THE CHRISTIAN REDEMPTION
Copyright © 2013 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
("The Christian Redemption" is taken from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson, copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson, found in the Kindle Library)
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Some passages of Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The Christian Redemption
The Redemption of the Body
The Sinful Nature
Set Free From the Law of Sin and Death
The Christian RedemptionWe are redeemed by the Lord Jesus, not from earth to Heaven but from the person and works of Satan to the fullness of the Person and works of Christ.
The current understanding of the Christian redemption, or salvation, is that we are forgiven so we may go to Heaven when we die. The purpose of bringing us to Heaven when we die is that we may be happy and not experience any more pain or worry.
In actuality, the purpose of redemption is to conform us to the image of God and to create in us stern obedience to the Father. Another way of expressing the purpose of redemption is that it moves us from Satan to God, not from earth to Heaven. Salvation is not a change of location but a change in us. Salvation includes immortality in our body.
The fact of the matter is that the purpose for the existence of the present world is to select and prepare rulers who will be able to serve God faithfully, maintaining Paradise once God restores it to the earth.
The works of redemption that are in addition to forgiveness are the primary subject of the writings of the Apostles. But it often is true that these additional works are not even mentioned much less taught. This is because the Christian people, believing they have been forgiven and are on their way to Heaven by Divine grace, see no reason to become too concerned about further works of redemption.
For example, the "rest of God," which is the thesis of the Book of Hebrews, is seldom mentioned in today's preaching in America. This is true also of the concept of "attaining to the out-resurrection," which is the stated mark of the Apostle Paul.
The purpose of conforming us to the image of God and creating in us stern obedience to the Father is that we might be able to have fellowship with God; fulfill all of God's needs and desires; and assist in the building of his Kingdom.
Four examples of God's many needs and desires are: a living temple for himself; a bride for the Lamb; brothers for God's Son, Jesus Christ; and restorers and maintainers of Paradise on the earth.
Let me point out that the goal of today's preaching is that we might go to Heaven and be happy. However, the actual goal of redemption is that we might be conformed to God's image and enter rest in his will so He can use us to build his Kingdom. Also, and of prime importance, is that we might have fellowship with God.
Of these two different goals, which sounds to you like it may be the correct, scriptural goal? If you have chosen the first, that the goal of salvation is eternal residence in Heaven, I can't help you. It is not scriptural.
If you choose the second, as I have, that the goal of salvation is to be in the image of Christ and at rest in God's Person and will, I may be able to say something that will be helpful to you as you pursue the scriptural goal.
Let us proceed to describe seven steps that we have to take if we are to be able to satisfy God's needs and desires as He builds his Kingdom.
It is important to remember, as we encounter these several phases of redemption, that we, in water baptism, have chosen to regard ourselves as having been crucified with Jesus Christ and raised from the dead with Jesus Christ.
This position, firmly established in our mind, frees us completely from the authority of the Law of Moses.
Having been crucified and raised with the Lord Jesus, we now are legally free to turn away from the Law of Moses and to follow the Spirit of God as He leads us through the program of redemption. The Law of Moses cannot condemn us because we by faith have become an integral part of Christ's death and resurrection.
Except for forgiveness and the resurrection of the body, the seven phases of redemption do not take place in order. They all are in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are applied to us at various times and in various manners until they are brought to maturity in our personality.
The first aspect of redemption is the forgiveness of our sins. Christ has made an atonement for the sins of the whole world. This was a sovereign act of God. Our task is to receive the atonement by faith. We then are completely forgiven, and qualified to follow the Holy Spirit in the next six aspects of redemption, not having to worry about the Law of Moses.
The second aspect of redemption is deliverance from too much dependence on the world system for survival, security, and pleasure, such as entertainment. God helps us with this as we pray and seek his guidance. He sends suffering upon us so the world no longer is pleasant.
There may be sickness in our family. We may experience loss of income. Our children may become incorrigible. We may be sued. People may treat us unjustly and harm us. All sorts of things may happen so we will turn from unnecessary involvement in the world and seek the Lord.
The third aspect of redemption is that of following the Holy Spirit as He proceeds to point out the various elements of the body of sin that dwells in our flesh. Because we have counted ourselves crucified with Christ, the Law of Moses no longer can condemn us. The Law has no authority over "dead" people. We are free to follow the Spirit of God at all times.
