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Philippians 3:11 is one of the most significant of all the verses of Scripture because it identifies the goal, the “mark” toward which the program of salvation leads. The Christian salvation is not a plan whereby the untransformed person can escape Hell and go to Heaven when he dies. Rather, the Christian redemption is a change in the individual so he can have fellowship with God. Fellowship with God brings immortality to man and eventually leads him into Paradise.
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If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
The expression “I might attain unto” may be rendered “I may arrive at.”
The Greek term for resurrection used in the above verse sets forth the concept of an out-resurrection, or first resurrection. It is the ordinary word for resurrection with a prefix added that suggests a resurrection out from among the ranks of the dead.
That Paul was not speaking only of a moral resurrection, of spiritual maturity, but of the actual physical resurrection of the dead, is indicated by the fact that the last verse of the same chapter speaks of the change in our body that will take place when the Lord appears from Heaven. Philippians 3:21 is in the context of thought of 3:11, revealing that Paul’s mind was on the actual bodily resurrection.
Who shall change our vile body [the body of our humbling], that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:21)
Philippians 3:11 truly is one of the most significant of all the verses of Scripture.
Philippians 3:11 is of special importance because it identifies the goal, the “mark” toward which the program of salvation leads. It is extraordinary also because we would not expect the Apostle Paul toward the end of his life to be attempting to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
One reason Philippians 3:11 is incomprehensible to us Christians is that we have changed the scriptural goal of eternal life into eternal residence in Heaven. However, Paul stated that the redemption of our mortal body is a major goal of redemption:
And not only they [the material creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (II Corinthians 5:4)
It is important in any undertaking to understand clearly the goal of the program. If we do not understand the goal we cannot make effective use of energy, time, or resources. We do not know where we are going, toward what we are striving. In this case it is difficult to distinguish among what is important, what is an unessential detail, and what is going in the wrong direction and destroying the endeavor.
Today we are shooting at the wrong target. We are stressing dying and going to Heaven as the goal of the salvation that is in Christ. Also, we emphasize that by receiving Jesus we escape Hell. To be saved, according to contemporary preaching, is to escape Hell and go to Heaven.
Would it surprise our reader if we insisted that the goal of salvation is not limited to escaping Hell and going to Heaven? There is a Hell and there is a Heaven. But there is more to the salvation that is in the Lord Jesus than escaping Hell, as important as such an escape is.
Our Lord Jesus spoke a few times of the tormenting fires into which the wicked will be cast. The Lord never spoke of going to Heaven as the object of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the goal of His teaching.
How does God profit if untransformed people escape Hell? How has this solved the problem of sin and rebellion in the creation?
If we place our trust in the Lord Jesus and are baptized in water, and then live as a Christian should, we will escape the wrath of God (I Thessalonians 1:10). But the Christian salvation is not a plan for man’s escaping Hell and going to Heaven when he dies. Rather, the Christian redemption is a change in man so he can have fellowship with God. Fellowship with God brings immortality to man and eventually leads him into Paradise.
The problem of current teaching is that it presents a means whereby unchanged mankind can regain Paradise. It makes the return of rebels to Paradise, rather than a restoration of the fallen man, the goal of the Divine redemption.
The current concept of salvation is largely mythological. It proceeds from man’s love for himself. It accounts for the present ungodliness among the members of the Christian churches. The believers have been taught that they have been unconditionally saved from wrath. When they die they will go to Paradise (they think), whether or not there is a change in what they are and how they behave. The apostolic doctrine of Divine grace has been perverted in our day.
The true scriptural salvation is a change in the individual. It is the transformation of the person into the image of Jesus so he can have fellowship with God. All we desire comes through fellowship with God. Fellowship with God is not produced by our partaking vicariously of the perfection of Jesus but by the working in us of a new creation.
If we would have fellowship with God we must be transformed in personality and in behavior. We must partake of the Life and Virtue of the living Lord Jesus.
The goal of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is to bring about the performing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. The goal of the Gospel is the return of God to the earth and the resulting abundance of love, joy, peace, immortality, and paradisiac surroundings.
Adam and Eve lost the opportunity to attain to immortality because of their disobedience to God. Then they were driven from Paradise.
The Lord Jesus is our Redeemer. He came to restore to us the opportunity to attain to immortality and to enter once more into Paradise on the earth.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God has to do with the restoration of what has been lost by disobedience to God. In the Hebrew Prophets the emphasis is on the coming of the Glory of God to the earth. Christ will return in His Kingdom to the earth.
When we first receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, placing our faith in the blood atonement made by Him, God gives us a portion of eternal life in our Spirit. We have an earnest, a pledge, a seal, a guarantee, a foretaste of God’s Spirit in us. Our sins are washed away by the blood of the cross. We are forgiven all our transgressions. We are covered by the blood of God’s Lamb so that in the Day of Wrath God will pass over us. God hears us when we pray. We have access in worship and supplication to the Mercy Seat in Heaven. In the Spirit, God raises us to His right hand in Christ.
Our discipleship thereafter consists of laying hold on eternal life until every part of our personality has been filled with Divine Life.
Each day of our walk on the earth, eternal death and eternal life struggle for mastery over us. If we serve the Lord Jesus we will grow until we are filled with life. Then, when He appears from Heaven, He will fill our bodily form with eternal life. This is what Paul was striving to attain to, to grasp, to arrive at, to apprehend.
If we do not serve the Lord Jesus, spiritual death will supplant the life that was given us when we accepted Jesus. The Lord will warn us and rebuke us. If we do not heed His voice but continue living in the sins of the flesh, the day will come when our spiritual life is gone. We shall not, in that case, attain to the resurrection Paul was seeking.
The soul that sins shall die. The Lord Jesus did not come to waive the eternal law of fellowship with God, the law of life. Rather, the Lord Jesus came to make it possible for us to turn from our sins and enter eternal life.
Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and few people find that path.
Current doctrine has changed the Christian Gospel from a pursuit of life to a “religious faith” that in actuality is no faith at all. It is instead a mental belief in certain theological positions that have been taken from a few “key verses” of the Scriptures.
In numerous instances the believers of today are walking in the flesh and reaping death. They are immature in the things of eternal life. They are under the impression that if they believe in their theological positions they will inherit eternal life in Heaven. But Heaven is the source, not the place, of eternal life. The distinction here is of importance.
Let us list some definitions concerning eternal life, and then we will proceed to examine the context of Philippians 3:11 and see if we can gain a clearer understanding of what Paul has set forth as the “mark” toward which every saint is to be pressing.
The current definition of salvation is “the forgiving of the believer’s sins through the atoning blood of Jesus so when he dies he will go to Heaven and live forever in a mansion.”
The current definition invites but does not require a change in the individual. It appeals to man’s instinct for self-preservation. The current definition does not stress the transformation of the personality of fallen man or the restoration of Paradise on the earth. It does speak of eternal life, but eternal life is defined as going to Heaven to live forever in a mansion of glory, to walk on streets of gold, and to possess gold, silver, and precious stones. There will be no death there, no pain, no tears, it is taught, referring to a passage that in actuality is speaking not of the Church but of the nations of the saved on the new earth (Revelation 21:4).
