THE LAST THREE WORKS OF REDEMPTION
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews lists some basic steps of redemption, and then exhorts us to press on to perfection. Although these are presented as basic steps, it appears the Christian churches have not as yet advanced to the last two, nor to the culminating act of redemption. The culminating work of redemption, which is termed perfection, or the rest of God, is the thesis of the Book of Hebrews.
THE LAST THREE WORKS OF REDEMPTION
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, Instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1,2)
Here are the elementary acts of redemption:
- Repentance from acts that lead to death.
- Faith in God.
- Baptism in water and in the Holy Spirit.
- The laying on of hands.
- The resurrection of the dead.
- Eternal judgment.
The Charismatic churches have come as far the laying on of hands. The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and the doctrine of eternal judgment, appear to be largely unknown to us.
The passage above exhorts us to “go on to maturity.” I prefer “perfection” to “maturity.” Perfection is as true to the Greek as is maturity, perhaps even more so. The problem with “maturity” is it suggests a sort of open-ended, never-get-there kind of objective. I don’t believe the concept of maturity as the goal is clear enough to inspire us to press forward. The Apostle Paul was pressing toward a “mark.”
We do not often hear of there being a mark, a final work, of redemption. Yet the New Testament contains such phrases as “the Alpha and the Omega,” “the Beginning and the End,” “the First and the Last, “the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” It seems clear to me that the process of redemption has a specific beginning, a specific program, and a specific conclusion.
The work of redemption is that of freeing us from all that is of Satan. Christ is well able to accomplish this in us, as we follow the Holy Spirit. There is a point at which redemption has been completed.
It is my opinion also that, unlike the work of redemption, we will grow in the image of Christ for eternity. A complete redemption of our personality from the bondages of Satan makes possible our eternal growth.
The three works of redemption that may be new to some of us are:
- The resurrection of the dead.
- Eternal judgment.
- Perfection, or the rest of God.
The resurrection of the dead.
And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
It may be true that the above verse is one of the most neglected verses in the entire New Testament. Yet, in this verse the Apostle Paul is naming for us the objective of the work of redemption. It is to deliver us, body, soul, and spirit, from all of the presence and works of Satan.
Is the above verse referring to the resurrection of our inward nature, or is it referring to the resurrection of our body? It is referring to both. They cannot be separated, although the inward resurrection takes place now and the resurrection of our body will occur at the coming of the Lord.
It is obvious, given a little thought, that our inward nature must be resurrected prior to giving us a body like that of the Lord Jesus. How foolish it would be of God to clothe a sinful, self-seeking inward nature with an all-powerful body like that of the Lord! We would be another satan in the universe.,
We have come now, in the development of the Christian Church, to the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. These two works of redemption interact. They have to be completed before we are able to enter fully into perfection, in to the rest of God.
There is a graphic illustration in the Gospel of John of the interaction between the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:38-44)
It is time for the Lord Jesus to command that the stone be taken away, that is, the seals on the Scripture that have prevented us from seeing the fullness of the plan of salvation.
Notice that Lazarus had been in the cave four days. The fourth feast of the Lord is Pentecost.
For two thousand years the Christian churches, except perhaps for a few notable exceptions, have never moved past Pentecost. Compared to the fullness of redemption, we have been “dead” for that period of time.
What do I mean by dead? By “dead” I mean we have known only the forgiveness aspect of redemption. Forgiveness is the least aspect of redemption. Redemption has to do with removing our sin from us, not just forgiving our sin. The objective of redemption is to fill our body with eternal life, and that will occur as a result of deliverance from the compulsions of sin, not as a result of forgiveness alone.
The Law of Moses provided for the forgiveness of sin. The new covenant includes the forgiveness of sin, but its primary work is that of removing our sinful nature.
“You shall call His name Jesus because He shall save His people from their sin.” Christ does not save us in our sin but from our sin. The Lamb of God does more than forgive the sins of the world, He takes away the sin of the world.
We have not known of this provision, to any great extent. So Lazarus, representing the Christ Church, has been dead, so to speak, for the four prophetic days.
The feasts of the Lord are seven in number:
- Unleavened Bread.
- The Day of Atonement.
