Lesson 25: The Foundation of Edification – Education | Biblical Foundations for Living

Why am I here? I am here to worship God, serve His children, and reach the lost.

Introduction to the Objectives of the Church

We learned in Lessons Twenty Two through Twenty Four that the believer is part of the body of Christ, that this body is composed of local assemblies, and that the purpose of these local assemblies is to bring glory to God through the ministry of His Word.

Having determined the purpose of the church, we can now move on to address its objectives and how to accomplish them. In other words, having answered the “why” question, we are ready to answer the “what” and the “how” questions. What should a local church be doing and how should it be doing it? The Great Commission answers the “what” question by giving three objectives for the church: edification, evangelism, and expansion. The New Testament epistles answer the “how” question by giving detailed descriptions of how to meet each of these objectives. This second section on the doctrine of the church will focus on the objectives of the local church.

Lesson 25: The Foundation of Edification — Education

In previous lessons, we have learned that the three objectives of the local church are the spiritual growth of its members ( edification ), the salvation of the lost ( evangelization ), and the growth and management of its physical and human resources ( expansion ). Of these three, edification is primary. In order for edification to take place, there are three activities the local church should pursue. These are education , worship , and fellowship .

[Follow the flow: The purpose of the church is to glorify God through the ministry of the Word. We accomplish this purpose by means of edification, evangelism, and expansion. Edification is produced through education, worship and fellowship.]

The first of these [education] is the foundation of edification, while the other two are expressions of it. The fact that education is the foundation of edification is seen in Paul’s statement that the teaching ministry of the pastor is

to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up [edified] until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.   Ephesians 4:12 13

In this lesson, we will examine the following aspects of education in the local church:

1. Its nature [what it’s like]

2. Its goals [or purposes]

3. Its means [how it’s purposes are to be fulfilled]

4. Its students [who is to be educated]

I. The Nature of Education in the Local Church [i.e., what ed. is like]

The educational ministry of the local church involves teaching both the content and practice of biblical doctrine to successive generations.

[That is, the goal of education is to teach what the Bible says (content) and what should be done about it and how (practice).]

A. Education is the local church’s first priority .

Since the edification of believers is the primary objective of the local church, and education is the foundation of edification, one must conclude that education is the most important activity of the local church.

[Obviously, one cannot fulfill the objectives of the church until one is educated about what they are, how to fulfill them, etc. In other words, education must precede everything else. C.f. 1 Tim 2:2.]

B. Education in the local church should be Bible centered .

1. Bible centered education is comprehensive .

A local church that focuses only on selected teachings of the Bible while ignoring others is unbalanced and vulnerable to doctrinal error.

For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.   Acts 20:27

2. Bible centered education is theological .

Education is more than the memorization of facts. Though the knowledge of facts is valuable, a Bible centered education is not intended to produce Bible trivia buffs. Rather, it is intended to produce believers who can correlate biblical truths and properly apply them.

[Correlation of biblical truth is the goal of systematic theology. It seeks to discern what the overall teaching of the Bible is concerning various topics. ]

C. Education in the local church should be practical .

Many believe that doctrine is impractical. However, Paul believed just the opposite.

All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.   2 Timothy 3:16 17

Because what one believes affects what one does, doctrine is extremely important. Correct doctrine more often than not leads to correct practice.

[Someone once said, “Ideas have consequences.” This is true. Most actions stem from beliefs. In order to act right/correctly, one must understand correctly. Improper belief leads to improper practice. E.g. tongues/healing/health-and-wealth, etc.]

II. The Goals of Education in the Local Church

A. Education in the local church is designed to produce theological stability .

In Ephesians 4:13, Paul describes pastors as educators whose teaching results in the edification of the church. In the next verse, he shows that edification results in stability.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.   Ephesians 4:14

[If you understand correct doctrine, you’ll be able to spot false doctrine, and are much less likely to accept it. We should develop biblical discernment, the ability to evaluate an idea to determine whether or not it is truly biblical. ]

B. Education in the local church is designed to produce transformed thinking .

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.   Ephesians 4:22 24

When a believer is properly taught the Word of God, his thinking will be transformed [Rom 12:1-2] . As a result, he will have a discriminating mind. “Discrimination” means to make an evaluation or assessment about something. Although the word has a negative connotation in our society, appropriate discrimination is a mark of spiritual growth. It is the ability to evaluate all things in light of God’s Word.

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things.   1 Corinthians 2:15

[What have we called this kind of discrimination? A Bible-soaked logic or a biblical mindset. That is, making evaluations and decisions based on biblical principles.]

C. Education in the local church is designed to equip believers .

The teaching/learning process is not intended to be an end in itself. It ought to be the means whereby believers are prepared to serve the Lord.

It was he who gave some to be . . . pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service.   Ephesians 4:11 12

III. The Means of Education in the Local Church

A. Education in the local church is accomplished through formal instruction.

1. Formal instruction involves the authoritative presentation of biblical truth.

The teaching of the early church was authoritative. That is, the apostles’ preaching was strong, direct, and uncompromising. This style of preaching is unpopular in our society. However, the Word of God must be authoritatively preached, even if doing so is unpopular.

[Titus 2:15 – “Encourage and rebuke with all authority.”]

2. Formal instruction takes place in the assembly .

As learned previously, the word “church” means “assembly” or “congregation.” The church assembles to hear the Word of God preached, among other things.

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. – Acts 20:7

[This is one of the primary things church is all about. Since the preaching/teaching aspect of church is so important, it is vital that you attend a church where the pastor teaches the Bible correctly.]

B. Education in the local church is accomplished through informal instruction.

1. Informal instruction takes place through personal relationships.

Part of the reason that local church members are to assemble regularly is to develop relationships. Believers learn from one another by exhortation and example .

[Exhortation is verbal (preaching, classes, testimonies, etc.), example is non-verbal (others see and are influenced by your behavior). ]

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another  and all the more as you see the Day approaching.   Hebrews 10:24 25

[Most of us learn much by example. Remember that as adults are examples to you, you are examples to those younger than you.]

2. Informal instruction takes place through familial [or family] relationships.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.   Deuteronomy 6:6 7

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.   Ephesians 6:4

The educational ministry of the local church equips parents to accomplish this task.

[Strong families are the basis of strong churches. Thus it is in the church’s best interests to promote strong families.]

IV. The Students of Education in the Local Church

A. All local church members are students.

One of the synonyms for a believer in the New Testament is “disciple,” which means a learner . Learning, therefore, should be a pursuit of every believer.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.   1 Peter 2:2

[“All” includes teens. You should be serious about learning biblical truth at church. You may be indifferent/apathetic about other subjects, but you should be an avid, serious student when it comes to biblical instruction. ]

B. Suggestions for pupils

1. Attend church faithfully.

2. Read and study the Bible daily.

3. Take notes during sermons.

4. Discuss what you are learning with others.

5. Read biblically-sound literature.

6. Take advantage of teaching opportunities.

7. Take part in other biblically-sound learning opportunities, such as Bible Institute classes.

Learn to Live It

1. A fellow youth group member says, “I don’t study by myself. My youth leader is such a wonderful teacher that he gives me all I need.” Is this a healthy attitude? no

What would be some of the dangers of such an attitude?

What if the youth leader leaves? What if the youth leader is wrong? You follow him/her into error. You become dependant upon someone else to “feed” you. You cannot “feed” yourself.

What should you tell him?

that he needs to become a “self-feeder.” He shouldn’t be overly dependent upon leaders.

2. You hear a fellow youth group member say that he wishes the class would quickly finish a doctrinal study in order to move on to more “practical” issues. What false conclusion has he made?

that doctrine is not practical or that it’s unimportant

What might you tell him about the relationship between doctrine and practice?

They are inseparable–Doctrine determines practice. Incorrect practice is the result of incorrect belief. Mind (belief) directs the will (behavior). He should be concerned as much about doctrine as he is about practice.

Lesson 24: The Role of the Church as a Local Assembly | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 24: The Role of the Church as a Local Assembly

In Lesson Twenty-Three, we learned that the body of Christ is made up of all believers in this dispensation, the church age, and was established to bring glory to God through the ministry of His Word. This “invisible” body is visible through local assemblies. Of the 114 occurrences of the Greek word ekklesia in the New Testament, 99 refer to the local church. These assemblies are organizations designed to carry out the objectives of the body of Christ. Apart from the local church, these objectives cannot be accomplished properly . This lesson will focus on the organization of the local church, which includes:

[This lesson has to do with the local church, not the universal. ]

1. Administrative responsibilities

2. Leadership offices

3. Specific ordinances

4. Membership requirements

5. Biblical limitations

I. The Local Church is an Organization with Administrative Responsibilities.

The church of the first century is often viewed as being free from administrative details. This, however, was not the case.

A. The early church engaged in ministry planning .

Meetings were a necessary part of the ministry of first century churches. The book of Acts indicates that administrative meetings were held to address the following issues:

1. Acts 6 – The problem of service to widows

2. Acts 11 – The question of whether or not to accept Gentiles into the church

3. Acts 13 – The commissioning of the first missionaries

4. Acts 15 – The question of what requirements should be placed on Gentile converts

B. The early church developed procedures for implementing its plans.

The early church not only discussed what needed to be done, but also determined how to accomplish, or implement, its plans. For example, when they met to address the problem of service to the widows in the church, they solved the problem by creating the office of deacon .

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.   Acts 6:2 3 (See also Acts 15:22 30.)

C. The early church engaged in evaluation . [I.e., checking to see how everything is working and trying to make it work better.]

At the close of Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13 14), he and Barnabas returned to the Church at Antioch [the commissioning church, Acts 13:1-3] and presented the details of their ministry among the Gentiles.

On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.   Acts 14:27

The meeting of the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15 was designed to further evaluate the information presented to the Church at Antioch.

The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.   Acts 15:12

[Thus we should evaluate ourselves and our ministries periodically to see if we are hitting what we are aiming at.]

II. The Local Church is an Organization with Leadership Offices.

A. The office of pastor

1. The titles of the office

The office of pastor is described with a variety of titles, each emphasizing a different aspect of the one office.

a. He is called the pastor . [comes from “shepherd”]

This title refers to the pastor’s responsibility to care for the spiritual needs of the congregation, a responsibility he fulfills primarily through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.

b. He is called the overseer . [Gk episkopos = bishop = the boss]

This title refers to the administrative oversight that the pastor is to exercise. He is to set the agenda for the church’s ministry and lead the church in accomplishing its objectives.

[God holds the pastor especially responsible for what goes on at the church he pastors. Oversight means management. The pastor is in charge, not the deacons, the secretary, etc. That does not mean that he is free to be a tyrant, tho.]

c. He is called the elder . [Gk = presbuteros]

This title refers to the wisdom and experience of the pastor and the respect that the office should be given.

[We ought to respect the pastor. That’s one of the reasons we don’t call him by his first name. 1 Thes 5:12-13 tell us to avoid young, inexperienced pastors. ]

Paul’s address to the pastors at Ephesus contains all three ideas.

From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them, “. . . Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.   Acts 20:17-28 (See also 1 Peter 5:1-2.)

[The three terms, pastor, elder, and overseer, are synonymous, referring to the same office. The episcopal form of church government sets up a bishop over local pastors. ]

2. The qualifications for the office

The qualifications for the pastor are listed in 1 Timothy 3. This list gives both personal and professional qualifications.