The current definition emphasizes our escape from Hell when we die and our entrance into Paradise, into the Presence of Jesus, the saints, and the holy angels. The current definition stresses forgiveness rather than deliverance—a forgiveness that results in going to Heaven when we die rather than to Hell.
The current definition is widely held among us. It may appear to be close enough to the Scripture to be acceptable. However, it is in error. The error of it is destroying the Kingdom of God in the earth.
By defining the Christian salvation as a plan whereby untransformed people can enter Heaven when they die, the chief work of the Kingdom of God is ignored. The chief work of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven.
Naturally, Satan and his worshipers have an interest in preserving the wickedness that is widespread among the nations of our day. Therefore Satan and his angels are willing that we emphasize dying and going to Heaven by faith, or even by a “rapture” in which untransformed individuals are removed from the earth.
Satan’s goal is to maintain his image and ways among earth’s people. As long as the Christians make their goal the attainment of residence in the spirit realm, Satan is undisturbed. Satan’s fear is that the Christian churches will discover that the Messianic redemption is a plan whereby the Presence of God and Paradise can return to the earth, accompanied by the removal of the image and ways of Satan.
The current incorrect definition of salvation is not as innocent as it may appear. Its effect on the Christian people has been and continues to be a nullifying of God’s intention to destroy the works of Satan through Christ (I John 3:8).
A corollary of the current definition is that the Christian Gentiles are to be carried up to Heaven by faith, along with God’s Spirit, while the elect Jews are left to establish an earthly kingdom. By employing this concept the believers can discard all teachings of righteous behavior by stating that such are directed toward the Jews.
Surely the sincere disciple of Jesus can see the diabolical motivation here. By preventing the Gentiles from practicing the righteous laws of the Kingdom of God we effectively are cutting them off from the Life of God. The world continues in chaos because the Jews without the Holy Spirit are incapable of changing the image and ways of Satan in the earth.
The true scriptural work of salvation begins when we accept the Lord Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord. Our initial acceptance of the Lord results in deliverance from Divine wrath through the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus apart from any works of righteousness of our own.
After our initial acceptance of the Lord we are to be led by the Spirit of God into deliverance from all unrighteousness, all spiritual uncleanness, and all disobedience to God, and brought into complete union with God through Christ.
The blood of Jesus is the authority for our complete change from the image and ways of Satan to the image and ways of the Lord God of Heaven. The Holy Spirit of God is the power, wisdom, and environment through which the change is accomplished.
Salvation is moral change. This is what salvation is. Union with God through Christ increases as deliverance from sin takes place and Christ is formed in us.
The scriptural work of salvation requires that the believer enter death to Satan, to the world, to the believer’s bodily and soulish lusts, and to his self-love, self-centeredness, and self-will.
The scriptural concept of salvation is being rejected by many because our age is one of man-centeredness, of humanism, of the attempt to use God to accomplish man’s will, of emphasis on “the rights of people.”
The humanistic Christian gospel avoids an emphasis on judgment, condemnation, and sin and stresses man’s release from all bondages of personality that would prevent the full enjoyment of his life on the earth. The humanistic salvation does not stress the crucifixion of our adamic nature or the penalties that increase when the Christian chooses to be a servant of sin rather than a servant of righteousness.
The concept of the humanistic Christian message is that because we are in Christ there is no need to be concerned with a struggle against sin. We are complete in Christ in the sense His righteousness covers us so that our behavior is relatively unimportant. The emphasis is on the peace and joy of the individual rather than on the fulfillment of God’s desire that people act righteously and obey God. This message definitely is people oriented rather than Kingdom, or God oriented.
God’s plan for His universe can be accomplished only as Christ is brought forth. Because our adamic nature must be crucified, and God’s purpose is to bring forth Christ in us, the emphasis of the Gospel is on our experiencing denial and other forms of suffering. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ.
The emphasis of the Gospel is not on the pleasure and satisfaction of the human being but on the bringing forth of Christ. Paul said that it didn’t matter if he lived or died as long as Christ was magnified.
Because the contemporary humanistic Christian gospel, with its stress on the release of the adamic personality from every sickness and bondage—from all that would prevent a prosperous and happy sojourn on earth, does not emphasize the bringing forth of Christ at the expense of human peace and happiness, it is “another gospel.” It is an extremely artful work of Satan, the object of which is to prevent the one important product of all of God’s working—the enlarging of Christ throughout the creation.
The scriptural salvation stresses the restoring of the personality of fallen man and the return of immortality and Paradise to the earth, but it works to this end by bringing down the adamic nature and increasing the Presence of Christ.
The central goal of the scriptural redemption is change into the moral image of God, union with God through Christ, and the attainment to immortality, Paradise, and all the other Virtues and blessings that proceed naturally from fellowship with God.
By comparing the two concepts of salvation we can observe the principal difference between them. The current definition of salvation is the forgiving of man so he can go to live forever in a place of joy. The scriptural definition of salvation is the transformation of man so he can find joy by walking with God and doing God’s will. The scriptural concept is God oriented and Kingdom oriented.
Forgiveness leading to a place of joy as distinguished from transformation leading to fellowship with God.
Of course, we Christians mention there is to be a new creation in Christ and we ought to follow Paul. Then we imply or explicitly declare that no matter what we do, how we behave, God will receive us anyway “by unconditional grace.”
Because of the enormous spiritual pressures on us to sin, our theory of “grace” becomes the line of least resistance. We succumb to temptation because in our mind is the concept we are saved by grace, and righteous, holy character and behavior are not a necessary part of salvation.
The average believer will not resist sin unless he is convinced that if he sins he will be punished severely. He must be persuaded that even if he should repent and seek God’s forgiveness later there still may be exceedingly painful consequences, both spiritual and physical. This principle of cause and effect must be emphasized today.
The Gospel of the Kingdom includes the warning to flee from the wrath to come.
The righteous are saved with difficulty, having to endure fiery trials (I Peter, Chapter Four).
The concept of the repentant believer suffering painful consequences, and possible loss of inheritance, may not fit our current concept of salvation. The backslider who is attempting to regain his former joy knows of what we are speaking. Our theories do not always correspond to the realities of the spiritual and material realms, to the manner in which the Lord works.
There is coming an “hour of temptation” on the whole earth. Only the strongest of the saints will be able to survive spiritually throughout this era. Those who do continue to walk with the Lord will become convinced of the direct relationship between how we behave, and the Presence of the Lord. It is not true that we can live a careless Christian discipleship and not reap numerous problems and much suffering. God’s people of the present generation must understand this clearly.
God is pleased to welcome at the foot of the cross the unsaved individual who repents of his former way of life, places his reliance on the blood atonement made by the Lord’s Lamb, and is baptized in water. However, God has fellowship with him only as he is purged of his sin and filled with the righteous behavior that results from living in the Life of Jesus.
