SO GREAT SALVATION
Copyright © 1996 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
God spoke into being our salvation, our marvelous inheritance, from the foundation of the world. God has already perfected our inheritance and now is resting. We must work out what God has declared concerning us. We must “labor” to enter that rest, that finished work.
We labor to enter our foreordained inheritance by seeking the Lord, by studying the Scriptures, by fellowshiping with the saints, by obeying God, by giving, by serving, and by doing all the other good works of the Christian life. When we do not do our part the Divine program is delayed or destroyed.
how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, (Hebrews 2:3)
Apollos, Paul, or some other learned and experienced saint penned these remarkable words to the Hebrew Christians of the first century.
Hebrews 2:3 (above) often has been preached to the unconverted but it is not directed toward them.
The persons being addressed in the Book of Hebrews were not novices in Christ. They had suffered for the Gospel.
But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: (Hebrews 10:32)
They had been taught doctrine.
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1,2)
These Hebrew Christians had been saved, born again, and filled with the Holy Spirit.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, (Hebrews 6:4,5)
But after having made this strong start in grace they had grown cold and were slipping into sin.
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (Hebrews 10:25,26)
The writer of the Book of Hebrews is urging his readers to press on past the elementary experiences of being born again and baptized with the Holy Spirit. They were growing lukewarm and slipping backward into sin rather than pressing forward “to perfection” (Hebrews 6:1).
The author of Hebrews refers to perfection, to the goal of our discipleship, as the “rest” of God.
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)
Salvation, in the sense in which the word is used in the Book of Hebrews, is the same as the “rest” of God. We are not to neglect the struggle, the fight, the labor to enter the rest of God.
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)
The children of Israel neglected their salvation. They did not labor to enter the rest of God.
Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? (Hebrews 3:17)
The holy patriarchs and prophets did press forward in unrelenting faith toward that land of promise.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
What is the “city that has foundations,” the “goal” toward which Paul pressed until he went to be with the Lord? What is the perfection, the rest, the land of promise?
The “rest” of God is not Heaven. The patriarchs and prophets are in Heaven, in Paradise, but they have not attained the perfection, the rest of God.
God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:40)
Let us see if we can discover exactly what it is the Hebrew Christians were neglecting. They had been saved from wrath. They had been filled with the Holy Spirit of God. They had experienced, through the ministries of the Apostles of Christ, the works of power of the age to come. What, therefore, is the “rest” of God? What goal were they neglecting to pursue?
In order to portray the grandeur of that to which we have been called, the author of Hebrews first points toward the exaltation of Christ. The idea is that the Lord Jesus Christ, while the eternal Word from the beginning and the Lord and Savior of all men, also is the “firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).
In describing the supreme Glory of Christ the writer gives us the concept of that for which man has been destined, for the Lord Jesus reveals in Himself what God had in mind when He said, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26).
The first chapter of Hebrews informs us that Christ is the Prophet of God, the Heir of all things, the Creator of the worlds. He is the Brightness of God’s Glory, the Image of God’s Person, and upholds all things by the Word of His power.
After having made an atonement for our sins He was lifted up to be seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. He is the “first begotten” of the Father and therefore greater than the angels.
Suddenly the emphasis shifts from the Heir of salvation to the “heirs” of salvation.
Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)
The change from the Heir to the heirs is surprising but it is the key to the understanding of the term, “so great salvation.”
The “salvation” being referred to in the phrase “heirs of salvation” is the inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is rulership over all the works of God’s hands. The sons of God are coheirs with Christ.
Being born again and baptized with the Holy Spirit are not the fullness of the inheritance being given to the saints. They are not the “great salvation” that we are not to neglect. Rather, being forgiven and born again makes us eligible to pursue the inheritance, and being baptized with the Holy Spirit provides the wisdom and power to enable us to press into the inheritance.
The inheritance, the land of promise, the rest, the “city that has foundations” (which is not Heaven or the spirit realm), is yet ahead of us.
The “rest” of God, the “great salvation,” is discussed especially in Chapters Two and Four of the Book of Hebrews.
To find what our land of promise is we must answer the question, “What is man, that you are mindful of him?”
