All the people of the world can be divided in two categories. They are either in Christ or they are not. All in Christ have eternal life and the forgiveness of sin. All those not united with Christ have eternal separation form God and are dead in their trespasses and sin.
one become united with Christ? Well, the
answer is to be born again. Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say
to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the
Let’s examine the concept of the new birth. The most well known verse in the Bible is John 3:16; For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Now follow with me, if one is born again to everlasting life, i.e., eternal life, then, it would be impossible for one to loose this birthright. The birthright of being born again into Jesus is eternal life. This is an awesome promise indeed. It is likewise a sovereign decree of God and therefore can be rested on with utmost surety. The operation necessary to obtain eternal life is to believe in Jesus. What does it mean to believe in Jesus? Well, in the first part of this manual we saw the absolute necessity for recognizing a need for him and the redemption purchased with his blood. Secondly, after recognizing the need for Jesus, one must trust completely in the absolute effectiveness of Christ’s sacrifice. Christ’s acceptance by the Father, as satisfaction for the penalty of sin, must be relied on completely. Thus, it is not mere mental assent to the fact, but rather total reliance upon it, that unites one with Jesus. This excludes the possibility of gaining acceptance before the Father with self effort. To believe that one must do something in addition to Christ’s effort, shows that there is no reliance on the finished work of Jesus. Therefore, salvation by works is repugnant and offensive to God. Self-righteousness is a stench in his nostrils. So then, one is united with Christ by faith.
Much of the New Testament teaches that the believer is united with
Christ and thus with the Father. First
let’s look at the prayer Jesus prayed in the
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old
things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians NKJV)
Benefits In Christ:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1 NKJV) One great benefit of being in Christ is no condemnation. The sinner stands forgiven before a righteous Father. Jesus the mediator of the new and better covenant intercedes with the Father on behalf of the saint united in Christ. The believer receives the forgiveness of sin twenty-four hours per day seven days per week.
Not only is there forgiveness but
also, the believer joined to Christ, is actually reconciled to God. God has reinstated the pre-fall position
While any good commentary acknowledges the presence of Gnosticism creeping into the early fellowship, the sinister effect of this system of belief, along with the multiple nuances and variations of this specialized gnosis (knowledge), has not been fully appreciated by expositors down through church history. The reason for this is that the early church, especially after gaining the power of the sword, eradicated Gnosticism as a deadly heresy.
It served the clerical purposes of the Roman and Orthodox churches to interpret 1 John without using this understanding. Therefore, 1 John has not taken its rightful place in establishing sound doctrine. Yet, it remains to be one of the most important doctrinal clarifiers in "New Covenant Theology."
Let's start with a definition of Gnosticism. Webster defines Gnosticism as this: "a trend of religious thought with far eastern origins which flourished in the Hellinistic Near East. There were numerous gnostic sects both pagan and Christian. The Christian gnostics denied the literal meaning of the Scriptures and saw only esoteric meaning based on gnosis, i.e. they did not believe that a real Jesus was really crucified."
Gnosticism claimed that only certain initiates had the higher special knowledge. Most often, they denied the essentials of the gospel which Paul set forth in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 et. al. This simple gospel message was also given by the Apostles in the several sermons recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
1 John was written To counter act the idea of special knowledge or a special anointing. We will examine the text within the context of the first chapter of First John.
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-
2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-
3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
These are the words of a loving parent. John wants to make certain that these individuals are sure that he had personally experienced what he has told them about and what Paul had told them prior to his arrival. He says I am not telling you hearsay; I saw, touched, and experienced The Word. This Word was Jesus and He had fellowship with the Father and we had fellowship with Him and the Father. I'm telling you all this so that your joy may be full; complete. This assurance comes to combat the teaching of individuals who were claiming special knowledge. They were telling these believers that Jesus death, burial, and resurrection was not the important fact and that they were believing in just the mundane ordinary soul stuff; their special gnosis was all that mattered.
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth,
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
John 1:9 states this, "That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world." This light mentioned here is the enlightening of the Spirit. Man without God's Spirit is in spiritual darkness. The fact is that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself not imputing their sin to them."(2 Cor. 5:19) The reason that He did that was out of love for mankind. This makes the "foolishness of the cross", the very thing that gnostics objected to, the central and only cause for the "good news." Walking in the light of God's gracious provision for mankind was what assured the believer that they had fellowship with the Father and the Son. The fellowship then comes from walking in the light of the gospel.
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Frequently, when listening to someones prayer, I'll hear them quote First John 1:9, then they invariably ask for forgiveness of sins. It is interesting to me that in these three verses there is no mention of asking for forgiveness. What it does say is, that we should confess our sins. Theologians of all denominations, tie these verses to determining whether a believer is in fellowship or out of fellowship. Actually, 3 through 7 and 8 through 10 are addressing two separate false teachings and thus are not connected. Verses 3 - 7 are meant to counteract the gnostic's special enlightenment claim, whereas, verses 8 - 10 are meant to counteract the false teaching of dualism. There were some Christian gnostics that taught that only the flesh was corrupt. They thought that the Spirit was the only thing that was eternal and was therefore not corrupt. Thus, man did not have a sin nature according to this belief.