We have been as far as Pentecost, the fourth feast. Now we are moving toward the spiritual fulfillment of the final three feasts of the Lord.
Trumpets refers to the voice of Christ raising us from the dead. Lazarus was raised on the fifth day, fulfilling the feast of the Blowing of Trumpets. But Lazarus was bound hand and foot with grave clothes. Also a cloth covered his face. He was raised but he was bound. He could only hop around blindly. Now the work of the Day of Atonement takes over. “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
I am writing this brief essay on November 18th, 2002. If I am correct, the program of removing the grave clothes has begun.
The Lord Jesus is here now to speak eternal life into His people. This is the resurrection of the inward nature I mentioned previously.
Next comes the most important act of redemption. All the works of the sinful nature must be removed from us one at a time.
You see, the forgiving of our sins does not accomplish the work of the Kingdom of God. The work of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth.
Two people profit from our being forgiven. We profit in that the load of guilt is lifted from us and we now have access to God in prayer. God also profits in that a son has been restored to Him.
But the actual work of the Kingdom begins when we, through the Spirit of God, put to death the sinful actions of our flesh and behave in a righteous and holy manner. Also, we must be sternly obedient to the Father.
Now, where does the final work of redemption, the rest of God, fit in this picture?
As we follow the Spirit of God He points out to us the things we do that are sinful, The Spirit leads us into this warfare a little bit at a time.
When we shows us that we are displeasing God in some area, we are to denounce that particular behavior as sinful and turn away from it with all our might.
For example, gossip and slander are common in Christian churches. These are acts of the sinful nature. These are grave clothes. Even though the voice of Christ has summoned us from death, we are bound and unable to fully experience resurrection life or the rest of God. Gossiping and slandering cannot possibly be clothed with immortality. Neither can we enter untroubled rest in God’s Person and will when we practice slandering and gossiping.
Go to the Lord and ask Him to remove these wicked acts from your personality. When you do go to the Lord, do so diligently and vigorously. You will receive no deliverance either from slandering or gossiping until you are deadly serious. The spirit realm has to know you are determined.
The same is true of all other acts of the sinful nature, whether they are in the realm of sexual lust, or hatred and murder, or pride, or personal ambition and seeking preeminence. The Apostle Paul in several epistles gave us lists of sin, warning us that those who practice such behavior shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
All of these actions of our sinful nature are grave clothes.
The resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment work together.
Let us say you suddenly realize you tell lies. There are no liars in the Kingdom of God. Their place in is the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire has authority over all who lie, whether or not the individual is a Christian. However, when we come to Christ, He forgives our lies of the past and shields us from the authority of the Lake of Fire.
Christ works with us until we are willing to renounce our lying as the work of Satan, which it actually is. This is how we escape the Lake of Fire.
But we need to realize that if we are unwilling to be free from all sin, not really going to the Lord for help and deliverance, we will be placed in the Lake of Fire. Christians need to understand this. We have made Jesus Christ an excuse for our sinning. The Lord is never an excuse for our sinning. He is our Deliverer from all sin, if we will follow Him closely.
Which reminds me. Christians have been taught for so long that it is impossible to be free from sin as long as we are in this world that they have a difficult time believing Christ can deliver us from all sin.
Also, there have been believers in the past who have claimed to be free from all sin. Their desire certainly was commendable, but the power to carry out such deliverance did not seem to be present at that time; or else they did not know how to go about being released from the sins of the flesh.
However, the Old Testament, in the Book of Daniel, advises us that God is going to put an end to sin. The thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew informs us that in the last days God is going to remove all sin from His Kingdom.
If you have trouble believing the Christ can deliver you from sin, then pray for faith.
Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24)
“To put an end to sin.”
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)
“Weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin.” This is referring to our sinful nature.
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
Sin shall not be our master. When we are under the Law of Moses, as Paul explained in the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, sin becomes more sinful because of the Law. But the Law offers no deliverance from the compulsions of sin.
However under grace we have the born-again experience, and especially the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to gain total victory over our sinful nature.
As it says in Galatians: If we sow to our sinful nature we will reap death, but if we sow to the Spirit of God we will reap eternal life. It was not possible under the Law of Moses to live in the Spirit of God, and so sin shall not be our master because we are not under the Law of Moses but under grace.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22,23)
We have been set free from sin. How have we been set free from sin?