But one testified in a certain place [Psalms 8], saying: “What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you take care of him? (Hebrews 2:6)
Man, because of his immaturity of character, has temporarily been made lower than the angels. But man is destined to be crowned with glory and honor. Man has been given dominion over all the works of God’s hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:8)
Notice, in the above verse, these two concepts:
- “He left nothing that is not put under him.”
- “Now we do not see yet all things put under him.”
Here is the crux of the matter. God has spoken concerning man of a salvation, a supreme inheritance. In God’s mind, the predestination, the calling, the justification, the glorification of God’s elect already have taken place (Romans 8:30). However, they haven’t taken place yet in such a manner that we actually can experience them. They have taken place but they have not taken place.
God already has perfected our inheritance and now is resting. In order to work out what God has declared concerning us we must “labor” to enter that rest, that finished work.
We “labor” to enter our foreordained inheritance by seeking the Lord, by studying the Scriptures, by fellowshiping with the saints, by obeying God, by giving, by serving, and by doing all the other good works of the Christian life.
The world, Satan, the lusts of our flesh, our self-will, and our self-love are all seeking to prevent us from attaining our predetermined inheritance as “man.” It remains possible for each of us to let our inheritance slip away from us, thus incurring the displeasure of God.
The old covenant was inferior to the new covenant. If every disobedience under the old covenant was visited with chastisement, what sort of punishment will fall on the individual who neglects his inconceivably greater inheritance under the new covenant? To whom much is given, of him will much be required.
Salvation by grace is conditional. There is a part that the Christian must play under the covenant of grace. If he does not keep the words of Christ he will face an angry God.
God loves those who do what Christ has commanded.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21)
Those who disobey Jesus’ commandments will come under the judgment of God whether or not they are Christians!
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:6)
The fact that as yet we do not see all things put under man indicates that Adam and Eve did not receive the fullness of what the Lord God spoke in the beginning. Adam and Eve were the necessary physical beginning of the Kingdom of God. The flesh and bones that were created in them, and were begotten of them, are eternal in form and will be raised from the dead when the Lord comes (Luke 24:39).
The first man (the actual Man of which the Lord God spoke) to appear on the earth is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is what God means by “man.”
Adam and Eve, and their physical descendants, are not “man” in the fullest sense of God’s declaration. True “man” is what Christ is: son of God and son of man in the fullest sense.
As we stated previously, receiving Christ and being born again makes us eligible to enter salvation. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit provides us with the wisdom and power to pursue salvation, to press toward the fullness of eternal life.
After being born again and baptized with the Holy Spirit we are not to neglect the pursuit of the goal. Our goal is the fullness of salvation. If we neglect the fervent pursuit of salvation we will let the Word of Christ slip from us. We will wander in the wilderness of unbelief and disobedience until we die.
If we choose to wander in the wilderness of unbelief and disobedience we will fall back into sin. God’s Word states that we then are near to cursing. We stand in danger of being burned.
Speaking of those who once had been living in eternal life, the Scripture warns:
but if it bears thorns and briars [neglectful Christians], it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (Hebrews 10:26)
The Book of Hebrews is a warning to Christians to beware of falling away, telling the believers clearly the consequences of neglecting to serve Christ with a perfect heart.
It is the overemphasis on grace, the position that salvation is unconditional, that is responsible for the abominations being practiced in the nations of the world. The Christians are not revealing in their behavior the light of godly behavior—which is the only moral light of the world.
The blame for the condition of the world rests on the Christian churches that teach that Divine grace makes it possible for us to ignore the commandments of Christ and still please God. It is this doctrinal error that is to blame for the degeneration of morals in the earth, and the resulting Gentile holocaust that is at the door.
The unfruitful Christian is an adversary of God (Hebrews 10:26).
There are five dimensions that taken together answer the question, What is man? As soon as we have attained maturity in each of these five dimensions we have become “man.” We have inherited the fullness of salvation.
What is man?
- A son of God.
- The image of God.
- An incomplete, dependent person.
- The source of fruitfulness.
- The throne of God.
- Behold the Man, the Lord Jesus Christ! He is what God means by man.
- He is the Son of God.
- He is the image of God.
- He is by His own choice an incomplete, dependent Person.
- He is the fruitful Vine.
- He is the Throne of God. He possesses all authority in Heaven and on the earth.
