THE BROTHERS OF CHRIST

THE BROTHERS OF CHRIST Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

The physical universe, including man, was created to bring joy to God. Man is of special interest to God. God accomplished several purposes by creating man. One of these purposes is to bring forth brothers of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Having done so, God now has a large family of sons, of whom the Lord Jesus is the Elder and Ruler of all the works of God’s hands.

THE BROTHERS OF CHRIST

And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him,  who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28,29)

The physical universe, including man, was created to bring joy to God. Man is of special interest to God. God accomplished several purposes by creating man. One of these purposes is to bring forth brothers of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Having done so, God now has a large family of sons, of whom the Lord Jesus is the Elder and Ruler of all the works of God’s hands.

I say "having done so" because the work "has been finished since the creation of the world," and yet is in the process of being completed in spiritual and physical reality.

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’"  And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. (Hebrews 4:3)

When we discuss predestination we are not implying that some people are destined to be saved and others lost. The truth is, God wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

But the idea of the elect, the chosen, appears too often in the Bible to be ignored. We conclude from this that God’s Israel, those who are chosen to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, indeed were so appointed at the time God created the heavens and the earth. God has accomplished many purposes by bringing forth Israel, His Church of the Old and New Testaments.

This is not to say a member of the elect cannot be deceived or actually remove himself or herself from God’s purposes. The New Testament includes several severe warnings, including the whole book of Hebrews. A member of the elect will be removed from Christ if he or she does not bear the fruit of Christ’s image. Jesus stated this and no amount of hedging by today’s ministers of the Gospel is going to change what the Lord has said.

God desires that all be saved (although some will refuse to obey God), and is creating a governing priesthood who will assist every person who calls to the Lord for help, that he or she might learn the righteous ways of the Lord.

Let us think for a moment about the term "salvation."

The traditional understanding is that to be saved is to go to Heaven when we die. This interpretation of salvation is not found in either the Old Testament or the New Testament.

The primary meaning of "saved" is to not be destroyed in the Day of God’s wrath.

But what are we saved to?

We are rescued from the clutches of Satan that we might enter the plan of redemption, of salvation; that we might enter the Kingdom, the rule, of God.

God has created us that He might find joy in us. He cannot find joy in us when we bear the image of Satan in our behavior, just as a human parent cannot find joy in his or her child when the son or daughter renounces the values and ways of the parent.

We are so self-centered we view salvation as God’s way of making us happy, of bringing us to a kind of fairyland where we will have all we desire. This concept is nearly totally unscriptural.

The Divine salvation has as its purpose the removal of God’s children from union with Satan, from the image and behavior of Satan, and the bringing of them into union with God through Christ, into the image and behavior of God.

God created man in His image. Man is not in God’s image when he is finding survival and security in the world; when he is obeying the lusts and passions of his flesh and soul; or when he is acting according to his self-will instead of according to God’s guidance.

God cannot find joy in His children when they are disobedient.

Therefore God is creating a called-out people, a church, a governing priesthood, that they might be able to train the members of the nations who have asked God to save them. God’s eternal Kingdom is described in the final two chapters of the Book of Revelation, and consists of the saved nations and of God’s priests who will govern them.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21;24)

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5)

God’s servants will govern for eternity the nations of those who are saved.

We understand, therefore, when we employ the term "saved," or "salvation," we are not referring to being transported to Paradise, we are speaking of being received into eternal life in the Kingdom of God. We are signifying that the human being has been accepted into the program of deliverance from sin and self-will.

Now let us consider our opening passage:

And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him,  who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28,29)

This passage refers to God’s servants, to the members of the royal priesthood.

As we get into the study of Christ’s brothers, it may be noted that we are not adhering to the traditional doctrine of the Trinity, that is, that there are three Gods—coequal, coexistent, coeternal, and so forth. This concept definitely is not found or suggested in the Old Testament or the New Testament.

It is as the Scripture states: the Word of God, whom we now know as the Lord Jesus Christ, was with the Father from the beginning and all things were made by Him. The Word was God in the sense that the Word came forth from the Father’s Person and was (is, and ever shall be) of the Father’s Essence and Nature.