We do not gain fellowship with God by imputed (ascribed) righteousness but by actual righteousness and holiness of behavior. This is the meaning of the following verses, which are addressed to Christ’s servants.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (II Corinthians 6:17,18)
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
Notice that in order to enter fellowship and union with God we must separate ourselves from the ways of sin. We must keep the Words of the Lord Jesus. Numerous Christians call Jesus “Lord” but do not do what He says. Their “faith” is futile. It is dead because there are no accompanying works of righteousness.
The current definition of grace is “forgiveness.” To be saved “by grace” is to be forgiven. By grace we go to Heaven when we die to live in a mansion of glory.
One contemporary expression is, grace is “God’s riches at Christ’s expense.” The concept is that all the Glory of Christ is given to us through the Lord’s love and mercy. We do nothing. Jesus paid the whole price of agony and we receive the fullness of the inheritance merely by accepting it. We are not required to share His suffering.
The toiling saints who plod along determinedly, bearing their cross after the Master, can evaluate this expression properly. They know the cost one must pay in order to lay hold on the inheritance of the sons of God. They know the travail of soul that is necessary if we are to overcome the world, Satan, and our lusts and self-will.
They know the faith and obedience God requires of those whom He has called to His side and how shallow is the concept that grace is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. God’s witnesses of today (as has been true of the saints of every age) are sharing in Christ’s suffering and are being transformed according to His death on the cross and His triumphant resurrection.
The scriptural definition of grace is “Divine enablement.” God’s grace is the Divine enablement that flows from His Person through Christ. Grace is forgiveness. Grace is teaching. Grace is power. Grace is wisdom. Grace is Divine Virtue. Grace is the joy of giving. Grace is all we need to enable us to fulfill the calling of God that is on us. The purest definition of Divine grace is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
We are saved “by grace,” meaning that God has come to fallen man and has offered to him the means of coming back into fellowship with God. Grace includes forgiveness because forgiveness is the first step in the long process of reconciliation, of atonement.
But to limit grace to forgiveness is to declare that God is willing to forgive us but is neither able nor willing to do anything beyond that. He would like for us to be the image of His Son but there is little He can do about it. Therefore He extends “grace” to us, meaning that He waives His requirements and permits us to enter joy in the spirit realm. What an impoverished understanding the current definition of grace is!
God has been extending mercy and grace to mankind ever since He was compelled to remove Adam and Eve from the danger of their becoming immortal sinners. The Church Era is not distinguished by the fact that God for the first time has shown mercy, forgiveness, and help to man. Rather, the Church age is distinguished by the quality and quantity of the grace that is available through Christ.
- Never before has there been a blood sacrifice that has the authority to purge the conscience of the sanctified.
- Never before has man been given to eat of the body and blood of God.
- Never before has man actually seen God in human form.
- Never before has the Nature of God been planted in man.
- Never before has man had access to the Most Holy Place in Heaven.
- Never before has God poured His Spirit on all flesh.
God has poured grace on us through Christ; not just forgiveness, but every Divine enablement that we need in order to overcome all sin and to enter union with God through Christ. God has not stopped with forgiving us. God is calling us to His throne—there to reign with Him throughout eternity.
In order to attain to the throne we must, through the Lord’s abundant grace, overcome all the forces of death that come against us continually. Through Christ we must overcome the adversary just as He Himself was required to overcome the adversary (Revelation 3:21).
To limit our definition of “grace” to forgiveness is to grasp only a small fragment of the storehouse of Divine abundance that is being offered by the Lord Jesus Christ to whoever will receive.
The current definition of faith is, “belief that a particular set of theological statements is true.” If one holds fast to his belief in his “statement of faith” he will go to Heaven when he dies and live in a mansion.
Denominations are based on such statements of faith. The Christians have fought among themselves for hundreds of years because of differences in their statements of faith and in their church customs.
The irony of this is that statements of faith and church customs are of little value in the Kingdom of God. An article of faith has value only if it has a bearing on the growth of the individual in godliness. Otherwise it has no value. No eternal life proceeds from a correct understanding of what is true in the spirit realm.
For example, the prime “faith” of the Jews is that God is One. It appears that to the Jew there is no other belief that equals in importance the fact that God is One. Fundamental Judaism is constructed on this simple declaration of monotheism.
The concept that God is One is held also by the demons, and they do not possess eternal life. Notice what Pastor James declares to his Jewish brothers:
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:19,20)
The Pharisees adhered to the inspired Scriptures but they possessed no eternal life.
Belief in theological statements is not what the Scriptures mean by “faith.” One can hold a correct understanding of the virgin birth, the blood atonement, and the triumphant bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and still be dead in sin.
The demons understand theological facts perfectly. They realize that Jesus is the Holy One of God and that Paul revealed the true way of salvation.
The current understanding of “the righteous shall live by faith” is, “the righteous will hold fast their understanding of doctrine.” This is error. Holding a correct understanding of doctrine never has and never will bring eternal life to anyone. When we act on correct doctrine and seek the Presence of Jesus in all situations, then we enter eternal life.
The statement of faith is dear to the heart of the Christian denomination. This is one reason why denominations have such difficulty in moving with the cloud and the fire. Denominations have a huge investment in their doctrinal positions, their seminaries, their books. Denominations stand for a statement of faith.
It often is true that when the Lord revives His Church by bringing it closer to Himself He increases our understanding of the Scriptures. The Pentecostal revival is an example of an increase of understanding as well as of available spiritual experience.
Denominations find such change terribly threatening. Ordinarily they react against doctrinal change, not necessarily because the change obviously is unscriptural but because of the ego injury that results—the embarrassment of having been incomplete in their understanding.
Christian people often refuse to admit that anyone could have a greater understanding of spiritual truth than they. When you think about it, isn’t this ridiculous? The outworking of such spiritual pride in rage and division among the brothers is tragic.
God is moving today in an increase of spiritual knowledge. Again we are faced with the fact that we have not known everything there is to know. Do we move ahead with God, or do we refuse to admit that we could have been incomplete in our understanding and begin furiously to charge our brothers with heresy?
The Pharisees placed their faith in the Scriptures rather than in God. This phenomenon is not unusual among Christians. The Bible takes the place of God. The believers attempt to penetrate with increasing depth into the meanings of the Hebrew and Greek terms. Regarding of the knowledge of a text as equivalent to possessing the spiritual realities described in the text, takes the place of a genuine experience with God.
Paul declared he was crucified with Christ and Christ now is his life.
One can swear to the inspiration of this statement. One can research carefully the etymology of each Greek word of Galatians 2:20. One can memorize the verse. But such knowledge is not equivalent to being crucified with Christ and being filled with His Life.
One of the most important disciplines of the follower of Jesus is daily study and meditation in the Scriptures—Old Testament and New Testament. Spiritual strength and guidance come to us from the Scriptures. Prayer and the Word are two pillars of discipleship.
There is a common error—the error of the Pharisees. It is the deifying of the Scriptures. The error has been termed “bibliolatry.”
The Scriptures are not Christ. The purpose of the Scriptures is to lead us to Christ. The life is in Christ, not in the Scriptures. The knowledge of the Scriptures is not eternal life. Eternal life is Christ. He is the Resurrection and the Life.
How often the seminaries make the mistake of associating learning with godliness!
