The Developing Christian Life and the Promises of God
â€śStudy to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truthâ€ť (2 Tim. 2:15).
One of the important pieces of knowledge for the Christian is to have a proper understanding of the order of things. Much mischief has been wrought by teachers who produce in the minds of people a hopeless jumble as to an understanding of the Word of God. Many believers, therefore, have a general sense that they are Christians, but are nearly devoid of specific knowledge as to the way of salvation, the developing Christian life and the promises of God for the future. Some, in both the pulpit and the pew, therefore reflect the warning of the Apostle Paul who said, â€śWho concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of someâ€ť (2 Tim. 2:18). He was speaking, of course, about false teachers and vulnerable saints.
Paul gave us this description of some immediately after he had said, â€śStudy to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truthâ€ť (2 Tim. 2:15). Paul even expanded on this by saying, â€śBut shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase to more ungodlinessâ€ť (2 Tim. 2:16). As a result of this spiritual confusion, there were those who fell into error, particularly concerning the resurrection. They said that the resurrection was passed already. Can we learn something from this for our time? Are there those within the Christian cause who also say that the promised resurrection has already happened, it is passed already?
To answer this, let us consider what happens on the occasion of the resurrection. Paul is referring, of course, to what is called in Scripture, â€śThe first resurrection.â€ť The first resurrection consists of a number of stages, one of which we call â€śthe Rapture of the Church.â€ť On that occasion, Paul says, â€śthe dead in Christ shall rise firstâ€ť (1 Thess. 4:16). There are a number of things that will happen in connection with this resurrection. One is that we will receive a glorified body. Speaking of Jesus Christ, the Scripture says, â€śWho shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to His glorious bodyâ€ť (Phil. 3:21). About this, Paul says, â€śWe shall all be changedâ€ť (1 Cor. 15:51).
The resurrection, therefore, means that we will be in a model of existence, a glorified body that is no longer subject to pain, disease, sickness or death. What a wonderful condition that will be! However, out of this promise goes one of the errors in our churches today.
We have in our world those who say that the Christian even now should never be subject to pain, sickness or death. They are in effect saying that the resurrection is passed already and the post-resurrection conditions apply to us today. They are overthrowing the faith of some. We should beware of a second error that comes from this untimely view of the resurrection. Following the resurrection, the Bible additionally says that we, the saints, shall live and reign with Christ (Rev. 20:4). We will be imbued with kingdom authority when we live in our glorified bodies. With this in mind, let us note regretfully that there is a strong â€śkingdom nowâ€ť theology running in the Church of our time. It promises kingdom authority to those who are Christians. They are then promised that they can heal the sick, raise the dead, and cure any disease. How sad that this theology, alleging that the resurrection has passed already, should be believed by so many undiscerning Christians. There is a third error that grows out of this as well.
Following the first resurrection will also come to pass on earth a condition in which the Devil is bound and prevented from doing his dreadful work in the world (Rev. 20:2). Until then, Satan will be most active. However, even in our time there are those who say that they can bind Satan with their prayers and render his activity virtually nonexistent. With this groundless presumption, they forget to â€śbe sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devourâ€ť (1 Pet. 5:8). To think that satanic activity can be neutralized with our present â€śauthorityâ€ť is grossly presumptuous. The capabilities of the kingdom are not yet. Godâ€™s great gift to us is not kingdom authority, it is a lovely provision called, â€śsufficient graceâ€ť (2 Cor. 12:9).
What is the problem in all of this? The problem is the failure to distinguish between salvation of the soul and salvation of the body. The soul is saved the instant I believe in the Gospel of Christ. In a soulish sense, I become a new creature and old things are passed away.
This is not, however, true about the body. Paul says, â€śThe creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. . . waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our bodyâ€ť (Rom. 8:21-23).
So, we see that we Christians are waiting for the adoption, we are anticipating the coming resurrection. Because this has not yet taken place, we are saved by hope, by patience, by anticipation in these constricting days. In these days before the redemption of the body, we must, therefore, walk by faith and not by sight. There is, however, coming a glorious day, the day of the adoption, the resurrection of the body. In the light of that day, we can live these days with bright anticipation.
Be a Good Soldier for Christ
The Word of God clearly teaches that the battle for the world is one in which Jesus Christ is the great Captain! He calls each of us to be good soldiers. The Scripture says, â€śYou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that goes to war entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldierâ€ť (2 Tim. 2:3-4). This position as a warrior in the great spiritual battle is expanded on by Paul when he says, â€śFinally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against THE WILES OF THE DEVIL. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to standâ€ť (Eph. 6:10-13).
The Christian therefore has the responsibility and the opportunity of being involved in THE GREAT BATTLEindeed he is called to this mission in life. The call of God is not without His abundant provision for protection, victory and spiritual conquest. We see the provision well presented: â€śStand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of Godâ€ť (Eph. 6:14-17).
We live in a day in which the soldierly calling of the Christian life is unfortunately emphasized but little. Many programs which are a part of current Christian activity are lessons in fulfillment, realization, happiness, tourism, weight loss and many other things that may well be an incidental part of the Christian life. The ultimate dedication of the Christian, however, must be to the battle.
From the writings of Dave Breese
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