Here is the error in the accepted exegetics of 1 John 1:9. We have a theology, that implies that we need to get right with God in order to be able to fellowship with God, when the reality of the situation is that we need to fellowship with God, because, by the blood of Jesus, believers have been given that right.
Hebrews 4:14-16 expresses this, "Seeing then that we a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (15)For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all ways tempted as we are, yet without sin. (16)Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
What is "hold fast our confession" if not to confess that we are sinners by nature, and have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus. Verse 15 lets us know that the line of the old hymn "Jesus knows our every weakness, take it to the Lord in prayer" is correct theology and good advise. Finally, the admonition to come boldly to the throne of grace is to come at the very time of weakness and need. Not asking for forgiveness, but rather confessing our sins and resting in the forgiveness that was finished by Jesus on the cross. When we keep asking for forgiveness we prove that we don't believe God when He tells us "by the one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified."(Hebrews 10:14) When we ask God for what He has already given we call Him a liar. But, when we believe Him, and by faith trust in what Jesus did, we have a peace with him that produces the "Fruit of the Spirit in our lives."
It can be clearly seen that continual communion with God is one of the great benefits of being in Christ. This is guaranteed by the New Covenant that was instated by Jesus when he died upon the cross (Matthew 26:28)
great benefit of being united with Christ in the new birth is the forgiveness
of sin. This was promised by Jeremiah in
a decree from God foretelling the time of a new covenant. 31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the
LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the
house of Judah— 32 "not according
to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by
the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke,
though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 "But this is the covenant that I will
make with the house of
In Christ—Faith is Obedience!
Sin and unbelief are synonymous. This is made clear in the letter to the Hebrews. It was Jesus’ perfect faith that made him an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sin of the world. We find this written; But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV) and then in another place we find this; While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" (Matthew 17:5 NKJV) So, we find that without faith it is impossible to please him and in another place we find that he is well pleased with the Son. We must conclude that it was Jesus perfect faith that was well pleasing to the Father.
Further evidence for the obedience of faith is found in the statements made by Jesus about his perfect faith to the Father. The incarnation provides the opportunity for perfect faith. What this means is, that in the incarnation, Christ was given all of the senses of humanity. The Father told him that he was the Messiah. He was told that he would have to suffer and die for the sin of the world. The temptation of Christ then, was to believe this in spite of his humanity. He believed the Father when the Pharisees, the alleged representatives of God said that he was a lunatic possessed by demons. In fact, against all odds all the time he believed the Father and not the circumstances around him. His faith was such that as he hung on the cross, with the Father turning his back on him for the sin of the world, he could look at the crowd that had cried away with him, away with him, crucify him, crucify him and say, Father forgive them they don’t know what they’re doing. That was the ultimate act of faith. It was likewise the act that made him the Worthy Lamb slain before the foundations of the world. Now, if it were Jesus faith that pleased the Father, why would we not believe that it is our faith in Jesus that pleases the Father as well?
16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who
came out of
"But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you." (1 Samuel NKJV) We know that this passage is reefing to King David. Why was David a man after God’s own heart? Well, we can be sure that it was not on the basis of his obedience to the law. No, David was called a man after God’s own heart because of David’s faith. One cannot read the Psalms without seeing evidence of the faith of David. David believed that God was merciful and gracious. This was David’s obedience. Let’s look at some of the passages that establish David as a man of faith in the mercy of God. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, (Psalms 103:2-3 NKJV) David is confident that one of the great benefits of God is that he forgives all iniquities. He goes on to tell of God’s decrees concerning his grace. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:11-12 NKJV)
Bible, the history of God’s redemption, so clearly points to the fact that
faith is obedience that it is difficult to believe how we have missed the point
by such a wide measure. The
It is Finished—A Time For Rest:
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John NKJV) What did Jesus mean when he proclaimed that it was finished; what was finished? The answer is redemption. Jesus had finished the work of redemption and there was nothing left to do. "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. (John 17:4 NKJV) The purpose for the Incarnation was redemption. Jesus came to die for the sin of the world. Peter explains it this way, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, (1 Peter 3:18 NKJV)
It is amazing to me that no one in Institutional, Evangelical,
Christendom has the slightest idea what “it is finished” means. In other words, there is no basic
understanding of the operation of the gospel in the redeemed life and what “it
is finished” must of necessity mean.