We can think of the "body of sin" as a suitcase filled with poisonous snakes. It is baggage we bring with us when we enter Christ. As we confess and renounce these motivations, turning away from them by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit takes the life out of them so we can reject them readily in the future.
If we follow the Spirit of God in our daily life, the righteousness which would have been ours had we kept the Law of Moses perfectly, is ascribed to us. We are free from condemnation while we are following the Spirit of God.
God can remove the suitcase full of poison snakes totally from any person at any time, just as He has the power to remove a disease and give us perfect health. But He doesn't do this, because it is in the battle against the snakes that the conquering spirit is formed in us. The conquering spirit formed in God's saints will be necessary during the ages to come to prevent future rebellions against God.
Also, the house from Heaven that will clothe our resurrected body is formed as we press through every testing and overcome all that the enemy brings against us.
God uses the body of sin plus all sorts of pains and frustrations in order to shape our inward personality, according to the design He has in mind for each individual.
The fourth aspect of redemption is that of learning stern obedience to the Father. As in the case of freedom from dependence on the world system, God has to create obedience in us through suffering. God permits Satan to put us in some kind of prison, into some situation that we do not enjoy. It is our responsibility to remain in that prison. If we try to break out, we will not learn the lessons of obedience and will lose our crown of rulership.
The suffering God sends to make us holy, to separate us from the filthiness of the world system, cannot be avoided. All we can do is pray and seek wisdom as to how to survive our pain and gain victory. Perhaps a son or daughter is taken from us by death or sickness, and there may be nothing we can do.
But the tragedy may turn us away from the world as we seek Christ for his wisdom and guidance and place our hope in Heaven. The same is true if we are seriously injured in a car accident. Perhaps we are being sued unjustly and are not able to defend ourselves successfully.
However, unlike the suffering that is designed to turn us away from the world system, the suffering God sends to teach us stern obedience to God can often be avoided. For example, Abraham could have refused to offer Isaac. Christ could have refused to drink the cup of suffering. The husband or wife who leaves his or her mate for another who seems more desirable, is unwilling to remain in an unpleasant situation.
It is by refusing to break out of God's prison, though we may have our hopes deferred for many years, that we gain the crown of life. We always are to pray that God will give us the desires of our heart; but we are not to move until we know God has released us.
It is your cross of suffering. You can choose to bear it patiently, or else to escape from under it. If you choose to escape from your cross, choosing the path of pleasure instead, you will lose your crown of life.
The fifth aspect of redemption is that of being born again. When we repent of our ungodly life and are baptized in water, the Seed, Christ, is planted in our personality. We must patiently nourish this new Life with prayer, daily Bible reading, gathering with fervent disciples, giving, serving, and communing with Christ constantly.
As we faithfully nourish our new Life, our first, adamic, animal nature becomes increasingly weak while the new Life becomes increasingly strong. This is the Divine Nature of God that has been born in us and it will bring forth an entirely new creation. The new creation itself is the Kingdom of God.
It is possible to lose the new Life by not taking care of it properly.
The sixth aspect of redemption is the resurrection from the dead. Our mortal body, minus its blood, will be raised from the dead. Then our behavior during our lifetime on the earth, which has taken the form of a house, or robe, in the spirit world, will emerge from the spirit world and clothe our mortal frame.
If we have obeyed the Spirit of God, our house from Heaven will be a body of eternal life like that of the Lord Jesus. If we have obeyed our sinful nature, our house from Heaven will be filled with the corruption we have sown. We will be raised, as Daniel prophesied, to shame and everlasting contempt. In this case we have not been redeemed. We have perished.
We have to overcome our sinful nature before we are eligible for the desired change in our body. The last enemy that will be overcome is physical death.
If we still are living on earth when Christ appears, our mortal body will be "changed." When this change occurs, there will be no more poisonous snakes in our flesh. This particular means (resisting the snakes) by which we attain to the conquering personality, that is, by resisting sinful tendencies, no longer will be present.
But first we must attain to the inward resurrection before the outer change in our body is possible.
We attain to the inward resurrection as through the development of Christ in us we gain complete victory over all aspects of our sinful nature.