True faith is an interacting with the living Jesus, not a knowledge of the Scriptures. The Scriptures are our guide to a knowledge of Christ if we mix our knowledge of the Scriptures with prayer and faith. The end of the matter is to know Jesus.
Some day you and I will be standing in the Presence of the Man, Jesus. This is where our discipleship is leading us. He is the living Word. In Him we are becoming the living Word. In Him is life and the life is the light of men. It is not the knowledge of the Scriptures that is faith or light. It is Jesus Himself who is the Light, the Understanding, the Word of God.
The perennial error of the religionists is to confuse their knowledge of spiritual facts with the eternal life of God.
To “know” spiritual truth is not to possess God. The psychics know certain spiritual facts but they do not possess God (as in the case of Balaam).
One will say, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” That is the truth. True faith is an interaction with God, and “hearing” has to do with inner spiritual perceiving and laying hold on, not with the registering of sound waves on the human ear and intellectual understanding of the content. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Hebrews 10:38 repeats the declaration of Habakkuk that “the just shall live by his faith.” Then the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews defines faith.
We do not have to read far in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews before we come to the conclusion that the righteous of all ages (not just of the Christian Era) have pleased God by faith, and that “faith” is not a statement of doctrinal belief but an interaction with God.
Whether we are speaking of Noah, or Abraham, or Moses, or Joseph, we see that scriptural faith is not referring to knowledge of the Scriptures. Faith is life lived in communion with God, in obedience to His revealed will. This is what biblical faith is.
Noah was not moved with fear to reassert his belief in a catechism or a confession of faith. Noah’s faith built a ship. Abraham’s faith lived in tents instead of costly, permanent dwelling places. Moses’ faith removed him from the luxuries of Egypt and exposed him to the rigors of the desert. Joseph’s faith fled from Potiphar’s wife and endured patiently in prison.
The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews is a long definition of faith—faith that is revealed by the works that always follow true faith.
We understand, therefore, that the scriptural definition of faith, the faith that saves us, that delivers us from sin and brings us into union with God, is a moment by moment looking to the living Jesus and interacting constantly with Him, obeying Him in every detail of personality and behavior. Faith and obedience are closely related in thought and action.
It may be noted that true Christians are not divided on this fact. All saints and servants of the Lord recognize that a simple looking to Jesus is the one essential element of Christianity. The only reason we quarrel among ourselves is that our knowledge of spiritual facts differs one from the other. Yet, such knowledge contains no saving grace.
Saving grace is found only in genuine faith, in looking to Jesus and interacting with Him. Knowledge divides and is lifeless. Walking with Jesus brings us together and causes an increase in eternal life in our personalities.
It is our carnality that provokes us to become angry with those who do not believe in the theological positions we hold. If our opponent is having fellowship with Jesus, and we are having fellowship with Jesus, why should we quarrel? If one or the other (or both of us) is not living in Jesus, no good fruit will proceed from the discussion. It is foolish to argue over a position regarding spiritual truth when such mental knowledge is neither faith nor eternal life.
The purpose of the Scriptures is to keep us on target in approaching the Lord and having fellowship with Him. The knowledge of the Scriptures brings no eternal life. It only is as the Scriptures bring us to Him who is the Lord of Life that we gain eternal life.
The current definition of eternal life is, “to die and go to Heaven to live in a mansion.” Many Christian believers are unable to distinguish between gaining eternal life and going to Heaven.
The scriptural definition of eternal life is, the knowledge of God and of Christ—knowledge in the sense of Their entering the believer and the believer entering Them and dwelling in union with Them.
Union with God through Christ is eternal life. Eternal life is in Christ and in those in whom Christ is abiding.
“Man” is created in two stages. The first stage is the forming of man from the dust of the ground. The second stage is the entering of the Personality of God into the dust that has become man.
To enter the eternal Kingdom of God an individual must be born twice. His first birth makes it possible for him to grow into an adult living soul. His second birth makes it possible for him to grow into an adult son of God, a life-giving spirit (I Corinthians 15:45).
The first man is only human. The second man has the Life of God in him.
What is born of the flesh is flesh. What is born of the Spirit is spirit.
In order for an individual to be transformed from a living soul to a life-giving spirit he must partake of the tree of life—not just once but continually.
A human being could not grow into an adult if he were conceived and then given no nourishment. He must have nourishment as he develops. So it is in the growth to maturity of a son of God. He is conceived when he first receives Christ. Then he must have nourishment continually if he is to grow into an adult son of God. If he is not nourished his new spiritual nature will die (Romans 8:13).
God realized when He created Adam and Eve that they must be born a second time. Until a person is born the second time he or she is little more than an intelligent animal. He is different from an animal in that he is in God’s image and has the potential for being born again. But until he partakes of the Divine Life that is in Christ he cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
Eternal life is Divine Substance. It is the creative love, joy, peace, energy, wisdom, knowledge, abilities, that God Is. All that any person could desire is found in the eternal Life that God Is. Apart from eternal life, man is a prisoner of the earth. He is bound by the chains of gravity and the vicissitudes of weather, sickness and health, fatigue and energy, insecurity and confidence, dread of the future and optimism, wretched, frantic grief and hilarity.
To die and enter the spirit realm is to be set free from the miserable prison of the flesh. This still is not eternal life. Entering the spirit Paradise, as marvelous as those surroundings are for the godly, is not entrance into eternal life.
Satan and his angels are not hindered by the pains and problems of life in the flesh. But they do not possess any love, joy, or peace. They are filled with darkness, rage, lust, bitterness, personal ambition, and other undesirable circumstances and bondages.
An individual who still is mere flesh and blood is an insignificant speck in an arena of spiritual titans. God knew from the beginning that He would create man in a flesh and blood form and at a later date man would receive the Life of God. Until this eternal Life of God enters a human being and begins to grow, the person is dead, spiritually speaking.
Man is, as we have stated, little more than an intelligent animal. The human eats, sleeps, works, plays, and reproduces, just as is true of a well-trained horse. But man alone of all the creatures of God has the potential for receiving God in Christ into himself, for commencing the long process of growing into the image of Christ—into a life-giving spirit.
Eternal life, which is the Presence of God in Christ in our personality, begins in us when we by faith lay hold on the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Most of our personality still is dead—void of the Presence of God. But a portion of eternal life has entered us.
Eternal death is the absence of God. Eternal death results from unrighteousness, spiritual uncleanness, and disobedience to God. God will not dwell with unrighteousness, spiritual uncleanness, or disobedience.
Eternal life enters us when we receive by faith the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ. God comes to us because of our receiving Christ. God imputes (ascribes) to us the righteousness of Christ. If it were not for our identification with the Lord Jesus, God would not accept our person; for God will not receive into His Presence those who are walking in sin. We now can stand in the Presence of God because of our acceptance of Jesus.
After initially receiving God’s Life by placing our faith in the atoning blood of Jesus we are to continue to look to Jesus moment by moment, interacting with Him, praying, meditating in the Scriptures, assembling with the saints, resisting the devil, giving, seeking ways in which we can build the Body of Christ.