[Personal — inner qualities, characteristics, “character.” Professional — abilities pertaining to the duties of pastor.]

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.   1 Timothy 3:2 7

[Note that there’s nothing here about being funny, a dynamic speaker, a “people person,” etc. Those qualities are nice but not primary and really not necessary.]

3. The responsibilities of the office

a. The pastor is responsible to teach and preach the Word of God.

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.   1 Timothy 4:13

[The public reading was important because many couldn’t read and most did not own a copy of the Bible. Often the pastor was the most educated person in the community. ]

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage  with great patience and careful instruction.   2 Timothy 4:2

[This is the primary task of the preacher. This is so because the rest of his duties depend on this one.]

b. The pastor is responsible to equip the congregation for ministry.

It was [Christ] who gave some to be . . . pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.   Ephesians 4:11 12

c. The pastor is responsible to govern the congregation.

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who [govern] you in the Lord and who admonish you.   1 Thessalonians 5:12

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor.   1 Timothy 5:17

[Because of these responsibilities, the pastor has a great deal of authority. He’s the one in charge. The deacons don’t run the church; the pastor(s) does.]

B. The office of deacon

1. The title of the office

The word “deacon” simply means servant . The Scriptures use the word in a general sense for anyone who serves another and in a specific sense for the local church office of deacon.

2. The qualifications for the office

1 Timothy 3 lists qualifications for the office of deacon similar to those given for the office of pastor.

Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.   1 Timothy 3:8 10, 12

Note: The personal qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3 are not special qualities found only in pastors and deacons. They are marks of mature believers. Therefore, all believers should be striving after them.

3. The responsibilities of the office

Unlike the office of pastor, the Bible does not clearly spell out the responsibilities of the deacon. Therefore, they must be derived from the title of the office and the example of the first deacons. In Acts 6, the first deacons were selected to minister to the congregation in order to free the pastoral staff to focus on more important matters.

We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.   Acts 6:3 4

[Biblically, deacons are not in a position of authority; however, authority may be delegated to them. The primary task of deacons is to serve.]

III. The Local Church is an Organization with Specific Ordinances.

A. The nature of an ordinance

1. An ordinance is not a sacrament .

Sacraments are intended to provide saving grace. However, if grace was linked to any work or ritual, it would cease to be grace. [C.f. Rom 11:6]

[An ordinance is a rite or ritual that the church is responsible to administrate. Such ordinances are important and meaningful, but they have no saving value. The word “sacrament” suggests a means of grace or a work that saves. Since we are not saved by works, we avoid sacramental language.]

2. An ordinance is a symbol .

When Christ gave the ordinances, He intended them to serve as reminders of the spiritual truths which they portray.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “this cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”   1 Corinthians 11:23 25

[A symbol is representative, designed to bring to memory the thing represented. ]

B. The ordinances of the local church

1. The ordinance of baptism

a. The method of baptism is immersion .

The Greek word which is translated “baptize” literally means “to immerse” or “to submerge.” Every instance of baptism in Scripture is by immersion.

Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, . . . .   Acts 8:38 39

[So when a baby is “baptized” by sprinkling, he is really not baptized.]

b. The purpose of baptism is identification .

Baptism is to be carried out in the “name” of the triune God. The significance of the “name” is that of identification. The one being baptized is visibly picturing his identification with the triune God through Christ.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.   Matthew 28:19

[Baptism publicly identifies one as a follower of Christ. It says of the one baptized, “I am a disciple of Christ.”]

2. The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper

a. It is a reminder of the cross work of Christ.

[By “cross work,” we mean all that Christ accomplished by his death on the cross for us.]

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.   1 Corinthians 11:26

b. It is a time of self examination .

A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.   1 Corinthians 11:28

C. The authority for the ordinances

The authority for the carrying out of the ordinances lies with the local church .

[That is, not just anybody can legitimately go out and start baptizing people or serving the Lord’s Supper. E.g., baptisms at camp, Lord’s supper of potato chips and pop, serving communion in a hospital, etc. are not valid. They have to be done in the right way and in the context of the church.]

1. The command to observe the ordinances was given to the apostles (Matthew 26:26-29 and 28:16-20).

The apostles were given the task of laying the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20).

2. The ordinances were practiced in the context of the local church.

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.   Acts 2:41-42

[Christ ? apostles ? church ]

3. The early church was responsible to correct improper observance of the ordinances (1 Corinthians 11:17 34).

IV. The Local Church is an Organization with Membership Requirements.

The early church believed in the importance of church membership. The New Testament knows nothing of believers who are not members of a local church. The book of Acts speaks of believers being added to the church through baptism. Even more clearly, there are examples of people being removed from the church by action of the local assembly (Matthew 18:15 17 and 1 Corinthians 5). One cannot be removed from a church unless he is a member of that church.

Requirements for church membership include the following:

A. Church members are saved .

Only those who are saved may become members of a local church. This was the practice of the church from the beginning.

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.   Acts 2:47

B. Church members are baptized by immersion .

On the Day of Pentecost, three thousand people responded in faith to the message preached by Peter. All three thousand were baptized shortly thereafter.

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.   Acts 2:41

Therefore, church membership and believer’s baptism should not be separated. One becomes a member of a local church through baptism.

[The biblical pattern is always being saved, then baptized and added to the church. Believers who refuse baptism are out of order. ]

C. Church members are living obediently .

The early church practiced church discipline. Those members who persisted in sin were to be dismissed from the assembly. Thus, in order to remain a member of a local church, one must live obediently.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? “Expel the wicked man from among you.” – 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 13

V. The Local Church is an Organization with Biblical Limitations.

Local churches are engaged in a great variety of activities. Some are appropriate and some are not. What limitations can be applied to help identify appropriate activities for the church? An understanding of why the church exists and what it is to do will help determine how it should minister.

A. The local church is limited to the objectives of the Great Commission .

Lesson Twenty Three identified the objectives of the church as presented in the Great Commission. They are:

1. Edification

Edification is the process of building up the believer’s life on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

2. Evangelism

Evangelism is the effort to see people saved, baptized, and become active members of a local church.

[Evangelism does not stop short at one’s profession of faith. It extends to baptism and spiritual growth. The church should strive to win people to Christ, baptize them, and encourage them to grow as Christians. ]

3. Expansion

Expansion is the growth and management of the church’s physical and human resources. This is necessary for ongoing edification and evangelism.

Note: All the activities of the local church must be consistent with these objectives. Any activity, however beneficial, which is not consistent with these objectives should be avoided.

B. The local church is limited by the purpose of the body of Christ.

We learned in Lesson Twenty Two that the purpose of the body of Christ is to glorify God through the ministry of His Word. The application of this purpose will limit the activities of the church in two ways.

1. The activities of the church must reflect the character of God.

To “glorify” God means to demonstrate or make known His character. When this purpose is consciously pursued, the methods of church ministry will be evaluated in light of God’s holy character. Consequently, church is no place for frivolous or worldly activities.

[The church building may be used for lots of different events. But when it comes to the worship service, it should be characterized by holiness and reverence and awe. ]

2. The activities of the church will center around the Word of God .

Every function of the church must provide either a means to proclaim the Word or a means to obey the Word.

Learning to Live It

1. A friend of yours tells you that there are three churches that he really likes and that he has decided to attend one on Sunday morning, the second on Sunday evening, and the third on Wednesday evening. How does your friend view the concept of church membership?

not very seriously. If he sees it as optional, he misunderstands.

What might you tell your friend to convince him that he needs to be faithful to one church?

The New Testament underscores the need to become a member of a local church, and membership implies commitment.

2. One Sunday afternoon, your little brother wonders why the family has to go to the business meeting at church that night. What “words of wisdom” might you give him?

Business meetings are a necessary part of local church ministry and help a church function more effectively and efficiently. All members should attend. All members should be concerned about how the church is spending money, what they plan to do, who they support, etc. You could say that those 4 meetings in Acts discussed earlier were business meetings. NOTE: Even teens who are members should stay for business meetings.

Lesson 23: The Role of the Church as the Body of Christ | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 23: The Role of the Church as the Body of Christ

The Greek word ekklesia, meaning “church,” is used in two ways in the New Testament. It is most often used to describe local assemblies of believers.

[This is the vast majority of uses. Only a few don’t fit this category.]

It is also used in a collective sense to describe all believers in this age. A common phrase for this second use of the word is “the body of Christ .” The body of Christ is composed of all believers in this dispensation, the church age.

[For “body of Christ” c.f. Eph 1:22-23, 5:23. While we do believe in the universal church, we also believe in the primacy of the local church. According to the NT pattern, every believer should be an active part of a local church. There is no such thing as a “free floating” Christian. All ministry should be carried out under the auspices of a local church.]

In this lesson, we will study the following aspects of the body of Christ:

1. The time of the body of Christ

2. The scope [or extent] of the body of Christ

3. The equipping of the body of Christ

I. The Time of the Body of Christ: It is Limited to the Church Age.

One approach to biblical interpretation sees no significant difference between the Old Testament nation of Israel and the New Testament church.

[This is called Covenant Theology. They emphasize a couple of covenants (works, grace), but make no real distinction between OT Israel and the NT church. We believe in Dispensational Theology, which makes a clear distinction between the two.]

According to this approach, Israel is viewed as “the church in the Old Testament,” and the church as “the new Israel.” The Bible, however, consistently views the church as separate from Israel.

A. The church is separate from Israel because of its origin .

1. The origin of Israel

The nation of Israel began when the Lord singled out Abram (later renamed Abraham) and his descendants in order to bless them. God’s call of Abram established the racial identity of Israel.

[By racial we mean ethnic. That is, the Jews are a racial group. Being Jewish for many is more than just a religion; it’s their race.]

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.”   Genesis 12:1 2

The Lord later organized the descendants of Abraham into a nation. This took place at Mount Sinai with the giving of the Law through Moses. It was this Law that established the political identity of Israel.

[The Jews became the Israelite nation at Mt. Sinai. The Law was like their constitution–it governed almost every aspect of life. There was no “church-state” separation. Sins were transgressions against the state. Also, the word “Israel” in the Bible normally means ethnic, national Israel.]

2. The origin of the church

As learned in Lesson Twenty Two, the church began on the Day of Pentecost . Unlike Israel, the church is neither racial nor political in nature–it crosses all racial and political boundaries. [C.f. Gal 3:28]

B. The church is distinct from Israel because of its objectives . [I.e., it’s goals, purposes]

1. The objectives of Israel

God’s objectives for Israel were primarily national and political .

You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.   Exodus 19:6 (See also Deuteronomy 7:6 and 26:19.)

2. The objectives of the church

God’s objectives for the church are primarily personal and spiritual .

Instead of an emphasis on national identity, the church is described as a group of people with heavenly citizenship.

But our citizenship is in heaven.   Philippians 3:20

[Beware of something called “Christian Reconstructionism.” They seek to impose the OT moral code on civil government. Not that gov’t couldn’t use reconstructing. But the Laws of Israel applied to Israel as a nation. Further, the Law was a unit. You can’t pull out parts you like and forget the rest.]

C. The church is distinct from Israel because of its destiny .

1. The destiny of Israel

Israel is destined to become the head of the nations during the millennial kingdom. This position of preeminence among the nations will be the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham and David.

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.   Genesis 17:7 8

The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.   2 Samuel 7:11 12, 16

2. The destiny of the church

The church will participate in the millennial kingdom, but will perform a different function than Israel. The church is destined to reign with Christ in the kingdom as His co regent .