Those who do not attain to the inward resurrection will not be resurrected until after the thousand-year Kingdom Age has taken place. Then God will save to the new world of righteousness those who have sought to live with integrity. But the wicked will be thrown into the Lake of Fire
To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; But to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. (Romans 2:7,8—NASB)
Today's Christian teaching stresses "grace," "accepting" Christ, and imputed righteousness. The need for righteous behavior is mentioned but not emphasized. In actual fact, The emphases of the New Testament are first, Jesus Christ as supreme Lord; second, righteousness and eternal life through Christ rather than through the Law of Moses; third, righteousness and holiness of being and behavior.
The seventh aspect of redemption is the coming of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to dwell with us in our new body. We now are seated with Christ on his Throne as He is seated with his Father on the Father's Throne. The Throne of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and us is the new human personality.
What I have just set forth are the seven aspects of redemption. Faithfully pursued they will conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ and bring us into perfect rest in the center of God's Person and will. Then we will be qualified and competent to fulfill all of the roles in the Kingdom of God to which the Father may assign us.
A prime work of the Kingdom is the casting out of us spiritual darkness, including wickedness, uncleanness, and death. When we add to this the forming of Christ in us, and the dwelling of the fullness of God in that which has been formed in us, we have the Kingdom of God.
The spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement will last from now until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, or beyond. It will affect all individuals in the physical and spirit worlds. It is the removal from God's creation of the forces of sin from everyone who desires such removal.
The most marvelous Heaven would be ruined by the presence of one self-seeking individual. Personality transformation must come before Paradise.
After we have been fully redeemed, what then is true of us personally as we fulfill our roles throughout the coming ages of eternity?
We are obedient to Christ at all times.
God is first in our life in all matters.
We love our neighbor as ourselves.
We walk humbly with God, we being the patriarch of our clan, in iron righteousness and fiery holiness forever—ages without end.
Once redemption has been completed in our personality we are ready for our predestined inheritance of God and people, and an appropriate environment. We are eternally at home in our immortal body.
God himself has become our salvation.
Then we are "home" at last.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28,29—NIV)
The Redemption of the BodyTwo expressions refer to the making alive of the mortal body. The first expression is, "the resurrection of the body." The second expression is, the "redemption of the body."
The "resurrection" of the body refers to the making alive of the body by Divine energy, the raising up of that which lies helpless. The "redemption" of the body refers to rescuing the body from the power of death and Satan and filling it with God's Spirit. When we refer to "resurrection" in this present essay we are speaking of the making alive of the body; of the resurrection of the body; and of the redemption of the body.
In the following two passages the Apostle Paul points out that the resurrection of his body is his goal:
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11—NIV)
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:22-25—NIV)
Why do you think Paul would want to attain to the resurrection (literally out-resurrection) from the dead? It is because this is the first resurrection. Those who attain to the first resurrection from the dead will rule with Christ during the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
Anyone who understands that the resurrection of the dead will be in two stages, and is aware of the glory and honor associated with the first resurrection and the opportunity to install with Christ the Kingdom of God on the earth, likely will desire fervently to attain to the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
In view of the glory which is part of the first resurrection it is readily understandable why Paul was laying aside all else that he might attain to such fellowship with the Lord.
I do not believe I ever have heard anyone teach about the first resurrection. Have you? This is surprising, isn't it, in that attaining to the first resurrection should be our goal, according to Paul
Perhaps because of the general viewpoint of Christian people that Satan will never be defeated, and that as long as we are in the world we have to sin, Christian teachers and preachers have made eternal residence in Heaven the goal of our salvation. They assume that our physical death and entrance into Heaven will deliver us from sin. But there is not a hint of such a goal or such deliverance in the Old Testament or the New Testament.
However, the Old Testament tells us that sin finally shall be driven from the creation of God. The New Testament states that Satan shall be crushed under the feet of the saints.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20—NIV)
The Good News of the Kingdom of God is that Satan shall be overthrown and sin shall be brought to an end. This Good News is infinitely better than the "Good News" that God's people shall be moved from earth to Heaven so that Satan can inherit the earth.
"Seventy sevens" are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. (Daniel 9:24—NIV)
But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. (Daniel 7:26,27—NIV)
Physical death itself shall be destroyed under the powerful hand of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:25,26—NIV)
In light of the above we can see how we have been deceived. The purpose of the Divine redemption is not to bring God's people to Heaven to reside forever. The purpose of redemption, or salvation, is to destroy Satan and all of his works and followers from God's creation.
