Rule of Three
God has a plan for mankind. It has never changed from the day man was created in the Garden of Eden, and the day is coming soon that it will be fulfilled. The plan is and always has been for man, in partnership with God, to rule the earth. At the very beginning Adam was granted dominion (rulership) over the earth; but by wrongly exercising his will; he fell into sin and forfeited his right to rulership of the earth, relinquishing it to Satan, the “god and prince” of this world, and all his henchmen.
“god of this world”: 2 Corinthians 4:4; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12
The day is now quite near that the Lord Jesus Christ will return in the clouds to snatch out (rapture) His Church, all who by faith alone in Christ alone have been permanently justified before God on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, and within approximately seven years after that He will come back in glory to establish His literal millennial (1,000 year) kingdom upon earth in which His plan for mankind will resume.
The Rapture of the Church: John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; Philippians 3:20, 21; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:19; 4:13-18; 5:9, 23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 1 Timothy 6:14; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 8:28; James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 5:4; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Revelation 2:25; 3:10; 4:1; 22:7, 12, 20. The Second Coming of Christ to earth: Matthew 26:64; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 2:8; Jude 14, 15; Revelation 1:7; 19:11; 20:6
But although there exists in these last days scoffers who are walking after their own lusts and denying the second coming of Christ, thereby revealing their willing ignorance of Bible doctrine and prophecy; it is most certain that God’s plan is on schedule and the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the entire earth will be consumed in fire (2 Peter 3:3-10). But approximately 1,007 years preceding this event the Rapture of the Church most assuredly will occur in which Jesus Christ will descend into earth’s troposphere accompanied by a shout and the sound of the trumpet and will snatch up to Himself all the bodies of all that have been saved, both those that are in the grave and those that have yet to expire.
Once the Rapture, the subsequent Tribulation Period (7-year period of God’s judgment upon the earth), and the physical return to terra firma (second advent) of Jesus Christ in the company of His faithful saints takes place; Christ will then establish His kingdom upon earth, which will last for 1,000 years duration. It will be during this time that those saints who have persevered in faithfulness to their Savior will have the reward of reigning (rulership) with Christ over earth, the fulfillment of God’s destiny for mankind.
Contrary to that which most Bible teachers teach, not all of the saved of this period of time will be given the privilege of ruling and reigning with Christ over the earth. Instead, scripture teaches that it will be given only to those who are saved and who bring forth fruit. This will ultimately be decided at the Judgment seat of Christ. Scripture gives a sad commentary indeed, particularly in these last days, when it tells us that only a few Christians will gain this reward. (Shorck & Surprise Beyond the Rapture, Gary T. Whipple, Th.M., Schoettle Publishing Co. Inc., 1992)
This will be a shock and a surprise to most Christians, particularly since the majority of evangelical preachers and teachers of today advance the notion that all believers will either be treated equally after physical death and/or will reign with Christ during His millennial kingdom. Sadly, this will not be the case. Their error of doctrine lies in their confusion of various passages of scripture dealing with the three aspects of salvation, and their propensity toward “illegitimate totality transfer.” An “illegitimate totality transfer” is an exegetical error of importing the “sense of meaning” of a word or phrase as determined in one context or linguistic setting into all uses of the word or phrase regardless of context or linguistic setting. It is essentially a function of the inappropriate study of God’s Word and the practice of jumping to theological conclusions.
The Rule of Three
To unlock the mystery of God’s Word in this matter, and thereby avoid the pitfall of doctrinal error, it is essential to understand the Rule of Three. Numbers play an integral part in God’s Word and its interpretation. Although the student will find that there are differences in opinion regarding many of the numbers found in Scripture, there is general agreement that the number three represents the Godhead, the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. There is ample evidence of this trichotomy reality of the One God in Holy Writ. The reader is advised to access the topical study entitled “The Trinity” at www.bibleone.net for a detailed treatment of this most critical Bible doctrine.
And from this basic concept of God stems the Rule of Three, which for the Bible student is essential to grasp if he is to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). This study will set forth the meaning of the Rule of Three, first in the composition of man, secondly in the salvation of man, then in the person of Christ and His work, and finally in the kingdom of God.