[The church will have a position above OT believers. Church saints will rule/reign with Christ during the mill. OT believers will not do this.]

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

Note: When the Bible refers to “the kingdom of God,” “the kingdom of heaven,” etc., it is referring to the future, earthly reign of Christ, not the present rule of Christ in the hearts of believers.

II. The Scope of the Body of Christ: It is Universal.

The body of Christ is sometimes called the universal or invisible church. A few theologians deny the reality of the universal or invisible church, believing that every reference to the church in the New Testament refers to a local assembly. Although it is true that most uses of ekklesia in the New Testament refer to local churches, there are a few occurrences of the word that cannot be limited to a local assembly.

[Or to the church in general, as an institution.]

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.   Ephesians 1:22 23 (See also Colossians 1:18, 24.)

A. It is universal because of its composition .

As previously learned, all believers in this age are united with Christ because of Spirit baptism [1 Cor 12:13] . This means that Christ’s body, the church, is composed of every believer. The New Testament uses many images to describe the relationship between Christ and the believer. These descriptions also demonstrate the universal scope of the body.

1. The church is a body , of which Christ is the head .

And he is the head of the body, the church.   Colossians 1:18

2. The church is a building , of which Christ is the cornerstone .

[You are] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.   Ephesians 2:20 21

3. The church is a bride , of whom Christ is the groom .

For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.   Revelation 19:7

4. The church is a flock , of which Christ is the shepherd .

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers . . . being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.   1 Peter 5:2 4

5. The church is the branches , of which Christ is the vine .

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.   John 15:5

B. It is universal because of its objectives .

The objectives of the church are given in the Great Commission .

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”   Matthew 28:18 20

This commission gives three objectives for the church:

1. Edification of the saved (“teaching,” verse 20)

2. Evangelization of the lost (“make disciples,” verse 19)

3. Expansion throughout the world (“all nations,” verse 19)

Note: Though these are universal objectives, they are to be carried out through local churches. This topic will be dealt with more fully in future lessons.

III. The Equipping of the Body of Christ: It is Equipped for Ministry.

A. The church is equipped for ministry because of its message .

Being the recipient of God’s revelation in its entirety, the New Testament church has all it needs to meet all of its objectives.

All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

[Unlike previous dispensations, in the church age believers have the whole revelation. More information means more responsibility.]

B. The church is equipped for ministry because of its membership .

God in His sovereignty has formed a body of believers, each one of whom has individual abilities . Thus, each member of the body of Christ complements the other members, enabling the body to function efficiently.

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.   Romans 12:4 5

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.   1 Peter 4:10 11

Note: It is important to remember that the function of these various members is legitimate only through the context of local churches .

Learning to Live It

1. Some theologians claim that the church began in the Old Testament. Is this the case? no

Why or why not?

The church did not begin until the Day of Pentecost in the New Testament (Acts 2).

2. Many Christian leaders have recently advocated the idea that the church is obligated to be politically active. Is political activism one of the objectives of the church? no

Should churches be involved in the political process?

no, not as churches. The leadership of churches can and should inform their people and urge them to be active, but the church as an organization has different goals/purposes than political activism.

Should individual Christians?

yes, by virtue of their being citizens Christians ought to be good citizens. They should vote, be informed, lobby, etc.

Lesson 22: The Place of the Church in History | Biblical Foundations for Living

Why am I here? I am here to bring glory to God through the ministry of His Word.

Introduction to the Purpose of the Church

The church of Jesus Christ has been adversely affected by the values of the culture in which it exists. As a result, many local churches barely resemble the pattern for the church Christ and the apostles established in the New Testament. Though most believers are part of a local church, few understand its true nature. Many view the church as a welfare organization, an entertainment center, or a social club. With such confusion among God’s people, it is no wonder the world considers the church irrelevant. As long as believers are in such a confused state, they cannot correctly answer the question, “Why am I here?” The believer’s purpose in life is inseparably linked to the purpose of the church. Therefore, Christians must embrace a biblical philosophy of the church. This study of the doctrine of the church (or Ecclesiology) will present such a philosophy, beginning with the purpose of the New Testament church.

Lesson 22: The Place of the Church in History

God has revealed information about Himself to mankind throughout history. This information is contained in the Bible. In the present age, God is using the church as the means of proclaiming His revelation to man. Lessons Twenty Two through Twenty Four will examine the purpose of the church, beginning with this foundational lesson focusing on:

1. The nature of history

2. The development of history

3. The present age of history

I. The Nature of History

A. History has a definite plan .

Some teach that history is the product of chance , that is, things just happen without explanation or reason. Such thinking often leads to pessimism and a sense of meaninglessness .

[Why would this be true? Nothing would really make any difference. If everything was mere chance and random circumstances, then there would be no real meaning to anything. This would lead to a very dismal, depressed attitude.]

The Bible, however, presents a very different view of history.

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.   Isaiah 46:9 11

From this passage we see that:

  1. History is already established in the mind of God.

[God knows all things at once. There is no “future” with God–He is timeless. Thus, events which have not yet occurred are sure to do so exactly as God has planned them to occur.]

  1. History is the outworking of God’s plan.

[Events occur because they are part of God’s plan. Everything that happens, down to the most mundane, minute detail is part of that plan. Cf. Eph 1:11.]

B. History has an ultimate goal: the kingdom of Christ.

[That is, history will culminate/conclude with the Millennial reign of Christ. That is the goal toward which history is moving.]

Some religious groups believe that history is cyclical. That is, they believe that the same historical patterns repeat themselves over and over in unending cycles. Such thinking denies that there is a goal to be reached in human history. The biblical view of history, however, is linear. These two views can be visualized as follows:

lesson22-linear-view-cyclical-view

1. Historical events are moving in a planned and orderly fashion toward an established goal.

And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment  to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.   Ephesians 1:9 10

2. The goal of history is the kingdom of Christ .

When Christ came the first time, He proclaimed a kingdom message. He presented Himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies regarding the perfect prophet, priest, and king. That message was rejected by the Jews in keeping with God’s plan. Even at His Ascension, the disciples still expected Christ to set-up His kingdom (Acts 1:6). Christ will do so when He comes again.

C. History has a singular purpose : the glory of God.

Some hold a linear view of history that is not biblical. They depart from the biblical view when it comes to purpose . All inferior explanations of history suffer from the same flaw–they have a man centered purpose for all things. A biblical view of history is always God centered in its purpose. Theologians call this the doxological view of history (from the Greek word doxa, meaning “ glory “). This is the belief that God works in history to make His character known to His creatures so that He will receive their praise .

1. The universe is to bring glory to God.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.   Romans 11:36

2. All activities of men are to bring glory to God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.   1 Corinthians 10:31

3. The work of salvation is to bring glory to God.

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.   Ephesians 1:5 6 (See also Ephesians 1:11-12.)

Note: Some might argue that God’s desire to be glorified is selfish and, thus, improper. However, God, unlike us, is infinitely worthy of such praise. Because He is worthy, God’s justice demands that He seek His own glory.

[Remember that justice demands that good be rewarded. Since there is no higher thing to seek, God seeks his own glory. ]

In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”   Revelation 5:12

[What is the “glory of God”? Basically, it is the sum total of God’s attributes. Since there is no higher good than God Himself, God can seek nothing higher than His own glory. For Him to seek anything else would be wrong.]

II. The Development of History

God has used different means to accomplish His plan. These differing means are known as “ dispensations .” A dispensation is a stewardship arrangement . The biblical word contains the idea of administration or management .

[A steward is a manager, like Joseph was in Potiphar’s house. A dispensation is a description of how God dealt with people at different stages. For example, God dealt with Adam and Eve differently than He did with Abraham, and God dealt with King David differently than He does with us. There are different requirements and different blessings based on what dispensation you are talking about.]

The features of a stewardship arrangement are illustrated in a parable that Christ told in Luke 12:42 48: [read text]

• It is an arrangement between two parties .

• The steward is given responsibilities .

• The steward is held accountable .

Changes can be made in the arrangement.

A. The relationship between God’s revelation and the dispensations

1. God’s will has been revealed progressively .

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.   Hebrews 1:1

God’s will for mankind (His Word) was not revealed all at once. Instead, He revealed it little by little throughout history. This fact accounts for the diversity of human responsibilities given by God throughout time. For example, the nation of Israel worshiped differently than Adam and Eve did; believers today worship differently than Israel did.

[Dispensationalism is really based upon the idea of progressive revelation. God revealed very little to Adam and Eve, and thus their level of knowledge and level of responsibility was much different than today. Each dispensation is characterized by new/additional revelation.]

2. God’s revealed will has contained both eternal principles and temporary programs.

For example, the principle of capital punishment was taught early in human history and was repeated in later dispensations (compare Genesis 9:6 with Romans 13:4). It is, therefore, a continuing principle. On the other hand, animal sacrifices were intended to be temporary.

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming  not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.   Hebrews 10:1 2

[Thus an idea or principle from one dispensation, like capital punishment (Gen 9:6) or the need for civil government, carries forward into the next dispensations. This is why the OT is valuable today even tho much of it does not apply directly to us. Other principles, like the dietary laws, were temporary and for a certain group of people.]

  1. The various dispensations

Dispensationalists generally see seven distinct dispensations in the Bible based upon significant new revelation from God that changes or adds to man’s responsibility. Since the revelation in each dispensation builds upon previous revelation, the relationship between the dispensations can be visualized as follows:

lesson22-dispensational-staircase

III. The Present Age of History

Paul referred to the present age as the age of “ grace ” (Ephesians 3:2). It is also known as the “ church age.”

[The church is God’s program for today. All ministry should be centered around the church. The life of the believer is closely linked to the church. Church should be a very important part of your life. Also, the fact that this is the age of grace does not imply that no grace was available previous to this. But c.f. John 1:17.]

A. The meaning of “church”

1. Generally speaking, the word “church” referred to a “ called out body ” or an “ assembly .”

2. Technically speaking, the New Testament applied the word to believers in this age.

a. It can refer to all believers (the universal church).

[You may hear of it called the “catholic” (with a little “c”) church. This is not the Roman Catholic Church. The word “catholic” simply means “universal.” This is how it’s used in some of the creeds and confessions. The universal church is also called the body of Christ or the invisible church.]

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body  whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free  and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.   1 Corinthians 12:13

We will study the universal church in Lesson Twenty Three.

b. It can refer to a local assembly of believers (the local church).

To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ  their Lord and ours.   1 Corinthians 1:2

We will study the local church in Lesson Twenty Four.

[It’s interesting to note that some people deny the existence of the universal church. They say that all references to the church in the NT refer either to a specific local church or to the local church generically or as an institution (e.g., “the American home”). This view is known as “local only.” One problem with this view is that there are a few references and/or implications of references that indicate that all believers are part of the “body of Christ” and thus of the universal church. Another problem is that if you are not a member of a local church, you are not a part of the Body of Christ.]

B. The time of the church

The concept of the church and the teachings regarding it are unique to this age.

1. The church was not revealed in the Old Testament.

Paul indicates that the church was a concept unknown to the Old Testament prophets, but later revealed and explained through the New Testament apostles. Because it was previously unknown, Paul called it a mystery .

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.   Ephesians 3:4 6

[Note that a “mystery” in the NT is not something spooky or mystical. It is simply something not yet revealed. God did not reveal the idea that Jews and Gentiles would be part of the same organization (the church) in the OT.]