We are to be pressing toward the redeeming of our body from the power of death and sin. This is our hope. Not to go to Heaven but to live by the Life of Jesus Christ as the Father puts all of Christ's enemies under his feet. We are to work with Him as He installs the Kingdom of God upon the earth.
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3—NASB)
"Receive you to Myself."
"So shall we ever be with the Lord."
"These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
"To walk humbly with your God."
That where He is, there we may be also. This is the highest of all goals—that we might be with the Lord Jesus where He is, at all times; in all circumstances. Our fellowship with Jesus is to take place today—right now—not sometime in the future or after we die.
Such is the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The myths about mansions in Heaven have been developed throughout the centuries of the Christian Era until the idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God has been buried under the rubble of tradition. The original Gospel is being restored in our day.
I said at the beginning of this present essay that the making alive of the physical body, the resurrection of the body, and the redemption of the body, all refer to the same Divine salvation. I have just been discussing the resurrection of the body. Now I wish to treat the concept of redemption.
The redemption of the human body is the deliverance of the body from the authority and power of Satan and death. Notice Paul's hope in the following passage:
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:23-25—NIV)
We already have mentioned why Paul would desire attaining to the "resurrection" of his body. But why would he hope for the "redemption" of his body? Both "resurrection" and "redemption" are referring to the making alive of the body, its change into immortality, its being clothed with the "house from Heaven."
The following passage is the reason for Paul's hope:
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:21-24—NIV)
The Apostle Paul desired the redemption of his body, its release from the bondage of Satan and sin, so he could live righteously.
Because we Christians have the tradition of going to Heaven and living there forever, we find some of Paul's writings to be difficult to understand. Paul at one time told of his desire to be with the Lord. But he never spoke of wanting to go to Heaven to live forever.
Paul's goal was the redeeming of his physical body so he could serve God in righteousness. This should be our goal also.
It appears to me we are due for a reformation of Christian thinking. Much good has been accomplished by the Christian religion throughout the Christian Era. Now we are beginning to understand what the Gospel of the Kingdom really is all about.
We always have prayed "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven." But we have not believed our own prayer. We have assumed, it seems to me, that Satan and sin never could actually be banished from the earth, and so our best hope is to go to Heaven to live.
But this is not what the Bible teaches, is it? The Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ shall return with his saints and holy angels and establish his Kingdom on the earth—just as the Christians have prayed for so many centuries.
The Kingdom of God is coming. It is at hand! When the Lord returns He will bring with Him those who have died while abiding in him. Then they shall be raised to immortality. Also at this time we, the living, shall be changed so that we also have an immortal body.
After a time of fellowship, all of us who have immortal bodies will be raised from the earth, in the sight of the people of the world, to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. Then we will be mounted on the white war stallions.
The vials of wrath will be poured out on the earth. Then we will descend with the Lord Jesus. Antichrist and the False Prophet shall be hurled into the Lake of Fire. One mighty angel will bind Satan and throw him into the Bottomless Pit. Now the Lord Jesus and his saints will govern the earth with a rod of iron. They shall rule from Jerusalem on the earth, as I understand it.
If we desire to be associated with our Lord in these epochal events, we must press forward in Christ each day, gaining victory over the world, our flesh, and our self-will. Many Christians will not deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Christ. If my understanding is correct, even though they profess faith in Christ they will not pass from mortality to immortality when the Lord appears.
We are well advised, I believe, to emulate the Apostle Paul by laying aside all else that we might attain to the resurrection from the dead.
In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:52,53—NIV)
The Sinful NatureAs we attempt to describe the sinful nature, and the way Christ deals with it, we need to distinguish between the sinful nature and the adamic personality.
The adamic personality is our human personality. Before we are redeemed, the adamic personality includes our sinful nature. However, it may be useful to distinguish between our adamic personality and our sinful nature.
When the adamic personality was created along with the rest of the physical world, "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good." Adam and Eve were without a sinful nature when they were created.
Where, then, did the sinful nature come from? It came from Satan, who was not content with the position in which God had placed him. It may be true that part of his discontent arose because God did not give him a physical body like that of Adam and Eve. Also, Satan may be upset that he was not gifted with gender, with the ability to be in union with another personality.