By postulating three Gods, all equal, we have warped our understanding of the Scriptures and also of the way we perceive Jesus Christ. We appear to be rendering due homage to Christ. But in fact we are defeating the plan of God to bring forth many sons, of whom Jesus is the Greatest and Lord of all.

How are we defeating the plan of God?

In industry, there may arise an instance in which one of the foremen or administrators has become a hindrance rather than an asset to the operation of the corporation. The top administrators cannot fire him because he has been with the corporation for a long time and has many friends. If he were fired there would be considerable negative repercussions throughout the business.

Instead of firing him they promote him and give him a better office. They move him into a position where he can no longer hinder the operation of the system. This is termed, "kicking him upstairs." They move him out of the way while seeming to give him a better position.

This is what the doctrine of the Trinity has done to Jesus. It has kicked Him upstairs until He no longer is approachable. He no longer is one of us. He is more than a Son of God. He is God Himself. Perhaps this is why the Catholic Church has turned to the Virgin Mary. Christ is so highly exalted no one can relate to Him. So we have Mary. We can come to her (it is imagined) and she will speak to her Son on our behalf.

This is what the doctrine of the Trinity has succeeded in doing. Now that we are approaching the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles, and are coming to experience the Father and the Son, we are hindered by the concept of the Trinity. We cannot understand the prayer of Christ where He asked the Father to make us one in Christ and the Father. Also, several other passages of the New Testament cannot be understood just as they stand in the Bible. We have to do theological gymnastics to accommodate what is written in the Scriptures to the doctrine of the Trinity.

Now, are we diminishing Christ in any manner? Not at all! Are we removing Him from His position at the right hand of the Father? Not at all!

Rather, we hope to demonstrate that God is calling up His younger sons, the brothers of the Lord, to a much higher place than we have imagined. God desires to have a company of sons, of whom the Lord Jesus is the Greatest. The idea that Christ is God in another form, or that there are three coequal Gods, works against the idea that we can be a genuine part of this Divine family. I think you can see this readily.

It is true also that Jews find it very difficult to accept the concept of three Gods. The basic tenet of Judaism is that there is one Lord, referring to God Almighty.

God is seeking joy for Himself, a family of sons whom He can love. When God has been satisfied, we having served Him to His satisfaction, then it is time for us to start thinking about joy for ourselves.

Getting back to the idea of not pulling Christ down from His appointed place, I have had some very brief visions, or awarenesses as you will, of Christ the King. On one occasion the King was walking away from me surrounded by His lords and counselors, the princes of Judah. The majesty, the authority, the grandeur, the glory and power of the King and His entourage, were beyond description.

On another occasion I saw the Lord as though He were seated on a great throne in outer space. He was the size of a galaxy, giving rise to my expression: "the galactic Christ."

No, we are not seeking to dethrone Him whom God has made Lord and Christ. Rather, we are examining the Scripture to see what the Holy Spirit means when He says, through the Apostle Paul, that God has a purpose, and according to that purpose has predestined some people to be the brothers of Christ.

And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him,  who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28,29)

What an astonishing passage! Not only is it astonishing, it is a defining passage. It sets forth the goal of God’s working in us.

Notice nothing is said about going to Heaven!

"Called according to his purpose." The idea of called, of chosen, appears, as I have said, too many times in the Bible to be ignored.

The calling depends on God’s foreknowledge. In some manner unknown to us, God knew His elect from the beginning of the world.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

"Chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight."

"He also predestined us to be conformed."

Nothing is said about being predestined to be saved. Nothing is said about being predestined to go to Heaven.

The members of God’s royal priesthood, the brothers of the Lord Jesus, have been predestined to be conformed.

To be conformed is to be changed until we are similar to someone else.

We have been predestined to be conformed to the likeness of God’s Son: first, in inner appearance and behavior; then, in outer appearance at His return to earth.

In other words, we are to be made in God’s image—the original Divine fiat.

After we have received the blood atonement, have repented, and have been baptized in water. we still are not in the image of Christ.

After we have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and have spoken in tongues, we still are not in the image of Christ, in the image of God. Pentecostal, Charismatic people still seek survival and security in the world spirit; still yield to the lusts and passions of the soul and body, to the sinful nature; still live in their self-will instead of the Person and will of God. For the most part, we are not in God’s image. We are not bringing to God the perfect joy He is seeking.