It is important to note that the church is distinct from Israel . It is a new entity created to proclaim a new message, the gospel.

[Those who see little or no distinction between OT Israel and the NT church endorse what is called “covenant” theology. We endorse “dispensational” theology.]

2. The church began on the Day of Pentecost .

“But in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 1:5

According to 1 Corinthians 12:13, one becomes a member of the church by being baptized by the Holy Spirit. The initial instance of Holy Spirit baptism took place on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

The fact that the church began at this time underscores the truth that the church is not Israel. Christ initiated the church; it is unique to this age; it has unique objectives as outlined in Matthew 28:19 20 and Acts 1:8.

C. The purpose of the church

We have already learned that the purpose of history is to glorify God. The purpose of the church is the same.

To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.   Ephesians 3:21

How does the church glorify God?

1. The church glorifies God as the guardian of truth .

If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.   1 Timothy 3:15

The church guards the truth through careful exposition of God’s Word and consistent exposure of falsehood.

[An elder] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.   Titus 1:9

2. The church glorifies God by fulfilling its mission to pass on the truth to future generations .

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.   2 Timothy 2:2

Observe the progression of thought in this verse:

paul-timothy-reliable-men

The fulfillment of this mission demands that doctrine be the focal point of all church ministry.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage  with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.   2 Timothy 4:2 3

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. History has a definite plan, an ultimate goal (Christ’s kingdom), and a singular purpose (God’s glory).

2. God has accomplished His plan through various dispensations. A dispensation is a stewardship arrangement in which God reveals His will to men who are then responsible to obey that revelation.

3. The present dispensation is known as the church age. The church has both a universal and local aspect. It began on the Day of Pentecost. Its purpose is to glorify God through the ministry of His Word.

Learning to Live It

1. A popular seminar teacher [Bill Gothard, among others] often takes Old Testament teachings and directly applies them to the New Testament church. He promotes the observance of Old Testament dietary laws and teaches that obedience to God guarantees good health based upon the promises God made to Moses. To whom were these Old Testament laws and promises written?

Old Testament Israel

What light do passages such as Acts 10:9 15 and 2 Corinthians 12:7 10 shed on the above issues?

Acts 10:9-15–Old Testament dietary laws are no longer in effect.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10–Paul must have been a disobedient believer if OT promises of health and prosperity were still in force.

How does dispensationalism help one correctly interpret Old Testament passages?

1. It helps one understand that certain things God required of some people at some time He may not require of other people at other times. 2. It helps us separate out principles from the OT that apply to us today. 3. By recognizing the differences between the testaments and allowing one to more readily distinguish between eternal principles and temporary programs

2. A speaker at camp preaches a sermon from Psalm 126:5 6 entitled: “The Mission of the Church.” What fundamental error has he made in his interpretation of this passage?

The church was not revealed until the New Testament. The OT has nothing to say about the church directly.

3. A church in your community plans an evangelistic crusade. In order to draw crowds, the guests include a rock band and a magician. In addition, a new car is to be awarded to the person who brings the most visitors. When questioned as to the appropriateness of the above methods, the pastor replies, “Our purpose is to get the gospel to as many people as possible. These methods are good because they pack the pews!” What does this pastor’s statement indicate concerning his view of the church?

He believes that the purpose of the church is to win souls (a “soteriological” purpose). The purpose of the church, however, is to glorify God (a “doxological” purpose). Winning souls is an objective of the church (i.e., one of the ways by which the church fulfills its purpose of bringing glory to God). But evangelism must be limited by thinking about what does and does not honor or glorify God. Thus, we do evangelism only in a way that is God-centered and God-honoring.

How do the methods used in this crusade fail to reflect the true purpose of the church?

1. They do not glorify God (Remember, the means, as well as the end, must be consistent with God’s character in order for something to be glorifying to Him.). Instead, the question should be, “Is what we are doing pleasing and acceptable to God?” 2. The main objective is not to pack the pews. The main objective is to obey and honor God.

Lesson 21: The Practical Benefits of Union with Christ, Part 2 | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 21: The Practical Benefits of Union with Christ, Part 2

In Lesson Twenty, we studied three of the practical benefits of union with Christ, each of these the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the believer. [They were perseverance (the believer will continue in the faith), assurance (the believer is confident that he is saved), and sanctification (the believer progressively grows in godliness).] The Holy Spirit is the source of all practical benefits of union with Christ. The purpose of this lesson is to introduce you to the Bible’s teaching on the nature and work of the Holy Spirit and to examine some additional benefits the believer experiences as a result of His ministry. In this lesson, we will study:

1. The nature of the Holy Spirit [i.e. what the Holy Spirit is like]

2. The work of the Holy Spirit [ i.e. what the Holy Spirit does]

I. The Nature of the Holy Spirit

There are many misconceptions as to the nature of the Holy Spirit. Because of the teachings of some cults and Eastern religions, some have concluded that the Holy Spirit is simply a force or another word for the power of God.

[It’s not just cults and pagan religions who have done this. Some so-called Christian denominations deny the trinity (e.g., United Pentecostals). They teach modalism, that is, that God manifests Himself in 3 different ways. This is wrong. Unitarians began by denying the trinity, and are now more or less agnostics.]

The Bible, however, presents two very clear truths about the Holy Spirit’s nature:

A. The Holy Spirit is a person .

1. The Holy Spirit possesses the components of personality.

Lesson One identified three distinct components of personality: thinking (mind), acting (will), and feeling (emotion). The Bible indicates that the Holy Spirit possesses all three.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit. – Romans 8:27

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.   1 Corinthians 12:11

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.   Ephesians 4:30

[Remember that the components of personality are intellect, emotion and will.]

2. The Holy Spirit is referred to with masculine personal pronouns.

The Holy Spirit is called “he,” not “it.”

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.   John 16:13

[In the KJV, the Holy Spirit is occasionally referred to as “it” (c.f. Rom 8:16). But this is because the Greek word pneuma is a neuter word, which means a pronoun modifying it must also be neuter, hence, “it.” Newer versions render the word “he.” ]

B. The Holy Spirit is God .

1. The Holy Spirit is closely associated with God.

Certain passages associate the Holy Spirit with God the Father and God the Son.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.   Matthew 28:19

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.   2 Corinthians 13:14 (See also 1 Peter 1:2.)

[In these verses the Holy Spirit is put on equal footing/status with God and Jesus.]

2. The Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of God.

Among these attributes are omnipresence (Psalm 139:7), omnipotence (Luke 1:35), and eternality (Hebrews 9:14).

3. The Holy Spirit is equated with God.

The Bible sometimes uses the words “God” and “Holy Spirit” interchangeably.

Then Peter said, “You have lied to the Holy Spirit . . . . You have not lied to men but to God.”   Acts 5:3 4

II. The Work of the Holy Spirit

A. The work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is not as fully developed in the Old Testament as in the New. This is due to the fact that the Old Testament emphasized the unity of God in order to counteract the tendency of the people to worship many gods (polytheism). [“poly” means “many.” There are a few indications of the Triunity of God in the OT; the NT is where this doctrine is fully expounded.] This does not mean, however, that there are no references to the Holy Spirit’s work in the Old Testament.

1. The Holy Spirit was active in Creation .

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters   Genesis 1:2

2. The Holy Spirit gave prophecies and Scripture .

For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.   2 Peter 1:21

3. The Holy Spirit enabled men to perform specific tasks.

The Old Testament frequently refers to the Spirit of God “coming” upon the leaders of Israel to enhance their ability to govern the nation. Since Israel was to be under God’s rule (a theocracy), theologians call this the “ theocratic

anointing .”

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.   1 Samuel 16:13

[Note that David was already saved and indwelt (permanently reside within) by the Holy Spirit at this point. This was a special anointing of God for a certain job – to be king.

The Holy Spirit also enabled men to perform other tasks (Exodus 31:1-5).

4. The Holy Spirit was active in the salvation of men .

Old Testament revelation of the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation is sparse. Furthermore, the Old Testament often uses different words to describe salvation than those found in the New Testament. Nevertheless, the Bible indicates that the Holy Spirit was instrumental in the salvation of Old Testament believers in many of the same ways in which He is involved in our salvation today. He regenerated (John 3:3 10) [this context is still part of the OT dispensation], indwelt (Numbers 27:18), and guided (Psalm 143:10) the Old Testament believer.

Note: Some falsely conclude from David’s words in Psalm 51:11 (“Do not take your Holy Spirit from me.”) that the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell the Old Testament believer. However, David’s concern is the loss of the Holy Spirit’s theocratic anointing, not the loss of His permanent indwelling.

[Some teach that the Holy Spirit came upon and then left OT believers rather than indwell them permanently as the NT teaches. We believe that He both regenerated and indwelt like He does today. It would be nearly impossible to explain the spirituality of the OT believer without regeneration and indwelling.]

B. The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ

1. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”   Luke 1:34 35

2. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit “came upon” Jesus at His baptism. This was the culmination of the Old Testament theocratic anointing, enabling Him to function as the perfect prophet, priest, and king.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.   Matthew3:16

3. Jesus ministered by the power of the Holy Spirit.

But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. – Matthew 12:28

C. The work of the Holy Spirit in the world

1. The Holy Spirit applies common grace .

The Holy Spirit limits the progress of sin in the world (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7) and extends God’s goodness to all men (Matthew 5:45).

[Remember what “common grace” is? It’s the fact that God does not allow man to be as sinful as he could be. God restrains sin and allows people do some measure of civic or cultural “good,” although this “good” is not meritorious. It’s common because it extends to all men in common.]

2. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin .

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.   John 16:8

Note: This passage is the climax to a series of statements made by Christ concerning the work of the Holy Spirit through the apostles to produce Scripture. Thus, conviction occurs through the Word of God.

[Note that we tie a subjective, “feeling” type of thing to the Word of God. Conviction should lead to repentance of sin and a changed life, i.e., sanctification. So sanctification/spiritual growth is tied directly to access to the Word of God.

Also, conviction is specifically tied to sin and salvation. The Holy Spirit does not convict about decisions in general. I.e., we should not say that God convicted us about going to a certain college or marrying a certain person. E.g., “I really felt convicted that God wanted me to buy this car.”]

D. The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the New Testament believer

Below are some additional benefits the Holy Spirit applies to the believer as a result of his union with Christ.

[These are the “practical benefits” mentioned in the title of the lesson.]

1. The Holy Spirit indwells believers.

Believers have a personal and permanent relationship with God through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. The Holy Spirit’s indwelling occurs at the moment of salvation and continues throughout the believer’s life.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.   Romans 8:9

[God resides in the believer. Should we expect to “feel” the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit? No. How then do we know that He’s there? By faith. We believe what God said.]

2. The Holy Spirit illumines the believer’s mind.

The Holy Spirit teaches the believer the significance of Scripture. This means that He convinces us of our need to obey the Scriptures (see Lesson Six).

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit  just as it has taught you, remain in him.   1 John 2:20, 27

[We differentiate between the “meaning” and the “significance” of a text. Anyone who can use the language can get the meaning of a text. But only those who are saved can appreciate the significance of a text. Significance has to do with the application of the meaning. The Holy Spirit illuminates our minds to the significance of God’s word.]

Note: The above reference does not imply that one does not need to study the Bible for himself (2 Timothy 2:15) or be taught biblical truth by others (1 Timothy 3:2). The “anointing” mentioned above is a reference to the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination.