The Rule of Three in the Composition of Man
Much of today’s theological deliberation is concerned with man as a dichotomy, i.e., man is composed of only two parts—the physical and nonphysical, with the nonphysical being described by the theory that the terms of “spirit” and “soul” are always interchangeable. This makes for intriguing theological discussion, but it cannot be supported in Scripture. The Bible clearly teaches that man is made in the image of God; that he is a trichotomy, which is to say he is a three-part being. Man has a body, a soul, and a spirit. In Scripture each of these parts has boundaries that can be separated from one another (Hebrews 4:12). The body needs no explanation. The soul is the seat of man’s intellect, will, and emotions. The spirit is that part of man that is able to connect to and unite with God. Man is born with body and soul intact, but his spirit is dead, a condition inherited from the progeny of Adam as a result of his disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Once a person believes (trusts, place confidence) in Jesus Christ for his personal salvation, the Holy Spirit revitalizes his spirit. It is in fact permanently made alive, i.e., it is “born-again” (John 3:2-7). And each part of man must be saved and preserved unto the coming of the Lord in order for man to rule and reign with Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
The Rule of Three in Man’s Salvation
Salvation is also a tripartite doctrine. A Christian has been saved, is being saved, and will be saved. This three-part doctrine is often partitioned and described as justification, sanctification, and glorification. Each has to do with a different part of tripartite (body, soul, and spirit) man. It is unfortunate that these aspects of salvation are often ignored, misinterpreted, and/or misapplied, birthing doctrinal error.
Justification—Past Tense Salvation—Salvation of the Spirit
On the cross of Calvary Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of mankind for a 3-hour period, being made this sin, which caused a spiritual separation from God the Father (Matthew 27:45, 46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24). This grace-gift vicarious (substitional) sacrifice satisfied the holiness and justice of God for man’s disobedience and was therefore the penalty-price payment for his sin, the foundation for his salvation. Once the penalty-price was paid Jesus voluntarily gave up physical and temporal life (John 19:30), was buried, but rose from the grave on the third day according to Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4); all which verified His claim to deity, His completely effectual (efficacious) sacrifice on the cross, and His salvation message (John 3:14-18).
The means by which man may appropriate this portion of God’s grace-gift of salvation, which was paid for by the sacrifice of His Son on Calvary, is amply expressed by the following two verses of scripture:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
The Greek perfect tense utilized in this verse indicates that this salvation, which is “by grace . . . through faith,” is a past completed action with its finished results extending into present time. Thus, these verses portray a salvation that was totally accomplished on the cross by Jesus Christ and which extends into the present in a finished state for all those who appropriate it through faith. This is the salvation of the spirit, and it is for the purpose of saving man from the penalty of his sin and giving him eternal life (body, soul, and spirit) in heaven.
It is a salvation totally affected by the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross, and to which no one can add thereto with any works. It is a grace-gift given by God freely to all (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 22:17). Once a person who has come to the realization that he is indeed an egregious sinner before God and that Christ is the only way to eternal life, a work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), he needs only to make the firm decision to place his faith (trust, confidence) in Christ alone for his eternal salvation—an unmeritorious act on his part (John 3:14-18; Acts 16:30, 31; Ephesians 2:8, 9).
It is unfortunate that in these last days there has been a host of works added by man to the simplicity of the salvation message in the proclamation of the gospel message. They range from the subtle to the ridiculous: baptism, repentance, asking for forgiveness for one’s sins, promising to forsake one’s sins, “praying the sinner’s prayer,” asking Christ to “come into one’s heart” and lordship salvation mostly come to mind. Baptism, repentance, and lordship salvation have their place in the total salvation of man as conditions to rule and reign with Christ, but they have no place in the first tense of salvation (justification), which is by grace through faith alone—plus nothing!
Biblical repentance, if and when used in regards to the first (past) tense of salvation, can only mean the “turning by faith to Christ from any other means of apprehending it.” In this rare case, it is the equivalency of the willful decision to place one’s faith in Christ alone. Yet most understand repentance to be some sort of “sorrow for and willingness to forsake sin” as a prerequisite to placing one’s faith in Christ. There is no foundation for this in Scripture. Repentance in the New Testament generally refers to those who are already saved. Most of the time it is used in connection with Israel, calling them back to God. In this dispensation of grace, it is a call for the church to live a daily life of confession of sin and obedience to the Word. Never is it used as an exercise that a lost person must accomplish before he can be saved.