Satan came to earth and put discontent in the heart of Adam and Eve. It seems to me that all sin comes from our not being content with our present situation. Could that be a fact?
Am I saying that it is wrong to have desires? Not at all. But we must pray continually that God will put his desires in our heart. We are to pray that we will receive what it is we desire, meanwhile giving thanks for our present blessings. Then we are to wait patiently for our desires to be fulfilled.
Sin often is characterized by the demand to get what we want right now! But patience is of the Kingdom of God.
According to the Apostle Paul, the sinful nature comprises a set of impulses that dwell in our flesh.
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. (Romans 7:17—NIV)
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. (Romans 7:18—NASB)
For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:22,23—NASB)
Paul is telling us that his inner being, his true self minus the sinful nature, delights in God's law. He loves righteous, holy behavior and obedience to God. This same goodness of the adamic nature is revealed as the Lord speaks of those who receive the Word in an "honest and good heart" (Luke 8:15—NIV).
So here we have three separate natures in one individual. One is the "inner being," the human personality born of our parents. A second is the sinful nature—sinful impulses living in the individual's flesh, within the members of his or her body. A third is the developing Divine Nature, Christ being formed in him or her.
PauI says, "As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me." I believe the term "living" is important to note. When speaking of "the sinful nature" we are not referring to some sort of abstractions that are part of the biologic makeup of the person, the chemical, electrical, or muscular elements. The impulses that cause us to sin are living forces. No doubt they are spirits that we have inherited due to the fact that our forefathers rebelled against God; or else they are bondages we have acquired as we have succumbed to the temptation to do evil.
They are spirits that God desires to judge and remove—and here is our hope of redemption!
In the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul distinguishes between the two natures. Paul claims that if we are to destroy the sinful nature we must present our entire first personality, including the sinful nature, to the cross with the Lord Jesus. Once we have "died," in this sense, the Holy Spirit can begin the work of judging and removing the unclean spirits of sin from us.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:6,7—NIV)
Did you note the difference between "our old self," and "the body of sin"? Our old self is just that—our first personality. It itself is not the sinful nature.
"Our old self" is our first personality, born of our father and mother. Our old self must be crucified if we are to get rid of the sinful nature.
"Him" is the Lord Jesus Christ."
"The body of sin" refers to the unclean spirits, the sinful inclinations that dwell in our flesh.
"Might be done away with" means these spirits have been judged by us as not fit for the Kingdom of God. We have put them to death through the Spirit as we turn away from them. They finally shall be removed from our personality at the coming of the Lord. This work of judgment and removal must always be under the supervision of the Spirit of God.
A problem of understanding may arise when one is studying the New Testament. The reader must be clear in his mind whether the guilt of sin is being discussed, or the sinful impulse, the evil spirit itself. If the distinction is not made clear, then, when we have such an expression as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," we are apt to think Christ can only remove the guilt, not the sin itself. Such misinterpretation is a contemporary error of great magnitude. The entire concept of redemption from the bondage of Satan is robbed of the strength and fullness of its meaning.
In my book, Godwill Castle, I have distinguished between learning the righteous ways of Heaven, and the creation of the Kingdom of God. All people, whether of God's elect, or the members of the saved nations, must learn the righteous ways of Heaven. Each person of the new world of righteousness must place God first in everything in his or her life, must treat his neighbor as he himself would be treated, and must be absolutely obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The creation of the Kingdom of God is another matter. The creating of the Kingdom of God proceeds along two main dimensions. The first dimension is the removal of all worldliness, the lusts of the flesh, and self-seeking from the believer. The second dimension is the growth to maturity of the Divine Seed in the person, and then the coming of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to dwell in Their Fullness in that transformed personality. This is the rest of God to which we are to attain.
Our next consideration has to do with the fact that we are dealing with two groups of saved people. By "saved," I mean that God has authorized them to be citizens of the new world of righteousness, which will be installed on the new earth when it comes down through the new sky. One group is that of the members of the nations who have chosen to believe and be baptized according to the command of Christ. The second group consists of God's elect, of the members of the Royal Priesthood, the Wife of the Lamb.