[The anointing is not some extra kick or jolt of power for soul-winning or preaching. It is the ability to understand and apply the Scripture to your life.]

3. The Holy Spirit enables believers to serve the church.

The Holy Spirit gives at least one spiritual gift to each believer for the purpose of ministry in the local church (1 Corinthians 12).

[There are lots of people today who want to exercise their gifts for the building up of the universal body of Christ. They kind of “free float” without any connection to a church, which is wrong. One is to exercise his gifts in the context of an organized group of believers, i.e., a church.]

Learning to Live It

1. A friend of yours tells you that ever since he trusted Christ he has been praying to receive the Holy Spirit. What should you tell him?

If he has trusted Christ, he already has the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9). One receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. One need not pray to receive him. If one does not have the Holy Spirit, he is not saved.

2. “Church is a human organization. I don’t need to be taught by men  I have the Holy Spirit to teach me.” What is wrong with such thinking?

1. The church is not essentially a human organization. Christ called it “my church.” 2. Christians are commanded to be a part of a local church and serve there. 3. As part of a church, one should be willing to be taught by others. Pastors are set over the flock to teach them. 4. It’s this kind of thinking that leads to heresies and cults. It’s a blatantly inaccurate statement in light of such verses as 1 Timothy 3:2

The Holy Spirit does teach us, but He uses the Word of God and the teaching of others as the means whereby He does so. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit’s job is to convince us of the significance of Scripture, not the meaning. It is our job to ascertain the meaning of Scripture via our personal Bible study and the teaching of others.

3. Some people teach that David’s prayer in Psalm 51:11 (“Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.”) is proof that one can lose his salvation. What is wrong with such an interpretation of this verse?

David is not speaking of losing the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, but of losing the Holy Spirit’s theocratic anointing. He is asking God not to do to him that which He did to his predecessor, Saul (1 Samuel 16:1, 13-14).

4. A pastor is leading his congregation into some debatable practices. When the deacons question some of his decisions, he responds by quoting 1 Chronicles 16:22 (“Do not touch my anointed ones.”). Does this verse teach that the pastor has a special anointing from God?

no, it refers to the king in the theocratic kingdom, not the church. Here is where it is necessary to make a clear distinction between Israel and the church..

Why were men in the Old Testament anointed by the Holy Spirit?

to enable them to lead the theocracy. Those serving in the offices of prophet, priest, or king were anointed.

Who was the last person to receive the theocratic anointing?

Christ

Lesson 20: The Practical Benefits of Union With Christ, Part 1 | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 20: The Practical Benefits of Union with Christ, Part 1

Union with Christ not only has many positional benefits but several practical benefits as well. [What do we mean by “positional”? A change in status/standing. What were these benefits? Justification (being declared righteous), Adoption (being taken into God’s family) and Eternal Security (once saved, always saved.)] Because of his union with Christ, the believer experiences a number of benefits in daily life.

In this lesson, we will study three of the practical benefits of union with Christ:

1. The benefit of perseverance

2. The benefit of assurance

3. The benefit of sanctification

I. The Benefit of Perseverance

Perseverance means that a believer will continue to live as one who is saved. Genuine believers will persevere, or remain committed, in two key areas. These areas serve as two tests of genuine salvation.

A. The doctrinal test: Genuine believers remain committed to the Word of God.

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.   1 Corinthians 15:2

But now He has reconciled you . . . if you continue in [the] faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.   Colossians 1:22 23

Both of these passages stress the need for continual commitment to the gospel. The phrases, “the word” and “the faith,” however, broaden the commitment to include all basic Christian doctrine. A true believer will not reject the gospel nor the major doctrines of the Christian faith (such as the deity of Christ and the inerrancy of Scripture). If one does so, he demonstrates that he is not genuinely saved.

[Is there room for doctrinal disagreement? Yes, up to a point. Can a person not believe exactly like me and still be saved? Yes. Also cf. 1 John 2:19]]

B. The moral test: Genuine believers remain committed to growth in godliness.

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.   1 John 2:3 4

Because a genuine believer is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), he will change the direction of his life. He will have a desire to grow in the knowledge of God and obey Him. If there is no desire to grow and obey, it may be due to the fact that he is not really saved.

Note: It is possible for genuine believers to temporarily rebel . However, such rebellion is in deed only (rejection of God’s Word is impossible for a true believer). [It is possible for believers to misunderstand or be misled. Thus true believers may be a part of an errant denomination, movement, or group.] Three principles should be noted, however. First, believers who do not grow are the exception rather than the rule . Second, believers who rebel in these areas have no biblical basis for assurance of their salvation (1 John 2:3 4). [That is, such a person has no firm basis on which to be sure they are saved. If there is no evidence of salvation, there is no assurance of it.] Finally, believers who rebel in these areas should anticipate God’s discipline rather than His blessing. Such discipline may be very severe. For example, the members of the Church at Corinth rebelled by disrespecting the Lord’s Supper. As a result, God severely disciplined them.

That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have [died].   1 Corinthians 11:30 (See also 1 John 5:16.)

II. The Benefit of Assurance

Another practical benefit of being united with Christ is assurance of salvation. Assurance of salvation is the confidence the believer has that he is genuinely saved. [That is, one does not continually doubt it, worry about it, and wonder if he really is saved. He’s confident that he is. Assurance is often confused with eternal security. They are like two sides of the same coin. Assurance is the believer’s confidence that he is saved. Eternal security is the fact that God keeps the believer saved.] There are three things which God uses to give assurance of salvation. All three of them must be present in the believer’s life in order for him to have a biblical basis for believing that he is saved.

[Explain difference between assurance (a subjective confidence that you are really saved) and eternal security (the fact that one cannot lose his salvation).]

A. The genuine believer believes the promises of God to save and keep him.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.   John 3:16

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. – John 10:28-29

[God has promised to save people and to keep them saved. What would have to be true if God did not keep believers saved? 1. He’s not powerful enough; 2. He lied.]

B. The genuine believer will persevere in faith and good works.

Christian assurance is inseparably linked to perseverance. If one who claims to be a Christian does not continue in his commitment to correct doctrine and a life of obedience, he has no biblical basis for believing that he is saved.

[If one is not persevering in faith and good works, can he be confident that he is saved? No, he has no basis to think that he is saved.

What are some evidences (“vital signs”) of salvation? Several are found in 1 John:

  1. Walking in the light, i.e., living a godly life (1:5-7)

  2. Obeying Christ’s commands (2:3-6)

  3. Love for other believers (3:14-17)

  4. Orthodox doctrine (correct belief) (4:6)

Those who display such evidences of salvation in their lives have good reason to have confidence that they are truly saved. Those lacking such evidences have no reason to think that they are saved.]

C. The genuine believer receives the Holy Spirit’s inner testimony .

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.   Romans 8:16

Using the Word of God , the Holy Spirit convinces the believer that he is a child of God. He convinces him of the truthfulness of those verses which promise that God will save and keep those who accept Him as Lord and Savior.

[Note that the inner testimony applies specifically to one’s assurance of being saved. It does not apply to other things, like what one should do or where to go, etc. ]

III. The Benefit of Sanctification

Sanctification is the setting apart of the believer by God. It has both a positional and a practical aspect. The positional aspect is the fact that God has set apart all believers from the world and to Himself. [This occurs at the moment of salvation. It is not a sensory/emotional experience.] The practical aspect deals with the continual, progressive change that takes place as the believer matures spiritually.

[Practical sanctification is also known as progressive sanctification. The believer’s life should be characterized by continual, progressive growth in godliness. There will be setbacks, but the general tendency will be toward growth.]

A. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit .

God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. – 2 Thessalonians 2:13

The Holy Spirit changes believers through their knowledge of Scripture (John 17:17). Thus, if one is to live a sanctified (holy) life, he must study the Bible, the tool the Holy Spirit uses to help him grow.

[Growth as a Christian is directly tied to Bible study/reading/meditation. The more familiar you become with the Bible, the more biblical you start thinking, and the more biblically you start living. Thus, you can’t grow much apart from access to God’s Word, both written and proclaimed (preached).]

B. Sanctification involves the believer’s active obedience .

Some people view the Christian life as a series of mystical experiences in which the Holy Spirit “ moves ” them. According to this school of thought, the believer is always passive , waiting for the Spirit to move him to pray, witness, etc. [E.g., some Pentecostal groups just wait for God to “say something” in their meetings.] Though sanctification is the work of the Spirit, God never commands the believer to wait for some “moving.” He simply commands him to live obediently.

Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.   2 Corinthians 7:1

[Thus, we take an active roll in growth. We don’t just wait for it to happen. It takes discipline: Bible study, prayer, rejection of sin, acceptance of responsibilities, etc.]

C. Sanctification involves a change in direction .

Before one comes to Christ, he is a slave to sin. After God saves him, however, his direction in life changes. From that moment on, he separates from wickedness and embraces godliness.

1. The believer separates from wickedness.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and [Satan]? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?   2 Corinthians 6:14 15

The “yoke” in this passage refers to a union between two or more people. A believer has no business uniting with an unbeliever.

[The context of the above verse deals with false teachers. Hence the command applies to contact/interaction/participation with those who hold wrong doctrine. Paul’s not saying we can’t be friends or associates with unbelievers.

Cf. also Eph 5:6-8, 11. Separation has been a key factor in Fundamentalism. Back in the 40’s-50’s a group of Evangelicals decided to reject separation in favor of inclusion. These people are called “New Evangelicals.” Many of them would agree substantially with us doctrinally, but are out of order when it comes to practice.]

2. The believer embraces godliness.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. – Colossians 3:1

D. Sanctification is the natural result of saving faith .

Some people [E.g., Charles Ryrie, Zane Hodges ] teach that a person may trust Christ as Savior at a point in time without an accompanying commitment to obey Him. Such a commitment may come at a later point in time. According to this view, the Christian life is centered around two spiritual “high points”: the time of salvation and the time of dedication . [This allows for two classes of Christians: Those who are not dedicated/committed and those who are.] This separation of dedication from salvation is unbiblical, for the Bible indicates that:

1. Saving faith itself is an act of obedience .

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.   2 Thessalonians 1:8

[Cf. also John 3:36 — “obey” is parallel/synonymous with “believe.” Belief is obeying the gospel.]

2. Saving faith is described as obedient faith.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.   James 2:14 17

The question James is asking in this passage is: Can a nonworking faith save? His conclusion is: No! Such a faith is dead. Like empty words, it accomplishes nothing. Commitment to obey Christ cannot be separated from true faith.

[It’s necessary to reemphasize that a non-committed Christian is not allowed for in the NT. Discipleship/dedication is assumed to be the normal state of affairs. Commitment is not just for “super” Christians. There is no special category for those who claim to be saved yet have no fruit to indicate they are saved. Those who have no evidence have no assurance, and they may have exactly what James is talking about: “dead” faith (i.e., no faith).]

Note: There are times in the believer’s life when he makes important decisions to dedicate himself more fully to his Savior. In fact, the Christian life is really a day by day, moment by moment process of dedicating oneself to Christ. What is unbiblical is the idea that dedication to Christ is an option for the believer. Faith without dedication is a faith that does not save.

Learning to Live It

1. A friend of yours claims that no one can know for sure that he is saved. Is this true?

No. 1 John 5:11-14. Also, the NT authors all knew they were saved and wrote to people as if they could know that they were saved. Further, if one did not know for sure himself that he was saved, why would he ever witness to someone else? Thus there would be no evangelism.