There is also no foundation (i.e., stated anywhere) in Scripture that will justify requiring a lost sinner to ask for forgiveness of his sins, to promise God he will forsake his sin, to ask Christ to come into his heart, to promise he will make Christ lord of his life (each of which the unregenerate person is unable to make), or to pray the “sinner’s prayer.” The only requisite (if one may use this term) laid out in God’s Word is for the sinner, once convicted of his sin and need for salvation (by the Holy Spirit), to make a decision of faith (trust, confidence) in Jesus Christ alone in order to receive God’s grace-gift of salvation. This expression of faith is a matter of both the intellect and the will. It is based on facts regarding the nature and work of Christ, which then necessitates an honest decision. The person is forever saved at the “instance” of a faith-decision in Christ.
Consider the Gospel of John, which is the only book of the Bible that was expressly written in order to bring the lost to Christ (John 20:31). Never is repentance, or prayer, or dedication of one’s life, or anything else ever mentioned as a means of appropriating salvation; other than faith. In fact the most recognized and renowned verse in the Bible that is both representative of the gospel message and used to bring the lost to Christ is John 3:16, a verse that makes no mention of anything other than “believes in Him” as the means not to “perish” and to have “eternal life.” Furthermore, the only occasion in the entire Word of God where the specific question is posed inquiring how a person can be saved (Sirs, what must I do to be saved?) is answered by the Apostle Paul most succinctly and accurately: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” Nothing was added to this reply!
Now having said all of this, and having most likely raised the ire of many dedicated evangelical Christians who have based their soul-winning techniques on traditional (not biblical) methods and/or their own “salvation experience,” this author will freely admit that many have been saved with such “traditional” methods. But should any person who claims salvation believe that it was his “sinner’s prayer,” or his request to be forgiven, or his willingness to forsake his sin and make Christ lord of his life that gained him his salvation state, it is then this author’s opinion that he has placed his faith in self-effort and therefore was and is not saved. If a person is saved, regardless of the method in which he was brought to Christ, it is because somewhere in the process he made the decision to trust in Christ alone for his personal salvation. Often, even after “public confession,” many come to salvation upon the realization that it was Christ alone that did it all and therefore they believe in this fact—quietly and without any fanfare. It is faith alone in Christ alone that saves—plus and minus nothing!
The construction of the Greek in Ephesians 2:8, 9 shows an additional insistence and persistence, apart from any works of man, that salvation is a “finished work.” The meaning being that no other works are necessary to be saved, to stay saved, or to prove that one is saved. This represents the “entrance door” of salvation for everyone, which insures a person’s eternal security in heaven—the salvation of his whole being. But there are additional salvations that apply to his soul and his body, which have their fruition in God’s kingdom upon earth and in the heavens during the Messianic Era.
Sanctification—Present Tense Salvation—Salvation of the Soul
Even though a person who by faith in Jesus Christ is saved from the penalty of sin, he remains in a corrupted body that contains his soul. Although he has a redeemed spirit, he still has an unredeemed soul. As mentioned earlier, the soul is the seat of man’s intellect, will, and emotions (life-force). To further understand this, Scripture speaks of the soul or life of man (“soul” and “life” in the New Testament are both translated from the same Greek word, psuche) in three aspects:
It is this “life quality of man” that is in the present continuous tense when the scriptures speak of the salvation of the soul. It is amply portrayed in the following verses:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved . . . .
(2 Corinthians 2:15)
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved [Greek — being kept safe], if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:1, 2)
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:39)
This is a different kind of salvation that operates in the present continuous tense. Unlike the completed past tense salvation, this salvation reveals a present and continuous work, which begins at the moment the spirit is saved and continues until it ends at the Judgment Seat of Christ. In Scripture this salvation is the salvation of the soul (1 Peter 1:9). And since the words “soul” and “life” come from the same Greek word, this salvation is also known as the “salvation of the life.” Moreover, this present continuous salvation of the soul has nothing to do with eternal life, as does the past tense salvation, but rather, the saving of a believer into the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.