In the first place, by means of our crucifixion with Jesus Christ we have escaped the authority of every aspect of the Law of Moses.
In the second place, by means of slavery to God we have reaped holiness. The result of holiness of personality is eternal life. Eternal life is the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The wages of sin is death. If the Christian, after having been baptized in water, continues to live as a slave of Satan, he destroys his eternal life. If the Christian, after having been baptized in water, chooses to live as a slave of righteousness, of God, he develops a holy personality. The result of a holy, righteous personality is resurrection life in his inward nature, and, in the Day of the Lord, in his body as well. This is the redemption of the body, the immortality that Paul was seeking so fervently.
The important work of the Spirit in the twentieth century was the operation of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit of God. The important work of the Spirit in the current century is the removing of the sinful nature from God’s people.
We understand now that we are to strive to attain to the resurrection, just as Paul declared to us.
We attain to the resurrection, in our inward nature and ultimately in our body, by getting rid of our sinful nature. God will not give any person an immortal body until the sinful nature has been removed.
We have only so much sin dwelling in us. We are not an endless container of sin. There is no aspect of our sinful nature that the Lord Jesus cannot destroy. Let us give glory to Christ by believing that He is well able to deliver any Christian from any kind of sin whatever. All that is needed is for the Holy Spirit to bring that particular sin to the Christian’s attention, and then for the Christian to wholeheartedly cooperate with the Spirit as the Spirit enables him or her to put that behavior to death.
When you stop and think about it, it is ridiculous to imagine that the Lord Jesus Christ, who possesses all power in Heaven and on the earth, cannot remove the compulsions of sin from us. If He can remove sickness from our body, and we know He can, what is to stop Him from removing sin from our personality?
Let us not be faithless but believing. Let us be like those of Berea who searched the Scriptures to see if these things are so. Then, having noticed what is written clearly in the Bible, let us press forward into full deliverance from sin. It is time now!
But what is the meaning of “eternal judgment”?
“Eternal judgment” has to do with the fact that those Christians who are fervent disciples of the Lord are appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ now. This is true whether the Christian is alive on the earth or has died and is in the spirit world.
But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 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 4:5,6)
The Lord Jesus, from the time of His resurrection, is ready to judge both the living and the dead. Our judgment must be completed before He returns if we expect to be raised from the dead, or changed while we are living, and then caught up to meet Him in the air.
The Lord is asking us if we want to work with Him in getting rid of our grave clothes, our sinful nature. If our answer is yes, and we embark on the program of moral deliverance, the judgments that are made are eternal. The assumption is that we now are free eternally from the specific behavior.
Let us say we are bound with pornography, with the lust of the eyes, with some form of voyeurism. The lust of the eyes may be a significant part of our personality. We recognize it as sin. We bring it to the Lord for deliverance. We vehemently denounce and renounce it. We do not cease until we receive total release. It is evil and is to be put to death by the Spirit of the Lord.
Now, the idea is, once you are delivered from pornography or any other form of voyeurism, you will never permit this evil to come into your personality again. This means you must be living as a disciple and walking in the Spirit. The Bible tells us that if we live in the Spirit we will have the power to resist the lusts of the flesh.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16)
One problem Christians have with overcoming sin is that they are double-minded. In the first place, they are not certain Christ can deliver them. In the second place, they are not sure they want to be delivered—especially from all sin.
If this is your attitude, you will not be delivered. In other to be delivered from the deeds of the sinful nature you have to hate evil. You have to hate all the works of Satan. It is wise to say out loud that you want nothing more to do with Satan or his works. Saying it out loud so the spirit realm can hear you often helps considerably. The spirit realm has to know you are determined to have nothing more to do with Satan. You want to live as part of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Can you see that each time you gain a clear victory over a sinful action, resolving through Christ you never will practice it again, it is an eternal judgment? That particular behavior never will be part of you again! You never again will have to answer for it at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It has been forgiven and cleansed from your personality. It is an eternal judgment on Satan.
Now, how do the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment work together?
Eternal judgment begins the moment you are resurrected, just as it did symbolically with Lazarus and the removal of the grave clothes.