How does God assure His children?

through His promises to keep the believer saved, the believer’s perseverance, and the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit

If this person has good reason to doubt his salvation, what might you conclude?

He may not be saved, or he may have been taught wrong doctrine, or he is mistaken. Never falsely assure someone who may not be saved. No evidence = no assurance.

2. While talking to a Christian friend about his backslidden condition (he no longer attends church, he doesn’t read his Bible, etc.), he replies, “I’m waiting for God to show me what He wants me to do.” What is wrong with your friend’s thinking?

God has already shown him what He wants him to do in His Word. He simply has to start doing that which God has already told him to do. He should not wait for God to “move” him or show him in some special way to obey.

Lesson 19: The Positional Benefits of Union with Christ | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 19: The Positional Benefits of Union with Christ

Upon being united with Christ through faith and repentance, the believer immediately receives several benefits.

[Remember that union with Christ is another way of referring to salvation. Union with Christ highlights the idea that the benefits of Christ’s life and death have been imputed to the believer. Since the relationship between Christ and the believer could be described as a “union,” the phrase “union with Christ” is an appropriate synonym for “salvation.”]

The benefits of union with Christ, which we will study in the following three lessons, can be divided into two types:

1. The positional benefits

2. The practical benefits

Positional benefits are those blessings which the believer possesses but does not experience . That is, God brings about a change in the believer’s position or status without the believer sensing or perceiving such [i.e., feelings/emotions. The change is real but non-perceptible]. For instance, the Bible states that believers have been adopted by God into His family. A believer does not feel this adoption take place. Nonetheless, he has been legally adopted by God and is now His child.

[“Position” has to do with one’s standing before God. One’s position before salvation is that of being alienated, an enemy, under the wrath of God, etc. At salvation, that position changes. One is forgiven, justified, adopted into God’s family, etc. So positional benefits are those benefits one receives because of a change in status/standing. One does not feel or notice or empirically sense this change.]

This lesson will focus on three of the positional benefits of union with Christ:

1. Justification

2. Adoption

3. Eternal Security

[Justification and adoption are things that happen to us; at salvation, we are justified and adopted. They are changes in status/standing/position. Eternal security is a bit different. It is more like a result of salvation than a position, but it is a benefit that results from our new position.]

I. Justification

Justification is the act of God whereby He declares a sinner to be legally righteous and treats him as such. Justification does not mean “to be made righteous” but “to be declared legally righteous.” When one is saved, he does not become righteous; he is still a sinner. Rather, God declares him legally righteous because of his union with Christ.

A. Justification is a work of God .

It is God who justifies.   Romans 8:33

B. Justification is by faith .

Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.   Galatians 2:16

[“Ideas have consequences.” This idea was the cause of the Reformation. Martin Luther was convinced that a man was justified by faith in Christ rather than by obeying the RC church. This is also what sets us apart from all works-oriented religions. They believe man is justified by works. We believe man is justified by grace through faith.]

C. Justification is a result of the believer’s union with Christ.

At the moment of salvation, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer. Consequently, when God looks at him, He does not see his sinfulness; rather, He sees Christ’s righteousness. As a result, God is able to declare him righteous.

God made [Christ Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.   2 Corinthians 5:21

Through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. – Romans 5:19

[So the only righteous we have is that which is given to us at the moment of salvation. The righteousness that we have is Christ’s righteousness. Think of it as a bank transaction. Forgiveness takes away your debt and justification gives you a positive balance.]

D. Justification produces a peaceful relationship with God.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.   Romans 5:1

[Before salvation, the opposite was true; we were enemies of God. This is also called reconciliation – the restoration of a positive relationship.]

II. Adoption

Adoption is the legal placement of someone into a family as a son . At the moment of salvation, God places you into His family and gives you all the rights and privileges of a son; God is your legal Father.

[Like justification, adoption is a legal or judicial concept. Whose family is one in before salvation? Satan’s. This is contra the liberal idea of the “universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.” E.g., the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” — “. . . with God as our Father, brothers all are we.” Hogwash.]

A. Adoption is the work of God .

In love [God] predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.   Ephesians 1:4 5

B. Adoption is by faith .

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.   Galatians 3:26

C. Adoption is a result of the believer’s union with Christ.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.   Galatians 3:26 27

Note: To be baptized or immersed into Christ is another way of describing union with Him.

[How is baptism comparable to our relationship with Christ? In baptism/immersion, one is engulfed, totally covered by the water. When one accepts Christ, he is totally committed to Him, it’s a total, radical life change that “covers” every aspect of life.]

D. Adoption has practical results.

1. The leading of the Holy Spirit

Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.   Romans 8:14

One of the results of being an adopted son of God is the Holy Spirit’s leading. Using the Word of God , the Holy Spirit leads or guides the child of God.

[To be led by the Holy Spirit is not some sort of mystical sensation, hunch, or feeling that you ought to do something. Practically speaking, it is merely submitting to the Word of God. To be led is to be controlled, and being controlled is simple obedience. Note also that the Spirit of God will never lead someone contrary to the Word of God (contra being “slain in the Spirit”). If you want the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life, you’ve got to get the Bible in your life.]

2. Loving discipline by God the Father

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?   Hebrews 12:5 7

God does not punish believers as He does unbelievers. Rather, He disciplines believers out of love, desiring to do what is best for them. His goal for us is not necessarily happiness and prosperity , but Christ-likeness . He disciplines us with that goal in mind.

[What if one is disobedient and receives no chastening/discipline? C.f. Heb 12:8. It’s an evidence that one is not part of the family. Contra the health and wealth gospel.]

III. Eternal Security

Eternal security refers to the fact that all true believers are kept saved by God. A true believer cannot lose his salvation.

[Don’t confuse eternal security with assurance of salvation.]

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.   Philippians 1:6

A. Eternal security is a work of God .

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.   John 10:28 29

B. Eternal security is a result of the believer’s union with Christ.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.   Romans 8:1

Note: To be “in Christ” is another way of describing union with Him.

C. Eternal security is God’s will for all believers.

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me.   John 6:39

[What are some of the things that would have to be true if eternal security were not true? 1. God was unwilling to keep us saved; 2. God was unable to keep us saved; 3. God was wrong when he elected us; 4. God has to throw us out of his family; 5. God has to take back the righteousness He imputed to us; etc, etc, etc. Obviously, it is impossible to undo salvation.]

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. Justification is a positional benefit of union with Christ. Justification is the act of God whereby He declares a sinner to be legally righteous and treats him as such.

2. Adoption is a positional benefit of union with Christ. Adoption is the act of God whereby He legally places the believer into His family, giving him all the rights and privileges of a son.

3. Eternal security is a positional benefit of union with Christ. Eternal security is the work of God whereby He keeps saved those whom He has already saved.

Learning to Live It

11

1. During a conversation at school, a Catholic friend says to you that a person is made righteous by following Christ and the teachings of the church. Are sinners ever made righteous?

No, sinners are not “made” righteous; they don’t suddenly become sinless. They are “declared” righteous because of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to them.

Can sinners follow Christ?

no (They are unable and unwilling.)

Is one justified by following the teachings of a church?

no, unless that church teaches the gospel. (One is justified by faith in Christ alone.)

2. During a conversation with a friend, you find out that he claims to be a Christian but does not believe in eternal security. In fact, he says that he was saved, lost his salvation, and then was saved again. What should you say to him?

A Christian cannot lose his salvation because God says so in His Word (John 6:39, 10:28-29, and Philippians 1:6). Furthermore, to claim one can lose his salvation is either to call God a liar (He doesn’t do what He promises.) or to imply that He is not omnipotent (He is unable to do that which He has promised to do.). Further, I would question the validity of any salvation that could be lost. The friend has not truly understood the person and work of Christ or the positional changes that occur at salvation, and may not really be saved.

What are those who believe one can lose his salvation really trusting in? Their own power/good works/ability. If so, are they really trusting Christ? No. Of course, they could just be mistaken because they were taught wrong. That is, they really are saved, but have not been taught correctly on this matter.

Lesson 18: The Divine Conditions for Union with Christ | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 18: The Divine Conditions for Union with Christ

We learned in Lesson Seventeen that there are two human conditions for union with Christ, repentance and faith. This lesson will show that every aspect of man’s union with Christ is the outworking of God’s sovereign plan . Because unsaved man is totally depraved, he is unable and unwilling to pursue a relationship with God. His sinful nature will not allow him to do so. God must initiate salvation by giving man the ability to repent and trust Christ. This lesson will focus on the following divine conditions for union with Christ:

1. Election

2. Regeneration

I. Election

[Election is one of those doctrines that many don’t really understand. Some are almost afraid of it–they don’t even want to discuss it. Election is often associated with Calvinism because it is one of the outstanding aspects of Calvinism. Election is a clearly-taught doctrine of Scripture. One should not misunderstand or fear it.]

Election refers to the fact that God chooses those who will be saved.

A. The biblical description of election

1. Election is unconditional .

“Unconditional election” means that God did not choose us based upon anything we have done or will do.

a. Election is not based upon works .

. . . in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls . . . .   Romans 9:11 12

b. Election is not based upon future events .

Some people teach that God looks into the future and chooses those who will some day choose Him. However, this idea contradicts several biblical teachings:

1) The fact of God’s sovereignty (See Lessons Two and Three.)

[If God were in control of events/history, he would not have to look into the future to see what was going to happen. He would know the future because he planned it all out. Election is based on the fact that God has planned future events, not that He merely knows them.]

  1. The fact of man’s complete sinfulness (See Lesson Twelve.)

[Man is totally depraved and would not choose God if given the chance. God must choose man.]

  1. The fact that faith and repentance are gifts from God (See Lesson Seventeen.)

[Man does not “work up” the ability to repent and trust Christ. God must give him this ability. God initiates the process and carries it through.]

4) The meaning of the word “ elect

The Greek words translated “elect” or “choose” refer to one’s free choice of a course of action apart from any outside influence. If God chooses us because He knows that we will someday choose Him, then He has not chosen freely . In fact, He has not chosen at all. He has only agreed with our choice of Him . This is contrary to the meaning of the words “elect” and “choose.”

2. Election is God’s free choice of individuals .

The object of God’s election is not a plan or a group; rather, it is individuals.

From the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.   2 Thessalonians 2:13

For he chose us in him. – Ephesians 1:4

3. Election is the result of God’s purpose and pleasure .

For [God] says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.   Romans 9:15 16

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.   Ephesians 1:5

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.   Ephesians 1:11

4. Election defined

Based upon the Bible’s teaching on election, we can define it this way: Election is the work of God before time in which He freely chose those who will receive the gift of eternal life. This choice is based solely upon God’s purpose and pleasure and is completely independent of man’s will.

Note: Election is an aspect of predestination . Whereas predestination refers to God’s planning of all events, election refers to God’s choosing of those whom He will save.

B. Objections to election

Following are various objections which are sometimes raised against the idea of unconditional election:

[The following are reasons why people react so strongly against the idea of God freely choosing some to be saved. See if students can come up with these reasons before stating them. ]

1. Unconditional election is unfair .

If God chooses to save some and not others, is He not being unfair and partial? This question is based upon the mistaken idea that we somehow deserve to be saved. Partiality and unfairness come into play only when one does not receive what he deserves. God would be unfair if everyone deserved eternal life and He granted it to only a few. Since no one deserves or seeks it, and since God “owns” eternal life, He may freely give it to whomever He wishes. Some may ask, “Why hasn’t God chosen to save everyone ?” Instead, we should ask, “Why has the perfect, holy, and pure God chosen to love and forgive any of our wicked, evil, and rebellious race?”