We are to set aside our personal ambitions and give ourselves wholeheartedly to Christ and to His Gospel. We now are the servant of the Lord.
Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, through the ministries, through our environment and circumstances, proceeds to deliver us from the spirit of the world, from all unrighteousness, all spiritual uncleanness, and all disobedience to God.
As all sin and rebellion are driven from us, eternal life, love, joy, peace, and wisdom increase in us.
When all unrighteousness, uncleanness, and disobedience have been purged from us, and we have been filled with the Life of Christ, then we have arrived at the spiritual resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:11). We have entered the promised-land rest of God.
Although the environment in which we live, including our sinful, dead body, still presses on us, our inner personality now is meeting God’s standard and He and His Christ are dwelling in us.
When Jesus returns He will complete our redemption by clothing our resurrected (or still living) flesh and bones with a body fashioned from the Life of God rather than from the dust of the ground.
If we have not walked in fellowship with Jesus such that we have been delivered from unrighteousness, uncleanness, and disobedience, if we have not allowed Jesus to save us, to deliver us from the works of Satan, then, when Jesus returns, we will receive an outer form that corresponds to our unchanged inner nature. We will reap corruption.
The unrighteous will receive the reward of unrighteousness.
The unclean will receive the reward of uncleanness.
The disobedient will receive the reward of disobedience.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (II Corinthians 5:10)
Spiritual death is the separation from God of the spirit, the soul, and the body of man.
The “second death” is eternal spiritual death in an area of torment.
Wherever God is not present in the spirit realm there is an absence of love, of joy, of peace, of vitality, of wisdom, of knowledge, of hope, of growth.
Wherever God is not present in the material realm there is decay and finally ruin.
The most elementary definition of salvation is, to be spared the sentence of the second death.
To be “saved,” in this rudimentary sense, says nothing about what we are. It speaks only of what we will not experience.
The fullest definition of salvation is, perfect, complete deliverance from all unrighteousness, all spiritual uncleanness, and all disobedience to God, the full growth of Christ in us, and eternal union with God through Christ.
It is important for the Christian to understand he cannot settle for elementary salvation. If God has called him to the royal priesthood he will be judged according to his high calling. He cannot live his life in the world in the hope he can neglect the fullness of the inheritance and still escape severe punishment.
God cannot be mocked. He understands the human tendency to “deal.” He knows that some will choose to attempt to follow their course in the world and plan to make a “deathbed confession.” This might work if salvation were obtained by following a set of rules. Unfortunately for the scheming individual, we are not dealing with rules but with a Judge who knows every detail of our thoughts, words, and actions.
Christ showed plainly in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew that the servant who does not use the talent that has been given him will be cast into outer darkness.
In the Kingdom of God, much is required of those to whom much has been entrusted. In the Kingdom we are judged not only in terms of universal laws but also in terms of our individual calling, gifts, and the light we have been given.
The Lord Jesus Christ is a knowledgeable Person. As our Judge He is at once far more compassionate than any human judge and far more severe than any human judge. He can save and He also can assign to eternal torment—that which no human judge has the authority to do.
Let no human being presume on the goodness of Christ!
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalms 2:10-12)
There are people, such as the thief on the cross, whom Jesus brings to Paradise apart from their having any opportunity to grow in eternal life. It is not for us to compare ourselves with the thief on the cross, to attempt to outwit God by living a careless life with the intention of calling out to Jesus at the time of our death. God will not permit this. We have no knowledge of the background of the thief on the cross or what was in the mind of the Lord when He forgave him at his last moment on the earth.
Also, it is true that the character of each of God’s rulers is formed under “heat and pressure.” It is unlikely that ruling character can be formed in the spirit Paradise to which the thief was invited. It may be true that those who are destined to rule in the Kingdom of God are given the opportunity to experience on earth the necessary pressures and other opportunities to come to maturity in obedience, wisdom, and knowledge. It is those who suffer who will rule. God is building His Kingdom according to His foreknowledge.
The Lord Jesus taught us that some people will reap eternal life to a thirtyfold extent, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold. These differences are in the degree to which Christ is brought forth in our personality.
It is possible for any person to become a hundredfold believer. Such a supplanting of what we are with the Person of God and Christ requires discipline on our part. Command upon command the Person of God invades our person. We must hold steady in faith during this transmutation of our substance and nature. The hundredfold are the highest rulers because their life is the Life of God.
The subject of this booklet is Philippians 3:11. We are attempting to show that the full resurrection of spirit and soul is necessary if we expect to participate in the first resurrection from the dead, in the resurrection that will take place when the Lord Jesus returns. The first resurrection is the resurrection of God’s royal priesthood.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
The royal priesthood, the hundredfold believers, will regain their dead bodies in advance of the remainder of mankind.
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:5)
The hundredfold sit on thrones and govern the works of God’s hands. They were “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God” and did not bow down to and serve the economic world system of Antichrist (Revelation 20:4).
That they were “beheaded” signifies they have set aside their own thinking and put on the mind, the head, of Christ. The hundredfold cast off their own life, their own crown, under the supervision of the Spirit of God. They are transformed by the renewing of their mind. Every day they put on the mind of Christ and obey the Word of God, both written and revealed personally to them. They surrender to God the plans, imaginations, desires, and ambitions of their mind.
They do not remain part of the present world system. They come out of the world and live unto the Lord. They are foolishness to the world and the world is foolishness to them. They are crucified to the world and the world is crucified to them.
They are God’s hundredfold. They arrive at the first resurrection from the dead by laying aside their life and entering the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, let us examine the context of Philippians 3:11 and see if we have adhered to the thinking of the Apostle as we are attempting to interpret this extraordinary verse.
Paul begins the third chapter of the Book of Philippians by speaking of his accomplishments in the religion of Judaism. Paul was blameless in terms of the Law and ordinances of Moses.
Then Paul says:
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (Philippians 3:7)
The “things” that were gain were his attainments in Judaism, and Paul now was viewing these attainments as nothing more than a hindrance to His pursuit of Christ.
Next, Paul expands the discarding of his accomplishments to include “all things.”
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win [gain] Christ, (Philippians 3:8)
The “knowledge of Christ” is not knowledge about the historical Jesus, or even the knowledge of who or what Jesus is in Heaven. Rather, the knowledge for which Paul traded all else is the knowledge that comes through entering Christ and Christ entering us. It is the deepest kind of personal knowledge. It is the knowledge that is perfect, complete union. It is oneness with Him who is God.
Paul was seeking to “win Christ.” Christ must be won. Christ must be gained by laying aside all else so we may adhere in every respect to what Christ presents to us each day. It is an abiding in Him who continually presents a different challenge to the one who would keep on abiding in Him. It is a moment by moment interaction with the living Jesus—an interaction that results in union, in oneness of life, oneness of will, oneness of purpose, oneness of joy, oneness of all personality and behavior.
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:9)
The doctrine for which Paul is known is the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. Nowhere is this doctrine more clearly explained than in Philippians 3:3-15. If we would interpret Romans, Chapters Three through Five correctly we must do so in terms of Philippians 3:3-15. It is here that Paul explains “the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
In Romans, Chapters Three through Five Paul explains to the Jews that the salvation God has given us through Christ is not based on works of righteousness we have performed nor on our obedience to the Law and ordinances of Moses.