First you are raised inwardly. Then the Holy Spirit leads you through judgment. Every time you get rid of a part of your sinful nature, you increase in resurrection life. Think of it as grave clothes being removed so you can see and walk around.
Perfection, or the rest of God.
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)
As you gain more release, a new aspect of your sinful nature is brought to your attention. You attack that new aspect with the same vigor. As that part leaves, you have more liberty in resurrection life. And so on and on until you are completely in the rest of God.
You are completely in the rest of God when you have been changed into the moral image of Christ, and when you are living in untroubled rest in the very center of God’s Person and will. This is where the Lord Jesus always lives, and He wants you to be with Him where He always is—in the very center of God’s Person and will.
The role of suffering.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:10)
The Apostle Paul spoke of wanting to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and to share Christ’s sufferings.
What does sharing in Christ’s sufferings have to do with the interaction between the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment?
Suffering helps us overcome sin.
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)
Suffering requires us to depend on the Lord.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (II Peter 12:9)
Suffering results in the Life of Jesus being manifest in our flesh.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (II Corinthians 4:11)
Sometimes we suffer to fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ for His Body’s sake.
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. (Colossians 1:24)
In every case, our sufferings result in the crucifixion of our original personality, enabling the Lord to destroy our sinful nature.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:6,7)
The idea seems to be that we enter by faith into the crucifixion of Christ when we are baptized in water. God then makes the crucifixion a fact by bringing us through various sufferings. Our crucifixion, both reckoned by faith and literal as we actually suffer, enables God to work with us in the task of doing away with the body of sin, that is, with the sinful nature.
The expression “anyone who has died has been freed from sin” is obviously, from the context, not speaking of physical death but of our being conformed to the death of Christ both through our reckoning ourselves crucified with Christ and also through our sufferings.
“Freed from sin,” according to the seventh chapter of Romans, means freed from the authority of the Ten Commandments.
We now remain without the condemnation imposed by the Law of Moses, giving us an opportunity to approach God continually for help as we confess and renounce our sins.
This is the role played by our sufferings as we experience the interaction of the resurrection from the dead and eternal judgment.
Paul wanted to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. As we continually are brought down to the death of the cross our sinful nature is weakened and can be overthrown, if we really are determined to get rid of it. The result is more freedom in resurrection life, which in turn gives us increasing resolve to get rid of the remaining compulsions we have to sin. Through the Holy Spirit we confess and renounce these compulsions, and the Holy Spirit takes the fire and life out of them. Then we can maintain an upper hand over them.
Now Paul’s statements make perfect sense. Striving to attain to the resurrection means striving to attain to total victory over the sinful nature. Then, when the Lord returns, He will find that our whole spirit, soul, and body have been preserved blameless. He now is free to raise our body from its place of interment and transform it into the likeness of His body. Obviously it would be entirely inappropriate for the Lord to transform our body when our inner nature is still subject to the compulsions of sin and to our stubborn self-will and unbelief.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20,21)
Notice that the above passage is in the context of Philippians 3:10,11, which we mentioned previously.
Shall we term this “the resurrection to transformation”? When Paul was striving to attain to the resurrection from the dead, he did not mean merely to be resurrected. All people who have ever lived on the earth will be called from the grave by the voice of Christ. Our goal is not the general resurrection of the dead, it is the resurrection to transformation.
To imagine that the average lukewarm Christian in America is going to be transformed into the likeness of Christ when He appears is to be deluded. Placing a transformed body on a sinful inner nature is neither scriptural nor logical.
One such immortal sinner would destroy Paradise for everyone else.
Attaining to the rest of God is the thesis of the Book of Hebrews. The rest of God is that place of dwelling in God through Christ where our every movement is an expression of the resurrection Life of Christ. All enemies have been overcome. We have entered the role in the Kingdom of God for which we were predestined from the beginning of the world.
We have to labor to enter that rest. Numerous forces will seek to distract us from the single-minded pursuit of Christ which, as Paul indicates, is the route to the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings.
He who overcomes, speaking of the victorious saint, will inherit all that God has made new in Christ. Those who do not press through to victory have no scriptural assurance of inheriting the rewards God has promised to the victors.
(“The Last Three Works of Redemption”, 3245-1)