There is an order of operation in salvation. This order is necessary to redemption and the
bible clearly teaches this order. The
The Order of Operation of Redemption:
The order of operation of redemption is founded in the sovereign work of God and his grace. God alone decreed the fall and God alone decreed redemption. Further, the work of redemption is solely the work of God in Christ. Whenever, human effort is connected with this work of redemption, whether as a prerequisite or a future qualifier, it removes the sovereignty from God and therefore renders it a work of humanity completely. In other words, if I must participate in my redemption by any other means than belief, I cannot be redeemed. Thus, any and all actions on my part are a response to the belief that God was in Christ, reconciling me unto him and not counting my sins to me. Anything short of this is not grace. Grace as used in the gospel is unmerited favor whereby Holy Righteous God, accepts fallen sin filled man as righteous, based upon the merit of his Son Jesus Christ. He imputes or transfers the righteousness of Christ to the believer. The question becomes this, how does one appropriate the benefit of this transferred righteousness? The answer is simply believing, trusting and resting in this decree of God. In order to do this I must believe that Jesus is really the Son of God and God incarnate. I must believe that he fulfilled all the requirements of saving righteousness established by the Father. I must believe that as he died as a sacrifice for the fall, likewise, he rose to life eternal from the dead and that in so doing he purchased once for all time and all people free redemption and imputed transferred righteousness. This is the essential element of belief. This is not easy. Without the witness of the Spirit of God to our spirit it is impossible. Thus, conversion to the gospel is solely the work of the sovereignty of God by the message and the Holy Spirit. If once I have grasped this in totality, i.e., really believed it, nothing else can be required of me or my salvation is not of grace. This is irrefutable.
To tie the Christian walk admonitions to salvation or proof thereof robs the gospel of its effectiveness. It cripples the gospel and thus, impedes the power of God. This is precisely the reason for the importance of the doctrine of the Sabbath Rest. The epistle to the Hebrews establishes the doctrine of the Sabbath Rest. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (Hebrews 4:9 NAS95)
Let’s look at the Sabbath Rest. This concept is most important to the order
of operation of redemption. God has
decreed that he has redeemed mankind to the pre-fall state by the blood of
Jesus. This is the Sabbath Rest
for the people of God. The writer of
Hebrews uses the illustration of the Israelites who perished in the wilderness
to demonstrate unbelief. Look at what
David wrote; 1 ¶ Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to
the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come
before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with
psalms. 3 For the LORD is the great God,
And the great King above all gods. 4 In
His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His
also. 5 The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh
come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 7 ¶
For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His
hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: 8
"Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of
trial in the wilderness, 9 When your
fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. 10 For forty years I was grieved with that
generation, And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And
they do not know My ways.’ 11 So I swore
in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’" (Psalms 95:1-11
NKJV) The ninety-fifth Psalm is
instructive in the concept of the Sabbath Rest. It begins as a song of praise to a sovereign
God. God is the great God and likewise
he is the great King. There is none like
him. There is a personal message in this
Psalm. David says, we are the people
of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.
One should be able to rest and trust such an awesome God. This is especially true in view of being his
chosen. It is the warning however that plays an important part in explaining
the concept of the Sabbath Rest.
“Today, if you will hear His voice: 8
"Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of
trial in the wilderness, 9 When your
fathers tested Me;” The rebellion
spoken of here is
With this background well look at the Sabbath Rest passage in Hebrews; 1 ¶ Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; 5 and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest." 6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 ¶ Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:1-11 NKJV) Here is the long and the short of what is being said. Working for salvation and acceptance before God is worthless and useless. In fact, it is an abomination. God wants the believer to cease from work as God did from his work on the seventh day. What does it mean for the believer to cease from work. The believer must cease from working to be acceptable to God. The believer is acceptable to God only by the blood of Jesus and this is the source of the rest. If one feels that there is something additional that must be done to maintain acceptability before God then, such a one is not resting in the Sabbath Rest.
The Importance of Rest:
Rest is the catalyst for the fruit of the Spirit. It is only from the place of rest that one can honestly say that they love God. Without the Sabbath Rest one can only fear God. One can say that they love God apart from rest but they are merely self-deceived hypocrites. It is impossible to love one that is feared. This is why the Apostle John wrote that perfect love casts out fear be cause fear has an element of torment and the one who fears is not made perfect in love.
one is ever put in the position of doubting the efficacy Christ’s blood on his
or her behalf they can no longer love in the proper way. This is why faith is the only way to please
God. One must believe at all times in
all circumstances that Jesus paid it all.
Otherwise, the individual is left at some point with the responsibility
of being righteous before God apart from the blood of Jesus. This can only lead
to condemnation and defeat. The author
of this kind of doctrine is Satan himself.
He through his abominable lies drives a wedge between the believer and
God but it is not a real wedge. It is
merely Satan’s deception. The prime
distributor of this horrible lie is the Evangelical,
The Sabbath Rest lies in the fact that God judged sin in the flesh on the cross. God poured out his wrath on Jesus. He paid the penalty for sin once for all. The Sabbath Rest is found in believing God once for all. The life of a believer is a process and no one can be judged on a moment in time. God will judge on the basis of resting in the finished work of Jesus and nothing else. There is however fruit that resting in Jesus will produce. It is the fruit of the Spirit. This will manifest itself in love (charity) joy, peace, gentleness, meekness, patience and self-control. Likewise, one will also do the works that are spoken of in Ephesians. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians NKJV) These good works are specific in nature and narrow in scope. Yet, they are demanded throughout the entire scripture. The Evangelical, Institutional Christian Church has ignored theses works for the last two thousand years. The next section of this manual will be devoted to demonstrating that these works are necessary from God’s point of view.