Therefore, Christ is “man” and Heir of the fullness of the Divine salvation. Are there to be more heirs of so great salvation?
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
We are the brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ, born of the same Father. Jesus has been made like us in all things.
Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation [appeasement] for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)
The Lord God is bringing many sons to glory.
We do not as yet see the believers in the fullness of their inheritance. We do see Jesus. He reveals in Himself what God means when He says, “Let us make man in our image.” Jesus is our example, our goal, our mark. “As he is, so are we in this world.”
We must pursue our heavenly calling. We must grasp that for which we have been grasped. It is God’s will that every member of His elect press toward maturity in each of these five areas. God is ready to crown us with glory and honor if we will, through His grace, be diligent in overcoming the world, Satan, and our lusts, self-will, and self-centeredness.
What is man?
Man is a son of God. Until we are born again we are not sons of God, neither can we see or enter the Kingdom of God. No human being is authorized to receive the extraordinary inheritance of “man” until he or she receives Christ, believing Him to be Lord and Savior.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [or authority] to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (John 1:12)
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (I John 3:2)
Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. (James 1:18)
Each true saint has been born of woman (son of man) and has been born of God (son of God). We must be born twice if we are to receive the salvation promised to the elect of God.
Being “born again” is not a mere figure of speech. We actually have been born of God. The Divine Nature is in us if we truly are God’s children.
who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13)
If we never have been born of God, Christ cannot call us “brothers.” But now we are the brothers of Christ.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
For both He who sanctifies [makes holy] and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, (Hebrews 2:10-11)
The sons of God are portrayed in part by the “flying eagle,” of Revelation 4:7. Man was not created to grovel in the mud of the earth but to soar in the heavens with his Father.
What is man?
Man is the image of God. Each of the elect has been predestined to be in the image of Christ.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
In the beginning God declared that man is to be in His image. No animal on the earth is in the image of God. Only “man” is in the image of God. The saints have been predestined from the foundation of the world to be in the image of God.
We do not as yet behold men in the image of God, which is the image of Christ, but we do see Jesus. Our change into the image of Christ, as is true of the other four dimensions of our inheritance, was established when the world was created.
God has finished the work and now He is resting. We are not to go about working our works, attempting to be “like Christ.” God from the beginning has said He would make us in His image. No person can succeed in being “like Christ.” Only God’s Holy Spirit can create anyone in Christ’s image. Therefore we are to cease from our works and enter God’s rest.
The reason we must “labor” to enter God’s rest is that there are so many “enemies in our land of promise”—enemies that would provoke and distract us as we seek to work out the salvation that God gave to us in the beginning.
As we learn to trust in the Lord and wait patiently for Him, He makes all our enemies our footstool. The Christian warfare requires much experience and wisdom for its successful pursuit. Jesus is Victor. As we walk with Him He “teaches our hands to war so a bow of steel is broken by our arms.”
One of the four living creatures “in the midst of the throne” (Revelation 4:7) has “a face as a man.” The face of a man is the image of God.
To be in the image of Christ we must be like Him in spirit, in soul, and in body. The new covenant is the transformation of the believer into the image of Christ in spirit, in soul, and in body.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18)
“Are transformed into the same image”! The image of Christ’s Spirit is described by Paul:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23)
What is Jesus like? He is loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, gentle, good, faithful, meek, and self-controlled. This is the kind of personality the Lord Jesus has, and which we also will have if we walk in the Spirit of God.
The Lord is ferocious in battle. His wrath is terrible against His enemies. Ferocity and wrath are adult spiritual characteristics. The saints are not as yet able to be trusted with destructive power, but the day will come when they are commanded and empowered to administer judgment and wrath.
Through the Holy Spirit we are to be made like Him, not only in spirit but also in soul and body.
The soul of “man” is the origin of his decisions. It is the soul that sins and is responsible before God. It is our soul that is to be possessed by us and saved from the wrath of God.
Angels and animals have wills but they do not have the same kind of souls that people do. It is our soul that makes us unique. In the soul resides the image of God in exercising judgment. All judgment has been given to “man.” Man will judge the world and also the angels.
Jesus possesses all authority of judgment, not because He is the Son of God but because He is the Son of Man.