This is the sanctification process of the believer that evolves either in a positive or negative manner throughout his physical life, depending upon whether or not he lives for himself (gains his soul/life) during his temporal existence, or lives for Christ (loses his soul/life). If he “gains his soul” here, he will lose it there. If he loses his soul for Christ’s sake here, he will gain/find it there (Matthew 16:24-27). A Christian who loses his soul at the Judgment Seat of Christ because of his waywardness in this life will lose his rewards, which will be manifested in loss of his future quality of life during the millennial reign of Christ upon earth. He will either be chosen to rule and reign with Christ in the coming kingdom, or be excluded from ruling in it by the side of Christ. By living “according to the Spirit,” he will either gain great power and ability to produce great works; or, by living “according to the flesh,” he will lose his ability and power to accomplish any future works whatsoever (Matthew 25:28, Romans 8:5-8).
Salvation of the “soul” then, is dependent on the quality of life a believer chooses while on earth. If he allows his old nature to rule his life, he will produce works of wood, hay, and stubble. These will be burned up at the Judgment Seat of Christ, with the results being loss of his “soul” (future life quality without rewards). If however, through the Word of God, he permits his new nature (the Holy Spirit in him) to rule over his life, he will produce works of gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Since these works cannot be burned up, the results of this testing will be the saving of his “soul” (future life quality with rewards).
When one fails to learn the difference between the new birth (salvation of the spirit) and life in the coming kingdom (salvation of the soul), he will become confused over many passages of scripture that speak of these two salvations. As an example: Whereas, salvation of the spirit is mostly taught in the epistle to the Romans, salvation of the soul is taught in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Hebrews, James, and First and Second Peter. (Shock & Surprise Beyond the Rapture by Gary T. Whipple, Th.M., Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc., 1992)
There are vast differences between these two salvations, as follows:
Spirit-filled/living faith life: John 15:4, 5; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 2:6; 1 Peter 4:2
God has supplied all that is necessary for the Christian to achieve success in both life and godliness through His Word and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4)
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth. . . . And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:17, 19)
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? . . . Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19)
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-15)
But even though all provisions are made available to the believer for spiritual success in this life, it is contingent upon him to receive and avail himself of them. This is accomplished by faith, by submission to the Holy Spirit (achieved by confession of known sin), and by obedience to the Word of God.
As you have therefore received [by faith] Christ Jesus the Lord, so [in like manner—by faith] walk in Him. (Colossians 2:6)
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
. . . be filled with [controlled by] the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
That He [Christ] might sanctify and cleanse her [the Church—all believers] with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:26, 27)
Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1 John 3:24)
And even while the believer struggles throughout this life, facing both success and failure, God exercises His parental and husbandry qualities toward His children in order to encourage them on to success. He does this by administering loving discipline and careful pruning (Hebrews 12:5-11; John 15:2).
Therefore and unlike the past tense salvation (of the spirit) accomplished by Christ on the cross and appropriated solely by faith without works and which can never be lost, the present tense salvation (of the soul/life) of the believer is achieved by works; and, if not, then can be lost.
If gained, i.e., the Christian continues faithfully in service to His Lord, it will result in approval at the Judgment Seat of Christ and rewards (rulership) during the millennial kingdom upon earth. If lost and even though the Christian will remain eternally saved with access to heaven, it will mean shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ and loss of rewards during the millennial kingdom upon earth (2 Corinthians 5:10,11; Romans 2:6; 14:10; Galatians 6:7; Colossians 3:24, 25; Revelation 22:12; Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Peter 4:13).
Glorification—Future Tense Salvation—Salvation of the Body
Having considered the past and present tenses of salvation of the nonphysical portions of tripartite man, the third aspect of salvation is future tense and involves the physical body, which saves it from the results and presence of sin.
This salvation of the body will occur at the Rapture of the Church (John 14:1-3), both facts amply described by the following passages of scripture:
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. . . . And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 49)
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20, 21)
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 13-17)
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)
According to the scriptures, all of the Church, i.e., those believers living in the period from the cross to the Rapture, will be raised from the dead or translated in order to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 2:6; 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:24, 24; Revelation 22:12).
The question has been asked many times, why should God raise up the body when man could live in his spirit forever? The answer lies in God’s total redemption of man. Since sin puts the body into the grave (Romans 5:12), God, then must redeem it. If He were to allow it to stay, then He would suffer defeat to Satan by default, since Satan is the author of death. Another reason is that the body is not a prison of the spirit and soul, but is part of the very essence of the man. Without the body, man could do no works, i.e.., serve the Lord in the coming ages. Finally, the believer must appear before the Judgment Seat in the very body that he lived this present life in order to give an account for the deeds done in that body…whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). (Shock & Surprise Beyond the Rapture by Gary T. Whipple, Th.M., Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc., 1992)
The Rule of Three in the Personage of Christ
His Threefold Designation
The threefold designation of “Lord Jesus Christ” is revealing, as follows:
This is the personal name given to the Son of God at His incarnation in obedience to the command of an angel to Joseph, the husband of Mary (Matthew 1:21). The name is a transliteration of the Hebrew name “Joshua,” meaning “Jehovah is salvation,” i.e., “is the Savior.” It is indicative of His humanity and His sacrifice on the cross.