The Jew is oriented toward pleasing God by doing the works of the Law. Paul points out that God has given us His righteousness apart from the keeping of the Law. We must let go of our attempts to please God by the Law and receive the righteousness God has given in Christ. The righteousness of Christ will be ascribed to us if we will look up from our dead efforts to please God and receive by faith the righteousness in Christ that God has provided for us.
We Gentiles do not have a background of the Law. We are interpreting Paul’s arguments to mean God does not care how we behave. We believe God is saving us from Hell on the basis of confessing with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believing that God has raised Him from the dead.
The converted Jew has a background of moral training and conscience that may serve to keep him from sinning until he learns to walk according to the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ.
Many Gentiles have no such background. They conceive of Christianity as a gift to them of life and glory apart from any marriage to righteousness on their part. They merely confess the name of Christ and state their belief in the particular doctrinal positions of the group that is evangelizing them. Now they are saved “by grace,” meaning that God is not interested in their behavior but in their acceptance of the truths concerning Christ.
The Gentile interpretation and application of Paul’s doctrine is a perversion of God’s intention in Christ. Our conscience (if not our common sense) ought to tell us that God did not send His Son into the world so believing Gentiles can live as they please and then enter Paradise on the strength of a doctrinal position.
The concept of Christian grace as an alternative to godly living is working hand in hand with the contemporary emphasis on the centralization of man and the rights of people, with the result that both Christian and secular society are degenerating rapidly. The present level of moral behavior soon will bring on the peoples of the earth the most terrible expressions of the wrath of God mankind yet has experienced.
Paul taught the Jews the difference between attempting to save one’s self by performing the works of the Law, and receiving God’s gift of salvation through Christ.
In Romans, Chapters Six through Eight, Paul carefully explained that the Christian redemption, that which leads finally to the redemption of the physical body, works in us as we through the Spirit put to death the deeds of our body and follow the Spirit of God. These passages are being ignored. The believers have seized on Paul’s explanation to the Jews in Chapters Three through Five and are announcing that God has given eternal life to us regardless of how we behave.
It is immense doctrinal error and it is having a tragic effect on mankind. The light of the world is not shining. The churches are not exhibiting the good works of righteousness by which people glorify God.
The righteousness that is not of the Law but through faith in Christ is not a righteousness that comes as we choose to believe spiritual facts. The righteousness that is through faith in Christ is explained in Philippians 3:10. It is given as we interact with the living Jesus, as we enter the power of His resurrection, and as we are conformed to His death on the cross. Faith is not mere belief. To live by faith is to participate in experiences that bring us into an ever-deepening union with the Lord.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed unto his death; (Philippians 3:10)
“That I may know him” means to enter union with Him.
“The power of his resurrection” indicates that we learn to exchange our flesh and blood wisdom and energies for the eternal Life that flows from God through Christ. This Life moves and guides us in the world, enabling us to live above the darkness and death with which Satan has blanketed mankind.
We do not learn in one moment to live by the power of Christ’s resurrection. The ability to flow in that Life comes little by little as our natural life is brought down and the Life of Jesus takes its place.
“Being conformed to his death” signifies that the Spirit of God leads us into all the areas of self-denial that our Lord knew. Jesus was crucified through weakness but lives by the power of God. God deliberately causes all the wisdom, knowledge, abilities, strengths, talents, of our natural man to be brought to nothing so that in their place He may introduce the eternal Life that is in Christ.
The “righteousness that is of God by faith,” the faith by which the righteous of all ages have lived and served God, is union with God in all He Is and does. All the saints of history have lived this way. The difference of the Christian Era lies in the fact that union with God in all He is, is much more demanding than had been true prior to Christ’s resurrection Also, much more Divine grace has been given to make possible a far more complete union.
We see, therefore, that the definition of salvation by grace through faith as “the entrance of an unrighteous individual into fellowship with God on the basis of his doctrinal confession” is not in keeping with the writings of the New Testament. Rather, such a definition must be gleaned from a few selected verses removed from their contexts.
What goal was Paul attempting to reach by his single-minded pursuit of union with the Life of God through Christ?
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
Paul was pressing forward toward the redemption of his mortal body, in particular the redemption that will come to those who are prepared spiritually to be revealed with Christ at His appearing.
The full attainment to eternal life will be established and manifested when our mortal body has been raised from the dead and clothed with a glorious house of life from Heaven (II Corinthians 4:17-5:4). Such glory must be attained (arrived at) by total, consistent, continual pressing into Christ. Everything else, every other goal, must be cast aside as unworthy of the supreme goal, which is the winning of Christ.
In the Book of Romans, Paul outlined the pursuit of eternal life.
Chapters Three through Five of Romans teach us that we are not forgiven and delivered from Divine wrath on the basis of the works of the Law but on the basis of the atonement made by the blood of God’s sin offering, Christ.
Chapter Six of Romans warns us against continuing in sin after we have believed and been baptized in water.
In Chapter Six, Paul points out that we who have received Christ have a choice. We can choose to serve righteousness or we can choose to serve sin. Those who have not received Christ have no choice. They are under the dominion of sin. We who have received Christ can, if we wish, choose to serve righteousness.
Notice we are to serve righteousness. Of course, this means to serve Jesus. But the concept of serving righteousness needs to be emphasized because this expression brings into focus how unscriptural is the contemporary definition of Divine grace.
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. (Romans 6:18)
“The servants of righteousness.”
If we Christians choose to serve sin we will die. The inner spiritual life that has been given us in Christ will not abide in us. We will revert to being a natural man, a living soul.
If we Christians choose to serve righteousness we will grow in eternal life. The end of such growth is the redemption of the mortal body, the full attainment to eternal life. The full attainment to eternal life marks the restoration, the redemption of all that was forfeited in the garden of Eden.
Paul tells us that the wages of sin is death. He is speaking of Christians who, after having believed in Christ and been baptized, continue to walk in sin.
The gift of God is eternal life through Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Does Paul mean we are handed the fullness of eternal life as an undemanding gift, apart from any change in our conduct, when we make a correct doctrinal profession concerning Christ, His atonement and His resurrection?
Not at all. Such a statement coming at the end of the sixth chapter would destroy the exhortation of the chapter.
Paul wrote Romans 6:23, and then turned to the Jews (in Chapter Seven) and explained that the Law was unable to bring us into life because the Law merely emphasized sin. The Law does not have the power to deliver us from sin. It is sin that results in both spiritual and physical death.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24)
In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul continues the exhortation that he began in the sixth chapter. Paul, in the eighth chapter, proceeds to explain what he meant by saying “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In the eighth chapter, Paul pulls together his teaching concerning forgiveness as a gift through the atonement, and his exhortation in the sixth chapter that the attainment to eternal life is based on what we do after we are forgiven.