“and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. (John 5:27)
The mark of maturity in the saint is the ability to “judge righteous judgment.” Judging righteous judgment means we do not make judgments after the sight of our eyes or the hearing of our ears. Rather, we wait on the Lord until we know what the Spirit is saying about a given situation.
Waiting on the Lord for wisdom in judgment requires death to self-seeking and self-will. We are prone to rush about making decisions of all kinds before we know the mind of God in the matter.
In Gethsemane, Jesus sought to know if it were possible for the “cup” to be taken from Him without His drinking it. His “soul” was “exceeding sorrowful, even to death.”
Jesus’ soul was made obedient to the Father by fiery suffering. There is no other way by which to transform the soul. If we are to be in the image of Christ in soul we must be obedient to the Father’s will to the point of death. We must “love not our lives unto the death.”
The soul of mature “man” is sternly obedient to God. It always judges with the same judgment as the Father because it waits for the Father’s will.
Our spirit is made like the Spirit of Christ as we learn to live and behave always in the Spirit of God. Our soul is made obedient in the furnace of afflictions. The soul of immature man is a schemer—full of wickedness and deceits of every kind. Only intense suffering can make the soul obedient to God.
The self-will and self-love of the human soul protect themselves furiously against invasion by the will of Lord God of Heaven. We are determined to express our will and often are stubborn and rebellious.
We shall die either in the Lord or out of the Lord. To die in the Lord’s will is to obtain salvation. To die out of the Lord’s will is to enter torment.
Our spirit and soul are transformed into the image of Christ through the working of the new covenant. When our spirit and soul have been brought into the image of God, the transformation of our flesh and bones into the image of Christ’s flesh and bones is a relatively simple, instantaneous work.
who will transform our lowly [humiliating] body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:21)
The resurrected Christ received back from the cave of Joseph of Arimathea His flesh and His bones. Christ now is glorified, having been filled in every aspect of His Personality with the power of eternal, incorruptible life.
When Jesus returns He will bring with Him those who have not neglected the transformation of their spirit and soul. He then will take their flesh and bones, as He took the clay in the beginning, and create them in the likeness of His glorious body.
Our “great salvation” includes not only our being born of God but also our being created like Christ in spirit and in soul. Finally, when the Lord returns from Heaven, our resurrected flesh and bones will be filled with eternal, incorruptible resurrection life. The corruptible blood will be gone, for flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
The flesh and bones we have now will be raised and clothed with our body that is from Heaven.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)
What is man? Man is born of God. Man is the image of God in spirit, in soul, and in body. This is not all.
Man is an incomplete, dependent person. One of the greatest misunderstandings of our time is that the ideal man is independent, that his purpose in life is to express his individuality. This is the greatest of all errors, the closest to Satan’s heart, and it leads not to liberty but to the darkest of prisons—the prison of self-love. The prison of self-love can destroy the soul and spirit until they are warped and unfruitful beyond redemption.
When man was created, God ensured that no individual would be complete in himself but would be dependent on God and on others of his kind. God did this by making man male and female.
This also is the “face as a man,” of Revelation 4:7. The concept of male and female is associated closely with the image of God.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)
To our knowledge, no angel is male or female. Each of the angels is a complete entity. Did you ever hear of a lonely angel?
Man is different in that a man is either male or female. He cannot be complete by himself. Man’s incompleteness is the basis for his greatest sorrow and weakness and also his greatest joy and strength.
Before the creation of the world the Lord Jesus was the Logos. He was not “man.” When the Lord Jesus chose to become man He elected to be incomplete.
Man has been created in a helpless condition. No man can attain his inheritance by himself just as Adam could not be fruitful apart from Eve. It is not good for a man to be alone. God made each human being either a male or a female, ensuring his dependency on others.
The Lord Jesus is Man as well as God. Is He incomplete? Is He dependent on others? In His role as Son of God He is dependent on the Father in whom He dwells and who dwells in Him. In His role as Son of man He has chosen to add a wife to Himself as an enlargement of His Personality.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)
“The Son can do nothing of himself.”
Christ is One with the Father. The Father is not without the Son neither the Son without the Father.
Is the Lord Jesus Christ dependent on us (we speak reverently)? Yes, He is. Christ is the Vine and we are the branches. Fruit is found on the branches of a vine.
