THE REDEMPTION TRAIN
THE REDEMPTION TRAIN Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Redemption is as a train that began moving when Adam and Eve sinned. Redemption is the program and process of restoring to man his five Divine endowments: to be a son of God; to be in the image of God; to be capable of union with God and with other people; to be fruitful; and to govern the works of Gods hands. Redemption begins when the individual is formless and empty and concludes when the five Divine endowments have been developed in him.
There are some aspects of redemption that are common to all humans and some that are unique to the individual.
Table of Contents
THE REDEMPTION TRAIN
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
The thesis of this essay is that redemption is a continuing program with a specific beginning a specific program and process, and a specific conclusion; that is has some general features and some that are tailored to the human being; that it requires the interaction of God and the person; and that it operates independently of whether the individual is alive on the earth or living in the spirit realm.
When we have been completely redeemed, having no aspect of Satan in us, then we have all eternity to grow in the image of Christ.
My position here is somewhat different from the current view which views salvation as a sort of ticket that admits us to Heaven when we die, and that the only opportunity we have to be redeemed is while we are living on the earth.
Let me explain why I believe the operation of redemption is not restricted to our physical life on the earth. There are several facts on which I base my conclusion, and I know of no passage of Scripture or logical basis why I am incorrect in this.
One of the most powerful reasons for believing that redemption operates in the spirit realm is the following passage:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, To prepare Gods people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Now you know and I know that the written Word of God shall come to pass in its entirety. When the Word of God says the ministries given to the Body of Christ by the ascended Christ shall operate until we all reach unity, knowledge, and maturity as measured by the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, then that precisely is what is going to take place.
How many Christians do you know who have attained such maturity before they died? Probably not many. Well, when are they going to fulfill the Scripture? And why shouldnt the work of redemption continue in the spirit realm?
Perhaps when it says the whole Body is being built up, it means the Body in Heaven and on the earth; for it is certain that at any given moment in time the great part of the Body is in Heaven with the Lord.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16)
I enjoy thinking that my efforts on the earth to bring forth what I believe the Lord Jesus is revealing to me is helping bring the saints in Heaven to maturity. I hope I am not incorrect in this.
Another passage along the same line has to do with the new covenant:
No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (Hebrews 4:11)
Wont it be wonderful when each member of the new Jerusalem, the glorified Christian Church, will know the Lord and be able to see the face of God, having no more need of being taught?
Will the Lamb have a blemished bride? I dont believe so. Will the Bride of the Lamb be perfect only by imputation (ascribed righteousness)? If so, that would be a horror for the Lamb and for all of us. If the church people of today are to go to Heaven and be the Bride of the Lamb with no further work of redemption having taken place in them, our outlook for the future is rather bleak.
No, each member of the Bride will be brought to actual righteousness of behavior, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. We know this is true, dont we? And if it is, then the work of redemption must continue into the future until the perfected Church comes from Heaven to be installed on the new earth.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her To make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, And to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
I think this means that the Bride of the Lamb will be made holy and unblemished as she is exposed to the Word of God.
Think for a moment about how we are made holy and unblemished today. By one means or another the Holy Spirit calls our attention to passages in the Bible that are a bit above us, such as those having to do with overcoming evil with good. When we become aware that we still are vengeful, we go to the Lord and ask Him to change us. We confess our sinful attitude and ask for help. Then the Lord forgives us and the Holy Spirit delivers us from the spiteful attitude and feeds us with the body and blood of Christ.
The process of redemption includes the destruction of our sinful nature and the forming of Christ in us. Since the process of sanctification, which is the destruction of our sinful nature, involves God, our understanding, and our will to change, it is not an operation that can take place in a moment; neither is it limited to where we are. It is God and we working together to be redeemed from the hand of Satan.
The Lord Jesus Christ has come from Heaven to make our redemption possible. Christ does not do all the work for us. Rather He makes it possible for us to throw of the yoke of Satan. Redemption is possible only as God and man work together.
No, the Bride of the Lamb will not be unblemished through imputation alone but through her interaction with the Word of God. She is washed by the Word of God.