The following six paragraphs are not found in the Scriptures. They have proceeded from an increased awareness I am experiencing of the spirit world, and are described in my book, Godwill Castle. I do not expect anyone to accept them unless he or she chooses to do so.
All saved people must learn the righteous, holy ways of Heaven. How this is accomplished is described in my book. Each individual must be taught the righteous ways of Heaven during his lifetime on the earth, or while in a confined area in the spirit world. The righteous ways of Heaven are to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to treat our neighbor as we would have him treat us.
No individual, whether of God's elect or of the nations of the saved, will be permitted full liberty in the new world of righteousness until God's workers have determined that he or she is free from rebellion against God and free from antisocial behavior.
The first opportunity for social growth arises from the challenges to our personality while we are living on the earth.
Most of us, when we die, will be placed in a confined area in the spirit world where we will be taught the righteous ways of Heaven. Our teachers will be either angels or mature saints
The next place of social growth is that which takes place in a community of people in a suburb and city in the spirit world.
After having experienced successfully life in a community, whether on the earth or in the spirit world, the members of God's elect move on to life in the new Jerusalem. There they are prepared to govern, along with the Lord Jesus Christ, the members of the nations who have been saved to life on the new earth.
There are three principal differences between the members of the elect, and the saved people of the nations of the earth. The first difference is the degree of Christ that has been formed in them. Every person in the new world of righteousness will have a portion of Christ in him or her. But the members of the elect will have much more of Christ in them.
The second difference is that the members of the elect are the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Church. They are part of Christ in a way that is not true of the saved people of the nations.
The third difference is that the members of the elect will govern the people who have chosen to serve Christ but are not members of the elect. The elect are the Royal Priesthood, the new Jerusalem. They shall rule with Christ forever.
But getting back to the sinful nature.
The removal of all sinful spirits from God's Kingdom is spoken of as follows:
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. he who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:40-43—NIV)
The above passage tells us of the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. The blood of the first goat, of the Day of Atonement, illustrates the forgiveness that is given to us based on the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ when He was crucified.
The weeding out of God's Kingdom of everything that causes sin and all who do evil is illustrated by the removing of the living scapegoat, during that same Day of Atonement, from the presence of the assembled Israelites.
From the passage in Matthew we might conclude that such weeding out of sin will occur almost instantaneously. The truth is, the weeding out has begun in our day and will continue until the end of the Thousand-year Kingdom Age. It is the purpose for the Kingdom Age. The Kingdom Age is the great Kingdom-wide spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, during which people are reconciled to God.
Notice carefully the seeming discrepancy between the following two verses:
"The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:20—NIV)
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." (Romans 11:26,27—NIV)
"The Deliverer will come to Zion." "The Deliverer will come from Zion."
However, as all experienced saints have found, there are no actual discrepancies in God's Word.
In Isaiah, the Spirit of God is declaring the same operation found in Matthew. Christ shall come to God's elect who have a repentant heart. He shall redeem the repentant. All of this glory will come to those who are willing to turn away from their sins.
As soon as the repentant have been set free from their sins they will work outward from their special place with the Lord and turn godless behavior away from all others who have been chosen by the Lord. Sin shall be removed from all Israel.
When sin has been removed from all of God's elect, then righteousness and praise shall spring forth in the sight of the nations of the earth. The Glory of God shall be revealed in his elect. Then the members of the nations can choose to serve God's Israel, or else incur the displeasure of God. It is in serving God's elect that the members of the nations will inherit the Kingdom of God and enter eternal life.
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." (Matthew 25:34-36—NIV)
For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12—NIV)
Ordinarily people have to be actively involved in the removal of unclean spirits. Such removal can take place whether we are alive on the earth in our physical state, or in the spirit world, as the fourth chapter of First Peter indicates.
Usually the person to be delivered becomes aware of an evil element in his or her personality, either by the conviction of the Spirit of God, or by another means such as preaching, reading the Bible, or by instruction in an institution such as I have described in Godwill Castle.
I use the terms "ordinarily" and "usually" because I do not wish to suggest God cannot deliver in any manner that pleases him.
Next, the person to be redeemed from evil must confess each sinful motivation specifically and clearly as it is pointed out to him or her by the Spirit of God. He must denounce it as evil, and then renounce it, stating forcefully that with the Lord's help such behavior never again will be practiced by him.