Receiving Christ as our Savior, and being baptized in water and with the Holy Spirit, brings us to the beginning of the plan of salvation. From that point forward we are to be conformed each day to the way in which Jesus Christ thinks, speaks, and acts. This conformation to the image of Christ is, for the elect, what salvation actually is.

Now, the purpose of our being made similar to the Lord is not that we might go to Heaven when we die. The reason I repeat this fact ad nauseam is that the tradition of "being saved," meaning we go to Heaven to make our eternal home there, is carved so deeply in our minds that it may take three generations of believers before they begin to understand the plan of salvation has little to do with going to Heaven. Salvation has to do with being moved from Satan to God.

To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 25:18)

The reason we are turned from the power of Satan to God is that our sins may be forgiven and we may gain a place among those who are set aside as holy by faith in Christ. Can you see that nothing is said about going to Heaven to make our eternal residence there? The goal is to be forgiven that we may join the ranks of those who have holy fellowship with Christ and the Father.

Why are we made similar to God’s Son in our behavior? It is so Christ may be the Firstborn among many brothers.

Christ was not created by God, He was born of God. It is true also that the members of God’s elect are not created by God, they are born of God in their inward nature. The new creation in us has actually been born of God. Otherwise we would not be true brothers of Christ.

A father may create a piece of furniture. This is not the same thing as giving birth to a son. The furniture can never be part of the father no matter how much work he puts into forming it.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— Children born not of natural descent,  nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12,13)

We genuinely have been born of God just as Christ has been born of God. Christ is the First of many brothers to be born of God.

Does Jesus Christ remain Lord of all? Indeed He does. Are we diminishing His glory and authority? Not at all! We merely are teaching what the Scripture states clearly. We have a higher destiny than we may have imagined!

But are we really born of God? Yes, in our inward nature we really are born of God. Our body will be redeemed by adoption if we sow to the Holy Spirit during our lifetime. But the inner man has truly been born of the Divine Seed. Otherwise we would not truly be Christ’s brothers. To be Christ’s brothers we have to have the same Father.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (I Peter 1:23)

Perhaps the clearest exposition of what man is, in particular man as the brother of Jesus Christ, is found in the second chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. (Hebrews 2:6-8)

According to the eternal Scriptures, God has put all the works of His hands under the feet of man. The reason the Lord Jesus has authority over all the works of God is that He is Man, not because He is God. The Scripture cannot be broken in any manner.

When the Bible speaks of man having dominion over all things it is not referring to the children of Adam. They are only a prototype of man. The first Man to be born on the earth is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Next in line will be those who are formed in His image.

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:10,11)

Notice, in the above passage, that everything exists for God. One would think, from current preaching in America, that everything exists for us. It is not so. All we think about is how happy we will be when we get to Heaven. How much time do we spend thinking about how happy God will be when we behave like His Son; and how unhappy God is when we do not behave like His Son?

I think we just want to go to Heaven, whether or not God is pleased with us; whether or not we abide in Christ’s love; whether or not we are removed from the Vine. Nothing matters as long as we are "saved"!

The Bible does not support this viewpoint. According to the Bible, everything exists for God’s joy and pleasure, not for our joy and pleasure.

Jesus Christ is the Author of our salvation. Even though all of the universe was created by Him and for Him, and through Him all things consist, yet He had to suffer in order to learn obedience to the Father. This fact alone does away with the doctrine of the Trinity.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)

Back to the previous passage:

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:10,11)

Christ and we are of the same family. We have been born of woman, then have been born again of God, and one day will be declared to be a son of God on the basis of being raised from the dead. Therefore Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers.

How utterly marvelous!

I think the Scripture lifts us to the place where we are genuine brothers of the Lord, and at the same time exalts Christ as the One in whom dwells all the Fullness of the Father.

The Bible certainly makes a distinction between Christ and the Father. Christ always is the obedient Son of God, and our perfect Example. If Christ were one of three Gods, or one of three Expressions of the one God, He could not be our example. We never would truly be His brothers. He always would be different in kind from us. In this instance, we never could really be members of the Bride of the Lamb. In God’s economy, like always marries like. God does not approve of mixtures.