In Romans 8:1, Paul explains the conditional aspect of the attainment to eternal life:
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk not in the appetites of the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The forgiveness from wrath, of Chapters Three through Five, is balanced by the requirement of following the Spirit. Freedom from condemnation persists only as we walk in the Spirit of God. If we, having been forgiven by the blood of Jesus, continue to live in the appetites of the flesh, we will come back under condemnation.
Perhaps most of us have known of someone who accepted Christ and then neglected to walk after the Lord. The result of such neglect is obvious spiritual death. Such death can be observed in the worldly “believer.” To then claim that the individual is not under Divine condemnation because he once made a profession of Christ is to depart from spiritual and scriptural reality.
We must pursue eternal life. We must attain to the resurrection.
Paul continues to state that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
This means there is authority and power in the Spirit of God that will, if we live in the Spirit, enable us to overcome the sin and death that dwell in our personality. If we walk in the Spirit we can overcome the most cunning, the most powerful temptation to sin.
We walk in the Spirit by praying much, by meditating in the Scriptures, by gathering together with fervent saints as we have the opportunity, by presenting our body a living sacrifice so we may prove the will of God in our life, by serving the Body of Christ with the gifts the Spirit has given us, and by doing all else in our power to serve the Lord.
We must, if we would enter Divine Life, set aside our own adamic life, take up our cross, and follow Christ with total, unswerving diligence and dedication.
God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him. If we would abide in the Spirit of God we must obey God at all times, praying without ceasing.
It is only by such wholehearted serving of the Lord that we can walk in the Spirit, gaining victory over sin and death.
In the eighth chapter of Romans, as we have stated, Paul explains what he means by the expression, “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ our Lord.”
If we Christians live according to the lusts of our body and soul we will die spiritually.
God has given us through Christ the authority and power to turn aside from the ways of sin and death and pursue eternal life.
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not in the appetites of the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
If we do not walk after the Spirit, choosing instead to spend our life giving first priority to eating, sleeping, working, playing, and reproducing, abiding “in the flesh,” the righteousness of the Law of Moses is not fulfilled in us. We have been divorced from the Law of Moses but have not been married to Christ. We are attempting to live as a spiritual “single,” being wed neither to Moses nor Christ. We therefore are living under condemnation.
How many believers are wed neither to Moses nor Christ? They do not keep the Law and they are not living in Christ. They are hoping their doctrinal position will bring them to the spirit Paradise when they die. They are mistaken. They are dwelling in spiritual death. Their spiritual death will be revealed in the Day of Christ.
We who are living in the Spirit already have dwelling in us the potential for the redemption of our body.
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)
When we first receive Christ, God places the Spirit of resurrection life in us. If we nourish this inner life by following the Spirit of God, then, in the Day of Christ, our developed inner spiritual life will be extended to our mortal body making it alive. This is what Paul meant by attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
If we choose instead to live in the appetites of the flesh, our inner spiritual life will be weakened greatly and may, in fact, become nonexistent. In that case, we will be raised in the Day of Resurrection as a mortal, not possessing immortality.
Paul goes on to explain that because we are in pursuit of eternal life in our body, in pursuit of the resurrection from the dead, of that which will deliver us from “the body of this death,” we do not owe our flesh anything. We are not obligated to give all of our attention to its appetites and desires.
For if ye live in the appetites of the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
The end of our pursuit of Christ through the Spirit is the attainment to the resurrection, of readiness to be revealed in the fullness of resurrection life in the Day of Christ.
And not only they [the material creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
Let us review, for a moment, the definitions of salvation, grace, faith, and eternal life:
Salvation is deliverance from sin and death and entrance into union with God through Christ. Salvation is moral transformation.
Salvation comes to us as forgiveness, and then as development. Salvation forgives our sins, delivering us from the wrath of God. As development, salvation destroys out of our personality all unrighteousness, all spiritual uncleanness, and all disobedience to God, and creates a new personality filled with the Life of Christ. Salvation also brings us into marriage with God through Christ. Salvation is both instantaneous and progressive.
Grace is Divine enablement. It includes all the Virtue, authority, and power that flows from God through Christ for the purpose of forgiving us and then enabling us to proceed through the development phase of salvation.
Faith is our moment by moment looking to Jesus for grace (Divine enablement) to help us as we seek to abide in Christ in every detail of our personality and behavior, becoming righteous, holy, and obedient to God.
Eternal life is union with God through Christ in our spirit, our soul, and our body.
The Christians who “overcome,” who follow Christ through the development stage of salvation, entering the fullness of union with God, will live (in their bodies) and rule with Christ throughout the thousand-year period (Revelation 20:4-6).
Such will be placed on the thrones of the universe, the spiritual thrones in the air previously occupied by Satan and the fallen angels.
This is the royal priesthood. They have been “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.” This means they have ceased to live according to their human minds and are living by the mind of Christ—an extremely important achievement for the victorious saint.
The spiritual forces are so powerful today that now—and throughout the days to come until Jesus appears in the clouds of heaven—people are not able and will not be able to think their own thoughts. Either we will put on the mind of Christ or else we will take the mark of Antichrist into our hand and head.
Not to press into Jesus with all our might is to take the mark of Antichrist by default, to become part of the actions and thinking of the present world economic system. We must go one way or the other.
Those who keep the Word of Christ’s patience will be kept by the Lord throughout the hour of temptation. His Presence, His Life in us will enable us to discern and turn away from the spirit of Antichrist. Woe to those who, having heard the Word of Christ, continue to live in the spirit of the world! They will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the Presence of Christ and the holy angels of God.
We reap the Life of Christ a hundredfold or sixtyfold or thirtyfold. These are not percentages such that sixtyfold means that sixty percent of our life is Christ and the remaining forty percent is flesh but is brought into the Kingdom in any case. Rather, the three levels of attainment refer to the abundance with which we reap Christ (the number of bushels to the acre, we might say), and as a result to our level of rulership in the Kingdom of God.
Flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Only the eternal Life that is Christ can enter the Kingdom of God and is the Kingdom of God. The part of our life that is not of Christ cannot enter the Kingdom. The Lake of Fire still has dominion over it. Our fleshly nature escapes judgment while Christ is working with us, because of the principle of the firstfruits.
Because there is a portion of Christ in us, in our spiritual nature, our whole personality is holy even though there are parts of our personality that have not as yet entered into Christ, into eternal life. The part of our personality that is not of Divine Life cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Yet it is saved temporarily because of the firstfruits portion of Christ that is in our inner man.
Our task is to persevere in Christ until all of our personality has entered Christ and has become immortal. This is the hundredfold grasp of salvation. It is available to whoever chooses to lay hold on it.
If we are saved but do not press forward in Christ, the part of our personality we have held back from Christ will be cut off and burned. We will lose part of our personality, being saved as by fire.
We shall reap in the Day of Christ what we are sowing today. If we sow to the fullness of life we will reap the fullness of life. If we sow partly to our flesh we will reap part life, part lashes or destruction. The Lord Jesus, who is our Judge, will decide our fate in the Day of the Lord.
The part of our personality we do not surrender to Christ will not enter the Kingdom of God. Only that which has been filled with Christ will endure. We can have an abundant entrance into the Kingdom or we can appear as a naked spirit. It is our decision and responsibility.
