Christ:

  • Union with Christ is a fact, not an experience. One is united with Christ regardless of how he feels.
  • Union with Christ is not progressive; it cannot be improved upon; we receive it completely at salvation.
  • Union with Christ is not commanded by God; it is given as a gift by God at salvation.
  • This Union is permanent; it will never be taken away; it does not depend upon our faithfulness; it depends on the faithfulness of God.
  • This doctrine can be understood only with a thorough study of the related Bible passages.

Union with the Lord Jesus Christ is a guarantee of eternal security, Rom. 8:35–39; 1 John 5:11,12; Rom. 8:1.

Union with Christ is current in that the believer is identified with Christ in His life and shares with Christ in certain aspects of His life, Eph. 3:1-14.

Union with Christ makes every believer equal at the point of salvation, Gal. 3:27,28.

Union with Christ makes the believer perfect in the sight of God, Col. 2:9,10.

Bible illustrations of Union with Christ:

Union with Christ is the doctrinal basis for spirituality, Rom. 6:1-14.

Union with Christ is the basis for the spiritual technique of occupation with Christ, Col. 3:1-4.

Union with Christ is illustrated and testified to by water baptism. The believer is identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.

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