I think the Scriptures will bear out that once we have been born of God, Christ is not different in kind from us. He certainly is exalted above us in majesty and authority; He was from the beginning and created all things; God has made Him Lord and Christ. But He is not different in kind. If He is, then the second chapter of the Book of Hebrews does not mean what it is stating.

We are not bringing Christ down. We are bringing the other sons of God up to the Throne, where they are seated with Christ in the heavenlies.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6)

Now let’s think about some of the passages that tend to modify the doctrine of the Trinity.

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." (John 20:17)

I don’t know about you, but I sense a joy and jubilation in the words of the Lord. To me He seems delighted that there now are brothers who share with Him the same Father and the same God.

Does it strike you this way? Do you get the same sense of jubilation?

A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:39)

Could we ever be like our Teacher? Not in our adamic nature! It would be like trying to teach a horse to play the pipe organ.

But if J. S. Bach came to full stature in the horse, and then the horse was clothed in a body like Bach, would the horse not be able to perform excellently—and even compose—on the pipe organ?

If we ever wondered if Christ and the Father were the same Person, or if Christ is coequal with the Father, the prayer of Christ in Gethsemane puts an end to our speculation.

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)

If Christ and the Father are two forms of the same Person, or if Christ is coequal with the Father, then the prayer in Gethsemane is a sham. A reasonably intelligent person whose perception had not been biased by Christian theology would interpret this prayer to mean the Lesser was petitioning the Greater.

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)

This statement of the Lord’s implies that the Father and the Son are two different Persons.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

Two different persons.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, From whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. (Ephesians 3:14,15)

There is a family of God. The family comprises elect Jews and elect Gentiles. They together are one new Man in Christ.

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)

The above verse brings insight into the relationship of the Son to the Father.

First, we see that remaining in Christ’s love is conditional. If we are to remain in His love we are required to keep His commands.

Second, we see that if Christ is to remain in His Father’s love He must keep His Father’s commands. This statement makes Christ much more approachable to us.

A similar concept is presented as follows:

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

To sit on His Father’s Throne, Christ had to overcome the temptations of Satan. Christ was tempted in all areas in which we are tempted; yet without sin.

To sit with Christ on His Throne we also have to overcome the temptations of Satan. This gives us a sense of comradeship with the Lord Jesus. Don’t you think so?

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)

What a privilege to be a friend of Him who created the worlds!

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Our elder Brother always is beseeching the Father on our behalf that we might arrive at the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)

The Father has made the Lord Jesus, Lord and Christ. The Father is making us His brothers. And God has the power to do this!

Let us state once again that we are not pulling Christ down to the adamic level. Rather we are pointing out what God has stated concerning those whom He has chosen from the beginning of the world to be made like Christ, to be His brothers.

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zechariah 12:10)

I think we Gentiles would do well to remember that Christ’s brothers are Jews, first of all. We Gentiles have been added to what basically is a Jewish elect. Do we realize the first Christian church comprised several thousand orthodox Jews, all zealously keeping the Law of Moses?

It is difficult for a Jew to believe God would have anything to do with a Gentile. The Bible was written by Jews for Jews. The Kingdom of God is a Jewish kingdom and Jerusalem will be the capital city.

We Gentiles need to appreciate this and be thankful that God in His mercy has elected some of us to stand alongside the princes of Judah.

The Lord’s brothers are Jewish. We Gentiles have been invited to share in the children’s bread. Let us be thankful and not proud and boastful as though there were such a thing as a Gentile olive tree.

The following is a prayer to God on behalf of His elect, the Jews.

For they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace. May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. (I Kings 8:51,52)

God’s choosing of the Jews has never been altered, as we notice in the new Jerusalem that comes down through the new sky to rest forever on the new earth as the eternal capital city.

But we Gentiles have been given a place also in God’s eternal habitation.

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, (Ephesians 2:18,19)

Seeing that the God of Heaven has chosen us to be among the brothers of the Lord Jesus, let us not stagger at the promise of God but be strong in faith, like our father, Abraham, giving glory to God, being firmly and fully persuaded what God has promised, God is able to do.