The Son of God was always the Christ, a designation meaning “anointed.” It indicates His deity and that He is the Anointed One who will come at the close of this age. The name is translated in the Septuagint as “Messiah,” an appellative (descriptive name) revealing that He is the promised Deliverer.
The Son of God was always the Lord, an appellative designating his position as master or ruler or owner who is omnipotent (all-powerful) over all creation.
The name “Jesus” is connected to His first coming to earth to die, and the name “Christ” is connected to His second coming to earth to reign. When Scripture uses only one of these names it is for good reason. The scope of each is different. Whereas, the gospels mainly teach of His humility and work on the cross, the epistles teach of His coming again as King. The Bible also refers to the Son of God as both “Jesus Christ” and “Christ Jesus,” depending on the context (the message it is attempting to convey regarding Him).
His Threefold Office
The Son of God has a threefold office—Prophet, High Priest, and King. An explanation of each follows:
Jesus Christ’s prophetic role was foretold by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, and 19 and confirmed by Peter in Acts 3:22 (see also Matthew 21:11; Luke 7:16; 13:33; 24:19; John 4:19; 6:14; 7:40; 9:17). In His prophetic role Jesus came to prophesy by word in the power of the Holy Spirit and by the testimony of His sinless life. By fulfilling this office, He became the sacrifice required by God by which all men can be saved from the penalty of sin (salvation of the spirit) if only they appropriate this “past tense” salvation through faith (Acts 16:30, 31). This office of Prophet relates to the name Jesus as applied to the Son of God.
Jesus as the believers’ High Priest is presently seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for all saints, those who are saved during the age of grace—the Church Age (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14, 15; 5:5; 6:20; 7:26; 8:1; 9:11; 10:12, 19-22). He is continually making intercession to God the Father on behalf of every believer for his sins, which intercession is made possible by His own blood—His sacrifice on the cross (Hebrews 12:24). His intercession becomes practical and efficacious upon the confession of known sin by the believer (1 John 1:9). This office of High Priest relates to the designation of Lord as applied to the Son of God.
Soon Christ will finish His role as High Priest and enter His third office as King (Daniel 7:13, 14; Luke 1:30-33; Revelation 19:11-17).
As King, He will judge the world at His Second Coming by destroying all kingdoms of the world and setting up His own kingdom. A remnant out of Israel will be raised to be the head of the nations, and His bride, the overcomer portion of the body of Christ, will have the privilege to rule and reign with Him over the earth.
At least seven years before all this happens, the Church will be raptured and judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:10). This judgment will not be to determine if one is saved or lost, since only believers will be there, but rather, what rewards or loss of rewards the believer will receive. Those that gain rewards will rule and reign with Christ. Contrariwise, those that lose their rewards will not rule and reign with Christ. At the same time, on the earth, God will be judging the nations of Israel through a furnace of affliction (Isaiah 31:9; Zechariah 13:8, 9). And out of this judgment will come the saved nation of Israel who will dwell in peace in the land of Israel, for one-thousand years, in accordance with the Abrahamic covenant. (Shock & Surprise Beyond the Rapture by Gary T. Whipple, Th.M., Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc., 1992)
This office of King, which soon will be, then relates to the designation of Christ as applied to the Son of God. It is associated with the believer’s future tense salvation of the body and adoption into the “great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).
The Rule of Three in the Kingdom of God
Theologians who minimize the kingdom of God by attempting to spiritualize it and deny its literal reality are simply wrong. They view the kingdom of God as only one kingdom — an unseen spiritual kingdom — which is in the hearts of men, the Church being the outward manifestation of that kingdom. This is the “amillennial” (no millennium) view.
The Scripture teaches the reality of God’s kingdom and is expressed in three different aspects—the kingdom of God the Father, the kingdom of God the Holy Spirit, and the kingdom of God the Son. As the Trinity is both One and Three, so is God’s kingdom one and three.