Whether we attain to the hundredfold or sixtyfold or thirtyfold depends on the extent of our willingness to surrender our personality to Jesus for re-creation, our willingness to be pruned. It is only the new creation that is eternal, that is of the Kingdom of God. As Paul declared, everything that is gain to our first personality is loss to Christ, to the Kingdom of God. It is of the first creation; therefore it will pass away. Only that which is of Christ will live in God’s Presence for eternity.
When Paul was seeking to attain to the first resurrection he was striving to become what God means by “man.”
In the beginning God created man in His image.
As we have stated previously, “man” must be created in two steps. The first step is the development of the initial form of man, consisting of a material body, an intelligent soul, and a spirit that can communicate with God. The second step is the development of the permanent form of man, consisting of a spiritualized flesh and bone body, a soul that has been changed into the Substance and image of Divine Life, and a spirit that is one with the Holy Spirit of God.
The first man is a living soul. He is an intelligent animal with the potential for becoming “man.”
The second man is a life-giving spirit (I Corinthians 15:45). He is the dwelling place of God.
It has been given to the second man, who is what God means by “man,” to rule the works of God’s hands.
The first man is the dust of the ground. The second man is the Lord from Heaven.
By striving to attain to the early resurrection from the dead, Paul was pressing toward becoming “man.”
What is born of the flesh is flesh. The flesh profits nothing. Flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of the Spirit of God is Divine in Substance and Nature. It is of the Kingdom of God. It is eternal.
Man must bear the image of the earthly, and also the image of the heavenly, in order to become “man.”
The Christian redemption is not directed toward the perpetuation of the first man in the spirit Paradise. The Christian redemption is directed toward the completion of what God means by “man.” What an altogether different understanding from the current viewpoint this is! What a different meaning, what an urgency it gives to the choices we Christians make concerning how we conduct ourselves in the world!
It is impossible to overstate the necessity, the urgency for today’s Christian people to understand the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. What we are sowing we shall reap. If we are sowing to our first man, our first, natural personality, we will reap corruption in the Day of Christ. The first nature is corrupt. Our first personality will be raised from the dead—to face what?
If we give ourselves to the Holy Spirit, diligently following the Lord each moment, we will stand before the Lord in that day in newness of life. It will not be a redeemed first personality standing before the Lord Jesus, it will be a new creation that has been fashioned from His Life just as Eve was fashioned from the substance of Adam. We will enter life in that day because we have become life. We will enter a body and an environment compatible with that which has been developed in our spiritual personality.
What will be true of the believer who has neglected to enter the development stage of salvation, who has believed in Christ and been baptized in water and then has lived in his bodily appetites and lusts?
The Scripture (Romans 8:13) states he will die. His resurrection life will not be adequate to enable him to go with the Lord, as in the case of the five foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).
The believers who are filled with life, who are living in life, will be caught up to be with the Lord when He appears. The Christians who are not living in eternal life will not go to be with the Lord. Rather, they will stand before Him at a later time and be judged. All people (with the exception of those who attain to the first resurrection) will stand before the Lord Jesus when He returns. He alone will decide who will be permitted to enter the new age on the earth and who will be cast into the tormenting fire.
Those who attain to the earlier resurrection have no fear of the second death. There is nothing in them that the second death is able to harm. All their personality has been given to God and has been renewed in resurrection life. All that is of worth has been given back to them as their eternal possession. When Jesus appears, these hundredfold believers will be clothed with the house of life that has been created in Heaven by their being changed into the death of Jesus while living on the earth.
Philippians 3:11 speaks of one of the principal goals of the new covenant, which is the attainment to immortality. Immortality was lost in the beginning. The Lord Jesus Christ has come from Heaven so man may regain immortality—that he should not perish but have everlasting life.
Immortality was lost because man chose to sin. Christ has come so we may have the ability to choose not to sin and be able to break the chains of sin and death with which man has been bound because of his obedience to Satan.
The hundredfold saints are a firstfruits of mankind. They are victorious saints. They are the first humans to gain spiritual freedom. God will use them to release the prisoners of the earth.
The saints are the holy city, the new Jerusalem. All the nations of saved peoples of the earth will walk in the moral and visible light of the holy city. Those of the nations who, under the ministry and teaching of the sons of God, learn to obey the commandments of the Lord, will be permitted to eat of the tree of immortality and enter through the gates of the city of God.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)
Throughout eternity it will be as it is in the present hour: those who walk in sin and rebellion never will gain immortality; never will be admitted to the Presence of God in His city.
For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:15)
Today and forever, those who choose to sin against God will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
Through Christ, God has given us the opportunity to throw off the chains of sin and death. If we will do this diligently we will save ourselves and those who hear us—save ourselves in the sense of gaining release from Satan and entering union with Christ, who is eternal Life.
If we neglect the redeeming authority and power that are in Christ we will continue to sow death. We and those whom we influence surely will die. We will not attain to the life the Lord Jesus will bring with Him. Rather, we will stand before Jesus and be judged in that day. Whether or not we then are permitted to live on the earth in the new age will be decided by the Lord Jesus. It is He whom God has appointed to judge the world.
It is one matter to call Jesus, Lord! It is quite another matter to do what He says. It is in the doing what He says, in the keeping of His Word, that we save ourselves.
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (I Timothy 4:16)
The truth of Jesus, if obeyed, sets us free from sin and death. If we are willing and obedient we will eat of the good of the land. If we refuse and rebel we never will experience the goodness of the Lord.
At the time of the writing of the Book of Philippians, Paul counted that he had not as yet attained to the out-resurrection—the resurrection that is in advance of the general Day of Resurrection. To attain to the out-resurrection is, as we have said before, to escape the possibility of being harmed by the second death, because there no longer is in us any element over which the second death retains authority.
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ. (Philippians 3:12)
In his final epistle Paul speaks as though his discipleship had attain toed its goal:
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (II Timothy 4:7,8)
“There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”
Paul now refers to his “mark” as the “crown of righteousness.” To the overcomer of Smyrna is given the “crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
Is there any difference between the crown of righteousness and the crown of life? Probably not. Throughout the Scriptures, righteousness and life go together just as sin and death always go together.
Perhaps the greatest heresy of all time pervades the churches of our day. This heresy is the doctrine that man can inherit eternal life apart from godly behavior, that man can have fellowship with God and continue in unrighteousness, uncleanness, and disobedience.
The Lord Jesus did not come to hand immortality to us without any change of behavior on our part. Rather, our Redeemer came so that through Him we can attain to salvation, we can overcome the presence and ways of Satan and enter the Presence and ways of God.
It eternally is true that the soul that sins shall die. This law never shall change in the slightest degree. Heaven and earth as we know them will pass away but God’s Word never shall pass away.
Through the Lord Jesus Christ we have been given the opportunity to turn away from sin and enter righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. As we do so, as we put on the Person and ways of Christ, we attain to the resurrection from the dead.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things [foolish and hurtful lusts]; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:11,12)
(“Philippians 3:11”, 3432-1)