[It’s a good thing God isn’t fair with us, otherwise, we’d all be going to hell. The fact that God chooses to save some is pure grace. He can do whatever he wants. E.g., if I decide to give some of you $10.00 and not others, that’s my prerogative. I don’t have to give anyone anything. The fact that I do is purely my decision. Same with salvation. ]

2. Unconditional election contradicts man’s free will .

People sometimes reject unconditional election because they believe that man’s will is absolutely free. However, the Bible teaches that man’s will is not completely free. It is controlled by sin . Man’s “free” will is not free to choose God or salvation but only those things which are contrary to God and His salvation.

[Because of depravity, man will choose evil every time. Also, to say that man does not have an absolutely free will is not to say that man is merely a robot following some divinely written program. We do make real, spontaneous choices, but our choices are also part of God’s plan. From our perspective, our choices seem to be free, but in reality it is certain that we will make the choices we do. God renders our free choices certain. ]

3. Unconditional election contradicts passages concerning God’s will .

[God] wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.   1 Timothy 2:4

[God] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.   2 Peter 3:9

Some assume from these two verses that it is God’s will that everyone be saved. However, if God willed that every man be saved, then that is what would happen. We know from other Scripture, however, that this [that everyone is saved] is not the case. Therefore, we would have to conclude that God planned the salvation of all mankind, but His plan is consistently thwarted. However, this [that God’s plan is thwarted] clearly contradicts the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.

How then should we interpret these verses? They are a description of God’s general desire rather than His specific will . God desires all men to be saved and gives them the opportunity to be so. However, because no man chooses to be saved on his own, God graciously gives some the ability to receive eternal life.

4. Unconditional election contradicts passages concerning God’s foreknowledge.

. . . chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.   1 Peter 1:2

On the surface, this verse seems to teach that God does elect some because He knows beforehand that they will trust Him. However, the true meaning of “foreknowledge” teaches otherwise.

Foreknowledge does not just mean to know something ahead of time. As mentioned in Lesson Two, God’s knowledge is active , not passive. He does not gain knowledge by watching events occur. Rather, He knows events because He is the author of them.

[Read Acts 2:23—foreknowledge here is obviously more than knowing ahead of time; it’s choosing ahead of time. We’ve seen previously that “to foreknow” is equal to “to choose.” God’s knowing-ahead-of-time is active. He knows because he planned the events–He determined that they would happen. Is it possible for God to look into the future to see that something would happen? No. That would mean that God learns things. He does not.

Also, foreknowledge is a relational term. God foreknows people, not events or things.]

5. Unconditional election makes God responsible for man’s condemnation .

There are some who believe that God elects some to be saved and the rest to be eternally condemned. This view is known as “ double predestination .” According to the Bible, however, man is responsible for his own damnation. The Bible nowhere blames man’s condemnation on God. God does not elect men to hell. He does, however, leave them to their own choice. Thus, men condemn themselves .

[God chooses some and leaves the rest. Also c.f. John 3:18 — unsaved man is “condemned already” because of unbelief, not because God has elected him to damnation.]

6. Unconditional election makes evangelism meaningless.

Some suggest that unconditional election makes such practices as witnessing and evangelistic preaching unnecessary because God saves men without our help. While it is true that God will accomplish His plan to save the elect, such a position misunderstands two important points: 1) God commands us to evangelize and holds us responsible to obey; 2) God has chosen to use men to communicate His message. Our labor is the tool which God uses to bring men to Christ and accomplish His purposes. God has chosen both the results and the means of His plan.

[One can be a 5 point Calvinist and still be zealously evangelistic. Spurgeon, for example, was a Calvinist. The belief in predestination and election in no way weakens one’s desire to win the lost. Read JI Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. ]

II. Regeneration

Regeneration refers to the fact that God gives spiritual life to those who will be saved.

A. The meaning of regeneration

Regeneration is the work of God in which He makes the spiritually dead sinner spiritually alive . It is the impartation of spiritual life to the spiritually dead. God grants spiritual life which enables men to repent and trust Christ.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.   Ephesians 2:4-5

[There is some disagreement as to whether regeneration logically precedes repentance and faith, or is the result of it. The above paragraph indicates that regeneration is necessary prior to conversion–it gives one the ability to repent and believe. In reality, salvation is one immediate/instantaneous act. There is a logical order, but not a chronological one.]

B. The Agent of regeneration

The Holy Spirit is the One who makes the dead sinner spiritually alive.

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. – Titus 3:5

C. The means of regeneration

The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God as the only means of producing spiritual life.

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

[So the order is election (before time), regeneration, conversion. ]

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. Election is a divine condition for union with Christ. Election is the work of God before time in which He freely chooses those who will receive the gift of eternal life.

2. Regeneration is a divine condition for union with Christ. Regeneration is the work of God in which He makes the spiritually dead sinner spiritually alive.

Learning to Live It

The statements below represent two unbiblical positions regarding the doctrine of election.

1. “Because God controls everything and chooses those whom He will save, I do not need to witness. God will save His elect in His own time. He certainly does not need me to help Him.” What is wrong with this statement?

God commands us to witness. Furthermore, our witness is the means God has chosen to reach the lost. God saves the elect through the witnessing activities of other Christians. He has chosen to use people to lead other people to Christ.

How might this position affect a church’s ministry?

It might kill any evangelistic outreach or missionary work.

2. “Yes, I believe in election, but God chooses those whom He knows will choose Him. He looks down the tunnel of time and sees that I am going to believe in Him. Because He foreknows this, He elects me to be saved.” What is wrong with this statement?

It reflects an incorrect understanding of foreknowledge. Foreknowledge is active. God chooses unconditionally, i.e. not based on what we will or won’t do. Furthermore, the above idea results in us doing the choosing rather than God doing it. God is not sovereign in this scenario. Finally, it makes God dependent on us rather than vice versa. It makes man, not God, in charge.

Lesson 17: The Human Conditions for Union with Christ | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 17: The Human Conditions for Union with Christ

As stated in the Introduction to this section, the only way one can receive the benefits of Christ’s death is by being united with Christ. “Union with Christ” is one way of describing the relationship that exists between Christ and the believer begun at the moment of salvation. Union with Christ does not just happen. Certain things must take place before one is united with Christ. The conditions for union with Christ, which we will study in this lesson and the next, can be divided into two types:

1. The human conditions for union with Christ

[That is, what is required that I must to do be saved.]

2. The divine conditions for union with Christ

[That is, what is required from God for me to be saved.]

The human conditions for union with Christ are those aspects of salvation in which man participates with God. While the Bible teaches that these aspects are initiated and empowered by God, man plays an active and necessary role. This lesson will focus on the following human conditions for union with Christ:

1. Repentance

2. Faith

[It is very important that both of these be emphasized. Without both of these there is no true salvation. Many people who make professions of faith never really got saved at all because they did not couple faith with repentance. Both are necessary.]

I. Repentance

A. The meaning of repentance

1. Wrong views of repentance

a. Repentance is not simply sorrow for sin.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse.   Matthew 27:3

[Judas was sorry about what he had done, and he even admitted his guilt, yet there was no true repentance. Sorrow for sin is part of it, but not all of it.]

b. Repentance is not penance .

Penance is a Roman Catholic idea involving: 1) confession to a priest; 2) the priest’s pronouncement of absolution [restoration to good standing] ; and 3) an assignment of works to do or prayers to say. Penance assumes that Christ’s work was not sufficient and teaches that salvation involves the sinner’s good works . Penance is completely unbiblical.

[You may have heard of Catholics doing all sorts of things, like crawling on their knees up long flights of stairs, whipping themselves, repeating long prayers over and over–these are all examples of penance. A priest tells the person that he has to do this stuff in order to pay for his sin.]

2. The biblical view of repentance

The biblical word translated “repentance” literally means to “ change one’s mind .” Repentance is a change of mind regarding God and sin . It is the change of mind away from sin and to God. This change of mind involves more than one’s opinion. It involves a rejection of sin and a commitment to God.

[Think of repentance as making a 180 degree turn. You were going one way, but after repentance you’re going the exact opposite way. It’s a change of mind and will. ]

a. Repentance involves a change of mind regarding sin .

1) It requires a knowledge of one’s sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. – Psalm 51:3

2) It requires a genuine sorrow for one’s sin.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation.   2 Corinthians 7:10

3) It requires the rejection of one’s sin.

. . . repentance from acts that lead to death.   Hebrews 6:1

[The emphasis is on the word “from.” Repentance is turning from sin to God. ]

4) It requires a desire to seek God’s pardon for one’s sin.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.   Psalm 51:1-2

Some people [i.e. Hodges, Ryrie, Dallas Sem.] teach that repentance is simply a change of mind regarding Christ . However, any definition of repentance which leaves out the idea of a conscious and active rejection of sin is inadequate.

b. Repentance involves a change of mind regarding God .

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance.   Acts 20:21

Prior to salvation, man embraces sin and rejects God. Repentance is that act which reverses man’s allegiance. In repentance, one decides to reject sin and embrace God.

[Add this: c. Repentance results in changed behavior.

Acts 26:20 “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.]

B. The origin of repentance

1. Repentance does not originate in man .

Unsaved men are completely rebellious and have no desire for God. They are unable and unwilling to change their minds regarding sin and God.

The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.   Romans 8:7

2. Repentance originates with God .

Repentance is a gift of God. Because the totally depraved sinner is incapable of repenting, God must give him the ability to do so.

God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.   Acts 5:31

“So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”   Acts 11:18

. . . in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.   2 Timothy 2:25

II. Faith

The Bible describes several different kinds of faith. The faith necessary for salvation is commonly referred to as “saving faith.”

A. The meaning of saving faith

1. Saving faith requires knowledge . [intellectual content]

Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.   Romans 10:17

What must one believe in order to be saved?

The gospel message includes the fact of man’s condition (sin), God’s remedy for that condition (the person and work of Christ), and the response God requires in order for that remedy to be applied to the sinner (faith and repentance). In order for a man to be saved, he must understand that he is a sinner who has fallen short of the standard of perfection demanded by a holy God and is, therefore, deserving of sin’s penalty, namely, death; that the God-man, Jesus Christ, has met the standard by means of His sinless life and has paid the penalty by means of His sacrificial death; and that by responding in faith and repentance he can be justified in God’s sight as a result of Christ’s work (both His sinless life and sacrificial death) being imputed to him.

2. Saving faith requires assent.

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. – Matthew 13:23

One must not only know certain facts in order to be saved, but he must also realize that they apply to him. In the parable of the sower, the only one of the four who exercised saving faith was the one who not only comprehended the facts (“hears the word”) but also perceived their significance (“understands it”). It is not enough for one to acknowledge that he needs a Savior, nor is it enough for one to acknowledge that Christ was the Savior. Saving faith involves the acknowledgement that Christ must become my Savior.

[This is what we mean by “assent:” One must apply the facts to his own life.]

3. Saving faith requires commitment . [an exercise of the will]

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9

Saving faith involves a commitment to follow Christ in obedience. It is a commitment to Christ as both Sin bearer ( Savior ) and Master

( Lord ).