The heroes of faith are in Heaven at the present time. However, they have not been made perfect, not completely redeemed, as yet. Obviously, going to Heaven does not redeem us.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39,40)
The above verse tells us that the entire elect of God will come together to the fullness of the stature of Christ, and then receive the redemption of their bodies. It is no wonder that the heroes of faith are surrounding us as a great cloud of witnesses! The above passage alone informs us redemption continues after physical death.
The Book of Revelation tells us we are not authorized to eat from the Tree of Life until we overcome.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
To overcome is to live in victory over Satan, the world, and our own lusts and self-will. Only such persons are authorized to eat of the Tree that gives both inward eternal life and outward immortality.
How many Christians are expecting to be raised to eternal life, and yet they are living in the sinful nature? How many have read where the Apostle Paul was making every effort to attain the resurrection from among the dead, and then have forgotten what they read because it does not fit the current conception of Divine grace?
Can the Word of God be broken? It certainly cannot! Therefore, at some point each believer who desires to eat from the Tree of Life, that is, from the body and blood of Jesus Christ, must set himself or herself to overcome Satan, the world, and his or her own lusts and self-will.
Is it all going to "come out in the wash"? Is it true that the majority of American Christians are going to inherit eternal life and immortality even though they are not meeting the standard? No, this is not true. Not one particle of the Word of God shall be changed in any manner until all has been fulfilled.
I think we understand this but do not know exactly what to do about it. We may not be able to bring ourselves to the point of believing the Bible is as strict as it is.
Have you ever wondered about those who were born and died before Jesus Christ came to earth. This includes all the heroes of faith of the Bible.
When do they receive the benefits of the blood atonement?
When are they born again, because no person was born again until the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead? He is the Firstborn from the dead. When were Abraham, Moses, and Daniel born again? No one can see or enter the Kingdom of God until he has been born again.
How about those who have lived during the Christian Era but never have heard the Gospel? If I am not mistaken, the prevailing Christian assumption is that they all will be thrown into the Lake of Fire because they did not "accept Christ." Some hold that babies who die will be thrown into the Lake of Fire because they did not "accept Christ." At least one teacher holds that aborted fetuses will be thrown into the Lake of Fire because they did not "accept Christ."
"Ridiculous," you say? I agree with you. But religion has a way of destroying common sense.
How can God judge someone guilty of refusing to "accept Christ" when he never heard of Christ? Yet, this is what is taught, as ridiculous as it is.
"But," some will protest, "there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved!" I recognize this. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life from the beginning.
We realize that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. We realize also that God is not going to accuse people of rejecting Christ when they never have heard in Christ.
The solution to this dilemma is that if the person dies without ever hearing of Christ he will have his chance after death. I know from his visions that Sundar Singh of India agrees with this.
Also, have you ever considered the fact that Christ said no one could come to Him except the Father draw that individual? Perhaps some are drawn to Christ in the spirit world. The point is, when the Father draws an individual to Christ, this indicates the redemption train has stopped to let him get on board.
Just because we have given someone a tract and he throws it away does not mean he is rejecting Christ. He may have heard a television evangelist and turned the set off. This does not mean he has rejected Christ. Many Jews who lived in ghettoes in Europe at the time of the Holocaust would have nothing to do with the Gentile Christ.
Does this mean they have rejected Christ? Not unless the Father had drawn them and they knowingly and willingly had refused their Christ.
Today we would say that the Nazi guard who "accepted Christ" but who never repented will go straight to Heaven when he dies; but the Jew whom he tortured, who perished in the Holocaust, will go straight to the Lake of Fire because he did not "accept Christ." Do we not always err in our heart?
Our little religious formulas alienate us from reasonable people, and sometimes from the Lord Jesus who often is persecuted by religious people.
There are two passages in First Peter that suggest redemption occurs in the spirit world. The first has to do with the Lord Jesus bringing the good news of the atonement to people who had drowned in the days of Noah.
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, Through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison Who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, (I Peter 3:18-20)
What did Christ preach to these people? I would suggest He preached the availability of the blood atonement. He had just finished making an atonement with His blood, and I would assume He was offering to them the opportunity to have their sins forgiven.
Christ "preached to the spirits in prison." The doctrinaire theologians of our day might insist Christ told them how terrible they were and all deserved to be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
I cannot accept such doctrine. In fact, it makes me angry. Those who present such opinions seem to me to be devoid of Gods Person and wayseven of common sense. It is no wonder so many reasonable people of the world turn away from the Christian churches. What they hear in the churches too often does not sound to them like a righteous God.