The Kingdom of God the Father
God the Father rules over all creation from a literal throne in the third heaven.
And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”
(Daniel 4:34, 35)
The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit
God the Holy Spirit rules over the new creation (a believer’s heart and life) but by permission only.
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. (Romans 14:17, 18)
Unlike the kingdom of God the Father, this kingdom is entered through faith in Christ. At the moment of faith, the Holy Spirit revitalizes a person’s spirit by entering it and sealing it for all eternity (1 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13, 14; 4:30).
The saved man is reminded that he has two ways to live his life. If he allows his soul to dominate his spirit, causing an offense to his Christian brother (attitudes and/or efforts of the flesh), this kingdom will not be operating within him. However, if he allows his spirit to dominate his soul (attitudes and efforts of the spirit) this kingdom will be operating in him. As a result he will enjoy righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, while being of service to Christ and acceptable to God. (Shock & Surprise Beyond the Rapture by Gary T. Whipple, Th.M., Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc., 1992)
The Kingdom of God the Son
This kingdom will soon come and will be literal and visible, corporeal and with boundaries of time and space. It is known as the “Messianic Kingdom” in the Old Testament, while the New Testament refers to it as the millennium, “the kingdom of the heavens,” and the rule of Jesus Christ over this earth for one-thousand years. It is amply prophesied in the Old and New Testaments and is the crowning revelation in the last book of the Bible—Revelation.
Entrance into this kingdom will be by privilege only—based upon the quality of life of the believer during his life upon earth before physical death or the Rapture. This privilege will be awarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ based upon the believer’s success with his soul/life salvation. At this time those Christians who have accrued an acceptable record of faithfulness during life will receive the reward (right) to rule and reign with Christ over the earth within His Millennial Kingdom (Luke 19:17-19; Revelation 20:4). Those that lose the rewards (loss of soul) will lose this privilege.
Finally, these three aspects of the kingdom of God each operate in different spheres. The first is entered by “creation” (birth), the second by the “new-creation” (the new birth), and the third by the “re-creation” (rewards). . . .Contrary to this truth, the average church today teaches only the second aspect (the new creation). They believe that one needs only to be saved in order to receive all of the rewards, no matter how he conducts his life here on earth. At the Judgment Seat of Christ however, scripture teaches us that all believers who do not produce works that survive the fiery test of Christ, will suffer loss (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). (Shock & Surprise Beyond the Rapture by Gary T. Whipple, Th.M., Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc., 1992)
Much of this study/commentary may be considered revolutionary in regards to prevailing theology taught by most evangelical churches, bible schools, and seminaries of today. The author’s only hope and prayer is that the reader, whether he agrees or disagrees with this study, will earnestly study the scriptures in order to make firm his position — to either prove or disprove what he has read herein. If he will at least do this then the author of this study will be immensely gratified.
The Rule of Three, also termed by some as the “Keys of Three,” when properly understood, will open to the inquiring Bible student a vast treasure of scriptures that heretofore have been confusing and quite difficult to interpret. Issues as the “security of the believer,” and “rewards” will be seen in their proper context, which will then bring enlightenment to some passages where before there existed only various and conflicting shades of darkness. Certain books of the Bible, e.g., James and Hebrews, will also take on new meaning.
This is particularly true in regards to the “so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3), a salvation that encompasses all three of the salvations discussed above and which can only be entered into through the doorway of inheritance. But alas, this must be the focus of a future study.
The author wishes to express a debt of gratitude to the following authors. He also would recommend to all readers any of the works by these authors for a greater understanding of the mysteries regarding the topics of this study and, specifically, the coming millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ upon earth.
Gary T. Whipple, Th.M
Zane C. Hodges
Joseph C. Dillow, Th.D.
Post-Note of Recognition
Since the completion of that above, this author has discovered and examined the various books and works of Arlen L. Chitwood. It is this author’s opinion that by reading these books and works, an even greater understanding can be obtained of God’s overall redemptive plan for mankind. Furthermore, it is this author’s opinion that no one but Mr. Chitwood is able to truly clarify the various types that are legion within the Old Testament with their corresponding antitypes in the New Testament. Most of Mr. Chitwood’s books and works can be obtained in total by activating appropriate links on the home page of www.bibleone.net .