[The aspect of trust or reliance would come under this. When you trust Christ as your savior, you are committing yourself to him, putting your full faith and confidence in Jesus as your savior. Concepts such as loyalty and commitment to Christ are consistent with saving faith.

These are three aspects of faith, but they are not three separate steps. When one hears, understands, and responds by putting his confidence/trust in Christ, he has exercised faith. ]

B. The object of saving faith

In order to be saved, one must have faith in both the person and work of Jesus Christ .

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.   Acts 16:31

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.   Romans 3:22

[If a person says “I believe in Jesus,” is he necessarily saved? No. C.f. Matt 7:21-23. There are certain things one must believe about Jesus. So faith involves believing in Jesus and believing certain things about Jesus.]

C. The origin of saving faith

1. Saving faith does not originate in man .

Man cannot produce saving faith. He neither seeks it nor initiates it.

a. Saving faith does not come from knowing historical facts .

The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.   Acts 26:26

In this passage, Paul acknowledges that King Agrippa knows much about the gospel message. Because Christ’s death was a well known fact, and His message was being openly proclaimed, the king could not claim ignorance. However, King Agrippa did not trust Christ. While faith must be based upon factual information, the knowledge of such information alone does not produce saving faith.

[This is why we don’t emphasize all the evidences of the Christian faith. People do not ultimately get saved because the are persuaded that the facts of the Bible are true. Neither do people reject Christianity because they are skeptical about the Bible’s truthfulness. Saving faith originates in God, not man. ]

b. Saving faith does not come from human logic .

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.   1 Corinthians 1:21

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.   1 Corinthians 2:4 5

While faith is logical, human logic alone cannot produce faith.

[Some men have come up with detailed, complex methods of “proving” the existence of God, the truth of the Bible, etc. We don’t use them because, while our faith is reasonable, it does not rest upon logic alone.]

2. Saving faith originates with God .

Saving faith involves a knowledge of the facts of the gospel and the use of logic to understand such facts. However, neither historical facts nor human logic produce saving faith. Like repentance, saving faith is a gift of God. God graciously gives the rebellious sinner the faith to believe.

On arriving there, [Paul and Barnabas] gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.   Acts 14:27

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith  and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.   Ephesians 2:8

The structure of the Greek sentence in Ephesians 2:8 indicates that the word translated “gift” refers to the whole process of salvation. Faith is certainly one of the elements in that process. From these texts it is clear that faith is something God must give.

Note: Repentance and faith are simultaneous, that is, they happen at the same time. You cannot have one without the other. They are inseparable.

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.   Acts 20:21

Repentance and faith are the two aspects of the one act commonly referred to as conversion .

[In the study of repentance and faith, two things God requires of us to be saved, we see that God is responsible for both of them. Man cannot/will not repent or believe on his own. Both are gifts from God.

Some say that salvation is purely belief in Christ without any mention of repentance. This definition of salvation comes short. Repentance is part of the equation. One must turn from sin to God. ]

Learning to Live It

1. While on vacation, your family attends a church where the pastor preaches a salvation message. In his sermon he says, “You must trust Christ and repent.” He then defines repentance by saying, “Repentance is a change of mind regarding Jesus Christ. You must stop rejecting Him. Turn to Him today and reject Him no longer.” What is missing from this pastor’s definition of repentance?

any mention of sorrow for one’s sin or a desire to turn away from it. What that pastor is really doing is redefining repentance.

Can a person truly be saved if his repentance does not include admitting and rejecting his sin?

No, he has not really repented

2. You and a Christian friend begin to witness to a fellow teenager. In the course of the conversation, your friend launches into a logical defense of the Bible in an attempt to convince this unsaved teen to believe in Christ. Will this kind of logic cause him to believe? Why or why not?

no; Belief is not dependent upon a logical understanding of the facts or being convinced that they are true. One is not saved by being convinced of the facts.

He is not in a state of neutrality; rather, he is predisposed against God. He is unable and unwilling to positively respond (1 Cor 2:14). He will always misinterpret such facts.

What is the more biblical approach to take when witnessing?

Use the Bible, the only means whereby one can be saved (Rom 10:17). Present the gospel clearly, accurately and biblically. Let God do the work necessary to bring a person to faith.

Lesson 16: The Work of Christ and the Christian Life | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 16: The Work of Christ and the Christian Life

We have learned that Jesus Christ is the unique God man and that His work is sufficient for man’s salvation. Having discussed the work of Christ both before and within time, we will now study the practical results of His work for the believer.

I. Christ’s Work Before Time and the Christian Life

In the previous lesson, we learned that Christ’s work began before the creation of time. Christ was active in planning the events of history, including the salvation of believers, in eternity past.

A. Because of Christ’s work before time, we are saved .

1. The requirements for salvation were planned for before time.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.   1 Peter 1:18 20 (See also Revelation 13:8.)

This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.   Acts 2:23

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.   Acts 4:27 28

These passages indicate that the work of Christ within time was the result of His work before time. The ultimate cause for the events which brought about our salvation is the plan of God.

2. The recipients of salvation were chosen before time.

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. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.   Romans 8:29 30

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.   Ephesians 1:3 5

[Note that our choice of Christ within time is the result of God’s choice of us before time. ]

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.   Ephesians 1:11

Note that God chose people, not facts. That is, these verses refer to who God foreknew, not what He foreknew. They refer to a relationship prior to time.

[It is important to understand the idea of God’s “foreknowledge” at this point. What is it? Is it just knowing something before it takes place? That’s what some people think it is–advanced knowledge. But it’s more than that. Read Acts 2:23, Romans 11:2. These verses show that foreknowledge is a choice before hand that a certain thing will happen. Thus in Romans 8:29, “foreknew” carries the idea of selection/choice before hand, not just advanced knowledge. God did not choose us based on what He saw we would do on our own (an Arminian idea).]

B. Because of Christ’s work before time, we can approach the future with confidence .

The triune God determined future events before the beginning of time. We can thus be confident that whatever happens is part of God’s wise design.

[God has from eternity past planned what is going to happen, so history is not mere chance, random happenings. There is a definite goal toward which history is progressing. God, who is loving, kind, and wise, is directing history to His desired ends. Thus we may look forward with confidence, knowing that God is in control and that all things will end up as they should be.

The problem comes for us when we see bad/evil things happen, like crime or natural disasters–how could God allow/do such a thing? While it’s impossible to know why God does certain things, we can be sure it’s all part of God’s program/plan and that God is still in control.]

Note: The events of human history, including the events of our individual lives, are the fulfillment within time of that which God determined in eternity past. The believer’s assurance of life in eternity future is possible only because of God’s work in eternity past . One is eternally secure because the process of salvation began before time and extends eternally. Thus, the doctrine of eternal security is based upon the doctrine of election .

II. Christ’s Work Within Time and the Christian Life

A. Because of Christ’s work within time, we understand more fully the character of God .

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “. . . My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”   Mark 15:33 34

The death of Christ on the cross displayed the character of God. The cross helped solve the tension between the justice of God and the love of God. His justice required a perfect sacrifice for sin. His love moved Him to become that sacrifice on our behalf. In addition to the attributes of justice and love, the cross also displayed the holiness of God. On that fateful day when the innocent, spotless Lamb of God took our sin upon Himself, the Father was unable to look upon His Son. His holiness prevented Him from looking upon sin.

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil. – Habakkuk 1:13

B. Because of Christ’s work within time, we understand more fully the true meaning of love .

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.   John 3:16

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.   John 15:13

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.   1 John 3:16

At the cross, God revealed the true meaning of love by giving Himself for our salvation.

[We’ve got to get rid of this romantic, emotional, worldly idea of love. Love is a choice to do what is best for the other person, to sacrifice your self, your desires, your possessions, etc., for the good of another. This means: 1. You don’t have to wait until you feel something to love someone; 2. You can love someone you don’t even like very much; 3. Much of what passes for love really is not true love.]

C. Because of Christ’s work within time, we have a right relationship with God.

1. Our slavery to sin is finished, and we are now slaves to righteousness . We call the act of being purchased out of the slave market of sin redemption .

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey  whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.   Romans 6:16 18

[The above verse has only two options: slave to sin or slave to righteousness. No one is truly free. Everyone is a slave. ]

2. Our separation from God is finished, and we are now reconciled to God. We call the act of being restored to a friendly relationship with God reconciliation .

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.   Romans 5:10 11

The work of Christ removed the separation between God and man caused by sin. Christ has restored for us that which sin had destroyed: fellowship between God and man. We are no longer God’s enemies.

3. Our liability to God’s wrath is finished, and we are now able to please God. We call the act of appeasing God’s wrath propitiation .

God presented [Christ] as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin through faith in his blood.   Romans 3:25 [NIV footnote]

Jesus appeased God’s wrath toward sin by His death on the cross. Although previously unable to do anything pleasing to God (Isaiah 64:6), Christians are now able to do things which are acceptable to Him.

[Liability to wrath or punishment is called guilt. We are truly guilty for our sin. At salvation, God removes our guilt, and thus we are no longer liable/blameworthy to suffer the penalty of sin or be exposed to God’s wrath.]

4. Our condemnation by God is finished, and we are now declared righteous . We call the act of being declared righteous justification .

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.   Romans 8:1

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.   Romans 5:1

God has declared all unbelievers guilty and, therefore, under condemnation. However, He has declared believers righteous.

[Justification is a positional thing – it describes our relationship with God. We are declared to be righteous, just like a judge declares someone not guilty. This does not mean that we will live perfectly righteous lives, but that our standing with God is righteous.

The opposite of each one of the above things is true of the unbeliever. The unsaved are enslaved to sin, separated from God, under God’s wrath and condemned. Each one of those relationships changes when one gets saved.]

Note: The new life that we experience upon salvation is the outworking of the new position we enjoy in Christ. This is similar to the fact that, in the mind of God, the work of Christ was completed before time began, even though its outworking occurred within time. So too, what is considered as being completed in God’s mind is worked out in our daily experience .

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.   John 19:30

Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.   Philippians 2:12 13

[Positionally, our salvation is a completed thing. We are saved. Experientially, we continue to “work out” our salvation on a daily basis. ]

D. Because of Christ’s work within time, we eagerly expect His return.

While we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. – Titus 2:13

The hope of Christ’s future return to receive His own is based upon His Resurrection and Ascension . Because Christianity is based upon belief in a living Savior, Christians worldwide wait for the “blessed hope” of the Lord’s return.

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. Because of Christ’s work before time, we are saved and can approach the future with confidence.

2. Because of Christ’s work within time, we understand more fully the character of God and the true meaning of love, have a right relationship with God, and eagerly expect His return.

Learning to Live It

1. Your cousin, who enjoys discussing biblical issues, gets into a discussion with you at a family gathering. In the midst of the conversation, you realize that he does not believe in eternal security based upon his belief that eternal life begins at death. At what point in time does eternal life begin for the believer?

at the moment of salvation

What are some Scripture passages which support your conclusion?

John 3:36 and 5:24–“has eternal life” is in the present tense, i.e., it’s happening now.

Is a believer’s salvation within time the true beginning of the process?

no

If not, when did the process of our salvation begin?

with God’s choice in eternity past

Therefore, on what doctrine is eternal security based?

election

2. A best-selling song declared: “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” Is this lyric true?

no, in fact, the whole self-love/esteem thing is unbiblical. We love ourselves too much.

What are some Scripture passages which define the true nature of love?

John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:16 and 4:9-10