The second passage in First Peter informs us the deceased believers are being judged just as we are.
For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:6)
We are being judged today as the Spirit of God points us toward the deeds of our sinful nature. Then we have a choice. We either can confess our sins and obtain Christs help in turning away from them, or else we can harden our heart and ignore the prompting of the Spirit.
If the passage above means what it seems to be saying, the exact same process is taking place with the deceased members of Gods elect.
Can the Spirit of God point out to deceased believers the elements of their sinful nature? Why not?
Can they confess these, ask forgiveness for what they have done, and receive forgiveness and cleansing? Why not?
Matthew tells us that at the end of the age the messengers of God will remove all sin from the Kingdom of God. Since most members of the Kingdom of God will be in the spirit realm at that time, we conclude that the removal of sin will include persons in the spirit realm and also on the earth.
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:40,41)
Is the entire Body of Christ, including the saints of all of the Divine covenants, moving toward the destruction of the sinful nature?
I believe so. But just as is true on the earth, the Spirit comes to specific individuals, to those who are spiritually strong enough to endure the rigors of the Divine judgment. So I assume the same to be true in the spirit realm.
The redemption train has processes that apply uniformly to all people, such as the blood atonement. But then the redemption train does not come to everyone at the same time. In this aspect, redemption is tailored to the individual.
Redemption is the program and process of restoring to us the original five Divine endowments of man. These are the same for everyone who is redeemed, as far as I know. But there are aspects of our salvation that vary from individual to individual.
I already have mentioned that Christ is presented to each person at the time and place determined by the Fathers plan for him.
Remember also that some people are called to be members of Gods elect, while others compose the inheritance of Christ and the elect. These others are the members of the nations of saved people, mentioned in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation. They are not members of the royal priesthood, the new Jerusalem, the glorified Church. Rather they are the "sheep" chosen from the nations on the basis of how they treated Christs brothers.
There are ranks in the Kingdom of God, determined in advance by the Father. For example, to sit at Christs right hand and at His left in His Kingdom has been prepared for specific individuals. These mighty kings will be baptized with Divine fire and will have to drink the cup of Gods will when it causes the agony of the destruction of their own will. They shall be sternly obedient to the Father, or they will be removed from their predestined rank.
There are various gifts and callings, including ranksin the Kingdom of God, that are not part of the work of redemption. They vary, as I have stated, from individual to individual.
If we are to achieve our predestined rank in the Kingdom of God we absolutely must grasp that for which we have been grasped. This means counting all else as garbage that we may gain Christ. The Apostle Paul exhorted us to have this attitude.
It is not important that we achieve a high rank in the Kingdom, only that we obey Gods will, being found faithful in every detail.
The above few paragraphs speak of the variations within the work of salvation, variations that in some sense are related to our personal redemption and in other aspects are not. For example, forgiveness through the blood atonement is common to every redeemed person. It is the same whether we are destined to be a member of the saved nations or a king over nations.
In the case of fruitfulness, however, which is one aspect of redemption, the fruitfulness God requires of a member of the saved nations might be quite different from the fruitfulness God requires of some of the members of the royal priesthood.
And this is important to remember: we cannot choose what level of responsibility is required of us, what our assigned role in the Kingdom of God is. Neither is it true that we can be careless in the present hour and then set out to follow Christ fervently when we die. It is when Christ comes to us that we have to respond. If we do, we are rewarded and led forward to further growth. If we do not respond diligently when Christ comes to us, we will be judged as a lazy, disobedient servant.
Some are given ten talents, and they are evaluated accordingly.
Others are given fewer of the Kingdom resources, and they are evaluated accordingly.
Some are given one talent, so to speak. If they use that talent diligently in the work of the Kingdom they will be regarded as a faithful servant, and brought forth to greater opportunities.
We simply cannot decide that we wish to take a lower place and then not have so much responsibility. We have to grasp precisely that for which we have been grasped. If we choose a lower role, in the hope of saving some part of our own life, we will be judged as a wicked, lazy servant.