Christ has given to man to exercise such judgment. Man permitted Satan to enter the earth. It is up to man to drive Satan from the earth, but he cannot do it by himself. He must have the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God.
Once the evil inclination has been confessed clearly and specifically, God has promised to forgive the sin and cleanse the personality of all unrighteousness. Then the fellowship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be restored to the believer.
Please note that the Divine judgment is on the evil spirit, not on the individual who faithfully has confessed the spirit. It is the eternal judgment of Satan.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9—NIV)
Set Free From the Law of Sin and DeathThe explanation of redemption, beginning in Chapter Six of Romans and ending with Chapter Eight, is not the easiest argument to understand.
In Romans, Chapter Six, which numerous Bible teachers incorrectly apply to the unsaved, Paul tells us that when we have been baptized in water we should count that we are dead with Christ and alive with Christ in order that the body of sin that lives in us may be destroyed.
Paul states that if we then continue to sin we will die spiritually, because the wages of sin is death. God, on the other hand, will give us the gift of eternal spiritual life provided we continue in slavery to righteousness and holiness.
Chapter Seven is written to "men who know the Law," that is, to Jews. Paul is saying that under the Law, while our inner nature wants to practice righteousness, our sinful nature causes us to act as a slave to sin.
I realize that Gentile Christian teachers often use Paul's words to the Jews as an excuse for sinful behavior, maintaining that as long as we are alive in the present world we can be compelled to sin. They are misapplying Paul's argument. Paul is saying that trying to be righteous under the Law is futile, because of our sinful nature. He then proceeds in Chapter Eight of Romans to show us how under Christ, instead of under the Law of Moses, we can be set free from slavery to sin.
The important issue to the Jew is whether he can abandon Moses and look to Christ, and remain righteous in the sight of God. This is why Paul, as he begins to explain how Christ can set us free from bondages of sin, starts off with "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ." You can leave Moses, come to Christ, and still be counted righteous. This is an awesome concept to the Jew who has lived under the Law for many years.
When speaking of being set free from sin, we are not referring to being set free from the guilt of sin but from the sinful bondages that cause us to sin against our will. In other words, we are referring to righteous behavior.
The monumental error in the Christian thinking of our day is that Christ forgives our sin, but He cannot set us free from slavery to sinful behavior—that is, not in this present world. This misunderstanding arises perhaps from applying Chapter Seven of Romans to Christian people.
Because our tradition holds that to be saved is to be ready to go to Heaven when we die, it is difficult to understand substantial parts of the New Testament. Actually the subject of the New Testament is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, not the going of saved people to Heaven when they die.
The war against evil began when Satan desired to take the place of the Father. In the present hour we probably are at a midpoint in this war. The main victory will occur at the Battle of Armageddon. At that time the False Prophet and Antichrist shall be confined in the Lake of Fire.
Satan will be bound by an angel and cast into the Bottomless Pit. Satan will not be released until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. He then will lead the nations in rebellion against Christ and His saints. God will send down fire from Heaven and destroy the rebels, and throw Satan into the Lake of Fire.
Because the Kingdom of Christ will continue to grow into eternal ages, there always will be the possibility that a human being or an angel will decide to rebel against Christ. However, the saints will rule, and all rebellion will be dealt with in one manner or another.
God has determined to make an end to sin, and God will accomplish His desire. As I stated, we are about halfway through the war against evil. The work today is for the fervent disciples of Jesus to confess the sins that the Spirit reveals to them, and to confess and utterly renounce these behaviors.
The Father promised Christ that his enemies would be made Christ's footstool. All the works of Satan are to be crushed under the feet of Christ. Putting to death the actions of our sinful nature is equivalent to Christ's enemies being put under his feet. We realize, therefore, that it is time now for God's saints to begin to work with the Spirit of God in putting to death all of the sinful actions of our body.
The eighth chapter of Romans is not primarily about deliverance from the guilt of sin but deliverance from the practice of sin.
Consider the following carefully, remembering this is written to "All in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints":
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:11-14—NIV)
Please notice that we are not obliged to live according to our sinful nature.
Does the above passage sound to you like deliverance from the guilt of sin or deliverance from the practice of sin?