Christ by Himself is a marvelous Universe of universes. However, when God declared “It is not good that the man should be alone” He was speaking especially of His Son.
Therefore the Christian Church is being created as the Body, the fullness of Christ.
which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:23)
The Song of Solomon reveals the Lord’s attitude toward His bride. It hardly is one of independence.
Beyond doubt Christ is wondrously free and powerful. But what joy is it to come “leaping on the mountains, skipping on the hills,” if there is no one to come leaping and skipping to? Why bother to go up to the tops of Shenir and Hermon, to the lions’ dens, to the mountains of the leopards, if there is no one with whom to enjoy the view?
Christ is as we are, in this respect. There is no fulfillment as “man” until there is a complement. It is not good for any man to be alone. Christ feeds us with His body and blood in order that we may be “members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones.”
Christ has lost His individuality by becoming one with us—one with us for eternity. He must receive a new name, a name that includes us who now are part of His Being.
We shall not lose our uniqueness, our identity, for eternity. But if we are not willing to lose our individuality we will remain in prison forever.
We also are to be given a new name that includes the Lord.
There is no life worth living apart from union with God and with others of our kind. It is fear and mistrust, based on self-love and pride, that prevent our surrendering our individuality, that cause our deepest self to remain unchanged—and alone.
Christ, being without self-love, pride, mistrust, or fear, is free to expand throughout the universe of God’s creatures, flowing in the love of God. The Father is a complete Individual but He has chosen to be dependent on us by finding His rest in Christ in us.
As long as we maintain our individuality, attempting to discover “spiritual principles” that will give us power with God and with men, we shall remain bound to our little domain. Our strength soon shall fail.
When we learn to lean in helpless dependence on the Lord, when we wait on Him until He comes and puts His strength in us, it is then we receive eternal strength. We soar into the heavens as an eagle, having had our life renewed in God.
But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
It is paradoxical (but the way of the Lord) that when we are strong in ourselves we are at our weakest. When we are meekly depending on the Lord, being weak in ourselves, we are strong.
To become one with the elect in Christ in God is the most desirable attainment possible to any human being.
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him? (Psalms 8:4)
Man is an offspring of God. Man is the image of God. Man is not complete until he is part of God, of Christ, of other people. But man is more than this.
Man is the source of fruitfulness. Christ has called each of the elect to be fruitful. We have been chosen and ordained with this in mind.
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:8)
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:16)
The unfruitful Christian is not allowed to remain in Christ.
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2)
Adam and Eve reproduced blood (the temporary life force of man), and flesh and bone (the eternal form of man). But the saints reproduce the Divine Life of Christ, and the image of Christ, in themselves and in others.
Fruitfulness comes out of our death. It is impossible for us to retain our life and at the same time to bear the Life of Christ and the image of Christ.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. (John 12:24)
Divine fruitfulness and strength flow from the cross. It is as we bear in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the Life of Jesus can be communicated from our mortal flesh.
God continues to bring us down to death so “that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (II Corinthians 4:7). God will not give His Glory to another. No proud flesh will be allowed to boast itself in His Presence.
The crucifixion of Christ and the weakness and imprisonment of Paul and the other Apostles have brought the Life and image of Christ to the whole world.
One of the living beings in and around the throne of Almighty God is like an ox. Every true “man” must be willing to bear patiently the burden God assigns to him. He must labor on—to the point of death if need be. Glory always follows the suffering endured by the servant of the Lord.
Fruitfulness comes about as we are willing to serve sacrificially, to die to self-serving, self-aggrandizement. We are to be obedient to the death of the cross. It is from the death of the saints that the life-giving Glory of Christ proceeds. As we bow our necks to the yoke, in obedience to the Father’s will, the image of Christ is created in other people.
Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox. (Proverbs 14:4)
In the Kingdom of God, life comes out of death. The way up is down. We must be willing to serve and then to be offered up as a sacrifice, as was true of Elisha’s oxen.
So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant. (I Kings 19:21)
The powerful ministry of Elisha followed the service and sacrifice of the oxen.
And so with the Apostle Paul:
Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (Philippians 2:17)
Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it. Whoever loses his life for Jesus’ sake and the Gospel’s, will save it.