If we have been given many opportunities to serve in the Kingdom, we will be judged according to these opportunities. To whom much is given, of him shall much be required. As I have stated, we cannot choose to take a lower place. We must accept Gods will for our life. We find Gods will for us by presenting our body a living sacrifice.
It is in the area of opportunities for service and personal growth in our ministry and role in the Kingdom, that the work of redemption interacts with our individual calling. A fully redeemed servant in the Kingdom is just as loved by the Lord as a fully redeemed apostle and king.
Lets think now about the five Divine endowments given to man in the beginning, and lost to him the moment he obeyed Satan. Christ came to redeem us, meaning to restore to us what we forfeited through disobedience.
I wonder how many people in the world view themselves as sons of God. Probably not very many.
Being a son of God has at least three dimensions. The first dimension is that of the authority to become a child of God.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)
The second dimension has to do with actually being born from the Seed of God.
Children born not of natural descent nor of human decision or a husbands will, but born of God. (John 1:13)
The third dimension has to do with our willingness to gain victory over all that would seduce us into a role other than that of a son of God.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
In order to become a son of God we first have to be born of a woman.
Then we have to be baptized in water and also in the Spirit of God.
Finally our physical body has to be adopted by being redeemed from the life of flesh and blood.
I am speaking now of the first of the five Divine endowments. These were given to man in the beginning. They were lost because we obeyed Satan. Now we must gain them back through the Lord Jesus Christ.
To be a son of God. There is no way in which anyone can just choose to be a child of God. The only manner by which to gain the right to become a child of God is by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ, by believing that Christ is Gods Son.,
So the very first step of redemption is to receive Jesus Christ and Him crucified. God will meet man only at the cross of Calvary. We must be forgiven through the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus. We reveal our intention to die with Christ and to be raised with Him by being baptized in water.
When we truly receive Christ the Spirit of God births Christ in us. While this is a spiritual birth, and not a physical birth as in the case of the Virgin Mary, it nonetheless is a genuine birth from the Substance of God. If tended properly, the Seed from God will develop into a son of God having all the characteristics of the Father. This is the law of the plant and the seed.
As we move along through our discipleship we find numerous enemies, spiritual and physical, that seek to tear us down from our position as a son of God. In order to maintain our place we have to overcome them through Christ. I think the higher the rank in the Kingdom to which we have been called, the more intense are the obstacles and seductions arrayed against us. So this represents an overlap, or interaction, between basic redemption and our designated role and rank.
One major aspect of our identification as a son of God is our resurrection to eternal life, accompanied by the redeeming of our resurrected flesh and bones by clothing them with a body from Heaven fashioned from eternal life. This marks the destruction of the last enemy, the completion of our redemption.
The first of the Divine endowments to be redeemed is that of our being a son of God.
The second endowment is to be in the image of God.
We are made in the image of God by two Divine processes. One is the destruction of our sinful nature. The other is the forming of Christ in us. Both of these are the work of the Holy Spirit.
The two processes work together. As the sinful nature is destroyed we are fed with the body and blood of Christ.
We can tell if Christ is being formed in us. The eternal moral law of God is being written in our mind so we can judge between good and evil. The eternal moral law of God is being written in our heart so we have the willingness and strength to embrace what is good and reject that which is evil. Such growth in moral judgment is what it means to grow in Christ.
Again, the extent to which we grow in Christ may vary according to our assigned role in the Kingdom of God. In some Christ is formed a hundredfold, in some, sixtyfold, in some thirtyfold. All that God requires of us is that we pursue that level to which we have been called. God always will tell us if we are fulfilling His will concerning us, provided we ask Him.
The first act of redemption restores to us our relationship to God as His son.
The second act of redemption forms us in the inner, and finally outer, image of God.
The third act of redemption has to do with our being able to become one with God and other people. Apparently angels do not have the capacity for union, it appears to be a unique characteristic of man.
It was not revealed in the beginning that God wants man to be one with Himself. But Jesus prayed for this, and we understand that man actually was created to be the dwelling place, the house, the throne of God.
There is so much in life that endeavors to prevent us from seeking to be one with God, to be part of God. We have a fierce desire to be independent of God, to have control of our own life. Perhaps this fierce independence comes from Satan, who understands that if we do not become part of God we will become part of Satan.