There are two aspects of redemption we might consider. First, the critical role of God's Spirit in delivering us from the practice of sin.
Second, the above four verses (Romans 8:11-14) follow Paul's statement that if we diligently live in continual obedience to the Spirit of God, then eventually the Spirit of God will redeem our physical body by filling it with Himself.
The following passage confirms what we are saying in this essay:
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-25—NIV)
Notice the sorts of behaviors we are to crucify:
Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
These spirits dwell in our flesh. God has designed our battles so He may choose from among his elect those who will govern his Kingdom. If we do not put these behaviors to death through the Spirit of God, we will not be given an incorruptible body when the Lord comes. But if we do put them to death through the Spirit of God, if we are an overcomer, if we are a victorious saint, we will govern the creation with Christ at his appearing and his Kingdom.
So we see we have a part to play in our destiny. If we choose to live in victory, we will live and reign with Christ. If we choose to live as most Christians in America do, we will live and die as any other person, and then be raised and judged at the final resurrection of the dead.
Paul's point is this: The making alive of our physical body, which will take place when the Lord Jesus next appears, depends on our being faithful in putting to death the sinful deeds of our body. If we thus are faithful during our discipleship, then, when Jesus appears, at the sounding of the last trumpet, those who sleep in Jesus will be raised from the dead, and the bodies of those who are living on the earth at that time will be made alive in the Spirit of God.
The redemption of his body, which was Paul's goal, would enable Paul to have that freedom from his "body of death" that he so desired—freedom from the desire to sin.
One reason we Gentiles have a difficult time correctly interpreting Paul's writings is that Paul's goal was righteous behavior, whereas our stated goal is eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven. The true goal of the Divine redemption is righteous people. It is a change in what we are as a person, not the transfer of us from earth to Heaven.
As long as we view eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of our redemption we will not make the effort necessary to live the life of victory over sin.
Romans 8:13 offers us the redemption of our body if, through the Spirit of God, we keep putting to death the desires of our sinful nature. But—Christian or not—offers also the assurance that if we continue to live according to our sinful nature we will not experience a change in our physical body when the Lord appears.
Paul says the same thing in the Book of Galatians:
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8—NIV)
Perhaps we could sum up Paul's statements in the sixth through the eighth chapters of the Book of Romans by saying that if we choose to obey the Spirit of God each day, the guilt of our sin incurred under the Law of Moses is removed on the basis of the blood atonement made by the Lord on the cross of Calvary.
Now we are free to be led by the Spirit of God rather than the Law of Moses. The Spirit is ready, willing, and able at all times to guide us in each aspect of our daily behavior. As we choose to turn aside from behavior that we know to be displeasing to God, the Spirit strengthens us and puts to death the sinful compulsions that are in us.
The process, or program, I am describing consists actually of steps to the first resurrection from the dead, the inward resurrection that always must precede the outward.
In light of some of the current teachings, let me utter a word of caution. It is true that the Spirit of God performs every act of significance in the Kingdom of God. We have fellowship with him, as well as with the Father and the Son. We are baptized into the Name of the Spirit of God.
However, the fellowship is to be one-sided. The Holy Spirit speaks to us and guides us. But we never are to speak to Him or attempt to guide him. We never are to pray to him. We never are to sing to him. We never are to worship him.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of all. He died for our sins. The Spirit did not die for our sins. Christ is the Bridegroom. The Holy Spirit is not the Bridegroom. Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is not true of the Spirit of God. Jesus Christ is our elder Brother. The Holy Spirit is not our elder Brother.
Think of the Spirit as One whose Presence we feel, a Presence that comforts us. Whatever we need, we are to go to Christ who in turn goes to the Father. We can go to the Father in Jesus' name directly, if we wish. Then the Father guides and empowers the Son so he can direct the Spirit to assist us in our hour of need. This is the actual, scriptural, management pattern of the Kingdom of God. This is what the Spirit guides us to do.
If we look to Jesus at all times, in all situations, the Spirit of God will continue to guide and strengthen us. We have been delivered from the guilt of sin and now are being delivered from the power of sin to control our behavior.
The Holy Spirit, as was true of Eliezer of Damascus, Abraham's servant, has been charged with bringing a suitable wife to the Son of God. The Spirit delights in this task and does not seek our attention.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:12-14—NIV)