God requires fruit from every saint. In order to bear fruit that will remain, and to inherit the Divine salvation, we must be willing to follow the Holy Spirit into death to the world, death to sin, and death to our self-will, self-seeking, self-love, and self-centeredness. Those who are willing to share in Christ’s suffering and death will share also in the fullness of the glory of His resurrection life.
What is man?
Man is a son of God, the image of God, an incomplete, dependent person, and a source of the Life and image of Christ throughout the creation of God. But man is more than this.
Man is the throne of God, the ruler of the creation. In the beginning God assigned to physical man a limited rulership over the creation.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
The Spirit of Christ in David revealed that God is looking beyond physical man and his rulership over fish, birds, and cattle:
For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor.
You have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, (Psalms 8:5,6)
The Spirit wants us to consider what “man” actually is: that he has been crowned as a king with glory and honor; that God has given him dominion over the works of God’s hands and has put all things under his feet.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews portrays the extent of the rulership assigned to “man”:
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:8)
God intends for “man” to rule and judge the creation. All authority and power in Heaven and on the earth, and all judgment, have been given to Christ; not because He is the Son of God but because He is the Son of Man. It is “man” who is to be crowned with glory and honor. The Scriptures cannot be changed.
The saints, as “man,” will share the dominion with the Lord Jesus Christ.
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21)
It is in the realm of “overcoming” that we must be careful not to neglect our salvation.
Many forces are determined we will not attain our inheritance as “man”: the world, Satan, the lusts of our flesh, our self-will and self-love, and sometimes the professing churches and worldly or deceived “believers.” These are arrayed against us. Weak believers, if they do not seek the Lord’s strength, will be overcome by one or more of these forces. Only those who receive from Christ the fierce spirit of the conquering Lion of Judah will be able to overcome every enemy and enter the rest of God.
In the midst of the throne there is a living being that is like a lion. The lion represents our determination to be ruled by God and no other. A man must be willing to fight with all the strength God gives him against the forces that come against him, calling upon the Lord for help, until he conquers and possesses his inheritance—the rest of God. Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is a stronger, fiercer lion than Satan. Christ enables us to conquer.
“Man” has been assigned dominion over all things. In the present hour we are not different from servants, although one day we shall inherit all things.
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,
but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. (Galatians 4:1,2)
If we are to receive our kingdom we must fight, and fight to win. This is a battle to the death.
He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. (Revelation 21:7-8)
We are in a contest for the thrones that govern the universe, and it is “winner take all.” No one will feel sorry for us if we lose our inheritance through neglect, as did Esau.
If we cannot, through Christ’s grace, rule the tiny area assigned to us now, how shall we rule the universe of God?
It is no wonder the Book of Hebrews contains such stern warnings and exhortations!
There are five aspects of our great salvation. We were chosen for this glory at the outset of the creation.
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, (II Timothy 1:9)
- A son of God.
- The image of God.
- An incomplete, dependent person.
- The source of fruitfulness.
- The throne of God.
God already beholds us as perfect in each of these five dimensions. We are to cease from our own works and enter what God already has prepared for us. As we follow the Holy Spirit each day, He takes of the things of Christ and gives them to us. The Spirit develops and completes our sonship, the image of Christ, our dependency on Christ, our fruitfulness, and our ability to rule.
God’s Word is sharper than any two-edged sword. The Word cuts between our soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow of our bones, and exposes and judges the thoughts and intents of our heart.
Why does the Word, which is living and powerfully active, do this to us? It is that we may be made perfect and complete in all that God has spoken concerning us as individuals.
We enter God’s rest as that which God has spoken concerning us is created in us. We cease from our own works because we understand neither the goal nor the process. We do not know what God has in mind for us. Also, we have many sinful impulses and a soul that is deceitful, scheming, and filled to overflowing with self-seeking and self-love.
We cannot enter God’s rest as long as we are attempting to ensure our own security, satisfy our own desires, and achieve our own ambitions and goals. God has ensured our security, satisfied our desires, and established our destiny, from the creation of the world. If we will be diligent in working out our great salvation we will discover that all we need, desire, and hope for has already been lovingly provided.
(“So Great Salvation”, 3524-1)