God and Satan represent the two massive forces in the worldgood and evil. Man by himself is nothing more than intelligent dust. If we do not choose to become part of God, thinking we can be an independent agent, we deceive ourselves. Satan enters us under the guise of being our own will.
We were made to be one with God, and one with other people, as God directs. Such oneness with God and others is the fullness of life. To abide alone leads only to a bitter wasteland. We were made to be an integral part of the new Jerusalem, the glorified Church that will be installed for eternity upon the new earth.
The greatest possessions of all are love, joy, and peace. These are possible only through oneness with God and with other people.
To be a son of God.
To be in Gods image.
To be capable of union with God and other people.
These three endowments result in fruitfulness. Just as the union of man and woman produce offspring in their image, so it is true that the individual who is in spiritual union with God and other people begins to bring forth the image of Christ in himself and in other people. This is the fruit that God expects when we receive Christ. Christ is the Vine. We are the branches. When we abide in Christ, in the Vine, the image and likeness of Christ is borne in us and in those whom we influence.
It is Gods intention that His entire creation be filled with the image of Jesus Christ. This is because Christ delights in righteousness, in keeping Gods law and doing Gods will. God wants every creature to delight in righteousness and keep His eternal moral law. This is the Divine reversal of the revolt that took place among the angels of God.
A believer who does not abide in Christ will not reproduce the moral image of Christ. When such is the case, the believer is worthless in the Kingdom and eventually shall be removed from the Vine.
To be a son of God.
To be in the image of God.
To be capable of union with God and other people.
To be fruitful.
To govern the works of Gods hands.
God wants every human being be a lord over the creation. Man was not created to be ruled by any part of the creation, only by God through the Lord Jesus Christ, and then through saints as God establishes the rulers of His Kingdom.
Satan contests viciously the rulership of man. He seduces us with this relationship, that circumstance, one thing or another, seeking to establish them as idols that we worship in place of God. Much of our discipleship is occupied with the Holy Spirit removing the idols we worship and placing them beneath our feet. Only Christ is to be over us, and God over Him. The creation is beneath the feet of man.
God has set man over the works of His hands. This is our role in the creation.
If you find anything in your life that you are clutching, pray for the grace to let it go. It is an idol. God wants you to enjoy all the good things He has made, but not to be in bondage to any of them. Such freedom from the rule of relationships, things, and circumstances, requires a lifelong struggle and the greatest possible determination.
Sometimes, as we carry our cross of denial, we feel like the heart is being torn out of us. But the purpose of this pain is to set us free from the bondage of idolatry. However, being the slave of Jesus Christ sets us free..
When I think back over my life I notice that some of the things I felt I could not live without are now but a memory. They have no hold on me whatever. I can take them or leave them. I am free in Christ. But it has been a painful journey!
Man was created to be the throne of God.
We can readily see that our redemption from slavery to the things of the creation is absolutely necessary. When God is preparing His kings, the members of the royal priesthood, He brings them through fiery prisons and sufferings. This is to insure that not one trace of rebellion is left in them. The higher the rank in the Kingdom to which we have been called, the greater will be our suffering.
I like to think of redemption as a train that started moving when Adam and Eve sinned. At some point, depending on Gods wisdom, it stops to let us on. If we remain on the train we will pass many stations. If we do not get off at any station we finally will arrive at our destinationthe fullness of all that God has called us to in Christ.
As I said at the beginning, it appears impossible that this marvelous Divine program and process of redemption is confined to our present physical life on the earth. It has to have been operating from the beginning of time without reference to where we are when it stops for us. And it seems certain that we keep on riding long, long after we die physically.
God is intensely interested in each individual. He knows the number of the hairs on our head. He can call us to Christ anytime He desires. He can control the opportunities we have to grow in Christ. In fact, the redemption of each individual is under the precise control of the Lord.
So, as we might expect, salvation is of the Lord. Selah. However, we derive benefit from Gods plan only as we diligently apply ourselves to what the Spirit is showing us. As many as are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God. The Spirit always is seeking to destroy the sinful nature from us, to teach us to live by the body and blood of Christ, and to make us a witness of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ.
The wise individual will, upon feeling the tug of God on His life, turn aside from all other compelling interests and devote himself or herself to getting on the redemption train and riding to the end of the line, refusing to get off until the destination has been reached.